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Friday, July 9, 2010

Electoral Humiliation Blamed on Delays, Chamber

City's O'Keeffe Blames Chamber Of Commerce For Defeat

Dawdling, and opposition from the Chamber of Commerce are why a major tax hike was torpedoed May 18, according to City Manager Patrick O'Keeffe.

According to a post election memo Mr. O'Keeffe penned analyzing the lopsided drubbing, the measure failed because of delays in getting it on the ballot and because, "members of the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors that were opposed had time to organize commercial and residential properties against the measure." The internal document, dated June 22, was distributed to a handful of select city officials, and obtained by The Tattler.

The measure, which would have established a "Landscape and Lighting District," and collect $1.2 million annually to maintain parks and streetlamps, was rejected by an overwhelming 91 percent of voters. It was the widest margin in Emeryville election history. Park and lighting costs have thus far been paid by the city's general fund. A new tax district would have freed up that money for other purposes.

Only property owners were permitted to vote in the by-mail election. Votes were weighed by the size of a voters property, such that, the preference of an office building owner was worth hundreds of times the choice of an individual homeowner.

Mr. O'Keeffe's missive is almost certain to partially disrupt the cozy relationship between to the City Hall and the Chamber. In the memo, Mr. O'Keeffe absolves himself of any resposibility for the loss and shifts the blame to the Chamber of Commerce. He previously said the Chamber supported the measure and warmly welcomed their support. O'Keeffe had earlier assured both the Chamber and the Council that voters would easily pass the tax.

Before the measure failed, the Council gave $35,000 of taxpayer funds to a political consulting firm to perform a pre-election voter survey, hoping it would build voter support.

Another Roll Of The Dice

In a related story, the council is gambling that Emeryville voters have had a change of heart. In what could prove an even more embarrassing replay, the Council has been assured that its glory project, the $95 million school bond initiative to build a "Center of Community Life" campus, will sail to victory with 65 percent of the vote. The measure will be on the ballot November 2. To help goose public support, the Council has lavished more than $1 million on campaign consultants and associated costs.


  1. i'm told by maurice kaufman, director of public works, that because the lighting and landscape failed to pass, street cleaning has ceased, specifically on 62nd street. the street cleaning signs were removed july 6.

    shirley enomoto
    ok all you folks out there, get out your brooms and no leaf blowers pulleeze.

  2. once again i received july 7, an expensive colorful flyer signed by superintendent of schools, john sugiyama, a community feedback survey.

    there are six issues to vote on in order of importance. nowhere does it mention emeryville community center of life. there is also a box to check if one wishes to participate in neighborhood meetings. will these neighborhood meetings be scheduled and then cancelled without notifying anyone as occurred with the emeryville child development center?

    what was the cost to print this brochure? previously patrick o'keeffe told me if flyers are printed on plain white paper, the recipients might mistake it for junk mail. c'mon patrick, how stupid do you think we are?

    the photos are deplorable. which school bathroom was used that shows rust and stains on the tiled floor? this certainly isn't anna yates. the photograph of junk stored beneath a paper towel dispenser looks like a fire hazard.

    $9 million was recently spent two years ago to renovate anna yates grammar school and the secondary school. this included big screen tv's for the classrooms and an elevator that is always locked. if anna yates is not seismically safe where the heck did the $9 million go? i do know that the playing field at the high school was upgraded. they could have used a few thousand dollars to level out the uneven concrete in yet another photo.

    i am not participating in this survey. it seems to me the city is once again trying to show that they want community involvement but don't really care what our opinions are.

    shirley enomoto

  3. should surprise no one...more importantly, okeefe denies all responsibility for the budget deficit and in his classic failed public servant manner, consistently denies responsibility for anything he does that does not reflect well on him; of course, he is not shy about taking credit for any good news...although he is not an effective city mgr, he will not step down and so he should be replaced by someone who can deal with the budget deficit he has helped create..

  4. The reason I voted against it was because I had two parcels (a legal duplex)I would be taxed double, even though our property is really only a house with one dwelling unit. Meanwhile my next door neighbors, with a non-conforming three units, pay only one share.

    Time to take the cap off the business tax!

  5. What kind of vote is a weighted vote? I guess everyone is created equal, except that some are more equal than others.