This blog is created, authored, produced, directed [and starring?] Stu Flashman. I’m an environmental and land use attorney in Oakland, California (I also dabble a bit in elections law, especially ballot measures).
Other than legal stuff, I’ve also been politically active, having been a candidate and elected local official in the East Bay.
The Blog’s Title (for those too young to remember) comes from an old radio/TV show called “Dragnet.” It starred Jack Webb as Sargeant Joe Friday of the LAPD. Friday was known for being very hard-headed, and when interviewing a witness, he was prone to say things like “Just the facts, ma’am, all we want are the facts.” Of course, my use of the title is somewhat facetious, because while I do put up lots of facts, I also interlace them with my opinions. Joe Friday would probably not be amused.
Back in the mid-1980s, I helped form two Emeryville political groups: the Emeryville Referendum Group — originally formed to sponsor a referendum of a controversial redevelopment project (we handily defeated the project, and then recalled its city council supporters) and later expanded to address reforming the city’s government, and the Emeryville Shoreline Committee — originally formed to oppose (also successfully) a major development project on the Emeryville waterfront by Santa Fe-Southern Pacific [now Catellus] and later expanded to advocate for protection of the shoreline. Almost the entire remaining open space on the Emeryville shoreline is now protected, either as part of the Eastshore State Park or as city parkland. The committee eventually was subsumed within Citizens for the Eastshore State Park.
Around the same time, I ran for and was elected to one of two city council seats left vacant by the successful recall. I held the seat for one year, and was defeated by 11 votes in a re-election campaign marked by a last minute “hit piece” put out by the Emeryville Industries Association.
Later, in 1990, I ran for and was elected to the Board of Directors of the East Bay Municipal Utilities District, one of the largest public water and wastewater districts in California (and the largest with a popularly elected governing board). My election, and that of two other new board members, shifted the balance of power on the board, and the new four member block [myself plus Nancy Nadel, Andy Cohen, and Katherine McKenney] was dubbed by the media the “environmental majority”. We created quite a stir, refocusing the District away from building another dam to more environmentally benign water storage options and beginning the environmental restoration of the degraded Mokelumne River, the District’s main water source. We also called a temporary halt to the expansion of the District’s boundaries, initiated a major seismic retrofit of District facilities, addressed firefighting issues raised by the 1991 Oakland Hills firestorm, and rewrote the District’s mission statement to emphasize environmental responsibility.
I served one four year term, also serving as Board Vice President in 1993 and Board President in 1994. I was narrowly defeated for reelection (217 votes out of over 100,000 cast) thanks to another set of last-minute hit pieces, this one paid for by major real estate developers under the aegis of the Building Industries Association of Northern California. (They spent about $120,000 to defeat me and one other board member, thus successfully shifting the balance of power on the board away from a pro-environment stance and back towards a pro-development stance.)
In addition, I served on the Emeryville Planning Commission from 1989-1990 and on the Board of Trustees of the Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District from 1985 to 2007, representing first Emeryville, and then Oakland.
In 2007, I was appointed to a vacancy on the Board of Directors of the Rockridge Community Planning Council (RCPC), a nonprofit community group representing the approximately ten thousand residents of the Rockridge section of North Oakland. In January of 2008, I was appointed chair of the RCPC’s Land Use Committee. In April of that year, I was elected to the Board for a two year term, and was then elected chairperson of the Board.