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Hercules Council To Consider Censuring De Vera

A citizen requested that the councilwoman's colleagues pass a resolution criticizing her alleged attempts to stifle opinion on Patch.

The Hercules City Council will consider a resolution Tuesday censuring councilwoman Myrna de Vera “for actions detrimental to the city of Hercules.” In September, de Vera apologized for contacting a city engineer in Pinole about blog comments made by a contractor doing business with Pinole.

De Vera denied that she attempted to silence Kent Von Aspern after he posted comments on Pinole-Hercules Patch, but she did regret that her “actions have caused the perception of a concerted effort to stifle a citizen’s free speech rights.”

The censure would require de Vera to pay $1,000 fine and forfeit her upcoming turn as vice-mayor, according to the Contra Costa Times. 

Chris Tallerico requested that the council discuss the resolution. 

Giorgio C. November 18, 2012 at 06:33 PM
In being objective, isn't it possible Myrna wanted to refrain from comment because she was in the middle of an ambush, complete with anonymous parties drafting the resolution? I think she realized she was not the middle of any formal process whatsoever. I'm sure she realized that "Hey, Houston, we have a problem." There were no rules. Personally, I would have told them to get their acts together, that I'd come back when they had it figured out. I would have then got up and walked out. Seriously, they didn't earn the time of day from her. They wasted everyone's time and the way it was handled became more of a hostile act than anything. She's to be commended for not spitting on the Mayor.
Giorgio C. November 18, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Sarah, I wish the Patch could have done more, but it is a slippery slope to infringement upon our rights to free speech. I think the Patch does do what they can, for the most part. It helps with commenters like yourself who make an effort to denounce such hate. Keep up the good work, Sarah!
Glenn Abraham November 18, 2012 at 07:28 PM
If the act is wrong, it is no less wrong because committed by someone we like. This is much worse than what Dan did to Phil. Dan apologized...likely for the realpolitik reason of necessity, but he dealt with it. Myrna obfuscated it. That is not okay just because we like Myrna a heckuva lot more than we like Dan. If she continues to stonewall, that "heckuva" may have to been downgraded.
Giorgio C. November 18, 2012 at 08:38 PM
I agree Myrna should be disciplined. Having said that, if she believes she is being treated unfairly in the process, I believe she can report this to the EEOC. http://www.eeoc.gov/
Marcia Kalapus November 19, 2012 at 03:52 AM
This a a big blog!! I have just finished reading the whole thing! And what is amazing is that every single one of you has totally missed the serious implications of what the actions of an elected official have created. It is clear that none of you are acquainted with the details and the workings of the JP Wastewater Agreement between Pinole and Hercules. If you are, you will understand what I am saying. I have been following this committee for over 6 years, attended many meetings, sat in on the recent Pinole/ Hercules public meetings with HDR when they were awarded the contract to do the future upgrades on the plant. And Mr. Von Aspern was chosen to be the lead engineer to lead the project because he is the most knowledgeable , and is an expert in his field to oversee this job which is a mutli-million dollar project to both cities. This upgrade is necessary to carry both cities into the future to meet the needs with respect to waste water disposal. And most especially for you good citizens to have your "new urban dreams come true" Mr Allison is also a very knowledgeable city engineer himself and most especially in waste water treatment plants. He and Mr. Von Aspern both have impeccable credentials with respect to this project. BUT now they have both been removed thus placing this very important project at risk with more costs added. NOW, chew on this awhile and decide what the real outcome should be regarding this matter. I wonder if you will ?
Joseph Catindig November 19, 2012 at 04:28 AM
To you, I will say this again brother! Until your ethnicity is attacked, you will never understand. Simple as that. I hope none of this BS will happen again in this diverse city of Hercules.
Giorgio C. November 19, 2012 at 04:42 AM
Hey Joseph, I am half Italian and half Polish. I grew up being ashamed of my Polish heritage because of all the jokes about how dumb Pols are. Imagine that, Joseph. Always hearing the Pols are dumb. So I only told people I was Italian. My own aunt prefers to believe she is Lithuanian, she is that ashamed. I went to a mostly black school before moving out of SF and was treated hostilely because I was white. I now have a precious daughter who is of mixed race who better not be treated any less of the person she is. This stuff affects us all, Joseph, but you are right. I don't know what it is like to be in your shoes. I'm just a dumb Pol. I still don't think what Mr. De Vera did was right.
Joseph Catindig November 19, 2012 at 04:52 AM
Woaah Giorgio, I didn't say anything about anyone being dumb. I do not expect for you to understand...I respect your opinion brother. Anyway, does this mean I lose that drink you owe me? 8)
Giorgio C. November 19, 2012 at 05:06 AM
Joseph, For whatever reason, my own mother now refers to me as "George", actually spelling my name that way, even though this is not my birth name. Like it is better for me to be even whiter. My own mother. Go figure. Yes, we should have that drink soon, Joseph.
Phil Simmons November 19, 2012 at 05:20 AM
Marcia, Why was he removed from the project? It seems perfectly reasonable that he could have continued the job. Did HDR force this to happen?
Giorgio C. November 19, 2012 at 05:34 AM
Marcia, I have to wonder about the training Pinole employees are receiving with respect to IT policies. In the past two days, on a Pinole-Hercules Patch blog about the former Pinole Police Commander, some employee allegedly with the PD appears to have been leaking information on the Patch about the police commander's work history. After all that has happened in recent months, how is it possible that some city employees are not exercising caution with respect to their internet communications? I'm not excusing our councilwoman, but rules and policies exist for a reason. Every employer has them. Your City Manager should be making sure that the necessary policies are in place and that staff have been trained on them as evidenced by their signature on an attestation form. I hope I am mistaken with respect to what I observed on this other Patch article, that no one truly is releasing such information without approval from their employer. If so, this could set Pinole up for another setback of sorts, possibly more costly.
George B. November 19, 2012 at 06:01 AM
Marcia - thank you for your comment. I agree with you that this blog has gotten off track and has someohow come back to racism. This is not about race. As much as some want to make it about race. It is about what is right and what is wrong. The councilwoman did wrong, the city engineer of pinole did wrong. PERIOD. I am sick of people making this about race, to Joseph - really get over yourself. One or two individuals made racist comments, about filipinos - big deal - you know why -because you should read the other racist remarks about blacks, and hispanics, and how about all the comments about the mayor? All with unsubstantiated claims. It has been proven time and time again that Mrs. DeVera has continually tried to find something against him and all she has gotten is heresay and guesses. No solid proof. Enough is enough - if she wants it to stop she has to be the one to stop it. This is not about the mayor. This is not about race. This is about Mrs DeVera and what she did. She needs to make it right, Glenn Abraham has redeemed himself in my eyes. He gets it. Why dont you others? I want this to resolve so we can move on and it wont until she takes responsibility and makes this right.
George B. November 19, 2012 at 06:01 AM
Read the newspaper - now its going to cost us all more money - and to respond to Mr. Simmons above - how can you even ask that kind of question? The answer is obvious - a conflict of interest, another who has had his first amendments right violated, and a city - no wait two cities that may be on the verge of another lawsuit. And you have to ask that question? And now - watch the meetng last week of the wastewater - and now you may understand that this will cost every house in Pinole and Hercules more money. Thank you Mrs. DeVera - if I had my way - you would pay the whole additional fee to replace the current project manager. Enough already - I am sick to my stomach.
Phil Simmons November 19, 2012 at 06:53 AM
George B, Just to clarify my perspective. I never for a moment thought that my 1st amendment rights were violated. I thought that Mayor Romero and I were having an argument. I was clearly making accusations about him. He clearly did not like it. We fought about it. Nothing more. His effort to shut me up was based on me having taken more than my 3 minutes. Too bad. I had more to say and I said it. I never asked for an apology, never expected one, and told Mayor Romero as much, both privately and publicly. It was others, lead by Bill Kelly, that made it into something bigger than it really was, not me. And I personally think it and the recent Myrna/VonAspern BS has gone way past the facts and the actions. I do think a case could be made that Myrna may have stepped beyond her role on council and acted unilaterally to deal with a blogging problem that she was caught up in. Perhaps that is something the council should consider regarding her or any other council persons actions. I do not believe that it rises to the level of a 1st amendment violation. And actually the council has already taken the matter up on two occasions, one time publicly, in a council meeting, about 6-8 weeks ago, with an apology from Myrna. The other time, as I have been told, in closed session where the council passed on taking the matter any farther. Of course this begs a bigger question. Tolstoy'd
Phil Simmons November 19, 2012 at 06:54 AM
Why was the council discussing this in closed session? Can any one say, once again, Brown Act violation? If there are those that feel this rises to some sort of federal offense and breaking of the US Constitution then "go for it". That is what the courts are for. Good luck with that. Let's just hear the entire story, instead of a lopsided story passed along by a bunch of Patch bloggers and the CC Times using only 1/2 of the conversation. To make decisions based on 1/2 considered bits of information is just plain wrong. Everyone blogging here knows it.
Giorgio C. November 19, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Myrna wasn't being sneaky about this as she put her request-communications in email. This makes me believe she might have believed her actions to be permissible, that she believed she had a right to do so because this was an employee, not just a citizen. I'd like to see both the Hercules and Pinole employee conduct policies to see exactly how much freedom employees have. Do they have 100% free speech? I have my complaints about councilwoman De Vera, but with respect to this incident, I have more complaints about a City Council that would draft such a resolution with an anonymous person and that would also ignore the input of the City Attorney and who would then release this unapproved document to the media. That to me is a big deal. I voted for Dan Romero during the recall election because I thought he stood for procedures. What procedure says that the City Council will enlist the help of an anonymous person for purpose of censuring a member of the council? Gerard Boulanger violated the state elections code and our council rightfully so punished him for this. How do I know Mr. Boulanger isn't retaliating against a council member for this? Of all people to draft the resolution, the council left it up to this guy? Are you kidding me?!
watching November 19, 2012 at 02:33 PM
@George B and Marcia. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Giorgio C. November 19, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Glenn, In our discussion, you told me I was possibly in "big trouble" for slandering Myrna and-or the legal ad hoc committee. You scared the cr_p out of me. I learned my lesson to be more careful with what I write and say. I agree we all have a right to protect ourselves. So what about in this case? If Myrna believes someone has committed libel-defamation, what should she or any council member do? Is there a standard legal process for issuing a warning letter of such? Even you were warned by a free speech advocate to be more careful with what you wrote about them, right? Free speech can come with a cost if one is not careful, yes?
George B. November 19, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Mr. Simmons - this blog is not about you either. It is about what Mrs DeVera did. You say to make decisions not based on facts is wrong - how many more facts do you need before you see what she did was wrong. Heck - even Glenn Abraham sees it! Actually - the more that comes out the worse it gets. If you cannot see it, you never will. The city attorney had an opportunity to make this right and did not. He did say he would approve the censure if they took out the vice mayor issue and the fine - they should have done that, passed it and moved on so this fiasco could go away. Instead - they wimped out and passed it onto the next council. If Mrs DeVera doesn't think she did wrong, then why bring an attorney into a forum where none was needed? Is she worried she is going to get sued? She must be, which means on some level she knows what she did was wrong. Stop with the brown act stuff - it was brought into open forum, as it should have been and look what happened. She had all her friends there telling her how wonderful she is for breaking the law, that is why it took 2 hours. Enough is enough. She had the opportunity to present her side of the story in public and she chose not to, she chose to hide behind her lawyer.. How is that for getting all the facts! She had her opportunity and she blew it again.
Phil Simmons November 20, 2012 at 04:25 AM
George B, You are correct. It is not about me. But for some reason you brought me into it with your comments about the occurrence that involved me. So, if you do not want me included in the matter , then how about you leave me out of the matter. I'll have no problem with that. As for the facts, it is not about me or you having enough facts to determine anything. It is about going through the process that brings the facts to the table. If the council and the lawyers think that is what should be done then I suspect that is what will get done. If they do not then both you and I will have to accept what is left. As for the Brown Act, just sayin, I gathered from previous conversation and blogging that it was discussed in closed session. I have to wonder why and how. If that does not bother you then ok, if you don't need to worry with it, don't worry with it.
George B. November 20, 2012 at 05:49 AM
Mr. Simmons, read the blog and understand I did not reference you first Giorgio and Joseph did first not me, I compounded on it. As for the facts - the correct forum was already provided to Mrs. DeVera, the council, and the city attorney. They all dropped the ball. She had the opportunity to provide her explanation in an open forum - which is the proper forum for her to do so, She did not she hid behind her lawyer and that makes her look even worse than she already does. The city attorney should have rewritten the badly written verbage, he did not. The city council should have required it, voted and let this move on. They did not. As for the brown act violation, talk to the city attorney. I dont think it applies, and the fact that this was brought out in public for her to parade her people in her defense and then for her to not defend herself speaks volumes. No one wants this to end more than me - I think its ridiculous. She should be censured. She should at the very least resign from the Waste Water committee. Should she stay on the council, thats up to her, but she needs to acknowledge her error. She has not. She has alluded to hurting her constituants, and feeling bad but no real emotion of I am sorry and I am W R O N G. She does that, she wins. She does not, She will lose. Simple facts.
Phil Simmons November 20, 2012 at 06:07 AM
George B. Ok, sounds good. Let's stand by and see how things go.
Joseph Catindig November 20, 2012 at 06:08 AM
George B. You said get over myself. I can't, even if I want to because I didn't initiate the issue of race in this thread. I'm not playing the race card(I don't know the game) like what you're trying to insinuate here. I just want to end this race topic because it is not fun to talk about. It just shows that ignorance still exist in this society! Right here in Hercules, it's a shame.
Joseph Catindig November 20, 2012 at 06:18 AM
George B. Regarding Mrs DeVera, I'd rather not talk about her anymore. I will just let the situation she is in to take its own course. If she's really guilty, then so be it but we have to give her due process. We could go on and on about it but it will not solve anything. Like you, I would like for this to get settled and clear whoever's name got smeared.
George B. November 20, 2012 at 06:19 AM
Joseph - good because I have never use the race card either. I dont think it exisits for the majority of Hercules residents. You will never find a perfect world, community or what have you. When anyone uses it, it will backfire. There is racism in this world. But the majority of people will not use it. Some will, and thats human nature, but it does not apply here in reality and filipinos are not the only ones who have been targeted. Leave that out of this conversation. No one is attacking Mrs. DeVera because she is Filipino, they are upset because of what she did - regardless of her race.
Joseph Catindig November 20, 2012 at 06:31 AM
Regarding Romero.... not want you want to hear but he has a lot to do with what's going on right now in that council. No solid proof is not true, in fact, it's the opposite. I do not hear West County Times writing about it or anyone complaining about them. For example, his gallant effort to shut the legal ad hoc committee down together with his council member/friends assisted by a "citizen," with total disregard of the countless hours the volunteers have put in to that committee. Lots of proof here but never saw it in the papers. This and a lot more but I won't even waste my time writing about it.
Joseph Catindig November 20, 2012 at 06:43 AM
Well, I just said I want to end the race issue but you keep on and on about it...Okay! Again, you have put words in my mouth. Again, I am not the one who started the race issue in this thread...I am merely responding to other's posts. Nowhere in posts claimed that DeVera was being attacked about Von Aspern's issue because of her race. Am I not speaking in English here that you seem to not understand what I'm trying to say, George B.?
Joseph Catindig November 20, 2012 at 06:49 AM
@George B. "but it does not apply here in reality and filipinos are not the only ones who have been targeted" Who else has been targeted George B.? Let's hear it.
Joseph Catindig November 20, 2012 at 06:56 AM
George B., I think it is you who really needs to get over yourself!
Giorgio C. November 21, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Councilwoman De Vera should resign from the Waste Water Committee if she cares for the cities of Pinole and Hercules. She should have the sensitivity to place the welfare of the cities before her own personal interests. She should do this, not as a punitive measure to herself, but for the purpose of recognizing that business as usual cannot continue unless she takes this action.

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