Contra Costa Times: Barnidge: Dysfunction still alive in Richmond, even without Corky Booze


There are three stops on today's itinerary:

The animus and dysfunction that so often have characterized Richmond City Council meetings were supposed to dissipate when Corky Boozé was denied re-election in November. Tom Butt predicted as much during his successful mayoral campaign, noting Boozé's singular flare for flamboyance and disruption.

Apparently, dysfunctionectomies are not quite that simple.

In the first seven months of Butt's administration, which have seen tempers flare, council members have:

1) Bowed their backs for three weeks arguing over a replacement to fill the seat Butt vacated when elected mayor before compromising on Vinay Pimplé; 2) Swapped social media daggers over the disputed relocation site of SS Red Oak Victory ship at Rosie the Riveter National Park; 3) Exchanged barbs over the curious endorsement of the Space Preservation Treaty in symbolic opposition to chemtrails and particle beams overhead; 4) Staked out intractable positions on opposite sides of a rent control ordinance before the measure passed in a bitterly divided 4-3 vote.

The warring factions are predictably separated by ideology -- Richmond Progressive Alliance members Gayle McLaughlin, Jovanka Beckles and Eduardo Martinez on one side; Butt, Pimplé and Nat Bates on the other -- with Jael Myrick awkwardly straddling the swing vote.

A case in point: Myrick was against rent control before he was for it, earning a "flip-flopper" label from the mayor.

The tension recently reached new levels when Butt lobbed a political hand grenade in an email blast: "The RPA3 plus Myrick have continued to violate the Brown Act, communicating with each other in private to arrange and schedule a pair of special City Council meetings for a first and second reading of the rent control and just cause ordinance." That charge is sure to bring return fire.

Corky Boozé must be having a good chuckle.

Let's give opponents of The Homes at Deer Hill their due. These resolute Lafayette residents waged a valiant war for months, digging deep into the NIMBY playbook in every attempt to forestall the approval of a 44-home single-family development across from Acalanes High School.

If the project is allowed, they warned, construction dust will taint the air; increased auto traffic will inundate Pleasant Hill Road; added student enrollment will overrun the schools. The only objection missing was worry over endangered red-legged frogs.

They even played the concern-for-unsuspecting-residents card, noting that new homes will be within 1,000 feet of Highway 24 and exposed to the same exhaust fumes that force even-closer Lafayette Park Hotel to issue oxygen tanks to their guests. (What's that? You say they don't do that?)

In spite of it all, the Lafayette City Council last week directed staff to ready documents for project approval, which could come as early as Monday. Opponents shouldn't hang their heads. It could be worse. Originally, this was going to be a 315-unit apartment complex. 

The welcome news that gasoline prices are expected to drop reignites an age-old debate between those who say market factors determine fuel prices and those who insist oil companies manipulate the cost at the pump.

Sounds like an argument the Richmond City Council would enjoy.


Reposted from Contra Costa Times

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