Richmond just can't let it go after Contra Costa supervisors, in a 3-2 vote, chose Concord over the "City of Pride and Purpose" for a new 200-job call center.
The Richmond City Council says it will fire off a "It's not fair!" letter to Covered California, the state agency helping residents sign up for health insurance later this year under the federal Affordable Care Act.
And Richard Poe, who owns the proposed call center site in Richmond, is asking Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho to recuse herself from all future call center votes because her brother works for Garaventa Enterprises, which owns the Concord site.
"The county has a policy to avoid even the appearance of an impropriety, and the government code requires elected officials to act impartially," Poe said.
There's also grumbling in Richmond about a Garaventa relative who works as a legislative aide for Supervisor Federal Glover.
They note that Garaventa interests have donated to all five sitting supervisors' campaigns.
Oh, and did anyone mention that Supervisor Karen Mitchoff attended a Garaventa wedding?
None of these relationships trigger the conflict of interest clause, says Contra Costa County Attorney Sharon Anderson.
Under state law, an elected official must recuse him or herself from a vote if the outcome will result in personal financial gain or financial gain for his or her spouse and dependents.
Piepho's brother, five-term Central Sanitary District board member Jim Nejedly, doesn't depend on his sister for his livelihood -- he has worked for the Garaventas' garbage company for 20-plus years, well in excess of her nine years in office.
Campaign contributions do not count unless they are proven bribes, in which case, they are also felonies.
Interestingly, if every supervisor with a connection to Poe, Garaventa or both is disqualified, no one would have been left to vote.
Supervisor John Gioia did some legal work for Poe in the 1990s, and Poe gave money to Gioia's 2010 campaign.
As for those verbal grenades about overheated politics, hearing Richmond City Council members smack down another board's decision as too political is a real knee-smacker -- this is a city where residents pour politics over their cornflakes every morning.
The call center vote was first and foremost about geography: Electeds want to bring home jobs, and Concord is closer to more constituents in four of the five supervisors' districts.
To overcome Concord's political geographical advantage, the Richmond site needed to be wildly cheaper, but the Garaventas kept matching or exceeding Poe's offers.
The Concord landlord also had another lead -- Comcast ran a call center in the building until late last year and left behind a good deal of usable equipment and technology.
That said, the Garaventas' involvement undeniably enhanced the Concord site's appeal given the decades the influential family has been on the county's political and business landscape.
But Poe leveraged his political relationships, too. He persuaded the Richmond City Council to offer him a $1 million loan of taxpayer money to help make his bid more competitive.
In the end, Poe whittled his Richmond three-year lease price down to $876,000 by the night of the supervisors' vote, roughly $115,000 less than Concord's offer.
It wasn't enough.
And a few days before the vote, Poe made last-minute convoluted real estate maneuvers -- he switched his offer to his building next door -- and he and Richmond lost whatever slim chance they had to overcome geography or politics.
There are lessons aplenty in this civics exercise, but one in particular rises to the top.
Concord may have won the call center, but the real winners are the county's taxpayers -- During the unusual public bidding war, the three-year lease cost on the Garaventa building dropped from $3 million on Feb. 6 to less than $1 million by the time the supervisors voted.
It's a powerful argument for more sunshine in government real estate negotiations, which almost always take place behind closed doors.
GOT POLITICS? Read PoliticsWithLisaV.blogspot.com.
AND FINALLY: The spring crab feed political fundraiser season is well under way in the Bay Area.
But the candidate whose name you write on that campaign contribution check is not necessarily the main attraction, says Contra Costa Water District board member Bette Boatmun.
"I call and find out who is cooking," Boatmun said.
Among her top chef picks are Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley; Pittsburg Councilman Sal Evola and his father, Nolan; and Antioch Councilman Tony Tiscareno.
"Jim Frazier makes a fabulous lobster tail," Boatmun said.
Wow, you learn something new every day.