Lloyd Guccione -- who is running for Dan Fein's seat on the Russian River Redevelopment Oversight Committee (RRROC) -- has run a huge quarter-page advertisement in this month's Russian River Monthly, which asks: "Why are these people smiling?"
The ad shows grinning photos of his supporters alongside the obligatory supportive quotes, & of course the answer to the above query is: "Two words. Lloyd Guccione."
To which MY visceral response is: Um ... I cannot even possibly fathom why "these" people -- or ANY people -- would be smiling about Mr. Guccione's campaign.
Mr. Guccione is a highly articulate, intelligent, logical, & thoughtful man who speaks up at RRROC meetings with long, majestic, poetic cadences with the most amazingly lovely, resonant baritone. Alas, the political views & intentions which manifest themselves through the instrument of that sonorous voice do not elicit smiles from me.
This gentleman has a high degree of intelligence, intensity, & integrity, & is highly regarded by some as a community watch-dog. His supporter, Lenny Weinstein, is even quoted in the ad as saying "Lloyd does a lot of homework to make sure that the public is well protected. Every community needs a muckracker."
But we already HAVE a devoted & vigilant watch dog in the person of John Uniack (currently serving on RRROC) -- who diligently crunches numbers & forcefully advocates adherence to proper & legal procedures while still managing to work effectively with members of RRROC & the community at large in a professional, courteous, & constructive manner. Unlike Mr. Guccione, Mr. Uniack often stands FOR things as well as AGAINST them.
My main problem with Mr. Guccione is that he does not behave in a constructive, courteous, or helpful manner. He repeatedly criticizes RRROC & points out problems without proposing any constructive solutions. He insults the personal integrity of RRROC members & launches frivolous legal actions instead of devoting his formidable intellectual energies & resources to helping the RRROC become more transparent. We're a small community & we NEED to be civil & kind towards one another. If Mr. Guccione cares so danged much, he should serve on a subcommittee or submit a proposal for project funding (um ... though I don't know WHAT, exactly such a project might be ... um ... an oversight committee for the Russian River Redevelopment Oversight committee?).
The formidable complexity of Mr. Guccione's mind prevents me from discerning what he actually wants & supports. But I have managed to form a pretty good idea of what he does NOT want or support. As far as I can tell, Mr. Guccione wants NO redevelopment funds to be spent on ANY projects whatsoever. Mr. Guccione takes NIMBY (an acronym for "not in my back yard") to a whole new level: BANANAs (which stands for "BUILD ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, ANYWHERE, NEAR ANYTHING").
He talks an awful lot about spending our redevelopment tax dollars wisely, yet he also requires huge amounts of these tax dollars to be spent upon defending RRROC against lawsuits instigated by ... guess who? ... Mr. Guccione. Who has repeatedly taken legal action against RRROC for supposed petty infractions against various arcane procedural requirements, which Mr. Guccione attributes to evil & profiteering motives on the part of RRROC members. These allegations are repeatedly rejected by the courts, yet he persists in making them.
I agree that RRROC & the CDC need to improve their communications & public outreach (though they have taken many steps in the right direction) & have repeatedly urged them to do so in this blog & in person at the RRROC meetings. But I don't feel that these lapses result from sinister motives. The fact is: RRROC members do not get paid, have a lot of redevelopment stuff on their plates (in addition to their "real" lives), & they're doing the best they can. County Development Commission (CDC) officials are also overworked & underpaid & they have to stay at RRROC meetings until past midnight, too. I'm sure their spouses & children love that.
So ... when we vote for our RRROC representatives, do you want to vote for Dan Fein, Catherine Young, George Zastrow, & other colleagues whose seats are up for grabs & who've actually managed to get some stuff done? Or do you want to vote for Mr. Fein's opponent, Lloyd Guccione, who has consistently & forcefully opposed almost every single public improvement which has been proposed for funding over the past few years & who has repeatedly WASTED the LOCAL TAX DOLLARS he is so desirous of managing wisely by launching unjustified lawsuits which repeatedly bite the hand that's trying to feed us & which has often proven more than willing to allow us to define the terms upon which we are fed?
Like most of my fellow river rats & rattinas, I want to preserve the qualities we all love about this area, including our abundant natural beauty & more laid-back way of life. I don't want our downtowns to become chi chi Theissenvilles, or to promote huge housing developments which will turn us into a sprawling suburb of Santa Rosa. But nobody is proposing any projects that could even remotely lead to these undesirable outcomes.
I love our cool, green, serpentine river & our majestic redwoods, but I also like things like parks, roads, functional water pipes, affordable loans & grants for raising people's homes above the floodline, removal of abandoned vehicles & other trash, rehabilitation for the buildings which house important local institutions like the Koret Club & River Child Care Services, & other things that we need & cannot afford without redevelopment funds.
Once again, I am obliged to disclose the fact that Dan Fein hired me to create his campaign Web site. But I wouldn't have done so if I hadn't already decided to support him.