By Douglas Home
As the person who created the DEFEAT MENDONCA signs posted around Moraga, many have asked what my gripe is with Town Council Member Karen Mendonca.
The real issue is about the responsibilities of an elected town official. Call me old fashioned, but I was under the impression that they were supposed to act in the best interest of the majority of their citizenry. Before spending tax dollars, this would mean evaluating a cost/benefit analysis of the proposed action. For instance, if you knew that 90 percent of your citizens wanted green grass in the park, would you waste a dime of their money getting quotes to paint the grass red?
This is what happened with the Rancho Laguna Park (RLP) issue wasting $100K plus of our money and years of our time, during which hundreds spoke at the Town Council meetings saying clearly, “Leave RLP alone!” But Mendonca, Harpham and Chew refused to listen. Mendonca claimed that, “there is a silent majority of people afraid to use RLP due to off-leash dogs”, but only a hand full ever spoke out at the Town Council meetings. For every 50 citizens who spoke out to leave RLP alone, only two to five ever spoke out to ban off-leash dogs there. Ms. Mendonca, where was your “silent majority”? Being silent, I presume?
Then they played the “Life/Safety card” telling us that dogs are dangerous. And yet, no statistical evidence exists that anyone has ever been killed by a dog in an off-leash park. Then it became a “town liability issue”, and yet their own insurance carrier admitted the risk was negligible. It then became clear that their real agenda was toward an alliance made with pay-to-play soccer organizations to turn RLP into an organized soccer field, for which they would pay rental fees to the Town. Feel free to look at the Moraga Master Plan. Yes, that’s a soccer field drawn in at RLP. And yet Mendonca claims that this is not their plan. Really?
Mendonca then stated that she would be willing to entertain a compromise plan for RLP if a “ group of citizens from all viewpoints could get together and work in the true spirit of compromise.” In just two weeks, our amazing citizens put together such a group of 15 who formulated a compromise plan known as Plan C, which was approved by a 13-2 vote and presented to Town Council. How did Mendonca, Harpham and Chew vote on this? NO, NO & NO. How long did they discuss it before voting? Hardly a moment. And then, they voted (3 – 2) to stop all off-leash dog activity in RLP immediately … the proverbial slap in the face. Incredibly, Ms. Mendonca said (or rather screamed) at the audience, “I don’t care about you people. This issue is over!”
The truth became undeniable. The fix was in and Mendonca had been wasting our time and money from the beginning. We were Charlie Brown and Mendonca was Lucy with the football.
But then came the “Referendum of 1800” (pursuant to State Law) where at least 10 percent of Moraga registered voters could sign up to block the Town Council’s action. We needed 1100 signatures within 10 days. Instead, we got 1,800 signatures in just 7 days. The community response was overwhelming. Over 80 percent of those asked to signed the Referendum …. actually signed it! Democracy scored a goal.
The meaning was clear. The other four Council Members understood it and so did the consultants they hired to get Measure K approved. They realized that a majority of Moragans want RLP to be left alone, which is exactly why you don’t see the RLP issue on the ballot this year. It would hurt Measure K. They all understood this, except for Mendonca. She still believes in her “silent majority.”
And so, it’s time we ask ourselves, if Karen Mendonca doesn’t care about our opinions on a “dog park”, what other more important issues does she not care about us on? Open space, ridge line development, giant speed bumps on Camino Pablo, perhaps? There are many Moragans who believe this is be self evident. Hmmmm?