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Sunday, June 30, 2019

Discord Returns to School District: Emery School Board President Calls It Quits

Emery Board "Not Invested in Much Needed Change" Says Departing President

Citing an intractable culture resistant to change, Barbara Inch, formerly of the Emery School Board,  announced Friday in a letter to the Superintendent of the Schools, she has resigned from her position as Board Trustee, effective immediately.  The resignation comes after a difficult three year tenure for Ms Inch who has served as President of the Board over the last seven months.
The dramatic departure represents the culmination of a progressive drive for transformation at the beleaguered little school district and heralds a return to Emery politics as usual before Ms Inch led a would be progressive majority in a Board takeover in 2018.

Former School Board member Inch, who was elected in a 2016 landslide election having garnered more votes than any elected official in Emeryville history, later helped shepherd the progressive majority into office with the subsequent election of Susan Donaldson, Sarah Nguyen and Brynnda Collins to the Board in 2018.  Ms Inch soon ran into trouble however after Brynnda Collins and Sarah Nguyen dropped out of the coalition, showing by their accumulated votes they are not the progressives they claimed to be.  As such, those defections seem to have been the death knell for the progressive agenda at Emery Unified, the ensuing resignation of Ms Inch only serving to solidify that prognosis. 
Former Emery School Board President Barbara Inch
She was elected by more voters than
any elected official in Emeryville history.
But seeking the change for Emery she promised voters,
she couldn't get cooperation from her colleagues.

Notably, the Friday resignation letter sent to the Superintendent came on the heels of a Wednesday night Board rejection of an issue forwarded by Ms Inch; the naming of Emery’s gymnasium.  Ms Inch and community supporters called for naming the gym after former Emery PE coach Steve Dain who was fired in 1977 for transitioning from a woman to a man.  By attempting to name the gym in honor of Mr Dain, who was once voted Emery Teacher of the Year and is now deceased, Ms Inch had been using the bully pulpit as Board President to correct Emery’s 1970’s error and help serve as an inspirational signal that the District has changed and is a tolerant place welcoming to everyone.  The conservative Board majority rallied in reaction however and immediately began searching for a different person to name the gym after, eventually settling on a different past coach who was not a Transgender person and consequently not fired for being a Transgender person.
The Steve Dain issue seems to have served as a final straw for Ms Inch, “After Wednesday, it became clear to me that the majority of the Board was not invested in the much needed change this district so desperately needs.” the former Board member told the Tattler.

The four remaining Board members will appoint a replacement of their choice to take Barbara Inch’s seat until the next election in 2020.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

John Bauters Wags the Dog (Literally)

John Bauters 
is cutting the minimum wage and he 
Saved a Puppy

To 'wag the dog' means to purposely divert attention from what would otherwise be of greater importance, to something else of lesser significance.  By doing so, the lesser-significant event is catapulted into the limelight, drowning proper attention to what was originally the more important issue.  The expression comes from the saying that 'a dog is smarter than its tail', but if the tail were smarter, then the tail would 'wag the dog'.

Opinion
Poor Emeryville City Council member John Bauters.  He touched the third rail in Bay Area politics.  After kicking over a hornets nest, a couple of weeks of very public self inflicted wounds with his plan to cut Emeryville's minimum wage, he's now facing an accountability moment.  He's not taking all the resultant insults lying down however.  Councilman Bauters brought a cute puppy to the fight.

It all started when, taking a leadership role among his colleagues, he tried to cut the Emeryville minimum wage by Council fiat without warning and done so quickly that the Bay Area labor community would be caught unawares.  The issue has instead blown up in his face.  The labor community rapidly formed a coalition with residents to push back against the plan, starting with a city-wide mailer sent to every voting Emeryville household warning them about the planned wage roll back.  Now, Mr Bauters is facing another PR nightmare; his minimum wage cutting scheme has been petitioned for recall by over 850 Emeryville residents.  The successful petition drive means he's going to have to make a new decision; to give up on his plan to roll back the minimum wage or give the decision to Emeryville voters, probably next March.

Most politicians, facing such an onslaught of push back from a constituency he publicly claims allegiance with would attempt to get out in front of the mounting controversy.  Mr Bauters instead is telling us all he recently saved a puppy.

Did you know that?  You could barely miss it.  He's been telling everyone all about it on his most recent blog entry made after the labor/community pushback kicked into high gear.  He rescued the pup from a hot car.  He's got pictures of the dog wagging its tail after it was saved.  Or is it instead the tail wagging the dog?
In the midst of a boatload of self inflicted embarrassing news, his hand now forced by a legally binding petition drive of outraged residents, Mr Bauters is silent on all that.  He's using his City Council blog instead to make everybody know what a hero he is because he saved a puppy.

John Bauters is a really smart guy.  But his response to the blowback, what anybody could have guessed would come as a result of such a public blunder, leaves us baffled.   It's so overt, you have to wonder if he's totally guileless and he screwed up or is he totally calculating and shameless and this is all part of some grand scheme.  What's really wagging here?
Awwww!
Minimum wage cut?  What minimum wage cut?
Look at this instead!

Saturday, June 22, 2019

John Bauters' & Dianne Martinez's High Campaign Contributions Raise Questions

Nexus Between Votes to Cut Minimum Wage/Votes Against Family Housing & Campaign Coffers?

Bauters, Martinez May Be Looking to Expand 
Political Careers Beyond Emeryville

News Analysis
Beginning earlier this spring, Council members John Bauters and Dianne Martinez have been on a tear, working collaboratively to roll back the progressive agenda in Emeryville.  First the two moved to roll back Emeryville's General Plan provisions designed to make housing more family friendly, then they moved to roll back Emeryville’s progressive Minimum Wage Ordinance designed to help the working poor among us.  These two Council members’ attempts at taking down these two central pillars of Emeryville’s progressive framework, represent a curious and abrupt turn around for these self styled progressives. The duel action by these Council members against the progressive Emeryville body politic has drawn ire and concern from citizens and labor groups, some of whom are pointing to evidence the two may be looking to start up respective campaigns for higher political office outside of Emeryville, a charge neither has publicly confirmed or denied.  This shifting to the right could represent the first inklings by these two Emeryville politicians of the classic 'pivot to the center' political tactic well trodden by progressive politicians.

Mr Bauters, elected in 2016, who arrived on the Council after the landmark Minimum Wage Ordinance (MWO) took effect as well as the family housing unit mix regulations (both enacted in 2015) has shown us that he considers Emeryville too progressive, at least on these two fronts.  Ms Martinez, now in her second term, is also is showing us she considers Emeryville as too progressive but her advocacy in rolling back the progressive agenda, reveals a change of heart.  The Councilwoman, first voted into office in 2014, personally voted for both the MWO and the family housing unit mix during her first term.
Both these legislative votes at the Council were unanimous, it should be noted.


Emeryville City Council Members'
Political Contributions and Cash on Hand (in dollars)

From most recent Form 460s

The three on the left voted to cut minimum wage workers' pay.
The two on the right voted to save Emeryville's
Minimum Wage Ordinance and protect working poor families.

Is Mr Bauters headed next to the State Senate race? 
Perhaps Ms Martinez too or someplace comparable?
Both these 2015 Council led directives are being vigorously pushed back against by the business community.  The developer of the proposed 700’ Onni apartment tower on Christie Avenue has indicated he is unwilling to provide the family housing Emeryville’s law dictates for his project and he is now seeking relief by Council fiat.  The restaurant owners in town are nearly united against the Minimum Wage Ordinance and they too are seeking relief by City Council intervention.

Rumors have been swirling that these two Council members, who’s voting records have taken a turn towards helping the business community could be setting themselves up for their respective futures in politics.  A check of their Form 460 political campaign records of monetary contributions and cash on hand hints there may be something to the rumors.  John Bauters, the most vocal of the two in mounting anti-progressive policy and rhetoric shows a campaign war chest of $25,399.46 cash on hand as of January and Dianne Martinez shows a total of $12,723 in monetary contributions.  By contrast and taking up the rear, Vice Mayor Christian Patz, who has most vigorously defended family housing and the wages of the working poor against the attacks by Mr Bauters and Ms Martinez, shows $753.17 in his campaign coffers while Mayor Medina, who also voted NO to rolling back the MWO, has just $79 available.  Mr Patz, on a side note, won election to the City Council after raising only about $8300, the lowest by any Council member seeking election in recent history.

The Tattler will continue to follow the suspicious nexus between campaign funding and policy that benefits developer and business interests.  We expect to see these funding numbers change as these proposed policy changes grow more pressing.  Watch this space.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Labor Group Identifies Councilman Bauters as "Leader" in Minimum Wage Roll Back Scheme

The labor/community coalition known as East Bay Working Families is really turning up the heat on the City Council majority that recently voted to roll back Emeryville's Minimum Wage Ordinance.  The labor coalition is working to restore the ordinance and they have focused their ire against Council members Dianne Martinez, Scott Donahue and especially John Bauters, whom the group sees as the leader in the scheme to cut the wages of the lowest paid workers in Emeryville.  To that end, 8 1/2 x 11" glossy full color fliers on heavy card stock are being sent to Emeryville voters' homes (see below) in addition to the earlier reported city-wide ballot initiative petition the group has begun.  It would appear Mr Bauters and his two colleagues have poked a hornet's nest by this action against the working poor in our community.


Saturday, June 8, 2019

Labor Group Starts Petition Drive to Defend Emeryville's Minimum Wage Ordinance

Bauters, Martinez & Donahue Face Petition Defending Minimum Wage

Labor Across County United Against Three Council Members

A coalition of labor and community groups known as East Bay Working Families has begun a ballot initiative petition drive in response to a recent City Council move to roll back Emeryville’s Minimum Wage Ordinance.  The coalition partners refer to the targeted minimum wage ruling made at the May 29th Council meeting as a “corporate minimum wage loophole” that cuts the wages of restaurant workers in town.  The newly amended legislation, forwarded by Council members John Bauters and Dianne Martinez, provides a carve-out in the existing law meant to protect all workers’ wages, specifically cutting the wages of workers in restaurants with up to 55 employees in Emeryville, including chains with up to 20 locations globally.  The vote to roll back the wages of restaurant workers ended when holdout Council member Donahue joined the two progenitors to the action, leaving Mayor Ally Medina and Vice Mayor Christian Patz in the minority.

From the East Bay Working Families
anti anti-minimum wage campaign

Emeryville's three Council wage cutters are identified by name.
Sent out to 135,000 union members.
 
The petition now circulating around town, needs to show 661 legitimate signatures of Emeryville registered voters in order for the ballot initiative to be successful, a number a spokesperson for East Bay Working Families predicts will be relatively easy.  “We’re on track and we hope to get 1000” Liz Ortega, Executive Secretary of the Alameda County Labor Council told the Tattler, “we feel comfortable we’ll get it” she added.  The group claims they had obtained more than 200 signatures only two days after they began their drive, an indication that Emeryville’s minimum wage is popular with Emeryville citizens.

Many Emeryville residents joined East Bay Working Families in decrying the May 29th roll back decision, noting that the City Council had only heard from business owners in town.  A business survey conducted nine months before the May 29th vote did not include any findings about or opinions from workers themselves, a fact that is driving criticism of the harried May 29th vote by the Council. Gary Jimenez, a regional vice president with SEIU 1021 noted City Hall’s fact finding asymmetry, “This poorly drafted legislation was written without input from the workers or the community and it shows” he said.  The lopsided ‘business only’ testimony brought denunciations against the two Council members, especially John Bauters whom Working Families has reserved special condemnation, “Is Emeryville turning into ‘Trumpville’? asked Ms Ortega.  She called out Mr Bauters specifically for his attack on the lowest paid workers in town, “Is it Trumpville when we have a councilman like John Bauters leading the charge to cut wages of the working poor?”  She called his action, “very disappointing”.

The new Emeryville legislation freezes wages for the restaurant workers now and allows for small increases over the next eight years when their wage will finally catch up to other minimum wage earners in town.  The workers will have a July 1st expected raise of $1.30 snatched away from them by the Council's action.

That the attack on Emeryville’s landmark Minimum Wage Ordinance came from its former City Council backers, John Bauters, Dianne Martinez and Scott Donahue, came as a surprise to labor leaders, “Frankly, we expected something like this from the business community” a member of Working Families who wished anonymity told the Tattler, “…not from the [air quotes] progressive Emeryville City Council” he added.  Other labor leaders added their disapprovals; “Adding a flawed loophole to the minimum wage doesn’t reflect [Emeryville’s] values and is fundamentally unfair” said Kate O’Hara, Executive Director of the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, a group that helped write the Minimum Wage Ordinance in 2015.  Liz Ortega from the Alameda County Labor Council agreed adding, “One job should be enough to support a family and pay the bills.  The minimum wage in Emeryville is fair and we should not be giving exemptions to restaurant chains” she said.

Working Families, who represent 135,000 labor union members in Alameda County, will have 30 days to gather at least 661 signatures and if they are successful, the City Council must either repeal the restaurant rider to the ordinance or put it before voters, probably this November.

More information on EBWF's protect Emeryville's minimum wage campaign can be found HERE.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Councilman's Impassioned Soliloquy Foretells Less Guarded Speech at Council Chambers

Mr Bauters Crosses the 'Shit' Rubicon

Opinion
It came during a fervent verbal presentation by Council member John Bauters at the Council chambers Tuesday night; two utterances of the word "shit", resolutely affirmed and meant to underscore how impassioned he was on the topic at hand.  And what 'it' is, foretells an augmented and freer banter at the people's hall, citizens and their elected representatives speaking in a more colloquial, less constrained manner.

It seems like a new day.  Not in 37 years have we heard such language from an Emeryville City Council member in the Council chambers, cameras running.  A major deviation from the heretofore unspoken agreement proscribing such colorful vernaculars, Mr Bauters crossed the 'shit' Rubicon Tuesday night, inviting Emeryville residents to join him on the other side.
It's a position we'll gladly take on.
Council Member John Bauters
Fucking brilliant!

We have always only reluctantly signed on to the tacit understanding that the people's hall should be an evanescent and lofty place where everyday parlance is not raised enough and that citizens need to throw over their natural exuberant language, a cloak of Victorian bourgeois sensibilities.  The public commons have always been a contested place who's defense practically begs for such rakish and spritely speech.   And the new day that now beckons in Emeryville means we will not have to be so guarded as we speak our minds freely in our own hall.

The new decorum makes room for a better and more satisfying kind of admonishment at City Hall as citizens will now ask their City Council, "What the fuck?" and "What kind of shit is THIS?"; a vast improvement over the former, "I wish you wouldn't engage in this public policy..." or some other kind of weak shit like that.
Punctuated expletives aside, naysayers to the new courser polity in the Council chambers can rest assured; the people's hall remains the people's hall, democratic inclusiveness is unchanged by Mr Bauters' invitation to free speech.  Perhaps it's even strengthened.
And we say that's not a shitshow, rather, it's fucking awesome!