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Monday, May 2, 2011

City Attorney Tells Council To Create Phony Housing Authority

Cynical Gaming Of Government Services:
City Attorney Recommends City Set Up Sham Housing Authority 

Emeryville's city attorney, Mike Biddle has recommended the city council set up a new governmental agency in Emeryville; a housing authority, who's sole purpose is not to administer housing but instead to enable certain managers at City Hall avoid paying 6.2% of their salaries to the Social Security Administration.
Mr Biddle, in a pre-dated May 3rd letter, reminded the city council that Governor Brown could terminate the Redevelopment Agency and that would trigger the end of the other half of a coupled Emeryville joint powers authority known as Management of Emeryville Services Authority (MESA).
Mesa as it turns out, is a major employer at City Hall; except for Police, Fire, and SEIU employees, everyone else (mostly managers) don't actually work for the city of Emeryville but for MESA.
MESA employment is different than city of Emeryville employment in that city workers must pay 6.2% of their income to Social Security (SSI) but as MESA employees, there is no deduction for SSI owing to an alternate retirement program.

MESA, being a joint powers authority, must exist with another government entity (as it now exists in conjunction with the Redevelopment Agency) so in the event of a Redevelopment Agency shut down, the only way for managers at City Hall to get their desired MESA retirement package is if another government agency can be brought forth for MESA to couple with.

Mr Biddle's solution is to create a sham entity to become part of MESA to fulfill the requirement of two distinct entities needed to keep MESA alive.  Mr Biddle recommends forming a phony Housing Authority to accomplish this.

In his letter, Mr Biddle assures a skittish council the new housing agency won't have to actually transact any business; there would be "no requirement that the Authority provide for section 8 housing, nor is there any requirement that the Agency own and operate any housing as a landlord" or anything else that housing authorities do to create affordable housing.  Instead, Mr Biddle says in the letter, the new Housing Authority could just sit there and serve its real purpose: bumping up the pay of city managers by 6.2%.

The city council will discuss the issue on Tuesday night.


  1. As I have been saying for the past XXX years, the bulk of the city staff equals the redevelopment agency. Hence the disguisting state of emeryville

    Let the Oakland Trib know or SFC of this, and while you are at it notify the state!

  2. Read the staff report and try again. This is gross misrepresentation of the staff report.

  3. Why don't you ever post links for documents that you cite? In the last two stories you have quoted an email from the City Attorney and a staff report written by him.

    I'm beginning to think you don't want anyone to read and analyze these documents for themselves.

  4. You completly fail to mention that MESA also saves the City money since the City does not have to pay into Social Security on behalf of its employees.

    Go ahead and argue that that is not relevant. It is, however, very relevant.

  5. "Saving money." Redevelopment was going to go away at some point. Where were the plans for this? Why haven't we been presented with a plan from the Financial manager? Why the maneuvers from the City Attorney? This Housing Authority scheme is a slapdash solution to try to obscure the obligations we have entrenched when it comes to management in this town. They must now make public their habit of enriching themselves at the expense of lower paid workers and the services they deliver to the community. As these managers outsource and eliminate positions, as they manage fewer and fewer people, their salaries continue to creep up as a "reward." We end up with a proliferation of generously paid employees who aren't managing many people. This is called management bloat, and Emeryville has a bad case of it. You may think we're running leaner (that's the story they'll tell), but we've simply transferred our obligations to a smaller group of people who operate at a remove from residents. It's a case of stark economic self-interest cloaked as "small government." They'll tell you that their salaries are in line with other municipal managers, but that only illustrates that the problem is systemic. Doesn't mean we need to replicate it in our town.

  6. Emeryville is a travesty. It's a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham.

  7. To the readers-
    You may read the staff report for this by going to the city's website and click on the hyperlink for this issue on the agenda for the May 5th regular council meeting. This blog architecture doesn't permit linking PDF files.

    To the anonymous May 3rd 10:49 reader, please indicate how you think this story is a "gross misrepresentation" of the staff report. I'll gladly post any reply.

  8. To the May 3rd 4:51 reader-
    One can take any point one wants from this story but the bad public policy I highlight is the manipulative gaming of government by the city attorney for hidden purposes. One could argue that it's OK since no laws were broken but if the city attorney wants to set up a housing authority in Emeryville, people should know it's not a real housing authority.

  9. You are talking about manipulative? You are the most manipulative person involved in any of these reports. You're reporting is so biased and twisted that it does a disservice to the community of Emeryville. Granted this is not really a "news" source, but rather a gossip column...

  10. shirley enomotoMay 6, 2011 at 6:59 AM

    to anonymous who said "report it to the state." please identify yourself or give brian donahue your email address. i have some news for you.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. To Anonymous May 5 10:52-

    Please show the manipulation which you allege.

    Regarding biased reporting, I have stated many times the Tattler is biased in favor of the resident's interests. If fact, that much is made clear right under the title. The "disservice" you speak of here would be to those who would advocate public policy that is not to the benefit of the public, specifically the Emeryville residents.

  13. This resident, for one, thinks that your glaring omissions and inaccurate reporting is not in the interest of residents.

    The "disservice" the May 5 10:52 commenter speaks of is to those who seek out rational, reasonable and truthful information on which to form an educated decision. I would hope that those who are smart enough not to trust FOX News for information would also be smart enough not to trust this blog for information.

    I'm glad that our elected officials do not make decisions with the same blinders that you wear when you write these blog entries. There are many more relevant points of view on these issues than you report. Condemning people based on a myopic view of the truth is neither accurate or intellectually honorable.

    Also, you can absolutely post links to staff reports on this blog. The staff report is no longer available but here it the link to the video for the item in question here:

    See--it's easy. If you were intellectually honest, you would post links to the staff reports and videos for all City Council issues you discuss. I fear however that you do not want your audience to read the documents or they will discover misrepresentation just as the May 3 10:49 commenter did.

  14. Still waiting for the proof of manipulation....

  15. Here is the staff report:

    Just as reported, the last paragraph on page 2 says, "Note that there would be no immediate need for the Authority to transact any business or exercise any of its powers as long as the Redevelopment Agency remained a viable entity. Furthermore, to the extent the Authority was created and became operational, there is no requirement that the Authority provide for Section 8 housing, nor is there any requirement that the Authority own and operate housing as a landlord. In essence, the Authority could limit its activities to those consistent with what the Redevelopment Agency has undertaken over the years. The main difference is that the Authority can only provide assistance to housing developments targeted for persons whose income does not exceed that permitted by Health and Safety Code Section 50079.5 ("low income"). In contrast, a redevelopment agency can provide assistance from its low and moderate income housing fund to housing developments targeted for moderate and low income households; further, a redevelopment agency could assist market rate housing with monies from its non-housing funds if it so desired."

    The City Attorney is pretty clearly telling them that they could set up a Housing Authority that wouldn't have to do much of anything related to housing and could use it instead for this social security avoidance purpose. Sure, it saves the City money too, but I think the post was still a good one as it pointed out the crass rationale for having a Housing Authority did not arise out of any concern for the sad state of housing for low income individuals in Emeryville, but instead to preserve 6.2% of pay for the highest paid employees in the City.