John Roberts is a federal bank regulator and frequent park user. Find out more about him at http://johnrobertsdemocracy.com/. Ward 2 includes most of Oakland, Piedmont, Canyon, Moraga, Orinda, Orinda Village, Rheem Valley, Lafayette, Rossmoor, and part of Walnut Creek
1 – What is your opinion of the current East Bay Parks administration and what changes do you propose to make from the Board?
The Board is spread thin with 65 parks and only seven members. It is a system developed early in the twentieth century when there were less parks to manage. I propose the Board expand its PAC to the individual park level, akin to a federalization. Community groups representing different interests should work together with Park Supervisors to provide fully-developed proposals to the Board. This will expedite necessary changes, as well as ensure local community groups have a voice in the process. The annual performance evaluation of Park Supervisors should consider their involvement with community groups and park users. I would also promote transparency of resources and their use via the EBRPD website, among other things. Finally, accessibility is in a poor condition, where park fees and strict laws hinder the underprivileged, and limited consideration for sustainable multi-use trails restricts recreational opportunities including those for youth and elderly participation and inclusion.
2 – What’s your opinion about the militarization of the East Bay Parks police and what do you think the Board should do about it?
Militarization is for battlefields, not parks. While I fully support police facilities and responsible training, military equipment should be bought and stored by the National Guard, not park rangers. I consider militarization spending by any park management to be a waste of taxpayer funds and the Board should watch annual budgets closely to ensure this does not happen.
3 – How do you think East Bay Parks police should handle protests?
The police should not “handle” any peaceful protest as this is a right of American citizens.
4 – The East Bay Regional Parks District utilizes a whole array of surveillance technology. What do you think the proper role of the Board should be in regulating the acquisition and use of such technology and what specific policies do you want to see in place to safeguard the privacy of visitors?
I am against “big brother” surveillance in any park. If I could answer a question with another question: “Who watches the watchers?” Individuals can carry cameras, but taxpayers should not be subjected to having their taxes be used to be remotely watched while they are enjoying a walk in the park. That said, I am for high-bar electronic fingerprinting, i.e., surveillance of parking lots where the footage can only be viewed when a serious crime has been committed (car theft, assault, etc) and the victim request the data through independent oversight (e.g., court order) in order to identify the suspect.
5 – What action has the Board taken in the last 4 years that you disagreed with?
The EBRPD Board, through Ordinance 38, regularly shows bias against diversity of park use even though a core mission of the EBRPD is to balance usage and conservation. In addition, the goal of public entities should be to treat everyone fairly. The government’s focus should be on treating everyone equal, not on generating revenue which is the private sector’s focus; if EBRPD kept this in mind, it could eliminate a lot of problems before they happened. Instead, the EBRPD has focused on fee-generating development. Park users have said there is a lack of actionable effort, listening to constituents, user groups, park neighbors, etc. More importantly, I am not comfortable with the Board’s lack of internal dissent in its decisions which would have otherwise signaled diversity among Board members.
6 – Can you describe an instance in which you have shown moral courage, either as a board member or in a professional situation?
I work for the FDIC. My duties include oversight of large and complex bank management. I regularly participate in examinations, identify violations, and raise observations that must be addressed. This includes improving governance, independent oversight, risk management, controls, etc. I also meet with bankers on a regular basis. Moral courage is necessary when I am paid a fixed salary but institute effective change through management in a way that can put multimillion dollar bonuses at risk.
7- Have you received financial support from anyone that had business with East Bay Parks, including unions? Do you or your campaign have a financial relationship with any member of the ACDCC?
No, and no.
8 – Are you running as a Berniecrat?
I support the Berniecrat movement.
I am committed to Community, Accessibility and Transparency. My goals include building community amongst park users to support a sense of ownership, inclusion, and appreciation of our parks, as well as save money to enhance conservation. I have the good fortune to enjoy being a hiker, mountain biker, equestrian, and dog trainer. I also have a deep appreciation of the value our parks provide our diverse community’s needs, particularly our youth.
The EBRPD levies parcel taxes on residents yet shared usage policies are not set and observed in a uniform manner. I support a culture of trail etiquette and inclusion. As our taxes are used to acquire and conserve more land, the types of sustainable recreational activities should also be expanded. As a trail volunteer, I contribute to opening sustainable trails for multiple use which can help connect other trail networks.
I work for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as an examiner ensuring large banks do not take undue risks with our deposits. I will use my education, experience, and training to help ensure EBRPD finances are used intelligently to empower the community, increase accessibility, and improve transparency.