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Saturday, June 7, 2014

City Attorney Relents on Council's Charter City Directive

City Now Has Proposed Charter 

At the June 3rd City Council meeting, Mike Biddle, the city attorney, finally relented and produced a "short and focused" charter for the City of Emeryville as he had been expressly directed to do on three separate occasions by the Council, a growing source of friction publicly played out in dramatic fashion at City Hall and covered by the Tattler.  The two page document presented Tuesday by Mr Biddle spells out a new municipal governance model, a 'charter city', that will be voted on by the Council and then taken to Emeryville voters in November for their consideration.
Mr Biddle had previously resisted doing the two page work tasked to him by the Council repeatedly since April, insisting that only a 12 page document would suffice despite evidence of numerous other California city's one and two page charters.
The City Attorney had come under increasing fire from the Council for his obstinacy on the issue, eventually alienating all five members  even Councilwoman Nora Davis, his biggest supporter at City Hall.
The City Council had explained that a lengthy charter, filled with legalese, would only serve to confuse voters, leading to an unnecessary defeat for the proposal in November.

The Council has collectively expressed desire to include in the charter provisions to levy a real estate transfer tax as neighboring cities have done in order to make up for lost revenue after the demise of the Emeryville Redevelopment Agency.  Emeryville's current governing model, 'general law', a model orchestrated by Sacramento, does not permit such a tax to be implemented.  The legal provisions of charter cities, sometimes referred to as 'home rule' or 'local control' cities however, allow for local voters to decide such things.

The City Attorney in Emeryville serves at the pleasure of the City Council.


  1. I've been following politics in Emeryville ever since I moved here and that's more than a decade now. Biddle's been nothing but a problem all that time. Anybody that's been paying attention knows that. Why can't he be let go? It can't just be Nora Davis stopping this. I agree with what Ken Bukowski has said on this. We deserve better.

  2. I'm glad we have a City Attorney who stands by his legal advice. He's supposed to represent the interests of the City, not the Council. If the City gets sued over the charter, the Council needs to understand it's in them.

    1. The City Attorney works for the City Council (as does the City Manager). He represents their interests, not the citizens. In theory, the Council has the citizens' interests at heart. Only the City Council can fire the City Attorney as they affirmed in the wake of the Measure F election from 2011.