Open Letter: Development Referendum Effort Flawed By Lies

At Tuesday night's City Council meeting, Albany resident Francesco Papalia told officials, during public comment, he was concerned that a recent referendum effort appeared to constitute voter fraud. His remarks appear below.

Albany Patch welcomes guest columns and letters to the editor via email at albany@patch.com. Click the "Keep me posted" button below this story for an alert when we write about proposed development at University Village.

Dear Mayor Javandel, City Council Members and City Attorney Craig Labadie:

I am formally requesting that you pursue any and all legal remedies available to address what I consider gross voter fraud and deception on the part of those who gathered signatures on behalf of the regarding the Whole Foods Project.

I am attaching two documents that were handed out by the signature solicitors. The first was given to me at the at the beginning of the signature gathering.

Catherine Sutton was at the table and gave this first document to the man who solicited my signature. He gave it to me as their official information sheet. It contained the following question and answer:

“What about the promised $200,000 in tax revenue for our city?”
“Any tax dollars would be offset by the increased use of city services, i.e. police, firefighters and paramedics to attend to the rise in calls characteristic of such large complexes.”      

This is a lie.

The Fiscal Impact Analysis done for the project predicts a gross revenue of $466,156 per year and a net revenue of $204,442 after deducting for Police, Fire, EMS and other General Fund expenses. That is a $204,000 false statement. I will not address tonight the rest of the flyer that was filled misinformation, distortions of fact and wild accusations about the project. I will let this one gross lie about the $204,000 of net revenue to the General Fund per year to show how little they relied on the truth to get people to sign.

At the end of the flyer it says: “Call Tarina or Eric at (510) 326-5259
Your Neighbor at ______________             www.keepalbanylocal.com”

I believe that this lie constitutes a fraudulent inducement to sign a petition. That alone should lead to invalidation of the process.

The second document was handed out at the on Tuesday August 7, 2012, and it states:

“The projected annual tax revenues of $200,000 to Albany will not cover the increased cost to city services.”                

Another version of the same lie.

These flyers do not mention the projected additional yearly parcel tax payments to the School District. Nor does it mention the one-time Arts Fund fee of $1,491,000 and other Development Fees including a $560,000 development impact fee to the School District. These are just inconvenient truths to some people.

People are entitled to their opinions when soliciting signatures for a referendum but not their own facts.

We need protection from this kind of deceit and lies when someone comes to our door and asks us to sign a petition. We need your protection.



Click the "Keep me posted" button below for an update when we publish future items on the Whole Foods project. Learn about the proposed Whole Foods and senior housing development here.

Caryl O'Keefe September 09, 2012 at 05:49 AM
As Catherine says, I emailed her the night of her August 8 post (to Transition Albany), with corrections to some factual errors on the KeepAlbanyLocal website she cited as the source of "more" info about the referendum. One correction I emailed said, "The $200,000 per year projected revenue to City is IN ADDITION TO revenues from this project to pay for additional police and safety personal services, as well as other City services. the project will not be a "Drain" on the City nor is money going in a "onewayflow", again there is a projected $200,000 per year plus more for City services coming right into Albany." I am back in town tonight and able now to quote from the flyer which a petition signature gatherer handed me on August 16 on Solano. It claims the same wrong information I emailed about the week before, "DRAIN on police, paramedics and firefighters...tax benefits...would be outweighed by increased cost in city services..." paragraph ending with, "The projected annual tax revenues of $200,000 to Albany will not cover the increased cost to city services." Still wrong on Aug 16.
Jack Osborne September 09, 2012 at 03:15 PM
After reading all the bluster and give and take here, I can only reach one conclusion. The planned development is too small. There's a real lack of ambition in this development. What the area really needs is a much bigger Whole Foods. Something bigger than the one on Bay Place in Oakland - that's only 58000 square feet. At that kind of scale, imagine the possibilities! Not only could every food preference (Vegetarian, Vegan, Omnivore, Carnivore, Kosher, Halal, etc.) be satisfied with abundant variety, there could be a food court and room to hold events. And as for senior housing, just think about how much could be done at a bigger scale. Not only could the developer cover costs with high-priced units, there'd still be plenty of space left over for affordable housing for every Albany resident over the age of 65. And, on top of all these other benefits, we can *finally* put to rest the question of an organic, sustainable community farm, as the development could be large enough to include an enormous interior courtyard reserved for farming. The thought of our friends from Occupy the Farm working hand and trowel with our resident seniors honestly makes me a little teary. Think BIG Albany!
Dynamo September 09, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Regarding the affordable Albany Senior Housing issue: There are no laws limiting affordable options in the way the developers put the deal together. It all depends on the financing structire and the requirements the Community sets. You have more power than you think! Do not be intimidated by the legal jargon. If Albany insists on the affordable option they can have it. Belmont does not understand the Berkeley/Albany area-they are from TEXAS. Why would the UC Campus contract with a for profit entity. I think UC is public no? There are many wonderful non-profit local senior housing operators.
Kirsten Schwartz September 09, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Dynamo, I haven't seen your name before this thread, which means you haven't been commenting on previous threads, which means you probably haven't read them. This has been hashed out in previous Patch articles, and if you really want to know about all the ins and outs, you could do some research. I believe this is also online through one of the websites Emilie has posted above. But, see, this is the problem: a true democracy requires hard work, not just complaining on a website. I take it back: for a true democracy to WORK WELL, people need to educate themselves. They were also lazy back in ancient Athens (and THEY had slaves to give them more time) and that's why Athenian democracy only lasted 30 years. It's the same thing with this whole referendum and the allegations of voter fraud: they just lazily used the best information they had at the time, instead of doing better research before going out to disseminate falsehoods with their clipboards. This is why I prefer a representative system to real democracy: my elected representatives do the work. Sure, it's imperfect, and I don't always like the result. But to truly be involved without lying or even misleading by accident takes a lot of time. You might put some time into this, Dynamo, and actually post links to the city website where you find that Albany can insist on an affordable-housing percentage AND copy that into your letter, as well. Until you do: lazy.
Dover September 09, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Update: Ulan McKnight...........$0 Tarina Larsen............$0 Catherine Sutton.......$0 "tr"...........................$0
Dover September 09, 2012 at 07:36 PM
"I think UC is public no?" http://budget.universityofcalifornia.edu/?page_id=5 http://articles.latimes.com/2011/aug/22/local/la-me-college-pay-20110822 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/02/us/california-cuts-threaten-the-status-of-universities.html?pagewanted=all http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/eligibilitychanges/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_California_finances
Dover September 09, 2012 at 07:57 PM
"Belmont does not understand the Berkeley/Albany area-they are from TEXAS." Goodness, I had forgotten that TEXAS is a foreign country. Thanks for the reminder. FYI, Belmont Village has facilities in: Buckhead (Atlanta) Buffalo Grove (Chicagoland) Burbank Cardiff by the Sea Encino Geneva Road (Chicagoland) Glenview (Chicagoland) Green Hills (Nashville) Hollywood Heights Johns Creek (Atlanta) Memphis Oak Park (Chicagoland) Rancho Palos Verdes (Los Angeles) Sabre Springs (San Diego) San Jose Scottsdale St Matthews (Louisville) Sunnyvale Thousand Oaks Turtle Creek (Dallas) (as in *gasp* TEXAS) West University (Houston) (as in *gasp* TEXAS) Westwood (Los Angeles) But all joking aside, you are probably right, I doubt that those (*gasp*) TEXANS are capable of understanding the super-unique! advanced! extra special! open-minded! tolerant! progressive! intellectually superior! non-sexist! not even slightly hypocritical! benevolent! unbiased! free thinking! impartial! permissive! cosmopolitan! super-perceptive! special snowflakes! of Albany/Berkeley.
Emilie Raguso September 10, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Folks: As a general rule, please respond to articles and posts, and respond to each other's points. Do not attack each other. We're all getting tired of the vitriol. When you're writing, please think about the other people on the site as your neighbors -- or otherwise as people's whose feelings you respect and whom you'd like to continue to have a civil dialogue with. I know we often post about "hot button" topics, but that does not given anyone carte blanche to be nasty. Thank you all for your help in maintaining / creating a respectful place for all viewpoints.
Dover September 10, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Careful, Emilie, your personal bias is showing once again. ;-)
Emilie Raguso September 10, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Sorry for the typo in my post above. I'm definitely biased in favor of doing what I can, and asking everyone here to help, as far as figuring out how to do our best to make the site a "safe space." I've been thinking about this on a daily basis and wracking my brain about how to achieve this. I'm planning on a more coherent full post about it ASAP, when I'm not running a 100 degree fever.
Michael Barnes September 10, 2012 at 03:21 AM
Folks, I'd like to support Emilie on this point. I've been guilty of vitriol, too, I'm certainly no saint in that regard, but it is getting hard to following the thread of the arguments through all the nastiness. Following the example of those signs that say, "Drive like your children live here," how about the following thought: "Post like your children will read this."
Robert Marshall September 10, 2012 at 05:02 AM
100 Degree fever? Sorry to see that. Guess standing out in the blazing Sun today didn't help.
MYC September 10, 2012 at 05:03 AM
Good point, Michael. However, this is a place for adults to discuss issues that are too complex for children. There is no reason for them to hold issues like armored vehicles, and other topics related to violence, etc.. I would not let my children read the discourse on this site, just as I would not have them reading the Huffington Post. I apologize to Albany Mom, for telling her to shut up--I would not tell my neighbor to shut up, I would just ignore them, or, actually, I would ask them, "why?"
Robert Marshall September 10, 2012 at 05:05 AM
Since when does being a public entity preclude them from working with a for profit company? That's how they earn money to invest in other capital projects.
paul1 September 10, 2012 at 05:49 AM
I heavily favor such an attitude. But espousing this seems contrary to your own values regarding posting behavior up till now. Indeed, just a couple of weeks ago you remarked how good it is to "have back" one of the main offenders against the very sentiment you propose here--directly after a series of mocking, sarcastic examples by them: http://albany.patch.com/articles/column-the-gill-tract-occupation-of-2012-in-context Nevertheless, if you're turning over a new leaf, I'm all for it. Let's hope others follow suit.
Francesco Papalia September 10, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Catherine,You asked me about how to post your updated flyer. Under the photo of me, at the beginning of the my Open Letter, there is a link where you can post pictures and videos and I believe PDFs. I recommend you try there and also send it to Emilie with a note about what is is. That is where the two versions I have of your information sheet is currently posted for reference for all readers.
Francesco Papalia September 10, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Michael, thanks for you honest admission. I have posted before on Patch that when people use their full real names, there is a much higher level of civility in the discussion. People are also more likely to use verifiable statements since they could and should be held accountable by their neighbors. Also the real full name would help identify where someone lives and if they have some ulterior motive for making a claim. Of course, it is no guarantee. But I believe it would raise the standard of the discussion. I also believe that many good people whose opinions I would like to hear may be discouraged from posting because they could be blasted by some anonymous poster. Patch needs to hear from a more diverse group. If you are out there lurking and not commenting, I am anxiously awaiting to hear from some new voices.
Francesco Papalia September 10, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Now back to the original subject. Another questionable claim in the the second flyer is that one of the environmental impacts of the project is that "it goes against the the goals of the Climate Action Plan and endangers the health of our children who already live in an asthma hotspot." I tried googling " albany ca asthma hot spot" and I could not find anything except a reference on Patch by Tina Klugman 8:17 am on Wednesday, August 15, 2012. where she said "Standing there (at Buchanan and Jackson), I realized why Albany has now been designated as an asthma hotspot." This claim is the first statement in the flyer posted above under the heading "Why reconsider the Development Agreement for the University Village Mixed Use Project." There were some google links to Albany NY. Can anyone send me the study that has designated that Albany Children are living in an Asthma Hot Spot?
paul1 September 10, 2012 at 11:32 PM
It's interesting to me that you think that, Francesco. I've heard this claim before, and it sounds plausible, but I've never seen anyone come up with evidence. I haven't noticed any positive correlation between posting under one's real, full name ("Paul" is my name, BTW) and civility. On the patch my impression is that there's a bit of an inverse correlation: many of the potshots are by the ones posting under real names. I also don't think enforcing real names (even if it could be done, and it can't) would raise the standard at all. The ability to post anonymously is important and augments diversity rather than diminishes it.
Tatter Salad September 11, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Ofcourse Albany is NOT an Asthma Hot Spot. As mentioned earlier: Similar to the actions of the Ruckus Society behavior during their sponsoring of the Occupy the Farm movement: the Ends justify the means. Unfortunately for Albany, some of the Ruckus Society leaders live on Albany Hill, and have found our naivete a 'fun project.' Their 'end' is to make as much trouble as possible for the Big-U, even if it means the taxpayers of Albany have to foot the bill for a needless ballot measure, or digest lies and half-truths. With a City Council that believes Cell Phone Towers can cause cancer, it's open-season here. Yes, the Ruckus Society played a major role in THIS endeavor, and I suspect they have a role in the upcoming council election as well. Word of warning: DO NOT put-up any Coucil Member Support signage unless YOU KNOW the candidate personally.
Jim Beller September 11, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Francesco - Below is a link to an asthma map of West Contra Costa County that shows Berkeley and Albany. The red dots are hospitalizations. Albany seems to be less asthmatic than Richmond or Berkeley, but the entire 880 corridor is a problem. http://baehc.org/sites/default/files/map_singleWCoCo_asth.pdf
Ross Stapleton-Gray September 11, 2012 at 01:52 PM
I spent some time a few months back trying to hunt down any "Albany as hotspot" data, and also found that Alameda Co. is far from the worst county in CA as asthma goes (not surprising), so if Albany isn't one of the higher incidence towns, in a mid-range country, then, yes, the "asthma hotspot" claim is a convenient lie, falsehood, or what have you.
Peggy McQuaid September 11, 2012 at 02:31 PM
According to a document published by the Alameda County Department of Public Health, Albany is in the bottom half of asthma hospitalizations, http://www.acphd.org/media/52883/ac2010.pdf page 89 Lots of interesting facts in the entire document.
Dept. of Misinformation September 11, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Albany is comprised of healthy, wealthy, white people (many progressive, I'll give them credit for that), who can afford great healthcare, preventive care, etc. Albany has petty much outlawed smoking, and with the exception of the Pub, a healthy lifestyle is the norm around here. I want to bring down Chevron just as much as anyone else, but I don't think the asthma issue has anything to do with the freeway, or even the refinery, in reality.
Jim Beller September 11, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Elsbeth pointed out to me that asthma hospitalizations don't tell a very complete story - they tell you how many uncontrolled cases are in the community. Controlled cases, where the patient is seeing a doctor and taking their meds, are much less likely to end up in the hospital. Maybe we don't have cleaner air than Berkeley but residents with better insurance, or parents better able to keep doctor appointments.
Michael Barnes September 11, 2012 at 09:40 PM
The city has some good census data on their website. According to the 2000 census, Albany is only 61 percent white, with a median income of $55K: http://www.albanyca.org/index.aspx?page=60
Michael Barnes September 11, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Francesco, And this: http://www.acphd.org/data-reports/reports-by-topic/asthma.aspx
Alan Riffer September 12, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Michael et al - Here is a Patch article that provides some 2010 Census info. http://albany.patch.com/articles/us-census-albany-grows-by-127-becomes-more-diverse Whites are down to 55%, with Asians and Hispanics increasing.
MYC September 12, 2012 at 05:38 AM
How about simply, "wealthy healthy," or "healthy wealthy," and leave race out of it? I get your point, though, wealth does help one achieve better health and encourage one to pursue a healthy lifestyle and create the leisure time to ponder meaning in life, that and education.
Ellie September 14, 2012 at 12:02 AM
"we are acting from a sincere concern about the future of Albany as a small town. " Welcome to Albany where "progressive" means a desire to prevent progress.


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