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Anybody but Anderson
September 19, 2006

Tonight I am officially joining the “anybody but Anderson” (for mayor) movement.  She has finally pushed me over the edge.

I spent half a day over the weekend preparing a PowerPoint presentation I intended to present under Item K-4, placed on the agenda by Councilmember Jim Rogers. The item was entitled “Review and discuss convening a ‘Blue Ribbon Task Force’ of stakeholders, consisting of environmental, business and community interest, to make recommendations concerning the shoreline area between the Chevron refinery and the West County landfill project and provide direction to staff. Pending completion of this report city staff would not take any action concerning this area and would not proceed with the feasibility study.”

Mayor Anderson used every lame excuse she could think of to keep me from speaking and showing the PowerPoint. After I protested vigorously, she appeared to relent, but before I could begin, she started in on me again -- one time too many.

The irony is that Irma Anderson is generally a pleasant and amiable person, one on one. You couldn’t find a better person to carry out the ceremonial functions of the city. Politically, over the years, we have had few differences. On paper, she looks like just what we need in a mayor.

But when she takes that mayor’s seat, she turns into an unbelievable tyrant. She constantly interrupts councilmembers and starts arguments with them. She uses her power to bully them. She feels compelled to respond to every single statement they make and routinely calls them out of order. Most of the time, she either doesn’t understand what is going on or does a pretty good job of faking it. She doesn’t have a clue how to successfully chair a meeting. In short, she just generally makes life miserable for us and for the public. She is the absolute worst chair of an organization I have ever worked with. Over the years, she has been extremely vindictive, using whatever meager appointment powers she has to punish councilmembers who oppose her.

I blame her chairmanship style for unnecessarily prolonging every meeting by at least 20 percent. She has probably added a thousand hours to city Council meetings. With a dozen high paid staff sitting around during that wasted time, she has probably cost the city a million dollars. Most of what the public perceives as failure of the City Council to work together as a team can be laid at the mayor’s fundamental inability to simply conduct a meeting.

When she ran for mayor, she touted her ability to “bring the council together.” What any councilmember will tell you privately is that she did exactly that. She united the Council as never before in that they all despise her management style.

Almost as bad are those councilmembers who let her get away with it. Like a flock of chickens, they would rather keep down a colleague than stand up to that miserable excuse for a mayor. After I walked out and went home to cool off, I watched Councilmember Maria Viramontes put words in my mouth that I have never spoken and explain why she wanted more information about the proposed container port. Apparently, she didn’t want it from me, because she didn’t want to see my presentation either.

A City Council should be about the sharing of information that is important for Richmond and for the public. For the City Council majority to use their power and their bullying tactics to keep important information away from the public is, in my opinion, a subversion of the public interest.

We have an election coming up in about six weeks. At this time, I urge you to vote for anybody but Anderson for mayor. And when you consider the other City Council and mayoral candidates, ask yourself if they are closed minded or open minded? Do they support open public debate, or do they use every stratagem to shut down those who have an opposing view. Do they respect people, or do they treat them like dogs?

In six weeks, you will get the mayor and City Council you deserve. I hope you do the right thing.