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Friday, February 19, 2016

RULE Meeting

Residents United For A Livable Emeryville

Come and meet your progressive neighbors and make Emeryville what you want it to be!

Our next meeting will be: Sunday, Feb. 21, from 4:00-6:00 pm 
Artists' Co Op, 1420 45th St. at Horton
(Someone will let you in...meeting room is just inside the door.)

Facilitator: Bill ReuterNote taker:  Ruth MajorAgenda
-Sherwin Williams EIR...EIR sub-committee
-Horton St. Bike Blvd...Brian Donahue
-Emery-Go-Round...Ken Bukowski
-Next City Council election: identifying candidates...Steering Committee
-Committee reports
Adjustments to agenda may be made

Bring Snacks; tea provided
Hope to see you there!

For more info call 510-601-6521
Judy Timmel, RULE Steering Committee

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Emeryville Police Should NOT Carry AR-15 Assualt Rifles

Wrongheaded Policy on Police Weapons Hijacks 
Smart Public Policy

The Chief of Police Needs to Provide the Elected Officials 
With Objective, Trustworthy Information

Opinion/News Analysis
Should Emeryville police carry AR-15 assault rifles? That's a public debate that didn't happen; our police officers in fact already do carry these controversial high powered rifles with them.  Still, the City Council majority seems interested enough to begin an ex post facto debate on the issue. Last Thursday's Public Safety Committee was the opening salvo, so to speak, in the better-late-than-never debate.
So far what we've heard in this up until now one sided debate is that the Police Department has no choice about the weapons they carry; that's determined by the criminals and in the weapons the criminals happen to choose says our Chief of Police (the criminals in the aggregate presumably but unqualified nonetheless).

Councilwoman Nora Davis
We have no choice in the matter,
"Force must be met with force" she says.
On the table in the foreground are bullets,
the largest being a .50 caliber round
tank buster, the next weapon to be carried
by the Emeryville Police Department.
Public policy must be subverted we're told, all in service of a dubious meme that would lock us into an arms race with criminals.  The other side of the debate, promulgated by those who would advocate for a polity that doesn't lock us unnecessarily into that predetermined fate, those who say smart police tactics are what's called for and force need not slavishly be met with equal force, is countered by the Chief and also by Councilwoman Nora Davis as it turns out.  It's all being played out over the the Emeryville Police Department's use of the AR-15 assault rifle and its high powered rounds that can literally blow a person's head off, specifically, what's being debated is the wisdom of these new weapons being carried by officers in their day to day patrols.  Also at that consequential and revealing meeting, we watched the Chief present evidence that tantalizingly hints of a .50 caliber future; what's to come in Emeryville's  arms race with criminals.

Thursday's meeting revealed an unfortunate lack of cogency on the side of the police department and Machiavellian tactics being used to shut off honest debate by the Chief of Police Jennifer Tejada and her friend on the Public Safety Committee, member Nora Davis.

The police use of deadly force was placed on the agenda by Vice Mayor and Committee Chair Scott Donahue and was intended to open up the debate, but it was seized upon by Chief Tejada as an opportunity to deceive the Council member decision makers present (at least the Vice Mayor) as she presented a 'war on police' narrative that necessitates a ramping up the firepower of the cops on the street.  Since criminals are carrying these assault weapons, so must the police apparently.
Further, she attempted to mollify would be concerned citizens and Council members by signaling the AR-15's ordinary and 'reasonable' status by claiming the rifle is not even illegal in California and that the police aren't therefore carrying anything more than can be bought by ordinary citizens, a patently false statement.

The Chief of Police is enthralled with the idea that police must carry at least the same weapons that the criminals carry, hinting next in the line-up will be .50 caliber weapons.  It was a sentiment echoed by Councilwoman Davis, "Force must be met with force" the Councilwoman stated, a fait accompli that would take the public out of public policy and place it instead in the control of criminals.  This democratically disempowering and cynical worldview was presented after an officer made a presentation to the Committee about how police had recently found a criminal's cache of .50 caliber weapons, a gun that can take out a tank on a battlefield, a gun that's being employed more and more by ordinary criminals the officer said.
Emeryville Police Chief
Jennifer Tejada

In her days as Sausalito Chief of Police.

Now, in Emeryville, she's not 
giving us an honest debate
on the AR-15 assault rifle.

To graphically show the special capacity for havoc .50 caliber weapons can wreak, the officer placed a round on the table next to other rounds, including the AR-15 round.  These .50 calibers are what's coming next for the EPD and it would appear the Chief of Police is preparing the City Council to wrap their heads around the idea of our officers carrying this tank busting gun...we have no choice, remember?  Councilwoman Davis was so impressed by the presentation, the dramatic sight of the huge .50 caliber round prompted her to demand the Emeryville Police Department weapon up and meet force with force.
To pause for a moment and express the obvious: this dumb line of argument makes no sense whatsoever and is reckless, frankly.  In fact, we are not boxed in, our hands are not tied by criminals in Emeryville.  This is not policy in the public interest and it's dangerous.

After the presentation that presaged our bleak future, Emeryville cops carrying .50 caliber weapons (mounted on the roofs of the cop cars?), the Chief of Police again told the assembled throng that AR-15s are not assault opinion disguised as fact by our Chief.  As we have said in the past, the Congress of the United States and the State of California disagree with her on that.  It's unseemly that our Chief puts stock in the opinion of the NRA over the State of California on this issue.  It's noteworthy that the police departments of the City of Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, and San Jose all disagree with our Chief on the AR-15....they all agree with the State of California that these guns ARE assault rifles.  Nomenclature is important because the debate frame will drive public opinion and transparency and forthrightness by government officials should be the the operating principle here.
Coming Next to the Emeryville Police Department:
The 'Tank Buster' .50 Caliber Rifle

'Criminals are starting to arm themselves with it,
so therefore must we.'

But it's Chief Tejada's insistence that public policy be hijacked in Emeryville by the whims of criminals and their ever increasing firepower that we find most objectionable.  We urge the Chief of Police to stop this ham handed approach to policing.  To the Chief: if you think it's prudent for our officers to carry AR-15 assault rifles, or .50 caliber rifles, then you should made a cogent and persuasive argument and don't rely on these dishonest and unbecoming tactics.  Tell us why it's important for Emeryville police officer to carry whatever weapon you think is prudent and let's have a REAL and transparent debate.

To cut to the chase however, there's no war on police in America or in Emeryville and we believe its not appropriate for Emeryville police to carry AR-15 assault rifles (let alone .50 caliber guns).  Studies have shown police tend to use new weapons given to them with increasing and increasingly inappropriate frequency.  It's the old adage at play; when all you a have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail.  Police departments that issue tasers find their use by officers increases over time, increasingly with terrible effect on the public.  Already, one person has been killed by Emeryville police with the newly issued AR-15 rifle.

The AR-15 is a high powered weapon and it can blast through a concrete block wall or penetrate three people and still have enough power to kill the fourth.  It has the power to decapitate people.  We don't need our police carrying that kind of firepower in their day to day patrols in our town.  Perhaps these guns could be stored at the police station for use in the unlikely case one were ever needed.
But what we cannot countenance is for the Police Department to be used to purposefully obscure and now engage in forwarding actual misinformation to the decision makers and the citizens as they give us their opinion that they should continue to be allowed to carry AR-15's.  Our Emeryville Police Department has a stellar reputation; it's a shame to see it unnecessarily marred like this.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

"Soft" Opening at Joseph Emery Skate Park

Skaters have used a hole in the fence to check out the still under construction Joseph Emery skate park today.  Featured at the unofficial 'soft' opening were some knocks and scraped skin.  The actual hard opening date is to be announced but some locals are giving themselves an unauthorized preview.  Reviews so far from the 20+- skaters: "nice" & "pretty good".

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Letter to the Tattler: John Lindsay-Poland

Special to the Tattler-
Guest blogger John Linsay-Poland is drawn to Emeryville on the anniversary, today, of the shooting of Yuvette Henderson by the Emeryville Police Department.  

Police Assault Weapons in Emeryville
By John Lindsay-Poland

John Lindsay-Poland
A year ago today, Emeryville Police shot and killed 38-year-old Yuvette Henderson, using an AR-15 assault weapon. Henderson had just dropped off her kids at school, and allegedly had shoplifted at Home Depot, was injured, and left when police gunned her down. According to the autopsy report, she was shot in the back.

Emeryville PD’s Sgt. Fred Dauer told me that the advantages of the AR-15 are that it is highly accurate at a distance, and that it pierces body armor. Yet Henderson was killed from a short distance, and she wore no body armor. Besides Yuvette’s death, the AR-15’s extra capacity to go through people and objects and penetrate others creates additional hazards. Police shooting last February 3, for example, also shattered the car windows of a bystander.

In December, a number of community members addressed policing, militarization, racism, immigration enforcement, and the Yuvette Henderson case at a forum in Emeryville (see the video here). There, we talked about some uncomfortable facts: in 2015, Black people were more than twice as likely as White people to be killed by police. But if Black people were unarmed, they were three and a half times as likely to be killed by police.

Just six blocks from where Henderson was killed, less than a week before, a White marijuana grower pursued police deputies in Oakland and fired a high-powered gun at the officers, but they did not even return fire.

People often say that police need assault weapons because criminals are killing them. Folks can be forgiven if they think there is a “war on police,” since some media promote this idea. But in fact, the number of police killed by others in the line of duty is at an all-time low, according to data compiled by the American Enterprise Institute.

EPD chief Jennifer Tejada has claimed in public that the AR-15 is not an assault weapon, but the gun industry has long said otherwise – at least when it wants to capture a certain market. As the Violence Policy Center notes, “The NRA, the gun industry, the gun press, and other pro-gun “experts” today claim that there is no such thing as a civilian ‘assault weapon.’ They prefer to call them ‘tactical rifles’ or ‘modern sporting rifles.’ But before these types of guns came under fire, these same experts enthusiastically described exactly these civilian versions as ‘assault rifles,’ ‘assault pistols,’ and ‘military assault’ weapons.” Private possession of assault weapons is illegal in California.

Emeryville PD officers said that when Yuvette Henderson was killed, they were protecting the public, because, they say, Henderson had a gun pointed at them (though it is unclear then how they shot her in the back). The officers also say that the only time they have fired an AR-15 since the force acquired them in 2002 was when they killed Henderson. Chief Tejada told me that no police report is made about the AR-15’s use it unless it is fired. In other words, if police go out and take the AR-15 out of the patrol car, but do not fire it, they do not include that in their report of the incident. This makes it difficult to evaluate their claim that the AR-15 is protecting public safety, since the only record of its use in Emeryville resulted in police killing someone. That actually demonstrates the opposite.

EPD officers did a training in December around ‘officer involved shootings’ which lasted a full week, costing more than $7,000. That appears to indicate the Department believes that officers’ judgment in using lethal force needs improvement.

Meanwhile, Chief Tejada is attempting to shore up her political support by getting members of the City Council to attend a “force options” training between now and April to put themselves in the positions of police officers walking into situations and then decide on use of force.

If Emeryville PD has not done so already, it should do some training of officers in implicit bias. Study after study shows that even well-intentioned people – of all races – have unconscious biases against African-Americans. When police face individuals suspected of a crime, those biases can quickly become deadly. Two hundred fifty police agencies have already done some form of such implicit bias training. The aggregate results of this testing should be made public, so we may know where EPD stands in our common imperative to reduce and eliminate the hurtful practices of racism.

The City’s Public Safety Committee will consider its use of force, including AR-15s, next Thursday, February 11 at 11 a.m. You can make a public comment or listen. The meeting will be at the Emeryville PD, 2449 Powell St.

John Lindsay-Poland is Wage Peace Coordinator with the American Friends Service Committee. He blogs for Huffington Post and is the author of  Emperors in the Jungle: The Hidden History of the U.S. in Panama (Duke University Press).  He lives in the Bay Area. 

Mayor Martinez: Dispatches From Washington

Emeryville Mayor Dianne Martinez reports to the Tattler from the annual US Mayors Conference in Washington DC.  Ms Martinez represented Emeryville as a 'guest mayor' since our city has less than 30,000 population.  Here's the Mayor's report:

Just two weeks ago, I had the honor of representing the City of Emeryville at the U.S. Conference of Mayors (UCSM) Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. The group is the official non-partisan organization of larger cities, creating a forum in which mayors can share ideas and information. USCM also promotes the development of effective national policy, strengthens federal-city relationships, and strives to ensure that federal policy meets urban needs.

I attended a meeting of the Environment Standing Committee, where Gina McCarthy, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, gave an overview of the Clean Power Plan – our nation’s first-ever set of national standards that address carbon pollution from power plants. While appreciating that we are moving away from carbon-intensive energy production here in the U.S., I pressed McCarthy to address the transit of coal by rail that is destined for other countries. She confirmed that there are many conversations at the federal level concerning the safety of hazardous materials by rail. There are many proposed projects that may be exporting coal from the Western seaboard, and McCarthy pointed out that the EPA’s role is to make sure there is a complete disclosure in terms of environmental impact. She remarked, “We’ll certainly be at the table to make sure that environmental impacts are considered and well analyzed.” The tragedy over drinking water in Flint, Michigan was at the top of everyone’s minds, and McCarthy did not shy away from this topic. “Our first priority has to be and is to make sure that the water in Flint is safe,” she said. Later that same day, it was publicized that McCarthy accepted the resignation of the EPA regional administrator in charge of Flint.
Emeryville Mayor Dianne Martinez
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

The mayors in attendance were also witness to a speech by First Lady Michelle Obama, who talked about the successes and continued efforts to end veteran homelessness in American cities. And finally, we mayors had an audience with the man himself, President Barack Obama. In the East Room of the White House, the President discussed the role of mayors in American government. “Mayors can’t wait for congress. Mayors can’t get stuck in partisan gridlock. We’ve got Republican mayors here and Democratic mayors, but frankly if you’re a mayor, nobody cares what your party is. They care what you’re getting done.” The President remarked on the 40 cities and counties that have taken action on the minimum wage and on paid family leave. Among other topics, he also touched on the water crisis in Flint, criminal justice reform, the scourge of opioids and heroin, building new housing in our growing cities, and making it easier for people to vote.

While it was definitely a perk to be in the company of the President and the First Lady, the lasting benefit of the U.S. Mayor’s Conference is the opportunity to connect with mayors whose cities are exploring new ways to combat the major problems of our time. For instance, after accepting the First Lady’s Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, Salt Lake City, Phoenix and New Orleans have effectively done so. I’d like to learn from the leadership in these communities and apply the lessons learned from taking on these huge challenges.

In addition to networking with officials from other cities, I was able to connect with members of the Small Business Administration – notably, it’s administrator, Maria Contreras-Sweet. I hope that this connection proves to be fruitful in leveraging federal resources for our small businesses right here in Emeryville.

I look forward to representing our fair city as your mayor for the remainder of this year, and I hope you’ll share your thoughts and concerns with me at


President Obama’s remarks to the U.S. Conference of Mayors -
Environment Standing Committee -