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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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Off the fence

Uploaded: Sep 26, 2013
I attended the Candidate's Forum Wednesday night. I sat next to Parks Commissioner Dominique Yancy, who commented at the end, "It was very enlightening." There was a clear division between two candidates who knew what they were talking about and the other two who were either stuck on a single issue or floundering around to find one.

I like Rene Matsumoto personally, even though I don't know her very well. I believe she is smart and a quick learner, but learning everything a councilmember needs to know on the job, "would not be prudent," to quote Dana Carvey. Rene needs to go back to school, or at least to apply for one of the City's advisory committees and work her way up.

Harry Sachs started on the Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC), which is a great place to learn where the city gets its revenues and how to keep them coming in. Harry and Phil O'Loane moved from the EDAC to the Planning Commission, which is another great way to learn about what is allowed, what is required, and what is necessary in granting building permits and maintaining a balance between residential and business growth.

Saying he doesn't like high density housing and the City Center needs to be cut in half, as Thomas von Thury did Wednesday night, demonstrates a lack of understanding of the planning process, regional housing and transportation mandates, and economic needs for the future.

Clearly two candidates stood out in their knowledge and understanding of the complex web of laws, plans, and state and regional mandates – Harry Sachs and Dave Hudson.

In my blog Still on the fence I said I wasn't endorsing Harry and Dave even though I noted that they are the most knowledgeable candidates. I wanted to read Rene's answers to my questions and be open-minded about her candidacy.

I'm afraid her knowledge of how the city operates is weak, and learning on the job is not a good option for San Ramon right now. We really need Councilmembers who know what they are doing. That's why I'm officially endorsing Harry Sachs and Dave Hudson for the two open seats.

This is even more important this year if the Measure to go to even year elections passes. That would mean candidates elected this year would serve five year terms instead of four. While that would give Rene Matsumoto and Thomas von Thury an extra year to learn what the Council does, I'd rather have known quantities representing me on the Council.

I don't agree with everything Dave Hudson says or does, and I don't agree with everything Harry says or does. But I do know that both of them have come to whatever decisions they make through knowledge of what the options are.

I'm not sure how much difference my endorsements will make in the election. I predict that Harry Sachs will be the big vote getter and will win in a walk. So it comes down to who will come in second. So far Thomas von Thury's only issues are stopping the HOV ramps on the Norris Canyon overpass and reducing the size of the City Center.

The HOV Ramps are a high priority regional project which the City might be able to get moved from Norris Canyon to Executive Parkway but probably won't be able to prevent entirely. This has been planned since 2002 and won't be built until 2018.

Dave Hudson, in his usual incomprehensible way, told the audience at the forum, "You voted for this in 2004." Yes, Dave, but most people don't know what they are voting for. The plan for HOV ramps and high speed busses was buried in Measure J, which extended the half-cent gasoline sales tax from 2009 to 2034. Measure J passed with 71% of the vote, and now the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) has a bucket of money they want (no must) spend on improving mass transit on the 680.

The plans for the City Center were approved in 2008 and most residents look forward to having it. I was at the meetings when this was planned and I didn't see Thomas von Thury or anyone else there to object to it.

If residents want things to happen or don't want things to happen, they have to come to the Council meetings and get involved. The last time there was a big turnout was to save the Sycamore trees on the Bollinger Canyon hill going up to Dougherty Valley. That road needs to be widened and the only way to do it would be to reduce the size of the median where the trees are, or move the sidewalk and bike path out of that roadway while still providing access for walkers and cyclists to get to Dougherty Valley.

I know Dave Hudson is already thinking about that because I've talked to him about. I don't know where Harry Sachs is on this, but with his experience on the Planning Commission he understands the process to put in roads and bike paths and sidewalks better than his other opponents would at this time.

Now isn't the time to take chances on unknown and inexperienced candidates who make grandstand promises that they don't understand and are probably unsupportable. This City has been well-run for the last ten years. For two years we had a well-meaning but unprepared Council majority (known as "The Gang of Three) who almost bankrupted the City. Let's not go back there again. Vote for Sachs and Hudson and keep our City solvent and moving forward not backwards.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Bill Wagner, a resident of San Ramon,
on Sep 26, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Thanks for pointing out Hudson's usual arrogance and "talking down" to his constituents, when you cite his retort of "you all voted for this in 2004!". Exactly, Roz, the details were buried way deep in the documents and nowhere on the ballot or a ballot statement was there specific mention of HOV ramps in San Ramon. If you dig real deep (and I mean real deep) into the mountain of CCTA documents you will find that HOV lanes were to be considered for Sycamore or Norris. I would ask "Mr. Fountain of Knowledge" Dave Hudson, when and where was the Sycamore option dropped from the consideration by CCTA and why? Was there a public record of this decision to drop Sycamore and focus on Norris? Do you think Danville objected (as they should have) and it fell into San Ramon's lap with the Norris option? Hudson also states that the Executive Parkway option will never happen because it will not get funded, and that the CCTA knows this. What does he mean by this and why is the CCTA prolonging the EIR to consider Executive Pkwy, if it will never get funded? Surely this extended time on the lengthy EIR will add more cost to the projected $102 million. Hudson is on the CCTA board, he knows for a fact that Executive Parkway will never get funded, yet he lets this go on and spend more money on something that will never happen? Was Executive Parkway just a ploy to settle down the rattled citizenry, and hope that we will go away quietly? Hudson needs to answer these questions. He is on all sides of the fence and is in my opinion in clear conflict of interest. OK, so he's a "know it all". I'm not impressed and quite frankly real tired of this.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Sep 26, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


You seem to know more about this than I do, so I'm just going to add what I think I know, which may not be 100% correct.

When the ramps were first proposed, they were going to be on BOTH Sycamore and Norris Canyon. This wasn't an either/or. The anti-ramp group in San Ramon tried to recruit opposition in Danville. Maybe that worked better for the folks in Danville, but as far as I know the CCTA simply decided they didn't need ramps on Sycamore and Norris Canyon would be enough.

As far as Dave being arrogant, I prefer to call him obtuse. I don't think he's talking down as much as not explaining things well, but I can see your point.

I can see why a faction of residents are tired of Dave, but this year the other candidates, except for Sachs, are very weak. If you want to beat Dave, you need to recruit better candidates.


Posted by Bob P, a resident of another community,
on Sep 27, 2013 at 10:50 am

I probably know Dave better than anyone, and I will tell you that he is not arrogant. Obtuse, I might agree with! I have spent literally hours talking issues and policy with Dave, we would drive to Monterrey for Planners Conferences or take other road trips for conferences or meetings and we would discuss and debate. I'm not dumb with regards to this stuff, but Dave is in a class by himself. So, listen when he speaks, he might not have the most efficient way of explaining things, but I have found him to be correct about 99% of the time.

I can say with 100% certainty that he makes always makes decisions that he feels are in the best interest for San Ramon.

Posted by MLOliver, a resident of San Ramon,
on Sep 27, 2013 at 1:11 pm

I agree with many of your points, Roz. Until I heard the candidates speak Wednesday night, I wasn't sure who would get my second vote. (I have been in support of Harry Sachs from the beginning.) I suspect there are a lot of folks who are sure about one candidate, but not too sure of their second choice. As I listened to the responses to the audience questions, I realized that only two candidates had a clear understanding of the fiscal responsibilities that will take our city financially secure into the future. Fiscal responsibility is on the top of my list of priorities. I will be voting for Sachs and Hudson.

After 2 1/2 years of working to incorporate San Ramon, 12 years as a council member, and the last 18 years paying attention to issues and serving on city and county committees, I am proud to support Harry and Dave. I agree with Bob and Roz that Dave can be obtuse at times, but mostly I think it is from expecting that the listener knows more about the subject at hand than he or she does.

Another very important aspect of the role of a council member is understanding San Ramon's relationship to the rest of the State, County, and Special Districts. San Ramon doesn't exist in a vacuum, and the ability to protect San Ramon's interests goes far beyond the boundaries of the City. Both Dave and Harry understand that and have the contacts to be respected by those agencies. It was clear to me from the comments of the other candidates that those relationships are either not understood, or misunderstood.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Sep 29, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

I wanted to add a link to the video of the 9/25 Candidates Forum, but I couldn't find it yet. I did find a Youtube video of the CC Times interview of the four candidates. Here's a link to that one,

Web Link

The Times came to the same conclusion I did about endorsing Harry Sachs and Dave Hudson. I don't always agree with the Times, but in this case my decision was obvious for the same reasons as theirs.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Sep 30, 2013 at 12:12 am

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Next week's blogs

A few weeks ago I emailed each of the four candidates for City Council a list of questions. I used these in part for my endorsements this week.

Starting on Monday I shall post one candidate's answers each day, without any additional comments from me. I hope this helps my readers decide how to vote.

Here's a link to Thomas von Thury's answers to my questions Web Link

I shall add another set of answers each day this week for each of the Council candidates. I also sent a list of similar questions to Mayor Bill Clarkson. I hope to have those back by Friday to post his answers too.


Posted by Long Time Resident, a resident of San Ramon,
on Oct 7, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Simply put Dave Hudson operates under the assumption "bigger is always better". A bigger city means bigger city revenues which means a bigger city bureaucracy and bigger, record-breaking city manager salaries. What he doesn't realize is about 70% of the city is against "bigger" as was clearly witnessed by the smack down of the Wilson-Hudson steam train known as Measure W. The guy is totally out of touch with citizens and his red-faced chopped-salad responses are reflective of that distancing. I'm voting for the rookies. Everybody is one at some point upon joining council (witness the excellent Bill Clarkson), and we need a fresh approach now more than ever.

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