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Monday, October 17, 2011

Measure D: The End Game Of Broken Politics

Measure D: Brought To You By The Calculating Cynicism Of Nora Davis (& Kurt Brinkman)

In post John LaCoste Emeryville history, the modern era as it were, never has so much cynical political calculating been embodied in one voter initiative as this year's shameful Measure D.  What we have here is the unseemly spectacle of two council members, Nora Davis and Kurt Brinkman swooping in to stop the people of Emeryville from deciding for themselves, the wisdom of continuing a tax cap on the largest businesses, a gift so to speak to the largest corporations and unprecedented in the Bay Area.  
Never mind the arguable prudence of eliminating this regressive cap in this time of harsh budget austerity, these two elected council members have disenfranchised the people of Emeryville.

Earlier in the year, citizens started a petition drive to place this business tax cap on the November ballot.  The city council caught wind of it and they voted 5-0 to place it on the ballot themselves, saving the citizens all the work getting the proper number of signatures.  Nora Davis and Kurt Brinkman, would be populists, voted with their colleagues: the people should be allowed to vote on this cap for themselves they said with their vote.
But that was then.

After this council vote to enfranchise the people, Pixar, an Emeryville corporation that benefits hugely from the tax cap and upset at the prospects of paying the same rate as small business in town,  called secret closed door meetings with city staff and council members.  Something was said to the staff and attending council members...precisely what, we'll never know, but we've got a pretty good idea.

Later, after it was too late for citizens to re-start a petition drive about eliminating the cap, Nora Davis and Kurt Brinkman took it upon themselves to make a motion to void the council's earlier 5-0 vote and make a new vote to raise the business tax cap a little bit but to keep the cap on the books.  The other three council members went along, subverting their earlier vote to let the people decide for themselves. 

And Measure D was born.

This reversal by Nora Davis and Kurt Brinkman, with help from their council colleagues (and cheered on by the Chamber of Commerce) tells us who really matters in Emeryville; it's the large corporations.  And that's what this betrayal to the people says in a loud and clear voice.
So it's to remain high taxes for small business and low taxes for big business in Emeryville and democracy be damned, at least until we overrun the ideologues Nora Davis and Kurt Brinkman.   These two should be taken to task for this outrageous disenfranchisement, Republican in its cynical subversion of the people's interests.  
When your local city council members start acting like the most extreme tea party wing of the Republican Party in Washington, you know you've got a problem in your town.  No one should listen ever again to these two crow about how we need to all tighten our belts and how we'll have to learn to live with less owing to the budget crisis...these two have lost all credibility on that score.


  1. Whatever. Who cares? It would have been nice to remove the cap, but in the end it doesn't really matter that much. A $300,000 is acceptable.

  2. Who cares? How about people that like democracy?
    Doesn't matter that much? Tell that to any small business owner in Emeryville, the 99% , if they like the fact that they are subsidizing the largest corporations in town with their higher tax rates. Tell it to those who would benefit from any city services that are underfunded owing to the lack of money in the city's coffers.

  3. You haven't seen anything yet. Wait until Pixar opens a gift shop on premises and pays the business tax on the small gross receipts from that on-premises business, instead of on the "alternate" provision in 3-1.127 as revised by Measure C, which mandates substituting the total of payroll, utilities, and rents if no gross receipts are attributable to this Emeryville location.

    No, wait, the ordinance is so badly written that all Pixar has to do, is to show the receipts from their employees' cafes as GROSS RECEIPTS and just pay the business tax on that!

    Now all Clif Bar needs to do, is sell some Clif Bars to walk-in customers from the reception desk and Leap Frog either book some toy repairs, instruction manual sales, or other small items from its location.

    I guess Novartis will have to find some local "receipts" to duck the effects of 3-1.127 ...

    I kid you not the people drafting Measure B to revise the existing ordinance at City Hall must be morons. I could draft better provisions in my sleep, and I never got paid $253k per year or got to work from home two days a week.

    Life must be good if you are a crony.

    But not so good for small businesses and residents in Emeryville. You heard they cut back street sweeping to once a month? (I'm not sure they cut back ticketing vehicles during to once a month, though.)

    Meanwhile one of the four reasons (on the "hit" piece) the opposition wants to kick Ken out of office, is because he didn't pay a $79 per year tax on his rental property. Gotta love the sense of balance in E'ville.

  4. Yeah, fair and balanced like Fox News.

    I for one, am glad to see Mr. Webber put his money where his mouth is and run for city council.
    I wish you the best of luck and hope you unseat one of those bastards.

    I also wan to thank Mr. Donahue for shining a light on the dark dealings in Emeryville. I may not always agree with you, but you provide an invaluable resource to the residents.