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Saturday, August 3, 2013

An Open Letter to Emeryville's New City Manager, Sabrina Landreth

Monday Mornings at 9:00

To Emeryville City Manager, Sabrina Landreth-

We congratulate you as you settle in as Emeryville's new City Manager.  We look forward to many years of service on your part, assuaging the desires of the people of Emeryville as we work together crafting the town we residents want to live in.  No doubt by now you have learned a lot about the culture at City Hall and how politics are played here in Emeryville.  And this is why we write to you now.

The city manager position in Emeryville is not simply an office running job.  This position historically has been used to bend the trajectory of development in the town, regardless of the official job description.  The city manager has not merely fulfilled the will of the City Council, scurrying about as a automaton-like servant.  No, the person in your seat has been the most powerful figure in Emeryville, forming power coalitions, working with a development agenda, for good or bad.

Over many years we have watched with dismay as your office, under your predecessors and behind closed doors, has been used by developers and other business concerns, to conduct business without transparency and without accountability to the people.  The way this has traditionally been done in Emeryville is that development deals are made within your four walls before the public is even informed.  Later, when a development proposal is moved into the public arena, overseen by the elected officials, all the decisions of consequence have already been settled.  The public has been effectively shut out of the process.  With business and developer friendly city managers at the helm up until now, this is how Emeryville has come to be known as the East Bay's business friendly city.

Our new City Manager, Sabrina Landreth
But even as you now assume your position and begin your duties as our new city manager and we turn a page in Emeryville history, we want to make sure we really do turn a page in Emeryville history.

A great place to start we think, is Monday mornings at 9:00 in your office.  Because that is the time and the place one private Emeryville citizen has had reserved for private closed door meetings for more than 10 years.  That citizen is of course John Gooding, the Chamber of Commerce political power broker and business consultant/lobbyist.

Mr Gooding would meet with former City Manager Pat O'Keeffe in Mr O'Keefe's office for a private closed door meeting, Mondays at 9:00.  We're told that time was permanently set aside by Mr O'Keeffe for Mr Gooding.  And before Mr O'Keeffe, it was former City Manager John Flores meeting with John Gooding.  Again, Monday mornings at 9:00, private one-on-one meeting with the man running City Hall.  What was discussed at those hundreds of meetings?  We'll never know. But what was notable was that no other private citizen or even group of citizens ever got equal treatment from the city manager.  The rest of us were locked out.

What we want from you Ms Landreth, is a similar time set aside.  We'd like Monday mornings at 9:00 to be set aside again....only this time we want the door to be open and we want Emeryville residents in your office.  Any of them...hopefully all of them (in one way or another) over the years.  We want you to meet with resident groups such as Residents United for a Livable Emeryville (RULE).  We want you to hear OUR concerns, not just business/developer interests.  We want 9:00 Monday mornings in your office reserved for US.

We think this would help serve as a powerful balm for much of what ails Emeryville.  It would help connect the heretofore alienated public with their City Hall.  We like the 9:00 time slot specifically.  It would serve as a beautiful, symmetrical and just counterpoint.  It would go far to show everyone that a page has indeed turned.


  1. I like this idea

  2. Good for you, Brian. We thank you. Your idea, if implemented, would help Ms. Landreth, and the citizens of the great City of Emeryville, to approach the most significant issues with a more fair and balanced approach.
    But, reality tells me that "Politics", even if opposed, will always win. And, the culprit will be MONEY and INFLUENCE. How else could we have been stuck with ECCL? The Citizens will still be up against it.