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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Kurt Brinkman Uses Oakland Tribune to Misinform Emeryville Residents

Former Mayor Spreads Misinformation
on Minimum Wage Debate

Obfuscation and Outright Falsehoods 

Former Emeryville mayor and multi-year Chamber of Commerce Board member Kurt Brinkman is using his position as a community leader to misinform the community in an opinion piece in the Oakland Tribune revealed in that newspaper's 'My Word' section this week.  Mr Brinkman, known to misinform and deceive the public while serving his five year term on the City Council in order to help the business community, told Tribune readers Wednesday the City Council is forgoing transparency and businesses are being left out of deliberations regarding a proposal to raise the minimum wage in Emeryville, a false statement.  Additionally, he says the Council's lack of intimate knowledge about small business is corrupting their judgement, rhetorically asking, "who on the Emeryville City Council has ever hired an employee, run a business or made payroll?", a dismissal of one Council member's 25 year proprietorship.

Mr Brinkman says he is concerned about Emeryville's small business and he tells the Tribune readers Emeryville's small businesses will not be given a phase-in period with the proposed wage increase, another patently false statement.  He also disregards the two City Hall public meetings held on this topic so far stating that the Council is turning a "deaf ear" on small business by conducting only one meeting.

Kurt Brinkman
Oakland small business 

owner has met a payroll 
for 18 years.
Also in the Tribune opinion piece, former Mayor Brinkman goes on to say Emeryville and other cities should not institute minimum wage laws on their own but instead defer to the State of California and its minimum wage, now pegged at $9 per hour.  He ventures Emeryville businesses will be "put out of business" or driven out of town, precisely the same charge he made as a Chamber of Commerce Board member in 2005 against the last minimum wage increase for Emeryville's hotel workers.  Mr Brinkman was part of a concerted $140,000 effort by the Chamber of Commerce to stop the wage increase for the hotel workers enacted as a result of the passage of the Emeryville ballot initiative Measure C.  At the time, Mr Brinkman and the Chamber assured residents the four  Emeryville hotels would go bankrupt or flee to Oakland or Berkeley as a result of the wage increase.  In the intervening years, Emeryville has approved the building of hotel number five, all paying their workers the higher wages, hardly the destruction of the hospitality industry Mr Brinkman predicted.   For his remarkable lack of prescience in the Measure C fight, Kurt Brinkman has steadfastly refused to comment.

The Tattler has long chronicled Mr Brinkman's ethical transgressions to further big business interests at the expense of Emeryville's small business on the dais at the Emeryville City Council.   In 2011, Councilman Brinkman joined colleague Nora Davis in an action to stop a citizen led initiative drive to remove Emeryville's infamous business tax cap, a law that makes small business pay a higher rate of taxes than big business in town.  The tax cap, still in place, forces Emeryville's small businesses to subsidize big businesses.
Councilman Scott Donahue
Emeryville small business
owner has met a payroll
for 25 years.
Last year, after voting to move Measures U&V (a pair of 'charter city' and real estate transfer tax initiatives) forward from the dais, Councilman Brinkman joined a failed $100,000 effort by the California Association of Realtors (CAR) to stop the Measures, stating Emeryville will effectively be destroyed if voters pass the Measures.  Mr Brinkman lent a hand to the Sacramento lobbying entity CAR by robo calling every Emeryville voter, a spiel that contained many factual errors and misleading tropes.

Current Councilman Scott Donahue took the opportunity to set the record straight regarding Mr Brinkman's erroneous comment about the Council's lack of business experience, "To answer Kurt's question, I've had a small business in Emeryville since 1990, employing over 20 people intermittently.  I've met my payroll obligations for my employees during all that time and I'm fully aware of the employee costs to small businesses" the Councilman said.

The public will get another chance (number three) to weigh in on this minimum wage proposal on April 7th at the regularly scheduled City Council meeting.


  1. Why doesn't Mr. Brinkman direct this opinion to the city of Oakland where he moved his business about the time he was first elected to the City Council?

  2. I believe Kurt !

    1. You're going to have to convince everyone that went to both public meetings on the minimum wage they were hallucinating in order to convince us Kurt Brinkman is correct. And since Kurt is telling us the truth as you say, Councilman Scott Donahue must be a liar when he says he has run a small business with employees for 25 years. That's a huge scoop! We could recall him for that. Why don't you start the recall? As soon as you prove the Councilman has been lying, I'll sign my name to the recall petition.

  3. This was an excellent rebuttal. The latest misinformation from Mr. Brinkman doesn't help anyone, since as you show here, the facts are easily checked.

    How sad that after so many years of service to this community and in particular to the business community, Mr. Brinkman is spoiling his legacy in this way. If he can't change his views, he should at least check his facts.

    1. Kurt Brinkman spoiled his legacy with this Oakland Tribune piece? That ship has already sailed....this is just so much more of the same from this ethically challenged Emeryville Councilman. Among the sordid tales, years ago, he duplicitously conspired to stop a citizen lead petition drive for a ballot initiative to allow Emeryville citizens to decide for themselves weather we should remove our regressive business tax. It's linked in the story. Just use the search bar to read the whole sad litany of Kurt Brinkman corruptions.

  4. Another thing this article doesn't mention is that the City mailed a printed copy of the draft ordinance to every registered business in town. If you have a business license, then you got specially notified by mail about this issue and the meeting schedule. One could actually argue that the City has unfairly favored businesses in this process, because no one has gone out of their way to notify residents and non-resident workers about this issue. The City should be just as concerned about
    notifying these groups, directly affected by the issue, and show at least as much interest in hearing their voices as they do in hearing from businesses.

  5. Can you clarify the nature of Mr. Donahue's employees? Are these full-time, part-time or contracted labor? Did he provide benefits to them as well? We'd also love to know what their hourly wage is/was and if it meets the criteria of a "living wage". The 20 employees you mention, this is over the lifespan of the business and not necessarily all at once correct?

    1. Wow! You've got connections!

    2. I don't have the specific information you ask. The Council Member tells me if you want answers to these questions, you'll have to ask him yourself.

    3. Your line of vaguely accusatory questions about Council Member Donahue's business reminds me of the same sort of questions leveled at me in 2010 after I reported about how the NRA was descending on Emeryville because the Council was discussing how to regulate a possible gun store that wanted to locate on San Pablo Avenue. That thread of Tattler posts was in 2010 (use the search bar 'gun kooks'). The NRA members angrily railed against the Tattler because I took on a pro-regulation stance. They were quick to dismiss anyone who was not a gun owner as 'elitist' (not unlike how Kurt Brinkman is dismissive of the Council now because he mistakenly thinks none of them run a business). The NRA members could not imagine anyone that owns guns (like me) could be in favor of any gun regulation whatsoever. After I told them I own guns myself, the line of accusatory questions started, as in; 'what make and caliber and model number are your guns?', no doubt hoping to catch me in a lie.
      And that's the way it is with true believers.

  6. Is it just me, or does his chin look like a butt?