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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Breaking News: Council to Name 47th Street 'Steve Dain Drive'

Council Moves to Honor Former Emery Teacher After School District Twice Fails


Breaking (City Hall):
Tonight the City Council moved to change the name of a portion of a street in town after an Emeryville PE teacher that was fired by the Emery Unified School District for “immoral conduct” in 1976 after he had gender confirmation surgery, transitioning to a man.  The unanimous vote  to rename 47th Street between San Pablo Avenue and Doyle Street ‘Steve Dain Drive’, came after the Emery School Board failed to name the school gymnasium honoring Mr Dain last summer following a tumultuous public debate there.  The vote tonight directs the staff to bring the issue back to the Council for the final OK at a future meeting that hasn’t been announced.  Emery High School and the gymnasium are located on 47th Street, a piece of infrastructure owned by the City of Emeryville.

Council member John Bauters was the most animated among his colleagues during tonight’s discussion, stating he found the School Board had “reached a new level of disappointment” and that he was “very unhappy” over their refusal to make amends for the unpropitious firing of the Emery teacher, “terminated for who they were” Mr Bauters said.  However the lone School Board supporter of the naming of the gym to honor Mr Dain last year, Board member Susan Donaldson, expressed support for the renaming of the street in a phoned in comment to the Council tonight.  “I was on the losing side” Board member Donaldson told the Council recalling last year’s School Board retrenchment on the Steve Dain issue, but she praised the Council’s vote to “right this wrong” done by the district to the former Emery teacher.
Former Emery Teacher of the Year Steve Dain
His courage will finally be remembered for all
time with the naming of our street in his honor.

The short section of 47th Street to be renamed has the AC Transit’s bus yard facility and the Emery gym and high school on it, fittingly the same address where Mr Dain was a teacher for ten years.  Notably, during his time at Emery, Mr Dain was elected teacher of the year before he was terminated by the district.  He died in 2007 at the age of 68.
There are no residents or businesses located on the portion of the street to be renamed.

After the school district balked on naming the gymnasium after Steve Dain last year, Board members announced they would seek to honor him in some other unspecified way but they failed to do that, a fact noted by Council member Bauters tonight.  Councilwoman Dianne Martinez raised the issue of Emeryville’s legacy with the renaming of the street, recalling that Steve Dain is “an important part of our history.”
But it was Mayor Christian Patz that seemed to best capture the mood of the Council, “you should be allowed to be who you are” he said as he cast his YES vote.

The City Council will make the vote official at a subsequent meeting followed by a street sign replacement, probably this summer.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Breaking News: Emeryville Police Chief Announces Her Retirement

BREAKING (EPD):
Today, after serving four and a half years on the force, Emeryville’s chief of police Jennifer Tejada, announced she is retiring, effective in mid June the Tattler has learned.  Chief Tejada notified the City Manager, Police Department employees and the City Council of her imminent departure earlier today.   No reasons were offered yet aside from her desire to leave service.  Ms Tejada is 57 years old.  Chief Tejada's short one month notice will necessitate the City of Emeryville to begin searching for a replacement directly.

Chief Tejada was hired in September 2015 after a four and a half month search by the City of Emeryville.  She previously had been the chief of the Sausalito Police Department, having served there for four years.

A controversial chief of police for Emeryville, Ms Tejada instituted a program of “mindfulness”at the department including liberal use of officer yoga.  Sources within the department have told the Tattler over the Chief’s tenure, her managerial style is generally not well received by the rank and file who have complained it has sometimes come at the expense of basic and necessary police work. 
Retiring Police Chief Jennifer Tejada
She made the cover of 'Mindful' Magazine

in 2017.

The Tattler has often been a critic of Chief Tejada’s policing policies, especially her equipping Emeryville beat officers with 'AR-15' assault rifles in their everyday neighborhood rounds and her injecting racist entrees into the Emeryville police blotter released for public consumption.
Ms Tejada insists the rifles in question are not assault weapons, contravening public pronouncements from the State of California and chiefs of police from around the Bay Area, all of whom confirm the rifles now carried by Emeryville police do qualify as assault rifles.
The Chief was told by the City Manager to take down the racist blotter entrees after a Tattler exposé in 2016.  She finally complied after a second Tattler story caused widespread embarrassment at City Hall.

More recently, Ms Tejada was revealed to have failed to alert her officers and technician employees that the Emeryville Police Department is the Emeryville enforcement arm of the mandated Alameda County COVID-19 emergency orders, leaving the rank and file believing the Alameda County Sheriff's Office was the agency tasked with that work.  As reported by the Tattler, an unreported number of Emeryville citizen complainants were mistakenly not assisted and/or deferred to the sheriff's office as a result.

Ms Tejada leaves the Emeryville Police Department after 24 years in police work.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Emery School Board Continues Undemocratic Tradition of Appointing Its Members

Yet Another Appointment to Emery School Board
After Another Elected Trustee Resigns

Emeryville, Meet Your Newest Board Member- 
John Van Geffen; Advocate for Business Interests 
& Foe of the Working Poor 

News Analysis
In his third attempt, local attorney and former City Council candidate John Van Geffen was finally successful this week in securing an appointment to the position of Trustee on the Emery School Board, a governing body that is supposed to be elected by the people of Emeryville.  However due to recurring resignations among Board members, executive appointments to this legislative body here are often the norm.  Also common is the appointing of community members to the Board that have been previously rejected by the voters of Emeryville.  Or in the case of Mr Van Geffen, a candidate that had been previously rejected by the voters AND (twice by) the School Board.  He now takes over the position of former Trustee Sarah Nguyen who resigned earlier in the year.

This week's continuation of Emery's Board of Trustees tradition, manifested by the elevating of Mr Van Geffen, comes after his 2016 City Council bid when he came in last place in a field of six candidates.  The deeply unpopular John Van Geffen was bested by current Board member, appointee Brynnda Collins, who also lost her Council bid in 2016, coming in 5th place in the six candidate field.  Unlike Mr Van Geffen however, Ms Collins actually won a subsequent (2018) School Board bid put to the voters.
Political office aspirants facing voters is the norm in a functioning democracy except here at the Emery Unified School District where Board members commonly resign before their terms are finished.
Third Time's a Charm-
Newly Appointed School Board Member
John Van Geffen

He lost a City Council bid and two previous
attempts to get appointed to the Board.



Newly minted School Board member Van Geffen was a controversial pick for the existing four Board members with his conspicuous ‘limited government’ conservative philosophy and open hostility to Emeryville's popular and progressive minimum wage and 'fair work week' ordinances in his failed City Council bid (see the League of Woman Voters video below).  Whereas Emeryville voters (and previous iterations of the School Board) soundly rejected Mr Van Geffen's attacks on the working poor in the community in 2016, the newest iteration of the Board now see a simpatico fellow traveler they can work with.

The appointment of Mr Van Geffen to the Board of Trustees adds to two existing other appointees currently on the Board.  Not including Board member Collins who was appointed and finally elected,  the Emery Unified School Board now is comprised of only three members whom voters have elected and three that have not been either rejected at the ballot box or appointed to their Board position.  A spare majority of three were selected by the people of the City of Emeryville, a tenuous majoritarian condition given Emery's historic inability to hold onto Board members for their full terms.

Readers may wish to review Mr Van Geffen's presentation in the League of Woman Voters' 2016 City Council candidates' forum in the video below and the Tattler 2016 City Council candidates' questionnaire, in four installments:
#1 HERE
#2 HERE
#3 HERE
#4 HERE