A Beginner's Guide to Vallejo Politics

This Guide was written and posted months in advance of the November 2016 election.  While that election is behind us and there have been new developments, the discussion is still relevant and we hope informative.  This document is in the process of revision with edits posted as it unfolds.  The Issues section has not been touched and reflects the situation as things stood in the summer of 2016.  Some things have changed and some remain essentially the same.  Updates will be posted as time allows.  The Players section has been expanded to include a discussion of the influential real estate lobby which was notably missing from the first edition.
Editors Note:   Political opponents will attempt to make an issue of the fact that we do not attribute authorship to any individual.  The reason is simple.  We wish to keep the focus where it belongs, on public officials and their actions and words.  When you run for office or take a taxpayer-funded position you subject yourself to examination and evaluation by voters.  If you can't take the heat get out of the kitchen.  There are no former officials involved with Voices in any way and we aren't running for anything.  Opponents who attempt to make this a 'transparency' issue merely wish to engage in ad hominem personal attacks to distract from the issues that really matter.  Vallejo deserves better.
Contents - (Underlined Headings Are Clickable Links)

The Players

    Good Old Boys
    Ethnic Networks
    Dominionist Church Network
    Democratic Party
    Solano Labor Council
    Real Estate Lobby
    School Board
    City Manager
    Progressives


Current Issues (The Issues are still current but this analysis needs an update)

    VMT/Orcem and the Shadow Government
        Introduction
        Background
        The Public Planning Process
        The Shadow Government
        The Great Divide

    Measure C and Cannabis Industry Regulation
        Introduction
        A Legal Twilight Zone
        The Vallejo Breakdown
Introduction

I’m hoping this modest guide to local politics can help others avoid some of the confusion I suffered coming in as a new arrival ahead of the last round of City elections.  I wasn’t thinking much about politics in 2013, what with moving and grandchildren and all.  When I realized that our local elections would be held that November in an odd numbered year, I made a perfunctory effort to do my civic duty to evaluate the issues and vote for the best qualified candidates.  In hindsight, I failed miserably.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t much like being fooled.

I knew the big picture story - that Vallejo was a Navy town that lost it’s economic foundation during the round of military base closures in the nineties and got hit again with the great recession, resulting in national attention as a major city going bankrupt.  A run of bad luck?  I also noticed that Vallejo was experimenting with direct democracy through a participatory budgeting process, and assumed there must be an active progressive faction in  town.  I checked to see who the Democrats were supporting, and coming from a blue collar union background I looked at the union endorsements.  I read the generic candidate statements and took my best guess.  

It wasn’t good enough.  My assumptions going in failed to help me navigate the political under-currents and hidden hazards of cronyism, tribal allegiances, and special interest agendas lurking just beneath the surface in Vallejo’s political pond.  In order to understand how we got to where we are today and predict how the next crop of candidates might behave if we put them in office, we need to examine the various players and find out what motivates them.
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Next: The Players