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Friday, December 17, 2010
Emeryville: A Great Place To Work But I Wouldn't Want To Live There
Re-print from the Tattler from last February but always relevant in Emeryville. Former Finance Director Edmond Suen is no longer employed by the City of Emeryville. Karen Reid now serves as Chief Financial Officer for the city and she, like Mr Suen thinks Emeryville is a great place to live (for someone else).
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What is it about Emeryville that makes its biggest boosters run for the hills when the sun goes down?
Many of those steering Emeryville's public policy, shaping its urban design and singing its praises loudest, live elsewhere. A telling detail, as it were. At the same time, decisions regularly bend to fit the desires of these same out-of-towners. From the Fire Department to the Police Department to City Hall, virtually no one on the payroll actually lives here.
It's not a question of money. Most officials are paid incomes comfortably into the six figures. City Manager Pat O'Keeffe can afford to, but he must not think Emeryville is the kind of town he wants to live in...so he doesn't. Likewise Planning Director Charlie Bryant and City Attorney Michael Biddle, they don't either. City Engineer and Public Works Director Maurice Kaufman likewise makes his home elsewhere. City Clerk Karen Hemphill lives somewhere close by and Finance Director Edmond Suen thinks Emeryville is a great place to live; just not for him.
The pattern isn't limited to the public sphere. Emeryville's biggest boosters, the Chamber of Commerce, may constantly lecture residents about the good of unfettered development, but living in the midst of it isn't their cup of tea. Chamber CEO Bob Canter loves Emeryville so much, he lives in Martinez. The Chamber's Vice Chairman, Mason Myers, may wax poetic about a magic transformation from post-industrial slum to the Bay Area's best place to live, but to reach him at home, you must first dial 1 (415), just like Ken Bukowski.
Is this a case of listen to what we say, not what we do? Maybe the fact that these people are making a handsome living off of the transformation of Emeryville is the real driving force. Follow the money, as it were. Perhaps what is most illustrative is that their vision for Emeryville is so great, even they don't want a part of it.