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Sunday, November 6, 2011

NO To Nora Davis

City Council Election 2011:
 'NO' To Nora Davis

Residents Should Vote In Their Own Interests

Emeryville city council member Nora Davis lately is giving voters the impression that she has changed over the 24 years she's been in power.  Whereas she used to openly tell voters that business is the business of Emeryville, council member Davis now tells us it's livability for the residents that's the business of Emeryville.
It's a 180 degree turn and yet council member Davis has not changed how she directs public policy at City Hall one whit.  Big business is still king here with council member Nora Davis at the helm and Nora Davis is Emeryville's king maker, regardless of all the recent faddish pro-resident bombast.

We've watched with dismay over the years as Ms Davis has granted millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to favored developers in town, the same developers that have given generously to empower her re-election campaigns and bolster her political currency.
We have watched as Ms Davis has lead an extraordinary drive to quash dissenting voices in town and granted political favors to her cabal of sycophants in the form of plum appointments at City Hall.

But council member Davis can feel the winds of change; residents are increasingly insisting on development that's directly beneficial to the communities.  And Ms Davis is telling us she's changing right along with the residents; but unfortunately it's all smoke and mirrors.

Families?   Really?
It's all bad, but what we find particularly galling is Ms Davis' specific re-branding of herself now as a champion for families in Emeryville.   This year's city commissioned Goldman Housing Report put it succinctly; it is the city council that is responsible for the appallingly bad family housing policy in Emeryville.  The developer friends of Ms Davis have made it clear; they don't make as much profit by building family friendly housing as they do building one bedroom lofts and that's all Ms Davis needs to hear.
Nora Davis would have voters believe she's an advocate for families and family friendly housing but the facts, her actual record and her behind the scenes politicking are damning; it is Nora Davis, who's more responsible than any other council member for our abysmal stock of family housing.  It is also Nora Davis who's responsible for the historic hostility to family housing at the Housing Committee since she is chiefly responsible for the appointments there.

She Doesn't Trust Us
And then there is Ms Davis' conspiracy along with her colleague Kurt Brinkman, to disenfranchise Emeryville voters by the infamous hijacking of a citizen lead drive to eliminate Emeryville's unprecedented Business Tax Cap.  For all her talk of fiscal prudence, council member Davis has turned out to be nothing but a pro-business ideologue, in this case, even at the expense of Emeryville's public coffers.  Before you vote for Nora Davis, ask yourself if this is the kind of behavior that should be rewarded with your vote.

Ms Davis represents the worst kind of public servant: one who has a hidden agenda that's counter to all her public proclamations.  She's pro-business, but not because she believes it's the best way to make positive change for the residents; in the long distant past, one could argue that kind of pro-business voting record, letting business have their way with us, could help us craft the kind of town people would want to live in.  Unfortunately, Ms Davis is not even that kind of pro-business council member; no, council member Davis has shown us time and time again by her votes that she's simply a pro-business ideologue.  Ms Davis is not looking out for us, the residents.  It's the business community who's back she's got.

Emeryville citizens would be wise to follow the advise of the right-wing Washington think tank, the Heritage Foundation: we, the Emeryville residents should vote in our own interests.  If we do that, Ms Davis will finally retire and permit us move on to the critical next stage of re-making our town.


  1. So where does this leave us, with both Ken and Nora taking their lumps this election?

    I try to run every permutation through my head as to how the election will turn out, but the only thing that seems reasonably sure is that Ruth Atkin has been flying under the radar and most likely will be returned to office.

    Nora got the fewest votes of any incumbent returned to office 4 years ago in 2007. But she has served for 24 years and even at 84 no one doubts that she is a force to be reckoned with.

    Ken is being attacked for the same issues that were on the table 4 years ago, but 4 years ago a fellow Councilmember (Kurt Brinkman) was not chairing a committee running a negative campaign against him, well-funded by developers (Madison Marquette and Wareham) who used to be staunch Ken supporters. Et tu, Brute?

    Jac Asher has run a superb "traditionalist" campaign, mustering her initial round of City Council endorsements and turning them into a snowball of endorsers from left, right, middle, and the middle of nowhere. If ever a challenger has taken incumbents on, on their own turf - by casting the aura of "incumbency" on her own campaign from day one - it is Jac.

    Then there is me. I think it is important to solicit the opinions of residents, and to state my positions on my blog and website and in my campaign mailings (2) for all to evaluate on their own. Oddly enough, this straightforward approach is nay-sayed by campaign consultants, who argue that candidates should be like laundry detergents, sold on their ability to make everything whiter and better and family friendly. I like to think, though, that to make a real contribution to the election process it is important to have ideas and to debate them, to invite comment and to respond, to synthesize and adopt the best positions. Not to cater to each particular constituency at each moment, but to offer the promise of bringing, in the long run, all constituencies to the table to pound out a new deal that is better for residents without sacrificing businesses large or small, landlords, home owners, renters, City employees, and all the other stakeholders.

    Collectively the votes of all Tattler readers out there, of all Emeryville voters who vote in our "odd year" elections, of all Emeryville voters who vote in the "big" presidential year and congressional year elections, will prove to be the most potent force in determining the outcome of this election. Not 24 years of incumbency, not flying under the radar, not campaign consultants and lavish campaigns shorn of issues, not endorsements, not scandals real and alleged.

    Just voters who care enough to vote.

    I feel honored to have had the opportunity to present my platform, my ideas, this election year and to receive your feedback and to engage in dialogues with you. I urge you to look at the videotaped League of Women Voters' Emeryville City Council Election Candidates Forum - linked on the City web page under "news items" and also linked at my blog (in an "all 5" and a shorter "my responses only" version).

    Finally I urge you to do one remaining thing: Vote on Tuesday.

    Carry in your absentee ballot if you haven't voted by mail - it speeds you in and out at your polling place.

    I wish you all the best of luck in the next four years - if I win, I will work hard to minimize the "luck" factor. If I lose, I will work even harder to win your vote the next time, and to serve the community in the meantime.


  2. Davis is "nothing but" whatever. Such hatred, a person has to wonder.
    We tried to donate to her campaign but she has a $99 limit.
    Such hatred, we shake our heads in disgust.

  3. To Ms Anonymous @ 8:30-
    Here's what your $99 bought:
    A city council member that thinks you're too irresponsible to be trusted with voting on the elimination of the business tax cap. Remember, it was Ms Davis herself that installed the regressive cap many years ago, that taxes the large corporations much less than the small businesses. Now she has subverted YOUR right to vote on eliminating it. Ms Davis is no fan of democracy, at least democracy in Emeryville.

    Such self hatred, we shake our heads in disgust: Why, we ask, do you have such self loathing that you vote for someone that loathes you so, someone that holds you (and the rest of your fellow residents) in such contempt?

  4. Nora Davis is clearly not as sharp as she used to be. She used to have the social skills to make people feel important. Watching the videos of city council meetings, I am surprised by her constant look of disgust when others are speaking. She makes bad faces even when her fellow "team-members" are speaking. She could be suffering from gas and bloating, which would be another explanation.

    She has gotten sloppy in her recent years, and as Emeryville has become a prime candidate for an Internet revolution. Her agendas and secret supporters may eventually be exposed and humiliated. In case you hadn't noticed, communities are joining forces in record numbers lately. If the bulk of Emeryville people were responsible, they could clean house in a single election.

    On another note,
    Women like Jac Asher are a dime a dozen. She fit right in as a keystone for Nora and Ruth's re-election campaign. When I first met her she claimed to be about change. Her actions have now spoken otherwise. Jac has shown to be just another mom (like Jennifer West) concerned for her children's city benefits. She has no experience at standing up to the powers that be. She has no business experience. She has moved all over the place, and doesn't even own a home in Emeryville. She would be an easy tool for special interests to keep control. As a young mother, will she put her family second? I don't think so. . . I plan to use only two of the three votes. Ken and Michael are the only way out of this mess Nora left us with. -Heather

  5. To anyone who would call Jac Asher common, "a dime a dozen", I urge them to read the Tattler story about how Ms Asher single-handedly saved the Emeryville Child Development Center from privatization at the hands of the City Manager and council member Davis. That a private citizen could bring down Ms Davis' Power Elite like that and make them answer to Emeryville citizens is really unprecedented in Emeryville history. Jac Asher is a great force of advocacy for the residents with a proven history.

    Anyone calling for politicians needing "business experience" should be pretty much discounted. Running the government is in no way similar to running a business, in fact the two are diametrically opposed. This is the same fatuous argument presented by supporters of CEO George W Bush and other Republican disasters.

    The reading by 'Heather' is incorrect.

  6. I also don't understand the hatred directed at Nora Davis. She the one Councilmember who has consistently been willing to sit down and listen to me. Nora was the only Councilmember willing to help my neighbors resolve the perpetual crime problem next door to them. Brian apparently thinks I'm not voting in my own interest, but I find this notion insulting. I know I'm voting in my own interest when I vote for Nora because she will continue to listen to me. Bukowski on the other hand just wants to talk at and lecture his constituents. He doesn't listen.

  7. To Mr Anonymous @ 2:51-
    If you're a resident of Emeryville, it can be stated unequivocally that a vote for Nora Davis is not in your interests, at least as unequivocally it can be stated that if you're middle class, a vote for a Republican is not in your interests.

    To observe Ms Davis' scorn, try publicly disagreeing with her on any public policy which she holds dear...and then report back here as to Ms Davis' willingness to "sit down and listen".

  8. Brian, your 'unequivocal' statement is so narrow minded it blows my mind. There is a lot more to a person's interest that that which you deem to be relevant. If I'm a middle class voter and my primary interest is making sure abortion is restricted, then it's in my interest to vote for Republicans.

    Nora Davis has shared my interest in the past. To tell me otherwise is incorrect.

    Your view that voters vote against their self interest is insulting. I'll evaluate my own interest and vote accordingly, than you. With the frequency that you insult the average voter in this town, I'm surprised they would read your blog. Oh, wait... they probably don't.

  9. The Republican party is filled with middle class people who are convinced that the Republicans are working for them. There are even poor Republicans. You're asking me if I'm surprised that there are multitudes of middle class Republicans. The answer is, no, I'm not surprised, exasperated perhaps, but not surprised.

  10. My original post was at November 7, 2011 11:55 AM. Thank you Brian for correcting me that Jac Asher types were NOT a dime a dozen. I was not aware of all the facts regarding her efforts on the Child Development Center. I stand corrected.

    What most disappointed me was when I received an attack mailer on Ken, and it had 4 full color pages of personal smear. It looked like more was spent on that than any one candidate. Then on the last page were three women's faces. I was very disappointed in Jac Asher because I was hoping she was ready to stand on her own. Thanks for listening and being impartial Brian. -Heather

  11. @Heather,

    I very much appreciate your vote, but in the spirit of honesty please let me make two comments even if they appear to be against my best interest:

    First, I would urge you to use all 3 of your votes. Even if the third candidate isn't someone you can enthusiastically support, there is almost always a "lesser of two evils" between the remaining two candidates - one that is better than the other, or one that is less harmful than the other. So all 3 votes are always important.

    Second - and I shouldn't be singing Jac's praises on the eve of the election - Jac has been a superb campaigner. She lined up endorsements from all the City Council Members except Ken, then parlayed those into endorsements from every meaningful organization out there, both left and right (both the Chamber of Commerce and labor unions, traditionally at odds, for example), and into massive amounts of contributions including both labor unions and developers. I believe Jaq is deeply committed to Emeryville. At worst she will serve Emeryville only two terms then move on to regional or state office, but is that a bad thing? A natural "term out", and I am in favor of two-term limits. My only beef with Jaq has been her unwillingness to raise or discuss or debate actual issues, but that may be due to her campaign consultant's conservative advice. The net result is that everyone (on opposing sides, even) thinks she will support their position, but when pressed, no one knows for sure what her positions are. My gut instinct tells me she is a progressive, even by Emeryville standards, and at the very least would balance out Nora if both she and Nora were elected, which is ultimately at least a step in the right direction, but until she serves we cannot know for sure.

    I think I have been much more forthcoming about the issues that concern me and what my starting point is on those issues. Once again, I would urge you to view the League of Women Voters Emeryville City Council Candidates Forum, which is linked under "news items" on the front page of the City web page.

    With both of us, I believe you would get very passionate, very dedicated, Council Members. I also believe that two of us can do MUCH more for the City, at a time when it desperately needs change in light of the economy, than one alone. (Although I remain hopeful that Jennifer will support reform and my experience with Ken this campaign season indicates he will be very pro-resident this term.)

    So although "new" candidates traditionally have to duke it out with each other, in actuality I suspect we may have more in common, in terms of political views, with each other than we share with the present majority of the City Council. I know that I stand for transparency and accountability, something that seems to be lacking with the current Council.

    I would like to see both of us get elected. I would also like to see Ken returned to office, since he has a deep level of experience and has been enough of a "maverick" over the years to be less tainted by the "take it for granted" attitude that Ruth and especially Nora seem to adopted after 12 and 24 years of respective service.

    So much as it pains me to defend an "opponent", I have to respectfully agree with Brian that Jaq isn't a dime a dozen, she's far from that. But only you can make up your own mind.

    Once again, thank you for your vote, but the real enemy is those Council Members who have "taken their office for granted". And who assume that odd-year elections will always return incumbents to office.