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Friday, May 14, 2010

Council Vote Unanimous On Outsourcing

Public Education To Remain At Child Center

After a five month roller coaster of a fight to protect public education at the pre-K level, pitting parents against the City Manager, the Emeryville City Council handed down their unanimous verdict Thursday night; the Child Development Center is to remain a public institution.

The council acknowledged the persistent work of the parents in letter writing, meeting attendance and contributions to the specially designated 'ECDC Task Force'. Supporters of the Child Center Friday were praising the efforts of one parent in particular, Jacqueline "Jac" Asher. Ms Asher, and her husband Brian Carver led the fight by organizing the parents into a united front of opposition to the outsourcing scheme.

One council watcher noted the unexpected unanimous vote, "I'm surprised Nora Davis voted for this" he said, adding his desire to remain anonymous. In fact several council votes have been made to weaken or degrade the Child Center over the years and Thursday was the first vote cast by Ms Davis in favor of supporting the Center.

It was a stunning loss for City Manager Pat O'Keeffe who threw the entire weight of his office behind the proposal to outsource the Center to the Berkeley/Albany YMCA. Many parents complained about Mr O'Keeffe's insolence and rudeness directed at them. "His comments about us being 'too emotional' were really offensive", one parent who asked for unanimity said.

Ms Asher tempered her victory letter to parents with descriptions of "hard cuts" to come at the Center including staffing reductions. She indicated it was time for her to take a break for a little while, after the five month ordeal, "I'm tired" she exclaimed.


  1. IN YOUR FACE O'Keeffe!

  2. Way to go Jac and Emeryville parents!

  3. This was a hard won battle, but I do want to be clear about what was "won" and "lost" here. We lost some positions at ECDC, and will lose some very good people. That's heartbreaking for the parents and our kids. We have had to severely reduce salaries since we are no longer receiving General Fund support, so that, too, will result in painful, real losses for our Center.

    And I don't want to paint this as a loss for staff. After all, with the decision last night, staff did remove General Fund support from ECDC, and I believe that's part of what was wanted.

    Going forward, I want this to be a win for all of Emeryville. I focused on ECDC, not only for my kids and the staff, but because I believe deeply in a sense of community and in the need to preserve what's unique about our city in the face of what I understand is overwhelming pressure to outsource and standardize and weaken the connections between residents and their representatives.

    I'm glad that the parents and the City Council were able to reach the same conclusion about the Center's immediate future. Now we need to be vigilant to ensure that the Center finances are righted and the quality maintained.

  4. A moment to thank everyone involved in this issue. There were many differing perspectives on what should happen to ECDC. I am thankful that the "heart of the community" stays in the city and that is, in the long run, better for Emeryville. If we really care about education and supporting children and families, then we need to keep this gem connected to both city and schools.

  5. Jac made a good point; this is not the 'victory' it may seem. The council voted to
    1 Big cuts that WILL lower quality
    2 No funding from the General Fund. The GF is designed to fund just this kind of thing. We need to fix this.

  6. The city was given alternatives in saving money which they ignored.They tell us they were concerned about the lack of finances six months ago, yet did not notify the parents or the staff until December. The City is flush with cash; it's how they spend it that gripes me. And then council member Davis has the audacity to propose a 10% pay cut for council members? She admitted it was only a symbolic gesture. Symbolic is right. 10% of $800 odd dollars a month is peanuts.

    i hope this small victory will strengthen community members to fight for what they want and change the status quo coming from city hall.

  7. We live in a city where businesses pay so little--we have Disney's Pixar that makes its money from families--and especially from their constant push on advertising merchandize for children. The company that pays the Haitian women less than 15 cents to make children's PJ's advertising Disney.
    I am surprised that no company came forth to support early education in this city. We have so many businesses here that supposedly work for families and children. There is such a disconnect between what we know is good for very young children and what we do as a society for very young children.

  8. Good God, what an ugly baby!