Friday, August 28, 2009

The Slowly Disappearing City Council

Dr. Miles Adler is not afraid to tell you how he feels. His manner can be brusque and pointed. In the past he has reserved both qualities for San Leandro's elected officials. While discussing the hospital situation at Sen. Ellen Corbett's town hall meeting, Adler angrily called out members of the council for their absence.

"There are six elected city council members in San Leandro--the mayor is here and one of their city council members is here," said Adler. "It is very disappointing when one thinks there are five city council people who don't think it's important enough to come to a forum of this nature with their own constituents sitting in the audience."

Only Councilman Michael Gregory attended the nearly three-hour meeting at the San Leandro Hospital. Councilman Jim Prola, who has attended many of the meetings and hearings during the past few months, is on vacation and out of the country. In an interview with the former chief of staff at San Leandro Hospital earlier this month, Adler called the city council "weak" and the mayor "clueless."

At times, the meeting inadvertently set some politicians up as a large target of criticism. By the time Dr. Robert Gingery had the chance to speak during the public comment session of the meeting, Santos had left the meeting before he could address him. Gingery also motioned towards an unidentified local politician in the front row, either Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi or Alameda County Board of Supervisor President Alice Lai-Bitker, saying they looked "disinterested and couldn't be bothered." Hayashi was also seen exiting the meeting before the end of public comments.

This is the second time, Santos has left a major gathering on the subject. In June, he slipped out of a health care district hearing shortly after 7 p.m. to address graduating middle school students.

An email from The Citizen to all council members and the mayor asking for a brief statement for a story exploring ways to save the hospital this week was returned only by Gregory.

One member, Bill Stephens, who is termed-out in 2010, has never attended any informal meeting or public hearing since disapproval with the county's plan to end emergency room services at San Leandro Hospital began to grow louder. Councilwomen Diana Souza and Ursula Reed were seen at meetings in June along with Joyce Starosciak, who announced this month she will oppose Santos for mayor next year. Starosciak has not made a specific comment on the issue.

Not all of the council has been ineffectual. Gregory held an early series of town hall meetings at the city council chambers and Prola has frequently addressed both the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and numerous public meetings.

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1 comment:

  1. Too much focus on the council and what about the Brown Act. Why not go after the real decision makers , the Sutter Board. Santos believes that Sutter will do what Sutter wants to do and that they are too powerful. They wouldn't like to have a band of Seniors from San Leandro and East Oakland chasing them around. Let's go to KQED and ask them to stop using them as a sponsor.