Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2018  
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  “Whiskey’s for drinking, and water’s for fighting.”
September 25, 2018

I will be withdrawing Item K-1 from the Agenda tonight.

K-1 CONSIDER comments to be made by the public at open session, and consider whether to PUBLICLY REAFFIRM the Point Molate settlement agreement between the City of Richmond, and Guidiville Rancheria of California and Upstream Point Molate, LLC - Office of the Mayor (Mayor Tom Butt 620-6503).

When the out of town obstructionists, including former El Cerrito City Council member Norman LaForce, former Albany mayor Robert Cheasty and former Berkeley mayor Shirley Dean, filed a lawsuit against the City of Richmond protesting the Point Molate settlement, their principal complaint was that it was approved by the City Council in closed session, which was entirely proper. The Brown Act allows litigation-related actions in closed session, and the federal judge in charge of settling the case ordered the parties to keep discussions confidential. The City Council followed bot the law and the judge’s orders.

Nevertheless, perhaps naively, I thought that finally holding the public hearing demanded by the plaintiffs and voting on the settlement in public would satisfy them. Apparently not. Attorneys for the plaintiffs as well Mr. LaForce and Mr. Cheasty have made it clear that it is not a public hearing and vote they are after; they just want to blow the whole deal up any way they can, and they intend to litigate until they do..

These people are not only from out of town, appointing themselves to second-guess the people of Richmond and the duly-elected Richmond City Council, but they are unpleasant to deal with.

The principle spokesperson is Norman LaForce, a former El Cerrito City Council member who could not get along with his own City Council. When LaForce served in El Cerrito, his colleagues refused to appoint him mayor in the traditional rotation because he was so unpleasant. According to a contemporary story in the Chronicle, La Force was passed over due to his abrasive and confrontational style.

There's a big battle raging in the little town of El Cerrito over the largely ceremonial job of mayor, with council members having blackballed the leading candidate because he rubs too many people the wrong way.

Norman La Force
lost out in his bid for a one-year term on a 3-to-2 vote Monday night. Opponents said it was the 45-year-old lawyer's "abrasive" style that did him in.

"There was a feeling in the community that we needed to stop being confrontational and that his attitude was more confrontational than anybody else's," said Councilwoman Jane Bartke, whom the council elected instead. "What's best for the city sometimes isn't the easiest thing to do."

La Force angrily described the move as the result of backroom dealing and blind political ambition.

Still obsessed with “backroom dealing,” and run out of El Cerrito, LaForce has now foisted his confrontational style and abrasiveness on Richmond.

What people keep forgetting is that this same group that once were as passionate about supporting the casino as they are now about killing housing and blowing up the Point Molate settlement. They cut a deal with Jim Levine, himself, to throw Richmond under the bus for $55 million in exchange for endorsing the casino plan. If they had their way, Richmond would now have a casino at Point Molate, and they would have been $55 million richer.

Point Molate has dragged on for 23 years and is about to enter the 24th year. Mark Twain once said about California’s water wars, “Whiskey’s for drinking, and water’s for fighting.”

We have our own version of that here in Richmond. Point Molate is no longer seen as an opportunity to create public open space, jobs, housing and visitor attractions. It has become simply an object to fight over, and it looks like that fight will continue years into the foreseeable future, cheating the people of Richmond out of its many potential benefits.