JumpStart Offers Flying Pies and Naysayers
The JumpStart PAC launched a peculiar last minute barrage of glossy campaign mailers on behalf of their slate of candidates featuring flying pies and Naysayers. Who writes this stuff? And who would think it’s at all persuasive? The storyline portrays their noble JumpStart officeholders and candidates as leaders on the front lines of a pitched battle against the evil Naysayers. It’s these unreasonable Naysayers who bear full responsibility for the City’s bankruptcy and our subsequent failure to recover from the recession on pace with the rest of the region - in spite of the valiant JumpStart efforts. It’s really quite a dramatic picture their consultants have painted for us - and it’s a total crock.
A Naysayer Expresses His Displeasure with a Proposed Cement Plant
The revisionist history here is breathtaking. The Naysayers had nothing to do with the naval base closure. Naysayers didn’t negotiate contracts with the police and fire unions during the good times the city could not afford, and then refuse to make concessions as the city went broke. Oh, right, that was the crew behind JumpStart. It’s going to take more than glossy flyers to transfer the blame for that disaster onto some fictional group of progressive Naysayers. Don't even try.
The subtext to this dizzying spin reveals the reactionary and parochial thinking that has characterized the JumpStart political faction in the decades since the base closure. This is a city that never learned to stand up an economy without leaning heavily on federal dollars. The lack of institutional knowledge about how to plan and develop economically, and how to be self sufficient and live within your means is what has been holding us back, not some group of mythical Naysayers. That and special interest players like JumpStart.
The JumpStart ‘take whatever you can get’ mentality is on full display along with their flying pies. We’re informed that Google and Apple just aren’t coming to Vallejo, and that these Naysaying dreamers just say no to everything else. JumpStart thinks we need to throw out the welcome mat and accept whatever cement plant monstrosities come along - one business at a time. What they propose is the opposite of city planning - you know, the kind of activity generally pursued by cities that know what they’re doing. We just spent millions to develop an updated general plan scenario that’s now stymied by the cement plant application that JumpStart wants us to accept instead, because at least it’s something. It’s all the more peculiar given that Mr. Graden’s only
experience as their candidate for mayor is his time on the planning commission.
I particularly enjoyed the part of the story where the Jumpers on the current council “fought back against the Naysayers, kept an open mind...and brought forward-thinking leadership to the City Council.” These forward-thinking leaders they brought to the council must be their imaginary friends. They sure haven’t been visible to the rest of us. The Naysayers weren’t the ones throwing away millions of tax dollars that residents voted overwhelmingly to collect with Measure C. Oh, right, that was the JumpStart squad of Verder-Aliga, Malgapo, and Dew-Costa who got behind the mayor’s crusade to run the medical cannabis dispensaries out of town. In the alternate universe of flying pies, saying nay to the biggest growth industry on the horizon and laying down like a doormat in front of old polluting heavy industry passes for forward-looking leadership.
The new JumpStart slate of candidates promises little to nothing that would offer change. In an artful touch they describe former two-term Councilmember Sunga as “at the time the only Filipino-American on the council” and a military veteran. What they don’t point out is that Mr. Malgapo, who will serve another two years, is also a Filipino-American former naval commander just like Mr. Sunga. In a city as diverse as Vallejo, does it make any sense to put two members on the Council with nearly identical backgrounds that will color their thinking on development issues? Forward-looking leaders they are not. Mr. Malgapo set up a secret committee looking to entice the Army to resume deep dredging that would allow heavy industry, like the proposed cement plant, to locate along the length of our waterfront. That’s backwards leadership - both in vision and in the secretive use of a crony political network and city employees to further those ends.
Mr. Graden has shown no sign of any extraordinary ability to lead on the planning commission. He recently tried and failed to get a single commissioner to vote with him for a largely symbolic zoning change for the proposed Orcem site. The idea that a single individual is somehow going to make all the difference, as some of his supporters suggest, is baseless. Ms. Alford’s experience as a congressional aide does not recommend her for city council over candidates who have dedicated themselves to the city of Vallejo for decades. Ms. Verder-Aliga is running to “sustain the gain.” You can be sure that whatever gain there is to sustain did not result from her leadership. She comes to council meetings woefully unprepared and adds little of substance to the discussion. Thin-skinned and temperamental, she’s taking up valuable space that could be occupied by someone - anyone - more productive.
The new JumpStart slate represents the last wheezing gasp of a dying political machine. The paucity of ideas, lack of intellectual curiosity, and reactionary vision shown by their last round of picks leaves little appetite for more of the same. There is a hunger for new leadership without special interest obligations or aspirations beyond what’s best for Vallejo. We are fortunate to have a set of choices for mayor, council, and District 2 supervisor with long track records of remaining independent of JumpStart and the other special interests that have held sway in the recent past. JumpStart calls them the Naysayers slate. We call them leaders that we can trust to care about the welfare of all our residents, whether they’re ‘connected’ or not.