Search The Tattler

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cynical Manipulation?

Let's Have Some More Cynical Manipulation From Councilman Bukowski

If this is cynical manipulation, please Mr Bukowski, cynically manipulate us some more.

Councilman Ken Bukowski has taken a lot of fire from his city council colleagues of late.  The City Attorney initiative plebiscite and other populist legislation he has recently championed has drawn charges that he is engaging in "cynical manipulation" meant only to help in his re-election bid.
The September 7th council vote on the Sherwin Williams toxic site clean-up is an example of this cynical manipulation; council member Bukowski was the sole vote against allowing Sherwin Williams to extend their hours of operation at their toxic clean-up site on Horton Street.
If not the Earth, at least
cover Emeryville in 
lead and arsenic.
After decades of dumping toxic materials including lead and arsenic, even after environmental regulations outlawed the practice, Sherwin Williams is being forced to dig up and haul away the contaminated soil. But the clean-up work has fallen behind schedule and they asked the council to approve weekend and weekday evening clean-up work; an extension of their original agreement.  The loud and heavy equipment has doused the neighborhood with dust and Sherwin Williams has rebuffed neighbors requests for toxin testing of the dust.
Several neighbors have noted the extended hours proposed by Sherwin Williams would be after school hours and neighborhood children would be exposed to the airborne dust.

The request by Sherwin Williams was especially egregious since the reason given for the extension turned out to ultimately be money savings for the billion dollar corporation.  Company representatives kept saying it would be "hard" and "difficult" to conduct the clean-up in the coming rainy season.  When pressed, the company would not explain what hard and difficult mean, leaving profit maximizing as the final and obvious but unspoken motive.

It was only Mr Bukowski that held firm that the original agreement with Sherwin Williams should be honored.  The other four council members caved and voted to grant Sherwin Williams extended hours.  The only reason the request was defeated was because two competing hours extension proposals by two groups of two council members cancelled each other out leaving the original agreement standing and Mr Bukowski as the victor.

Cynical:  He's doing things the voters want, 
hoping to get re-elected.  
Feel used?
We recognize that this sort of populism is new for Mr Bukowski and we have no allusions about his pre-election pro-resident pivot.   But we are saddened that a council member that breaks with the pack and represents the residents' interests over corporate interests is rebuked by his colleagues and chastised as a cynical manipulator just seeking to increase his re-election odds. Instead of cynical manipulating, we have another word for this kind of's called leadership, re-election motives notwithstanding.  What Mr Bukowski did on September 7th is what we sent him to City Hall to do and we don't care if he is motivated by a desire to get re-elected.  The other council members should be so cynical.


  1. It's a short term thing to assure reelection. Come the second week of November the real ethically challenged Ken will be back.

  2. I didn't send him to City Hall to pander to me and other voters. I sent him there to govern in a reasonable way that seeks a middle ground. I don't want the Council to pander to residents any more than I want them to pander to businesses. We both have legitimate interests. It is their job to determine the point where those interests most nearly intersect. You would have us believe otherwise, but resident's interests and businesses' interests are not complete opposed. There is middle ground and that's what I elect the Council to find.

  3. Oh, and I can't wait for Michael Webber's defense of Bukowski. That's going to be rich.

  4. To Anon 7:26-
    Actually, business only exists here in Emeryville at our (the residents) collective pleasure, insofar as the US Constitution allows us to express our will. We don't have businesses in our town because we aesthetically like business. We allow them to be here for two reasons: To increase our convenience and to increase revenue to buy stuff we want. Remember, business doesn't vote; only people vote, so really business here in Emeryville doesn't even count for anything other than the two reasons above (our pleasure).

    Resident's interests are are to make a nice place to live and businesses interests are to extract profit and only we have the vote. The council should only allow the businesses we want in and then charge them as much as we can to be here... maximize OUR profits if you will.
    We do not find aesthetic beauty or function in business in the aggregate. We DO find aesthetic beauty in increasing the livability for the residents.

  5. "Here is the will, and under Caesar's seal,
    To every Roman citizen he gives,
    To every several man, seventy-five drachmas."

  6. @ Anonymous 7:28 - To feed your cynicism, for the record I would like to state that Ken Bukowski has never been on the wrong side of any decision at City Council and certainly has never done or said anything in his personal life that would raise eyebrows.

    That having been said, let's return to the real world. Ken has been a pretty good and effective Council Member, for the most part, for a long time, and has been both a part of the political reform movement in Emeryville starting 24 years ago and a part of the transformation of Emeryville from brownfield to vibrant business/residential community.

    What I like about Ken is his willingness to change, and what I especially like about him in this current election is his guts to take on the City Attorney power-base and his plans to hold town hall meetings in the future.

    The City Attorney does not serve the community well. In a better managed City, his contract would simply not be renewed. In Emeryville, where everybody seems to owe somebody a favor, instead when Ken complains about him, he gets an extra generous golden parachute package and the other City Council members go on the warpath against Ken for trying to bounce the City Attorney.

    The other City Council members go especially ballistic when Ken, exasperated by their refusal to even CONSIDER alternatives, has the temerity to take it to the voters via a petition.

    In a fine example of back-room political maneuvering, the entire City Council, less Ken of course, decides to endorse and support Jac Asher for City Council. Now this makes no sense. Jac Asher has no political experience at all, no one knows what her platform is since she keeps quiet (so far, at least), but apparently everyone hates Ken so much for having the nerve to rock the boat and unearth the skeletons, that they would rather see a complete newbie, with little "real world" experience, replace Ken.

    Of course we shouldn't worry because the Council doesn't really do anything anyway, right? The City is really run by Nora and Biddle who browbeat Pat into doing what they want, right?


  7. pt 2

    In this election, Ken is doing two things I really like. First, the City Attorney petition, which gives us, the voters, a chance to show what we think on the issue.

    Second, he is circulating a voter poll to gather public opinion on several issues. I view this as precursor to real town hall Council meetings in which the Council would actually invite the public to present and comment on ALL topics of general City interest, from traffic calming in the Triangle to the Center of Community Life to other topics.

    Three things need to change in Emeryville: (1) the City Council, not staff, need to set POLICY (staff IMPLEMENTS policy); (2) "back door" government as implemented by Nora and Biddle needs to stop; and (2) the City Council needs to engage with residents and other stakeholders (business operators, property owners, unions/non union workers) more actively.

  8. Some balance about Bukowski.
    In 2008 he was censured for multiple legal and ethical violations by 3 Council colleagues, a 4th saying the censure was “too weak.”
    For years he failed to pay the business license tax other businesses paid, or to file required campaign finance reports, despite repeated requests.
    He still hasn’t paid the Fair Political Practices Commission fine.
    While being on Council requires primary residence in Emeryville, the low rent on his rent-controlled San Francisco apartment was based on its being his primary residence.
    He solicited personal loans from individuals in excess of Political Reform Act limits, and borrowed from developers with business before Council. When a lender asked for repayment, he wrote that he “may decide to become difficult.”
    In violation of State law, he was on the payroll of an internet service provider that had a contract with the City. Meaning: he participated in Council decisions regarding his own employer.
    According to his YouTube interview (“Ken Bukowski About Drugs”), the reason he no longer uses methamphetamine is lack of money. Readers might want to Google him.

  9. In response to the claims against Ken:

    I am opposed to all those activities.

    I support Ken based on his record in office.

    He needs to address each of those claims and what he plans to do with respect to the claims he acknowledges as valid or having some truth to them. I do not believe the internet issue was as clear cut as the poster makes it sound, but to me "appearances" can be just as important as the lack of an actual conflict of interest. He was censured for that, I believe, and that should be sufficient punishment.

    I believe in rehabilitation, not scapegoating or vengeance.

    Ken has served for 24 years and is still much loved in the community.

  10. That Michael Webber thinks Ken Bukowski "is still much loved in the community" show how out of touch with the community he is. It is impossible to be an active member of this community and mean that. Every single person I have talked to around town thinks Ken is an embarrassment to our community. That's the reality. Ken is too disgraced to effectively govern and he's in denial about it which is even worse.

  11. wednesday night i planted an asher for council sign in my flowerbed in the front by the sidewalk. this morning i found the sign thrown in my back yard with the metal frame missing. i'm asking chief james to test it for fingerprints!

  12. Candidate Webber hardly shows sound judgment in mistaking for "scapegoating or vengeance" a simple list of facts about Candidate Bukowski. As for the latter's "rehabilitation," great--someplace other than on Council.