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Friday, December 16, 2016

The Rise of the Fake Community Benefits Agreement

Councilman Bauters, Schools Supe Rubio
Push Fake CBAs

Illegitimate Projects Legitimized

Community Engagement Hijacked
by Fake Grassroots Agreements

“A Community Benefits Agreement ("CBA") in the United States is a contract signed by community groups and a real estate developer that requires the developer to provide specific amenities and/or mitigations to the local community or neighborhood. In exchange, the community groups agree to publicly support the project, or at least not oppose it. Often, negotiating a CBA relies heavily upon the formation of a multi-issue, broad based community coalition including community, environmental, faith-based and labor organizations” -Wikipedia

News Analysis
A Community Benefits Agreement is a powerful tool a developer can use to legitimize his project to facilitate a quick approval by a municipality.  CBA’s are also popular with elected officials as any future bad effects brought on by a development can serve to decouple the effects from the politician’s responsibility.  Given the out-sized power of CBA’s, it’s easy to see how they would be tempting to developers and even politicians to abuse for their own benefit rather than the greater community; the very definition of ironic.  This being Emeryville, it should not be surprising that’s exactly what’s happened.    

Here in Emeryville two recent development projects have been sold to the public by developers and politicians using obfuscating tactics of the fake CBA: the Sherwin Williams project and the Emeryville Center of ‘Community’ Life.  In the case of the Sherwin Williams “CBA”, a private and exclusive group of people brokered a deal with the developer Lennar Urban behind closed doors, the greater community shut out of the process and at the Center of ‘Community’ Life, the “CBA” was struck between the Emery Unified School District and the developer Turner Construction, without any community members whatsoever.  Both these projects subverted the purpose of actual Community Benefits Agreements.  

ECCL Fake CBA
Superintendent of Emery Unified
School District
John Rubio

Beneficiary of the ECCL fake CBA.
The Center of ‘Community’ Life “CBA” was created by former Board of Trustees President John Affeldt and the Superintendent of the Schools John Rubio as a way to mollify critics of the decidedly undemocratic tactics the School District made use of to push through that project.  Tattler readers will recall how scores of parents and community members denounced the School Board’s heavy handed shutting out of the public as the Board went about their unilateral decision to close Anna Yates Elementary School as part of the Kindergarten through 12th grade vision of the Center of ‘Community’ Life.  This was done despite assurances to the community they would be permitted to weigh in on the wisdom of closing the elementary school as guaranteed by the Measure J 2010 plebiscite that started the ECCL.  
Beneficiary of the ECCL Fake CBA
Sensing exposure to claims of fraud by the community, Mr Rubio and Mr Affeldt sought relief in the form of the warm community blanket of a CBA.  However since a real CBA would also expose the School District to the desires of the actual community and a possible ratcheting back of the K-12 model, Mr Affeldt and Mr Rubio instead delivered a fake CBA, leaving questions about its illegitimacy unanswered.  The CBA was written entirely by the School District with no actual community support, a clear subversion of the purpose of a CBA.


PARC Fake CBA
City Councilman John Bauters
Beneficiary of the PARC fake CBA.
The Sherwin Williams proposal was in trouble as developers sought to move the housing project past the new ‘progressive’ City Council majority.  Both the developer and the City Council needed help legitimizing an agreement that would cheapen the public commons as Sherwin Williams demonstrably does.  Further City Council candidate John Bauters was seeking a way to bolster his community visibility as he sought election to the Council in the months before the November 8th election.  Mr Bauters very visibly helped form the Park Avenue Resident Committee (PARC) to negotiate directly with the developer regarding specific amenities for the project, promoting it in his election campaign literature.  The agreement, sold to the public as a CBA by the developer, the City Council/City Hall, and PARC and especially Mr Bauters was not a CBA.   
Beneficiary of the PARC fake CBA.
The PARC, which was comprised of a handful of residents, operated behind closed doors in private and was specifically closed to any individuals not selected by PARC and even more egregiously, Emeryville’s premier community activist group Residents United for a Livable Emeryville (RULE) was specifically not allowed in.  Well known for promoting all resident's interests, the entire community, RULE asked to be able to join as a coalition partner but they were rebuffed by PARC.  
The discrediting exclusivity of the fake Sherwin Williams CBA did not stop the City Council from loudly proclaiming PARC as a legitimate broker of what they characterized as a real Community Benefits Agreement, especially the former Mayor Dianne Martinez, ironically herself a RULE backed Council member.  
However, explicit in the definition of a CBA is the existential democratic nature of it.  The PARC Agreement is not a CBA regardless of what is being proclaimed by interested parties.

The agreements being made in the community’s name now in Emeryville are not Community Benefit Agreements by definition.  Rather they are simple development side agreements.  There is nothing wrong with these kinds of side agreements being made; in fact both of the agreements highlighted here have demonstrably improved the resultant projects, more so the Sherwin Williams project.  Having said that, these agreements being characterized as CBA’s amounts to more than just hyperbole or bombast.  The problem with issuing fake CBA’s as the power elite in Emeryville is doing is that it comes at a cost; actual CBA’s are proportionally cheapened and real community involvement is hijacked to serve an antithetical goal, raising up of the elite and pushing down of the community.

43 comments:

  1. Let's agree that, thanks to the PARC negotiation, the Sherwin-Williams project became more acceptable to the City Council and to the city at large.

    PARC could have invited RULE--a very positive force in Emeryville--to the table, but the fact that they didn't doesn't make the CBA a fake. There are lots of CBAs described on the web--a good place to start is http://www.forworkingfamilies.org/resources/policy-tools-community-benefits-toolkit, which even lists an example in Oakland. I don't see any truth or benefit in calling the PARC-led CBA a fake.

    I'd be for thanking PARC, accepting what happened, and moving on. Like many in this city, I'm hoping RULE will keep doing what it does despite not having been a party to the CBA.

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    1. Thanks for the comment Will-
      I'm just using the Wikipedia definition of a CBA (and Working Families for that matter): it necessarily involves a "broad based community coalition". This PARC agreement is antithetical to that. It sought no coalitions with any other community groups, rather it forbade them. That can't be construed as a CBA because it lacks this most essential part, even if the agreement in question delivered a better project for the community. Imagine what could have been gotten with a true CBA with the power of RULE and other citizen activist groups at the table. Remember, united we stand, divided we fall. It's too bad the PARC people didn't remember that.
      It's telling too that nobody from PARC has ever said why RULE and other groups were verboten. I doubt that question will ever be answered.

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  2. Having worked for thousands of hours over the past three years with members of ALL the residential building residents adjoining this project, having met at least 50 of them over that time, and knowing that much larger meetings were held at every step in the project within each building, knowing how a coalition was painstakingly built that allowed the neighborhood to speak as one, through representatives of each building to the PARC Steering Committee, which in turn gained benefits from Lennar that exceeded nearly everyone's expectations, this article is breathtakingly inaccurate and damaging. I am very disappointed to see in Emeryville, the kind of partisan opinion masquerading as news that is so eroding our democracy these days.

    Mike McConnell
    1500 Park Ave.

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    1. Thanks for the comment Mike-
      Inaccurate? Please explain where you see an inaccuracy and the Tattler will post a retraction. Also, partisan? Which party are you referring to?
      The damaging charge stands; it is hoped this story will damage the paradigm of fake grassroots posing as real grass roots.
      Incidentally, why was RULE and individual community members not invited or allowed to the "community benefits" strategizing PARC meetings?

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    2. The Tattler offered to retract any inaccuracies. I won't call the following points inaccuracies--I'm responsible for any misinterpretation--but here are two misimpressions I got from reading the original post.

      (1)"The PARC, which was comprised of a handful of residents, operated behind closed doors in private."
      This had me thinking the the number of community members consulted was small; Mike McConnell's reply sets the record straight.
      (2) "Emeryville’s premier community activist group Residents United for a Livable Emeryville (RULE) was specifically not allowed in." It looks to me instead like *no* outside persons or groups were included, not just RULE.

      Let's accept that even in a small city we have a variety of options for advancing the good of the community. If RULE is disappointed over being excluded from the Sherwin Williams negotiations, I can understand that. But if it puts down the efforts of a group just because that group decided to work independently of RULE, that's unsettling because it pits one team against another with no benefit to either.

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    3. Thanks for commenting again Will-

      1) The term 'handful' of course is purposely vague but in this case the term is apt; compared to the entire community (arguably at least the entire town if not a little more), the number of PARC members allowed in was small.

      2) It its true that no other groups (community, labor, etc) were allowed in to the PARC, something needed to accurately call the agreement a CBA, but I concentrated almost singley on RULE being excluded because that group concerns itself exclusively on Emeryville community benefits and therefore falls solidly within what would be considered apropos and because drawing attention to other groups would bring non-germane criticism about possible non-Emeryville specificity, unnecessarily detracting from the thrust of the story even as it still fit the constraints of the definition of a CBA.

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    4. Brian often gets out of being on the hook for retracting something because everything he posts is his own opinion (his own opinion can’t be proven to be a “lie”, right?). What Brian is good at is withholding the facts that might counter his opinion (i.e. balanced reporting or what some might call “journalism”). What Brian opted to withhold this time was that the CBA that PARC helped negotiate was supported by Transform, Greenbelt Alliance & Bike East Bay (A multi-issue, broad based community coalition I hope you’ll agree). Even Brian’s hero Jac Asher who was the least compromising councilmember we’ve ever had supported it. It was approved 5-0. Brian is rightfully hurt that his precious RULE didn’t get all the glory this time and anyone familiar with working with RULE knows why.

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    5. Yes, the right wing in Emeryville all agree 'Brian' is no good. This time he's gone and reported that the undemocratic agreement crafted by the exclusive group PARC isn't what they desperately need to have it be seen as: a CBA. They need to glom onto the political gravitas brought by an actual whole community buy in and all the work done by whole actual community activism as evidenced by a CBA. They need to abscond with something they didn't earn. They think they could get away with it but there's this vexing problem they have; their agreement isn't a CBA (damn Wikipedia), there's freedom of speech and Brian can't be stopped from speaking truth to power. If they could only get rid of that....

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    6. Oh, and let's not forget about the endorsement of several affordable housing advocates (Damn all those Right-wingers!) Don't worry Brian, Fake News sites like yours have proven to be pretty influential in elections thanks to an uneducated population that doesn't bother to fact-check what they read.

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    7. The groups you mention may be supportive of the PARC agreement but were they at the table during the negotiations with the developer? No they weren’t. Like RULE and every other community activist group, they were expressly disallowed from the PARC decision making. The fact that some of these groups may have later condoned what PARC agreed to after the fact is immaterial to the fact that the agreement is not a CBA. Again, the sticky problem of what actually defines a CBA continues to vex. The PARC document is NOT A CBA BY DEFINITION. And that brings up your questions of journalistic responsibility. Journalists can’t abandon universally agreed upon facts as part of a program of coercion as the most basic duty. A fish isn’t a bicycle and a journalist cannot exchange those definitions in order to help coerce the public, no matter how much the right wing (or indeed left wing) screams that a fish is a bicycle. So we’re not going to call a fish a bicycle here and we’re not going to call an undemocratically vetted document a CBA. The fact that you are so insistent that this document PARC produced be called a CBA gives away your agenda and only serves to weaken your goal of legitimizing the document to put it bluntly. It shows us that you think CBA’s are valuable things and without CBA status, a document loses legitimacy. While I agree the PARC document is not as legitimate as a CBA would have been, it's still a fine agreement that produced concessions from the developer that improved the Sherwin Williams project. But it’s not going to be called something it isn’t here. It’s bad enough to misuse the English language causing obfuscation but it’s even more egregious to do that in service of a paradigm that would demonstrably cheapen the public commons.

      What would a CBA have produced at Sherwin Williams that the PARC document didn’t? The PARC members themselves admit they had to make concessions to the developer; concessions that might not have been made if a real CBA had been in play. But as far as answering what could have been produced with a CBA is hard to speculate but it certainly would have brought labor peace instead of the trade unions railing against it as they did and ominously still could, it would have at least observed the mixed use housing diversity mandates set up by City Hall instead of the poor door segregation that they brokered, locally serving retail would have likely been guaranteed and park to resident acreage would have certainly been at least up to existing Emeryville standards. All this and likely more could have been produced with real community buy in. The developer would have been much more on the ropes and ready to concede. But of course we'll never know because PARC decided to go it alone, without the whole community.

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    8. Oh and let's not forget that RULE is not 'my precious' rather RULE is Emeryville's precious. With five out of five City Council members now RULE backed Council members, RULE is by definition the most Emeryville-centric organization there is. RULE is mainstream center Emeryville and Emeryville is RULE. Again, for the right wing extremists in town is the inconvenient and vexing problem of democracy. People here like RULE and RULE likes the people.

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    9. Brian, since you opted to censor my last comment, I’ll try gain.
      The definition of a CBA according to your Wiki excerpt says “commonly” which means often but not exclusively (i.e. it does not have to strictly meet every criterion).

      PARC is a collection of representative from every surrounding building including the Warehouse Lofts, Blue Star Corner, Artist Coop and Horton Lofts. This would by definition be a “a multi-issue, broad based community coalition.”

      They did not all have the same priorities initially but came together to compromise internally and find common ground and advocated for 11 separate community benefits. These benefits were among items that were consistently coveted by neighbors including transit, park space and walkability/bikeability.

      I won’t hold my breath on your retraction or correction that this was a “Fake” CBA.

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    10. The Tattler doesn't censor comments...if you want to see a blog that does, go to the E'Ville Eye. It IS true that sometimes I sleep and while I'm sleeping I'm not forwarding Tattler comments. Remember people, you may comment on anything except personal attacks against people (except me...you can personally attack me and I'll post it). What's also not allowed is pure advertising.

      Now to your point: Again, the PARC agreement is not a CBA because it specifically forbade community groups from taking part. That by definition means it's not a CBA. PARC produced a document that was undemocratic as part an parcel of its structural undergirding. That cannot be called a CBA. It's an agreement, nothing more. Let me ask you Mr Anonymous, why are you so desperate for the PARC document to be seen by the general public (irony watch) as a CBA? And if you let the PARC document in, what would you call REAL CBA's? Is there some point where a fish becomes a bicycle in your use of English?

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  3. How things change in Emeryville. A few years ago the community attempted to get a CBA with Pixar when they built their campus expansion and City Hall joined with Pixar and they fought like hell against the community and won.

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  4. So if we’re going to split hairs here. The Wiki definition says “often” which means commonly, but not exclusively. PARC is a coalition of individual neighboring building groups (EWL, BSC, Artist Coop & Horton Lofts) that united under a common goal so this would meet your plural definition of community “groups”.

    Multi-issue? check
    Broad based community coalition including community, environmental? check

    I guess your argument is that since not every interest was represented it cannot meet a CBA?

    By the way, are you familiar with “Borderline Personality Disorder”? You might want to look that up in Wikipedia while you have it up.

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    1. This comment by Mr Impatient Anonymous was addressed by me in the upper 'reply' box at Dec 20 7:47.

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    2. For the record, this comment was submitted yesterday about 4pm. Check your logs.

      When you say “forward” comments what you meant to say was “approve” meaning every comment has to be OK’d by you personally and give you sufficient time to write your retort which are generally posted in tandem (in fact blogspot’s comment moderation specifically has an “approve” button). Every comment I’ve ever posted on The E’ville Eye appears instantaneously therefore I know that mine and other comments are not being censored. Removing your comment moderation is the only way we’ll ever know for sure if our comments aren’t being censored.

      Can you produce a specific exchange that shows that RULE reached out to PARC and they specifically forbade them from providing their priorities? Producing evidence to support your allegations is generally a good “journalistic” practice. Otherwise, we’re just taking your word for it.

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    3. Correction: The comment above was submitted yesterday at 1:19 PM and did not appear until this morning.

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    4. To Mr Impatient Anonymous-
      Yes, sometimes I do things besides sleep that preclude me from posting comments immediately. Riding in an airplane comes to mind. Here at the Tattler, you'll find every comment you make (as long as you follow our rules) will be posted but sometimes air travel or sleep will make it so you have to wait. There are other things that could intervene that would also preclude instant posting. Do I need to list them all?
      I'm very happy for you every post you make appears in a timely manner on the right wing blog. I must say, your politics has something to do with that (this I know as a fact). If you happen to be critical of that blog, you'll find yourself shut out.

      RULE shut out of PARC: if you need more evidence, come to any RULE meeting and inquire. Please check the veracity of my claim if you feel compelled.
      Only one blog in town censors comments. So be happy, you're privileged...unlike say someone say left of center, for you'll get your comments posted in both the pro-business Emeryville blog and the pro-resident Emeryville blog. You're going to have to sometimes learn to be a little patient though because the editor of the pro-resident blog might be riding on an airplane or -shame- sleeping.

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    5. It’s a CBA if RULE endorses it … or it’s a “Fake”.
      You’re either Pro-Resident … or Pro-Business.
      You either agree with Brian, or you’re part of the “Right-Wing”
      You either have Aspergers ... or Borderline Personality Disorder!

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    6. -Sorry, it's a CBA if the dictionary says it is...Rule is immaterial.
      -Pro-resident/pro-business; yes, those are the two political forces that shape Emeryville.
      -Right wing; those on the pro-business side make up the right wing in Emeryville.
      -Dr Anonymous; Interesting diagnosis. Are you going to proscribe some medication for me? How about some oxycontin, hillbilly heroin? If it's good enough for Rush Limbaugh, it's good enough for me.

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    7. Thanks for validating all my points.
      - Dr. Anon.

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    8. Thank Dr. Anon for putting Brian in his place. Watching him try to squirm out of the the house of lies he's built is rather enjoyable. Maybe he should make himself the Ass-clown of the month. The town bully is also our town jester.

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    9. Again, Rob, being a "journalist", you really shouldn't hide behind anonymous comments. And don't you think that since you're doing this, you oughtn't censor comments on your own blog?

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    10. A lot of "Rob's" circling your fake news site putting you in an awkward situation of being accountable for your lies. So will you produce the "smoking gun" exchange that PARC forbade RULE from participating in their CBA?

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    11. I'll give you the pleasure of rooting that out yourself. Then you can release your findings to great fanfare, right? You can put that in your blog.

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    12. My takeaway from reading this exchange? "It's Brian's Blog and he'll lie if he wants to. If you don't like lying, read another blog!"

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    13. The Tattler always strives for accuracy...we certainly don't lie but if you think you see one please point it out and if it is revealed to be a lie, you'll get an apology and a retraction. You'll get an apology and a retraction even if you think it's a lie but I find it to just be a mistake. I'll also correct simple mistakes you see and typos as well as gramatical inaccuracies and credit you.
      Thanks for reading and helping to keep the Tattler the best it can be.

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    14. OK Rob, your answer has arrived with Mike M's 5:03 post today. Check it out. He tells us the PARC decided to keep RULE out of the process for the reasons he elucidates. Please read it. One thing that doesn't make sense to me about all your histrionics on this issue...the yelling and screaming you've done trying to convince people this agreement is a real CBA and RULE was invited to partner with PARC, one thing I don't understand is that the main beneficiaries of calling the PARC agreement a CBA is the City Council: the same bunch of minimum wage raising liberals you hate. I'm revealing that they're lying when they call this a CBA....you and I should be on the same side here. You have a chance to be on the side of truth and you get to trash the City Council members you don't like....you should take it.

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  5. What I take away from these posts is that we owe PARC a heap of thanks for helping Emeryville get a better deal from the Sherwin Williams developer. I can see why someone from RULE might have wanted to be involved, but I see no reason not to respect PARC's decision to do exactly as it did.

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    1. I can see a reason to respect (understand) why PARC did what it did: it was a group of people that wanted to see changes at the Sherwin Williams project along the lines of their particular vision. They probably realized their vision would be challenged if the whole community were allowed to take part and so they decided to make the group exclusive. They probably saw democracy as too messy or too prone to add stuff they didn't want (which is likely true) but they also realized it's politically untenable to make their produced document as an exclusively and undemocratically produced thing so after the fact they sought refuge in 'the warm blanket of a CBA' as I called it. They started calling it what it expressly wasn't.
      Now they're angry with me because I'm sticking with the actual definition of a CBA. I also understand their anger; I'm stopping them from doing something very valuable to them. How valuable? Check out the blowback. The want their exclusive document and they want it to be perceived as democratic...they want their cake and eat it too. I'm the messenger calling them out.
      I don't begrudge them their victories as I said in the story, I just won't call this a CBA and I'll stop them from calling it that (insofar as someone speaking truth to power can).

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  6. To be clear, PARC decided that rather than think of the S-W project as a city-wide issue, we thought of it as a neighborhood issue. And made sure that 100% of the residents of buildings adjoining the project were represented and deeply engaged. Each building had its own process to send members. I have the impression that the Artist's Coop had quite a bit of community involvement, as did 1500 Park. We had a 25-person meeting and a number of smaller meetings, and I personally attended an Artist's Coop meeting with about many people attending. When John Bauters moved to Blue Star Corner and had to recuse himself from the Planning Commission voting, the Blue Star residents invited him to join their HOA President to represent their project. The 4th project Horton St. Lofts also sent two highly helpful members.

    We only created the unified group so that we could speak as one voice. I think it worked. I am a member of RULE, and briefed them at every meeting I attended.

    Mike M.
    1500 Park.

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    1. Thanks for the work you did to improve the Sherwin Williams project Mike. The PARC agreement surely got some concessions from the developer and that's good. But the PARC agreement isn't a CBA. It's fine that it's not a CBA. It is what it is and that's ok. A CBA is a different animal. It's very likely a CBA would have delivered more concessions from the developer but that doesn't take away from the good the PARC agreement did. We're not going to call the PARC agreement what it's not however. Realize, a lot of people want to be able to claim the PARC agreement is a real CBA for a host of reasons. There's simple face saving going on in these false claims as well as more venal politics at play. It's not shocking, it's just disappointing. So rather than let some politicians and a developer benefit from false claims, we're going to tell the truth here. Maybe next time there will be more pressure for a real CBA to be produced given the pressure the Tattler is bring to bear against those who benefit from false claims. That's the idea of journalism: holding the elite's feet to the fire and pushing accountability.
      Again, thanks for the work you did on the PARC agreement.

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    2. Oh, and please tell Rob Arias that you informed RULE about the work PARC was doing...he's telling people RULE was invited to be a coalition partner with PARC but (presumably and inexplicably) RULE said no thanks.

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  7. Thanks, Brian. We tried our best, and I hope we involved ALL the residents of Blue Star Corner, Emeryville Warehouse Lofts, Horton St. Lofts, and the Artists' Coop to participate. I can only speak for EWL in saying that we had very broad engagement, never unanimity, and much of the process was working out amongst ourselves what to prioritize. Not sure how we could have built consensus among 500 residents better, but I am sure we could. I will say that we tried very hard. When meeting with Lennar, it seemed that a united front of 2 people per building (Senate style, not House style) was workable. I am not sure where the CBA term started being used but I don't remember us starting it. I always felt, and remember saying at a RULE meeting two years ago that I felt that the City Council was the most appropriate party to enter into a CBA, since they represent the entire City (these days at least!) PARC specifically didn't want to do that, but were happy to advocate for the neighborhood to get the best deal we could to present to the Council.
    So I have no opinion about the narrow subject of a CBA. I do feel strongly that the residents of the neighborhood were well represented by people who worked very hard to make the project far better than it otherwise would have been. And John Bauters involvement was a total positive - he really added value to what in the end was a pretty complicated David vs Goliath negotiation.

    Mike M.
    EWL (1500 Park)

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    1. A CBA by definition bypasses the politicians and City Hall. It's an agreement between the whole community and a developer. The City folds it into a legally binding document later but City Hall by definition has nothing to do with the crafting of CBA's. The whole idea is that sometimes representative government breaks down and the people's interests are not properly represented. It is in these cases when the people rise up and force a CBA (usually against the will of the developer but the smart ones will realize they have no choice but to negotiate). Again, the PARC agreement was NOT a CBA, even if Mr Bauters and his colleagues as well as Lennar wants to call it that. They are helped at our expense with taking control of the CBA meme and we should not let them do that.

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  8. To Tattler readers:
    If you read the comments above you'll see a "Annie Hall Marshall McLuhan moment". That's where the obnoxious little right wing needler gets his devastating comeuppance when Mike M, a member of PARC admits RULE was not allowed in the PARC. Mr right wing who accused me of being a liar moments before now suddenly runs away. That's what republicans do when confronted with a Marshall McLuhan moment, they run away. Unless it's Donald Trump ....then it's time to double down.

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  9. Tattler Readers (yes, all 5 of you), notice Mr. Donahue’s creative editorializing of McConnell’s comment “I am a member of RULE, and briefed them at every meeting I attended” to “Mike M, a member of PARC admits RULE was not allowed in the PARC.” If Mike is a member of RULE, it looks like RULE got representation to me, right? Ready to retract? That's what I thought.

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    1. Couldn't resist the urge to double down, eh? It's in the zeitgeist for those of a particular predilection...on automatic I suppose.
      And now on to the (pointless) business at hand: Do you think a group that was briefed was part a group who's actions they were being briefed about? I mean, if the group in question was in the other group, would there be a need to brief the first group? If RULE were part of a coalition with PARC, there wouldn't be briefing going on....there would be discussions and voting going on. Do you think a group that's not allowed to attend and vote in another group's meetings is part of the group. Is that a coalition? If that counts as a CBA, then CBA's are everywhere. Any time more than one person gets together and talks with a developer about a project, that's then a CBA using your re-definition. Now before you launch the next tirade, I want you to think about that for a minute (to challenge my 'automatic' charge).
      Lastly, you seem to be very agitated trying to convince only 5 people that RULE is a coalition partner with PARC. I'm wondering why you're putting in so much energy for so little payback. Unless you secretly think there may be more than 5 Tattler readers. Just to clear the air on that, here's the figures copied from the stats just now (at 7:50 am):
      Pageviews today
      380
      Pageviews yesterday
      569
      Pageviews last month
      16,033

      FYI The day starts and ends at 4PM. The Tattler usually gets between 10,000 and 15,000 page views per month. So you can see it's up a little. The election drove up the number of readers and it's stayed high. Usually after this much time post election season, the numbers drift back down...not this year....I'm not sure why. A lot of right wingers are pretty agitated right now I guess. BTW, these numbers don't mean anything beyond what function they can serve as a barometer about what people like to read....the Tattler as you know is not monetized. We don't write our stories for money like some blogs. We don't do it for click-bait here; just for truth spreading.

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  10. To the Tattler,
    Residents United for a Livable Emeryville [RULE] has been much talked about in two recent editions of the Tattler. Allow us to remind your readers what the group stands for and comment on your remarks regarding election results in Emeryville and the community benefits agreement between PARC, a community group, and Lennar, developer for the Sherwin-Williams site, an agreement endorsed by the city and many other groups as well.
    Residents United for a Livable Emeryville was formed in 2008 to provide a strong voice in local political decisions for residents and their families. We work for the building of affordable housing, support public education, promote safe pedestrian and bike movement around the city, back development of parks, greenways, and inexpensive public transport, encourage the arts and artists in Emeryville, and, last but not least, back sustainable economic growth with particular emphasis on developing a cadre of vibrant small businesses.
    Regarding your piece citing our “takeover” of the city, which uses words like “power”, “abdication”, and the like, we’re pleased with the election results in November but don’t feel the need to beat our chests about it. Ebbs and flows in politics, as you know, are the norm. We’ll be there supporting progressive candidates in the next election, and we are sure those who disagree with us will be there, too. That’s democracy as it should be. One other point about November: John Bauters was, to the best of our knowledge, not an “Anti-RULE” candidate in 2014. He did run against two candidates RULE had endorsed prior to his joining the race, but even then some of us had spotted him as one who shared many of our values and a person worthy of future support. His services to the city since 2014 simply reinforced that feeling. No “patch up” of relations was required.
    Finally, we find your reference to the PARC/Lennar agreements regarding development of the Sherwin-Williams site as a “Fake Community Benefits Agreement” unnecessarily contentious. Residents United for a Livable Emeryville had its say on the site’s development, and we don’t feel we were “shut out.” A representative of PARC and others keep us up to date on its negotiations with Lennar and listened to our own concerns. Let’s put aside defining and redefining just what a CBA is and concentrate on ensuring that the agreement now reached is lived up to. The city endorses it; many of the progressive groups whose values we share have endorsed it; and we endorse it. To the best of our knowledge, it’s Emeryville’s first community benefits agreement with a developer. All honors to the varied group of citizens who worked for it, both in many open meetings and in those hard, behind-the-scenes, final bargaining sessions. At this late stage in the history of the site’s development, it was first-rate work resulting in benefits to the whole community.

    From Residents United for a Livable Emeryville Steering Committee, submitted by Ruth Major






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    1. Thanks for commenting Ruth-

      You're free to want to wallow in modesty regarding RULE's election victories. Perhaps you've made a calculation about how modesty might be politically benefitial. You may be correct if this is the case but here at the Tattler, we have a thing about telling the truth and when a right wing blog uses it's capital to spread lies and misinformation about a citizens activist group like RULE, we're going to use the truth loudly against those dark forces loose in our town. RULE won and we're telling everyone.
      So that you and everyone else knows, in 2014, John Bauters called RULE extreme; a "foaming at the mouth left wing" organization. He specifically said he would not seek a RULE endorsement. By 2016 he changed his mind and he sought out RULE's endorsement. This was done at the macro level and also by engaging with individual RULE members who had expressed reservations about him in 2014. That fairly constitutes the expression 'patching up'. The term is not pejorative.
      You may not 'feel' left out of the PARC/Lennar negotiations but in fact you were. Indeed, the entire RULE organization was not allowed at the PARC meetings and not allowed a vote there. That fairly constitutes a 'shutting out' and precludes calling the resultant agreement a CBA. Sorry, it's not up to you to decide....it was decided long ago by those who compiled the dictionary. If you want to expand the definition of a CBA, I suggest you take it up with the lexicographers of the English language. This is settled territory...we're going to use the dictionary definitions of words...especially when politicians and developers stand to (materially) gain at the public's expense by such a re-definition.

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    2. Now even your friends are calling you a liar and you won’t cop to it. This persistence of never admitting that you’re wrong is generally reserved for politicians but you’re pretty adept at it I'd say. Never admit defeat Brian!

      Here’s another wiki link for you to read:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pathological_lying

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    3. Nice needle you're threading! What you're attempting to do is call someone who is using the language the way the universally agreed upon arbiter says it should be used but call that a lie. So the dictionary itself is now no longer able to be used says you. Words now have no universally agreed to meaning in service of attempting to forward a political agenda. That would be an impressive piece of bravado were it not for the antics of the right wing in the nation as a whole and their newfound insistence that facts are not facts. Sorry guy, you've been trumped.
      But bringing this back home, what makes this so nefarious is that by forwarding this insistence we can't agree that the dictionary is the central repository for the definition of words, you're not just fighting against the Tattler (right wingers hate it, I know), you're also abetting in the political power play of the Emeryville City Council (too left wing according to you), as they try to say the Sherwin Williams PARC agreement is a CBA in order to help themselves politically. That's why this whole production is being promulgated: to help the City Council sell themselves as non-ideological to the electorate. The term 'useful idiot' comes to mind here. By forwarding this lie that the PARC agreement is a CBA, you're not just bailing out the developer, you're also bailing out the City Council.
      The PARC agreement left out the vast majority of the community from the deliberations of the agreement. Some of those community members might have wanted an agreement that included a better deal for labor (the Carpenters Union did complain they weren't included), or park space at least to Emeryville's existing average, or guarantees for locally serving non-formula retail associated with the project, or saving the Horton Street Bike Boulevard that the PARC agreement doesn't care about to name just a few. A real CBA would have included those voices. The PARC agreement shut them out and that means the agreement is a subversion of a real CBA. The agreement only included what the anti-democratic select group wanted to include leaving the rest of the community out in the cold.
      To conclude, again, the Tattler is here to hold the elite to account be they the business elite or the political elite, even as we also agree to use English words the way they've been universally agreed to by the dictionary. If you ever were of a mind we would shirk from either one of these responsibilities, you have been sorely mistaken.

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