Ingredients for an Alameda political controversy: rice, hugging and clapping

Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer

Mayor told Filipino sister city group her kids eat rice

ALAMEDA | There was an audible gasp followed by quizzical looks from a crowd earlier this month when Alameda Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer welcomed dignitaries from Dumaguete City — Alameda’s sister city in the Philippines. And now some people are calling Spencer’s comments racially insensitive and embarrassing to the Filipino American community in Alameda.

The flub occurred June 5 as Spencer greeted the sister city’s mayor, his staff, and members of the community. Spencer said her children, like Filipinos, eat “white rice.” Spencer’s remarks were recorded, and then slowly disseminated around the island.

Fearing a small-scale diplomatic controversy was about to erupt following the delegation’s four-day visit, a Filipino-American activist sent a passionate letter apologizing for the mayor’s remarks. The letter, however, has also caught the attention of Alameda’s political establishment, which is often at odds with Spencer. And the incident could now alienate Spencer from the city and region’s fast-growing Filipino community.

However, this isn’t the first time that Spencer, a surprise winner in last fall’s mayoral election, has come under fire for her comments, nor is it the first time a recording has fueled the fire.

In the audio clip obtained by the Express, Spencer’s short speech is disjointed and littered with incomplete thoughts. (In an interview later, Spencer admitted that it was an off-the-cuff speech.) During her remarks, Spencer struggled to convey the cultural similarities between Alamedans and Filipinos. “I have many Filipino friends,” she said. “Our children grew up … eating rice — white rice!” Spencer followed up the comment with a booming, cackling laugh…


8 thoughts on “Ingredients for an Alameda political controversy: rice, hugging and clapping

  1. That's 'cause Tavares is carrying water for Bonta and his wife, and the local dems machine….


  2. Tavares missed the main story: “Sister City Tempest Brews In Philippines” front page Alameda Sun today…and it has nothing to do with Mayor Spencer!


  3. Steven is just a more subtle political hack by not making more clear that the “activist” who is manufacturing a controversy is Rob Bonta's mother, and Bonta is part of the local establishment that includes the Mayor that Spencer knocked off last November.

    Bonta is still a mommy's boy…

    Tavares seems to be mirthfully participating in the local political establishment machinations he barely acknowledges in passing…


  4. Just to be clear, the above is not a threat and wasn't meant to be. Sorry if it might have sounded that way. It was an allusion to her long ago fight with David Howard where she got the idea that she NEVER could commit libel since she won.


  5. I have to compliment Tavares on doing a good job reporting the controversy without committing libel like Lauren Do did. Of course she always says that she's not a reporter just a vicious political hack (who cares about her precious kids).


  6. What? Another mayor of a Bay Area city who can't help but say something stupid & ignorant? Hayward, San Leandro, Oakland & Alameda didn't choose their mayors based on intellect alone. Most people don't even bother voting. That's how we end up with dundle headed mayors.


  7. Steven is actively participating in the establishment machine by burying the fact that the Filipino-American activist complaining is none other than Rob Bonta's mother.

    Bonta was part of the gang of three developer-friendly electeds on city council with Marie Gilmore, who Spencer knocked off last November.

    Bonta and friends are going to great lengths to contrive offenses against the Mayor, and local journalists seem happy to play along.


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