As we reported earlier here, consternation and anger erupted on Nextdoor (here) following the Town Council's bypassing of Vice Mayor Steve Woehleke for Mayor and instead choosing Councilmember Renata Sos to skip the Vice Mayor's chair and leapfrog Woehleke to take the Mayor's gavel.
The move - enabled by affirmative votes from Councilmembers Sos, Onoda and Makker and opposed by McCluer and Woehleke - ignored over four decades of Town tradition and its de facto Mayor and Vice Mayor selection process.
Weak Rationalization by Sos and Onoda
During the meeting, Sos and Onoda asserted that a busy year lies ahead and Sos would be a "better" leader and presiding officer. Even if one believes that assertion to be true, it hardly justifies the premeditated ambush on Woehleke, doesn't matter enough to cruelly cast aside a qualified and dedicated councilmember with 20 years of volunteer service to the Town, and falls far short of providing any benefit that outweighs the overt disrespect it showed and the subsequent discord and dysfunction it no doubt will engender.
The reality is that ignoring such a longstanding tradition should be reserved exclusively for instances of gross incompetence, malfeasance or continuous disruption.
Sos Involved in Earlier Attempt to Leapfrog Others
Interestingly, Sos was at the center of a similar attempt to leapfrog others a couple of years ago when then-Mayor Kymberleigh Korpus nominated Sos instead of McCluer for the Vice Mayor role. Along with this most recent instance, Sos has the ignoble distinction of being involved in 2 out of the 3 tradition-busting officer appointments in Moraga's entire 47-year history.
What's Really Going On
It is unclear whether this entire event is retribution for McCluer's and Woehleke's earlier reluctance to appoint one of two candidates to the recently-vacated council seat and instead seeking to reopen the application process (stories here, here and here) or if there are hidden agendas at play. It's probably both.
Resident response on Nextdoor (here) was swift, reflecting near universal condemnation of what essentially was a power-seeking coup that provides no measurable benefit to the town or its residents. The discussion was informative but unfortunately was closed when it went off the rails with increasingly angry (and some tangential) comments.
Have Something to Say? Get Heard.
Those wishing to let the council know their feelings on the matter can speak during public comment at the council's next meeting, send a letter to the council (click here for their group email link 2/3 down the page) and consider a letter to the editor at the Lamorinda Weekly (click here, deadline for their next issue is Friday 12/16).
Much More to Come, and Not in a Good Way
Obviously, the fallout from this will continue for quite some time. The immediate fallout likely limited to local chatter and anger associated with the shock and disappointment of what has occurred. The mid- and long-term consequences do not bode well, likely negatively impacting governance, transparency, and spending.
You can be certain these will begin rearing their ugly heads as soon as next month as the Mayor drives the annual goals process and tees up committee and subcommittee assignments.
You also can be certain everything will be presented with great confidence and will sound convincing and reasonable, but a great many of the words will be empty and the promises hollow.
Stay tuned for our predictions and "be on the lookout" warnings in an article coming soon.
Nextdoor thread (now closed, still informative): click here
Youtube Video (active speaker only): click here and go to 2:05:50
Livestream Video (all councilmembers on screen, version is choppy): click here and go to 2:11:40
Town Council group email address (2/3 of the way down): click here