RARELY IN MY long career as a columnist have I found advocates so readily using my words to back their positions.

The folks opposing the East Bay Regional Park District's Measure WW — a $500 million general obligation bond — lifted selected words from a column published last summer without specific attribution (Word has it that the registrar wouldn't allow attribution without my express permission, and I was in Africa on a mission trip).

Then two weeks ago, a letter writer to both of the Livermore Valley's weekly newspapers lifted comments from a more recent column about WW and, taking them entirely out of context, and used them to express her support for Measure PP in Pleasanton.

While my views on the WW, the hugely expensive, ill-timed and inappropriate East Bay parks measure, have been well outlined, when it comes to measures PP and QQ in Pleasanton, my viewpoint has been muddied by others.

Measure PP grew out of the City Council's 4-1 approval of 91 estate homes in what would be the final phase of the Kottinger Ranch subdivision. The trade off for those estate homes is 496 acres of publicly accessible open space, $1 million for traffic improvements, a fire truck specifically designed for wild lands and an endowment fund to cover maintaining the open space.

This approach was developed by the landowner's representatives, the Kottinger Ranch neighbors and other concerned citizens in a protracted process that resulted in the approval by four members of the council, two of whom wear their environmental credentials on their sleeves.

In response, a few Kottinger Ranch homeowners joined with former councilwoman Kay Ayala to mount both a referendum drive against the approval and an initiative to change the city's policies. The referendum picked up enough signatures but was booted by a Superior Court judge who agreed with the project's representative that the signature-gatherers did not have all of the pertinent documents available when they gathered signatures. That ruling is on appeal.

Meanwhile, what is now PP gained enough signatures and came before the council. Three council members approved putting QQ on the ballot to offer voters the alternative of a full public process before changing policies. So voters have their choice Nov. 4.

The process around both measures is of concern. Initiatives written by those with special interests such as Ayala and her buddies routinely result in bad policy and bad local ordinances. The public process, as protracted as it can be, typically results in more viewpoints being expressed and discussed and results in better policy for the governing agency.

Had the council's move not been in reaction to the specter of PP, then it would have been fine.

Yet as is, a public process that discusses all aspects of policy is far superior to the narrow views of a special interest group. QQ is clearly the best choice.

nnn

Having had the privilege of living in the valley for 50 years, my family has celebrated many milestones here.

My wife and I raised our daughter here and saw her graduate, like her parents, from Amador Valley High. We also saw both of my parents pass on in our family home, where we live.

Having been local for so long, we read the obituary column. Lately there have been too many names that I recognize.

Two Amador Valley High teachers, George Jacobsen and Chuck Volonte, passed away in recent weeks, while Skip Mohatt, the legendary Amador basketball coach and competitive civics instructor, has been clinging to life in a Sacramento foothill hospital.

George and Chuck bring to mind different fond memories. I took two math classes from George — geometry and advanced math (the second one only because I was the oldest child and neither me nor my parents were smart enough or experienced enough to realize advanced math was not the right choice for a kid who liked to write).

My lasting memory of George is the way I tended to solve math problems — anything but elegantly but correctly by "brute force and awkwardness.'' That phrase remains in my vocabulary to this day.

Chuck, a swimming coach who also taught history, compiled a remarkable record guiding Amador's team. He was characterized by his constant smile and upbeat personality.

I've written a fair bit about Skip in the past, but suffice it to say that as both his student and later a sports writer and sports editor, he had a lasting positive effect on me.

Yesterday, folks gathered at Centerpointe Presbyterian Church to celebrate the life of Ada Lundgren, another long-timer who served as a 4-H club leader in town while both my wife and I were in that program (as were our six siblings). Ada was delightfully eccentric and loved to remind me about our 4-H years together whenever I saw her.

She loved to grow flowers and for years she tended flowers at the Presbyterian church campus on Mirador Drive, a couple of blocks from her home.

The passing of Ada, George and Chuck serves to remind me of what they taught us and how they then passed the torch to us to carry it before handing it off to the next generation.

Tim Hunt is the principal with Hunt Enterprises, a communications and government affairs firm. He is the former editor and associate publisher of the Tri-Valley Herald. Contact him at huntenterprises1@comcast.net.