Council may hire former Alameda rep to aid broader lobbying effort

Council may hire former Alameda rep to aid broader lobbying effort

Michele Ellson

Photo courtesy of the California Progress Report.

City leaders may soon be asking state and federal lawmakers for more money to develop Alameda Point, construct bike and walking trails and equip the Island’s public safety forces, and on Tuesday they’ll consider hiring a former top state legislator to help make the city’s case.

The council will consider approving a new state and federal legislative agenda for 2014 on Tuesday that includes those items and more, along with a contract that would put former Alameda representative and state Senate leader Don Perata to work on the city’s behalf up in Sacramento.

Once a federal legislative agenda is approved, city staff will seek out a lobbyist to advocate for Alameda in Washington, D.C. City staff have budgeted $144,000 toward their lobbying efforts.

The city has long focused its lobbying efforts on obtaining the deeds to Alameda Point, Assistant City Manager Alex Nguyen wrote in a pair of reports to the council for Tuesday’s meeting. But now that the city owns a substantial portion of the former Navy base, its efforts should focus on additional needs.

In addition to reclaiming the rest of Alameda Point and ensuring toxics there are cleaned up, the list of items the city should lobby federal lawmakers on includes establishing a national wildlife refuge at the Point and keeping the U.S. Maritime Administration’s Ready Reserve fleet there. Nguyen said the city should also seek money for public safety, housing, bike and pedestrian trails, flood protection, shoreline stabilization and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

If approved by the council, issues the city would lobby Sacramento on would include expanding ferry service in ways that benefit Alameda, construction of roadway improvements just outside the Posey Tube that city staff have said are crucial for development of Alameda Point and loosening the environmental review needed to develop infill sites. The city would also continue to seek legislation that would allow it to use future property taxes from development to fund roads, parks and utilities.

The city would also ask state lawmakers for money to help pay for a new Fire Station 3 on Grand Street, a tsunami preparedness plan and automated license plate readers for police that would scan and store plate data, and would seek funds for Alameda Point and transportation improvements.

Perata, an Alameda native and onetime schoolteacher-turned-lawmaker, served for a dozen years as Alameda’s representative in the California Assembly and Senate, leading the state Senate between 2004 and 2008. While there, he advocated for more gun control and for the rights of the elderly, disabled and mentally ill. Perata and some of his associates were the subject of a federal corruption investigation – which was closed without any charges being filed – and he lost a 2010 campaign for Oakland mayor to Jean Quan.

The city hired Perata to work on its behalf in June, state lobbying records show; Nguyen said the city hired him to help defeat a bill that would have eliminated Alameda's seat on the new ferry board. His firm also worked this year for the California Infill Builders Federation; the Oakland Raiders; the Ramsell Corporation, an Oakland-based health consultancy; and SSA Marine, a marine and rail terminal operator based in Washington, D.C.

If the $90,000 contract is approved, Perata would advocate for Alameda on a range of issues; city staff has also hired Joe A. Gonsalves & Son to advocate specifically on Alameda Point. Gonsalves was a member of the state Assembly from 1962 to 1974, issuing a $36,000 contract to that firm.

San Francisco-based law form Nossaman LLP received a contract of $18,000 for grant-seeking and writing and additional lobbying. The Gonsalves and Nossaman contracts are under the dollar amount requiring council approval.

Comments

Submitted by John Thomson (not verified) on Wed, Dec 4, 2013

Don't waste a cent on Tsunami evacuation! As far as I know there is no real risk. If there was such a risk, a plan would be required for all the cities around the bay. I personally witnessed the "tsunami" that entered The Bay after the Anchorage earthquake: it only caused marina floats in Belvedere to rise by a foot or so. (That tsunami devastated Crescent City!). If a nearby quake causes a tsunami in the bay ( an eventuality that I have never heard of), then we would not have enough warning to do anything. Better to focus in educating everyone how unreliable the tubes are expected (by Caltrans) to be after The Big One on the Hayward or San Andreas faults.

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