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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Harry Sachs' invitation

Uploaded: Jul 22, 2013
I received the following email from Harry Sachs on July 17th.

"Dear Friends :

As all of you know I made the decision earlier this year to become a candidate for San Ramon City Council. The election is November 5th.

Earlier this weekend I pulled my candidate papers. One of the requirements is that a candidate must be "nominated" by San Ramon residents who are registered to vote- the requirement is for each candidate to acquire a minimum of 20 signatures of registered voters who live in San Ramon.

I have started the process but because of time constraints cannot meet with so many of you individually!

I will be at Peet's Coffee at Crow Canyon shopping center Friday July 19th from 10am until 11:30am. I invite you to stop by, say hi and sign my nomination papers. I appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule and look forward to seeing you this Friday morning!

If you are unable to make it but would like to sign, please lmk and I would be happy to meet with you!


Harry Sachs

I told Harry I would stop by Peet's Friday morning, but I am not signing any of the candidates' papers. However, I plan to endorse one or more candidates once the Nomination period is closed.

I stopped at the Bollinger Canyon Vet Hospital on my way to the Crow Canyon Peet's. One of my cats was recently diagnosed with asthma (who knew cats got asthma?) and I had to make sure the inhaler medication I bought was the right dose. It cost three times as much as I expected. I was told it is correct and the high price included two refills so it would last a long time.

I arrived at Peet's at 10:30 Friday morning. Harry was sitting at a table outside, but nobody else was there. Even though he was by himself, he had already accumulated 21 signatures on his nomination form. Only 20 are required. However, the City Clerk recommended getting some extras to make sure that at least 20 are qualified.

While I was there, Harry and I chatted about the housing development planned for Ryan Industrial Court. Harry considers it a good plan for that location and voted as a Planning Commissioner to approve it with minor changes.

Mayor Clarkson feels it isn't a high quality project. At the City Council's Public Hearing on March 12, 2013 Clarkson stated that ". . . the City's role is to build neighborhoods not to build homes." He has huge reservations about the density and changing the zoning.

Mayor Clarkson and Councilmember Phil O'Loane opposed the rezoning at a later meeting and the developers withdrew their request for rezoning to High Density Residential. The property is zoned for Mixed Use; so it can still be developed as residential but with fewer units.

Despite disagreeing on this particular development, Mayor Clarkson and Harry Sachs are supporting each other's candidacy. In fact Clarkson came over from Panera Bread to chat with Harry.

Several other familiar faces came to sign Harry's papers including Shirley and David Ernest who are both well-known at the Senior Center, School Board member Ken Mintz, and Parks Commissioner Carol Lopez.

Much of the discussion turned to Abram Wilson's pulling papers to run again for Mayor. Wilson termed out in 2009 after serving four consecutive, two-year terms, which are the limits in the City's Charter set in Measure K.

Measure K was passed by an overwhelming 76% in 2001. This changed the Mayor's role from rotating annually among City Council members to an elected position. The measure amended Article III of City Charter as follows:

"The Mayor shall be elected by plurality at an election to be held every two years. No elected Mayor shall serve for more than four two year terms or eight years total. Duties of the elected mayor for the City of San Ramon shall remain the same as the duties as of January 1, 2001. Compensation for the elected mayor of San Ramon shall be one hundred dollars per month more than a city Councilmember."

Harry told me that he was on the committee formed to define the duties of the elected Mayor. This committee was appointed shortly after Abram Wilson was elected as the first elected Mayor in 2003. I remembered that past Mayors Mary Lou Oliver and Diane Schinnerer and Measure K sponsor Victor Petersen were on that committee, but I forgot that Harry Sachs was on it too.

So the elected Mayor has no more duties than the previously rotated Mayors and is term-limited to not more than eight years total. The Council put a measure on the ballot this year to allow a one-time-only term extension of one year for the Mayor to be able to switch to even year elections, but Mayor Wilson could not take advantage of that because he already maxed out on his terms.

It will be up to the City Attorney to decide if Mayor Wilson can run again for Mayor, but Mayor Clarkson believes that Wilson could not run for Mayor again without another Charter Amendment to extend or remove the term limits.

By the end of Harry's signature party, he had collected 29 signatures. He saved the 30th spot for Sandy Barclay who couldn't make it to Peet's that morning. Bill Clarkson said he has all of the signatures needed for his nomination.

I called the City Clerk's office at 4 pm on Friday to see if anyone had filed their papers yet but I did not receive a call back by the end of the day. I expect most of the papers will be filed this week. The last day to file is August 9th. If Councilmember Jim Livingstone hasn't submitted his nomination forms by then, the filing period will be extended to August 14th.
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Posted by Paul Mitchell, a resident of another community,
on Jul 24, 2013 at 8:27 am

Even though I like former Mayor Wilson, the Charter language "No elected mayor shall serve more than... eight years total" is very clear and unambiguous. He has served eight years as an elected mayor (none of that time as an appointed mayor). If he chooses to submit an application to run for mayor again, the application would have to be declared in conflict with the Charter and rejected for that reason. When I voted for the Charter amendment I voted in favor of that exact language.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jul 24, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


In 2008 when the Council put a measure on the ballot to increase the Mayor's salary and term limits to 9 years, I suggested removing the term limits from the Charter. By Athan was City Attorney then and said the limits on the Mayor should be kept. If Abram really wants to be on the City Council again, he should run for Council and not Mayor.


Posted by San Ramon Resident, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jul 24, 2013 at 2:47 pm

So Ken Mintz showed up to sign Harry's papers. I thought he lives in Danville. Are only San Ramon residents able to sign papers? And, about Mr. Wilson vs. Mr. Clarkson as mayor - Roz, maybe you should ask Mr. Clarkson about his private "cabinet" that advises him each week about city issues - who are they, where do they live and what's their purpose? Maybe you should be invited to attend one of those meetings!

Posted by Future San Ramon Resident, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jul 24, 2013 at 4:54 pm

My wife and I are moving to the Twin Creeks area and hope to be enrolling our daughter in Iron Horse Middle School this fall. She will likely be biking to school by way of Norse Canyon. I've heard a little about a plan to build HOV on/off ramps to I-680 which may or may not impact traffic and access to Iron Horse Trail. Can someone let me know if the project is likely to go through? Is the city going to vote on it and where do they stand given the upcoming election? I'm neither opposed nor supportive at this point and just want more information. Thank you!

Posted by Resident, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jul 25, 2013 at 7:41 am

I don't see how the off ramps would Significantly affect the Iron Horse Trail. The total number of cars crossing the IHT shouldn't change by much as a result of a new overpass. It might shift a few cars from one crossing to another. The final decision on the overpass will be made at the county/state level with some local input.

Posted by Harry S., a resident of San Ramon,
on Jul 25, 2013 at 9:50 am

San Ramon Resident- just to clarify Roz's comments; Ken Mintz did show up but not to sign my nomination papers. You are correct, only San Ramon residents can sign. Ken just offered his support and best wishes going forward.

Regarding the proposed HOV ramps, one of the major considerations for the project is "community acceptance". The City Council will be asked to formally weigh in and vote on specific CalTrans recommendations in the future. The residents west of San Ramon Valley Blvd. are very much in opposition to this project for a variety of valid reasons.

Future San Ramon Resident, your concerns about the impact to Norris Canyon are of primary concern to me. That roadway is the primary artery for families/students going to Iron Horse or Cal High. There are legitimate issues as to a)impacts to local residents during commmute times on Norris Canyon and b)whether the proposed installation of HOV ramps at Norris will actually mitigate traffic congestion.

As a candidate for city council, I have serious reservations about this project based on my reading of every available public document found on the CCTA website. I am publicly in opposition to this project as I believe the impacts to the neighborhoods and public safety far outweigh any "potential benefit". There are better alternatives and they should be fully considered by all relevant decsion makers.
The residents of San Ramon have created a website http://stopnorrisramp.org. I invite folks to review it and learn more.

We all agree that traffic impacts are becoming worse, HOV ramps @ Norris Canyon are not the way, in my view, to make things better.

Posted by Bill Wagner, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jul 25, 2013 at 11:31 am

San Ramon Resident, You seem to have information about a private cabinet that Mr. Clarkson meets with every week. Why don't you just tell us more since you seem to know something about it? Other than meeting with more than one other council member (as per the Brown Act) I believe that Mr. Clarkson is free to meet with whomever he chooses. If you are trying to "connect the dots" of some conspiracy theory, please provide us some more detail. I do not know Mr. Clarkson personally, so I am not defending him. I just get a kick out of how many folks on these Town Square Forums try to create controversy where none exists.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jul 25, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

San Ramon Resident,

I didn't know Ken Mintz moved to Danville. I thought he still resided in San Ramon. I don't know about any "secret" meetings Mayor Clarkson may hold, but as Bill Wagner replied, as long as the Mayor isn't violating the Brown Act by meeting with other members of the City Council on the side, he can meet with anyone he chooses. Maybe the group that came over with the Mayor from Panera Bread is part of that "private cabinet." Their names are all listed in my blog.

I guess you didn't read the part of my blog that says, "So the elected Mayor has no more duties than the previously rotated Mayors." The only differences between the elected Mayor and other Councilmembers are that he (or she) chairs the meetings and represents the City at functions and events. He (or she) has one vote and no more authority or control in how the City is run than any of the other four Councilmembers.

For those residents who believe that Mayor Clarkson unilaterally cut services or reduced amenities in San Ramon, you might want to view the Budget Workshop video from January 8, 2013. Web Link

City Manager Greg Rogers gave a presentation on the City's budget and where the shortfalls are. Then each Councilmember (including the Mayor) made a list of what he thought should be cut. The first set of cuts were those that ALL FIVE Councilmembers agreed could be cut. Then they worked their way down.

Five budget workshops were held to whittle the budget down. If you look at the audience at this Budget Workshop, you will see me in my hat and Jim Gibbon's gray hair. We were the only two members of the public at this Workshop. I was the only member of the public at some of the subsequent workshops.

Mayor Clarkson invited the public to attend any or all of the Budget workshops, and if, Mr. San Ramon Resident, you want to be part of the Mayor's inner group you could start by attending the meetings.

Future San Ramon Resident,

The proposal for the HOV lanes on Norris Canyon would widen the overpass and add bike and pedestrian lanes on both sides, which would make it safer for those on foot or bikes to cross that overpass to get to the IHT.


Posted by Bob P, a resident of another community,
on Jul 28, 2013 at 12:53 pm

I have found the 'inner circle' isn't much different than the 'outer circle'. Contrary to public belief, there isn't that much 'inside' stuff going on in San Ramon.

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