Quiz: What was the HMB city council majority’s biggest mistake?


Posted by on Tue, September 2, 2008

A. Not proving in court that Beachwood always contained wetlands.

B. Failing to appeal the Beachwood decision.

C. Not working with environmental and other stakeholders to craft a bill that could pass the state legislature.

D. Making terms of the Beachwood settlement conditional on passage of AB1991.

E. Arbitrarily adding Glencree to the Beachwood settlement the day after Keenan optioned the property.

F. Misrepresenting threat of bankruptcy to Senator Leland Yee.

G. Getting Leland Yee to sign on to AB1991 without having seen the bill.

H. Delivering a settlement that required the state legislature to set a precedent for undermining decades of coastal, wetlands, environmental, and planning protection in exchange for cash.

I. Allowing, or not knowing of, Keenan’s sharing of the city’s lobbying expenses.

J. Spending six months and a million bucks trying to sell AB1991 in Sacramento.

K. Slandering Coastal Commission staff, who will rule on what the city can do with its newly-acquired Beachwood parcel.

L. Claiming that ABAG’s $5 million check could not be applied to the settlement cost.

M. Having no contingency plan if AB1991 were to fail, thereby wasting all of July and most of August.

N. All of the above.

O. None of the above—the city was ambushed by the nerds from the Sierra Club.

Comment 1
Tue, September 2, 2008 12:26pm
Sofia Freer
All my comments

I believe the correct answer is N (All of the above)  Barry, this is a good laundry list of the HMB Council Majority’s poor decisions.

I would also decry their veil of unnecessary secrecy, and failure to act more quickly to give the go-ahead to SB863.

Sofia Freer

Some additions:

J.1 Spending tons of money on high priced spinmeister Lanny Davis (Bill Clinton’s ex lawyer) to lobby for AB 1991.

K.1 Harming the City repuation with the embarrassing “Truth Squad” press releases. 

M.1 Not spending any significant money, as far as we know, on lobbying to get SB 863 passed.

you left out “making deals behind closed doors”

Comment 4
Wed, September 3, 2008 8:56am
Steven Hyman
All my comments

None of these make my list so let me add a few.

P. Why didn’t the CC settle Beachwood 5,10,15 or 20 years ago?

Q. How much money has the CC squandered on lawyers over the past 5,10, 15 years?

R. What benefits have the residents of HMB gotten from all this money spent on lawyers over same periods?

S. Shouldn’t City officials who are openly critical of CC be forced to immediately resign or be fired on the spot?

T. Shouldn’t the residents construct a solar powered Beachwood Debt Clock made of dried weeds and skeletons from red frogs and sf garder snakes to constantly remind us how much money our elected officials have cost the community?

U. Shouldn’t the Gateway park coming into HMB be dressed up so it to doesn’t remain as another ugly example of how poorly our government works.

V. Is it wise to spend City money building parks on other people’s land without their permission?

W. How many lawsuits are in the pipeline facing HMB and what’s our liability?

X. Shouldn’t there be time limits on appealing projects so that we actually do things?

Y. Shouldn’t past officials who are critical of the CC be dragged off into the Beachwood Wetlands and be weed-boarded and attacked by the legions of red frogs until they see the light?

Z. Why can’t Barry ask questions that aren’t so blatantly biased?

Comment 5
Wed, September 3, 2008 9:12am
Barry Parr
All my comments

Steve, this was clearly labeled as opinion.

I don’t understand why you’re not outraged by the city council majority’s misfeasance.

They’re trying to shift the blame to environmentalists, but they chose the battlefield, the opponents and the stakes. Does anyone doubt that the city outspent the environmentalists on lawyers and lobbyists?

[Politics is the art of the possible][1], and the HMB city council majority chose to attempt the impossible. With your tax dollars.

  [1]: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Otto_von_Bismarck

Z.a. Why doesn’t Steve understand the difference between an editorial and an article?

Comment 7
Wed, September 3, 2008 10:53am
Mike Ferreira
All my comments

When is Steve going to read the Walker decision?

Comment 8
Wed, September 3, 2008 1:05pm
Steven Hyman
All my comments

I know this is an opinion piece but it was more like one of NP’s pitches outside and in the dirt, therefore my sarcastic and humorous response.

But to the points at hand which I have stated here a zillion times. I want to get out of this mess as cheaply as possible and I really don’t care what they do with that ugly worthless,  except what is costing us, weed filled, tick infested piece of dirt by McDonalds and the sewer plant.

I don’t know keenhan and have never said 1 word to him. First time I saw him was in the Review cartoon.

I think Walker is correct because we screwed up. We didn’t have the competent leaders before to fix the problem,  instead they made it worse and kept passing the buck to the next administration.

I think settling was the way to go. I’m no John Roberts and neither are any of you.  Its easy sitting in our comfy chairs taking cheat shots at people when we aren’t privy to all the facts.

And as far as government goes,  I am not a big fan of any of it.  They are wasteful spenders who talk a lot and don’t much.  Watching this sad story unfold has only reinforced my negative feelings about how things are or are not done. And its not a pretty sight.  Bill Clinton’s lawyer did add a little levity to the situation.

The sad reality is that since the really smart people won’t take these jobs so we get stuck with the dregs. And look at all the costly mistakes they’ve made.

Comment 9
Wed, September 3, 2008 1:37pm
Barry Parr
All my comments

No sarcasm intended.  This is straight-up list of all the mistakes the city council made that brought us to where we are today.

I included the failure to appeal in the list with some misgivings because I do think it’s something that reasonable people can disagree about. I wouldn’t have opposed a reasonable settlement.

Regarding government, I misspent a good part of my youth as a Libertarian fellow-traveler. But, in my private-sector career, I’ve long since come to the conclusion that although big government is wasteful and moderately corrupt, so is big business. The big difference is that in government I get the same number of votes as a Chop Keenan. That’s still a pretty awesome idea when you think about it.

Comment 10
Wed, September 3, 2008 5:00pm
Carl May
All my comments

Mr. Hyman’s comments are scattered all over the place. He seems unable to focus them on Beachwood in his list. The situation might not seem so confusing to him if he would concentrate on the matter at hand instead of trying to bring everyone’s irrelevant Afghani goatherd third cousin into it.

There is a concentrated minority in HMB that sees itself entitled to enrich itself using the city proper, its resources, and its people in whatever way it wishes. They have long been able to bamboozle HMB voters with only a few years of exceptions. The takehome message for the unincorporated communities is to stay as far away from anything to do with such people as possible if we wish to keep what is left of the positive natural and human values in our area.

The topic is “What are the CC’s biggest mistakes?” I think I added a few more items to the long list. I’m sure if Brian or George chimed in,  there wouldn’t be enough room on your hard drive to cover it all.

Comment 12
Thu, September 4, 2008 1:19pm
Carl May
All my comments

No, Mr. Hyman, a reading of the headline shows that the topic is the HMB City Council majority’s biggest mistake. This city council majority. The mistakes made on Beachwood, as Parr’s list clearly shows. Mistakes that actually took place and are not in some imaginary, whimsical location.

You can get yourself off the hook by focussing on the topic at hand and not every fanciful other-world gripe that pops into your mind for the place you sell real estate. Presumably your acquaintances “Brian or George” would not also be mostly off-topic?

please read my response more carefully.  Many comments were made about Beachwood.  But our CC’s made other mistakes so why not highlight those also.  Everybody has their favorite screw-up. Some people don’t like the lawsuits, some don’t like the park purchase, some don’t like the easements, some don’t like insubordinate city officials, some don’t like not having a Boys & Girls club, etc.

And btw, the question is “the” CC not “this” CC.  That’s your interpretation. Anyway, have a nice evening and say hi to your goat herding cousin. Can you ask him if he’d sell me a sweater?  I like navy blue v-neck in extra large. Thanks.

Comment 14
Thu, September 4, 2008 6:27pm
Carl May
All my comments

OK, Steve, one small step at a time to make it more manageable for you.

The headline of the editorial refers to “THE [emphasis mine on the singular article] HMB city council majority’s biggest mistake.”

So the reference is to one, a particular, city council majority.

The next step involves deducing which city council majority that might be. See Parr’s list? Only one city council majority was involved in those things. Bingo! You have it! It is the current one. Glad to be of help.

Unlike Parr’s headline and list, not a single one of your items, those that refer to city councils and not some other imaginary issue entirely, is specifically directed to the current city council majority, though the current bunch would be included with many others in some of your multi-decade meanderings. This is the lack of focus I was talking about. Enjoy firing shotgun blasts at the moon for all I care, but the one aimed at this thread doesn’t hit anything.

This is beyond silly. Doesn’t it depend on what the definition of “The hmb city council majority” is? Barry had his list and I have mine.

But please let me borrow your weed colored glasses because mine missed the word “current” that you seem to see in the headline.

More importantly, did you send a carrier pigeon to your goat herding cousin about my sweater yet? I’d love to have it for Pumpkin Festival.

Steven—First, a special interest law, then a $10 million handout, and now an Afghan sweater. Seems to me that you HMB residents always have your hand out. When did self-reliance and accountability go out of fashion on the peninsula?

Comment 17
Fri, September 5, 2008 10:43am
Carl May
All my comments

Yes, Steve, it does depend on that “definition.” You got step one.

Then, as previously shown, you can quickly deduce the definition for the CC majority in the headline from the list of blunders in Parr’s editorial—a stunning confluence of missteps, wouldn’t you agree? Only one CC qualifies. Get this step, and, by George…

Comment 18
Fri, September 5, 2008 2:59pm
Barry Parr
All my comments


You play the hand you were dealt.  No one’s arguing that this city council wasn’t dealt a lousy hand by Judge Walker.

I’m saying they didn’t play their hand well.  What do you think?

I have probably said this 50 times or so.  I also know that my views are contrary to the majority of your readers.

We all agree this was a stunning defeat for HMB.  That being said, our CC did the only logical thing and find a way out by settling. It would have been the height of irresponsibility to appeal since we wouldn’t have the money to pay if we lost again. You can’t place a bet if you can’t cover it. And its not these politicians money,  its our money.

I also can’t place much stock in the advice from people who were proven so wrong.

Luckily we found a good new team.  The strategy they came up with was brillant.  I originially thought that it was creative with the option a and b plan .  But I also think they knew there was a plan c as well as the last card.

AB 1991 was only going to cost the State around $100,000.  When that didnt fly, the State felt guilty and was willing to throw us a $10 million consolation prize. Thats plan c.

What is most important to the people I’ve spoken to is not paying $18 million. Whatever we do to avoid writing that check is ok with them.  Beachwood is not sacred land, its an ugly infill parcel by McDonalds and isn’t worth all this attention.

Our officials let their egos get the better of them and foolishly wasted millions of our dollars on lawyers on a $41 million losing hand. As I said above,  this should have been settled 5, 10, 15 or 20 years ago. Not to mention all the other money wasted on other lawsuits.

And when you combine that with several other mistakes, you find an angry public. And sad to say the mistakes keep on coming.

But to those people who feel they are right,  try running for office and let the voters respond.  Anything is possible.  Richard Nixon made a comeback.

Anyway, this has been talked to death. We respectfully disagree and nothing I’ve heard here or on Talk About since November 2007 has changed my views.

Thanks, Francis Drouillard, for pointing out to Barry Parr that we need to be held accountable for our actions, and we were NOT “dealt a lousy hand by Judge Walker,” as Barry claims. We (prior City Councils) created this mess, and the current City Council is, justifiably, pursuing various alternatives to extricate us from this dire predicament.

Comment 21
Sat, September 6, 2008 8:10am
Barry Parr
All my comments

Joel, are you talking about the city council in the eighties and nineties that dug the trenches, installed the drains, and neglected their maintenance, which Judge Walker says constituted a “taking” of Mr. Keenan’s property?

Joel—Nice spin, but I was referring to the current city council. Yes, they were dealt a bad hand, but then they proceeded to play that hand in the most contemptuous, hostile and incompetent way possible.

There’s a phrase commonly heard in casinos that applies to HMB, namely “woulda, shoulda, coulda.”