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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

They Said It

Nora Davis Said It-
"You People Are Dupes For EBASE!"

Politics in Emeryville have produced quite a lot of hyperbole over the years. At the Tattler, we occasionally post quotable quotes from Emeryville personalities since where we've been can sometimes inform where we're going.

Oakland based East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE), an economic and social justice nonprofit organization concerned with working people and families, helped push for Measure C, a hotel workers living wage ordinance in Emeryville. In the run up to the 2005 Measure C election, many Emeryville residents publicly testified before the City Council that they didn't like to see hotel workers taken advantage of in their town and that they supported the incipient Measure C.

Thinks most Emeryville
residents are dupes.
Council member Nora Davis, who worked against the passage of the living wage ordinance, publicly impugned the intelligence of all Emeryville residents that supported the hotel workers by calling them "dupes for EBASE" from the council chamber dais at an October 2005 council meeting.

Measure C was subsequently approved by Emeryville voters 54% to 46% on November 8, 2005. One hotel in town, Woodfin Suites, fought having to pay their workers the higher wage mandated by Measure C and finally in 2010 they were forced by court order to pay the workers their back wages.  The hotel subsequently pulled up stakes and left town, disgraced.  Nora Davis is still on the council.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ikea Completes Large Solar Electrical Panel Installation

From BrighterEnergy.Org:
IKEA switches on 2,300-panel solar system at California store

Furniture retail giant IKEA officially plugged-in the solar energy system installed at its East Bay store in Emeryville, California, yesterday.
The 68,000-square-foot PV array consists of a 538-kW system, built with approximately 2,394 panels.
IKEA Emeryville’s program will produce approximately 760,300 kWh of clean electricity annually, the equivalent of reducing 578 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), eliminating the emissions of 103 cars or powering 64 homes yearly.
This investment by IKEA to purchase its solar photovoltaic energy system with Gloria Solar modules, and to install and operate it atop the Emeryville store it owns, will lower the carbon intensity of the electrical grid.
It also represents the 11th completed solar energy project for IKEA in the United States. Additional installations currently are underway at one other IKEA location in California as well as eight more in the Eastern U.S.


For the development, design and installation of this customized solar power system, IKEA contracted with Gloria Solar, the U.S. operating group focused on the photovoltaic business within the family of E-Ton Solar Group.
This project is the third IKEA installation in the 70,000-square-mile service area of PG&E, the utility providing natural gas and electric service to approximately 15 million people throughout northern and central California.
Patrick Choa, IKEA Emeryville store manager, said: “IKEA has a never-ending job where most things still remain to be done. We constantly ask ourselves how we can improve what we do today for a better tomorrow. We appreciate the support of the City of Emeryville, PG&E and Gloria Solar, our partners in this project.”
IKEA, drawing from its Swedish heritage and respect of nature, believes it can be a good business while doing good business and strives for its operations to minimize impacts on the environment.
Located on 15 acres at the confluence of I-80, I-580 and I-880, the 274,000-s.f. IKEA Emeryville opened in April 2000 and employs 300 coworkers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Letter From Planning Commissioner Art Hoff

The following was submitted to the Tattler today. The author, Art Hoff, is a Planning Commissioner for the City of Emeryville and a longtime resident.  Mr Hoff has long advocated for the Emery schools and has donated generously to the schools over the years.  ECCL means the Emeryville Center of Community Life.
.               .               .

Should Anna Yates [elementary school] be moved and incorporated in the ECCL site?

School officials argue that there are substantial academic and administrative advantages to moving Anna Yates to the new ECCL site.

On the other hand we just spent 8 to 9 million refurbishing Anna Yates and there are strong family ties to the existing facilities.

It would be interesting to know what the parents and teachers feel about the move. There was substantial dissent expressed at a recent ECCL design study.

Art Hoff

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Center For The Arts Director Resigns

Emeryville Center for the Arts Director Sees Looming Problems, Resigns 

The nascent Emeryville Center for the Arts received a severe blow with the sudden resignation of its Executive Director Sheila Bergman, City Manager Pat O'Keeffe told the city council Monday.  Ms Bergman expressed doubt that the project will be realized anytime soon due to Redevelopment Agency restructuring and she expressed fear that her job would not be secure, according to Mr O'Keeffe.
Slipping away?
We're already in for $5.6 million.

The setback for the center makes the proposed fall 2012 opening date almost certainly impossible.  Mr O'Keeffe told the council the news however is not necessarily fatal for the $15 million center but he indicated with the fiscal uncertainty, due to a lawsuit pending in Sacramento brought by the California Redevelopment Agency Association, it would be difficult to recruit a replacement director.
Ms Bergman expressed concern that funding would not materialize for the project as a contributing factor in her resignation.

Emeryville has already spent $3.6 million to acquire the 30,000 square foot United Stamping building at 4060 Hollis Street, behind City Hall for the Center and another $2 million, given to Pixar as part of a deal meant to help acquire land for their campus expansion several years ago and then "donated" by Pixar for the Center.

Ms Bergman was brought on the team for the Center for the Arts in May 2010 with much fanfare.  One of her first acts was to assist in the selection of San Francisco's Jensen Architects for the project, a choice architecture critic John King called possibly the "Bay Area's most intriguing architectural competition in memory".
The resignation is effective immediately and Ms Bergman has already accepted "another assignment" in Los Angeles according to Mr O'Keeffe.

Pat O'Keeffe told the council in a letter Monday that the Emeryville Center for the Arts Board of Directors would need to "regroup" to develop a new schedule of implementation in the wake of the set back.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cynical Manipulation?

Let's Have Some More Cynical Manipulation From Councilman Bukowski

If this is cynical manipulation, please Mr Bukowski, cynically manipulate us some more.

Councilman Ken Bukowski has taken a lot of fire from his city council colleagues of late.  The City Attorney initiative plebiscite and other populist legislation he has recently championed has drawn charges that he is engaging in "cynical manipulation" meant only to help in his re-election bid.
The September 7th council vote on the Sherwin Williams toxic site clean-up is an example of this cynical manipulation; council member Bukowski was the sole vote against allowing Sherwin Williams to extend their hours of operation at their toxic clean-up site on Horton Street.
If not the Earth, at least
cover Emeryville in 
lead and arsenic.
After decades of dumping toxic materials including lead and arsenic, even after environmental regulations outlawed the practice, Sherwin Williams is being forced to dig up and haul away the contaminated soil. But the clean-up work has fallen behind schedule and they asked the council to approve weekend and weekday evening clean-up work; an extension of their original agreement.  The loud and heavy equipment has doused the neighborhood with dust and Sherwin Williams has rebuffed neighbors requests for toxin testing of the dust.
Several neighbors have noted the extended hours proposed by Sherwin Williams would be after school hours and neighborhood children would be exposed to the airborne dust.

The request by Sherwin Williams was especially egregious since the reason given for the extension turned out to ultimately be money savings for the billion dollar corporation.  Company representatives kept saying it would be "hard" and "difficult" to conduct the clean-up in the coming rainy season.  When pressed, the company would not explain what hard and difficult mean, leaving profit maximizing as the final and obvious but unspoken motive.

It was only Mr Bukowski that held firm that the original agreement with Sherwin Williams should be honored.  The other four council members caved and voted to grant Sherwin Williams extended hours.  The only reason the request was defeated was because two competing hours extension proposals by two groups of two council members cancelled each other out leaving the original agreement standing and Mr Bukowski as the victor.

Cynical:  He's doing things the voters want, 
hoping to get re-elected.  
Feel used?
We recognize that this sort of populism is new for Mr Bukowski and we have no allusions about his pre-election pro-resident pivot.   But we are saddened that a council member that breaks with the pack and represents the residents' interests over corporate interests is rebuked by his colleagues and chastised as a cynical manipulator just seeking to increase his re-election odds. Instead of cynical manipulating, we have another word for this kind of's called leadership, re-election motives notwithstanding.  What Mr Bukowski did on September 7th is what we sent him to City Hall to do and we don't care if he is motivated by a desire to get re-elected.  The other council members should be so cynical.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Parent Trigger" Law Bodes Ill For Emery Schools

Emeryville Schools To Be Turned Into A Charter School?

In the ongoing Republican war on teachers and hijacking of the public commons, the California Board of Education has laid down the gauntlet: It must be made easier to fast track the charter school phenomenon at the expense of traditional public schools.  Although charter schools have shown no aggregate improvement in academic achievement over traditional public schools but has been shown to decimate the teaching profession; it seems those hostile to the teacher's union will get their union stripping agenda imposed on the entire State.
It's about privatization of the commons and power; do we grant it to those actually in the trenches doing the real work of teaching our children; the teachers?  Or is the power to be shifted to outside private political ideologues with profiteering in mind?  Of course this question is hidden with a phony narrative (as are most Republican agendas): parental empowerment.
Is there a private corporation somewhere, licking its chops, headed to Emeryville?

Please read the re-print from the Los Angeles Times:

Regulations approved for schools' 'Parent Trigger' law

The state Board of Education sets rules to clarify the law that gives parents the right to petition for new staff, management and programs.

July 14, 2011|By Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times
After months of controversy, the state Board of Education set out a clear road map Wednesday to allow parents unparalleled rights to force major changes at low-performing schools.
The board approved regulations clarifying the "Parent Trigger" law — the first in the nation to give parents the right to petition for new staff, management and programs at their children's schools. Organizations representing parents, teachers, school districts and other parties overcame sharp differences to reach consensus on such contentious issues as how to draw up petitions, verify parent signatures and ensure public disclosure about the petition process.
Disagreement over those issues exploded last year in the law's first test case at McKinley Elementary School in Compton. There, parents sought to oust the school staff and convert the campus into an independently run, publicly financed charter operation. The petition campaign divided the campus, sparked lawsuits and fueled charges of harassment on both sides.
Controversies also inflamed efforts to draw up regulations at the state board, with various charges that board members were trying to ram through rules favoring charter schools, teachers or other interests.
So when the board unanimously voted to approve the regulations Wednesday, the room exploded in cheers and applause.
"It's like a dream come true to know that I have a voice in my community as well as my state, and my children will have a better future because parents like these took a stand for their children," said Daniel Jackson, a Los Angeles parent who took an overnight bus to Sacramento with other advocates to support the regulations.
Gabe Rose of Parent Revolution, the Los Angeles-based education reform group that helped lobby for the law, said the regulations will allow parents to move forward with confidence and organize petition campaigns across the state. He said six to eight parent empowerment groups have formally filed papers to affiliate with his organization.
Even the California Teachers Assn., which opposed the law last year, supported the regulations, and board member Patricia Rucker, a former CTA lobbyist, voted for them.
But CTA spokeswoman Sandra Jackson said the union believes that parent trigger petitions calling for a charter school conversion must obtain support from half of the school's teachers, as is currently required under existing charter school law.
Board President Michael Kirst, however, appeared to reject that view in comments Wednesday.
"It's called the parent empowerment act, not the teacher empowerment act, for a reason," he said.
If no issues are raised during a public comment period, the regulations will take effect with no further board action.
The regulations require the state to create a website with information about the petition process, including a sample petition so organizers will not inadvertently make errors in drawing it up, as occurred in Compton.
They also require the public disclosure of organizations providing financial or other support to petitioners. In addition, the regulations ban payment per signature and require disclosure of those who are paid to gather signatures.
And, school districts will be required to verify signatures through written documents already on hand, such as emergency contact cards. That issue sparked a lawsuit in Compton when officials required people who had signed the petition to come in person with photo identification.
Not all contentious issues were addressed. The regulations do not require public meetings at the schools, nor specify which parents can trigger change with a successful petition. The law allows parents of half the students at the targeted school or those campuses that feed into them to force school districts to convert to a charter campus, replace staff, transform the curriculum or close the school. But the California School Boards Assn. and other advocates argue that the majority of petitioners should be from the targeted school.

The public meeting and petitioner issues are being addressed in legislation by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica), who heads the Assembly education committee.
Despite such continuing concerns, Sherry Griffith, the school board organization's legislative advocate, hailed the consensus.
"When you decide to roll up your sleeves and decide to work together, you can get pretty far," she said.
And Lydia Grant, a San Fernando Valley parent who also rode the bus to Sacramento, said the regulations would give children in failing schools a new start.
"Every parent like myself has had the door slammed in their face when they have tried to improve the education of their child," she said. "This legislation finally gives us that army behind us to stand up and demand that our children get a better life."
Los Angeles Times staff writer Michael Mishak contributed to this report.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Residents Cry Foul At Sherwin Williams Clean-up

Re-printed from the E'ville Eye:
September 7, 2011

Sherwin Williams’ Request for Extended Work Hours Denied
A resolution to the noise waiver to extend work hours for the Envirocon clean-up of the Sherwin Williams factory was defeated at this evening’s city council meeting by a 2-3 vote.

An Envirocon representative rationalized that the extension was necessary to make up for a two-month delay in coordinating use of the railway for carting away toxic soil. The extension was needed to avoid the project possibly carrying over beyond the anticipated December 1st deadline and into winter where it could be further delayed by weather. The net benefit of the extended schedule was estimated to be approximately two weeks. 

Mayor Nora Davis reluctantly supported the measure citing that everyone just wanted the project to be over with and the opposition to it was a small but vocal minority or residences. A substitute motion was proposed by Council memberRuth Atkin to allow for weekend use of the less disruptive railway portion but not extend the weekday trucking operation along Halleck St. A compromise could not be reached on this though and the measure was altogether defeated.
Environmental concerns were raised about the clean-up by one resident of the adjacent artist co-op, specifically the accumulation of dust on nearby vehicles and the toxicity levels of it. Our friends at the Secret News have been monitoring the situation closely and more can be read about their concerns here.

Additional concerns were raised by one citizen about the permanent loss of archaeological finds from the clean-up and that the land intersected the historically important shellmound indian burial site. No concrete “next-steps” for testing this dust or preserving fossils were established. Video of the City council meeting should be available for viewing shortly on the City of Emeryville website. More info about the clean up can be found on the DTSC website »

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Councilwoman West Seeks Ban On Community Center "Legacy" Corruption

Exorcise The Legacy Motive From The New School/Community Center

At Thursday's City/Schools joint council and school board meeting, council member Jennifer West broke from the pack and added her voice to a small but growing group of citizens who seek to prohibit the $400 million Emeryville Center of Community Life (ECCL) from being used as a vehicle to extol the virtues of specific council members or other politicians.
Ms West's comments serve as a counter-point to mounting charges that the Center is a "legacy project" for aging council members that have dogged the proposed ECCL since its inception.  Council member Nora Davis and other politicians have strenuously and publicly denied the legacy charges, insisting that their motives are pure.
Councilwoman West:
Let's put the community in
the Center of Community Life

Citizens have noted the bronze plaques, extolling the virtues of the city council that invariably crop up upon completion of large public projects in town.  Against this backdrop, some of these citizens are calling for a ban on any such trumpeting of any specific persons affixed to the completed Center of Community Life.

The problem here is less about stopping the politicians from using public money to extol their own virtues and more about stopping base motivations from adversely coloring decision maker's decisions against the public interest.
The actual needs of the community may not be in the fore front.  If the politicians envision a bronze plaque, they may push the design of the Center towards the ego flattering grandiose or ostentatious.  Even while they assure the public of the purity of their generous largess, this temptation to see the Center as a showcase for their legacy may prove too hard to resist for some politicians.

Nora Davis:
Wants another oportunity
to tell everyone how great
she is; set in bronze and paid
for by taxpayers.
Why Risk This?
Why, we ask should we risk this eventuality?
If indeed there is no legacy specter in the Center of Community Life project, then there should be no push back from the council to the citizens who ask for a ban on a bronze plaque there.
What public good is garnered that would offset the risk of an adulterated community center by such a bronze plaque?
Citizens should ask themselves why are the council members guarding so jealously the future bronze plaque if they don't care about their legacy?

We thank council member Jennifer West for helping to remove the citizen's suspicions about the Center of Community Life.  Ms West proposed a alternate idea with regards to a bronze plaque that we applaud: Have a plaque that acknowledges and thanks the people of Emeryville collectively for building the Center.  This idea would give credence to the community in the Center of Community Life and does much to further transparency, a cause that has been near and dear to Ms West.  We hope the other politicians can join with council member West in her community minded proposal.