Letter to the Editor: Tim Rood for City Council

David Cohen writes in support of Tim Rood's Candidacy for Piedmont City Council

It’s informative to compare the websites of Margaret Fujioka, Bob McBain, and Tim Rood regarding Piedmont issues that bear on electoral choices, particularly in view of the fact that Blair Park is one of the most contentious issues. (http://www.margaretforpiedmont.com/, http://www.mcbaincitycouncil.com/ , and http://timrood2012.com/ )

Margaret Fujioka’s site shows an impressive resume, and hundreds of endorsements, albeit inflated by duplicate appearances. She has endorsements from all members of the present city council. Clearly, if you like how the Council has handled the Moraga Canyon privatization effort, Ms. Fujioka is your candidate. However, on her website there is scarcely a substantive word on any issue other than being pro public safety and pro civility. Regarding Blair Park, utter silence except, perhaps, for her pledge to continue striving for “public private partnerships.”

Her comments in the recent Piedmonter article are equally gauzy http://tinyurl.com/8xreft7 ). She created a public safety committee and an email alert system. She believes that the Blair Park process was fair and open because she personally (?) read every email sent to her.

Bob McBain’s website provides no specifics on any issue.

Tim Rood’s site, however, has a tab called “issues” (imagine!), where he directly addresses fiscal responsibility, Blair Park, public process, and the environment. In the “environment” section, there’s a link to video where he discusses environmental issues in a local context, in detail.

Tim Rood is clearly the candidate of choice. It’s too bad that another candidate of his caliber has not joined the race to take the second open seat. 

David Cohen
Oakland 94611

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Mark Landheer January 15, 2012 at 05:05 PM
So now we have Blair Park opponents from Oakland attacking Piedmont city council candidates?! That should be no surprise as that is where Tim Rood gets much if not most of his support from. The Friends of Moraga Canyon board members (who are suing Piedmont) have endorsed him and his campaign signs are often right next to the Save Moraga Canyon signs which are provided by FOMC. FOMC’s mission statement is to “support retaining Blair Park as a natural open space", not to make it usable by in any way. In this week’s Post, Semeitekol, the FOMC President, stated: “Ultimately, we would like to see the [Blair Park] project not done”. As for the other candidates for city council, they are both hard working, caring individuals of great moral character, who have sacrificed many years of their time already to serve our community. Very few in our community can meet their track record as well as their qualifications. Check out their websites: http://www.mcbaincitycouncil.com/ and http://www.margaretforpiedmont.com/ where they both answer many questions that are important to Piedmont. David is correct that their Endorsement lists are very impressive, showing wide support within Piedmont. Their responses to the issues are thoughtful and balanced, and show they understand how to address our town’s needs.
Lynn Dee January 15, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Mark, you have lost your grip and are acting like a bull in a china shop. Tim Rood is not against development in Blair Park- read his website. You are disappointed in FOMC. FOMC is disappointed in you. Lets not get xenophobic against Oakland in the process. The other two candidates are no angels. Lets agree that 3 people are volunteering their time and energy to work on the Council. There is enough Bias and falsehoods in the Piedmont Post - don't fan the flames. Jim Semeitekol is also a volunteer and not running for anything so it's no use to repeatedly attack him!
Mark Landheer January 15, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Lynn, I am pointing out that FOMC's key objective is to maintain Blair Park as it is today, not used and inaccessible. It is on their website. If the Post misquoted Jim Semeitekol, please let me know. FOMC's Board members and other outspoken opponents are endorsing Tim Rood. Candidates ask for endorsements. I am just pointing out the positions on Blair Park of many if not most of Tim Rood's endorsements. I believe all three candidates for Piedmont City Council have strong qualifications, but will support Bob McBain and Margaret Fujioka, as I agree with their positions and have proven themselves over many years of serving our community already. I took offense with the author's statement: " It’s too bad that another candidate of his [Tim Rood] caliber has not joined the race to take the second open seat." I find that rude and inappropriate and felt obliged to point out that they are more than worthy to be on Piedmont's city council.
Margaret Ovenden January 15, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Mark, I have no idea who David Cohen of Oakland is, but the fact that Oaklanders are even weighing in on Piedmont's Council race shows the significance of the issues at stake. I don’t understand why you keep saying that only folks in Moraga Canyon who were opposed to Blair Park are supporting Tim Rood. This obviously isn’t true, as I explained in one of my posts to you in the thread on the LWV undergrounding task force and MTRC members’ letter. Finally, in my mind there is no question that ALL of the candidates for public office in this current race are hard working, of great moral character, etc. (I am supporting both Tim and Margaret). I am sorry to see you falling prey to the negativity about Tim that the Post has played a huge role in promulgating in its “coverage” of the swim pool issue, as well as in how it chose to slant the presentation of candidates’ experience. The reality with the swim pool negotiations is that the entire Swim Club board agreed that the City’s demands were unreasonable. They and Tim fought hard for Swim Club families. The entire Swim Club board is now endorsing Tim – probably for the same reasons I am: namely that he is smart, thoughtful, articulate, and has city planning and consensus-building experience that will serve our city well in getting through the tough issues that face it.
Mark Landheer January 15, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Margaret, I am talking about FOMC board members and others opposed to building Blair Park who have endorsed Tim Rood. That is just a fact which you can see for yourself. David Cohen has weighed in against Blair Park, PFRO and its supporters on Patch many times, including calling me irrelevant and delusional. My comments have nothing to do with the Swim Club, so I don't know why you bring that up. I supported Tim Rood in his negotiations to ensure continuation of the Piedmont Swim Club even though I am not a member. We exchanged emails at the time, where I expressed my support and explained to him how building Blair Park would be funded. He stated then: "The ability to build a community park without cost to taxpayers is unique and should be embraced now while the opportunity exists”. Finally, I am pleased to see you support Margaret Fujioka as I do. Surely, you do not agree then with David Cohen's statement that " It’s too bad that another candidate of his [Tim Rood] caliber has not joined the race to take the second open seat"?
Margaret Ovenden January 15, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Hi Mark, Yes, I realize your remarks had nothing to do with the Swim Club, and I brought that issue up without enough explanation. The context for my bringing it up is that I think rumors about Tim’s role with the Swim Club are a main source of the negative comments that seem to be circulating about him. Initially I was concerned about his role with the Swim Club too, since for a long time my only source of information about the pool was the Post (my family didn’t belong to the Swim Club). But now that I have heard what the other Swim Club board members have said (i.e. that Tim did a great job representing Swim Club members’ interests, that they endorse his Council candidacy, etc.), I see that the Post’s coverage was and is biased. But, back to Blair Park (your and my favorite sparring topic) … Don’t you think that Tim’s comment to you that building a privately-funded community park is an opportunity to be embraced shows that he is, in fact, not against Blair Park, as you and others have been saying? Also, I think you are missing the point that a lot of the people you lump into the category of “Blair opponents” in fact are okay with doing some sort of development there, but believe that the current design is deeply flawed and that it was pushed forward without fair consideration of alternatives.
Mark Landheer January 16, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Thanks for clarifying, Margaret. I cannot judge whether Tim represented the Swim Club members well, but agree his fellow board members speak highly of him. That said, I know one member who lost his $1500 initiation fee as the club had no money left to reimburse him. As for Blair Park opponents, there are indeed those who do not want anything to be done at that location (FOMC) and others who oppose the current plan that may want to do something smaller, such as yourself. I can see that Tim Rood would fall in the latter category, but this means he opposes the current Blair Park plan as approved by the city council. Considering other options would delay the building of any type of field at Blair Park even further and based on FOMC's mission statement still cause them to sue, causing even further delay. It seems futile to go through the entire process again with a similar result.
Mark Landheer January 16, 2012 at 01:21 AM
CORRECTION on quoting Tim Rood about supporting Blair Park while President of the Swim Club. He did not state at the time (in late 2010): "The ability to build a community park without cost to taxpayers is unique and should be embraced now while the opportunity exists”. What Tim did state was: "The Piedmont Swim Club was built thanks to the generous donations of its original members and has been maintained ever since, at no cost to the city, through the annual dues of its members (like Blair Park's proposed user fees). Like the Blair Park proponents, we think that is a great benefit to the city. Our point of comparison [to Blair Park] was simply that the city should not, in addition, ask the Piedmont Swim Club to pay rent." I supported that and believed to have his support at the time for the Blair Park proposal. I apologize for my oversight.
Margaret Ovenden January 16, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Mark, my understanding is that Swim Club members voted to discontinue buy backs of memberships, and that buy backs were always contingent on sale of new memberships. Memberships declined because of the uncertainty of the drawn-out negotiations with the City. The Club had offered to continue operating and funding the pool at no cost to the City, but the City made unreasonable demands that the Club (the entire Board, representing the membership) couldn’t agree to, and so the City is now paying $400K/yr to subsidize the pool! Tim was not to blame for members losing their initiation fees. I think this is an example of one of the unfair rumors that’s being promulgated.
Margaret Ovenden January 16, 2012 at 01:30 AM
And with regards to Blair: I can’t speak for FOMC, but I have always seen them as willing to compromise. I think that even though they would prefer for Blair to be improved as a park without a sports field, they were totally there for discussions of sports field alternatives which would have created a smaller, more appropriately-sized field at Blair. I think you are wrong to say that they’d sue over any development in Blair. I think that if PRFO were to say, “OK, let’s have an independent study of the alternatives and if there’s one that we can agree on, our funders would be willing to back it,” then FOMC would drop their lawsuit and a compromise solution could be found. I know this is being idealistic on my part, but it doesn’t hurt to dream. (BTW, has Alameda announced whether or not its fields are going out for RFP next year? I’m still not convinced that avenue is closed to us.) Anyway, my main point is that Tim is a reasonable, thoughtful guy with excellent city planning experience and it isn’t true that he’s “against Blair Park” and that he’s at fault for how things turned out with the Swim Club. I think he will be a great Councilmember for all of Piedmont, regardless of where one stood or stands on Blair.
Mark Landheer January 16, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Margaret, all I know is that my friend was not in favor of what the Swim Club board decided to do with his initiation fee. That said, I do not like the current arrangement, but at least my family and others who were not Swim club members can use the pool now.
Mark Landheer January 16, 2012 at 03:48 AM
Margaret, I do believe you are being idealistic, but that is a great quality! Besides FOMC's mission statement not do anything at Blair Park, their President, Semeitekol, is quoted in this week's Post stating: "“Ultimately, we would like to see the [Blair Park] project not done”. I do not recall FOMC supporting the alternative proposals put forth either. As for Alameda Point, I have not heard what is planned for those fields and certainly have not heard about any RFP. We have been explicitly told that our lease will not be renewed as other groups in Alameda want those fields. There have also been rumores of a developer coming in to build homes at Alameda Point, which would be much more lucrative to Alameda than using that space for fields.
Margaret Ovenden January 16, 2012 at 04:03 AM
Mark, initially I had the same reaction, "Yeah, now it'll be easier for my family to go to the pool." (We used to just sometimes go on the days it was open to the public.) But then I realized that this benefit would come at the expense of the City having to subsidize the pool. I think it's better for City funds to be maintaining police, fire, public works, etc. We can't afford $400K a year for the pool. I hope they are able to find a fee structure that will return the pool to being self-sustaining, as it was under the Swim Club. I think that the people who are most interested in swimming (which our family really isn't) should be the ones paying the cost of the pool, not the tax payers.
Lynn Dee January 16, 2012 at 04:46 AM
The POST is hardly the voice to quote! It is filled with hate speech and attempts to smear Tim Rood's campaign. It's a disgrace. At the same time it calls for "more civility". What a joke. FOMC does not want to see the PRFO project- of- the- moment built. Many FOMC supporters would support an alternate project at Coaches and even a small field in Blair. I think you should stop speaking for FOMC.
Mark Landheer January 16, 2012 at 05:09 AM
Lynn, I am just quoting what I read, not only in the Post, but on FOMC's own website. Go to http://www.moragacanyon.org/about/ if you do not believe me. #2 clearly does not include supporting a sports field of any kind, but rather leave Blair Park as is. IF FOMC has changed its mission statement, I hope they will update it soon.
David Cohen January 16, 2012 at 05:55 AM
Re several of what seem to be Mr. Landheer’s main points: 1. There really is nothing sinister or darkly conspiratorial about some correlation between political sentiments that coincidentally resist the Moraga Canyon privatization project and also support a leadership role for Tim Rood. 2. It’s perfectly normal for Oakland residents to weigh in on Piedmont issues, given the close relationship between the cities, such as commercial, environmental, and every-day, day-to-day relationships. 3. Favoring Tim Rood and speaking to his caliber is not an attack on the morality or character of the other candidates. 4. Volunteering on behalf of a cause or a project shows laudable commitment and passion for the project, but it doesn’t really validate the project itself, which needs stand on its own merits, and deal with objective scrutiny.


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