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Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Emeryville Connection: Bringing Anyone Together? Not!

Who's REALLY Trying To Buy Emeryville?

Since last week's city council vote to fund the Chamber of Commerce and their newspaper the 'Emeryville Connection' with public money, it's instructive to see just what we're going to be buying.  How far is the Chamber of Commerce willing to go with our money to make sure their candidates for city council are elected?

Below is a story from October 2007 when the Chamber endorsed Ken Bukowski, Nora Davis and Ruth Atkin for the council.  Reading the story, it is readily apparent the Chamber doesn't limit itself only to endorsing candidates, negative attack pieces are part of the agenda as well and they have not shied away from using lies in furtherance of their political goals.

The story below illustrates the Chamber of Commerce's outrage that out-of-town labor interests are behind the election of challenger Shilen Patel.  An interesting comment coming from the president of the Chamber, Bob Canter, himself an out-of-towner from Martinez. What the Chamber isn't telling Emeryville voters is that their candidates are funded almost entirely by out-of-town corporate developer interests.

The Chamber discredits the Emeryville resident grassroots campaign that Mr Patel garnered, not letting on that their candidates truly had virtually no grassroots support.

The Chamber claims Mr Patel is not qualified to be on the council since he had not sat on any committees in town.  They retell this same old concoction from Mayor Davis, heard every election cycle that only "experienced" candidates are permissible.  What they don't say, conveniently, is that only by getting in the good graces of Mayor Davis are residents allowed to sit on any committees.  It's a perfect system for getting only their preferred candidates elected.

Bob Canter thinks
Emeryville is so nice,
he lives in Martinez
Interestingly, while the Chamber of Commerce is telling readers that labor support disqualifies candidates for the city council, they fail to mention that two of their own; Ruth Atkin and Kurt Brinkman both received labor support.  Had they done so, it might have tended to discredit their oft repeated claim that those supported by labor won't work in Emeryville's interests.  At least working people live and work in Emeryville unlike the corporate CEOs the Chamber seems to love so, another fact they don't mention.

We have no problem with the Chamber of Commerce supporting the candidates they want and even denigrating those they don't (as long as they're not engaging in deception).   The problem is they should do it on their own dime.  It is dead wrong for the city council to force the taxpayers to support this naked politicking, regardless whether they think they will be helped in their re-elections by the Chamber.

The Chamber of Commerce asks the readers of the story below to investigate for themselves and then decide, knowing that without a newspaper in town virtually none will.  So we repeat; read the story below for yourself and then decide, is this really where we want our taxpayer money spent?    

Reprint from the Emeryville Connection:


It’s no secret that it takes money – often lots of it
to run for political office, so it was no surprise
to see that most of the candidates running
for Emeryville City Council this year are busy
raising funds.
But more than the amounts raised, those who 
care about the future of our City need to 
pay close attention to the sources of the 
monetary, and in-kind help, being funneled 
to the various candidates.
Apart from our inability to endorse Shilen Patel 
for the Emeryville City Council based on his 
lack of experience, lack of community 
involvement and lack of demonstrated 
knowledge of the local community and issues 
facing it, we note something else disturbing 
about his candidacy.
Based on the latest campaign filings, as 
of September 27th, the vast amount of Mr. 
Patel’s funding comes from outside of 
Emeryville. In addition, Mr. Patel has 
received the endorsement of the Alameda 
County Central Labor Council (CLC), and 
should he be elected we believe his actions 
will be directed by outside organizations that 
do not have Emeryville’s best interests at 
heart. To quote from a letter dated September 
26, 2007 and sent to voters in Emeryville, 
the CLC is backing Mr. Patel because he 
will: “…solicit our input, listen to our ideas, 
and promote our values.” We need an 
independent-minded councilmember who will 
vote to keep Emeryville on the healthy and 
prosperous track; NOT one beholden to 
outside organizations which do not have the 
best interests of THIS community at heart. 
Accepting a huge amount of support from 
outside organizations which are looking to 
drive a stake through the economic heart of 
Emeryville is not acceptable. Other than 
incumbent Councilmember John Fricke – who 
has formally endorsed Mr. Patel and is listed 
as an in-kind contributor on Mr. Patel’s most 
recent campaign filing, we can discern no true, 
meaningful grassroots support for Shilen 
Patel from within Emeryville.
Emeryville can take care of itself. We do not 
need outside forces foisting unqualified candidates 
on the electorate. You may have already received 
a letter, phone call, or visit on behalf of Mr. Patel 
for City Council. But beware: The “Friends of 
Shilen Patel” are not friends at all – perhaps friends 
of the Central Labor Council, but not friends of 
Emeryville. Trace the money, letters and phone 
calls, decide for yourself, then decide to whom 
Mr. Patel will owe his allegiance: the Emeryville 
electorate, or his out-of-town supporters.


  1. It's nice to see the city supporting local businesses with public money. Maybe they can support dog fighting or prostitution, too.

  2. thank you brian for printing the chamber of commerce's oct. 1, 2007 "editorial" to remind us that some speak with forked tongues. might we not say the same thing about the chambers' out of state political action committee?

  3. afterthought: the taxpayers paid the chamber $40,000 per year to publish the emeryville connection. i guess we're getting off easy this time if the contract is for one year.

  4. This is really good. It's always taken as somehow bad that politicians get money from labor but not if they get it from corporations. At the very least those two should cancel each other. Really though if you're working middle class, it's the corporate funding of political campains that's working against your interests more.

  5. I looked up on the Chamber's website and I noted that they endorsed Proposition 16! Prop 16! That was the proposition last June where PG&E tried to make a 2/3rds vote required for public power to be allowed. It was just a way for PG&E to eliminate compition and hang on to their monopoly. Afterward, they shifted the cost of the failed election to the rate payers.

    And the Emeryville Chamber of Commerce supported that! They (the Chamber) should'nt get a dime of the people's money. Let them fend for themselves like everybody else has to.

  6. If a newspaper is going to be getting public money, I'd rather the Tattler get it than the Emeryville Connection. At least the Tattler is on our side.