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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How Emeryville's Mayor Is Appointed

Power Retention Is Goal-
Mayoral Selection Politically Calculated

News Analysis
Emeryville doesn't have a "strong mayor" style leader at City Hall as does Oakland or San Francisco but the mayor here does wield considerable power running the council meetings and making political appointments as they do.  Rather than by citizen election, by law, Emeryville's mayor is decided among the ranks of the city council itself.  Many Emeryville residents though are baffled by the mayoral selection process, some old timers have memory of a time when the mayor was awarded on a purely rotational basis from the stock of council members, now however the decision process seems to be screwy, maybe random.  Some might think each council member should be able to serve as mayor since every person was duly elected by the people but that formula has not been in effect since council member Nora Davis consolidated power and the strict rotation was dropped in the 1990's.

Consider the last several mayors-
Sitting as mayor in November of each year:

  • 2011  Nora Davis
  • 2010  Ruth Atkin
  • 2009  Dick Kassis
  • 2008  Ken Bukowski
  • 2007  Nora Davis
  • 2006  Ruth Atkin
  • 2005  Dick Kassis
  • 2004  Gary Caffey
  • 2003  Ken Bukowski
  • 2002  Ruth Atkin
  • 2001  Nora Davis
  • 2000  Dick Kassis
Political neophytes might accept this list as random as it indeed looks at first blush but to the cognoscenti, this list betrays a political patronage system, complete with childish backstabbing and ego maniacal power grabbing; this is after all Emeryville.  To these council watchers in the know, gazing at the list one sees patterns emerging, patterns that affirm the venal politics at play in Emeryville.
    The Metrics (here's how it works)
    Pay attention, it's going to get a little complicated here but once you know the metric, you'll be able to predict every election with confidence. The over ridding metric is that Nora Davis maintain and grow her power base by the mayoral selection.  To watch the patterns in the above list emerge use these metrics:
    • Political enemies of Ms Davis are not permitted to be mayor
    • Those that fall into disfavor with Ms Davis are not allowed to be mayor again
    • Selection is made to assure that the proper person (Ms Davis or those who will assist Ms Davis) is sitting mayor as a city council election takes place, this person benefits by the added gravitas of being mayor at the time of the election in the calculation
    To this bullet point list of metrics one needs to know the election rotation in Emeryville.  It is thus:
    • Three council member's seats up for election every four years
    • Two council seats up for election every four years separated by two years
    These elections are staggered so Emeryville has elections every two years with three seats then two seats and then back to the three seats.  Ms Davis is in the three seat election.  The last election was in November (a three seat'er) when these seats were up for election:  Nora Davis, Ruth Atkin and Ken Bukowski (taken by Jac Asher).  In the election before, these two seats were up for election: open seat previously filled by Dick Kassis (taken by Kurt Brinkman) and open seat previously filled by John Fricke (taken by Jennifer West).   

    One needs to know the political intrigue in town:
    • Former mayor Greg Harper fell into disfavor with Ms Davis in the 1990's and he was never permitted to be mayor again.
    • After being a long time political friend, Ken Bukowski fell into disfavor with Ms Davis in 2009 and was not permitted to be mayor again.
    • John Fricke was a political enemy of Ms Davis and was not permitted to be mayor (if he wanted it).
    • Political friends of Ms Davis have been: Dick Kassis, Gary Caffey, Ruth Atkin, Kurt Brinkman and Ken Bukowski (until he fell into disfavor). 
    Lastly, one needs to know that in off years, Ms Davis will allow other council members to be mayor as long as they're not in disfavor or an enemy.  These mayors can be thought of as inconsequential; these can be thought of as freebies.

    Here's the make-up:

    • Two seat'ers: Dick Kassis, Gary Caffey, Jennifer West, Kurt Brinkman, John Fricke
    • Three seat'ers: Nora Davis, Ken Bukowski, Ruth Atkin, Jac Asher

    So here's the formula in action:
    year (sitting as mayor in November), two or three seat election, mayor (note consequential mayors at election time, inconsequential between elections)
    • 2012 Jennifer West (inconsequential)
    • 2011 Three Seat Election, Nora Davis 
    • 2010  Ruth Atkin (inconsequential)
    • 2009 Two Seat Election, Dick Kassis
    • 2008 Ken Bukowski (inconsequential)
    • 2007 Three Seat Election, Nora Davis
    • 2006 Ruth Atkin (inconsequential)
    • 2005 Two Seat Election,  Dick Kassis
    • 2004 Gary Caffey (inconsequential)
    • 2003 Three Seat Election, Ken Bukowski (he was thought to have needed the extra help this year)
    • 2002 Ruth Atkin (inconsequential)
    • 2001 Three Seat Election, Nora Davis
    • 2000 Dick Kassis (inconsequential)
    So you can see the metrics work perfectly.  Knowing these metrics, one can predict who will be mayor in the future (if Ms Davis stays healthy).  Going forward it will look like this:
    • 2013 Two Seat Election, Kurt Brinkman
    • 2014 Jac Asher (if she doesn't fall into disfavor with Ms Davis) (inconsequential)
    • 2015 Three Seat Election Nora Davis  


    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. A reader made a personal attack against Ms Davis that was hateful. I deleted the comment. Let's keep the conversation civil people. There's no room for personal attacks.