Public Comment

No on Albany’s Measure Y

By James Cleveland
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:37:00 AM

Albany is not broken. It doesn’t need radical change by the unprecedented seven Charter amendments on your ballot. It doesn’t need to become another Berkeley. 

Measure Y, the so-called directly elected mayor proposal is the most dangerous. It is a last-minute, poorly drafted radical measure forced onto the ballot by the Sierra Club Political Action Committee (PAC)-endorsed three-person council majority led by Mayor Bob Lieber. 

Measure Y will convert Albany into another Berkeley. However, they could not even get a majority among your fellow citizens on the Charter Review Committee (CRC) that they appointed. The CRC examined three variants of Bob’s proposal and each time voted no.  

Why? First, 84 percent of all CA cities under 25,000 residents use the exact same system that Albany has used continuously since 1927. Some smaller cities tried Bob’s approach. The CRC found they failed. They had to return to the system 84 percent of California cities use. 

Second, it is much, much more than a single issue. It creates continuous 16-year council terms. If you approve Y, Bob could be your mayor until 2020! 

Third, you are also asked to approve Measure Y in 2008 but wait until 2012 for it to become effective, not the day after the election. Why? So PAC candidate Bob Lieber can run in 2008 for a second council term and then again run in 2012 for two more terms as elected mayor. 

Fourth, Bob forced Measure Y onto the ballot with absolutely no defined runoff provision if a candidate fails to get a majority. He even publicly silenced Charter Review Committee spokesman Bart Grossman from reporting to the public the flaws in Bob’s measure. 

In my 40 years in Albany no one remembers any mayor silencing a committee spokesman on a ballot measure. I told Bob and his three-member PAC endorsed majority I helped elect that I was ashamed of Bob and he should be ashamed of himself. I told Bob he runs the danger of irreversibly dividing this city. After I spoke, every councilmember except Joanne Wile apologized for Bob’s act. 

I urge every Albany voter before voting to go either to Albany’s website ( under the Albany Rewind section and view the July 21 and Aug. 4 council meetings or go to a new website,, that has excerpted Bob’s actions from the original Albany videos of Council meetings. 

You will be shocked. Please ask your tech savvy friends to copy these videos to DVDs so every Albany voter can see for themselves the implications of Measure Y. 

Finally, Measure Y drastically reduces your contact with elected county, regional, state, and federal representatives from 10 or more to only one voice. If Measure Y passes it could be only Bob.  

Our current system creates 10 or more voices that a mayor can use when Albany needs help. Albany and 84 percent of similar cities rotate the mayor position among five councilmembers. Each rotating mayor creates a unique network of contacts of higher elected officials during their term. No one mayor could ever create the network that 10 past mayors can. The accumulated network of past mayors is a resource a small town like Albany dares not lose. 

No continuous 16-year council terms! No to Sierra Club PAC endorsed candidates (current incumbent majority or this year’s three candidates) trying to radically change Albany! No on Measure Y!  

James D. Cleveland is an Albany resident.