Council Member Ken Bukowski Responds To Colleague Brinkman's 7/29 Letter
The following is verbatim from council member Ken Bukowski submitted for posting here:
The letter from Kurt Brinkman to the Tattler is amazing.
This is perhaps the greatest example of American Hypocrisy.
If these comments are about the City Attorney Measure, that is what he should be talking about. Brinkman claims the City Attorney Measure gives me unfair advantage...? My re-election campaign is another subject. I think voters will make an independent decision on the Measure. This measure was created to change the way we handle our legal services.
As a former Member of the Waste Management Board, I instituted a process to evaluate their legal services. The Board solicited bids from outside law firms specifically designed to handle all the legal services, for local government agencies. The proposals were impressive. They have systems of accountability which I didn't think could ever be possible. I realized that is what we need.
The City Council would not entertain requests for proposals from outside law firms to explore any possibilities. I have been asking for hourly accounting of his [City Attorney Mike Biddle] time, and only Council Member West was willing to implement it. They say he is busy, but I have no way of knowing what he is actually doing, With a Staff employee, trying to implement accountability is next to impossible, especially when he works directly for the City Council. Even after the Voters say they want to look at the issue, they really don't want to let the voters decide.
Perhaps the biggest problem which prompted this ballot measure, is how the city attorney uses city funds to protect his job. When I wrote a memo criticizing the City Attorney's performance he threatened to sue the city, and he used city funds to hire outside legal counsel in connection with that effort. And again, when this ballot measure was created, he hired outside legal counsel to stop it, and when that didn't happen, he used outside counsel to create a deceptive analysis of the measure. The Summary of the Ballot Measure says the City Attorney does not work for the City of Emeryville. Who is paying his generous wages and benefits? My colleagues don't seem to be bothered with a blatant conflict of interest. I think it is unacceptable and must be stopped.The City Attorney's Office is unprofessional, because he does not treat everyone the same, and that's a problem.
Every issue Council Member (and Mayor) Nora Davis supports, the city attorney is right there to back it up. Every member of the council should have equal opportunity with the city attorney. Mayor Davis and Council Member Ruth Atkin like it this way, it gives them more power over him. They keep giving him more money. The City Attorney asked for an additional $190,000 in severance pay when this measure was created. Mayor Davis and Council Member Atkin forcefully argued to give it to him. We can thank council members Brinkman and West for not meeting the last minute demand. That is on top of the existing NINE months severance pay, at $263,000 per year.
An anonymous person said, Brinkman will not cross the City Attorney. He does business with so many people in town, there may be some conflicts of interest. The existing structure does not allow the city manager to criticize or evaluate the City Attorney. That is a mistake. He should have the most to say. The City Manager should have oversight, and definite control of how the City Attorney spends our money. These are some of the reasons this measure was created.
Brinkman says we are elected to carry out the wishes of Emeryville residents. Yet, when you receive a certified petition from 579 registered Emeryville Voters asking you to put a measure on the ballot in November, he says NO. His vote at the July 29th Special Meeting said he is not willing to have another meeting on August 8th to put this measure on the ballot., However, a majority of the council voted to have the August 8th Meeting, to put the Measure on the Ballot.What Council Member Brinkman is complaining about is democracy in action. This measure forces the operation of the city attorney's office into the public light. Ignoring the will of the voters to place any measure on the ballot is a real indication change is really necessary. I want to thank Kurt Brinkman for his letter, and sheer defiance to carry out, what he describes as, his duty to carry out the wishes of Emeryville Residents.
Emeryville City Council Member