Search The Tattler

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Total Censorship With Police Department Fire Escape: 100% Redaction of Public Record

Redact City-
What the City Doesn't Want You to Know About the Police Dept Remodel That Left 
the Building Unsafe:

Police Chief Blacks Out Entire Public Record

Document received from City Hall in response to Public Records Request. 

The City of Emeryville, citing an obscure 1973 case law decision that allowed the government to withhold prison building plans from the public, blacked out building plans of the Hollis Street police department to the public inquiring about the City's failure to provide public fire escape egress at the police building.  The architect plans, produced for the City as part of a 2012 $3.7 million remodel of the the City's Public Safety Building at 2449 Hollis Street, putatively shows a State of California mandated fire escape at the second floor public lobby that was removed, illegally, at some later date.  We say 'putatively' because Emeryville's Chief of Police, Jennifer Tejada, has totally redacted the publicly owned plans so we can't know for sure.  However, the architect, retained by the City for the 2012 remodel, recently assured the Tattler he did provide for public egress at the second floor lobby and the plans, if we could view them would prove it.  The architect, Don Dommer of Albany based Dommer and Associates, upon hearing of a lack of a second floor public fire escape at his building, is conjecturing somebody must have done illegal work closing off public access after his contract with the City was complete.

The Tattler originally brought the issue of no public fire escape at the police station to the City at a Council meeting in 2016 and with an accompanying 2016 Tattler story but City Hall resisted the call to correct the public safety issue, waiting until after a second Tattler story on June 21st.  Assurances are now being offered from the Chief Building official, Victor Gonzales, that the City plans on making the police station legal, in the wake of the June 21st story.  Mr Gonzales is postulating a new set of exterior stairs could be added out the front of the building to make the building code compliant.

As Emeryville City Hall moves to fix the illegal fire trap at the police station public lobby (presuming they will), the public is left with questions of culpability.  Blacked out building plans notwithstanding, the question about when the fire escape was removed is less important to know than who removed it and if that subsequent illegal work was permitted by the Building Department.  Emeryville's Building official Victor Gonzales hinted he might at least share culpability as reported in the June 21st Tattler story when he said, "Everybody makes mistakes" and "I'm doing the best I can."

Chief Tejada's claim the information about the public fire egress at the station is secret and if made known to the public would compromise police safety, is overwrought and the full redaction of this public document is not warranted.  Because government is transparent and not permitted to withhold the public's right to know their business if it is being done to hide government malfeasance, these questions of who removed the public fire escape at our police station will be answered and this redaction impediment will not serve to deter.

The Tattler requested the building plans via a Public Records Request two weeks ago and accompanying the document filled with blacked out drawings ordered by Chief Tejada was the following dubious justification:

”The City of Emeryville finds ...under Government Code section 6255(a) and Evidence Code section 1040, public agencies have been able to withhold building plans for a correctional training facility and detention facility from the public on the grounds that individuals may use the information to plan an escape, which would threaten the safety of the communities. Thus, the benefits of non-disclosure outweighed the benefits of disclosure of the building plans for these buildings utilized by law enforcement....”    


  1. Shame on them all—the ones who illegally modified the building and exposed its occupants to risks and the ones who are stonewalling now. Thanks for bringing the latest lapse in professionalism to light.

  2. What the hell? The full redaction is an obvious attempt to keep news damaging to the city from becoming public. And going viral. The prison excuse thing is ridiculous. The police building isn't a prison and the public lobby there isn't secret. The secretive police chief and the city could have redacted only the parts that are sensitive and left the public lobby fire escape for us to see. This is just wrong. A cover up. Please please don't let this stand Emeryville.

    1. I can't speak for everybody in Emeryville but I can speak for the Tattler: We will get to the bottom of this and when we're done, everyone will know how this happened and who is responsible. The public has a right to know how their safety has been put at risk and how public policy has been corrupted at City Hall. Attempts at secrecy over this, insofar as they're doing it, will not end well for the City of Emeryville. You can count on the Tattler to have your back.
      Thanks for commenting.

    2. Agreed. This redact is an obvious police attempt to squelch public inquiry into government misdeeds. As so, it's out of bounds. Out of bounds but typical cop behavior.They think their badges put them above the law. Chief Tejada needs to stop with all the secrecy.

  3. Why would the city give the public and you, arguably the least sane person in Emeryville next to Carpieux, access to the floor plans of the EPD? If the officers had concerns over their ability to exit a building with 3 stairwells, EPOA would be raising a fuss.

    1. Well Mr Anonymous (with the initials of R.A. per chance?), I recommend you not seek public office because you’re displaying a fundamental lack of understanding of democratic governance. In a democracy, the government must treat all citizens as equals, irrespective of, in this case, their mental health. So if a City Hall would give up the people’s building plans to sane persons, they also must then give them up to insane people such as you and I.

      Regarding said plans; we requested only that part of the plans that show the public lobby and the emergency egress provisions (or lack thereof). We accept the other parts of the building, not part of our request, be redacted. By definition, the public lobby is not secret. Any person, including insane people like you and I, can go there any time. The full redaction given in response to our Public Records Request shows a disdain for transparency on the part of the City of Emeryville. Even insane people (or most of them anyway) can appreciate the recklessness if not depravity of a municipality covering up its own ineptitude or malfeasance, as Emeryville almost certainly is doing, by subverting the Public Records Act.

      Please don’t attack Mr Carpiaux anymore. It’s bullying, picking on the elderly like you’re doing. Even if your mental capacities are on the low end of the bell curve and you’re having a difficult time with your judgement as some insane people do, it’s unseemly to bully elderly people.

  4. Insane? It's insane for the City of Emeryville to release the public info that shows how corrupt and incompetent the City is. Why would the government admit they f***ed up? Better to cover that s**t up and use useful idiots to trash talk anyone that asks for accountability.
    Great readers you got there Tattler.

    1. Comments are open to everyone...including "insane" people.

  5. It never ceases to amaze me how lessons can't ever seem to get learned by government. How is it this police chief can think covering this up will turn out well? Did she think the press would not publish a photo of the redacted plans? And how is it she thinks we're fine with her not allowing us to see OUR OWN DOCUMENTS? We know how much money the building official makes from your linked earlier story. The question now is how much does the chief of police make?