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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Councilwoman West: "Blackmailer"

Councilman Kurt Brinkman Accuses Colleague of Blackmail

Blackmailer?  Or...
Oh Jennifer West, how could you?  We are so very shocked and disappointed!   After more than four years on the City Council, we thought we had come to know you as a decent and reasonable person.  Now we come to find out you're nothing but an unethical blackmailer.
Either that or your colleague, Councilman Kurt Brinkman is a retrograde buffoon making capricious accusations.

It's getting bad on the Emeryville City Council.
We haven't seen collegiality dip this low on the Council since the days of Councilman Ken Bukowski.

We report, you decide.
Tuesday, Mr Brinkman accused Ms West of blackmail from the Council dais after she said she would have a hard time voting to hand over $21 million of City money to the School District to build the Center of 'Community' Life (ECCL) on San Pablo Avenue without assurances that a General Plan mandated bike/pedestrian path along the western edge of that project be built.   The Council voted in 2013 to order the School District to build the required path, and the District responded with a plan to build the path in 'phase two' of the ECCL project, a construction phase that even the School District itself admits may never happen.  Mr Brinkman who had voted with the minority in 2013 to amend Emeryville's General Plan to permanently eliminate the path, saw Ms West's attempts Tuesday to fund the path with Capital Improvement Fund money sooner rather than later (or ever) as unethical, "blackmail" he called it, a charge Councilwoman Nora Davis agreed with.
For her part, Ms West seemed baffled by the accusation from her colleague.  Afterwards she told the Tattler, "I'm trying to improve ECCL so we can be proud of it and to show how much we support bikes and pedestrians."
Where Kurt Brinkman levels the charge blackmail, some more reasonable people might call Ms West's action with regard to the ECCL bike/ped path as an entirely proper negotiation with her colleagues to fund something she finds valuable.

"The Tattler is Fox News.  The Tattler lied
when it reported I have voted to tear
down buildings in Emeryville" 
Councilman Brinkman it seems is going off the rails of late.  He's getting rather testy.  With his resignation at the end of his term in November announced last week,  Kurt granted an interview with the blog  E'Ville Eye wherein the accusations flowed freely.
He took pains to explain he never reads the Tattler but when he happened to read the May 22nd story condemning him for being part of the City Council majority responsible for demolishing old buildings in town, he was outraged.  He told the E'Ville Eye he hasn't ever voted to tear down any old buildings in Emeryville.  He held up his own home built in 1910 as proof; instead of tearing it down, "I restored it" he said.
Left unmentioned was his 2011 vote to tear down the City Hall defined "architecturally significant" turn of the century brick Golden Gate Key Building on San Pablo Avenue.  Or another early twentieth century brick building deemed architecturally and historically significant by City Hall at 3900 Adeline Street, now slated for demolition after Kurt voted to move forward with the wrecking ball last year.

3706 San Pablo Avenue
The site of the "architecturally significant"
former Golden Gate Key Building, circa 1915
"Well. don't like to tear down...
um...what I mean to say"- Kurt Brinkman
Councilman Brinkman told the E'Ville Eye that criticism of his policy prescriptions is something he accepts even though it amounts to "verbal diarrhea".  He saved the most venom for the most frequent critic of his policies; the Emeryville Tattler and its editor, reserving the epithet "the Rush Limbaugh of Emeryville" although he couldn't think of an instance where the Tattler had posted something untruthful.

But after Tuesday's performance and after Mr Brinkman deviously shut down a democratic citizen's grass roots ballot initiative meant to allow Emeryville voters to decide for themselves about removing the City's infamous Business Tax Cap in 2011, and reported by the Tattler, we have to ask, who's the real Rush Limbaugh here?    


  1. Unethical? Blackmail? It is Mr. Brinkman who is unethical when he poses on the front porch of his vacant home for a campaign flyer; a home he had not lived in for years but rented out. It is Mr. Brinkman who is unethical when he does not move into this home until January, three months AFTER he won a seat on the City Council.

    What Ms. West is proposing is not blackmail. It is called negotiating. Other East Bay cities are now requiring developers of new homes to include school construction for the hundreds or thousands of new students the new housing will bring.

    These are called "parting shots" and I guess Mr. Brinkman won't be back any time soon to run for Council again.

    I still find it curious that soon after becoming a Council Member, Mr. Brinkman up and moved his electronic security business to Oakland.

  2. Good for Jennifer. She is demonstrating skill that the Council will sorely miss. But, I do not necessarily agree. I think the voters should decide about the $21 million. That's because the whole project is ill conceived and pioneering. It is going to fail, and we have lost a perfectly viable High School. I doubt that the voters would elect to give away another $21 million. The whole thing makes me sick!

  3. Funny story but tragic at its core. I agree Kurt Brinkman seems to be having some difficulties. It's a good thing he's stepping down. I hate to see this kind of politics at city hall.

  4. Usually the Tattler goes overboard. Now you're too timid. Buffoon is too weak a word.

    1. Emeryville has a minority of residents that are wont to hold the politicians to account. These are our natural allies among the general population. However, it's a rare thing that the Tattler gets accused of being too reserved or holding fire against a Council member. Thanks for the comment.