Fly the flag, honor our veterans | May 24, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - May 24, 2013

Fly the flag, honor our veterans

Let's support the Memorial Day observance Monday starting at 10:30 a.m. just south of the Pleasanton Senior Center on Sunol Boulevard. The VFW, American Legion, Pleasanton Military Families and others hold this annual event to pay tribute not only to those who have sacrificed their lives in defense of our country, but also to the hundreds of Pleasanton veterans and those still on active duty in the military from our community, many in harm's way in Afghanistan. Early Monday, the Scouts will place flags on veterans buried at Pioneer and St. Augustine Catholic cemeteries, also on Sunol Boulevard just south of the Senior Center. It's another place for families to visit to honor the fallen.

Memorial Day was traditionally observed on May 30. But in 1968, the national holiday was moved to the last Monday in May to create a convenient three-day weekend. Despite opposition, all 50 states, including California, began complying with the change of date in the early 1970s. That change has no doubt undermined the very meaning of Memorial Day, contributing to what we see today as the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day. This weekend, which marks the beginning of the busy summer season and school graduations, has also become a time of retail sales specials, family get-aways and backyard barbecues. Hopefully, we'll find an hour or so to join in Monday's Memorial Day observance or at least remember to fly the flag outside our homes and businesses.

Taxpayers: Here we go again

It's too early to know just how far two costly attorneys -- one from San Francisco and another from Oakland -- plan to take their threats of litigation against the city of Pleasanton over the hillside protection ordinance called Measure PP, but their yet-to-be identified (presumably) Pleasanton clients want to delay and substantially change the measure before it becomes law. Lawsuits over the ordinance and the demand that Measure PP undergo a review under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, will no doubt be costly for taxpayers who have already paid millions of dollars in court costs, attorney fees and penalties over land use legal decisions and settlements.

Tuesday, the City Council postponed until at least June 4 a second and final reading of the Measure PP ordinance, which would have buttoned up scores of public hearings, community meetings and workshop discussions since Measure PP was adopted by voters in November 2008. The delay came at the advice of City Attorney Jonathan Lowell and City Manager Nelson Fialho after they received letters from environmental attorney Stuart Flashman of Oakland and Kristina Lawson, representing the San Francisco law firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. It's not clear who Lawson's Pleasanton clients are, although Flashman states that he represents "The Ridge & Hillside Protection Association," which he said is an unincorporated association of Pleasanton residents and taxpayers. Basically, both law firms object to the Measure PP ordinance because it "attempts to modify the (voter-approved) measure without a vote of the people of Pleasanton."

Fialho and Lowell argue that a legal analysis of the Measure PP initiative before it went to voters determined that citizen initiatives, such as Measure PP, are not subject to a CEQA evaluation. Flashman counters, however, that so many changes have been made to the measure since the 2008 vote that a full environmental review is needed, and he's prepared to go to court to force that review. This could be another lengthy suit that, win or lose, Pleasanton taxpayers will pay for.


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