A clash appears to be emerging in Alameda County over how many votes each city should get in a proposed multi-agency "Energy Council."
The battle lines became more clearly drawn this week when the Piedmont City Council joined the "one-city, one-vote" camp.
The council voted unanimously Monday night in favor of each city receiving only one vote, thus rebuffing the recommendation from a county agency that larger cities get extra votes.
Piedmont – with 10,667 people listed in the 2010 Census – is the county's second smallest city, just barely larger than Emeryville, with 10,080 residents.
The proposal for the new Energy Council comes from the Alameda County Waste Management Authority, also known as StopWaste.Org, a joint powers agency that is operated by the participating local governments and that guides joint policies on handling solid waste and hazardous materials. Its mandate include reducing the waste stream through recycling programs and public education.
The Waste Management Authority decided that the local governments would have a better chance of winning grants for energy-related initiatives if they banded together to pool resources and meet requirements for size of population to be served. So its board voted to invite the county's 14 cities and the county government to join a separate joint powers authority to be called the Energy Council.
But the voting structure of the new entity has proved to be controversial.
When the Waste Management Authority's board – made up of representatives of the cities and county – voted in September to invite participation in the propoosed Energy Council, it recommended that each city have one vote on the new agency's board.
However, the representative from the county's largest city, Oakland, was absent at that meeting, which created a problem.
"Oakland has been adamantly in favor of a voting method weighted to represent population and reluctant to join the Energy Council unless the structure is similar to that of the WMA (Waste Management Authority)," noted Piedmont Assistant Planner Kevin Jackson in a staff report for Monday's council meeting.
The existing voting structure for Waste Management Authority gives three votes to Oakland, two votes to the county and one vote to all the other cities.
So the Waste Management Authority board in December changed its recommendation for the new Energy Council board and now proposes the following voting structure:
- Oakland – 3 votes
- Fremont – 2 votes
- Hayward – 2 votes
- County of Alameda – 2 votes
- All other cities – 1 vote each
The Waste Management Authority believed that this revised structure "may increase the likelihood that all 14 cities in the County, and the County, will join the Energy Council," Jackson's report said.
The Waste Management Authority asked each city to comment on the voting structure by Jan. 16, in advance of a planned board vote on the issue on Jan. 23.
The Waste Management Authority has set a deadline of March 29 for cities and the county to decide whether to join. After that date, a local government may still join if approved by a majority of the board.
So far, four cities – Albany, Emeryville, Newark and Union City – have voted to join the Energy Council, according to Waste Management Agency spokesman Jeff Becerra.
Also on Monday night, the council unanimously ratified the contract for the city's new police chief, Richelle "Rikki" Goede, effective Jan. 22. The city announced her hiring last month. Goede is currently an assistant chief with the San Jose Police Department.