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By Roz Rogoff

Teachy & Preachy

Uploaded: Feb 13, 2011

Some of you may have noticed that my blogs are a little on the instructional side lately. That's because my day job, really my anytime I choose to work and it is usually in the middle of the night job, is teaching online for University of Phoenix.

I've been teaching online for almost 9 years now, and it's a perfect job for me. I like telling people what they should know and explaining how things work. I teach New Student Orientation workshops, which I'm teaching this week. I also teach classes on Information Systems, Critical Thinking, Adult Learning Theories, and Instructional Design. I have a Ph.D. in Instructional Technology/Adult Education from University of Southern California. So I have a lot of experience being online and treating adults like students.

My old Observer Commentaries were much wittier and barbed than my blog columns are here. Either I've gotten nicer (nah) or more boring (yah). I can't resist the opportunity to teach you folks what I believe you ought to know and why you should know it. So that's why I've been writing so much about the planning process in San Ramon.

I've attended City Council and Planning Commission meetings for years and hung around with the likes of Donna Kerger, Bob Patrino, and Harry Sachs. So I've learned the jargon and the reasoning behind most of these planning decisions.

A few years ago I applied for the Planning Commission and Kerger told me I wouldn't have the patience for it. She was right. Planning Commissioners spend hours every week going through fat staff reports to understand why they must approve something some residents might not like. Planning Commissioners don't make laws but they must follow them.

Our Planning Staff has advanced degrees and years of experience in land use planning. The news media and political pundits attack municipal workers for being overpaid, but these jobs are not easy. Planners must know all of the often illogical and contradictory state laws, and they have to put up with changes in the political makeup of the City Council or Mayor's office every few years.

Many residents who voted against Measure W were given a simplistic overview of what it was about. Jim Gibbon was correct when he pulled out the stack of paperwork that went into developing the General Plan. There's a lot there, and the postcards and bullet lists sent out by No on Measure W reduced the whole thing to a few misleading catch phrases.

On the other hand, Dave Hudson repeating "We did what you told us to . . . " doesn't help either. Most residents didn't read General Plan 2020, or know much about what was in it. Residents didn't "tell" the Council what they wanted in 2002. The Council made a recommendation to residents to vote for the General Plan and the residents did what the Council "told" them to do.

The updated 2030 General Plan isn't very different from the original 2020 General Plan, but times have changed. Trust in politicians, city staff, and other officials, has dropped. Unfortunately the people who attack everything can't be trusted either.

I trust in knowledge and the facts. So that's why I have become so preachy and teachy in my blogs.