At its April 2 meeting, Alameda City Council had a long agenda item about various ways to improve the way candidates run and are elected to City Council.

I've been catching up on some other blogs about Alameda, and it's somewhat fascinating to see three different views of this meeting and this agenda item:

  • In my own blog post on the meeting, I chose to write about the one immediate action that Council took that evening: lowing the cost of candidate statement fees in future elections. I ignore all the other potential changes to election process that were discussed for future consideration. On the topic of candidate statement fees, I highlight Vice Mayor Tony Daysog, who had to recuse himself from that portion of the agenda item, as he was one of only two candidates who owed outstanding unpaid fees for a candidate statement from a past election.
  • Irene Dieter, writing on her own blog and cross-posted to the Alameda Post, skips over the candidate statement fees portion that I covered. Tony Daysog goes un-called-out. Instead, the piece focuses on two other potential changes to voting process that were discussed: ranked choice voting (RCV) and district-based elections. The piece is titled "City Council Employs Double Standard on Voting Reform" expressing the author's frustration with all of the councilmembers' lack of interest in RCV and their comparatively strong interest in district-based elections.
  • Robert Sullwold, writing on his blog, also skipped over the candidate statement fees and Daysog's recusal. He tips his hat to supporters of RCV, while hedging his position by questioning whether RCV would actually yield different results. He's most interested in district-based elections, in council's apparent interest in studying this β€” and in the state law that he suggests is driving council's interest to study this before a hypothetical "demand letter" is delivered to the city to force the issue. Whereas I highlighted Vice Mayor Daysog, his post highlights Councilmember Malia Vella and worries she's interested in moving too expediently to study district-based elections. If I'm inferring from his post correctly, he believes the city has a strong enough case against adopting district-based elections that if it receives a "demand letter," then he thinks the city should fully litigate the matter and try to win in court.

(An Alameda Journal contributor also wrote a round-up article summarizing many of the agenda items from that evening's City Council meeting but without much of this color. The story was headlined "Council Approves New Police Substation.")

Setting aside my own positions on these matters, I find this a somewhat amusing and perhaps also telling comparison: Three bloggers choosing three completely different portions of the same agenda item to cover. We each chose different "villains" (in their capacity as elected officials β€” not as actual people!): I pointed a finger at Vice Mayor Daysog, Sullwold at Councilmember Vella, and Dieter at, I guess, the entire council.

Sullwold is also snarky toward others beyond the electeds on Council. It's his blog β€” he can write what he wants to write β€” but I'll skip over those parts.

This is almost like a little Rashomon effect of multiple overlapping views of the same event.

Note that my blog post on that meeting has a correction I appended to the bottom. I believe that was the third time in the life of this blog that readers have contacted me to point out a targeted error and that I've added a note to the end of a post. It's always a tad embarrassing to get things wrong, but I also appreciate that there are enough knowledgeable people reading these posts to keep me honest β€” thanks for reading!

Behind the differing views, there's perhaps also an element of each writer thinking of how these electoral changes may help their preferred candidate(s) in future elections.

This example also underscores the nature of news in Alameda in 2024: The only way to read about many civic issues in Alameda is by reading one or more bloggers. The power that each blogger holds is only partially in the opinions they hold and interpretations they write. To re-use my words from an earlier post thanking Lauren Do (the dean emerita of Alameda blogging): The real choice in blogging has nothing (or little) to do with the way one writes. Rather it's what one choose to write about β€” what you try to convince others to spend some time also thinking about.

Since this is my blog and I get to have the last word, I'll end by saying that I stand by what I chose to distill from that council agenda item. I think the change in candidate statement fees is modest but still meaningful to making it easier for a wider range of candidates to run for council. (Council's recent voter-approved ability to raise stipends for future councilmembers is, in my mind, a more impactful change to welcoming candidates from a wider range of ages and income levels.)

I think it's also newsworthy how Vice Mayor Daysog had to recuse himself on the item. (The Alameda Post quotes him from a subsequent email writing that β€œI paid the outstanding balance of $1,786.22 in full [the day after the April 2 City Council meeting].")

The other potential electoral changes that were discussed are hypotheticals.

In any case, to each their own in what they choose to cover!

And now this blog will get back to its forte of transportation, housing, and public services...

One City Council meeting, viewed three ways