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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Emeryville Loses Two Game Changing Council Members; Our Worst and Best Ever

Nora Davis: Worst Council Member Ever

Jac Asher: Best Council Member Ever

News Analysis
December 6th, 2016, is a red letter date in Emeryville history.  On this date our town is presented with the final curtain call for two influential political personages; one with more than a generation in command, the other having logged a scant five years at the helm. Both however have been extremely consequential.  The retiring two represent near polar opposite views of governance; one from old Emeryville with its very limited vision of the role of government, a hands off pro-business approach, the other from our new way of imagining ourselves with a more active role for government expressing our values in the public arena.  On December 6th, we lose both these City Council members; Nora Davis, very likely the worst Council member we’ve ever had and Jac Asher, almost certainly the best we’ve ever had.  
120 Years:
Very likely Emeryville's
worse Council member ever-
Nora Davis
As they now take their leave and head for the exits, it is an auspicious moment to take stock in how these two have come to represent their conflicting views of the proper role of governance in our town and also to note that Ms Davis’ pro- developer/business philosophy, while long dominate, will likely have no role in Emeryville’s future.

120 Years:
Almost certainly Emeryville's
best Council member ever-
Jac Asher
Councilwoman Nora Davis, having served almost 30 years on the City Council, longer than any other in our 120 year history, used her prodigious political acumen to consolidate power and craft our town as developers have seen fit.  Ironically given her position of wielding near supreme power for decades and her wall-to-wall civic boosterism rhetoric, Councilwoman Davis always felt Emeryville was not worthy, not a real power center municipality.  This was reflected in her perennial and central philosophic position that the best Emeryville could ever hope for is that developers would pay attention to us.  
Ms Davis has always been fond of reminding citizens that when she started out on the Council, Emeryville was a blank slate; mostly abandoned factories and nineteenth century warehouses and such.  A blank slate and ripe for development it was and Councilwoman Davis was wont to give the town over to developers.
Of course as everyone knows, developers DID pay attention to us and the town that was built is the town that reflects Nora Davis’ philosophy.  It is not a town that was planned, regardless the copious planning documents ensconced in City Hall, rather it is a town built by developers chasing market ephemera seeking to maximize profits for their shareholders.  Ms Davis’ vision is to put developers in the driver’s seat and she has always maintained that is how we will get the best town possible.  Her vision has never wavered, even as it became increasingly clear that Emeryville is actually blessed with an envious geographical location and seeing developer’s interests as intrinsically sacrosanct, she never leveraged our strengths to drive a higher quality of development that would have served the resident’s interests. 

Ms Davis always placed business interests at the top of her agenda during her near 30 years in power but her biggest legacy is to be found in the built environment and her predilection to empower developers as her default position.  Along with her colleagues of like mind, the Councilwoman changed our town plenty over the years but not in ways that the residents would benefit with her ‘put developers first’ philosophy.  Quite the opposite actually.  Over her tenure, the primary things people claim to like in their neighborhoods have gotten measurably worse, like acreage of parks per resident, traffic and congestion, affordability, home ownership, locally serving retail and family friendliness.  The Emeryville Tattler will present documentary evidence of this slide and Ms Davis’ role in it with a series called The Emeryville Truth & Reconciliation Project coming soon.

Councilwoman Davis used her clout to green light a huge amount of development clearing out historical buildings, leaving our town with virtually no old buildings.  Market forces being what they are, this ‘new building condition' promises to lock our town into what we now have for the foreseeable future.  Like it or not, after the build out of the last few approved projects now in the pipeline, there’s not going to be any substantial change in Emeryville’s built environment.  As a result, our town, a town with tremendous potential 30 years ago is now substantially set owing to developer returns on investments.  The town we see is Nora Davis’ town, unerringly built by her developer friends according to the protean dictates of real estate market particularities over the past years.

Jac Asher, having served for five years at the dais on the other hand, has not been a pro-developer ideologue.  She inherited a town largely decided by her colleague Ms Davis. Instead of bringing development, Councilwoman Asher concentrated on two things; bringing fiscal health and stability as well as accountability to City Hall and reshaping our government to reflect Emeryville values.  
For all Nora Davis’ crowing about Emeryville’s budget, it has been Jac Asher that has actually delivered on that score.  Whereas Ms Davis produced austerity budgets with her lowest-in-the-Bay Area developer fees, Councilwoman Asher wasn’t blind to Emeryville’s real estate value and she worked to increase our developer fees and other revenue streams to reflect that value.  
Most consequential though was her work to change our town to a ‘charter city’, thereby bringing in literally millions of dollars every year to our General Fund.  Ms Asher fought the entrenched right wing in our town and the largest lobbying organization in Sacramento, the California Association of Realtors who pulled out all the stops to defeat the charter city ballot initiative.  Vastly outspent by these real estate special interests, she used her own money to inform Emeryville voters of the utility in becoming a charter city to enable us to tap into real estate transactions as other cities do.  Jac showed us she isn’t opposed to development but she worked to ensure developers paid their fair share for the benefit of the whole community.   
Before the charter city vote when Nora Davis ran the show, Emeryville collected 55 cents per 1000 square feet of building, now we collect $12 per 1000, still less than our neighboring cities but a vast improvement - bringing huge relief to our formally strapped budget now and into the future.

Councilwoman Asher wasn’t interested in collecting money from developers and businesses, leveraging our real value, just to do it.  She has had a goal in mind; to steer City Hall to provide amenities for residents and to use the largess of government to help the least fortunate and most vulnerable among us.  From her single handed saving of the Emeryville Child Development Center (Nora Davis fought that) to dramatically increasing funding for the Community Services Department, Councilwoman Asher used her turn in power to turn our city’s direction 180 degrees to a place that reflects our values.  
In addition to the help she has brought to residents, she has also used City Hall to offset Nora Davis' legacy and atone for the decades of chain store formula regional shopping mall development in our town and all the non-livable minimum wage jobs produced as a result.  With Emeryville’s landmark Minimum Wage Ordinance Councilwoman Asher was instrumental in passing, Emeryville now has moved from a locus of suffering and oppression to a place that treats the lowest paid among us with dignity, with a living wage (alas, we’re still an auto-centric place filled with suburban style shopping malls).  Again, in contrast to Ms Davis, Ms Asher saw our town as having value that can be leveraged to bring something positive for the whole community.

During their respective eras, the two Councilwoman concluded opposite findings about our town that propelled their competing visions.  Nora Davis saw an Emeryville of little value while  Councilwoman Jac Asher saw Emeryville as having great value.  One was essentially negative, the other positive. One used public policy to enrich the wealthiest among us, the other used it to enrich the whole community.  
It is Jac Asher’s vision for our town that has been shown to have resonance with Emeryville’s values; she wasn’t a push-over for developers and business interests and she kept a community perspective on the proper role of government. And that makes Jac Asher the best City Council member this city has ever had.  Ms Davis in contrast can fairly be put at the bottom of the heap, at least in modern Emeryville history.  
Regarding the 30 year tenure of Nora Davis versus the five years for Jac Asher; that’s been a disturbing pattern reflected in other City Council members over the years here in Emeryville.  It’s been our reoccurring bad fortune based on the lack of a community newspaper that the best Council members tend to be short lived here while the bad ones tend to go on and on.  And on and on and on in Nora Davis’s case.

And so they leave us now, these two game changers for Emeryville; one who over a generation squandered a never again to be seen opportunity in service of a select corporate elite only to open a path for the other who clawed back at least a way forward from that cynicism to reveal a polity that works for the whole community.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Minimum Wage Study Shows Little Effect on Emeryville's Business Climate

Emeryville's Landmark Minimum Wage Ordinance: 
Tempest in a Teapot

The long awaited City Council commissioned Minimum Wage Ordinance Business Study, ordered after passage of Emeryville's landmark living wage law and released this month shows an Emeryville business community remarkably unfazed by the increase in employee labor costs brought on by the 2015 ordinance.  Upon presentation of the study and in summery, Emeryville's Economic Development Manager Chadrick Smalley told the Council members at their November 15th meeting, "The picture is good. Emeryville is still a good place to do business".

The staff presentation of the plenary study conducted by students at the Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business at Mills College revealed an Emeryville business climate that is healthy and growing after passage of the ordinance and an improved quality of life for minimum wage workers, a significant contrast to dark prophecy loudly expressed by several business owners in the run-up to the ordinance.  Alarms raised by the business community before the passage of the MWO included warnings of wholesale business closings and businesses fleeing to other cities with lower labor costs but have been proven to be unfounded the study clearly reveals.

The increased minimum wage has barely registered a blip with Emeryville businesses.  A survey associated with the Mills Collage MWO Study completed by business respondents shows the biggest problems facing Emeryville's businesses is not increased labor costs but rather finding skilled and experienced employees, rising rents and the general cost of living.  Further, the survey shows fully 60% of businesses had a positive reaction to the MWO while 21% reacted negatively but that number is tempered by what Mr Smalley said is a combined negative reaction to any government regulation some business owners display.
"After implementation of the 
Minimum Wage Ordinance, 
Emeryville lost 188 businesses
but gained 238 new businesses"

Further, the study shows 82% of businesses have no intention to leave Emeryville after the MWO while 16% said they could or would but again Mr Smalley told the Council members the 16% number is misleading, "If you ask businesses without passing such an ordinance, you would get comparable results" adding, "There is no increase due to this ordinance".

The staff warned the Council not to put too much stock in businesses openings and closings tabulated before and after the implementation of the Minimum Wage Ordinance because those numbers don't necessarily correspond to the MWO but the Business Study does show an increase in new businesses and more than 1,100 new Emeryville jobs created in the year after MWO implementation; a 6% increase over the previous year before the MWO.  That number, even though it beats Oakland job increases represents "no significant difference between pre and post MWO" the Economic Development Manager said.  Berkeley it was noted actually lost jobs in the same time period while it also had the lowest rise in its minimum wage.

The Business Community Was Alarmed
They predicted massive business failures.
Although the Business Study, more than a year in the making, was formulated primarily to show the effects the Minimum Wage ordinance would have on Emeryville's businesses, part of the study was undertaken to show the effects the ordinance has had on minimum wage workers in town.  Those are revealed to be mostly positive effects as one would expect including improved cognitive and behavioral outcomes for the children of workers as well as improved stability for families and improved mental health owing to reduced stress levels of these workers.

The staff additionally cautioned the City Council that the Study, while complete is not necessarily definitive for all time.  As yet unknown effects could make themselves evident given more time.  "The Business Study should be revisited in a year or two", Mr Smalley said.

MWO Business Survey HERE

Emeryville's Business Climate Since MWO 
ratio of closed to opened businesses
Red = closed businesses
Green = newly opened businesses

Month by month tabulation of Emeryville's new businesses vs closed businesses
since the MWO took effect

In the 16 months of study, more business openings are shown than business closings
in all but three of those months.  However the City staff cautioned making 

too much from these numbers.

Emeryville's Minimum Wage Ordinance took effect in July 2015
More business openings means more jobs: 1,100 from the implementation of the MWO
up to the end of 2015 alone.  During the study period (July 2015 up

to November 2016) 238 businesses opened while 188 closed. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Emery Unified Finally Reaches the Top 70% of School Districts Statewide

Emery Unified School District: Failed to File 
Transparency Documents

California State Controller Betty Yee
Challenged Emery Unified.
Emery's response?, 'No thanks,
we don't do transparency here'.
Transparency has never been their strong suit.
Our school district, a perennial punching bag so used to being alone near the bottom of lists and struggling for explanation, can finally enjoy what fruits can be had from being in a majority.  To wit; Emery Unified's existential troubles with accountability and transparency, legendary regardless of its claims to the contrary and despite School Board Trustee Christian Patz's prodigious work in this area, has netted a new meritorious distinction.  The district has joined 70% of other California school districts that failed to file to report salary and benefits data to the people of California as recently revealed by State Controller Betty Yee.

It's another case of 'trust us there's nothing to see here' from Emery Unified.
But Emeryville residents who still listen to what their school district says rather than look at what it does may want to consider this as they decide where to send their children to school:

CA Controller Publishes 2015 Salary and 
Benefits Data for K-12 Education Entities

SACRAMENTO — State Controller Betty T. Yee today updated her Government Compensation in California website to include 2015 self-reported salary and benefits data for K-12 education employers, including public school districts, charter schools, and county offices of education.  The data covers 648,129 positions and almost $24.81 billion in total wages. 

While cities, counties, and special districts are required to report salary and benefits data to the State Controller, K-12 education employers are voluntary reporters.  The State Controller’s Office requested data from 1,887 K-12 education employers, and 655 chose to report in the interest of transparency.  Of those, 569 reports were complete.

Almost 70 percent of K-12 education employers did not file the requested reports or provided incomplete information. 

Since the government compensation website was launched in 2010, it has registered more than nine million page views. The site now contains information on more than two million jobs in California, as reported by each government entity.

Users of the site can:

·         View compensation levels on maps and search for compensation by region;
·         Narrow results by name of entity or by job title;
·         Build charts; and
·         Export custom reports or raw data.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Emeryville's Nordstrom Rack Proudly Selling Trump Products

Emeryville Residents Can Help 
Make America Great Again
Shop Nordstrom Rack in Emeryville and
grab 'em by the p****!
White Emeryville residents who are interested in showing their support for President-elect Donald Trump can do so by shopping at the Nordstrom Rack store in the East Bay Bridge Mall and pick up a great bargain in the deal.  White Nationalists and Anti-Keynesians in town can grab a pair (!) of Ivanka Trump pumps at discount prices or peruse the Trump offerings in the accessories department all while showing their disdain for Mexicans and women.  Nordstrom has drawn the ire of non-racist and non-misogynist Americans who have called for nation-wide corporate divestiture in Trump products especially since the November 8th Presidential election.  Nordstrom however has expressed plans to continue selling Trump swag, fomenting a nascent boycott of the Seattle based department store.
Here in Emeryville, store manger Peter Ruiz told the Tattler he has no plans to discontinue the Trump line of products, giving those who wish to show their appreciation for Mr Trump's brand of racist authoritarian trickle down supply-side economics a chance to enrich and enable the future President as he makes America great again.
Corporate sales representatives and PR executives at the Nordstrom's headquarters in Seattle did not return calls to the Tattler.
Hail Trump!
Trump pumps made in China for sale in Emeryville.
Try scaling a big beautiful wall in these!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sherwin Williams Project is More Important Than Any Bike Blvd Says City Council

Almost 4000 Cars Per Day Coming To 
Horton Street

City Council Says Bike Boulevard Not Compatible With Sherwin Williams Project

"Unavoidable" Conflict

'Horton Street Bike Blvd Has To Go'

The Emeryville City Council voted to finally and permanently load up Horton Street with at least 3980 vehicle trips per day as a consequence of their November 1st approval of the contentious Sherwin Williams project.  That glut of cars, a third more than the maximum allowable to enable the street to be a bike boulevard according to the City’s own rules, was found by the Council to be a “significant, adverse and unavoidable effect” when they approved the Sherwin Williams project according to the Council’s own ‘Statement of Overriding Considerations’ they signed precluding the bike boulevard and green lighting that housing development.
Horton Street Today
Weekends are quiet and safe for biking.  Weekdays are
chock-a-block with traffic.  After Sherwin Williams
gets built never again will Horton Street be quiet
and safe for biking at any time. 
The Council, four of the five of them having spent much public airtime claiming to be strongly supportive of the Horton Street Bike Boulevard, now says it regrets the demise of the idea of a bike boulevard for the street but the Sherwin Williams housing project will add almost 500 market rate apartment units to our town they hasten to add with their Statement of Overriding Considerations, and that’s more important than any bike boulevard.  

The idea for a bike boulevard on this street has been a someday-to-be realized dream of bicyclists for years and is even ensconced in the City of Emeryville’s General Plan but there has been a remarkable lack of political will over the years by the City Council to actually deliver it.
The maximum number of vehicle trips per day allowed for a bike boulevard in Emeryville is 3000, a number already exceeded on Horton Street.  But because of the Sherwin Williams housing project, an unavoidable minimum of 3980 vehicle trips per day will be using the street according to the Environmental Impact Report for the project.  The street is unsafe today and after the City Council’s capitulation to the Sherwin Williams developer on November 1st, will now become increasingly more unsafe for bike use as a bike boulevard.
Mayor Dianne Martinez
Bikes are OK but providing more housing
is an emergency.
Housing will "add life and vitality" to the
neighborhood and inexplicably will
"improve bicycle connections" in
the neighborhood she and her
colleagues say.

So what’s the deal about the 3000 vehicle trips per day?  Isn’t Horton Street a bike boulevard now?  Some might say because the City has painted stencils on the asphalt claiming as much, that’s good enough to call it a bike boulevard.  People could say that but they would be wrong, because like many things in this world, opinion, however vigorously stressed, does not make the thing so.  Rather, bike boulevards are defined by the City of Emeryville as ‘bike priority’ streets with specific parameters encoded by the City, in this case limits on vehicle speeds and vehicle volumes.  A bike boulevard is not a feeling or a desire; it’s something the City has quantified.   

Will bikes still be able to continue to use Horton Street after the Council’s Statement of Overriding Considerations?  Yes, but Horton Street is just an average albeit dangerous street loaded up with cars like San Pablo Avenue or Hollis Street.  Like those other streets, it is not safe for bikes according to the General Plan.  Unlike those other streets, Horton Street has purple signs and stencils on it erroneously giving bicyclists the impression the street is quiet and they are safe using the street.  And that makes Horton Street actually more unsafe than the other streets.  And now the City Council has sealed the fate of the Horton Street Bike Boulevard; it will never be a bike priority street, a quiet and safe street for bikes that Emeryville residents have said they want.  The people of Emeryville never said they want more housing.  The City Council never promised the voters that if we vote for them, they’ll deliver more than 200% Association of Bay Area Government’s recommended quantity of market rate housing as they now have. They have said that if we vote for them they WILL deliver a better and safer bicycling environment, one specifically with bike boulevards; a campaign promise they have yet to fulfill and what now presents as a fait accompli for . 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Breaking News: Barbara Inch, Cruz Vargas Appear to have Won School Board Race

Breaking:  Tonight Emery Unified School Board candidates Barbara Inch and Cruz Vargas appear to have won election to the Board of Trustees.  With all precincts reporting, the results are:

Barbara Inch  1454  (44%)

Cruz Vargas  1296  (40%)

Ken Bukowski  455  (14%)

Breaking News: RULE Candidates Appear to have Won City Council Election

Breaking: RULE backed candidates John Bauters, Ally Medina and Christian Patz appear to be the winners of the 2016 City Council election with all precincts reporting.  The results:

John Bauters  1378 (23%)

Ally Medina 1254 (20%)

Christian Patz 1036 (17%)

Other candidates:

Louise Engel 755

Brynnda Collins 702

John Van Geffen  627

Monday, November 7, 2016

Election 2016 Candidates Questionnaire: Ken Bukowski

This year there are three candidates vying for two open seats for School Board of Trustees for the Emery Unified School District.  The three Emeryville residents are Barbara Inch, Cruz Vargas and Ken Bukowski.  Last up in the Tattler rotation is Ken Bukowski.  We ask five questions: 

Tattler:  Do you see yourself primarily as a representative of the community or as a representative of the school system?

Ken Bukowski:  I am a representative of the community.  I'm not sure who would fit the description of a school system representative.  I have supported our schools for a long time as a former member of the City Council, always sought and continue to seek to improve community awareness and participation. 

Tattler:  What is your own experience with public education?  

Ken Bukowski:  I was raised attending the New York City public schools.  The State of California is not providing adequate resources for public education.  This is creating a real problem for Emeryville.  Attendance at our schools does not reflect the diversity of the community. The proliferation of charter schools is having a negative impact.  They don't have the same State mandated requirements as public schools to provide for all children.  They take the better achieving students, degrading the quality of public education for the remaining children.  The public schools are unfairly forced to handle all of the kids with special needs. The damage done by Proposition 13 must be re-examined.

Tattler:  What are your priorities for the district in the coming year? Why and how did you select these issues?

Ken Bukowski:  Creating a stable Board and adopting polices and practices to empower the teachers and the community in the decision making process. 

  •   Creation of a parent advisory board establishing a new form of input in the decision making process.  We need to change the long standing practice of not involving the community in the decision making process.
  •   Creating a quarterly community meeting, a live interactive event where school issues can be discuss publicly, and where parents have an opportunity to call in with their concerns.  A new on-going way to achieve community involvement.
  •   Expand solicitation of fund raising efforts and create a new annual event to show recognition to all who have donated to our schools, and recognition for teachers.
  •   Actively pursue the creation of teacher housing in Emeryville.  The regional housing crisis is forcing teachers to move out of the area.  The State is about to provide funds to subsidize the creation of teacher housing and Emery needs to make teacher housing a major priority to leverage those funds.

Tattler:  In 2012 more than 90% of teachers at Emery signed the 'Teachers Resolution' expressing no confidence in the former Superintendent of the Schools.   The teachers asked the Board for their support with the Resolution but the Board refused and ignored the request of virtually the entire teaching staff (please see the Tattler for details).   More recently the teachers were united in their voices to delay the opening of the ECCL citing student safety and lack of curriculum reasons.   Again the Board ignored the teachers request. The teachers at Emery have felt their voices are not being heard by the Board of the Administration.   Please explain what you think broke down in these two cases.

Ken Bukowski:  The School Board has simply not adopted a mechanism for public involvement in the decision making process.  They have allowed the school superintendent too much latitude to keep problem issues close to the vest.  The failure of disclosure leads to suspicion.  That is followed by discovery of the issues which created distrust.  The personal interests and the desire to control seem to take precedence.  
In 2012 I signed a letter of community support for the teachers, I actively supported delaying the opening of ECCL based on the testimony they gave.  However, I disagree with the wording of this question.  It is not accurate to say the Board ignored the teacher's request.  It was apparent to me a majority of the Board agreed with the teachers.  However, the Board president violated proper procedure by refusing to allow the Board to support the request.
Perhaps the worst part of it is a lack of major safety incidents on the opening day caused the Board President and School Superintendent to claim the opening was a success.  That is a total disregard for the emotional damage sustained by the teachers who were forced to start the school year on the wrong foot.  They Board President showed us how to do it the wrong way and now it is being subverted into a publicly made claim that he (and the Superintendent) did the right thing?   It has to make one wonder who's interests are really being served.  The actions of that day could lead to another vote of 'no confidence'.  This has to change in my opinion.

Tattler:  Parents too felt ignored by the Board during planning meetings for ECCL when they requested hearings into the wisdom of closing Anna Yates Elementary School.   The Board refused to entertain holding even a single meeting to gauge public concern or hear the parent's and citizen's ideas.   Please explain what you think broke down when parents and citizens were not listened to.

Ken Bukowski:  I was on the City Council when the decision was made to close Anna Yates as part of a plan to put all of the kids in one location.  I consistently advocated to have the community involved in the decision. However, the School Board did not want the community input contrary to their claims.  My concern over this issue can be found in a written transcript I prepared from a City Council/School Board joint meeting held in June 2010, when the decision was made to place the school bond measure on the ballot.

The transcript (third from left) is available at:

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Tattler Correction

We extended two questionnaires to candidates for Emeryville City Council and we have posted all we received back.  At least that's the way we intended to do it.  We're sorry to say candidate Louise Engel never received the second questionnaire (on police, bikes, families, density and miscellaneous) from the Tattler and readers should note that's why Ms Engel's answers haven't been posted.  We apologize to Ms Engel and the voters of Emeryville for the mistake.  Ms Engel has been offered a chance to respond but at this late date, it would be understandable if she did not take up the offer.  Again we apologize for our mistake.

Readers can note Council candidate Ally Medina did receive the second questionnaire but we did not receive a response back from her.  Also, candidate Brynnda Collins did receive the first questionnaire (on housing affordability, parks/open space, Sherwin Williams project and livability) but we did not receive a response back from her.

Election 2016 Candidates Questionnaire: Christian Patz

Christian Patz:
On Police, Bikes, Families & Density

The Tattler presents the 2016 election candidates questionnaire.  Candidates for elected office will answer questions broken down into topical sections that effect Emeryville residents. Responses will be released section by section rotating through all the responding candidates representing the City Council and School Board hopefuls.  
The order of presentation was chosen randomly. Regular Tattler stories will be interspersed in the 2016 election questionnaire.  Readers wishing to peruse all the answers by an individual may use the search bar function by entering ”Election 2016 Candidates Questionnaire” with the name of the candidate and all of that candidate’s sections will be presented. Alternatively just typing in the name of the candidate will also work. 
There are six candidates running for three seats.  

Mr Patz's bio can be viewed in the first questionnaire by using the search bar.
Section 5 Police
After last year’s shooting of Yuvette Henderson by Emeryville police using a Colt AR-15 assault rifle, community members became alarmed to learn our police had quietly been issued these weapons and that they’re now routinely driving around with them as a matter of course. The City has used resources to tamp down citizens attempting to have a public debate about the wisdom of this militarism of our police department, specifically the routine carrying of these high powered rifles by contending these weapons are not assault rifles, directly contradicting the State of California’s finding that they are assault rifles. Police Departments up and down the State disagree with EPD. San Francisco PD, Oakland PD and San Jose PD among others say AR-15’s are assault rifles. The NRA agrees with the Chief that AR-15s are not assault rifles.

Tattler:  Do the people have a right to know how it is that the City of Emeryville has determined the State of California is wrong about the nature of AR-15s since they (the people) are paying for them in Emeryville?
Christian Patz:  The Tattler has done a good job of letting people know this information.

Section 6 Bicycling Transportation

Tattler:  Do you support Emeryville’s Bike Boulevard metric of no more than 3000 vehicle trips per day (vtd) for all bike boulevards west of Hollis Street?
Christian Patz:  What makes a Bike Boulevard is more than just Vehicle Trips per Day (VTD), it has more to do with optimizing bike traffic. As VTD approach and surpass 3000, more separation between bikes and cars should occur. Ideally, this would be done by reducing and diverting traffic, but can also be achieved by dedicated and protected lanes.

Section 7 Families
Emeryville is the least family friendly city in the whole East Bay and, distressingly as we continue to grow, becomes less family friendly over time; this even as we conspicuously build an ambitious new school campus. Developers, insisting over the years family friendly housing “won’t pencil out” economically (but their books are closed), have pushed back against the odd City Council member that has called on them to fix this problem. Notably over one crucial ten year period ending a few years ago, Emeryville actually lost families (in real numbers, not just as a ratio), even as the town doubled in population during the same period.

Tattler: To catch up with neighboring cities (and to erase a source of municipal embarrassment), Emeryville will need to provide virtually 100% family friendly housing from here on out, especially when one considers that our town is almost completely ‘built out’ at this point. Do you feel the ‘family friendly housing ordinance’, recently passed by the City Council, is up to the task of reversing this trend and delivering a city on par with our municipal neighbors?

Christian Patz:  The new ordinance is an excellent start and will help us move in the right direction. It will create more family friendly housing, but expecting us to reach Oakland or Berkeley levels is not realistic. My family has chosen Emeryville as our home. We are working to make it more family friendly, but we know that there are limitations in an urban center. Berkeley and Alameda are seen as family friendly areas, but they are not in the top 100 on the most recent list of Best Places to Raise a Family ( Emeryville is right there with them.

Section 8 Density
With the advent of ‘smart growth’, city planners have recognized the advantages and even the desirability of increasing housing density in urban areas. This is well documented and developers have taken advantage of this new paradigm. However, as with all fads, in the rush to embrace it, sometimes critical former knowledge becomes lost. Problems associated with too much density are being disregarded and a new ‘supply and demand’ axiom has taken the place of our formerly near universal acknowledgment that there can be too much density.

Tattler:  How much density is too much density? What are the warning signs that too much density has been foisted upon us?
Christian Patz:  There is no question that high urban densities are important, but what is the right level, and how does it look? What we want to be dense enough to support vibrant main streets with retail and services for local needs, but not too congested that bike and transit infrastructure is negatively impacted.We want to maintain Emeryville's sense of community and not get so dense as that we slip into anonymity.Our streets are a joy to walk; sun should penetrate to street level so our ground floors can have cafes that spill out onto the street. Emeryville is currently 3,125 people per square kilometer; less than a third of New York City and half of San Francisco’s density. We are very quickly approaching enough density. 
Section 9 General/Miscellaneous

Tattler:  Emeryville’s business pay taxes to City Hall based on gross receipts. The largest businesses pay taxes at a much lower rate than smaller businesses because a former City Council majority placed a cap on taxes for all receipts higher than a certain amount, meaning those receipts are tax free; a classic regressive tax. Would you continue this regressive business tax structure, make it flat or make it progressive (larger businesses pay at a high rate than small business)?
Christian Patz:  I support a balanced approach to our tax structure. In general, taxes should be progressive as flat taxes tend to be regressive. I support looking into adjusting the cap but not ending it. Tax incentives are a way for Emeryville to attract and keep businesses. 

Tattler:  What Council members do you hold in high esteem, now and in the past? What Council members have done a poor job?
Christian Patz:  I could list the council members that I have endorsed and that have endorsed me, but I do not want to get into grading elected officials. Emeryville has been fortunate to have intelligent, hard working people give of themselves and their time for our great city. I want to thank (in order of time served) Nora Davis, Ruth Atkin, and Jac Asher for what they have done for Emeryville. The city is better because of their efforts and will miss what all of they have brought to the council.

Tattler:  Conservative City Council members have long conflated business interests with resident’s interests as they have gone about forwarding their pro-business agenda. This governing philosophy has led us to where we are now leaving so many residents are clamoring for change. Do you feel a need to conflate business interests with residents interests? How do you see the two groups interests as disparate insofar as you do?

Christian Patz:  I do not see them as competing interests, so yes I conflate them. Businesses, residents, and workers are three descriptors of people. Too much time and energy is spent 'othering' artificial groupings of people. Government’s role is to ensure a fair and equitable community. Sometimes that means capping taxes for a large business other times it means instituting a minimum wage. As a community, Emeryville understands this, as individuals, we worry how it will impact us.