Saturday, October 31, 2009

So Who Exactly Is This Jim Wunderman Guy? And Why Should We Let Him Rewrite California's State Constitution?

"It seems that the only way to keep special interests out of any political activity as critical as a constitutional convention is not to hold one." - Oakland Tribune

So you have a lot of corporate power guys running around lately talking about how California's Constitution needs to be changed. And it all sounds plausible enough. After all, things haven't gone very well in Sacramento lately. The debt is growing at a frightening rate, the economy is shot, our education system is in a constant state of crisis, and our elected officials are hopelessly incapable of solving these or any other problems. So maybe some kind of rearrangement really is in order.

But if California and its voters are going to embark upon the daunting path of rewriting this state's constitution, we should probably at least take a look at the guy who is apparently the great leader in this historic effort. And that would be the expensive suit pictured emoting above, a gentleman with the rather presumptuous name of Jim Wunderman.

In a Contra Costa Times op-ed piece reprinted this week in the Pasadena Star News, columnist Steven Harmon dressed the bird this way:

Hundreds of ordinary residents would band together with a bunch of governmental experts to attempt a major revamping of California's beleaguered capital if voters agree to call for a constitutional convention ... "We will unite the values of everyday Californians with the best expertise our state has to offer," said Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council and member of the ballot measure committee, Repair California. "We have the opportunity to transform California from a nearly failed state to a beacon of prosperity for all the world to see."

A little heavy on the bombast, and if properly captured I'm sure this speech could cause a hot air balloon to soar high above the landscape. But this next paragraph from Harmon's column did pique my interest a bit:

The convention would be limited to four areas of reform: the budget; the relationship between local and state government; government efficiency; and campaign finance.

Now that relationship between state and local governments bit is a theme we like to discuss on The Tattler from time to time. Particularly in light of the recent property tax confiscations, plus Sacramento's usurpation of city control over planning and development through SB 375. So would this convention move towards re-establishing the powers that have traditionally been the purview of local government? Or merely the last nail in a coffin currently being crated up and prepared for final shipment to Sacramento.

Wunderman's bio can be found on the Bay Area Council site. And it looks like he is a major dude up there.

Jim Wunderman serves as the president and chief executive officer of the Bay Area Council, a business-backed public policy organization in the San Francisco-Oakland-Silicon Valley Bay Area. Led by its CEO members, the Bay Area Council is the strong, united voice of more than 275 of the largest Bay Area employers, representing more than 500,000 workers.

I'll bet they have nice offices and a large meeting room as well. The catering alone would probably make a trip worth while. Here's some more happening info from Jim's bio:

In addition to his work at the Bay Area Council, Wunderman is an active member of the community and serves on numerous boards and commissions ... He also serves on the board of Bridge Housing Corporation, the Advisory Board of the Keston Institute for Public Finance and Infrastructure Policy, the Advisory Board of the Partnership for America's Economic Success, the Bay Center, the Community Advisory Board for KB Home and the Policy Advisory Board of the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics. Wunderman serves as a member of the SB 375 Regional Targets Advisory Committee ...

Well, that pretty much clears up the mystery. Click on the Bridge Housing Corporation link and check out the kind of crap he builds. DSP all the way. Wunderman, my friends, is a redeveloper. A kind of Bay Area belongs to everything doppelganger of our good friend Bart Doyle. And being a member of the "SB 375 Regional Targets Advisory Committee" has got to be convenient for a gent in the redevelopment game. That way he gets to pick and choose what neighborhoods he wants to build in. And that he also runs the company that will do the building? Naw, no conflict of interest there. All backed up by compliant Courts and with not a CEQA review in sight.

And as you can see by hitting this link, the "SB 375 Regional Targets Advisory Committee" is proudly listed on the SCAG site. As is Jim's name.

On October 1, 2008, the most undemocratic governor in California history held a press conference. The occasion for this celebration of himself was the signing of SB 375. On the dais with Arnold Schwarzenegger were a collection of characters (referred to in planner talk as "stakeholders") who played a key role in bringing SB 375 to fruition. They were:

State Senator Darrell Steinberg: The Godfather of SB 375. The man who gave the redevelopment (BIA) and realty lobbies (CAR) their biggest payoff ever.

Mike McKeever: Mike is the executive director of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments. This would be the equivalent of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, a subset of SCAG and yet another organization that is working hard to enforce SB 375. Until recently Joe Mosca headed the committee there tasked with enforcing this ugly power grab.

Layne Marceau: Layne was representing the California Homebuilder Group. No surprise seeing him there. Layne oversees an umbrella organization of building trades lobbies that worked so hard to win this boondoggle for their, um, stakeholders.

Heather Fargo: Heather is the Mayor of Sacramento, but also serves as the President of the League of California Cities. You might recall that "The League" was instrumental in putting on the ballot last year the measure that sidetracked the passing of a real statewide law banning Eminent Domain. A law like that being the last thing SB 375 advocates would want to see on the books. How else would they get any work done? The irony being that the LCC, which purports to be a kind of union of cities, is a key player in the removal of planning and development control from cities and turning those powers over to Sacramento. Where they can be better used to payoff lobbyists for their kind patronage. BTW: John and Joe are dedicated League guys.

And then the last speaker stepped up. And since this was no ordinary figure in the SB 375 pantheon, he was introduced by the Adonis of the Alps himself.

Governor Schwarzenegger: "And our last speaker, Jim Wunderman, or Wonderman. I call it in German Wunderman. Nice to see you."

Jim Wunderman: "Just call me, Governor. Thank you. Thank you very much. Governor Schwarzenegger, I want to thank you. First of there's a bill but I want to thank you ..."

Obviously apple polishing is something The Governator has no problems with.

The authors of the Oakland Tribune op-ed piece we cited at the beginning of this post apparently has seen right through this Constitutional Convention charade, and spells out their doubts about Wunderman clearly.

Also, we are skeptical that Wunderman will be able to achieve the convention's goal of keeping special-interest groups shut out. After all, his Bay Area Council could be viewed as a special interest for business ... It seems the only way to keep special interests out of any political activity as critical as a constitutional convention is not to hold one.

To put it mildly. SB 375 represents one of the biggest and most undemocratic power grabs in California history, effectively confiscating the control cities have traditionally held over development and planning within their borders. And apparently the agenda of those responsible is now the rewriting of the California State Constitution. Something that would likely make that power grab permanent and beyond challenge.

In other words, they want it all.


  1. Here is the link to watch/read the video/transcript.

    Neuroblast Films
    P.S. I've featured Jim on my site.

  2. Neuroblast, as always, you are an MVP.

  3. He is windy, isn't he. What a meeting bore he most be. And he's the boss so you can't shut him up.

    Makes John Buchanan sound like Shecky Greene.

  4. Here's a look inside the "Dome of Doom", or otherwise known as Bart Doyle's head: - [Cached Version]
    Published on: 12/1/2005 Last Visited: 3/13/2007
    "We're opposed to the concept of regulating indirect sources" of air pollution, said Bart Doyle, an attorney for the California Building Industry Assn., which represents more than 6,000 developers, contractors, architects and engineers.

    "There are no rules like this anywhere in the country," Doyle said, "and we see this as a way for the air district to raise money for other air pollution programs that have nothing to do with homes." - [Cached Version]
    Published on: 8/25/2007 Last Visited: 8/25/2007
    State law makes it extremely difficult to extend the life of redevelopment areas, said Bart Doyle, chief operating officer of The Titan Group, which is behind the El Monte Transit Village.

    "It is very onerous; you have to make a finding that there is still blight that needs to be removed," said Doyle.
    So even though the New London case did not have any impact on California law, the damage to redevelopment has been done, said Doyle.

    "Eminent domain has poisoned discussion of redevelopment areas," said Doyle."It is dragging redevelopment down."
    This could potentially benefit projects like the one in El Monte, as well as similar live-work developments surrounding future Gold Line stations in Monrovia, Azusa and Glendora, Doyle said. - [Cached Version]
    Published on: 1/1/2006 Last Visited: 6/13/2008
    Bart DoyleMr. Doyle is a former Mayor and Councilmember from the City of Sierra Madre.He served on the SGVCOG Governing Board from 1996 to 2005.During his tenure on the COG Board, he served as Treasurer, Vice President, and President.Under his leadership the COG organized the San Gabriel Valley Summit on Growth, the Environmental Summit, and the Strategic Housing Plan.

    Click on the link above, for more info.

    Neuroblast Films

  5. Bart Doyle is a DISEASE.
    A disease that spread like the plague right here in Sierra Madre.
    He has become the guru of the DIRTS.
    The damage this man has done to Sierra Madre will take years to correct.
    The good news, we're on the right track to reverse his damage.
    We can do this!
    Make a commitment to support MACGILLIVRAY, ZIMMERMAN, and WATTS. THEY WORK FOR YOU!
    They, and others like them can salvage Sierra Madre from the damage of bart doyle.

  6. You'd think these guys would just come out and say something like, "We need to make some money for the developers, so we're going to force you to let them build in your town. We're sorry, we know it is a problem for you, but we have to keep them in business and really its the only way for California's economy to stay afloat."

    You can only wonder why they just don't try the truth for once..

  7. Ed, by the time it gets to city councils, that's exactly what the council people who push development say.
    They (like our very own John Buchanan) present an "inevitability" argument, with a lot of fear thrown in to make the opposition quiet.
    It sure worked here with the hillside developments.
    Thank Mr. Zimmerman and all the Measure V supporters that it didn't work downtown.

  8. When it comes to development, Buchanan is a surrender monkey.

  9. 2:39:

    Or Buchanan is just a paid operative of special interest and big corporation (Edison).
    I believe him and Joe are both lobbyists for Sacramento shady politcos.

  10. You have to wonder what John and Joe get out of it. Here are two attorneys in the prime money making years of their lives and they're hanging around Sierra Madre all day in the middle of the week.

  11. Nice try Ed, but no cigar.

    I noticed that you couched your comment as a fact, which it is not. There is also nothing truthful about your statement. Development is not a panacea for California's economy.

    I'm sure the BIA is very pleased with your post, however.

  12. I hope people are paying attention to what is going on in and around town. It's becoming more apparent that the Dirts are organizing for the next City Council election, and a lot of the usual suspects are involved. And I mean USUAL SUSPECTS, including Beth Buck, Lisa Spigai-Perez, Rob Stockly and a host of local Real Estate agents and brokers.

    I know where they meet and have a good idea as to who they might get to run. I (certainly) won't say here, but there's a good chance it won't be someone that you suspect.

    Turn off the TV and video games people! The Holidays may be upon us, but the Dirts are not taking any time off.

  13. 3:08, you have got to be kidding.
    Reread Ed's post, huh?

  14. So if over development isn't good for California's economy, why do it? That is pretty much the last leg it has to stand on. It's not like there are many cities left that would welcome any more of the kind of depressing row housing the BIA types are pushing these days.

  15. Say it ain't soOctober 31, 2009 at 3:29 PM

    Old Curmudgeon, Beth Buck? She doesn't even live here! That's not fair, and it's the scariest thing I've seen this Halloween!

  16. The dirts have a mystery candidate, eh? Hmm, let me guess.

    Elmer Fudd?

  17. Anybody think Joe Mosca doesn't already have his application in to be a delegate to this Constitutional Convention. Can't you just hear the breathless BS now? "Oh, it is so exciting, but it is also a very big responsibility, too! I take representing the values of our community very seriously." In the meantime he'd be pushing for whatever his bosses tell him to.

    Pick me, Wunderman! Pick me!

  18. Say it ain't so....That's correct. Beth Buck does not live here, but then again, neither do the interests, trying to exploit Sierra Madre, that she works for.

    FYI: The City Administration still hires her to do work for the City, at a premium. Did you happen to read the fine print on the last 4th of July brochure? "A Buck or Two Communications"

    As I recall, when going through the warrants, the City paid her approximately $10,000 for that single sheet, 8 1/2" X 11" piece of junk. Which, I believe, proves that our taxes are still being used to subsidize Dirts and BIA operatives.

  19. Mr. Finewine....LOL

    I believe that Mosca now contends that he represents "all small cities in California." Pretty scary if that were ever to be true.

    Happy Halloween!

  20. Schwarzenegger's Vulgar Veto Message

    Dirty Arnie

  21. Wonderful WundermanOctober 31, 2009 at 4:15 PM

    Councilman Mosca, I knew Jim Wunderman. Jim Wunderman was a friend of mine.

    Joe Mosca, you are no Wunderman.

  22. I once had the odd and unpleasant experience of being in a store while Beth Buck and her husband were giving their sales pitch to the store owner for a web site design.
    I'm sure the work would have been fine, but the pricing was outrageous.
    Surely there is someone in town, a resident, who would like to make up the 4th of July fliers, for a lot less money, too.
    It could also be a great project for local students, or a group project at the library.

  23. Buy local....good idea. Let's see what, if any action, the City Council takes on such matters.

    So far, the only thing they can come up with is raising taxes. I've never once heard a City Council member or staff member suggest finding ways to cut spending, though.

  24. Let's Put Sierra Madre FirstOctober 31, 2009 at 4:47 PM

    City Staff hates budget cuts. If the City Council asks them to look into something like that, the report never surfaces, and the matter never shows up on the agenda. They're still pushing hard for their raises.

  25. OMG!! "They're still pushing hard for their raises."

    Sierra Madre City Staff are getting paid the same salaries as staff for much larger cities, and they have the nerve to push for a raise.

    This is not good.

    Too bad we don't have a City Treasurer looking into these matters on behalf of the tax payers, otherwise we and the Council would be able to get that info without City staff being able to bury it.

    Chalk up another small victory for the Dirts.

  26. Sir Eric, here is some candy for halloween,
    what does don barton doyle from virginia and sierra madre,and howard ting of yk america el monte,& china have in common? they are both "immigration investor regional center" managers!! looks like doyle brought them in and leung shook them down...

  27. Anyone who is still thinking Joe Mosca has the good of Sierra Madre first, or even at all....please read Sir Eric's columns. Sir Eric and his research team have posted you all the facts. They can be proven! Joe is a fake and a lobbyist for big Sacramento development interests.
    Most Team Neuroblast has on video tape.
    If you still think Joe is a "good guy" ask yourself WHY it was so important for him and John Buchanan to push Joe being on COG and SCAG?
    Why would it matter? Unless......there is something in this for Joe and John, something big and not to the advantage of the residents of Sierra Madre.
    Reject this FRAUD, Mosca, Sierra Madre, reject him or suffer the consequences.

  28. What happened to the audit Buchanan said he would preform that "I will be glad to go back as far as I feel appropriate to explain the historical context of all this ..yeah, and it wont necessarily stop at the last 4 or 5 years."
    from the clip : Buchanan Befuddled By Audits

    I'm still waiting for that one myself!

    Neuroblast Films

  29. Mayor MacGillivray asked him to do that, you have him on tape, Neuroblast accepting the job.
    I'm sure MacGillivray isn't naive enough to think Buchanan will actually come through?
    She did set up a nice YouTube for you!
    Buchanan lying......again.

  30. NBF - There's another item that never seems to hit the agenda. John Buchanan, the last serving artifact from the shenanigan years, forced to talk about how they managed to screw things up so badly. You can only imagine just how badly the Human Fog Bank wants to avoid that one.

  31. Bad Karma,

    It depends on what you mean by "screwed things up," and from which vantage point one is looking.

    Many folk in town dismiss these Dirts, such as Buchanan, Torres, Joffe, Stockly, etc as idiots or morons, which in the big picture may be true, however. If you look at them from the vantage point of a developer, then the Dirts are actually very effective and competent, not to mention sinister.

  32. You got that right, 6:10. Least we forget....they are sinister!

  33. . . . to old curmudgeon--A few years back the currently elected city treasurer, George Enyedi, was volunteering his time to help the city sort out the budget mess. He was sumarily dismissed by the then city council (not sure if Bart Doyle was the Mayor, but he was on the council). Mr Enyedi was disgusted with the situation and I am sure it was because he saw such a mess and there was no vision to get it under control. Years before he, Steve Broiles and Caroline Brown met with the city contract auditor to go over the budgets that had not be submitted to Sacramento in time for years and years. We were asked why we were involved with the process and it was because the city admininstrator, Jim McRae, was sliding money around between budget categories as welll as keeping the city at risk by not following general plan requirements. We have to encourage our city council to ask for a forensic audit and make the necessary corrections that are long overdue.

  34. Elisa Weaver is adding people to her staff like crazy. She is in a real power grab. Remember she started out as a rec.staff and now courtesy of the city has her MA degree and is the Director of Community Services and PERSONEL. She will be much more dangerous than Michelle Keith ever was because Elisa is one smart cookie and Michelle was dumber than dirt. Watch out because she and Elaine are the ones who are working on pay raises for staff.

  35. For heaven sakes....Follow the money..Remember when Zimmerman recommended a forensic audit?The silence has been deafening!!!!Why?

  36. There is an unfortunate split on the City Council, with the majority faction not in agreement on whether to go forward with a forensic audit. Something that has made some people uncomfortable on how to deal with the issue. Of course, the dirts on the Council would tax us straight to hell if they had their way.

    Expect some developments on this issue over the next few weeks, though. Something might have happened.

  37. 9:30

    "Something might have happened?" Does that mean Don Watts grew a spine?

  38. Hey, easy.... Anon 11:12, I (and many others) respect Don. I enjoy his perspective, and he has proven to be a man of character. If you pay attention you will see Don does not just go along for the ride. He is thoughtful, and a man of ethics. Not to mention he is a veteran, and a man who showed up from the hospital to weigh in on an important vote, unable to speak he gave a thumbs up. Spineless? I think not.

    Neuroblast Films

  39. You're entitled to your opinion Neuroblast, and so am I.

    For those of us that have been involved for years and didn't jump on the band wagon after Don and Kurt were elected, Don has been a bit of a disappointment.

    BTW: Oliver North is also a veteran. Does that make him a "man of ethics?"

  40. I agree with Neuroblast.
    Don is an asset to our city council.
    He's a brave guy.
    If it wasn't for Don and Kurt and Kevin and Katina Dunn, and the SMRRD teams, we would have never gotten Measure V. in. The dirts thought they had the Measure V beaten. They had three votes on the Council...John, Enid and traitor Joe, but even more important they had $170,000 of out of town, special interest (as in developers/realtors)MONEY$$$$$ against them. The dirts ran the ugliest campaign in the history of Sierra Madre against Measure V. They even had a filthy porn website to slander Zimmerman, Watts, and the Dunns and their friends in the most hideous manner. WE STILL WON.
    Flash forward to the last city council election, the DIRTS again outdid themselves with a dirty smear campaign against MaryAnn MacGillivray with the help of a major political party, I might add.
    MaryAnn MacGillivray STILL WON.
    The people of this town love Don Watts and they love Kurt Zimmerman and MaryAnn MacGillivray.
    How often do you have THREE HONEST elected officials on the same city council?

  41. Hey, 12:26

    You may have an "opinion", however, what I posted at 12:33 is not my opinion, it's an absolute FACT.

  42. Neuroblast!

    You think 12:26 just may be one of your "stars" on YouTube Neuroblast clips?

    You bet! :)

  43. Looney Views News ReaderNovember 1, 2009 at 12:47 PM

    The new issue is out a day late (as usual), and this could be the most content free issue ever. Only thing remotely interesting is they spelled Pat "Birdall's" name wrong.

  44. I'll pass 12:47
    Anything imporant and truthful, Sir Eric will post it.
    Who in the hell is Pat Birdall?

  45. yes....... there are many Vets with no ethics, my point is he(& Oliver for that matter) is not spineless, and calling names is a little low brow. I am sorry you've been disappointed by Don, that's unfortunate. Although, you are the only one who has the ability to set your expectations. I have high hopes of an era of accountability, and high ethical standards in our local governmet. Don, as I said before does not always vote the way you might expect, but the vote he gives is his own not S.C.A.G. or C.O.G. or So Cal Gas, or So Cal Edison, voting through shills.

    Neuroblast Films

  46. I like Don. He seems like a straight up and honest guy and I respect that both in a politician and a man.

  47. Looney Views News reader must have found his/her late copy of the MVN on the newstand as it is still not on the web. If you google Mt Views News you get a link to the town of Mountain View in Northern Calfiornia. Say, maybe we shoud use their ajudication for our legals, see if they would circulate their paper in Sierra Madre. Might as well ask as we are not getting any news on time or otherwise from the Mt Views Snooze we've got here. Gack!

  48. Sorry anon 3:25 I googled it and it came up first. Don't do it! Every click or time you google it runs the subsrciptions up!

    Neuroblast Films

  49. Here is who Pat Birdsall is
    or click the link "Sierra Madre Kiwanis" above.

    Notice any other names on the list, like Susan Henderson? Oh what company he keeps. In the words of Groucho Marx "I'd never be part of an orginzation that would have me as a member".

    Neuroblast Films

  50. The wind storm night meeting was on.....for a while.
    It started at some time and played until 10 of 7, at which point, the Little League tape came on. So, the community is kind of informed about a part of the meeting. Up to discussion item 4.
    If the playback schedule follows tradition, that will probably be the only chance we'll have, until one day, when it will be played back to back all day. Which day?
    Welcome to one of our best examples of bureaucratic incompetence.

  51. They not only "want it all" they are prepared to TAKE it all, by any means necessary

  52. This article proves how no matter how much research you do, having a prior bias makes you sound like an idiot. Wunderman is not a redeveloper, and you're getting pretty close to sue-able slander here. He and his NON-PROFIT company stand to gain no money from redevelopment. Have fun up there on your cloud of ignorance, it must be bliss.

  53. Lots of redevelopers make no money. Be it intentionally non-profit or otherwise, building where other buildings once were is called redevelopment.

    I think you're just sore about something.

  54. Maybe so, but you're still either grossly misinformed, or just plain ignorant.

  55. I take it the convention for a new Constitution isn't happening. Jim and Arnie still talking? SB375 is a POS, you know.