Planning Commissioner for Oakley and City Manager Survey

Planning Commissioner and City Manager Survey. Yes!! Oakley is forming a Planning Commission – applications are available. Our hopes are we will have a robust number of Oakley residents apply for the position. The URL to the application is below. Also, the new City Manager survey is still available. Would you please take ten minutes to complete it? The effort will help the City Council immensely in selecting a new Manager for our community. – Planning Commissioner Application – City Manager Survey – English – City Manager Survey – Spanish

George Fuller, MPA, MA
    City Councilmember - City of Oakley

Expanded Library for Oakley – a trial balloon

An expanded library would be an asset for the City of Oakley, at least in my mind. However, the financial arrangement for the facility’s construction would entail an additional property tax if approved by the voters. In many areas of the city, property taxes are an immense burden. The taxes on owners of new homes east of Main Street are oppressive in my perspective. I would not support such an increase in property taxes to pay for an expanded library.

            In pondering the predicament, one solution came to mind. Construct a new library downtown on the dirt pad that runs along the south of the railroad tracks. The library would contain the usual services, but the hope would be to have a Starbucks, Peet’s, or similar coffee house within the building. The business would lease space from the city for the library, perhaps deferring some of the costs for construction. Attached to the library would be space for an art studio that could serve as a music venue (jazz, blues, and such) evenings and weekends. Perhaps even poetry readings, which I would imagine attract people from around East County to participate.

            Considering a new Senior Center is a positive step for the community. The Senior Center that now exists is inadequate for the needs of our seniors in my mind. In addition, a railroad museum could materialize. The San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA), the organization touting the train stop, has 1.3 billion dollars to spend and expects more money to be forthcoming. During an SJJPA finance meeting, the members asked people to submit ideas of how best to use the money. An Amtrak Museum would seem appropriate.

            Where would the parking lot be placed? First, the city needs to ascertain the need for the parking lot. Such a parking structure could be a multi-story on the county property located the former sheriff’s station existed. The rumor is that the county would donate the property to the city with the stipulation that the city constructs a library on the property.  I would hope to have the stipulation would read to facilitate the construction of a library. Such an arrangement would allow the city to move any vehicle parking plans to the county property, opening the downtown area for a library building.

            Financing could be from several resources. The city has a large amount of money allocated to it for pandemic relief. Could resources from the fund go towards a library construction project? The SJJPA has over a billion dollars to spend. Money could be used from that resource. The county will be looking for infrastructure development locations. Perhaps the county could contribute?

            Just some thoughts. A trial balloon.

George Fuller, MPA, MA
Councilmember, City of Oakley 

Oakley City Council Ethics Two

Councilmembers Randy Pope and Doug Hardcastle had a violent, misogynistic, homophobic meltdown on May 28, 2019. The two directed hostility towards then-Mayor Claire Alaura, who attempted to deliver a proclamation for LGBTQ month, which occurs in June. Councilmember Pope and Councilmember Hardcastle began to berate and openly demean Alaura. Both Pope and Hardcastle demanded a motion made that would put the proclamation aside and not read. Pope and Hardcastle were unequivocal in their hostility towards then-Mayor Alaura for attempting to deliver what they perceived was a great injustice to the community.

            Unfortunately, City Attorney Derek Cole allowed the motion to be made and a vote taken. Cole did not put aside the motion to be placed on a public agenda and open for public comment following a public announcement of the motion, a severe violation of the Brown Act in California. A vote occurred. Fortunately, Councilmembers Higgins and Romick spoke up for then-Mayor Alaura, and Hardcastle’s and Pope’s motion failed. Kudos to then-Councilman Romick for his powerful words of the inappropriateness of Hardcastle’s and Pope’s shenanigans from the council dais. The mayor read the proclamation.

            Both Hardcastle and Pope were standing on the dais during their tirade while Alaura was below them. They were yelling at Alaura from their position, looming over her as they did so.

            In my perspective, the issue is not whether one agrees or disagrees with same-sex lifestyles. It is an egregious disregard of an elected official’s sworn statement that they will uphold the laws of the State of California and America. The official will ensure the constitution’s protection from an assault of all enemies, foreign and domestic. However, Pope and Hardcastle threw aside that oath, instead used their governmental authority to demonstrate their hate for members of the LGBTQ community.

            It is a double disregard for oaths regarding Pope, who is an Oakland Police Department Sergeant. Pope took a similar pledge to uphold the laws of the state and country when sworn in as an officer, which he disregarded during the debacle on the dais. Pope’s meltdown was even more troubling when one considers Mayor Alaura’s husband is a sworn officer of the Oakland Police Department. It is despicable for a member of law enforcement, especially law enforcement in the same department, to ambush and attack the spouse of another law enforcement officer. It is conduct unbecoming an officer. I am concerned with was the attack on Mayor Alaura, an act of power against her husband? Was Pope letting Sergeant Alaura know that if Alaura did not follow Pope’s lead on Oakland PD, Pope could bully his wife because of his relationship with her on the council?

            I am also severely disturbed by what appears to be unilateral actions by City Manager Joshua McMurray and City Clerk Libby Vreonis. Before I left for a conference in Austin on July 19, I reviewed the tape of the meeting. It was on the City of Oakley website. Following my return on July 24, I made a request, via the California Public Records Act, for a copy of all tapes of the meeting. City Clerk Vreonis replied that all videotapes of city council meetings before July 29, 2019, had been destroyed by her. I was troubled, but even more, because the tapes’ destruction occurred soon after Vice-Mayor Pope called for an ethics investigation during the July 13, 2021, council meeting.

            Fortunately, I have a tape of the incident that I recorded myself from the website tape when it was available. Unfortunately, the video does not show the dais, only the audience, but the audio is there. The video does not show Hardcastle and Pope standing on the dais and looming over Mayor Alaura. The first male voice one hears on the video is City Attorney Derek Cole; the second male voice is Pope. The third male voice heard is Hardcastle, and the last male voice is then-Councilmember Romick.

            The URL for the tape is:

One needs to copy and paste the URL on a browser to open the video. The video is seventeen minutes in length.

George Fuller, MPA, MA
City Councilmember, City of Oakley 

Barnes and Noble on Lone Tree Way – a Too Well Kept Secret

Barnes and Noble on Lone Tree Way – a Too Well Kept Secret. Barnes and Noble Book Store on Long Tree Way, a too well-kept secret in my perspective, was brought to my attention by Susannah Meyer, Brentwood City Councilmember and District Representative for State Senator Steve Glazer. The store has an expanded area for enjoying Starbucks coffee. I would assume people could peruse books in the coffee shop area. The store had a large selection of books available that were divided into easily understood sections—certainly, a pleasant place to be on a hot afternoon in the Delta. I like to pass these tidbits on to Oakley residents. Yes, it would be very nice if Oakley could entice Barnes and Noble to create a similar store in our town.

George Fuller, MPA, MA
City Councilmember - City of Oakland 

Oakley City Council Ethics

Oakley City Council Ethics. During the Oakley City Council meeting of July 13, 2021, Councilmember Williams called for a discussion of my social media posts. My thoughts she intends to censor the social media content. During the conversation, she characterized all my postings as lies. Yes, labeling me a liar from the council dais is an issue that must, and will, be resolved and corrected. I have attached a letter to Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton requesting an investigation of Vice-Mayor Pope and Mayor Higgins of failing to notify all councilmembers that Bryan Montgomery was resigning ad the two were in the process of selecting an Interim City Manager. The process, sanctioned by City Attorney Cole, was an insult to the community, to the councilmembers, including me. Vice-Mayor Pope questioned my ethics from the council dais, also an intolerable situation. City Attorney Cole indicated Vice-Mayor Pope and Mayor Higgins met as an ad hoc committee based on a 2008 Oakley resolution that authorized the Mayor and Vice-Mayor to meet with the City Manager to negotiate his salary. The resolution expired after the year. Your responses to social media posts are always welcomed on the medium, and I am sure City Council members would be happy to hear of any plans to censor such posts.

Below is a copy of the documents that were forwarded to DA Diana Becton.

George Fuller, MPA, MA
City Councilmember, City of Oakley 

Citizens need to be heard in new Oakley City Manager search

The public needs to be heard in Oakley City Manager search. The public needs to be heard in the Oakley City Manager search. The three proposals submitted by executive search firms state that if the City Council requests such, they will have public input meetings, in many forms, throughout Oakley. The citizens of Oakley need to be heard by the search firms during their selection process. It would be appropriate for the people of Oakley to contact Oakley City Council members, before the meeting tonight, to voice support of community surveys in the new City Manager search. The phone number for tonight’s meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m., is (669) 900-9128. When prompted enter meeting id number 858 0900 5401. We do not want a City of Indio fiasco where City Council members disrespected their constituencies and appointed Bryan Montogomery as the new city manager without citizen input.

George Fuller, MPA, MA
City Councilmember, City of Oakley 

The City of Oakley needs an at large, elected Mayor

. Oakley needs an elected, at large, Mayor, in my perception. Tuesday night (July 13, 2021), the Oakley City Council will consider councilmanic districts for the election of city council members (item 5.5). In my mind, creating councilmanic districts is long overdue. The initial thought is to create five councilmanic districts from which to elect council members. The Mayor would be appointed, on a rotating basis, by the council. However, recent events have convinced me of the need to have at large elected Mayor. The Mayor would be a voice for the community and work with council members to avert any council district disputes. The Mayor would preside over council meetings, ensuring council member was treated with equity and could ensure that City Staff worked equitably for the good of all in the City. The arrangement would be the same as Brentwood, Antioch, Martinez, and Richmond, to name just a few.

George S. Fuller
   City Councilmember, City of Oakley, CA 

Zoning changes in Oakley

Discussions of zoning considerations are on the dais agenda during Tuesday night’s (July 13, 2021) Oakley City Council meeting (item 7.2). The forum will include thoughts on the proliferation of storage facilities, gas stations, fast-food joints, and convenience stores in Oakley. Mayor Sue Higgins has proposed a red zone in Oakley, which includes all residents south or west of Main Street. Those residents in the red zone would benefit from a zone change curbing the listed businesses’ proliferation and initiate a building moratorium. Those outside the red zone would be subject to the whims of the developers regarding business development, as they are now. The residents outside the red zone are Vintage Parkway, Emerson Ranch, Delaney, Summer Lake, Quail Valley, Parklands, etc.

            My thoughts are yes, Oakley does need to address zoning regulations on an urgent basis. However, we are the City of Oakley. If there is to be a zoning modification, it needs to be for the entire city, not just privileged neighborhoods

            Now is the time to contact City Council members to express your opinions regarding the issue.

George Fuller, MPA, MA
City Councilmember, City of Oakley