New Observer, er Watcher, in San Ramon | The Observer | Roz Rogoff | |

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By Roz Rogoff

New Observer, er Watcher, in San Ramon

Uploaded: Jun 30, 2011

Steve O'Brien started his San Ramon Watch blog last October. I started the San Ramon Observer almost 10 years ago. We both stated the same reasons for starting our online commentaries.

My San Ramon Observer website came out of my original "Stop the Sewer" website, in which I tried to get support to relocate the 10 million gallon Dougherty Valley sewer from my neighborhood to Dougherty Valley where it belonged. We got the sewer, the 20 million gallon-a-day pumping station, and two sewage spills over the last eight years. This is why I don't trust Contra Costa County to do what is right for San Ramon.

I felt the local newspapers didn't cover this fairly, and the newly elected Council members, Donna Dickey and Jerry Cambra, who ran against the sewer, changed their positions right after being elected. So I started the San Ramon Observer on January 18, 2002.

In a commentary I wrote a year later, I described the Observer as, ". . . a one-stop place for all information about the City, what's happening in local government, issues, community groups, and events."

Steve O'Brien wrote in his initial blog entry in October 27, 2010, "With 'San Ramon Watch' I plan to continue to investigate and expose issues that I think are worthy of concern from residents. Some of my initial postings will pick up the trail of stories I started on Save Tassajara Valley."

O'Brien and I have very different takes on the City Council, but we both agree they need watching. After the "Gang of Three," left office at the end of 2003, I continued the Observer.

I explained "Why I'm still here," in January, 2006. "I started the Observer to inform residents, and especially voters, about what City Government is up to. Residents of my neighborhood were upset that they were not informed about plans for the Dougherty Valley sewer until it was too late to prevent it. These are the kind of things residents should be aware of."

I'm not anti-growth, and I am in favor of property rights, but I believe impacts of growth should be understood by residents and mitigated or prevented when possible.

O'Brien believes growth should be controlled or limited and he has stated that he is a conservationist and environmentalist. It's good to know where someone's opinions are coming from when you read them.

I have never kept my positions a secret, and I wonder why Mr. O'Brien criticized me in my own blog about having opinions.

"Roz- sorry, but you really are too cozy with this council to call yourself a reporter. The stories you do are really meeting notes. That said, I do appreciate getting at least that level of 'what happened at the meeting' information from you."

I didn't call myself a reporter. The Editor of the Express at that time had me reporting on meetings, but I called myself an Opinion writer or in the newer parlance, a blogger.

Mr. O'Brien was just recently criticized in that other online paper named after a pirate's eyewear (It's our competition), for lacking "balanced and objectivity," in his blog announcing Phil O'Loane's candidacy for City Council. Hey we are both doing the same thing, Steve.

Mr. O'Brien's prior commentary on Phil O'Loane's backbone for writing a letter to the County opposing the New Farm development criticizes the City Council as "invertebrates." I like clever verbiage, and O'Brien writes well. However, it doesn't take any backbone to write a letter to the County on a development project that hasn't progressed very far, and the City Council will have an opportunity to comment on New Farm once the Draft EIR is completed and the official comment period opens.

That could take a year or more and the Council makeup could change, especially now that Mr. O'Loane has announced he's running for City Council. I suspect, that O'Loane's courageous letter, and Mr. O'Brien's praise of it, are more for political showmanship than stopping a development that isn't anywhere near being approved yet.

We may be coming at it from opposite sides of the mountain, but we are both expressing our observations on what's happening in San Ramon. I hope readers will read both blogs and make decisions based on perceptions of what is best for San Ramon.