Videos below (click here to jump down)
The June 23 council meeting that included a full slate of important agenda items – including the Hacienda and Mulberry Tree lease deals and approval of the annual budget – was overshadowed and defined by what can only be described as hubris and hostility of freshman Councilmember Stromberg in perhaps the worst example of a Councilmember’s behavior in recent memory, if not ever.
Stromberg’s questions and comments during the Hacienda-Wedgewood and Mulberry Tree lease consideration items provided a shocking display that had residents hopping mad. One watcher summarized the episode as "overbearing, 'I'm-smarter-than-you' sanctimony that proved beyond any doubt that he most certainly is not."
His video performance will provide an ideal campaign ad for his eventual competitors during the next election, assuming a nascent effort to call for his resignation or recall doesn't bear fruit.
What was striking to us – aside from the general hostility, impropriety and demonstrated lack of critical inquiry – was that during our interviews of Town Council candidates last year, Stromberg asserted a “trust but verify” philosophy and committed his decisions would be objective and based on complete information. He also touted his role as a trained mediator as one that would enable professional and measured decision making. Just six months into his tenure, the opposite appears to be the case.
HACIENDA COMMENTS "A HUGE TOO BAD"
In a nearly 15-minute soliloquy on residents’ concerns associated with the Hacienda wedding lease deal, Stromberg went well beyond dismissing those concerns and chose to forcefully lecture impacted neighbors with what one resident summarized as a “speech that was nothing more than a condescending, dismissive, huge 'too bad!'” and another concluding, “His rationalizations are absurd, but what’s even worse is how condescending he is.”
Stromberg’s lecture was a unique combination of forcefully telling residents what the Town Council was going to do – like it or not, and even though they hadn’t even yet deliberated or voted – along with telling them what they're allowed to expect. This all buttressed by completely failing to question town staff’s conclusions about noise ordinances (in Concord and Alameda County) that staff suggested were relevant (they weren’t, nor are they even ordinances) while stating that no relevant noise ordinances exist in Lafayette or Orinda (where they actually do, and in quite impressive detail). These facts were even brought to Stromberg’s attention in resident letters and in comments during the meeting.
PRESCHOOL TEACHER INTERROGATION IS EVEN WORSE
During the “councilmember questions” portion of the Mulberry Tree Lease agenda item, Stromberg leveraged a combination of hubris, misinformation and poor judgment by launching into an immediate attack – reminiscent of a murder trial - on preschool teacher and Mulberry owner Susie Allison with machine-gun questioning and a fair bit of “Oh, Really?!” editorializing. It seems Stromberg had previously concluded that dozens of letters of support for Mulberry were obtained under false pretenses, dismissing them entirely.
Managing to ignore the obvious, striking disparity between staff’s generous recommendations for the Hacienda and inexplicably strict ones for Mulberry – even after SMARTMoraga and some residents had brought them to his attention – Stromberg publicly assailed the preschool teacher for 10 minutes but accomplished nothing other than to put on full display a twisted, myopic, ill-informed, and abusive performance.
What’s more, his conspiracy theories, flawed assumptions and ignorance of Mulberry’s teaching model/philosophy and future plans were actually outdone by his level of hostility and total lack of awareness of his impropriety.
Following a plethora of criticism from residents who subsequently dialed into the meeting to provide public comment, Stromberg managed only to offer what has been roundly criticized as a non-apology for “misunderstanding the facts” while completely ignoring his inappropriate, meaningless attack and overall hostile demeanor.
It was a shameful display on every level.
WATCH! Click the videos below to see both events:
Mulberry Tree Lease Questions
Hacienda lease discussion (and reaction) on Nextdoor took place here
Mulberry Tree lease discussion (and reaction) on Nextdoor took place here
Resident comment and criticism begins at 3:28:30 in this video
Got thoughts? You can email the Town Council; contact info is here.