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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Letter To The Tattler

The following is a letter to the Tattler from city council candidate, Michael Webber, received today and printed in its entirety:

Dear Emeryville Tattler,

This morning I saw a four-page, full color, glossy campaign brochure dedicated solely to attacking Ken Bukowski. In a nutshell, the brochure called Ken “corrupt,” demanded his removal from office in this election, and had Jac Asher’s, Ruth Atkin’s, and Nora Davis’s pictures on the back.

I stand by Ken’s efforts to rehabilitate himself after the events of the last term.

I would like Ken to publicly state that he has put all the events of the last term behind him and to pledge that he is clean and sober and will avoid even the APPEARANCE of any conflict of interest in the future.

I object to the use of the word “corrupt” in the campaign brochure, since that implies criminal activity.

As an aside, the committee name identified in the small print under the recipient address indicates I can expect some attacks too, since the committee is to defeat me as well as Ken.

What is most unfortunate about the campaign brochure is not that it attacks Ken personally, but that it wastes 4 good pages where real campaign issues could be addressed.

Emeryville is not quite the perfect little community that Jac, Ruth, and Nora would like to present in their Pollyana-ish, four color campaign pieces.

Not everyone who disagrees with their policies (although I have been hard-pressed to find any published policies or issues from Jac, even this late in the campaign) is evil, corrupt, stupid, deaf, or a rude gadfly.

Some of us have simply noticed that things aren’t quite as “right” as what the official face of the City Council would have you believe.

Like those early pioneers, Ken and Nora, who started out just like me, I just want to roll up my sleeves and become a citizen volunteer working on behalf of this community.

For this basic civic-minded motivation, I should not merit a committee dedicated to defeating me, and which will probably try to do it with low-blows instead of honest discussion of the issues. I think I can deal with other candidates attacking my principles, that is fair game, but is a separately funded “hit” committee the right way to conduct politics here in Emeryville?

When Sean Moss at the Andante community asked me last year if I would step aside as President of the homeowners association, I did so - because it’s good to have more than one person experienced in that job, and it’s good to let others have their term. I had already served for five years from inception through conclusion of construction defect litigation, it was time to let Sean have a turn.

What we have in Emeryville is just the opposite - an entrenched, entitled, even arrogant power structure that thinks the only reason to have new blood is to defeat an opponent, and then selects the least offensive person they can find to replace Ken.

I think it’s much healthier for politics in our small town to dig up issues, debate them, and leave personal attacks out of it.

From day one I have published my blog on questions, concerns, that I have as an ordinary resident. As people came forward with problems and issues, I learned that all is NOT well in Emeryville - particularly, why are we about to “out source” the Fire Department, why was an effort made to do the same to Police, why is Anna Yates, the one gem in the often troubled Emeryville school system, going to be shut down? (I have been told that shutting Anna Yates is a school district issue, not a City Council issue, but where are the funds and plans for the ECCL coming from? It is a joint project, not just a school project.)

Given more opportunity, who knows what I will unearth in Emeryville? Does Emeryville support or oppose this type of resident-level interest and activism? Is Emeryville run by disconnected City Council members who have forgotten about the actual residents living here?

I hope that you ask Jac, Ruth, and Nora whether and to what extent they authorized the “hit” piece, and whether and to what extent they agree or disagree with it. A very simple question, even for an issues-averse, lull-the-voters, ticket.
Thank you for your time and doing your best to serve Emeryville.

William Michael Webber “Michael”



  1. For readers who find the lack of formatting hard to read, I reposted my article on my blog here:

    I also now have a campaign webpage published with some key issues:

  2. To Michael Webber: You said you would go after Jacqueline and you certainly are. A man whose values change weekly. How can a resident vote for you when you have not figured out your own values? Your platform changes every time you hear something new about the city. Learn about the city and its politics, learn who the players are and stop trying to split the vote so that Ken Bukowski can win. This is what Ken did before--find someone who knew nothing about the city and use them to split the vote.

    Ken does not attend local committee meetings, for which he receives a payment as a council member. He still uses his vote for those who can best help him, normally not the residents.

    The brochure was accurate. Unlike the material that went out about Shilen Patel, of which Ken was a driving force. I do believe material such as this is not helpful to anyone and continues to make a mockery of politics.

    Using the Tattler as your avenue for campaign literature is not acceptable. When you figure out your message, let the residents know through campaign literature and not the Tattler.

  3. Note to Readers-
    FYI, the Tattler will post all letters, unedited, from all Emeryville elected officials automatically. The same goes for all legitimate candidates for elective office in Emeryville be they council or school board candidates.

  4. Thanks for the comment. I do not believe I will split votes. I believe this is a wide-open election and all candidates have an opportunity to make their case to the voters. Only the voters, not political consultants, can or should decide an election.

    I have tried consistently to bring my case to the voters. Please see my blog, Condition Emeryville, at, and also my webpage, at I don't "hide out." I raise and discuss real issues.

    I believe I have been willing to run on issues, when my opponents run on platitudes ("look what good I and I alone have been doing on the City Council! Emeryville is great just because of me, not because of the other 4 Council Members" - LOL) and endorsements (endorsements should be used by candidates to vouch for the integrity of their positions - are you REALLY a progressive, do you REALLY support labor? but instead are being used in this election to squelch dissent - how else does one candidate get endorsements from ALL SIDES?).

    Voters should ask themselves why the other candidates - both incumbents and non-incumbents - only recite their list of glowing accomplishments (if they are incumbents) or their list of glowing endorsements (if they are new). Both are fine, provided real plans for the future, and current issues, are also identified and addressed. OTHERWISE what you have is a big, expensive, high-school level popularity contest.

    I like to post comments on the articles that are posted on the Tattler, because the Tattler is a fly in the ointment, a gadfly, a stirrer up of issues. I am willing, and apparently I alone, to step forward and tell the voters what I think about these issues. The other candidates avoid the Tattler, and apparently the issues, like the plague. When I post here, you can see just where I stand, and argue with me or support me or lend your own opinion on the topic. That's what a press is for!

    For example I enjoy engaging in this spirited discourse with you. Why? Not to present a _better_ point of view necessarily, but to present a _different_ point of view. Out of debate we can build consensus - or at least acknowledge that there are other ways of looking at things, and maybe we need to take those other ways of looking at things in perspective, if we truly want to forge a community in Emeryville, and not just be a bunch of commuters.

    As for campaign literature prepared by political consultants all-consumed by image, afraid to lose a single vote by actually raising issues - I think I will keep plodding away with issues, not glossy brochures devoid of substance or positions.

  5. Splitting votes is the rallying cry of the damned.
    Just like people said votes were wasted by voting for Nader.
    People should vote for the person that they think will do the best job, not the lesser of two evils.
    Isn't that what democracy is all about?

  6. Actually, votes weren't just wasted on Nader, the ones in Florida in 2000 got this country stuck with Bush. If you think about how a President Gore would have handled 9/11 (or whether there even would have been one), I don't know how anyone still thinks that voting for Nader in that scenario was a good call. If you don't know that politics requires realism, then you don't know much about politics yet.

    But this is beside the point. Webber says he doesn't believe he will split votes. What a joke. What real/serious candidate provides a $2,000 loan to another competing candidate? That's what Webber did for Bukowski, because there is hardly anyone left that will support Bukowski.

    Webber can claim his lack of real campaigning is based in some bizarro principles, but the truth is that someone who doesn't get endorsements, doesn't get volunteers, doesn't phone bank, doesn't distribute materials/signs, doesn't go door-to-door is simply not a serious candidate. They aren't in it to win, they're in it to help someone else win by drawing off just enough votes from someone else.

    He says he doesn't "hide out" and that he discusses real issues. I guess that's why both of his websites don't allow for comments. To improve "discussion." If he did engage the public, then the fact that almost every single blog post contains misinformation and simple mistakes about the facts could be pointed out--but he doesn't want that. When you just want to influence the votes that OTHER people get, it's better to just sling your crap and not engage too heavily in actual dialogue.

    I suppose sometimes I can imagine that Webber is genuinely this naive, but he seems too smart for that. Unfortunately, that makes the truth much worse: he is intentionally engaging in a bad faith campaign--one that he isn't even trying to win. He just wants to influence the result. What's really crass about this is that other people in this town are spending their money and time supporting real candidates that they believe in. It's extremely disrespectful to those serious people to treat running for office as a game.

    Asher, Atkin, and Davis--I don't think any of them are perfect either, but at least I can tell that they are serious and that they are treating each other and their neighbors with respect. On that front even Bukowski is better than Webber. At least Bukowski is earnest. Unfortunately, he's got other well-known problems.

  7. Oh Michael - You might be willing to give an addict another chance, but I'm not. I'm quite familiar with the havoc this kind of thing wreaks. You really think all that's required to trust someone who struggles with years of addiction is a pledge of sobriety? "I promise I'll quit tomorrow!" Uh huh! I'm actually not suprised there's an entire committee (if one exists) dedicated to the defeat of Ken - i view it as an intervention, honestly. And having people address Ken's inability to serve effectively might be seen by some in Emeryville as a top priority for the health of our town - how can anything really get done by someone who behaves as he does, even if he is well intentioned...for some reason he can't recognize it himself (some call this denial) and what also worries me is that you seem to be in denial too, or an enabler (i heard you loaned Ken some money for his campaign). Just as you say you stepped down from Adante, maybe it's time Ken did the same. And why the hell does everybody dance around this elephant in the living room???

  8. 1. How can I split votes when every voter has 3 votes? I am only asking for one vote. Also the logical conclusion of your line of reasoning is that if there are 3 spots, only 3 candidates should run. If we followed that, we would never have competition for office.

    2. I am not trying to "buy" an election by plastering the City with lawn cards, mailings, and phone banks. I am trying to WIN an election. If winning an election were as formulaic as you make it sound, only entrenched candidates with big wallets would ever get elected, and that assumes voters don't pay attention to issues. My issues are published in two locations on the web, my blog and my web page, for anyone to consider. Window dressing in the form of lawn signs etc. is just that - window dressing.

    3. I want to make sure I reach voters who don't make use of tree-saving information dispersal methods like blogs and websites, so regrettably I, too, will do a mailing. Watch for it.

    4. My generation, the 50's kids, grew up in an atmosphere of hatred, distrust, and punishment. IBM workers wore white shirts and suits to work or could lose their jobs. McCarthy was looking for Communists in Hollywood. My boss in 1973, who was gay, took a bold and seemingly insane step by "coming out" and hoping for acceptance, not condemnation (he was accepted by all of us). "Negroes" were just becoming "blacks" and I was reading Eldridge Cleaver (sorry, never made it through Malcom X). SO DARN RIGHT I'M WILLING TO GIVE SOMEONE A SECOND CHANCE. I would never turn the clock back to "unforgiving" middle America in the 50's and 60's. There's a lot of forgiveness and acceptance in my heart and Ken has absolutely, positively, no signs of current drug use. The other day, before the Council hearing, he walked the marinas and made sure the owners down there would have a chance to present their side of the Asian kelp problem to the Council before a draconian ordinance was adopted. So yes, I am willing to give Ken a second chance, are you?

    5. Loaning someone $2000 to get their campaign off the ground out of respect for all they have done for this City for the past 24 years is what ANY of you should be doing, instead of jumping on the new "flavor of the month" sponsored by Nora and Ruth. When you talk about grudges and personal issues getting in the way of community building, don't point the finger at Ken (with the City Attorney measure) without also looking at the dissension created by Nora and Ruth.

    On a positive note, the City Council meeting last night looked terrific. Jennifer West has come into her own as she adeptly walked the City Council through its agenda and welcomed, instead of sassing or begrudgingly accepting, public comment. Congratulations! There is hope for Emeryville.