Your City Council—Live: City Keeps State of Emergency Declaration, Ivy League Connection Introductions

Hercules Patch reported live from the Tuesday, May 24, City Council meeting. Read the report as the meeting happened, and read from the bottom up to get the story in chronological order.


1. Conduct Discussion And Provide Direction To Staff Regarding County Redistricting NO ACTION TAKEN

2. Conduct Discussion of Contra Costa County Grand Jury Report No. 1104 – Elected Board Membership NO ACTION TAKEN

City must respond to repot by July 25.


Joseph Loo, "I was never aware that council members were paid a salary…and also benefits. Public officials are for public service, not public employment. The laid-off employees will have to support their families…you should step up to the plate to and resolve that no council members will be paid salaries."

Hector Rubio, Chair of the Citizens Advisory Finance Ad Hoc Committee, gave presentation on financial standing of the city and RDA.

3. Conduct Discussion And Possible Support of SB 286 – Redevelopment Reform ITEM PULLED


1. Adopt A Resolution Terminating The Declaration Of A Local Emergency In The City Of Hercules (Carson Slide Area) [not terminated]


Joseph Loo, "Is the city doing enough (to help with the Carson Street landslide)? The hillside is still shifting and moving. During the recent rain storms...the hillside...became a matter of urgency. Currently, our HOA is at odds with the city. It is claiming that the city is also responsible for fixing the hillside. The city approved original grating on the hillside (years ago). These are strong words from our HOA...the hillside...continues to threaten houses next to it."

Deltorchio, recommends not ending Hercules' emergency declaration.


The Consent Calendar consists of items that are considered to be routine and are recommended for approval. These items may be acted upon and approved by one motion of the City Council. However, individual items may be removed from the Consent Calendar, for discussion, by individual Council Members wishing to consider the matter separately.

1. Reject Claim Filed By Amina Herbert

2. Reject Claim Filed By Joyce Russell

*Both claims were for a pothole on Willow Avenue.

3. Adopt a Resolution Directing the Filing of Annual Engineer’s Reports for City of Hercules Landscaping and Lighting Assessment District No. 83-2, Victoria by the Bay Landscaping and Lighting Assessment District No. 2002-1, Hercules Village Landscaping and Lighting Assessment District No. 2002-2, Baywood Landscaping and Lighting Assessment District No. 2004-1, and Bayside Landscaping and Lighting Assessment District No. 2005-1 Pursuant to Landscaping and Lighting Act of 1972.


Ken Morrison, I never hear much of a response from the City Council (to public comments). We don’t know if you’re responding to these comments at all…I would like answers to…The Red Barn payments that were stopped…What happened? I think something should have happened now.

What about the employee layoffs…what departments were affected?

Gerard Parsons (spelling), Talks about John Swett School District, specifically the high school in Crockett, which, he says, has many great qualities and is in the process of being improved.

Susan Keefe, Here to talk about the flyer. "If we were looking for a reason to recall, we got it… I’ve been up here regarding having subcommittee meetings with no agendas, meetings…you have done a great job in explaining why we need to recall you."

Dan Romero, Thanked the community of Hercules…”for being so kind and open and asking those important questions.”

About a flier that was put out by City Council candidates Joanne Ward and Donald Kuehne… “I thought it was awfully odd that the two council members would talk about two city managers and paint them as the bad guys” when they hired them. The candidates were a part of those Brown Act violations… “They were not doing their jobs.”


7:50 p.m. Introduction of the Hercules Education Foundation to raise funds to assist and enhance educational opportunities for students attending public school in Hercules. Looking to expand and fund raise. The foundation might pick up the city's canceled golf tournament this year.

Meetings for the foundation are the fourth Wednesday at 7 p.m. HerculesEducationFoundation.org

7:17 p.m. Introduction Of West Contra Costa Unified School District’s 2011 Ivy League Connection Participants.

Fifth year of the program; 35 students are part of the Ivy League Connection this year and will travel to Ivy League schools over the summer. Students will go to Columbia, Cornell, Brown universities and others.

Students Participating in Ivy League Connection

Eric Wang, Hercules High, Constitutional Law at Columbia… “It’s going to be a once in a lifetime experience…I would like to thank the board and everyone for supporting us…Hercules High School has a lot of talent…we can compete with just about everyone.”

Beilul Naizghi, Hercules High, American Presidential Powers at Columbia…second year…she went to Cornell for the Hotel Course. I know first hand how (amazing) the Ivy League Connection is…I’m really looking forward to my trip.

Erin Kuehne, Hercules High, DNA Biotechnology at Brown… “Being brought up in Hercules…I thought I could compete with these other students (from other schools) and I did. …meet new people.”

7:15 p.m., Mayor Joanne Ward reads an "inspirational message" from Theodore Roosevelt.

7:11 p.m., The council has emerged from closed session. One reportable action: Added one item to closed session agenda. Got a full price offer for an RDA-owned property at $229,000. The vote on (accepting) the offer was 4-0.

7:04 p.m., The Council Chambers are about half full.

Susan Tarvin May 25, 2011 at 03:14 AM
Yea Dan!
Phil Simmons May 25, 2011 at 03:17 AM
Dan Romero, well stated. The Campaign ad for No on the Recall is really from another dimension. It also is an example of "Newspeak" - 1984. up is down, down is up.
Phil Simmons May 25, 2011 at 03:28 AM
Susan, Also well stated, a campaign gift from Don and Joanne. What a nice ad explaining why the recall needs to be completed. Yes on the Recall.
Giorgio C. May 25, 2011 at 04:24 AM
I would like to hear from our candidates on the topic of compensation for city counsel members. Tonight, a citizen requested they forgo such compensation as a result of a recent Grand Jury report. Are candidates and current council members working full-time jobs and receiving benefits through work? I must admit this is probably a time when I want our city council working on our city's problems 24/7 or maybe 8/5, , but no less. So how will they pay their bills? Is this a job one can do during early mornings, evenings and weekends, something akin to a paper rout? This means a citizen can never contact them during normal business hours when they are working their real job, right? Seriously, I would like to hear from our candidates and current council members on this item if they have not done so already.
Glenn Abraham May 25, 2011 at 04:38 AM
Dan's riposte to the KuehneWard Twilight Zone flyer was brilliant...though KuehneWard did make it awfully easy for him.
Glenn Abraham May 25, 2011 at 04:40 AM
Susan's little speech was GREAT! A star is born...
Glenn Abraham May 25, 2011 at 04:43 AM
Has anybody noticed that tonight's Council meeting was historic? This was Ward's very last City Council meeting as a not-yet-recalled Mayor, Kuehne's as a not-yet-recalled whatever-he-is.
Giorgio C. May 25, 2011 at 04:50 AM
For those who believe the city council has no role in education, tonight's meeting proved otherwise. Very encouraging.
Giorgio C. May 25, 2011 at 10:40 AM
Mayor Ward's Inspirational Message from Theodore Roosevelt: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” Or more simply stated "Put up or shut up."
Dan Romero May 25, 2011 at 05:09 PM
Mayor Ward's insistent moment of silence for the Middle East is odd when in the Midwest the two meetings we have Americans losing the homes and lives from tornados. Joanne open your eyes, you live the United States of America, think about your fellow Americans before you worry about others. Last night should and will be your last night of thoughts in public. Thank goodness.
Glenn Abraham May 25, 2011 at 05:27 PM
Ward's asserted concern for the Middle East is touching, and pointless, and indicative of why her presence on the Hercules City Council is so inappropriate. Her mind, that part which comprehends events around her, seems to be anywhere but here. I don't know if she actually has much knowledge or understanding of the Middle East, but her latest flyer was additional and redundant proof that she knows and understands nothing of the problems of Hercules, problems to which she has greatly contributed, but for which she is incapable of accepting, or admitting, responsibility. I've no idea whether she is truly concerned with events in Benghazi or Sana'a or Manama, but I'm becoming more and more convinced that she cares nothing for the welfare of Hercules. Her real concern seems to be exclusively with the Reputation of Joanne Ward; and, to honor that reputation, as it existed before self-inflicted disaster struck, let us hold a moment of silence, on June 7.
Susan D.Keeffe May 25, 2011 at 05:58 PM
Ward and Kuehne's stubborn denial of their responsibility is amazing. Their recent joint political flyer is all about blame and denial. There is no recognition of the effects of their "aye" votes and support of Oliva and his disastrous machinations. This tells me they do not understand the concept "the buck stops here". That flyer was a travesty. It contained two horrible suggestions and tried to usurp the community's long efforts at transparency by claiming it for their own. This is an excellent example of why they need to be recalled. Kuehne and Ward are backed by the old guard as noted on Ward's flyers and they apparently just don't get it. I shudder at the thought they might have any say in the selection of the next City Manager. They have consistently demonstrated poor judgment. Its time for them to go. Vote "yes" on Recall and "yes" on Wilkins and Boulanger.
Dan Romero May 25, 2011 at 06:28 PM
Again Ward and Kuehne show why the citizens of Hercules want to recall them. These two councilmembers are trying to ascend themselves over the misdeeds that they were involved with in Hercules. Their flyer is using ideas that other candidates have proposed. Come June 7th the citizens of Hercules will rid themselves of the last remanents of disgust by recalling Ward and Kuehne. Hercules will pull themselves out of the ashes of corruption, the rebuilding will be with fresh ideas from a new city council and a overhaul of Hercules city government. Vote on June 7th.
Susan D.Keeffe May 25, 2011 at 09:33 PM
I just got another Kuehne flyer in the mail! Another travesty! More of "I wasn't there" etc which completely ignores his voting record, participation in closed sessions, ignoring of citizen requests for transparency. And he continues to steal Recall and citizen ideas! Has he no shame? What an insult to the intelligence of Herculeans!
Glenn Abraham May 25, 2011 at 10:07 PM
I just got mine. So much fun. Under the rubric, "Retain Don Kuehne", he lists: "Worked to finalize former City Manager Oliva's severance agreement." This is a reason for vote FOR Kuehne? Giving a large chunk of the Hercules treasury to fatten the pot 'o gold at the end of Oliva's disastrous rainbow of a career? If it's Kuehne's intent to replace Phil as Minister of Essential Irony, he appears to be qualified. If his intent is to remain on the Council: isn't sanity one of the requirements?
Susan D.Keeffe May 26, 2011 at 12:22 AM
You mean he's proud of giving away the store to Oliva? And this flier is going to everyone's home and so many folks do not know the facts!
Susan D.Keeffe May 26, 2011 at 12:47 AM
The citizens of Hercules deserve the right to know the truth and they are not getting it. They are getting disinformation and distractions. Its important for folks to understand our Governance structure. In Hercules, the City Manager reports to and is directly supervised by, the City Council. The City Council has the last say in everything. The City Council evaluates the City Manager. If our City Managers are corrupt - keep in mind they are hired by the City Council, evaluated by them and monitored by them. Oliva received three years of performance bonuses, votes 5-0. Kuehne can't claim he wasn't there. So, who is to blame really? Its disingenuous for Kuehne to claim he wasn't involved. Don't his votes from 2008 on count? Its disingenuous for him to now complain about closed sessions. He sat silently for the past 2-3 years while citizens openly in Council meetings begged for transparency, posted subcommittee agendas, published minutes. He participated in inappropriate probable Brown Act violation closed sessions - remember the Push Poll? So now claiming to fix all this is a blatant attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the citizens of Hercules and act as if he didn't' have anything to do with it. Ward and Kuehne were very much a part of every "aye" vote for Sycamore North, Field of Dreams, Market Hall/Red Barn, Oliva's severance, Long's firing for finding out the truth, etc. The truth is the voting record. The truth is the City Council tapes.
Susan D.Keeffe May 26, 2011 at 12:48 AM
The truth is not in the slick, professional, expensive fliers going to every home in Hercules. Perhaps an investigation of these fliers is in order?
Glenn Abraham May 26, 2011 at 01:24 AM
I don't know what he's up to. Maybe some trick he learned at CalTech. Or Hogwarts.
Gayle Kangas May 26, 2011 at 11:00 AM
Gayle Kangas I was at a council meeting several years ago when several members had all gone on a cruise together. I believe it was in the Wallmart days. I thought it was very suspicious and didn't pass the smell test. At that same meeting Joanne Ward told Mike Sakamoto that she agreed with everything he did. A complete love fest between the council and city manager. It was what was going on in those times. Anybody else remember that meeting?
Gayle Kangas May 26, 2011 at 11:03 AM
could Chevron be paying for them????????????????????????
Susan D.Keeffe May 26, 2011 at 01:51 PM
Gayle, Great comment! Reminds me of the one brief TV interview of Oliva when all this broke open via Charlie Long's revelations and Tom Lochner's brilliant reporting. Oliva was in the doorway of his home, almost hiding behind a partially opened door. He said very little. But what was heard and reported was "...they knew" speaking about the Council. Compare this with the campaign fliers - "...I didn't know, it happened before I was on the Council" etc Of course they knew far more than they're letting on! After all their closed sessions with Oliva? They believed it was fine his teenage daughters still in school were running his company? Of courese they knew about all the no bid contracts including those to Balico's relatives! And they kept rehiring Sakamoto and putting him in charge of things including Redevelopment and the HMU! What does Sakamoto know about running an electrical plant? And this is after 2008.And who can forget Balico's outrage about Long's firing of Red Barn! Balico said that was his "friend" and ordered Oliva and Cabral to immediately reinstate him which they did with not a peep of dissent from Kuehne and ward. Now Kuehne and Ward are assuming we all have amnesia.
Lyn May 26, 2011 at 04:24 PM
Students Participating in Ivy League Connection... Erin "Kuehne", Hercules High, DNA Biotechnology at Brown… Is this girl any relation to our "recall opponent"?
Glenn Abraham May 26, 2011 at 06:06 PM
Gayle, I don't remember that meeting, but I do remember another at which, for no particular reason, Kris Valstad launched into an extemporaneous speech that went on and on (and on) about the Glory That Is Sakamoto. Something about how lucky we were to have somebody so great as Sakamoto, how other cities would love to lure him away. Over the years, the Viking spouted a lot of nonsense, but I remember that particular harangue particularly well. I must have radar for irony. Or morbid humor.
Glenn Abraham May 26, 2011 at 06:13 PM
Yep, I remember that interview of Oliva and his door. Yes, he (effectively) said that the Councilmembers were all involved, but, hey, who can take Oliva seriously as an honest source? But then again, after all of these revelations, revelations of which Ward and Kuehne have been aware for years...who can take Ward and Kuehne seriously as an honest source? As you know, I once saw Joanne Ward as a nice and honest lady who was led astray; her continued public denial, in the face of a mountain of truth, makes me really wonder about that "honest" part.
Glenn Abraham May 26, 2011 at 06:27 PM
Lyn: I don't know if Erin Kuehne is related to Don Kuehne, but if she is, I know of absolutely no reason to think that she might be comparable to Taylor Oliva. Taylor Oliva (perhaps unknowingly, perhaps knowingly) was an active participant in Nelson Oliva's schemes. My guess is that Erin Kuehne is simply, and admirably, a student who did exceptionally well, and deserves to be applauded for that. If Don Kuehne is her father, that says nothing negative about her; and, although Don Kuehne is not exactly my favorite person right now, Don Kuehne is no Nelson Oliva. I think we might want to leave Erin Kuehne, and any other Kuehne not named Don, out of this. Don Kuehne's reputation is definitely in play, but that's because of decisions made and actions taken by him.
Giorgio C. May 27, 2011 at 01:06 AM
Go Erin Kuehne !(and the others). I hope my daughter follows in her footsteps. She should be very proud of herself.
John Loudermilk May 27, 2011 at 01:38 AM
All of the young people should be very proud of their accomplishments. They are on the right path and will be our future. Bravo!


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