CASTRO VALLEY | For residents of unincorporated Castro Valley, the Municipal Advisory Committee is its de facto local government. In county literature it's even called Castro Valley's "Un-City Council." But, the seven-member committee has no real power and its members are appointed exclusively by Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley.
In recent years, some Castro Valley residents have grown critical of the arrangement for its lack of transparency and a direct connection to the public. A vocal minority has routinely urged Miley to make the committee an elected board.
The lack of a true government body for Castro Valley residents to control their own destiny appears to be manifesting around three open seats on board, known as the CV MAC, soon to be filled by Miley.
A reported 16 candidates have applied for the appointment, but the interview process scheduled for Wednesday night in Castro Valley is not open to the public.
“Why is that?” wrote East Bay Municipal Utilities District board member Frank Mellon on Facebook Wednesday morning. “This will be the selection of people who will affect Castro Valley and we are not invited.”
Mellon also worried about the composition of the interview committee which he labeled as Miley’s “cabinet.” “Who are the members of this ‘cabinet’? And why do they get a say without our input?” Despite the 6 p.m. meeting not being open to the public, Mellon said he plans to show up at Castro Valley Library anyway.
Anna Gee, operations chief for Miley’s office, said the appointment process has never been open to the public. When asked about the concern by some in the community that the process lacks transparency, she said, “People are going to think what they want. I can see the perception, but it’s never been an elected position.”
“It wouldn’t hurt,” added Gee, to make the process open to the public, but in this case, no public outreach was previously made to inform residents of the meeting. In addition, the applicants were not informed they would be interviewed in front of an audience, said Gee. In the end, any decision over future appointments would have to be made by Supervisor Miley, she said.
The list of applicants is not publicly known, which has added another level of consternation for residents, some who chose not to be quoted for fear of angering Miley and hurting the chances of a few potential candidates.
However, two candidates believed to have applied are labor leader John Maher, who unsuccessfully ran for a seat last year on the Castro Valley Sanitary District board and Tojo Thomas.
Thomas’s bid is the most intriguing. In 2012, he challenged Miley for the District 4 supervisorial seat and has indicated he will again run for the seat in 2016. Although Miley easily defeated the severely underfunded Thomas in the June Primary, it was not without a few bruises laid upon the incumbent.
Thomas, who is also an Alameda County probation officer, routinely pestered Miley in public forums and infamously challenged Miley to back his candidacy. “Why don’t you just endorse me like a real man?” said Thomas.
UPDATE Supervisor Nate Miley allowed members of the public to witness the interview process Wednesday evening. The number of applicants was reported as 18, however, only 14 participated.
UPDATE II Supervisor Nate Miley filled two of the open three seats on the Castro Valley MAC on Monday. Miley named Castro Valley businessman Chuck Moore to the advisory board, along with Janet Everson, an attorney. The third vacancy will be filled soon, according to Miley's office.