Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2019  
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  Appointment to East Bay Regional Park District Board
November 12, 2019

I urge you to email East Bay Regional Park District Directors Ayn Wieskamp, Beverly Lane and Dennis Waespi ASAP to urge them to nominate Bruce Beyaert and Neil Tsutsui as two of the three applicants to be considered by the entire board to replace retiring Director Whitney Dotson.

You can cut and paste the following email addresses:

Bruce Beyaert is a Richmond resident and has the following overall goals:

  1. Being nimble in seizing opportunities to acquire land for open space, recreation and natural habitat, especially to   connect existing public lands for trails and wildlife migration corridors,
  2. Improving maintenance of existing parks and trails, including control of invasive non-native vegetation and
  3. Providing public access to District lands within five years after acquisition with removal of signs saying "Closed Until Made Safe for Public Access".

For Ward One, which includes West County:

  1. Providing a visitor center for West Contra Costa County residents,
  2. Establishing Point Molate Regional Shoreline as envisioned by the Master Plan,
  3. Completing the Bay Trail between Point Pinole and Point Wilson,
  4. Acquiring land and planning to establish North Richmond Regional Shoreline as envisioned by the Master Plan and
  5. Continuing the District's excellent outreach programs for disadvantaged youth.

Bruce is very familiar with EBRPD's mission, issues, needs, parks, preserves, trails and management personnel by virtue of:

  1. Serving on the Park Advisory Committee for 16 years,
  2. Participating as a member of the District's Environmental Round Table since its inception,
  3. Working with staff to help acquire easements, as well as design, approval and funding of trail and public access   projects,
  4. Visiting almost all Regional Parks & Preserves and hiking most of their trails, including years of Trails Challenges and
  5. Membership in Regional Parks Foundation

I just addressed the following email to Directors Ayn Wieskamp, Beverly Lane and Dennis Waespi:

Ayn, Beverly and Dennis,

I write to support Bruce Beyaert and Neil Tsutsui as finalists in the appointment to fill retiring Director Dotson’s seat. Both are highly qualified and are significantly distinguishable from the rest of the field.

Bruce Beyaert

Of the two, I know Bruce Beyaert better, a tireless and remarkably successful advocate for parks, open space, conservation, preservation and especially the Bay Trail. Bruce founded TRAC (Trails for Richmond Action Committee) and has chaired it for the past 20 years, working with the City of Richmond, EBRPD, the private sector and other regional government agencies  to complete 24 miles of new Bay Trail linking a necklace of 12 local, regional, state and national parks along Richmond’s 32-mile shoreline.

Bruce  currently serves on the  Board of Directors for San Francisco Bay Trail Project and the Advisory Committee for SF Bay Restoration Authority. He previously served on the boards of Save The Bay and Marin Discoveries outdoor environmental education program. He has also served on many City of Richmond committees including as chair of the Environmental Subcommittee of Point Molate Blue Ribbon Advisory Committee, General Plan 2030 Advisory Committee, Shoreline Advisory Committee, Point Molate Community Advisory Committee and U.S. Navy Restoration Advisory Board for Point Molate.

For his volunteer work, Bruce has won many awards, including  the Bob Walker Open Space Conservation Award by Bay Area Open Space Council for "an individual who has used   creative partnerships and alliances to make a demonstrated contribution to issues relevant to Bay Area land conservation, " the Cox Conserves Hero Award from Trust for Public Land and Cox Enterprises, the Clearwater Award for Citizen Efforts from Waterfront Center, Excellence in Motion award from Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission, California Nature Conservancy Outstanding Service Award, City of Richmond Historic Preservation award "For Preserving Richmond's Shoreline and its History" and Association of Bay Area Governments, and other awards to TRAC.

 Neil Tsutsui

I don’t know Neil as well as I know Bruce, but his qualifications are impressive. He is Professor and Michelbacher Chair of Systematic Entomology Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management, College of Natural Resources, University of California, Berkeley. He already serves as a member of the Parks Advisory Committee for the East Bay Regional Park District.

He has shared with me his enthusiasm about exploring and preserving our Bay Area open spaces, expanding outdoor education using science-based parks management, protecting biodiversity, and improving safety and cleanliness of our parks. 

Other Applicants

I do not know any of the other applicants except Norman LaForce, whom I would specifically ask you not to consider. LaForce is 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.

“Abrasive” is a term used by many who have worked with him to describe the unpleasant and litigious LaForce. He has not made any friends in Richmond since he went against the will of Richmond voters (Measure U in 2010) and cut a deal for the Sierra Club and Citizens for Eastshore Parks to back the casino at Point Molate in exchange for $55 million.

Recently, and old political ad has been circulating aimed at this appointment ( showing me and many others endorsing LaForce, which is not accurate.