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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Patronage Politics At Play: Opinion

Bukowski, Davis & Brinkman Play Politics With Public Money


An anonymous Tattler commenter got it right: The recent vote by council members Ken Bukowski, Nora Davis and Kurt Brinkman to extend public money to restart the Chamber of Commerce's newspaper sounds like mutual backscratching.

The newspaper produced by the Chamber, The Emeryville Connection, can't make it on its own.  The last issue came out in October of 2009 just before the last Emeryville election where they strongly endorsed Chamber member Kurt Brinkman and Planning Commissioner Frank Flores.  They called subsequently elected council hopeful Jennifer West, "inexperienced" and "against growth" and urged voters to reject her.
Just that offensive and those endorsements alone should automatically disqualify the Chamber of Commerce and their Emeryville Connection from receiving any public money.  But the Emeryville Connection also strongly endorsed the re-election of Ken Bukowski and Nora Davis in the previous election while they ran a campaign of disinformation and smears against challenger Shilen Patel.

In addition, Mr Bukowski, Ms Davis and Mr Brinkman all took election campaign money from the Chamber of Commerce's political action committee before they voted to grant the Chamber free rent at their headquarters at 3980 Harlan Street, a property leased by the City. The fact that the Chamber of Commerce even has a political action committee should bar the organization from taking public money.

Distressingly, the one year contract with the City voted on by the three council members will enable the Chamber and the Emeryville Connection to smear some candidates and endorse other candidates for council, all with public money in the November 2011 election,  a point undoubtedly not lost on the Chamber.

This all smacks of old fashioned patronage politicking, perhaps not illegal but it certainly lacks transparency.  We call on these three council members to call back this arrangement with the Chamber of Commerce.  We feel it is OK for the City to spend money to try to attract business to town but funding a partisan newspaper produced by an organization so heavily involved in Emeryville elections is beyond the pale.  We say this public money for the start-up of the defunct Emeryville Connection is dirty politics.  The people of Emeryville deserve a better kind of politics than this.


  1. Whenever I hear "political patronage" and "Emeryville" in the same sentence I'm right back in 1980 with 'ol John LaCoste. Ahh, nostalgia; the good 'ol days of graft and corruption in Emeryville. It almost warms my heart to see this town hasn't forgotten how.

  2. It'll be a relief to dis-elect Bukowski and Davis next time around. Enough.

  3. This is one of the many examples of why this city is known as e-ville to many outsiders. E-ville is the laughing stock of the Bay Area and we the residents should do something to change this image.