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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Councilman Bauters' Blog Takes on Train Noise

Mayor Bauters Attempts Long Standing Train Noise Fix

Public Invited to Help

Blog Drives Public Policy Using Facts as a Foil Against 
E'Ville Eye Hyperbole 

Mayor John Bauters is using his Emeryville-centric blog to activate the long simmering issue of excessive train horn blaring with a citizen drive to secure grant money for infrastructure to quiet the neighborhoods adjoining the tracks.  The issue, a source of much agitation especially for those Emeryville residents living near the tracks on the north end of town, has been taken up by many City Council members over the years, notably at election time, but Mr Bauters' efforts seem to be real and on the verge of success.  He is requesting residents to help in this effort by use of a letter writing campaign (see letter below).

It is the latest from Councilman John Bauters who has been a whirlwind of activism on the public's behalf since he took office starting with his prodigious blog he began shortly after being elected to office in November of 2016.  The no nonsense John Bauters' Blog has been used effectively to impart valuable information for residents and has stood above the blog sites other Emeryville City Council members have edited over the years not least in its rigorous density of information.
A recent January 1st blog entry, Closing out 2017: Progress on Priorities is especially impressive with its plenary list of footnotes and links that will long serve as a central repository of factual information on Emeryville's progress moving forward with the City's priorities up through 2017.
Also impressive is how Mr Bauters' March 2017 blog entry Information on the Halleck/Beach Dog Park, effectively used his blog to shut down a politicized issue of a dog park across the border in Oakland proposed by local blogger Rob Arias who sought to use it to keep homeless people out of his Park Avenue neighborhood.  Animating Mr Arias was a not-so-hidden attempt to increase his standing and that of his monetized blog The E'Ville Eye in the eye of the public by huckstering his dog park idea, PT Barnum style.  Councilman Bauters was viciously attacked by a hurt Rob Arias after the Councilman led a drive to kill the ill-advised dog park; a return to rationality after Mr Arias' self promotional foray into what should be public public policy.  Mr Bauters' blog post defending his Halleck/Beach Dog Park action was a non-political tour de force of purely rational public policy featuring a total lack of hyperventilating bombast to serve as a counterweight to the poisonous  E'Ville Eye missives.

Now, Mayor Bauters is using his blog to remind us the train noise issue looms with a deadline of January 25th and he urges residents to help write emails to secure the funding to finally do something about this vexing problem for Emeryville residents.
 Mr Bauters submitted the following letter to the Tattler to help towards that end:   

Dear Neighbor,

The City Council is actively pursuing a competitive grant that would bring us the funding necessary to install infrastructure at the 65th, 66th and 67th Street railroad crossing that would allow us to create Quiet Zones that silence the Amtrak train horn.

I am working with city staff to pull together an application and we need your help!

Attached to this email are two letters. The first letter is a letter I am submitting on behalf of the city council with our grant application.

The second is a draft letter we wish to submit from you, the residents and community members who stand to benefit from winning this grant award.

We would like to sign as many resident names onto this letter as possible to show how much the community supports the city's efforts to bring Quiet Zones to Emeryville. You can help us by doing the following easy steps:

(1) Read both of the short letters attached to this email.

(2) If you are willing to sign on in support of this request, please send an email addressed to both:

(3) In the subject line of your email please write: "Quiet Zones"

(4) In the body of your email please provide only the following information:

  • Names of any adults in the household who wish to sign on to the letter
  • List whether you are a resident, business owner or employee
  • Your physical street address (we will not publish this, it is only to confirm for the grant review team that those signing the letter are from Emeryville if we are asked to provide proof)

Only your name and affiliation to our city (resident, employee) will be listed at the bottom of the letter.

(5) Once you have sent us your sign-on, please forward this email to your neighbors and ask them to sign on as well.

We must submit the application on January 25th.

I will post a final copy of the letter we submit on my blog site after we file the application. You can find my blog site at

Thank you for supporting our community and helping us create a more livable space for everyone to enjoy!


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

At Emery a Second Place Finisher Rises to Top: the Selection of Board President Cruz Vargas

Democracy Stalls at Emery Unified School District

Politics Trumps Fair Play

The People's Choice, Barbara Inch, Skipped Over in Favor of the Rubio Supporting Vargas

New School Board President Cruz Vargas
The people's second choice but the
Board's first choice.
Even after he was caught in a lie, the
Board majority 'Vargas for President'
steamroller rolled on.
In a controversial move at their end of the year December 13th meeting, the Board of Trustees of the Emery Unified School District disregarded the people's choice of Barbara Inch and instead elevated  the less popular Cruz Vargas to the position of Board president for a one year term.  The Board's move to crown Mr Vargas as president also gives a big thumbs up to the Superintendent of the Schools John Rubio, a man strongly disliked by the teaching staff at the struggling district.
The 4-1 vote (Inch dissenting) for the bellicose Mr Vargas, a strong supporter of Mr Rubio, will likely fortify the disputatious Superintendent as he continues on his scorched earth campaign against Emery's teachers, taking last place on his watch among Bay Area school districts in teacher retention.

The Board seemed to be saying they like the direction the district is going in by elevating Mr Vargas, one of the Superintendent's biggest supporters. The move, an affirmation of the status quo of an entrenched Superintendent, caused some Emery watchers to muse about the future of EUSD, a district reeling from a flurry of bad news coming in the form of a devastating academic study from Stanford University and continuing State reports of falling test scores.

School Board Member Barbara Inch
The most popular elected official in
Emeryville is critical of Superintendent
Rubio's public policy. She's the people's
choice but not the Board's choice.  They
want a Rubio flunky as Board President.
Further highlighting the political nature of the Vargas pick is the fact that open lying on the part of member Vargas was not enough to sway the support he has from his Board colleagues.  Mr Vargas last October 5th told colleagues on the City School Committee on an open mic that the "vast majority of parents at the school" are supportive of putting a police officer in the school, a lie that City Council member Dianne Martinez exposed in front of the cameras.  Mr Vargas' supporter on the Committee and on the Board, Bailey Langner used her position as Committee Chair to chastise Ms Martinez and deny that Mr Vargas had lied.  However, a viewing of the video of the meeting shows Mr Vargas in fact did lie; a fact apparent to meeting attendees (and video watchers) all except Ms Langner.
Still however, the revealed and scurrilous fabrication told by member Vargas at the October meeting was not enough to stop the 'Vargas for Board President' steamroller.

Member Inch has been the Board's sole critic of Mr Rubio's policies and the vote to bypass her regardless of her popularity with the people in favor of the obsequious Cruz Vargas, is conspicuous.  The December 13th vote sidelining Ms Inch and elevating Mr Vargas, the second place choice of Emeryville voters in a two person race, also sends a message to the people of Emeryville that their vision for their school district as personified in their choice for School Board, is not something this Board is interested in.
Emeryville voters like the vision of Barbara Inch over that of Cruz Vargas, who with 2773 votes, won her November 2016 election to the Board with more votes than any person has ever received for any office in Emeryville electoral history.  Mr Vargas, with 273 fewer votes, came in a distant second place in the two person race.
Ms Inch's popularity with Emeryville voters however was not enough for the School Board to rise above the politics at play and they voted instead for the second placer Cruz Vargas who promises to retain and buoy Mr Rubio as chief at Emery even as the district sinks.

Elected Official
Election Year
Votes Received
Percent of Vote
Difference from Barbara
Barbara Inch*
Nora Davis**
Dick Kassis**
Ruth Atkin**
Cheryl Webb*
Jennifer West**
Jac Asher**
John Affeldt*
Dianne Martinez**
Donn Merriam***
John Bauters*
Cruz Vargas***

*= Most votes EUSD; **= Most votes City Council; ***= Votes for EUSD Board

Emery USD had several years without or uncontested elections

Barbara Inch received more votes than any other candidate for local election in 
Emeryville history. While acknowledging that her election had a larger voter 
turn out, her percent of the vote was greater than others, the largest percentage 
in modern Emeryville history.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas Oaks Club Workers! Healthcare Costs Soar, Families Threatened

Workers Decry Wealth Transference at Oaks Club

Healthcare Charges Up 25% for Minimum Wage Workers
While Oaks President Takes Home $1.6 Million Salary

It appears that children of workers at the Oaks Club will have to go without Christmas presents this year.  That's because the owner of the card room, John Tibbetts, has jacked up by 25% the health insurance rates on his employees, many of whom earn the minimum wage and can't afford the rise says UNITE HERE local 2850, the workers' union representative.  The health care increase, an existential threat to non-management employees' families, drove approximately 40 workers to a protest march in front of the San Pablo Avenue card room on December 14th, where they entered the club to present the owner with the Worst Boss of the Year award for 2017.  Managers at the gambling outfit refused to take the award for Mr Tibbetts but they did threaten to call the police on the workers and Council member Scott Donahue who was witness.
About 40 workers and at least two City Council members
joined the picket line at Oaks Club on the 14th.
Councilman Donahue (center) was threatened with arrest
by managers.

The Oaks Club has not increased its contribution to its workers' health care since 2011 workers say and the recent 25% increase means workers now must pay more than $500 per month for family coverage.
The Oaks Club for its part earned $27 million in gross gaming revenue last year and John Tibbetts himself took home $1,662,784 in personal yearly salary alone, according to the City of Emeryville.  Profit taking is not included in that sum it was noted and so Mr Tibbetts likely took home considerably more than that amount.

The workers are demanding affordable health coverage in their new union contract.  “I make minimum wage. There’s no way I can afford to pay $500 a month for health care for me and my kids,” said Ricardo Vasquez.  “Our boss says we can just go on Obamacare—but Trump and Congress are trying to take away the subsidies we depend on. So, what are we supposed to do?” 
UNITE HERE local 2850 President Wei-Ling Huber agreed,  “Here in the Bay Area, we’re not going to let the most vulnerable people be denied life-saving health care. We need employers to step up and do their part. A multi-million dollar card club can afford to do that. A minimum-wage worker can’t.”

For its part, other than threatening to arrest the workers and Councilman Donahue, the Oaks Club management appears to be standing by the boss; manager Peter Schnieder told the Tattler, "I'm surprised Mr Tibbetts would qualify for that [worst boss] award.  I think he's a fair and thoughtful employer."

The 25% healthcare cost was increased "overnight" creating crisis in workers' families said UNITE HERE and the Oaks Club has offered no commitment to keeping the health insurance "even remotely affordable in the coming years."

Mr Tibbetts could not be reached for comment.

Oaks Club President John Tibbetts was
awarded this 'Worst Boss of 2017' trophy.
His managers refused to accept it but instead
threatened to call the police.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Coterie of NIMBYists at PARC Wins: No "Destination Park" for Sherwin Williams

NIMBYism Wins at Sherwin Williams Park Site

"Destination Park" Shown to be Pejorative in Park Avenue Neighborhood

Full Basketball Court Rejected by Planning Commission: Outsiders to be Discouraged

Reversing an earlier decision, Emeryville's Planning Commission voted NO Thursday night to a controversial basketball court for the planned park at the Sherwin Williams apartment project site in the Park Avenue neighborhood.  The reversal from their decision in November praising a full basketball court came after Lennar Development Corporation and the City Hall staff Thursday made a strongly one sided presentation stating a half court is "more usable" and that basketball players would rather use a half court than a real full court.  Notably absent from the presentation to the Commission this time was the previous verbal insistence to make sure the new park not be made a "destination park" with the specter of outsiders coming into the neighborhood even as the forces aligned against the full court still pursued that goal.
Barring a City Council appeal, due within 15 days, the forces that called on Emeryville's decision makers to discourage outsiders from coming to the new park, notably Park Avenue Residents Committee (PARC) and Lennar, won the fight over for whom the City of Emeryville should be building parks with Thursday's final Planning Commission vote.  Despite their decidedly negative view on building a basketball court for the Sherwin Williams park, the developer voiced agreement with PARC that basketball is not necessarily a bad thing and a court might someday be built as long as it's in some other part of town.
Planning Commissioner Steven Keller
Changed his vote from YES to NO.
He's had a change of heart about basketball. 
Before he thought it would be good at Emeryville's
newest park.  Now he says it brings a rough crowd.

Still, basketball players were left stunned Thursday night after learning the Lennar spokesman told the Commissioners a half court is better because it is "more optional" for the new park, "more flexible" and inexplicably, "A half court will get more usage."  The Planning Commissioners, three of whom last meeting said a full court was a great idea, didn't question these new findings nor did the developer offer any evidence to support the claims.  Further, it was claimed by Lennar that a full court would "change the feel of the space", presumably for the worse and that "a half court looks better."  Again, no evidence to support those claims were forthcoming nor did Lennar qualify the dubious statement that people could use a half basketball court for stretching exercises but on a full court they couldn't.

Commissioner Steven Keller who had at the November Planning Commission study session on the park, joined the majority of his colleagues and asked the staff to come back in December and present a park with a full basketball court for them to vote on, was nonetheless pleased this time with the presentation that roundly rejected that ask by the Commissioners.  Vaguely referencing the earlier PARC and Lennar concerns about outsiders coming to play basketball, and reversing previous claims of the benefits of basketball, Mr Keller this time moved to limit games being played, saying "people get rowdy" playing basketball.

With this victory keeping basketball outsiders out of the Sherwin Williams park, PARC adds to its accomplishments and builds its clout with City Hall.   The organization which calls itself a citizen's activist group reflects its xenophobic vision for this park, being an exclusive group closed to outsiders despite the self applied epithet 'community activist group'.  When PARC announced its formation last year, they claimed to speak for the community as they formulated what they called a Sherwin Williams Community Benefits Agreement with Lennar but they turned the idea of a CBA on its head.  The discriminative PARC excluded other community members and community activist groups such as Resident for a Livable Emeryville (RULE), those exclusionary aspirations being the antithesis of the democratic essence of a real CBA.  The Tattler has reported on the likelihood that a better, more resident friendly development would have come to pass if an actual CBA were to have been agreed to but City Hall chose to accept the exclusive PARC agreement (and accept PARC's crowning of their agreement as a CBA).  It is likely a real CBA would have net a real basketball court for the park as well as other amenities but this is Emeryville and that's the path not taken with the Sherwin Williams project.

Video of the meeting can be viewed HERE.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Happy Kwanzaa from the Tattler

Emeryville's annual holiday parade was a big hit this year.  The Tattler wishes everyone a happy Hanukkah (as long as it doesn't get too sanctimonious in its religiosity). 

Seen at the parade and driving around Emery since then:

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Emery Schools Worst in Bay Area: Falling Behind

Emery at Bottom of Urban School Growth

Emeryville children get only 3.8 years worth of education for 5 years of schooling 

Alarming New Stanford Study: Bottom 6% Nationwide 

Emery Unified School District is revealed to be dead last among Bay Area school districts in academic growth over a five year period and in the lowest 6% of all school districts in that metric nationwide according to a new study conducted by education researchers at Stanford University.  It's another  bombshell for beleaguered little Emery Unified, still reeling from a terrible showing on the State 'school climate index' and revelations that the district's falling test scores have dramatically dropped Emery's ranking among rival districts as revealed in October.  The new study strongly hints that Emery's poor school climate can account for the plunging academic performance.

The data shows Emery starting out low and then moving lower over five years, counter to what would be expected according to a December 5th New York Times story on the Stanford study.  Emery represents a low performing outlier cohort in a story that highlights how urban school districts with high rates of poverty can overcome that seemingly debilitating existential condition and produce high rates of growth over time, commonly higher than affluent suburban districts.  Unfortunately, the Stanford data proves Emery goes the opposite direction and serves to reinforce negative stereotypes about under performing districts the Times story seeks to disprove.  However the story and data also show how a district such as Emery could turn things around, given better leadership.

Notably, Ravenswood Unified School District in East Palo Alto, the only district with lower test scores than Emery in the Bay Area shows an impressive 4.5 years growth on the five year chart and owing to the fact that testing occurs before the end of the school year, that district is shown to be growing at a good rate, right on par with expectations independent of its high enrollment of disadvantaged students.  Emery's low test scores combined with it's negative growth proves it lags far behind Ravenswood when viewed holistically and therefore it can be fairly surmised to be the worst school district in the entire Bay Area.

It has been long debated whether test scores measure school quality or poverty.  The better measure now being offered by Stanford is one that lists students’ growth rates.  This new database looks not at how students do on a single test but how much growth they achieve over time; five years.
This new measure does not look at where kids start but at where they finish.  This measure gives the advantage to schools that serve students that start out below average, as they have the most room for growth.  And that makes Emery's sharp move down from a low start even more alarming, but conversely, with a change in school climate, more hopeful.

The Times story focuses on Chicago Unified, a similar albeit larger urban school district to Emery with declining enrollment, three in four students coming from low income homes and a tight budget.  And yet Chicago and many other urban districts large and small buck conventional wisdom and their students achieve high growth over time, sometimes leaving rich white suburban districts in the dust, at least as far as growth is concerned.  The study clearly shows the possibility of "separating socioeconomics from what's actually happening in the schools" as the Times story relates.

The data from Stanford doesn't purport to prove what dynamics result in the high growth of these urban school districts however the Times story does indicate at Chicago and other high growth districts, school 'climate' is critical.  It's the culture of student connectedness to their schools that provides the space for academic growth.  As one Chicago principal put it, despite grinding poverty at home for these students and all the dysfunction that goes along with it, at school her students feel "this is where I belong".  Contrasting with Emery, where student alienation is near total; the 'school climate' California Department of Education study showing Emery ranking in the bottom 1% on student/school connectivity.  That study showed how retaining veteran teachers is critically important for helping student connectivity, and at a 37% teacher loss, Emery ranks at the worst of all school districts in the Bay Area.  Emery's worst in the Bay Area teacher retention ranking is a result of Schools Superintendent John Rubio, a three year employee at the district and his shake-the-district-to-its-core, near pogrom on educators.

Emery: at the Bottom of Bay Area Districts
Emery children shockingly only receive 3.8 years worth of education for five years of schooling. One would expect an average student to make five years of growth after five years. The data identifies 4.8 years as the median growth level, which is consistent with expectations as testing usually occurs three to four months prior to the end of the year.

From the Stanford Study
(Emeryville's median income is $74k according to the Census Bureau) 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

High Stakes Rancor at City/School Committee Threatens ECCL

School Board Members Langner, Vargas Seek to End Committee That Bridges Schools & Community

Ad Hoc Ploy Threatens Center of Community Life 

"You want to embarrass & shame us" said Langner 

News Analysis
As a consequence of deteriorating interpersonal relations, Emeryville’s two elected bodies, the City Council and the School Board voted to convene an ad hoc committee to explore ways to sever the ties that bind them at their regularly scheduled October City/School Committee meeting.  The move to part company, brought in response to pressure built up over three years between the two entities, comes on the heels of what turned out to be a contentious October 5th meeting after School Board members lashed out against the City Council.  A vote was taken to terminate the Committee that failed (7-2 Langner & Vargas voting aye) before the Committee unanimously voted to form the unnamed ad hoc group, presumably in order to placate the insurgents.   School Board member Bailey Langner announced to her colleagues before voting to breakup the committee, “It is my intention to come into this meeting and talk about limiting the scope of the relationship [between the School Board and the City Council]” meaning she was already intending on talking of termination even before the meeting turned sour. 
School Board Member
Bailey Langner

Voted to deep six the committee.

She made it clear, first and foremost
are her feelings.  Accountability
comes somewhere farther down the list.

The mutinous faction, consisting of the two School Board members plus the non-voting administrative staffer Superintendent John Rubio, if ultimately successful in torpedoing the City/Schools Committee, will bring to a close a very remarkable partnership that culminated in the building of the Center of Community Life, Emeryville's epic $200 million  aspirational civic project meant to bridge the community and the schools.  The present function of the committee is to continue running the ECCL to fulfill its promise to the community and the schools for the betterment of both.  

That charge as it turns out is quite unusual given widely applied State constraints mandating the independence of municipalities and school districts.  The City/School Committee was instrumental in getting landmark legislation (AB 1080) written with the help of Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner back in 2009 enabling the building of the ECCL.  The legislation of AB 1080 thread a needle in a field of Sacramento roadblocks to form such a collaborative effort.  
The breakup of this committee now could reverberate across the California political landscape were it to actually happen.
As it is, the unseemly spectacle rising at the Committee earmarks the end of the season of accommodation and comity between the two government elected bodies, a heretofore special and uplifting feather in Emeryville’s cap according to Ms Skinner, now a State Senator.

The bad blood between the two groups was evident at the meeting, Board member Langner complaining she feels disrespected by the City Council members.  At one point after Council members brought up disappointing academic numbers reflecting a failing of the School District (in the purview of the Committee), Ms Langner said her feelings were hurt by the airing of factual information about the District and that she feels “hostility” from the Council, “I do not feel that the City Council is a partner with the School District.  It feels like you want to bring up these topics in an attempt to embarrass and shame us”.  City Council member Ally Medina responded to Ms Langner’s affecting lament, “Your individual feelings are not important.  The children and the residents you were elected to represent are important.”  Ms Langner actually was appointed by the Board to replace a resigning Board member.  She faces the electorate next November.

School Board member Cruz Vargas
He's outraged, OUTRAGED the City Council
is talking about academic achievement at ECCL.
It makes him look bad and he voted to crash
the committee he's so angry about it.

Superintendent Rubio, an authoritarian figure big on secrecy according to teachers at the District and the progenitor of the rancor between the two groups, provided fuel and directed the School Board’s fire at the meeting.   Accusing City Council committee members, he pointed his finger, “I saw the Council members judging the School Board members for their actions” adding he finds unacceptable “the level of disrespect and unprofessionalism [sic] that occurs in our meetings.”  Those comments brought out Council member Christian Patz who said the non-voting staff member Rubio had stepped over the line with his didactic hyperbole, “I take a challenge for you to highlight good members and bad members.”  Mr Patz reminded the administrator,  "It is outside your role.” 

Council member Scott Donahue says the dust ups at the City/School Committee, no matter how rancorous won't likely result in the termination of the committee regardless of the wishes of Ms Langner, Mr Vargas or Mr Rubio.  He told the Tattler the Committee brings accountability and he believes the group will go on, “The City Council is ultimately responsible for protecting the public’s investment in this [ECCL] project.  The City/School Committee represents a necessary collaboration between the City and the School District”.  The Councilman finished, “It is vital to ECCL’s success.” 
 It would appear the School Board (at least two of them plus the Superintendent) will have to figure out how to conduct public policy without making things personal, the first job of any elected official.  In a Rodney King moment speaking to that, Council member John Bauters addressed his colleagues, exclaiming forlornly "It is really important for the City and the schools to find a way to get along."

The City/Schools Committee will meet in January to hash out details of the new ad hoc group they will look to as they consider throwing in the towel on bridging the community and the schools.  The public can look forward to accountability, their interests, taking a holiday at the School District and at City Hall if the towel is indeed thrown in.

Correction:  We originally reported the vote to end the City/School Committee was 8-2 against.  The actual vote was 7-2 against.  School Board member Bryynda Collins did not attend the meeting and therefore didn't vote.  We apologize  for the mistake. 

Emery School Superintendent
John Rubio

He works for the School Board.
Or do they work for him?  It's not clear.
He's supposed to serve a supporting role, 

not a voting member on the Committee.
But he acts like a Committee member. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Basketball Controversy at Sherwin Williams Park: Who Are Parks For?

PARC Group Sees Basketball Court as Threatening to Their Neighborhood

Planning Commission Says Park Should 
Be For Everyone:
Let Basketball Be Played

News Analysis
"Destination Park"
Fitness and fun maybe but look who
might show up in our neighborhood if we
build a basketball court in our new park.
As the Sherwin Williams development firms up final plans for the 10 acre mostly residential project site on Horton Street, a new point of contention has risen regarding a proposed basketball court in the public park for the site, questioning whether public parks in Emeryville should really be public grounds or rather be defacto private grounds.  
At issue outwardly, is whether at the Sherwin site there should just be a single basketball hoop or an actual court for games to be played, leaving unsaid questions of xenophobia and possible racial motivations behind the insistence of neighborhood locals to keep 'outsiders' out of the public park.  The locals are insisting the new park not become a “destination park”.    

A majority of Planning Commissioners have said since there’s plenty of space for a full basketball court, people should be allowed to play games in their new park but a group of residents insist that a court would draw people from outside the immediate neighborhood to play basketball games.  
An exclusive group of residents that have banded together to weigh in on the Sherwin Williams project called Park Avenue Residents Committee (PARC), has announced that they find a basketball court unacceptable.  “We support keeping the basketball area as an informal hardscape with a basketball hoop, rather than a formal full size basketball court” the group said in a November 10th position paper meant for the City Council's purview.  Reasons as to why a full court is unacceptable were not offered by PARC. 

Emeryville Planning Commissioner
Miguel Guerrero

Thinks a basketball court is a good idea.
'I'm dying to have a place to play in town.'
As the Sherwin Williams project moves along its approval process, so far proponents for the single basketball hoop ‘non-destination park’ are winning the argument as far as providing for this kind of “urban” recreation at the new park.  But a majority of Planning Commissioners are unmoved by any dog whistle verbiage, racial or xenophobic,  embedded in the ‘destination park’ argument.  Planning Commissioner Miguel Guerrero said at an October 26th Planning Commission meeting on the topic, “Right now it’s a half of a court and here in the city, I’m dying to have a place where I can go and play a game of basketball.”  Commissioner Steven Keller joined him, adding that he didn’t see why people shouldn’t be allowed to play basketball at the new park, “It’s a very popular sport, it’s a definite way for people to get their fitness and be outside” he said.

The PARC group, exclusive in its membership, is adamant however that there be only a single hoop and the dreaded ‘destination’ concept, what they derisively call a “recreation center” has been strongly rejected they say by the whole community that they claim to speak for.  PARC favors instead that the park be a “recreation area.”  The group gave no distinction between these two concepts, seemingly nearly analogous in their lexicon but apparently existentially divergent in their practice somehow.  PARC is advising the City Council that a basketball court, if one must be built, be located in some other place in the city, not in their backyard.  

Ultimately the City Council will decide the question of just who we’re building this park for; the whole community or just local (mostly white, presumably non-basketball playing) neighbors. 
What's not to like about basketball?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

RULE Meeting

Residents United for a Livable Emeryville
Hello friends and neighbors!
Please join us Saturday, Nov. 18 for the next meeting of RULE, and help make Emeryville a great place to live and work!
Doyle Street Co-Housing
5514 Doyle Street (Common Room, 1st floor)
10 AM to noon 
Share a late breakfast and coffee, meet your progressive neighbors, and speak your mind!  We encourage residents to bring up issues of concern.

Here's our agenda so far:
  • Emeryville School District: declining enrollment, low test scores, and an exodus of roughly 40 teachers in just two years. We would like to have an open, creative discussion with parents, teachers, and residents about what they think can and should be done to improve the quality of education provided by the Emeryville School District. Please spread the word to anyone you think would contribute to the conversation.
  • The Incorruptables:  Anna Callahan of The Incorruptables will talk about the organization and how RULE might contribute to its work. The Incorruptables works to elect officials at all levels of government who will fight for economic, racial, environmental, and social justice. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Emery is Failing to Support & Care For Children Says California Department of Education

Study Shows Emery Fails to Engage/Support Students

Children Don't Have an Adult on Campus They Feel Cares About Them

Children Don't Feel Safe at ECCL Says DoE

A new study released by the State of California shows the schools at Emeryville's Center of Community Life failing to provide students with a safe campus and Emery Unified School District failing to support and engage students there.  The study, called the School Climate Index (SCI) and conducted for the Department of Education reveals Emery failing students in 'overall support and engagement', scoring single percentile digits against other school districts in the state.  But Emery is doing above average as far as providing a campus with low violence and low substance abuse among students the study also shows as revealed by surveys and interviews with students, parents and teachers.
Since 2011 however, the first year Emery participated in the statewide SCI survey, there has been a steady downward trend in student support and engagement.

For 2017, Emery High School emerged with a SCI score of 198 out of 500 in the domain of 'overall support & engagement' putting it in the bottom 2% of all schools statewide.  When compared with schools of a similar demographic, Emery rises but only just to the bottom 6% of schools statewide the study shows.  The two worst scoring sub-domains for Emery in the Index are 'high expectations and caring relationships' and 'school connectedness' both of which placed the school at the bottom 1% statewide or the bottom 2% when compared with schools of a similar demographic.  According to the study, it can be shown definitively that a clear majority of students at Emery don't feel there is an adult at the school that cares for them, they don't feel close to anyone at the school and they don't like being at the school.

Emery Unified isn't alone to blame for the bad numbers however; the District's partner, the City of Emeryville helped shepherd the Center of Community Life and that built facility net a SCI score of 228 for '[student]perceived school safety'.  That puts our new bond funded $200+ million campus in the bottom 8% for perceived safety among students statewide, hardly a ringing affirmation of the 'community' part of the ECCL.  Either through the campus as built or the programs run by Emery Unified School District or a combination of both, the students attending school every day on the new campus don't feel safe, a likely contributing factor in Emery's low academic achievement numbers.
Another contributing factor in Emery's low student support and engagement SCI numbers is the extremely low rate of teacher retention since Superintendent John Rubio was hired.  Supporting documents for the study indicate high teacher turnover, especially among veteran teachers alienates students and drives down student/school connectedness and engagement, both critical for effective student learning.  Accordingly, the Tattler has reported on how Emery's slide in academic achievement since Mr Rubio took over has translated into the District becoming the second worse ranked school district in the entire Bay Area.

The School Climate Index documents Emery's fall since 2011 in overall student support and engagement when the high school scored higher than average.  That year Emery ranked 77% compared with 25% this year and most of the fall has been in the student support and engagement domain.  The biggest fail has been in the category of 'caring relationships' where children feel there is an adult on the campus that cares about them; that has fallen from an above average 359 points in 2011 to just 200 now, and that translates now to the bottom 1% ranking (2% as compared with school districts of a similar demographic).

The SCI shows the District is clearly failing in its charge to educate and care for our children and the School Board will take up discussion of the disturbing trends revealed by the Index starting Wednesday but it is unlikely they will take action since the majority of members have repeatedly shown they will stand by Mr Rubio.  They have shown no propensity to be moved by the constant stream of bad numbers hitting the District and hence the children, be it teacher retention, academic performance or school ranking generated by the Superintendent since they hired him.

Emery scores for 2011 and 2014
Broken out are the categories in the two domains (overall support/engagement
and violence/substance abuse).  Together the combined score is called the SCI score.

Emery SCI scores for 2011 and 2014.

Emery scores for 2017
Broken out into categories

Emery Scores for 2017As translated into percentiles.