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Column: 'Don’t Let Them Make a Mockery of the Democratic Process'

Albany Patch welcomes guest columns and letters to the editor. Email albany@patch.com for details. Francesco Papalia made these remarks Monday to the Albany City Council about the Gill Tract occupation by Occupy the Farm.

I have been an enthusiastic home vegetable gardener here in Albany since 1987.

In the last few years I have planted apricot, fig, persimmon, pomegranate and mandarin orange trees. Unfortunately, my strawberry patch seems mostly to be nourishing the local squirrel.

My vegetable garden includes kale, spinach, arugula, sugar snap peas, cucumbers and three kinds of tomatoes.

My herb garden has parsley, rosemary, oregano, thyme and six kinds of basil.

Today I picked up a five-gallon bucket of coffee grounds from Peet’s Coffee to use as a good nitrogen source for my compost bin.

I have done all this on my small 3,300-square-foot house lot in Albany without the help of the Farm Alliance or the University of California.

For those of us here in Albany who have diligently followed this four-year process with the university for the development of a sorely needed commercial development that includes a Whole Foods store and 172 units of assisted living senior housing, and participated in the open democratic and transparent dialogue among the citizens of Albany, the Planning Commission and the City Council and staff, this most recent development is an insult to our sense of fairness.

We sat through sometimes tedious meetings to speak and voice our support for or against the project, or some aspects of the project.

After four years .

Today, a very small group, that has not been part of the process, has decided just to take what they want, for the use that they want.

Researchers, Little Leaguers, cyclists, seniors, merchants, University of California planners. Their needs were ignored.

They make up their own rules about due process and democracy. Tonight they have even declared themselves exempt from all rules and ask you to support them and .

They about the present and the past.

Their tactics and objectives flow from self-serving rules and misinformation.

This is a veritable land grab by the very few.

You, the City Council, were elected to serve us, not them. And to honor the democratic process. Please don’t let them make a mockery of the democratic process with this most undemocratic takeover that imposes the will of the few over the will of the many.

Francesco Papalia
Albany, CA 

Kirsten Schwartz May 11, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Geez, sorry, what an idiot: Francesco. I am embarrassed! My apologies.
Kirsten Schwartz May 11, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Lizz, I was too lazy to go to all the meetings between Albany and UC about the Gill Tract, but I knew they were happening, and I knew I could go. Did you? I see nothing in either comment saying that you did. I think your desire to "examine our decision making processes as a city" might be met by going to such meetings, as well as answers to your other questions--or you could bring them up there. (I have recently been to a couple small City administration meetings for just my block, and it takes some commitment. I honor the residents of Albany who did that for the Gill Tract, and deplore the Occupiers for overriding the result of that process.)
Peggy McQuaid May 11, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Lizz, can you please suggest alternatives for legal civic engagement. In the digital age where one can be alerted to public meetings by email, meetings are both televised and live streamed with replays available 24/7 for one's convenience. Public workshops on important decisions are held, after public notice, outside of specific meeting times resulting in a more informal discussion. Albany Patch, tweets, and facebook, while not official or legal notifying places, should not be ignored as sources of information for the public on important issues. Please clarify your suggestion to create a new forum for decision making.
Francesco Papalia May 11, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Thank you DDMcD for so clearly showing your biases by reducing me to a stereotype. The only thing you did not mention is my ethnicity (Italian), although you did not even bother to spell my name correctly which is a sign of disrespect I have had to live with my whole life. I will ask you now to declare your race, sex, ethnicity, age, job description and city of residence. This “privileged” home owner has lived in a 788sq.ft. house in Albany for over two decades. I suspect that DDMcD is not your real name so I challenge you to put that in print too. When I go to the Albany Farmer’s Market and spend my money to support the food merchants, I hope they make a profit so that they can continue to come and provide us delicious food while covering the costs of owning their farm
Randell May 13, 2012 at 05:34 AM
Mr. Dave Davis McDavid: Francesco's column is clearly about the Gill Tract in Albany. Please submit a separate column if you need to enlighten us about the type of people you would prefer to be allowed to speak.

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