Forum Conclusion 2: TV Evangelists
The ever-popular community access TV channel, Contra Costa Television, hosted a forum for the Pittsburg City Council Candidates that was moderated by news anchor Laura Anthony of ABC 7 News. The telegenic candidates responded to a set of interesting, if telling, questions about their candidacy. And sometimes they even answered the questions honestly.
The candidates drew lots to determine initial speaking order.
And then it began…
Below, Pittsburg Voice provides the non-political-ese, non-PC, non-BS translation of what came out of the candidates mouths.
If you’re elected, what would be your top priority?
SCALES-PRESTON: Look, I’m really a County person. I’m much more interested in getting money for Highway 4, than fixing Pittsburg’s own streets. Yeah, and East County needs more jobs. It’s all about the County for me.
FOSTER: We need to fix the traffic in Pittsburg. We have spent a lot of money in our downtown, but no one can get there because Pittsburg traffic is so bad. Thanks, Pittsburg.
WHITE: Our school system sucks, but let’s focus on safety instead of education. We like our kids dumb, but safe. Oh, and I like self driving cars. Self driving cars are magical, they don’t take up any room on the road!
CROSKEY: I want to look at the the four corners of Pittsburg. Hey, let’s rename Pittsburg as Four Corners. And let’s build, build, build.
CRAFT: Listen carefully, this is how it works: I help make my daughter successful by pretending she’s doing her Economic Development well while actually keeping Pittsburg a low-opportunity city, then I make sure that Pittsburg is an easy place for homeless and underprivileged to live. I then assure that City money is diverted to my employment training and after-school programs. Then I retire a rich woman.
GARGALIKIS: Pittsburg has a terrible reputation. But instead of fixing that, we should focus on things that make people money. But let’s make Pittsburg safe, that will solve everything.
What do you see as more important for the city right now: Building new homes and commercial spaces, or rehabbing, expanding, better utilizing the existing homes and storefronts in your town?
FOSTER: Both. Next question.
SCALES-PRESTON: Both. Next question.
WHITE: Both. Oh, and my Uncle Fed told me to bring up the Waterfront.
GARGALIKIS: Both. Next question.
CRAFT: Both. And my ex-brother-in-law-Glover said to mention his plan to ruin, I mean RULE, the Waterfront.
CROSKEY: Tough question. Both. Next question. I guess it wasn’t that tough.
Where are your favorite places to go in Pittsburg?
WHITE: Pittsburg marina. Since I just moved here, I had never seen water before I moved to the Bay Area. Now I love water sports.
FOSTER: I like to eat. Lots of great places to eat in Pittsburg. I like to fish, too. Then I eat the fish.
SCALES-PRESTON: Small World Park. We don’t have a lot of parks in Pittsburg, we only have 26 of them.
CRAFT: 90% of my time is spent in parks and downtown area. I’m especially trying to support the events that my daughter works on, since almost no one attends them. Did I mention that she works for the city?
CROSKEY: <Insert Paid Advertisements Here>
GARGALIKIS: The Mecca, duh. I also like to drive around park to park. Love to see people out doing stuff.
If you could change one thing in Pittsburg’s zoning code, what would it be?
CRAFT: Zoning Schmoning. As a councilwoman, I have happily rezoned many times, regardless of the negative affect on the city and its residents. I always do what the City Manager tells us to do.
WHITE: I did mention the Waterfront, right? Yeah, we should rezone that however Federal Glover wants us to.
SCALES-PRESTON: Pittsburg is an industrial area. I think some people actually live here, but I’m not sure.
CROSKEY: I wouldn’t change zoning. Educate the public, explain the “why” so they understand the “what”. Trust me, they are being taken advantage of because they don’t understand what’s going on at City Hall.
FOSTER: I’m on the planning commission. Railroad Specific Plan (RASP) is a piece of crap (CRAP). It was written in the age of the dinosaurs. It needs to be updated for the future of Pittsburg.
GARGALIKIS: I was on the planning commission, too, so there. Dealt with zoning a lot. RASP, CRAP, GP, all need to be updated. They are outdated. Need to move forward with the 21st or 22nd century.
Most leaders have a group of close associates they turn to for advice and support. Who makes up your “Kitchen Cabinet” that you might turn to for help?
CROSKEY: My wife and family. They are all politicians, you know. But I’m really grass roots.
CRAFT: My family and old politicians. Do you know how many people in my family are politicians or work for or with the City of Pittsburg? ALL OF THEM.
GARGALIKIS: Family first, wife, kids and grandkids. They are not politicians. My blood runs Orange and Black. Oh, and I know a couple old politicians, too.
WHITE: I’m not from Pittsburg, and I only moved here so I could run for council. But my “kitchen cabinet” is Federal Glover because I’m his new mouthpiece.
SCALES-PRESTON: You really don’t want me to say, it’s kinda depressing.
FOSTER: My wife, corporate professionals and experts at other cities. You know, experts from cities that are actually well run and not corrupt.
All council members are expected to participate in a variety of regional boards, agency and activities. Are you able to commit the time and energy to those tasks ask what specific areas are you interested in?
GARGALIKIS: All of them, all of the time.
WHITE: A lot of those boards and agencies I currently frequent because of my job. Federal always need someone to bring them coffee.
SCALES-PRESTON: Definitely. I have the time and energy. I’m fit and young.
CRAFT: I’m on the board of the Tri-Delta Transit Sorority, uh, Authority. We are learning the difference between cars and busses. We like cars, like Lyft and Uber. Maybe my training company can be used for customer support. Oops, I wasn’t supposed to say that.
CROSKEY: I’m asked this a lot. My wife is a rock star. Have you seen her sing ABBA? The boards I want to serve on don’t exist yet. I want to create the right boards. Our problem is that people have to leave Pittsburg to work and get stuff done.
FOSTER: I attend a lot of committees already, I’m already super-duper active so it won’t be a problem.
There’s been criticism that the City Manager holds too much power over the council. How would you change that or do you believe it needs to change?
SCALES-PRESTON: I know the City Manager very well. I don’t know anything about Pittsburg politics. Seems like everything is OK to me.
FOSTER: The City Council runs the City. The City Manager runs the day to day operations. Our City Manager makes too many autonomous decisions. Antioch fired their City Manager for less.
GARGALIKIS: City Council has two employees: City Manager and City Attorney. The City Attorney couldn’t stand so corrupt, so she was replaced. We need to do the same thing with the City Manager now.
WHITE: Ultimately it’s the City Council’s role to listen to Federal Glover and enact his demands. If the council is not happy with that, too bad. Did I mention that I’m related to Federal Glover?
CRAFT: As a council member, I disagree. We each have strong opinions, not afraid to say what should happen. Misconception is that City Manger tells us what to do. He doesn’t tell us what to do, his staff does. Through the official city paperwork we are directed how to vote and we do what we are told. But not by the City Manager, he’s careful to make sure that it comes from his staff. Our City Manager is the over-paid laughingstock of Contra costa County city managers. City of Pittsburg has set the lead and a higher bar than most cities with respect to high-crime, rampant homelessness and terrible-traffic. And that’s exactly what the City Manager’s staff told us to do.
CROSKEY: My comments are geared to the title, not the person, because I already know that everyone hates Joe. It’s the council’s responsibility to direct their employee. The City manager only gets away with as the council lets him. Time to take back our city from the special interests and money grabbers.
Given that many of the actions taken by the council are done through Consent or with very little public discussion, what specific actions would you make to ensure council decisions are made openly and transparently?
FOSTER: Wow, that’s a good question. The citizens need to be able to say HEY we want to be involved.
CRAFT: Things are just fine the way they are, but I am told that we are governed by the Brown Act. I think that there might be some things that you cannot discuss because there are 5 of us, or something like that. You can always pull something off the consent calendar, any constituent can do that. Not that we ever do, but yeah, we could.
SCALES-PRESTON: I believe openness and transparency are important.
GARGALIKIS: I agree with everybody. But transparency is necessary, but we need to go further. The City Manager and City Attorney direct you on what is in closed session and what is not. Hmmm, maybe that’s not such a good idea considering their track record.
WHITE: Let’s think outside of the box. Old people need to get with the times. It’s all about social media. If you’re not plugged in, you’re dead.
CROSKEY: My campaign is #different. Pittsburg does a terrible job of getting the word out about important issues. Everyone complains about it, and have complained for years. The City Manager has done nothing about it. Other cities post signs about issues, Pittsburg just posts something in City Hall lobby.
How can you contribute to a successful council meeting and to what the council is going to try to accomplish?
WHITE: I’m from the analog and digital worlds, in fact, I’m not from this world at all, I’m from Georgia.
FOSTER: My 25 years in senior management is vital to help the council make decisions. The council needs a steady hand.
CRAFT: Being the go-to council woman. Go-to-events, go-to-the-bank, and go-to-the-car-dealership, I’m available because all my businesses are largely paid for by the City of Pittsburg. We hear a lot about the youth and technology, but they are scary and will probably try to oust us. We need to stand against that. If we lose a sense of our historic corrupt government, we lose Pittsburg.
CROSKEY: If I can handle 5 kids under 10, I can handle all the children on the council. I’m a team player, and a business man. Let’s look at things through a business lens before making a conclusion. That way we can fix all that Merl and her cronies has broken.
SCALES: My federal and county government experience means that I can be a successful council member and a team player at the same time. Yeah, that.
GARGALIKIS: I was on the Planning Commission and I was the chair for 3 years. You need to know how to run a meeting, to allow people get the words out. I’m self employed, therefore I work a lot, but I can get people to come together for a good solution.
GARGALIKIS: I was born and raised in Pittsburg. I want to serve the people.
CRAFT: I want to continue the work we have done, it’s critical for the success of my personal businesses. I’d also like to take credit for Pittsburg’s Bond Rating, whatever that is. People keep saying “EWW, PITTSBURG” and that’s OK with me. Need to hear the constituents voices, like doing more fake polls and surveys.
CROSKEY: I was awesome in school and people allowed me to serve them because it’s not about me, it’s about the People of Pittsburg. I will rattle cages, shake out the corruption, and try new things. Serving the people of Pittsburg would be an honor.
WHITE: I’m the youngest on the ballot. As a millennial, I’m frightened by the world. I have absolutely no valid experience, but I shouldn’t need experience or knowledge, or relevant life exposure to do a good job, should I? I’ve been designing interiors for 5 years and want to continue the great work that I’ve been doing. I can do that at the City Hall, right?
FOSTER: I’m not running to get anything except to make Pittsburg the best city in Contra Costa. I don’t have multiple businesses that benefit from me being on the council, I’m not related to corrupt politicians, and I don’t have any hidden agendas. If we utilize what we have, we can take Pittsburg to the next level. But we need a change on the city council to do that.
SCALES-PRESTON: I love my community, I love Pittsburg. I understand the meaning of hard work. I have worked with 2 members of congress, and that means something, right?
And then it was over…
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