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Sunday, February 14, 2021

March 5th, 47th Street to Transition to Steve Dain Drive

 City Honors Fired Transgender Teacher After Emery School District Balks 

Introducing Steve Dain Drive

School Board Digs In Its Heels Against Honoring Its Fired Teacher


The City of Emeryville has announced it will officially change the name of 47th Street to Steve Dain Drive on March 5th when employees from the public works department add the new signs to the existing street sign posts.  Both the old street name and the new name will be posted for a period of 18 months the City reports but they will start calling the street by its new name in March.  Only the portion of 47th Street West of San Pablo Avenue will get the name change.  

In an announcement made last May, the City took on the task of honoring the late Steve Dain, a teacher at Emery Unified School District who was fired by the district in 1976 after he surgically transitioned from a woman to a man.  City Council members expressed anguish that Emery School Board members had stopped a grassroots drive last year to honor the teacher the district had fired for “immorality” and it was suggested the City could act on its own by renaming the street, correcting the historic wrong. 

The district’s high school is located on the future Steve Dain Drive, the same school where Mr Dain taught 45 years ago.  The AC Transit bus yard is the only other entity that will have a Steve Dain Drive address.
School Board President
Brynnda Collins

Refuses to comment regarding
the district's role in the
firing of its transgender teacher
for "immorality".


The City Council took over the job of acknowledging Mr Dain after the School Board reversed themselves upon having made an initial move towards naming their newly remodeled gym for the fired teacher.  Since then the Board has reneged on a plan to pass an official resolution apologizing for firing the teacher who had once been awarded the title of teacher of the year at Emery.  Notably, the Board’s refusal to acknowledge the wrong done against Mr Dain by the district comes at the same time they have been honing their public message of "inclusionary equity".

The City has not announced plans for any official March celebration associated with the name change but there is talk of a street closing block party perhaps in the fall of 2021, depending on the status of the COVID pandemic by then.

Both AC Transit and Emery Unified School District have been notified of the impending renaming of the street City officials said.

School Board president Brynnda Collins and Superintendent of the Schools Quiauna Scott were both contacted to comment on the refusal of the district to account for the firing of Steve Dain and its failure to apologize but both leaders refused to respond.  

Monday, January 11, 2021

"Hyper-Local" Emeryville Blogger Rob Arias Purchased Home in Pleasant Hill in 2019, May Be Forced to Sell His Home Here

 Emeryville Booster/Blog Editor Reportedly Moved Out of Town in 2019

Possible Violations Against City's Affordable Housing Program

Editor Rob Arias Tells His Readers He Still Lives in Emeryville


The self styled 'voice of the community' hasn't
been seen in the community for quite some time.

Emeryville blogger, local booster and political pundit Robert Arias, apparently moved to Pleasant Hill nearly two years ago.  A move would tend to undermine Mr Arias' public positioning as the voice of the Emeryville community, if he's sleeping each night in another county.  The move would also have real consequences.  Mr Arias may have violated stipulations in an Emeryville affordable housing program by apparently retaining possession of one of City Hall's few subsidized units, if the Park Avenue unit in question is no longer his primary residence.

The Tattler learned Mr Arias apparently jumped ship in 2019, closing escrow on an 1,163 square foot, two story home with two bedrooms and two baths, in May, according to public records, in the Contra Costa County community.  At the same time, he has apparently retained his Emeryville unit, purchased (in 2003) through the City's Below-Market-Rate affordable housing program, rather than selling it to a qualifying buyer or obtaining a waiver as the housing program requires. 

Having built a fairly successful, heavily monetized web presence in Emeryville, offering generally positive coverage- the digital equivalent of an old time small town newspaper’s proud, if boosterish coverage, Mr Arias hasn't volunteered anything publicly on his E'Ville Eye about any move 30 miles to the east.


The E'Ville Eye editor purchased this
Pleasant Hill home in May 2019.  
According to Emeryville’s low income housing assistance regulations, BMR owners must live in their units as a ‘primary residence’ for at least 10 months per year.  Living elsewhere represents a breach of contract.  Renting out a BMR unit is also a violation, though it is unclear that this has occurred. The program requires the sale of units to applicants meeting the city's income guidelines, (just as Mr Arias had in 2003) after the owner relocates.  The goal being having a supply, albeit a small one, of affordable housing for purchase in Emeryville. 

BMR unit owners, even though they receive assistance in the initial purchase, are allowed to realize property value gains over the tenure of their occupancy.  By law, Mr Arias would be allowed to keep 20% of the sale price above his initial investment.  Being across the street from the long-planned ten-acre, 500-unit, Sherwin-Williams development and new public park now under construction, Mr Arias’ unit has likely increased in value in recent months, a windfall he will be able to realize the longer he holds the unit.

This story will continue to evolve as new facts are revealed and we will report as our investigation continues.

Mr Arias declined to comment for this story.  

Rob continues to tell his readers he lives in Emeryville.  If the City's housing assistance director finds he has defrauded City Hall's BMR program, Mr Arias will be forced to sell his unit.  Bio pulled from his E'Ville Eye this week.


Thursday, December 31, 2020

Nora Davis Revisionism Runs Rampant

It's Set to Be Nora Davis This and Nora Davis That in Emeryville in 2021

Never Mind She Didn't Approve of Any of This Stuff

They're Now Crediting Her With

After her passing in 2020, revisionists look to redefine the former 
Councilwoman as something she was not.

Opinion

Following former City Councilwoman Nora Davis’ passing in August 2020, there’s a movement among some in town to name a host of Emeryville public works after the long time Council veteran.  At least three such public works and one private building are being considered for recognition of the former Councilwoman: Nora Davis Station (the Emeryville Amtrak station), Nora Davis Park (Doyle Hollis Park), Nora Davis Senior Center (the Emeryville Senior Center) and Nora Davis Bridge (the South Bayfront Bridge).  This is a terrible idea for Emeryville moving forward and we urge the City Council to reject these name changings that would, in effect, re-write history as they attempt to recognize the Councilwoman’s 29 year long tenure on the Council.

Nora Davis or Fred Koramatsu Bike/Ped Bridge 
One fought against bikes on this bridge
the other fought against racism and for human dignity.
We understand conservatives in our town are lamenting the loss of paradigmatic power they had at City Hall when Councilwoman Davis ran the show but it would be a mistake to use the commons to now pay homage to this person who’s values are decidedly not representative of the Emeryville community today (if they ever were).  Further,  Ms Davis actually worked AGAINST two of the works now being considered to be named after her; Doyle Hollis Park and the South Bayfront Pedestrian/Bike Bridge. 

Consider how Emeryville values are subverted by Councilwoman Nora Davis’ 29 year record (partial list):

-  As Mayor, she lobbied to build a parking structure on the site of the Doyle Hollis Park, working actively against the park idea.

-  While accepting a South Bayfront pedestrian bridge be constructed, Council member Davis advocated against designing it for bicycle use.

-  She voted against implementation of Emeryville’s democratically vetted Pedestrian/Bicycle Plan.

 -  Councilwoman Davis worked against the Minimum Wage Ordinance and even against an earlier plan to increase hotel workers’ wages to $9 per hour claiming it would destroy Emeryville’s hospitality industry.

-  She lobbied against bike/ped paths, claiming without evidence, one proposed at the Center of Community Life would bring “gang rapes” and another mid-block path proposal in the Triangle neighborhood, opining “Triangle neighbors need more exercise”.

-  Ms Davis voted to close down the Emeryville Child Development Center and to privatize it, claiming “We can’t afford it”.

-  She voted in favor of every developer proposal put before her that called for demolishing historically/architecturally significant buildings, leaving the town bereft of these buildings our General Plan had sought to preserve.

-  Ms Davis worked on behalf of the business community, directing public monies to the furtherance of private enterprise as a routine manner, proudly claiming many times, 'Emeryville’s interests are business interests' from the dais.

-  Council member Davis' voting record was a perfect 100% in favor of developer’s initial proposals for housing projects, against negotiating for more family friendly and affordable housing units.

The City of Emeryville will have nothing to say about the renaming of the Amtrak Station after Nora Davis because that building is owned by Wareham Development Corporation.  We understand Wareham CEO Rich Robbins received lots of public largess over the years, monies directed his way by his friend on the City Council, Nora Davis.  We understand the soft spot Ms Davis occupies in Mr Robbins’ heart.  So we recognize Nora Davis Station is likely a done deal for that property owned by Mr Robbins but City owned properties are another matter entirely. It is unseemly at best for the Council to move forward on any of these re-naming proposals.

Nora Davis or Sylvia McLaughlin Park 
At least Sylvia liked parks.

We understand the proclivity for elected officials to recognize when a departed fellow public official had remained on the job for a long time.  But using that metric, why wouldn’t the City Council name these public works after those who stayed in public employ even longer than Ms Davis?  Why wouldn’t the City name these public works after for instance the LaCoste family, who’s members, Al and John served on the City Council, as Mayor and Chief of Police for more than 50 years?  Does it matter these public officials were known corrupt public personages? If this City Council feels that public corruption should serve as a barrier against the honoring by so naming public works, why shouldn’t disloyalty to professed Emeryville values also then serve as a barrier?

If this City Council feels an urge to re-name the South Bayfront Bridge or Doyle Hollis Park or the Emeryville Senior Center, we recommend they honor a previous grand civic tradition for naming public works after great civil rights leaders or environmental leaders.  How about let’s name these public properties after people who actually reflect our values?  May we suggest Fannie Lou Hamer Bridge, Judi Bari Park and the Maggie Kuhn Senior Center?  Or we can keep it more local: the Fred Korematsu Bridge, Sylvia McLaughlin Park and the Bullet Marasigan Senior Center.  Against these luminaries, those who actually worked to increase justice and promote the public commons, Nora Davis just sort of fades.  Maybe it’s because Nora Davis actively disliked some of the things her boosters now want to name after her.  Perhaps the City Council, under pressure from these boosters, will have real empathy towards the former Councilwoman and leave her out of this.  After all, posthumously would you want to be named after something you hated while you were alive?

Nora Davis or Bullet Marasigan Senior Center
One worked for the business community
the other worked for the dispossessed elderly.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Emeryville: Where a Door is Not a Door


Door  \ dȯr \   noun

1: A hinged or otherwise movable barrier that allows ingress into and egress from an enclosure.

Emeryville Door \ ˈem-rē vil  dȯr \  noun

1: A barrier resembling a door that blocks ingress into and egress from an enclosure.


News Analysis
There’s a corporate entity in Emeryville more powerful than the City of Emeryville and the Alameda County Fire Department combined.  This is a nation-wide corporation with a local Emeryville profit center address that has the power to redefine English words in order to retroactively make signed contracts work to their benefit.  They even have the power to unilaterally re-write the fire code to make it align with their desires to increase profits (for more than 72 fiscal quarters so far).  What corporation is this?  It's CVS Pharmacy, America's ubiquitous and seemingly innocuous strip mall chain fixture.  In the world of corporate malfeasance, CVS ranks with the best of them; from illegally peddling oxycontin, to bribery of elected officials, to wholesale customer medical record HIPAA violations, CVS is a classic corporate bad actor.  
Here at their Emeryville unit, the malfeasance is more pedestrian, so to speak.  Here, it’s all about their fire exit doors.  CVS doesn’t like the doors, so they’re not allowing it, regardless of their contractual agreement with the City of Emeryville’s Planning Department or the dictates of the California Fire Code and its enforcers at the Alameda County Fire Department.  Full stop.
Permanently Locked Fire Exit Doors
On one side, a sign says "Emergency Exit"
and the other side says "Bitch".
One was put up by the Alameda County Fire Department,
the other possibly by a graffiti artist.  Or maybe
both signs were placed by the Fire Department.  



Back in 2002, when the building at 4349 San Pablo Avenue was built, the previous owner, the now defunct Longs Drugs (subsumed by CVS in 2008), agreed to place doors on the sidewalk to assuage an Emeryville General Plan dictate that requires retail businesses on that street to follow an urban design guideline meant to activate the pedestrian sidewalks.  But Longs and the new masters, CVS, prefer a suburban strip mall model for their stores with a parking lot out front and doors there.  That model ran headlong into the General Plan with its urban model.  So the pharmacy simply signed the agreement and immediately proceeded to close off the doors, rendering them inoperable.  Customers use the parking lot doors, making the Emeryville unit in the style of their preferred strip mall suburban model despite initial objections from Emeryville.  

Complaints against the CVS doors over the years have gotten nowhere because the corporate giant simply ignores pleas from the City of Emeryville and orders from the Alameda County Fire Department.  Charlie Bryant, the Planning Director of the City of Emeryville has since given up asking CVS to honor their agreement and he now fully takes the position that the doors need not be operational for the corporation to be in compliance.  Mr Bryant has not seen fit to answer to the definition of the common English word “door” that is explicit in its insistence that a person be able to pass through one for it to qualify.  Resemblance to a door is good enough.
  
Over at the Alameda County Fire Department, they’re not so blatant in siding with CVS, rather they simply aren’t enforcing the ongoing fire code violation.  Citizen complaint driven rather than fire concern driven,  ACFD keeps issuing orders to keep the doors open but CVS keeps ignoring the orders.  Interestingly, a while back, the ACFD put up an “Emergency Exit” sign on the outside to keep homeless people from blocking the doors.  But inside, the exit is still blocked by CVS with merchandise and a permanently closed heavy steel roll down door.

These are just a couple of doors.  Why is our government so flummoxed by this?  Why can’t this easy problem just be taken care of?  Is our government really this hapless?  These doors, meant to enliven the San Pablo Avenue sidewalk and to keep people safe in the event of a fire, can be seen as a metaphor for the general state of societal dysfunction over the last couple of decades where governance over the public commons has increasingly played deference to private corporations that are untouchable in their monarchal power.  This corporation doesn’t want these doors so they’re not going to open them.  Eighteen years in, that’s obviously the end of the discussion.  Still, we like to imagine a bygone time when the Alameda County Fire Department worked to keep the public safe from fire and when the City of Emeryville, likewise burdened with the people’s business, were unconcerned with a private corporation’s pecuniary interests regardless how many billions in assets it might have.

The latest order from the Alameda County Fire Department.
Every so often the Emeryville CVS Pharmacy gets one of these orders. 
The corporation promptly puts them in 'File 13' and goes about its business.
Maybe the Fire Department thinks the scary red ink is helping.

Friday, December 25, 2020

New Chief of Police Named

Former BART Deputy Chief to be 

Emeryville Top Cop

Jeffery Jennings moves from BART
brass to Emeryville Chief of Police
Breaking News

BART Deputy Chief Jeffery Jennings will be sworn in as Emeryville’s new Chief of Police in an event on Monday the City announced.  Deputy Jennings follows interim Chief Robert Schreeder who was appointed in June as the City searched for a new permanent Chief.  Outgoing Deputy Chief Jennings has 26 years of law enforcement experience which began at the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department where he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant before he became part of the BART top brass.  

Mr Jennings attended San Francisco State University and completed his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at CSU Sacramento.  He earned a graduate degree with a Master’s in Public Administration from Golden Gate University.

Deputy Chief Jennings found himself embroiled in controversy in 2016 when he defended fellow BART officers in San Francisco who punched a man already in handcuffs in front of scores of witnesses, at least one of whom recorded the altercation.  After police charged the man with battery as a result of spitting at them in addition to the original charge, Public Defender Jeff Adachi called for prosecutors to drop the remaining counts, saying his client did nothing wrong.“It’s really an example of what’s wrong with our system. The system run amok,” Mr Adachi said.  Chief Jennings earned the enmity of San Francisco cop watchers when he said the punch was a “tactical distraction blow” and nothing criminal.  

In 2017, then acting as temporary BART chief of police, Mr Jennings opposed a citizen oversight watchdog committee set up in the wake of the infamous BART Oscar Grant shooting.  The committee had proposed new standards for use of force requiring officers to use only the minimum amount of force necessary to make arrests. 

Mr Jeffery Jennings will command an Emeryville police force in transition as the City Council joins with citizens demanding more accountability after the shooting of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.  

Sunday, December 20, 2020

South Bayfront Ped/Bike Bridge Spans Railroad Tracks

Some 37 years after it was first proposed, a bridge for pedestrians (and bicycles) has finally spanned the railroad tracks between Powell and 40th streets in Emeryville.  At 11:15 Saturday night, a crane lifted the red steel pre-built arch over the tracks while workers busily fastened it down on both the east and west anchorages.  The next several months will bring completion of the ancillary approaches and other finishes.  Pedestrians and bicyclists will be able cross the completed span in summer of 2021.

The elevator at the pedestrian bridge
at the Amtrak Station was out of 
service again Saturday.
The new bridge, called the South Bayfront Ped/Bike Bridge will connect the Bay Street Mall with east Emeryville and get the City just a little bit closer to realizing its long standing General Plan shibboleth of Emeryville being ‘a connected place’.

As if by design to serve as a counterpoint, the elevator at the Amtrak Station pedestrian bridge that also spans the railroad tracks was out again on Saturday, a perennial frustration that has helped spur the new bridge. 

 The South Bayfront bridge has gone through a very tortured path over the years to finally get to this point.  Its first iteration, proposed by then City Manager Joe Tanner was a modest crossing only for pedestrians with stairs and elevators at either end.  Later, in 2005, a bicycle contingent led by soon-to-be-elected City Councilman John Fricke said any bridge built there must include bicycles.  Pushback against Mr Fricke’s bike friendly bridge idea came from the next City Manager, John Flores, who said bicyclists represented a “ruffian element” and that the bridge design should preclude bikes because bicyclists could use it as an escape route from crimes.  Luckily, Mr Flores’ argument didn’t win the day and after a selection process, the new design allowing for bike riders became the final plan.   As late as 2011, it appeared the bridge would never be completed after the State attempted to seize money set aside by the Emeryville Redevelopment Agency.  

After the City passed on an ambitious plan by the Emeryville based visionary architect/designer Eugene Tssui, the final design of the pedestrian/bike bridge has been called ‘pedestrian in use and design' in the sense that it lacks excitement or innovation.  It may not be too beautiful but it's certainly a long overdue stitching together of railroad divided east and west Emeryville.


A train roared past minutes before the crane began lifting the span into place.





It was all finished up by 12:30 AM.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Mayor Christian Patz, Lacking Leadership and Drive Gets a D+

Mayor Christian Patz



Continuing our tradition of looking back on each year-long mayorship of the rotating Emeryville City Council members/cum mayors, with Christian Patz now moving aside to make way for Dianne Martinez, we take this opportunity to look back on Mayor Patz’s shambolic tenure as Emeryville's highest elected official.  This year, the Tattler adds a new feature to these mayoral wrap-ups; the assignment of letter grades for each mayor—and to that end, we report Christian Patz has received a disappointing D+ for his efforts as our mayor.

Opinion

The most noteworthy aspect of Emeryville's mayor Christian Patz was his lack of energy and lack of follow through.  

Emeryville 2020 Mayor
Christian Patz 
Each mayor tends to assign for themselves some scope of work that can fairly be described as their signature issue.  Usually, it's introduced and brought to fruition during their year long term.  For Mr Patz, the defining issue of his term as mayor was the renaming of 47th Street after Steve Dain, a former teacher-of-the-year who was subsequently fired in 1977 by Emery Unified School District for being a transgender person.  But after introducing early in his term, the idea to rename the street to honor the teacher specifically and inclusivity in general, Mr Patz seemed to lose interest in the issue and he failed to follow through.  It was a noble thing Mr Patz proposed, but after Transgender Awareness Week and then the Transgender Day of Remembrance quietly passed in the weeks before his term as mayor ended, it became clear Mayor Patz had no intention to follow through with his own good idea. 

An item Mayor Patz had a hand in that actually got done was last March’s Measure F, a quarter cent sales tax passed by Emeryville voters that will help fund the Emeryville police department's quest to hire more officers as well as pay to hire a new staff member at City Hall to operate code enforcement.  Mr Patz, who was a strong supporter of the tax increase, cast himself as the leader in the push for the measure.  To the mayor's chagrin, this election victory came right before the very public murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department in May, making for terrible public policy optics if not demonstrable furtherance of the police culture dystopia. 

Beyond these two issues, one squandered and the other feckless, Mayor Patz's record was one of mostly ignoring problems.  Below is the roster of shame:

-Mayor Patz didn’t deliver a public library or even start to explore the building an Emeryville library after he officially placed this task as one of the top ten 2020 priorities for the City Council at the beginning of his term.  

-He refused to implement traffic calming for the 45th & 53rd street bike boulevards as required by the City’s Bike Plan.  He even refused on his watch, to conduct a traffic count for all bike boulevards as the City is supposed to do, once every two years so we can know how bad it is for bicyclists.  

-He refused to call out Lennar Development before the Council to explain their misdeeds after a high level Department of Toxic Substance Control whistleblower revealed a regime of cheating the cleanup at the Sherwin Williams toxic soil clean up site on Horton Street.

-Mr Patz failed to act on Emeryville’s deplorable lack of public parks, the worst of any East Bay city.  Regardless that the General Plan calls for three acres of park for every 1000 new residents, Mayor Patz couldn’t be bothered to do anything about this emerging quality of life concern for Emeryville residents.  Incidentally, the plan, if followed, would move Emeryville from the worst to the second worse East Bay city for parks in ten years.  

 -Not big on accountability and sloppy with records, the Mayor missed his FPPC campaign filing deadlines, making it impossible for citizens to see who funded his political campaigns.

-More recently, the Mayor has sat by idly and unconcernedly as City Hall has implemented a policy shift, weakening it’s duty to enforce COVID-19 mask wearing regulations.  The staff has relaxed the enforcement protocols for developers and their construction workers who are supposed to be wearing masks.  But Mayor Patz has not joined with citizens asking why the City would lower the safety guidelines even as the virus has been exploding in the community.

-He is thin skinned and cannot countenance citizens criticizing his job performance as mayor.  He has acted in a childish and impetuous manner, lashing out at citizen critics asking for accountability.

Christian Patz has served as the source of levity on the Council, using his position to offer up rations of bad puns, funny asides and humorous anecdotes.  These make for more enjoyable meetings to be sure.  He seems good natured (except when he feels attacked) but the most salient thing about Mr Patz as our mayor overall was his simple laziness.  He didn’t really put in any effort to get anything done, the pro-cop Measure F notwithstanding.

We may be a bit harsh with regards to Mayor Patz and his inaction on parks in the bullet point list above.  While it is true he did not taken action to implement the General Plan's park dictates, in his defense, neither have any other City Council members.  But as we look back, we remember what citizen Patz gallingly said about bike boulevards in 2016 when he was asking for our votes.  He made this specific campaign promise: “What makes a Bike Boulevard is more than just Vehicle Trips per Day (VTD), it has more to do with optimizing bike traffic.  As VTD approach and surpass 3000, more separation between bikes and cars should occur.  Ideally, this would be done by reducing and diverting traffic, but can also be achieved by dedicated and protected lanes.”  Christian Patz ignored this subject utterly both as our City Council member over three years and as our Mayor over the last year.  And for that, plus the litany of failed policy highlighted, we give Mayor Patz a D+ (and we’re being generous).

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Emeryville Reverses Course on COVID Mask Policy

Public Mask Wearing Order Policy Thrown Over to Private Sector

City Hall Places Public Health Trust With Private Developers 

No More Surprise Inspection Visits From the City

News Analysis

The City of Emeryville has initiated a new COVID policy that claims to punish contractors at construction sites in the city for their workers not wearing masks—but only if they get caught—and they won’t get caught because the City will only check for compliance during regularly scheduled construction inspections.  The contractors will be fined $188 if their workers are not obeying the Alameda County mask order but, absurdly, they know exactly when the City inspectors will be coming to their job sites so workers can quickly slip on their masks during the inspection thus avoiding both the fine and public health policy capacity.  How’s that for effective public health policy during a deadly pandemic?  It’s like if the police gave warning to crack house squatters that they’ll be breaking down the doors next Thursday at noon to look for crack and make arrests.  Think there’ll be any narcotics to be found at the crack house next Thursday? 

This ridiculous situation is where Emeryville City Hall is in the fall of 2020 with COVID-19 raging through the population.  It represents a regulatory relaxing of deterrence against rule breakers.  The new COVID policy replaces former policy from last April when the City didn’t give warnings before they came to check on mask wearing compliance at construction sites in town. 

With Americans’ expectations of general dysfunction or even uselessness from their government the new norm, Emeryville’s new public health policy in the face of an exploding pandemic is notably feckless and reckless.  It is after all the preeminent role of any government to protect the health and welfare of the people.  Maxims aside, the COVID policy we’re getting in Emeryville is inverse to the threat level the deadly virus poses. 

Emeryville City Manager
Christine Daniel

 'Emeryville COVID policy
should be relaxed as the 
virus explodes exponentially.'
When the pandemic first took hold last April, Emeryville formulated an effective response to the Alameda County mask wearing order it is charged with enforcing.  Citizen complaints registered with City Hall against workers seen not wearing masks at any of the construction job sites in town would draw a surprise visit from a City of Emeryville building inspector.  Violators were given warnings at first but the City formulated a program of increasing punishments against wayward building contractors.  This policy has been replaced this fall with a new policy where, after receiving a citizen complaint, the City will not send a surprise visit from a building inspector.  Instead, building inspectors have been directed to notice if any workers are not wearing masks at the job sites during regularly scheduled calls for inspection services.  The calls for inspection it should be noted, come from the contractors themselves.

The City’s first iteration of mask wearing compliance at job sites allowed the contractor to mete out punishment against the workers with promises from at least one contractor to the City that offending workers employees would face employment termination.  A public records request revealed that the contractor at the Sherwin Williams building site on Horton Street had violated the County mask order in late August with a City building inspector recording in his report from his surprise visit he saw “12 individuals without masks on.  Four of these individuals were within 6 feet of another worker.”  No workers were reported terminated for that violation nor were any for violations called in after that initial contact by the City.


A new policy without such surprise visits from City inspectors arose sometime after an early September flurry of violations, primarily at the Sherwin Williams site and with some recorded at the “Intersection” site (AKA the Maz Project) on San Pablo Avenue at Adeline Street.  The new policy was clarified by City Manager Christine Daniel who told the Tattler Wednesday, “The City’s building inspectors continue to remind contractors about the requirements and will cease an inspection if proper [mask wearing] practices are not being followed.” 

The new policy, unsurprisingly, is less effective at catching violators at the job sites.  The employees of the contractors are now all wearing masks having been forewarned when the inspectors are arriving at the sites but subcontractors, who aren’t at the site every day have been problematic as it turns out.  The subcontractors apparently aren’t getting sufficient forewarning from the contractors and are consequently getting caught by City inspectors.

The City has stopped relying on the contractors to terminate offending employees, a relic from the first COVID mask wearing policy and now the punishment leveraged against contractors is that the inspectors will leave a site if any workers are seen not wearing masks.  City Manager Daniel reported to the Tattler on Wednesday,  “As recently as Monday of last week an inspection was terminated, a correction notice issued and the contractor was requested to notify all sub-contractors to review the importance of compliance with the County Health Officer Orders.”  The fee for rescheduling an inspection is $188, an amount so low that it can be easily absorbed as a cost of doing business for any large project in town.

So the new policy from City Hall is not effective according to the City itself.  The former policy had a mechanism to catch violators but lacked effective punishment and the new policy is ineffective with regard to both catching and punishing violators.  The result is worksites without workers wearing masks continuously happening in Emeryville since last April.  

Emeryville is not interested in doing what it takes to satisfy the Alameda County mask order and therefore not interested in helping to stop viral infections, even as cases spiral in our community.  This is not an opinion.  This is demonstrably true, using the City’s own records.  This story is not an editorial or an opinion piece. 

The City Manager failed to explain when and why the City’s new COVID policy was enacted, only that it had been implemented.


$188: Not Much of a Punishment
Letter from the contractor to sub-contractors at 'The Intersection' project.
This violation cost the contractor $188 in a project that will run 
more than $50 million.  The workers don't want to wear masks and neither the
contractor nor the City wants to force them.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

City/School District Fails on Acknowledgment of Wrongdoing Against Transgender Teacher

 What To Do About Steve Dain?

Emeryville Settles on Inaction 

Opinion/News Analysis

Hey Emeryville!  November 20th was national Transgender Day of Remembrance.  A day that honors the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.  What did you do to observe it?

The answer is nothing.  Nothing was done by our government in our name to observe the date or even to set its own terrible record right with regard to the mistreatment of transgender people.  Regardless that in 1976, Emeryville fired a transgender teacher for who he was and with lots of recent talk about that not representing who we are emanating from our government, nothing is being done.

Still 47th Street
The City of Emeryville said this sign would 
read 'Steve Dain Drive' by this time.

The just passed national Transgender Day of Remembrance November 20th, followed Transgender Awareness Week November 13th through the 19th; an auspicious time for a ribbon cutting ceremony if there ever was one to reassert our Emeryville values.  But that was not enough to get Mayor Christian Patz to follow through with his pledge to re-name 47th Street Steve Dain Drive.  Mr Patz, who’s mayoralty ends on December 1st, took up the charge for the City, promising the name change after Emery School District failed to acknowledge the wrongdoing of the firing of Mr Dain.

Call it just another failure to honor Steve Dain, who was humiliated by the government here in Emeryville, for being transgender.  That humiliation goes on today following his 2007 passing.  With neither government agency able to do the right thing by Mr Dain and therefore all transgender people, the humiliation is on us, the people of Emeryville.  Indeed, WE fired Mr Dain for who he was and WE refuse to apologize here and now for that act of public cowardice. 

Transgender Flag Flying
at Emeryville City Hall

As far as Emeryville is 
ready to go at this point.

Surprisingly, Mayor Patz claims that 47th Street is already named Steve Dain Drive (it is not).  He says he has done it and he was given an award for it in September.  At the 8th annual East Bay Stonewall Pride Awards ceremony on September 13th, Mr Patz, accepting the award, told the group"I worked with the School Board to honor Mr. Dain, but just as in the 70s, there are too many bigots in public office.  Thankfully, I work with an amazing City Council and together, we were able to rename the street in front of the school Steve Dain Drive."

It's all talk now in Emeryville.  Two elected officials, Christian Patz of the City Council and Susan Donaldson of the School District, rode in to set Emeryville right but both dropped the ball.  Mr Patz let his mayoralty run out and Board member Donaldson wrote a public letter, posted in the Tattler in May, stating that the Board would finally and officially apologize for the firing of Mr Dain.  But without any interest among her School Board colleagues, Ms Donaldson has also quietly dropped the issue.

The electeds in Emeryville (at least two of them) have a message for you Steve Dain: The people of the City of Emeryville didn’t care about you when you were alive and we sure don’t care about you now.  And with that, it seems it's time for Emeryville to move on.  With this unpleasant issue forgotten, it’s back to brunch in Emeryville apparently.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Lack of Guidelines on Fines, City Policy Arbitrary

City Violates Sacramento Election Law

Fails to Fine Late Filing Council Members, Report Council Late Filings

Arbitrariness, Favoritism Rears Its Head at City Hall

Sheri Hartz
Emeryville City Clerk

She failed to notify the FPPC
of Council members' delinquency
and failed to levy fines
against the two Council
members as required.
The City of Emeryville has failed to report City Council election misconduct to the Fair Political Practices Commission and miscarried its duty to fine two delinquent Council members as is required, the Tattler has learned.  In the run up to the 2020 election, Mayor Christian Patz and Councilwoman Ally Medina were negligent in their duty to file political campaign donor information with the FPPC and a Public Records Request revealed the City failed in its duty to report that to the FPPC and to levy required fines against the two procrastinating Council members.  

City Clerk Sheri Hartz told the Tattler it is “generally the City’s practice to work with filers toward compliance rather than to assess fines”.
However the FPPC is clear that barring any municipal guidelines permitting fines to be waived or reduced, the fine schedule defaults to the State suggested $10 per day for every day a candidate is late on filing the proper disclosure forms.  Because the City did not disclose the existence of any such municipal guidelines in the Tattler Public Records Request response, the City is presumed to not have any guidelines and is therefore not free to ‘work with filers’ and waive the fines, lest public policy at City Hall descend into capriciousness.  

Mayor Christian Patz
He owes $1010 in fines
for late filing his campaign
contribution forms.
Following a November 8th Tattler story on the late filings and the assessment of fines to be applied against the two Council members, City Attorney Michael Guina cited government code §84200.8 that unequivocally permits the City, at its pleasure, an exception to waive a portion of the fines the Tattler quoted specifically because the Council members ran unopposed in the election.  Without the exception taken, Mr Patz and Ms Medina would owe $3130 and $1310 respectively, as reported by the Tattler.  With the exception taken and the City invoking §84200.5 (its right to forgive the Council members), Mayor Patz who filed his late Forms 460 the day after the November 8th Tattler story, now owes $1010 for his 101 days late filing at $10 per day and Councilwoman Medina owes $30 for her three days late filing.  Owing to a lack of existing municipal guidelines delineating how late fees are to be assessed, the City is supposed to fine the City Council members these amounts and failure to do so would represent a breach of FPPC protocol for the City of Emeryville and would raise the specter of capriciousness and political favoritism extant at City Hall.

Ms Hartz did not answer in the Public Records Request as to why she failed to report the Council members' late FPPC filings as she is required to do.

The FPPC may levy additional fines against the two Emeryville City Council members at the rate of $5000 per violation, at their discretion.  The Tattler will be reporting to the FPPC, the Council members’ and the City Clerk’s failures to disclose the required filings. 

Councilwoman Medina has acknowledged her late filing of her Form 460.  Responding to the November 6th Tattler story, she said she had “whiffed”, whereas Mayor Patz's acknowledgment of his culpability in his late filing came solely in the form of his rush to file the forms the day after the Tattler story.  Mr Patz refused to comment for this story. 

 


OOPS!  Mayor's Math Error!
A screen shot of Mayor Patz's late filed Form 460.
The day after the November 8th Tattler story, Mayor Patz finally turned in his late campaign contributions form.  He shows his major contributors to be the politically connected CEO Rich Robbins of Wareham Development and political lobbyist/schmoozer, the oily John Gooding
In his flustering rush to file his form, Mayor Patz didn't add up his numbers correctly.  Ending Cash Balance should read $4542.04, not $5964.30.