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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Loan Scandal Elevates Mayor's, Councilwoman's Star

Profiles in Courage

Jac Asher & Jennifer West Emerge from Scandal as Heros

What kind of town is it where politicians need to be thanked simply for doing their job?   It's Emeryville; sadly, our kind of town.

So let's get to it.
We thank Mayor Jac Asher and Councilwoman Jennifer West for disregarding the advise of the staff and their colleagues on the Council when the two voted NO to giving a gift of $6 million in public funds to Mall developer Madison Marquette last year, a story of City Hall ineptitude that's recently been highlighted as egregious in a report by the independent Alameda County Grand Jury.
The courageous two councilwomen come out smelling like a rose in the report.  Their colleagues, the other three?  Not so much.  To be less obtuse, they came out smelling like something, just not roses.

"Vote for me and I'll look
 out for your interests"
So we did.  
And so she did.
Why was the vote courageous? Because the two council members risked scorn and repudiation for their vote.
We've seen it before, especially from Council members Nora Davis and Kurt Brinkman: 'Ms Asher and West are filled with hubris, acting as if they are more enlightened and knowledgeable then our professional staff.'  Stuff like that.  But guess what?  They ARE more enlightened and knowledgeable, and their vote against this deal, a deal the Grand Jury called a "failure" of the decision makers to "fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities to the citizenry",  proves it so.
This Grand Jury report, read by people and institutions all over the East Bay is an embarrassment for the City of Emeryville.  It's a civic embarrassment Ms Asher and West heroically sought to avoid with their vote.  They should be thanked...but not by us; instead it should come from those now with egg on their faces at City Hall.  Something tells us it's not going to work out that way however.

A fan of democracy,
transparency and
effective government

There's been a twenty five year pro-developer juggernaut at Emeryville City Hall.  Notice how we say "developer" and not "development".  Because that's the ideological modus operandi that drives the council majority.  It's not that they simply want to facilitate development, it's more critically that they want to help developers...certain favored developers.  In this case Madison Marquette, the same developer they bent over backwards for to help secure free exclusive rights to the fallow land north of the Bay Street mall for almost ten years, a case wherein Emeryville residents ultimately lost everything after Madison got off the pot after not having shat.
In a rare moment of forthright brevity by a staff member, the E'Ville Eye blog recorded former City Manager Pat O'Keeffe admitting this specific general affection for developers he (and the Council majority) has; "pro developer" he called it.

Aside from a few such rare moments of cats being let out of bags at City Hall, the Grand Jury's dispassionate and apolitical take on this rotten deal, happily accommodated by the pro-developer 'council three', should serve as an irrefutable spotlight to those who still doubt the real nature of the culture here in Emeryville.  Plenty have long harped on this issue, including the Tattler, and it's validating and empowering to see such a venerable and respected outside group such as the Alameda Grand Jury agree with us.

The question now is what is to be done with this?  Having found malfeasance but no evidence of overt criminal activity in the case of the Madison Marquette Council vote, it's something the residents themselves will have to decide, possibly in the voting booth or before.

But in the meantime, again, thanks be to Jac Asher and Jennifer West.  They told us they would look out after our interests if we elected them to the City Council, and that's what they've done.  It may be a sad commentary on the state of Emeryville politics to have to say it but thanks for doing your job, you two.


  1. Madison Marquette barely registers as a favored developer with Nora, Kurt and Ruth. Richy Rich Robbins at Wareham is the real darling for these 3.

  2. And Boss Hawg Gooding