Search The Tattler

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

They Said It: Nora Davis

Nora Davis Said It-
"These People Need To Be Recalled, Their Incompetency Is Unacceptable"

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.
.                 .                 .                 .

Back in the late 1990's, a committee formed in Emeryville to search for a new school superintendent and after a nation-wide search, they recommended that the Emery School Board hire former Compton School District superintendent, JL Handy.  Even though he had overseen the bankruptcy of the district in Compton, the committee felt Mr Handy would work out well here.
The School Board dutifully accepted the advice from the search committee and hired Mr Handy.  After he was hired, Mr Handy also bankrupted Emery Unified School District and he engaged in improper personal use of district funds and other crimes.   Superintendent Handy fled Emeryville in 2000, leaving the School District in ruins, ultimately to be taken over by the State.
Following this fiasco, a new search began; this time it was the search for the guilty.  A very vocal effort to recall the School Board was initiated since they had hired Mr Handy.  The  successful recall was headed up by non other than council member Nora Davis.  Ms Davis was vociferous in her indignation: "These people need to be recalled, their incompetency is unacceptable" she said at a council meeting. Ms Davis lent her name to the recall literature.  But nowhere was it mentioned by Nora Davis, not in the recall literature nor by her at any public event, that she had been the chair of the superintendent search committee and that she herself was guilty of what she said was an unpardonable offense by the School Board.  Ms Davis kept quiet and hoped no one would remember that she was responsible for the School Board recommendation to hire Mr Handy.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Emeryville's Outstanding Police Department

Community Policing?  It's Nothing New In Emeryville

If you listen to the public relations hype at the Oakland Police Department, you'd think they're listening to the residents, you'd think they've got their interests at heart and that they're loved by the residents there.  You'd think this because the department there is fond of making loud proclamations about how they're hip to the latest thing at police departments nation-wide:  it's "community policing" and it's the greatest thing since sliced bread.  The problem is in Oakland and most everywhere else, it's just a bunch of hype.

Community policing evolved in response to the breakdown of the traditional model of urban policing where in recent years police increasingly found themselves like an occupying army against a hostile civilian populace.  Police departments wisely realized it was time to involve the citizens more and make the community more stakeholders and feel a sense of ownership in their own police departments.
This is the hype anyway.

In Emeryville however, unlike Oakland, community policing is not any new thing; it's something that's just practiced, not hyped.

The recent Occupy Oakland protests and the reprehensible police response couldn't make it clearer: the Oakland Police Department is broken.  One only needs to look to their community support, or better put, their lack of community support.  It's stark: Oakland residents don't trust and don't like their police department.  Moral is low among the rank and file.  The police are alienated from the community and this unfortunate condition makes everyone lose; the cops and the community.
In Oakland's defence, this scenario is common in urban settings, all the twittering hoopla of "community policing" notwithstanding.

Contrast this with Emeryville, where there's a decided lack of hyperbole emanating from the police department.  The last time residents were polled a couple of years ago, EPD enjoyed more than 85% positive feedback from the community.  It's a result of real community policing; the cops interacting with the residents in a professional and even courteous manner.  It's noteworthy that even groups such as the Green Party, whom one would not normally expect to be big police supporters, sing the praises of our police department.

All the resident's love here directed to the police must be attributed in no small part to our Chief of Police, longtime public servant Ken James.  Mr James has quietly built a quintessentially professional force without macho posturing and shameless playing of politics.  He has kept our police force free from the "badge heavy" type-A personalities so common in Oakland and elsewhere and he's made a force respected by the community.  And Mr James has earned the respect of the rank and file at the same time; not an easy feat.

As Chief James prepares for retirement in the months to come, we must acknowledge a big part Emeryville's livability comes from the high degree of public safety we enjoy, all without feeling like we're living in a repressive police state.  It's not hyperbole to point out that without this kind of police force, Emeryville could degrade into Oakland.  Our envious and palpably collective sense of high civic mindedness could evaporate.

Government in Emeryville is not something normally very praiseworthy.  Let's take the time to say job well done to government employee Ken James and our very professional and outstanding police force.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bay Street Mall Protest

From an edited re-print of the Washington Post:

Occupy protesters take message about corporate greed to Black Friday shoppers around Calif.

In Emeryville, a small city on San Francisco Bay that has been transformed from a manufacturing area to a shopping destination, more than 60 people attended a Native American community’s 10th annual Black Friday protest of the Bay Street Mall.
Corrina Gould, a lead organizer for Indian People Organizing for Change, said the goal is to educate shoppers that the mall was built in 2002 on a sacred Ohlone burial site.
About one-third of the people at Friday’s protest came from neighboring Oakland’s Occupy movement, and Gould said having the new voices was invigorating.
Jesse Smith, an Occupy Oakland protester, passed out fliers encouraging mall shoppers to instead support local businesses in downtown Oakland to help “keep them in the black.”
Williams reported from Sacramento. Associated Press Writer Terry Collins contributed reporting from Emeryville.

Center Of Community Life Now Costs Only $65 Million

First It Cost $120 Million, Now It's Only $65 Million:
School District's Center Of Community Life Shifting Goalpost

News Analysis
New and vexing economic tribulations at the Emeryville School District is forging a new counter-intuitive meme, forwarded by officials, that would have citizens believe that it's cheaper to tear down the existing high school and build a whole new campus and community center there than it is to simply renovate Emeryville's schools.

Emeryville's assessed property valuation has markedly lowered in the last couple of years owing to the dismal state of the economy and that has drastically lowered the bonding capacity for the schools/community center building project known as the Emeryville Center of Community Life.  Undaunted, school district officials have moved forward, determined to build ECCL anyway, virtually unaffected by the bleak new economic reality.  This reality disconnect revealed itself at an October 19th Citizens Oversight Committee meeting when the School District reversed earlier predictions about the project's costs, inexplicably making it now cheaper to build the entire schools/community center project than to renovate the existing school buildings to minimum code compliance.

Slide from the July 2010 meeting 
showing the $68 million cost to do 
code compliance only minimum 
renovation of the existing schools. 
At a July 2010 City/Schools Committee meeting, District architect Roy Miller told the decision maker attendees, made up of the city council and school board members, that the most minimal possible school renovations would cost a lot: $68 million.  As an alternate, Mr Miller said the School District could generate $95 million from the sale of Measure J school bonds (subsequently OKed by Emeryville voters in November 2010) and instead tear down the high school facility and build an entire new school, K-12 combining the elementary school, middle school and high school with a community center called the Center of Community Life for $95 million plus $25 million kicked in from the City of Emeryville's coffers for a total of $120 million.

After that pivotal July 2010 meeting, when the City/Schools Committee voted to move forward with the ECCL project and after the voters OKed the sale of the Measure J bonds in November of 2010, the worsening economy lowered Emeryville's bond saleability from $95 million to $40 million.
So $40 million plus the $25 million from the city totals $65 million.  The new fiscal realities presents the School District with the awkward scenario of explaining how a simple renovation of the three existing buildings could cost more than the total tear down and building of an entirely new suite of campus buildings; their preferred option.

Artist's rendering of the Center of Community Life:
Now officials say it can be built for only $65 million.
Unfazed by the slashing of bond money available for the project, the School District officials now say it can move forward with a smaller version of the ECCL project at $65 million.  The smaller version however still involves abandoning the existing Anna Yates Elementary School and co-locating it on the ECCL site on San Pablo Avenue.  Also unaffected by the reduced funds, School District officials say, is the building of the new community center.

District officials did not specify at the October 19th Citizens Oversight Committee meeting how the Center of Community Life is to be built at half the cost of previous estimates.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Black Friday Protest

From the American Indian Movement-

Friday November 25 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM Meet at the corner of Shellmound and Ohlone Way in Emeryville.
Annual Black Friday protest at Emeryville's Bay Street Mall. The Bay Street Mall was built on top of an ancient Ohlone burial site after years of protest actions by the local Native American community. The construction of the mall unearthed THOUSANDS of human remains, many of which were taken away to landfill in the name of consumerism.
While the construction of the mall couldn't be stopped, we in the Bay Area Native American community ask the non-Native community to join us in protesting this obscene structure. On "Black Friday" every year we remind the public that this is sacred Indian land and the Bay Street Mall should be boycotted.

Letter To The Tattler: Ken Bukowski

City councilman Ken Bukowski responds to the Tattler story on Emeryville's odd year elections.  The Tattler advocated for moving city elections to even years to save money and increase voter participation. 
.                 .                 .                 .

Moving the elections to even numbered years means: 
  1. As a candidate for city council you would have to raise more money to compete with a barrage of other candidates and issues, which would totally dominate the media, the mail and the phones. 
  2.  Campaign consultants would be more expensive, giving the business community greater advantage.
  3.  Odd year elections allow the voters to only focus on Emeryville, and that's a better idea. We may get a smaller turnout but they are more informed on the local issues than they would otherwise be. 
  4. The council adopting this Plan would also have to automatically extend the terms of all 5 members for an additional year. 

-Ken Bukowski 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Odd Year Elections: They Cost More Money, But...

Emeryville's Odd Year Elections: They Cost More Money But They Drive Down Voter Participation

Emeryville just finished another election and once again, the taxpayers paid a lot more for the election than they could have, at least $10,000 more according to the City Clerk.  But hey, it's all for the good because only 26% of registered voters cast a ballot and that's less than half the Bay Area average.

That talk sounds kind of kooky, doesn't it?  But it's not kooky; it's calculated, in fact the low turnout worked out exactly as intended.

Elections cost cities money and here in Emeryville, we routinely pay a lot more money for a much lower voter turnout than our neighbors in Oakland, Berkeley and elsewhere around the Bay Area.  Why is this and who's responsible you might ask?  It's cynical public policy, foisted upon the people of Emeryville by council member Nora Davis and the Chamber of Commerce; policy designed to benefit their pro-business agenda at our expense.

Many newcomers to Emeryville express surprise at the strange off year elections here.  They often ask, why not hold the city council and school board elections on even years, at the same time as presidential, senate and congressional elections?
It's a good question, especially since doing so could save so much money.  On top of that, holding elections when everyone else does would have the added benefit of driving up voter participation, most likely doubling it.
The problem is Ms Davis and the Chamber of Commerce and conservatives in general benefit from a low voter turn out.  It has to do with the fact that conservative voters have greater resources and can be counted on to show up at the polls even if disincentives to voting are thrown up.
Odd year elections around the nation have been shown to be much more likely to elect conservatives and conservative causes than even year elections.  It's one of the well documented tools in the Republican Party's vote suppression toolbox.

Here in Emeryville, Ms Davis has jealously guarded the odd year vote, acknowledging the value of the low turnouts to her political agenda and resisting all efforts to change, regardless of the cost savings.  It's not for lack of trying it should be pointed out, councilwoman Davis has fought off numerous citizen lead attempts at election reform over the decades.

As House Majority leader John Boehner says however, elections have consequences and so with the November 8th election of Jac Asher and her new brand of resident friendly politics, we may now finally have enough non-ideological votes on the Emeryville city council to override Nora Davis and the Chamber of Commerce.

We say it's time to say NO to Republican style vote suppression tactics.  It's time to move now to increase the franchise in Emeryville and cast aside the cynical Machiavellian election maneuvering by Emeryville's right wing.  We should move our elections to even years just like the rest of the Bay Area.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Democracy Not Something The School District Is Comfortable With

Another Uncontested Election:
Missing At Emery School District: Democracy

Appointed School Board member Pat Hooper has resigned and now Emeryville's got a new School Board member!   Quick, who is it?

Too bad no one knows or even seems to care.  Yes, another election comes and goes here in Emeryville with nary a school board candidate in sight.  We must say, this is not a healthy way to run a school district; indeed, it's inviting disaster.

Not that any of this is news. Given the sorry history of School Board selection in our town, unfortunately it would be considered newsworthy if there were an election.  Emeryville has a long history of appointments and top down selection of School Board members.  It hasn't worked out well for education of children.

Non-elections are the norm but several years ago, we did have a real election for the School Board; it came only in response to the former Board unanimously hiring the criminal previous chief of Compton Unified School District, JL Handy, to serve as new Superintendent.  Older residents will remember how Dr Handy emptied our coffers and split town, leaving the school district broke and in shambles, the District Attorney in hot pursuit. It was only after the JL Handy fiasco, after the State of California took over control of the School District, was there a real election for School Board members. Unfortunately, after that consequential shake up and ousting of those responsible, again Emeryville has settled back into the old pattern; the lack of elections is once more standard operating procedure.

One other minor hiccup in this culture was two years ago when two parents had the temerity to run for school board without the sanction of the Powers That Be at the School District and City Hall.  The status quo at the School Board out-spent the two presumptuous interlopers by more than 100-to-one on slick city-wide campaign mailers, proving once again the corrupting power of money in ruining elections by effectively quashing dissent.

After last Tuesday's non-election, it would appear the School District is now free to spend hundreds of millions of dollars of the taxpayers money for a new school all with unchallenged incumbents, appointed and top down selected decision makers.

This school district has seen more than 30 years of appointments and top down selections of our School Board.  The results have been devastating for the educational prospects for the children.  It pains us to see this terrible tradition continue on.  There's nothing like the cleansing effect of real democracy in action to cast out corrupting influences and ensure good public policy.  The anti-democratic impulse here may help the Power Elite but it's anathema for establishing a culture of educational excellence at our schools.   To use a cliche; our children deserve better than this.
.               .               .               .
The new School Board Member is one Joy Kent, who ran unopposed on Tuesday and didn't appear on the ballots.  Ms Kent will help sheperd the taxpayer's school bond money to build a new school.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Final Election Results

Election 2011:
Nora Davis Drops To Last Place

Emeryville council member Nora Davis has dropped from second to last place in the final unofficial tally from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters for the 2011 city council election.  The County showed council member Ruth Atkin trailing Ms Davis in all earlier published results from the November 8th plebiscite.  The Registrar says this final tabulation will move forward to be certified and made official.

Here are the final results from the 2011 city council election:

  1. Jacqueline Asher        924          27.80%
  2. Ruth Atkin                 839          25.24%
  3. Nora Davis                 822          24.73%
          Ken Bukowski            408          12.27%
          Michael Webber         331           9.96%

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bukowski's Gone & Emeryville's Now "Legitimate"

After 24 Years, Post Bukowski Era Begins-
New Staid Council: Emeryville's Now Just Like Every Other City

News Feature
We're living now in an Emeryville that most people have never seen; an Emeryville without Ken Bukowski on the city council. Tuesday's referendum brought to an end the era of Bukowski; for better or worse, the most colorful elected official here in more than a generation.
The last time there was a Emeryville city council sans Bukowski, Long Playing albums reigned supreme, yuppies, mullets and Fabio were de rigueur.

As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder and we may yet mourn the days when one could see our council's dirty laundry splashed on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle or watch with amazement, a mayor run a council meeting eyes closed, head bobbing.  Gone are the days of didactic whispering disapproval at Emeryville's representative at regional government agencies.

Now it's post populist Emeryville; city council members will be neatly filed into left right and center niches with drama and unpredictability expunged from the public realm.  We're all grown up now and we're ready to be seen in public.  Emeryville's elected government joins the greater Bay Area elected governments, now all professional, clean and smelling good with not a spoiler to be seen.

As the era of Ken Bukowski recedes into history and joins another vanquished bygone Emeryville era, the notorious John LaCoste era, we're going to cease being embarrassed.  We're going to be just like the rest of them (alas, still more conservative than the neighbors though).
As our town grows beyond 10,000 residents, most are obviously pleased at these post Bukowski prospects but some too, may come to wax about the loss of populism coming as a consequence of the inevitable rise of professionalism in the council chambers at City Hall.  After more than 100 years of iconic characters on center stage here in Emeryville, we're just replaced Route 66 with Interstate 10.

The last time this was in anybody's mailbox, the Iran/Contra 
scandal was raging, Mikhail Gorbachev was General Secretary 
of the Soviet Union and gas cost .89 cents a gallon.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Guest Column: Art Hoff

The Tattler introduces guest columnist, Arthur Hoff.  
A longtime Emeryville resident, business and community leader, Art Hoff is a former president of the School District Advisory Board of Trustees and he now sits on the Planning Commission.
Mr Hoff has long concerned himself with the success of the schools in Emeryville and he has been a major philanthropist to the school district, generously giving both his time and money for the betterment of our schools.
A respected business leader in commercial real estate,  Mr Hoff weighs in on the alarming recent downgrade of Emeryville's bond capacity and its deleterious effect on the planned School/Recreation & Community Center rebuild project known as the Emeryville Center of Community Life:
   .                .                .                .


“ECCL is not a building; it is a concept” 
School Board member Josh Simon 

A year ago when Proposition J was being considered, it was decided to seek the maximum bonding capacity available to the School District: $95,000,000.  Because of the limitation imposed by assessed valuation constraints, many believed that the maximum actual bonds that would be saleable were $40,000,000.  The reason being that the debt service could not exceed $60 per $100,000 assessed valuation.  In order to sell the balance of the bonds, the Emeryville assessed valuation would have to increase at an annual rate of 7% for 7 to 10 years or almost double.

Nevertheless the School Board went ahead with planning the project based on the $95,000,000.  We are now told that the $40,000,000 is that maximum we can expect in the foreseeable future.  Considering the sluggish economy, we are in for a long period frugal living.  Emeryville assessed valuation declined 6% this year yet the School Board seems to be on the verge of going forward with the maximum program and finishing it if and when funds become available.  Which means we may end up with a partially built school of only 800 students instead of the desired goal of 1,200. 

Perhaps there is a better way.  To quote Don Rumsfeld “you fight the war with the army you have”.  We should not make the same mistake again.
Several suggestions: 
  1.  Maintain Anna Yates Elementary as a local neighborhood school. 
  2.  Reactivate the Middle School utilizing the Doyle/Hollis Park. 
  3.  With City help build a Recreation Center and Theater together with a remodeled high school at the present cite.  And maybe we can get by with one gym. 

With this program we should reach the 1,200 goal in short order. 
I do not believe there is substantial evidence that a K/12 configuration is the best school structure.

Arthur Hoff, former President EUSD.

Editors Note: The Tattler story on the crash of the school bonds can be read HERE.

Who Cares About Emeryville?

Q: How Many People Care 
     About Emeryville?

A: 1374

How many of us care enough about our town that they're willing to turn off the TV for ten minutes and actually vote?  These would be the heroes of our town, by the way.

Here's the sad tale:
(Info from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters except as noted)

Emeryville Population:       10,080 (2010)*
Registered Voters:                5279
Voted On Tuesday:               1374 (26% of registered voters)

Compared to our neighbors:

Oakland Registered Voters:  203,469
Voted (Nov 2010):               124,557 (61%)

Berkeley Registered Voters:  78,631
Voted (Nov 2010):                 49,640 (63%)

* US Census

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Measure F: Is There A Take-A-Way?

Will The New Council Take Anything From Measure F?

On Tuesday Emeryville voters soundly defeated Measure F, the measure that would have replaced the in-house City Attorney's office with outside legal counsel, ostensibly, a less expensive option.

The city council majority opposition attacked the measure that had been backed by their former colleague, ousted council member Ken Bukowski, as more costly and ultimately not even legal since the law only grants the city council the power to make such a personnel change at City Hall they said.
The fiscal arguments presented by the opposition never made sense and the invalidating legal technicality presented by the council majority wouldn't normally be something the electorate would invest itself in, leaving one to question why voters rejected Measure F so soundly.

The voter's utter rejection of Mr Bukowski Tuesday and Measure F's close association with Mr Bukowski seems a likely cause for the defeat of the measure, we think.

We hope the new city council will recognize the failure of Measure F may have been at least partially due to this ill-fated association with Mr Bukowski and see greater value in the aspirations of the measure as they go about their city council duties in the months to come.  Measure F ultimately asked for greater transparency and accountability in city government and that's not something that should be pushed aside along with its dejected council member champion.

Tribune Reports On Election

Re-Printed from the Oakland Tribune:

Election delivers newcomer to 

Emeryville City Council

By Angela Woodall
Oakland Tribune
Updated: 11/09/2011 02:47:55 PM PST

EMERYVILE -- The balance and tenor of the Emeryville City Council shifted 
Tuesday night with the election of newcomer Jacqueline Asher and the 
defeat of 24-year member Ken Bukowski.
Asher is a UC Berkeley lecturer in the Department of Gender and Women's 
Studies, a mother of two and a political newcomer who moved to Emeryville 
four years ago. She decided to run for one of three open at-large City Council 
seats after the city considered turning over management of its municipally-run 
daycare, the Emeryville Child Development Center, which Asher's daughter 
attended. She lobbied against the decision and helped find budget solutions 
that allowed Emeryville to keep the center public.

Bukowski is a veteran council member whose tenure ended Tuesday night, 
overshadowed by charges of improprieties and drug use.
He helped transform Emeryville into a big-box retail destination and magnet 
for firms such as Pixar Studios. Asher's platform, in contrast, leaned heavily 
on making Emeryville more family friendly and other quality of life issues, 
such as providing before and after school care for children in the district.
Incumbents Nora Davis, a council member for 24 years, and Ruth Atkin, a 
council member since 1999, defended their seats for another four-year 
term. Emeryville council members are paid $10,134 per year for their 
part-time service.

Asher's fellow first-time candidate Michael Webber lost his bid for a council seat.

The Council
will have to grapple with an ongoing recession.
"Budget issues are going to be tough," Atkin said by telephone shortly after the 
polls closed at 8 p.m.
Turnout -- projected to be about 30 percent in Alameda County -- was low 
but not unexpected for a local election in an odd year.

The Government Accountability Project

The Emeryville Government Accountability Project
Citizen Access

As part of the on-going effort to strengthen democratic institutions and citizen involvement in Emeryville, the Tattler will publish the telephone numbers of elected officials as they become known.  For decades here politicians made their phone numbers public and would take calls from constituents.  Sadly, this tradition has been waning, and citizen access has eroded.  Meanwhile, developers routinely meet with politicians and city staff in closed door sessions. We are dismayed to see this weakening of citizen access to the levers of power even while corporate access has never been stronger.  Accordingly, we now add the published telephone number of newly elected city council member Jac Asher to the list of numbers of Emeryville's elected officials.
Future would be politicians should take warning:  If you win office and try to keep your telephone number confidential, the Tattler will publish it if we can find it.
Here then is the newest contact-

Jac Asher, City Council Member:
(510) 333-8437

Here is the list so far:
City Council
Nora Davis -  (510) 652-2199
Kurt Brinkman - (510) 774-1551*
Jennifer West - (510) 420-5795
Ruth Atkin - (510) 915-0167* 

School Board
Josh Simon -  (510) 601-1480
Cheryl Webb - (510) 654-6012*
Melodi Dice - Unlisted
Joy Kent - (510) 922-1714
Miguel Dwin - (510) 381-2023* 
*unlisted but obtained by the Tattler

Measures C & D Win Electorate Approval

Re-Printed from the Oakland Tribune:

Voters approve tax measures on Emeryville ballot

Updated: 11/08/2011 10:48:23 PM PST

EMERYVILLE -- Voters in Tuesday's election decided to change the way the city levies business license fees in an attempt to increase municipal revenues.

That means Pixar Studios will have to start paying the fees, which the company ceased to do after Disney acquired the studio in 2006. Measure C, approved by 81 percent of voters, also increases the tax rate from 0.08 percent of gross receipts to 0.10 percent.

A little more than 79 percent of voters who turned out Tuesday or mailed in ballots voted yes on Measure D. The measure is expected to affect Pixar, Novartis and LeapFrog by raising the cap on the tax from the current $117,000 to $300,000 a year.

Voters defeated Measure F, an initiative to force the Emeryville City Council to contract outside legal services. Outgoing Councilmember Ken Bukowski, who lost his re-election bid Tuesday, spearheaded the measure that would have forced the city to contract out for legal services. The measure would have had no legal effect because Emeryville already contracts for its city attorney services, City Clerk Karen Hemphill said. The measure was defeated by a vote of 65 percent to 35 percent.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jacqueline Asher Wins Council Bid

Jac Asher Wins
Ken Bukowski Defeated

Breaking news
Jaqueline (Jac) Asher has won her city council bid, making her Emeryville's newest council member.  Emeryville will return Nora Davis and Ruth Atkin to the council but Ms Asher netted the most votes today, handily beating the two incumbents Ms Davis and Ms Atkin.  Ken Bukowski ends a 24 year council career with the results.

Results (all precincts reporting)* 
  1. Jac Asher            735 (wins)
  2. Nora Davis          688 (wins)
  3. Ruth Atkin           679 (wins)
  4. Ken Bukowski     358 (loses)
  5. Michael Webber  257 (loses)
F     yes   364
        no    686 (win)

C    yes   889 (win)
        no   206

D    yes   866 (win)
       no    225

*Provisional ballots excluded

Letter To The Tattler: Michael Webber

The following letter is from Emeryville resident, Michael Webber.  Mr Webber is running for city council.
.                .               .               .

When I announced my candidacy a few months ago, the first question that was asked me by Residents United for a Livable Emeryville (RULE) members was whether Council Member Ken Bukowski was helping me get started principally to draw off votes from candidate Jac Asher.

I hope that RULE and the other residents understand, now, that I have been running because I care about Emeryville.

I have not been running against Jac.

I have been running against Council Member Nora Davis and the outdated policies she represents. The extreme pro-business, pro- "big", policies that are no longer appropriate for a maturing city like Emeryville. (The worst example of this is "capping" the business license tax on the current ballot measure, but inviting Lawrence Berkeley to move into Emeryville, tax-free, is another bad example - Lawrence Berkeley is exempt from taxes and that shelters their landlord too.)

I truly think this is the election where we can retire Nora Davis, since she seems unwilling to step gracefully from office and take credit for her early years in office.

If RULE and other progressives in this community vote for only one new candidate today, they will be shortchanging the future. They should be voting for only one incumbent today, and using two of their three votes to send two new Council Members to City Hall.


Michael Webber

Monday, November 7, 2011


YES On Measure F
Measure F asks voters if they want to eliminate the City Attorney position here in Emeryville and instead sub-contract out our legal services to outside law firms.  It is common for a city the size of Emeryville to do this in the Bay Area.

Council member opponents of Measure F seem to be basing their objections on the fact that the Measure was authored by their colleague, council member Ken Bukowski and they say he has a personal beef with our City Attorney, Mike Biddle.  It's just retribution against Mr Biddle by a vindictive Ken Bukowski, they say.  Another argument seems just as likely; the city bureaucracy is trying to protect one of its own with their fight against Measure F.

The problem with the opponent's argument is Mr Bukowski's motives for bringing the Measure are really not material to voter's interests. Voters want effective and frugal government and they don't really care about the infighting among the council members.   Charges of Mr Bukowski's impure motives don't answer to the fact that Emeryville pays way too much for our legal service and Mr Biddle's work here has been sub-par on occasion.  Voters should remember Mr Biddle's role in the wrongful termination lawsuit brought by former city employee Leslie Pollard.  Mike Biddle was the man in charge when the city lost that $4.6 million lawsuit.  Further, voters would be well advised to consider Mr Bukowski's well documented accounting that Mr Biddle has been a self-appointed and unelected change agent at City Hall, engaging in lawmaking that circumscribes the auspices of the elected city council.

But Mr Bukowski, his colleagues, their childish infighting, or even Mr Biddle himself really isn't what Measure J is about. It's about Emeryville residents getting the most effective and responsive government for their money, all the hoopla aside. Voters headed to the polls Tuesday should keep in mind the absudity of what the Measure F opponents are alleging:  They're saying that if we were to eliminate the City Attorney position, it would not save money but actually end up costing Emeryville MORE money, 71% more they've figured.  We've got to ask them how does this comport with the recent survey of California cities, reported in the Emeryville Voters Guide, that incontrovertibly found cities, large and small, that outsource their legal services enjoyed substantial savings over those that maintained in-house legal council?  How is it that only Emeryville, of all those cities, would lose money?  They've not answered this question.

The city council opponents of Measure F are fond of telling us that they're the ones who should decide about Mr Biddle's employment contract, not the rabble.  But we've got to ask them, what are they waiting for?  We think this is simply a case of bureaucratic inertia and its well documented self survival mechanism at play here.  Perhaps the esteemed council members need a nudge from the electorate.