By Roz Rogoff
Of Pros and ProseUploaded: Jun 26, 2011
I used to be a really good writer. My old Observer Commentaries that I wrote for the eight years I was independently publishing the San Ramon Observer website were clever, inventive, and funny.
I started the San Ramon Observer to let San Ramon residents know what was happening in San Ramon and in particular about what the City Council was or wasn't doing. That was back in 2002 when the new majority, which became known as "The Gang of Three," took over running the city and nearly ran it into the ground.
Even after the Gang of Three was replaced with the current "Gang of Five," and yes I did comment on that too, I continued to watch what they were up to and write clever commentaries.
I recently boasted at one of the Arts Advisory Committee Meetings that I was this great political columnist and that writing clever commentary and prose is as important an aspect of Literary Arts as poetry. If the Committee members are reading what I've been writing here in my blog in the Express, they probably think I have an inflated ego about my writing abilities.
Here are some links to some of my better Commentaries, to show that I really knew how to turn a phrase. The first one is on Mayor Nancy Tatarka's cell phone bill which was unexpectedly high in 2002.
Just to balance my political zingers, here's my take on Councilman Hudson's critique of the previous Council majority, followed by a supportive letter from past Mayor, Mary Lou Oliver.
Two past commentaries Jack the Giant Killer and The Elephant in the Room take very different positions on Alex Mehran. Some of you might be surprised that I don't automatically support every development proposal.
Jim Gibbon is quoted in the Elephant in the Room as is former Mayor Curt Kinney. That Commentary is from December of 2007 when the Gang of Five approved the plans for the new City Center, which was supposed to be completed by now but was put on hold due to the recession.
I'm not completely against Mehran's vision for a City Center, but I feel that a Downtown isn't necessary in San Ramon at all. We need a new City Hall and Offices, which we should find a way to build through the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) or purchase and remodel an existing building as was done with the Police Station.
The Police and several other City Departments are moving to the remodeled office building on Crow Canyon Road, which doesn't have to be temporary. So the benefits to the City from Mehran's proposed Downtown are not as needed as they were in 2007. We can put the needed increase in retail and affordable housing in the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan. In fact that's looking better to me than the City Center is now.
One more thing I want to clear up. At the April 26, 2011 City Council meeting Jim Gibbon said in Public Comment that for the last several years he was often the only resident at City Council meetings. I piped up that I was there too.
Jim acknowledged my interruption and said, "But you're a reporter," as if to say I was a Pro and paid to be there. NO, I was there for the same reasons Jim was, to keep on top of what was happening and voice my opinions. My San Ramon Observer website was entirely written, supported, and run by ME and nobody else. Nobody paid me for the eight years I attended almost every City Council meeting to write my semi-monthly Commentaries.
Two years ago I decided I didn't want to carry this load all by myself anymore. So I contacted Embarcadero Publishing, which is the parent company of the Danville Express and the Pleasanton Weekly, about moving my San Ramon Observer Commentaries to a San Ramon Weekly.
I met with East Bay Publisher, Gina Channell-Allen, and Embarcadero President, Bill Johnson, who were planning a new, online San Ramon Express. They liked the idea of taking over the San Ramon Observer blog, so it worked out perfectly for me and I hope them too.
I get paid a small amount for each Blog I write, but I don't make my living doing it so I'm still not a Pro. I don't attend every City Council meeting anymore either, since the Editor or a Reporter for the Express covers those meeting now. They are the real Pros. I'm still writing my political prose which I hope at least gets my readers thinking even if my writing isn't as clever as it used to be.