Exciting fall season

Although the major political news stories surround the U. S. Presidential Election, we’re having an exciting time in Redwood City, with the Poizner–Ruskin race for Assembly and the contest over Measure Q, which would approve the proposed Marina Shores Village along San Francisco Bay. Not being a citizen, I can’t vote. Moreover, I’m probably hopelessly idealistic about various behaviours, so I’ll just note some interesting aspects. (And this article covers no aspect of the fall television season—I’ll communicate my disappointment separately.)

The assembly race is of an interesting class: active new money versus established state party. As a result, our afternoon post regularly contains one or two mailings, as both sides can afford a direct mail blitz. Reading the mail, we find

  • Bay Area influence: Mr. Poizner is downplaying his party association and emphasizing his moderate (even left-wing) credentials, while Mr. Ruskin’s signs clearly identify Democratic affiliations.
  • Political celebrity appearance: San Francisco mayor, Gavin Newsom, carelessly signed some Democratic machine-authored support letter and then denied personal involvement, which threw confusion into the race, as both sides offered differing interpretations of the letter.
  • Money: Current total spending on the race is about 3.7 M$, split 3 M$ – 0.7 M$ in favour of Mr. Poizner. That’s roughly fifteen dollars per registered voter in the district.

Meanwhile, we have a measure to approve a new development, accompanied by zoning changes, at the bayshore: Measure Q. Evaluating the measure’s impact is complicated: there is no recent analogous development in Redwood City, so it’s difficult to acquire any insight into how the various urban systems would accomodate such a large development (especially when spread over multiple decades). The pro-Q site is low on detail, and has nothing that compares to this effective page from the anti-Q organization. The latter is a strong example of effective argument presentation on the web.

(I should note that Redwood City Water Utility Services publishes a “City of Redwood City Public Works Services Water Utility Services Periodic Customer Newsletter” (usually bi-monthly) which periodically (every other newsletter) reminds us that Redwood City is 10% overdrawing the fresh water from the San Francisco system. So local property owners are highly aware of water-related issues.)

(I should also note that my commute is along U. S. 101, which would be the highway most impacted by this development, and that that commute uses the interchanges adjacent to the development itself. Oh, and that I worked in traffic systems and am a bit skeptical that the additional trips impact is as mild as presented: it’s just as likely that 50% of the new residents will work in Santa Clara.)

The pro-Q side has been effective at press release–article conversions, but that perhaps is revealing Peninsula media outlets’ actual capacity for investigative reporting. The pro- side sent one mailing that was poorly received in our household: the card presents an array of headshots of officeholders endorsing the measure but, when so many politicians agree on something in America, even I know money is a more likely influence than any sincere, shared analysis. I’ve noted before, with some excitement, how Redwood City is changing, but Q hasn’t shown itself to be well-enough structured an argument to suggest it’s aligned with those other changes.