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Profile: Tod Abbott, Candidate for Albany City Council

Local business owner Tod Abbott will make his first attempt at the Albany City Council this fall. Profiles have been posted in the order received. Click the "Keep me posted" button below for election-related email alerts.

General Information

Name: Gregory Tod Abbott
Also known as: Tod
Age: 48
Place of residence: Albany, CA

Education

College

Attended college: Yes
College: UC Berkeley
Degree: BA, Philosophy
Year of graduation: 1988

Grad school

University: Northwestern University
Degree: MA, Philosophy
Year of graduation: 1994

Employment Information

Job titles held: Owner, Senior Web Programmer
Company: Almost Everything Communications

Political Information

Party affiliation: Democrat
Running for: Local office
Running for position: Albany City Council
Incumbent: No
Previous elective offices: NA
Unsuccessful bids for elective offices: NA

Party HQ

Address 627 Evelyn Ave., Albany, CA 94706

URLs

Website: http://abbottforcouncil.org
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Abbott-for-Council/446829858694694
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AbbottForCounci

Other Facts

Has served on the Board of the since 2006, serving as president of the board for four years. His two children went through Cornell School and are now at Albany Middle School for 2012-13.

Click the "Keep me posted" button below for future posts related to elections in Albany. See the Albany Patch 2012 election coverage here.

Don Ford August 23, 2012 at 03:44 PM
The folks of Albany should know a thing or two about Tod before they cast their vote. I have know him several years. He is one of the most honest, sincere and genuine people I have met. He is a regular guy with an intelligent articulate approach to problem solving. Tod will bring the fresh air of common sense back to the City Council. I couldn't recommended him more highly!
Tod Abbott August 23, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Wow, Don. Thanks for the kind words!
Don Ford August 23, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Just win baby...just win.
just me! August 23, 2012 at 09:24 PM
I totally agree Don!!!
Jim Beller September 22, 2012 at 05:37 PM
I'd like to know more about the relationship between the Albany Chamber of Commerce and the National Chamber of Commerce. If they aren't totally distinct entities - if Albany membership fees filter upward to support their unsavory national political activity - I think Tod should give us an explanation.
Eric Bordax September 22, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Best of luck! Has anyone ever mentioned that you look like Matt Damon?
Tatter Salad October 27, 2012 at 07:34 AM
I'd like to know Tod's position on the increase of sales tax on Albany businesses, particularly in light of Berkeley's past (and really poor) history of taxing more than the their surrounding communities.
Tod Abbott October 27, 2012 at 11:31 AM
Oops, I'm only now seeing this question. I must have missed it when it was posted, and I didn't think to come to this page very often... I can state that there is NO relationship between the Albany Chamber of Commerce and the US Chamber of Commerce (or any other state or national organization for that matter). The Albany Chamber is made up almost exclusively of small, local businesses. We do have a few larger member businesses but they are all local businesses. The Chamber leadership is made up entirely of small business owners in the area. We have one paid, part-time staff person, our Executive Director. As far as I know, there is no licensing or restrictions on the name "Chamber of Commerce," and in my time at the Chamber (and as far as I can tell, for at least decades before that), we have not sent any money to a larger organization. Finally, I would add that we have discussed the actions of the National Chamber at our Board meetings on occasion, and I can report that we have been every bit as appalled at them as I imagine most people in this area are. It almost makes me wish we had been members of the US Chamber so that we could have had the satisfaction of canceling our membership in protest.
Tod Abbott October 27, 2012 at 11:45 AM
The potential impact on businesses of the Measure F half-cent sales tax increase was my first concern when I heard of the proposal. To be clear, I don't like sales taxes anymore than anyone else -- we all know they are regressive and impact people who spend their entire income more than those who are able to save or invest much of their income. But I understand the city's budget woes and saw the temporary sales tax as a way to keep the city going until the economy improves. But I was concerned that the tax would impact our local retail businesses by making their prices effectively higher than our neighboring communities. I spoke to some well-regarded local retailers, however, and they were not concerned about it. Their comments generally mirror mine above -- they don't like sales taxes in general because they are regressive, but considering that all the sales taxes in the area are within one point, they don't think the sales tax rate figures into people's purchasing decisions (other than Internet sales where they can often avoid paying sales tax altogether). It's appropriate to note that El Cerrito effectively already has this sales tax in place. Measure F will bring us up to the same rate as El Cerrito. I should mention that there is also an Alameda County tax measure on the ballot, and if that passes, our sales tax will exceed El Cerrito's by a bit. Continued...
Tod Abbott October 27, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Continuing... One other point I wanted to mention about Measure F is that we should remember that only about 50% of the sales in Albany go to Albany residents. That's a very rough figure based on data from an incomplete zip-code study the Chamber worked on, but the point is that a good percentage of sales in Albany go to folks who don't live in Albany. That means that a good percentage of the revenue from Measure F will come from non-residents. I'm not saying that that makes the tax more fair or less regressive, but it does give Albany an opportunity to recoup a small portion of the revenue that is lost when its residents do their shopping in neighboring communities.
Tod Abbott October 27, 2012 at 11:54 AM
It's funny you mention that. I've never had anyone say I look like Matt Damon. I must have one of those faces that look like a "type" though, because in my younger days I was actually mistaken for Kurt Russell on a few occasions. Of course, I could never see the resemblance, but one time in Oakland the employees in a restaurant blocked the door and wouldn't let me leave until I admitted I was Kurt Russell.
Ross Stapleton-Gray October 28, 2012 at 11:39 PM
I get the impression you're throwing around scary numbers with nothing behind them. A net increase in $250K in taxes, as a result of a half cent increase in the local sales tax, would presume a taxable stream of $50M. But where is that coming from? If a local real estate office handles $50M in property sales, that's not the same thing (and a heck of a lot of properties, given the median home price of well under a million dollars); home sales incur transfer taxes, and a real estate office would pay taxes on its net income (a lot less than the gross, and far less than the gross sales, to which it's only a facilitator), but it feels like you're pulling numbers out of your nether parts. How exactly does the proposed retail tax relate to real estate transactions?
Tod Abbott October 29, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Hi, Tatter. I too was concerned specifically with Auto sales, figuring the half-percent fee would add up quickly for expensive purchases like cars. But turns out, sales of autos are different than normal retail sales. When someone buys a car (new or used), they are taxed at the rate of the address where the car will be registered, not where it is purchased. So as far as competitive pricing is concerned, Albany increasing its sales tax is irrelevant for auto sales. It will apply to auto parts, but the cost of parts is often a relatively small portion of an auto repair bill. The sales tax also doesn't really apply to real estate transactions or services -- though I imagine it would apply to the often small percentage of a service transaction bill that covers supplies or materials.
Tatter Salad October 29, 2012 at 09:50 PM
You are correct Tod and Ross, and I've done my homework regarding the impact of (increased Sales Tax) potential changes on Car Dealerships and Title Companies in Albany; what with our sales tax moving toward one HIGHER than Berkeley. Zero impact. a) The Sales Tax on the Car is contingent upon where the buyer resides, not where the papers are signed. b) There is a marked difference between Berkeley and Albany for Title companies, but it is a TRANSFER TAX (Berk: 15%; Alb 11.5%); sales tax does not apply. Tatter
Ross Stapleton-Gray October 29, 2012 at 11:15 PM
You won't get an "A" on that homework, even so: the transfer tax rates are assessed per thousand dollars, so Albany is taking merely $11.50 per thousand (or $5,750 on a half-million-dollar home)... you're off by an order of magnitude.
Kenneth October 29, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Tod, it is great to have a candidate who does some research and thinks about the consequences of a decision. Too many others tell us what they feel about an issue and how they want the world to work.
Ross Stapleton-Gray October 30, 2012 at 02:41 AM
(My comment re "scary numbers" was to a since-deleted Tatter post, not a comment on anything Tod has written. Patch really needs to note where posts have been deleted, whether by author, or moderator, to avoid confusion.)
Stephanie Travis November 03, 2012 at 04:51 AM
I agree with your letter in today’s Journal, where you explained your child’s membership in the Boy Scouts. I think your son should be in the organization. I speak as someone who strongly supports equal rights for all, including the right of gays to marry. I don’t believe the BSA will ever change if those who oppose the positions taken by the national organization boycott the Boy Scouts. As to the sales tax increase, I oppose the Measure. My opposition is based on the fact that neither the existing Council, nor the people running for the Council seats, have a consensus on how the funds would be used in a way that will help the City’s ongoing financial problems. El Cerrito recently raised its sales tax and the group supporting the measure that resulted in the increase pointed out to El Cerrito voters that most of the tax would be paid by consumers not living in El Cerrito. Considering the constant complaints about traffic problems from Albany citizens who reside on the streets allowing immediate access to the El Cerrito Plaza, I assume that a great many of those consumers come from Albany. If it weren’t for Target, and the many good restaurants in Albany, I would hardly spend any consumer dollars in Albany. The irony of that is that we moved here primarily because we wanted to not drive so much in our daily lives and thought Albany actually had a strong base of local shops. I’m an absentee voter and voted for you. I sincerely hope you win.
Tod Abbott November 03, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Thank you, Stephanie. I very much appreciate your support.

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