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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Face of Minimum Wage

Emeryville's Minimum Wage Workers

Beatriz's Story

News Analysis
Emeryville is considering raising the minimum wage and a rising tide of voices against the proposal is being heard from the small business community in town.  The former Mayor and a vocal minority of Emeryville residents supporting the business sector are also entering the fray.  Contrary to claims made by these critics, the City of Emeryville has voluntarily made transparency, accountability and democratic inclusion paramount; a courtesy letter was sent to every business in town, alerting them to the public meetings where this issue has been discussed, giving businesses a more than equal opportunity to influence the decision makers.
This unprecedented move by City Hall however has caused some residents to cry foul, noting City Hall is giving the business community special favor with the notification letter since no residents or workers have gotten this letter.  The letter represents an extra level of transparency, above and beyond the legal minimum requirements, and is causing some blowback; these residents say the City should be be just as concerned about giving this extra level of notification to all the residents and the workers, since they would also be directly affected by a minimum wage increase.  The City should be as interested in hearing the resident's and the worker's voices as the voices from the business community, these residents claim.

Amid all the drama between the business community and residents, the one group yet to be heard from in any substantial way, are Emeryville's minimum wage earning workers themselves; the people in our town who stand to gain from a wage increase the most.

The Tattler has sought to rectify that.  We've contacted several of these workers and we have encouraged them to testify to the City Council or to us.  With one exception so far, these low paid workers have declined to comment; all claiming fear of retaliation from their bosses.
The exception is a young woman of color working at a national fast food chain restaurant in town.
This woman and her employer will remain anonymous as she has expressed fears of possible retaliation from her boss if her identity is made known.  She has chosen the name Beatriz for herself for purposes of this story.

Beatriz's Story
Beatriz (19) works for this Emeryville fast food employer but she lives in Richmond with her parents and siblings, she told us she cannot afford her own apartment.  She is attending community college part time while she works, usually 25 hours per week.  She rides the bus to Emeryville for her commute.  Beatriz is paid $9 per hour, the current minimum wage in Emeryville (and California) and she receives no benefits.  Her paycheck is sometimes less than $200 per week after taxes are taken out.  She is in training to become a 'shift leader', a promotion if she gets it, and her compensation would increase to $10 per hour (with no benefits offered).
Beatriz receives financial aid for college but she has to pay for her books on her own and her Emeryville job provides that money.  Most of the remainder of her earnings goes to her parents to help pay the family's bills.  She told the Tattler, "I have a big family and I help out with food expenses and rent and other bills".

Low Wage Brings Family Crisis
Rent is a looming and existential problem for Beatriz's family;  the lease on their apartment is ending and the landlord is using that opportunity to increase the monthly rent on them.  This has put the family in crisis because they can't afford the higher rent.  The landlord has notified the family they will be evicted if they can't pay the higher rent.  "We're going to have to move, but the rents are high everywhere", Beatriz told us.  Her parents have been looking for a new apartment to rent but they can't find one the family can afford.  Meanwhile the clock is ticking.

Beatriz has been made aware of the proposed $14.42 minimum wage for Emeryville's big businesses and she is extremely happy and hopeful at the prospects, "The money I make is necessary for my family.  A raise to $14.42 per hour would mean my family would be able to keep our home" she said.
Beatriz would make an extra $5.42 per hour with the proposed increase.  This amounts to an extra $135.50 per week or $542 per month before taxes, more than enough to make up for the increase in Beatriz's family's rent, "definitely enough to save our home" she said.

Profits Sent Out of Emeryville
Beatriz's employer, a wholly owned subsidiary of a larger parent corporation, has more than 7000 restaurant locations across the US and is located in over 50 countries.   The corporate headquarters are out of state and an Internet check revealed the CEO brings in more than $4.2 million yearly in cash payments and equity compensation, a level that translates to more than $2100 per hour for a 40 hour week at 50 weeks per year.  The corporate Board of Directors each gets around half what the CEO gets, around $1000 per hour (if they work full time).
However the majority of employees for this corporation make the minimum wage or less, that's $9 in California but only the federal level of $7.25 elsewhere.  This means the CEO earns more than 290 times more than the average lowest paid workers.

The next public meeting to discuss Emeryville's minimum wage raise will be at the next regularly scheduled City Council meeting: Tuesday April 7th at 6:30 PM at City Hall.  The public, including minimum wage earners, are welcome to attend and give public testimony if they wish.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Kurt Brinkman Uses Oakland Tribune to Misinform Emeryville Residents

Former Mayor Spreads Misinformation
on Minimum Wage Debate

Obfuscation and Outright Falsehoods 

Former Emeryville mayor and multi-year Chamber of Commerce Board member Kurt Brinkman is using his position as a community leader to misinform the community in an opinion piece in the Oakland Tribune revealed in that newspaper's 'My Word' section this week.  Mr Brinkman, known to misinform and deceive the public while serving his five year term on the City Council in order to help the business community, told Tribune readers Wednesday the City Council is forgoing transparency and businesses are being left out of deliberations regarding a proposal to raise the minimum wage in Emeryville, a false statement.  Additionally, he says the Council's lack of intimate knowledge about small business is corrupting their judgement, rhetorically asking, "who on the Emeryville City Council has ever hired an employee, run a business or made payroll?", a dismissal of one Council member's 25 year proprietorship.

Mr Brinkman says he is concerned about Emeryville's small business and he tells the Tribune readers Emeryville's small businesses will not be given a phase-in period with the proposed wage increase, another patently false statement.  He also disregards the two City Hall public meetings held on this topic so far stating that the Council is turning a "deaf ear" on small business by conducting only one meeting.

Kurt Brinkman
Oakland small business 

owner has met a payroll 
for 18 years.
Also in the Tribune opinion piece, former Mayor Brinkman goes on to say Emeryville and other cities should not institute minimum wage laws on their own but instead defer to the State of California and its minimum wage, now pegged at $9 per hour.  He ventures Emeryville businesses will be "put out of business" or driven out of town, precisely the same charge he made as a Chamber of Commerce Board member in 2005 against the last minimum wage increase for Emeryville's hotel workers.  Mr Brinkman was part of a concerted $140,000 effort by the Chamber of Commerce to stop the wage increase for the hotel workers enacted as a result of the passage of the Emeryville ballot initiative Measure C.  At the time, Mr Brinkman and the Chamber assured residents the four  Emeryville hotels would go bankrupt or flee to Oakland or Berkeley as a result of the wage increase.  In the intervening years, Emeryville has approved the building of hotel number five, all paying their workers the higher wages, hardly the destruction of the hospitality industry Mr Brinkman predicted.   For his remarkable lack of prescience in the Measure C fight, Kurt Brinkman has steadfastly refused to comment.

The Tattler has long chronicled Mr Brinkman's ethical transgressions to further big business interests at the expense of Emeryville's small business on the dais at the Emeryville City Council.   In 2011, Councilman Brinkman joined colleague Nora Davis in an action to stop a citizen led initiative drive to remove Emeryville's infamous business tax cap, a law that makes small business pay a higher rate of taxes than big business in town.  The tax cap, still in place, forces Emeryville's small businesses to subsidize big businesses.
Councilman Scott Donahue
Emeryville small business
owner has met a payroll
for 25 years.
Last year, after voting to move Measures U&V (a pair of 'charter city' and real estate transfer tax initiatives) forward from the dais, Councilman Brinkman joined a failed $100,000 effort by the California Association of Realtors (CAR) to stop the Measures, stating Emeryville will effectively be destroyed if voters pass the Measures.  Mr Brinkman lent a hand to the Sacramento lobbying entity CAR by robo calling every Emeryville voter, a spiel that contained many factual errors and misleading tropes.

Current Councilman Scott Donahue took the opportunity to set the record straight regarding Mr Brinkman's erroneous comment about the Council's lack of business experience, "To answer Kurt's question, I've had a small business in Emeryville since 1990, employing over 20 people intermittently.  I've met my payroll obligations for my employees during all that time and I'm fully aware of the employee costs to small businesses" the Councilman said.

The public will get another chance (number three) to weigh in on this minimum wage proposal on April 7th at the regularly scheduled City Council meeting.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Emeryville's Minimum Wage Likely to be Eclipsed by Berkeley

'Regional Approach' on Minimum Wage Emerges
Buoyed by the actions of municipalities throughout California and the entire nation, East Bay cities in the Bay Area are undergoing discussion and implementation of minimum wage increases, one city seeing the raise by another and increasing their own in response; the much talked about 'regional approach'  polity emerges.  Emboldened by Oakland's $12.25 minimum wage, Emeryville has begun deliberation on its own summer 2015 wage hike to $14.42 per hour for big businesses and Berkeley, not to be outdone, is now considering leap-frogging past Emeryville with a wage pegged at $16 by 2017.  This regional approach to minimum wage setting is a formula that will likely settle out at a place where the lowest paid citizens among us will receive compensation for their labor at a (marginally) livable wage.  It's a formula that (ultimately) takes into account built-up inequalities across the region by removing local capriciousness and petty ideological politics from municipalities acting as would-be fiefdoms. 
First it was Berkeley that raised its minimum wage in 2014, followed on by Oakland last fall, then Emeryville, under pressure from its neighbors goes one better and now it's back to Berkeley, each city raising the wage a click.  This regional approach to settling on an ethical minimum wage is turning out to be a rational policy proscription that brings higher social and economic justice; a good thing.

From Chico Enterprise-Record News:

Berkeley could have $16 minimum wage by 2017
By Judith Scherr Correspondent
POSTED: 03/24/15, 2:58 PM PDT |

BERKELEY -- The city's $10 an hour minimum wage, which currently trails levels set by San Francisco and Oakland, could sprint to more than $15.99 by 2017, if the City Council adopts standards being proposed by its Labor Commission.
San Francisco's minimum wage is at $11.05 an hour, on its way to $15 in 2018; Oakland's is at $12.25, increasing annually with the Consumer Price Index. All exceed California's current minimum wage of $9, which will increase to $10 in 2016.
Under Berkeley's 2014 ordinance, the minimum wage went to $10 an hour in October 2014, will increase to $11 by October 2015 and to $12.53 by October 2016.

The draft revised minimum wage law the Labor Commission finalized at its March 18 meeting would increase minimum wages in October 2017 to match Berkeley's Living Wage, the minimum companies contracting with the city must pay employees.

The law provides no further increases after 2016.

Berkeley's current Living Wage is $13.71 an hour, plus a health benefit of $2.28 an hour; both increase annually with the CPI.

Similarly, the proposed minimum wage and health benefit would increase with the CPI. Employees would be able to opt for either an employer health plan or a cash benefit.
The draft law provides sick days, calculated at one hour per 30 hours worked.
The City Council is expected to consider the proposal June 9, but approval won't be a slam dunk. "I think we are in for a fight with the City Council," said commission Chair Sam Frankel, urging colleagues to lobby the council members who appointed them to the commission.
Last year the council rejected a Labor Commission proposal that would have raised Berkeley's minimum wage over several years until it caught up with the Living Wage, opting instead for the more modest minimum wage.
Berkeley's restaurateurs have led the fight to slow minimum wage increases.
John Paluska, who owns two Berkeley restaurants, cautioned the commission against raising the minimum wage and health care benefit too quickly.
"Based on today's numbers, this double increase would result in an additional cost to Berkeley employers of $3.46 (an hour)," Paluska wrote in a March 18 email. "Add in nearly three years of CPI increases and this number will likely be closer to $4 (an hour). This is a huge increase with no phasing."
Instead, Paluska proposed yearly CPI increases beginning in October 2017, which he said would give the business community time to study consequences of Oakland and San Francisco's wage increases.
Berkeley Chamber of Commerce CEO Polly Armstrong expressed concerns to the commission about seniors who hire caregivers.
"They are paid not by government money, but by individuals hiring them," she said, contending that seniors unable to afford the increased wage may hire employees off the books who are willing to work for less than minimum wage and might be untrustworthy.
The draft ordinance also addresses service charges, a percentage of a restaurant bill added in lieu of tipping. The proposed ordinance explicitly excludes owners and managers from sharing in service charges.
Armstrong told the commission she believes regulating service charges complicates record keeping.
But David Fielder, speaking on behalf of the Wellstone Democratic Club and the group Tax the Rich, said that without regulation service charges might go to managers.
Fielder went on to counter the argument that the wage hikes will hurt businesses.
"Don't listen to 'The sky is falling' and Chicken Little stuff," he said. "The thrust of this ordinance must ensure the greatest good for the greatest number of people, not protect the secretive profit margins of a few outspoken opponents."
Stephen Gilbert, with the Berkeley Minimum Wage Initiative Coalition, told this newspaper after the meeting, "If the City Council decides to gut (the commission proposal), we'll be moving forward with an initiative."
The coalition plans to file with the city clerk in April to begin a six-month process collecting signatures to put a ballot measure before Berkeley voters in Nov. 2016 that would raise the minimum wage to $15 by October 2017.
San Francisco's November 2014 minimum wage ballot initiative won by 77 percent and Oakland's won by 82 percent.
On April 7 the Emeryville City Council will hold a study session on hiking the minimum wage to $14.42, equal to the city's living wage, effective July 1 2015.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

RULE Meeting

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Emeryville Police Shoot Woman, Body Camera Turned Off

From KGO News:

 Emeryville Officer Who Killed Shoplifting Woman was Wearing Body Cam, Had it Turned Off
(KGO) - An Emeryville police officer is now on administrative leave after fatally shooting a woman who was involved in a shoplifting incident outside an Emeryville Home Depot. Allegedly, the woman took off on foot after robbing the store and was pursued by two officers into Oakland. One of the officers alleged that the woman pointed a revolver at them, and the officers proceeded to fire seven rounds at the woman, killing her. 
The city of Emeryville had purchased 50 body cameras last month to be worn by officers on duty, and one of the officers involved in the shooting was wearing a body cam at the time. However, he claims he forgot to turn the camera on until after the woman had been killed.
Emeryville police chief Ken James says that the officer may have forgotten to switch on the camera because they are so new to the department that the officers have not yet been trained on how to use them. 
He said, "we have not deployed body cameras as a department-wide program at this point. The one officer that had the camera on was part of our field testing of the body cameras. As a result, we did not have a policy in place of when to activate it and when not to activate it."
Police chief James says that he hopes the footage will still be useful in the investigation. It has been turned over to Oakland police because the shooting occurred in their jurisdiction.

Officer involved in Monday shooting had body cam turned off

New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said the late release of information about an officer-involved shooting was a "snafu" and mistake on the part of the police department, for which he accepts full responsibility.
Officer Lisa Lewis fired a weapon during a traffic stop Monday, striking suspect Armand Bennett, 26, in the head. Serpas the shots were fired following a scuffle between the two. However, the NOPD did not disclose the shooting to the public until Wednesday evening.
New Orleans police said Officer Lisa Lewis got into a fight with a man during a traffic stop on Mimosa Court in Algiers. During the altercation, she shot 26-year-old Armand Bennet in the forehead.
Bennet's attorney, Nandi Campbell, said her client never resisted, and she claims the officer fired a second shot at her client as he ran away.
The officer's attorney countered that Lewis had turned her body camera off because her shift was about to end and she was on her way back to the Fourth District station when she initiated the traffic stop that led to the shooting.
"What good is the camera if officers are able to take them off and just put them on the side?" Campbell asked. "There's supposed to be some sort of checks and balances, so if we have an officer who has no problems shooting at a man two times. Why should I be surprised that she took the camera off? I'm not surprised at all."
It's unclear yet if there's any other video from the scene.
"We want the officers to wear body cameras when they're engaged with somebody in the public, and we know many times that is going to happen and sometimes things happen very fast and they might not be able to," according to NOPD Chief Ronal Serpas. "But I don't know yet. I haven't seen this case."
Serpas said Lewis and the suspect had gotten into a scuffle a week before Monday's incident, and Bennett got away. He said that prompted the NOPD to issue four different warrants for Bennet, which led to Monday's stop.
The shooting and the events that led up to it are under investigation.

Ferguson Police Officer's Body Camera Turned Off During Shooting
Local police continue to search today for a suspect who wounded a Ferguson police officer Saturday night, but now authorities say the incident involved only one person and that it appears no burglary took place.

Local police continue to search today for a suspect who wounded a Ferguson police officer Saturday night, but now authorities say the incident involved only one person and that it appears no burglary took place.
Police also confirmed today that the wounded officer had a body camera, but that it was turned off during the incident.
St. Louis County Police Sgt. Brian Schellman, a police spokesman, said he did not know why the camera was off.
Ferguson police officers began wearing body cameras on Aug. 31, three weeks after a white police officer, Darren Wilson, fatally shot Michael Brown Jr., an unarmed black teenager.
Police originally reported late Saturday night that the officer spotted two suspects trying to break into a business and that when confronted, one of them pulled a gun and fired at the officer, wounding him in the arm.
Police, however, now are describing a different scenario: that the police officer, during a business check, saw a male subject in the rear of the Ferguson Community Center. When he approached, the person began to run and the officer followed on foot. During the pursuit, the man spun around and fired at the officer, who was hit in the left arm, before disappearing in the wooded area behind the center.
The officer was treated and released from a local hospital today.
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson and St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar were originally told that the incident involved two suspects at the time they provided statements to the press Saturday night, but later detectives confirmed it was only one individual, Schellman said.
Schellman also said that police did not have any more details on suspect's description.
The earlier story:
FERGUSON -- A Ferguson police officer was shot Saturday night. The officer, a man, survived the shooting, authorities said.
The shooting occurred in the 1000 block of Smith Avenue in Ferguson, near the new Ferguson Community Center.
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said Saturday night that the officer was on routine patrol and spotted two suspects trying to break into a business. He said the business was in Ferguson.
When the officer confronted the suspects, Jackson said, one of them pulled a gun and fired at the officer. The officer was struck once in the arm, and was expected to be OK.
At a news conference near the Ferguson Police Department early Sunday, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar gave the same account of the shooting as Jackson.
He added that police fired at the suspects at some point during the altercation. But there is no evidence that they were hit. "We have no indication either suspect was shot," Belmar said.
Belmar said he doesn't believe the incident was linked to the Ferguson protests, and that he knew of no other incidents Saturday night.
In the background, chants could be heard from protesters, including, "We are going to shut this down!"
Many in the group of roughly 100 expressed skepticism at the police account of the shooting.
Dozens of police cars from numerous jurisdictions converged on the area after the shooting. The shooter is reported to have fled into nearby woods.
Police established a staging area near the St. Peters Evangelical Church of Christ on West Florissant Avenue.
Officers are still searching for the shooter, according to St. Louis County Police.
The shooting came at the end of another week of protests, arrests and violence since the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson.
Authorities had hoped to avoid further confrontations by canceling the weekly Ferguson Farmers Market on Saturday to prevent a repeat of last week's encounters between protesters and marketgoers.
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson issued a video Thursday in which he apologized directly to Brown's family and to protesters who felt the police mishandled the protests that followed. But the move seemed to reignite protesters calling for Jackson's firing, and tension increased.
Christine Byers, Nick Pistor, Steve Giegerich and Denise Hollinshed of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

St. Louis officer under fire for turning off dashcam video during arrest

By AnneClaire Stapleton, Sonia Moghe and Dana Ford, CNN

Updated 5:46 PM ET, Wed February 18, 2015

(CNN)A St. Louis man has filed a lawsuit alleging excessive force in a case that involves an officer turning off a dashcam that was recording the man's arrest.
At one point in the video from the dashcam, a female officer can be heard saying: "Hold up, everybody, hold up. We're red right now so if you guys are worried about cameras just wait."
The phrase "we're red right now" indicates that a camera is recording.
A second dashcam continued to record.
Video of the April arrest shows officers stopping a vehicle being driven by Cortez Bufford, whose car roughly matched the description of one possibly involved in an area shooting.
As officers approached the vehicle, they ordered Bufford and his passenger to show their hands. They did.
According to the police report, one officer smelled marijuana and saw what looked to be plastic baggies full of a leafy green substance.
The passenger was ordered from the vehicle, and he was handcuffed without incident.
Bufford was also ordered to exit the vehicle, but he refused and became increasingly agitated, according to the report. He was then removed.
While officers attempted to place him in handcuffs, one saw the handle of a handgun sticking out of Bufford's right front pocket. According to the report, Bufford was seen reaching for the weapon.
The video then shows officers kicking Bufford while he is on the ground. According to his suit, Bufford suffered abrasions to his fingers, face, back, head, ears and neck. He was handcuffed after an officer used a Taser on him.
A loaded handgun was later removed from Bufford's pocket.
An attorney representing the city and the police department defended the officers' actions in the arrest, while condemning the officer who turned off the dashcam, which is against department policy.
"The officers were not acting out of line at any time during the arrest. The person involved in this altercation had a semi-automatic gun, and the officers were protecting themselves and the public. They did what had to be done to protect themselves," Winston Calvert told CNN.
He said the use of force and the dashcam issues are separate. The officer who shut off the dashcam video was referred to an internal affairs department, Calvert said.
"The city's Police Department has a policy on the use of dash cameras and other cameras, and the Police Department special order says the cameras should be left on until the event is concluded. When we saw that an officer had violated that policy, it was very disappointing," he said. "The internal affairs recommended discipline for the officer, which is what happened."
Because the case is still open to appeal, Calvert declined to say what the punishment was. He said the officer, who he identified as Kelli Swinton, remains on the job while her appeal is underway. A call to the officer's lawyer was not returned.
Attorney Joel Schwartz, who represents Bufford, is urging reform.
All of the charges against his client have been dismissed. According to a statement from St. Louis prosecutor Jennifer M. Joyce, the "action of turning off the dash camera video diminished the evidentiary merits of the case."
"I don't think an officer on the scene should have the capability to stop the camera from rolling. Otherwise it defeats the entire purpose of having body cameras and/or dashcams," Schwartz said.

Utah officer who shot Darrien Hunt wore body cam, but it was turned off.

Saratoga Springs • Responding to newly released reports that a police officer involved in the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Darrien Hunt was wearing a body camera — which apparently was not turned on at the time — protesters on Friday decried Hunt's death and said it was hard to believe anything the police say about the episode.
The protesters wore bull's-eyes on their backs while shouting, "Stop killing our kids," "Stop violating the law," and "Don't shoot us in the back."
The rally, consisting of about three dozen people, took place outside the Saratoga Springs Police Department, but a handful of protesters moved to stand just inside the building's doors. People driving by honked in apparent support of the protesters.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Tattler Celebrates Five Years

The Emeryville Tattler turned five in February and during our month long celebration, we re-blasted some oldies but goodies from the archives. 

We finish the celebration with a piece from Wednesday June 5, 2013.
The Emery School District pulled out all the stops to kill a bike/pedestrian path required by Emeryville's General Plan on the western property line of the Center of 'Community' Life.  The sad epic included copious amounts of lying to the City Council and the people of Emeryville.  Ultimately, the District won their fight against walking and biking by indefinitely postponing building the required path.  The losers were the people of Emeryville.  The Tattler documented the entire tale as it unfolded in several editions.

Here's the story, titled "School District Moves Against Bicycling at Center of 'Community' Life", one of our reader's faves:

June 5, 2013
"Pimps and Drug Dealers" Will Prey On 
Our Children

No Intent to Build Required Path
The Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee ruled Monday against a plethora of high level authorities that had assembled at the City Hall meeting asking to approve a plan for bike parking at Emeryville's proposed new school and to remove a bike path adjoining the school.  After the Committee voted unanimously to require the path be built and the City Council concurred in April, the Committee was descended upon Monday by a dozen City and School District staff members and department heads.  Included in the fray was the Superintendent of the Schools, the Chief of Police, the head of the Recreation Department and the President of the School Board all pleading for the Committee reverse its earlier vote to compel the District to install the required bicycle/pedestrian path adjoining the incipient Center of Community Life.  The Committee refused Monday to reverse the earlier vote. The assembled group uniformly expressed concern that the proposed bike pedestrian path, called the ECCL Path, would attract a criminal element and that the children at the adjacent school would be imperiled.

Monday's appeal to the Bike/Ped Committee seems to represent a desire on the School District's part to get as much support as possible for not building the ECCL Path but the District indicated it has no intention of building the path in the foreseeable future regardless of the Bike/Ped Committee and the City Council vote forcing them to.  

"I'm Sorry, I Don't Have That Information" Part 2
The throng also asked the Committee members to accept a bike parking component of the Center of Community Life plan but the Committee rebuffed the proposal citing insufficient parking spaces. The plan called for 44 total bike parking spots (22 secure) for the entire Center of Community Life which will include 800 students plus teachers and staff plus the Recreation Department faculty and staff plus members of the public.
Emery schools architect Roy Miller
Again, he doesn't have the information.

The Committee attempted to determine how much bike parking would be appropriate based on how many people would be using the site on a given day, the standard metric the Committee uses as it recommends bike parking for commercial projects in town.  The School District architect, Roy Miller told stunned Committee members he had no idea how many people could be expected to be on the site leaving them unable to make an informed decision, "I'm sorry, I don't have that information" he said, in a moment of deja vu.  Mr Miller had uttered the same remark to the planning Commission and then the City Council in April about size of the existing school pool deck, as those decision making bodies attempted to determine whether to shrink the deck to make way for the ECCL Path.
After Mr Miller punted on the number of people expected at the Center of Community Life on a daily basis, the Bike/Ped Committee members determined on their own it must be more than 1000 and they called for at least 10% bike parking spots or 100 for the cramped site, a number that seemed to stun the school officials.

Schools Superintendent Debra Lindo
Bike/Ped paths are bad..."drastic" even 
So why are WE being picked on? It's not fair!
The meeting was punctuated with plenty of hyperbole and overblown bombast as the authorities attempted to throw their weight around and intimidate the Committee members.  Two school security personnel testified that the bike/ped path would be crawling with criminals preying on the school children, upping the ante of the previous "gang rape" rhetoric from Council member Nora Davis.  The chief of school security, Ken Wright noted thugs and criminals would use the path as an access point; "pimps and drug dealers" would be "cutting holes in the fence" to get at the children he said.  In an emotional plea, he hinted children could be "taken" and he said no one would want that on their conscience.
Schools Superintendent Debra Lindo said the bike/ped path is "drastic" and she complained that it is unfair that the neighboring private school, Escuela Bilingue Internacional (EBI) was released from a proposed path alongside that facility while the Center of Community Life is being forced to accepted its path, a double standard.  She called the April decision by the City Council allowing removal the EBI Path "classist",  owing to the advantaged private school and disadvantaged public school dynamic.

Ms Lindo and the anti-ECCL Path crew plans on taking its show on the road after the drubbing it suffered at the Bike/Ped Committee Monday.  They plan on giving the Committee a tour of the site in the near future in hopes of peeling off a majority of Committee members before appealing to the City Council at a later date.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Tattler Celebrates Five Years

The Emeryville Tattler turned five in February and we're re-posting some of our favorite stories and the reader's favorites during our month-long celebration.  As the news cycle permits, look to see some of these oldies but goodies re-blasted. 

We continue the celebration with a piece from Wednesday December 8, 2010.

 As "Mr Testicles" was greeting Pixar employees arriving to work, the Tattler story about it went viral.  Some readers weren't happy with the story and one commenter called the story "vulgar".  Note the low res photo from an early camera phone.

Here's the story, titled "Emeryville Police Gets A Pair", one of our reader's faves:

December 8, 2010
"Mr Testicles" Solicits Help From Pixar

This morning the Emeryville police responded to an unusual call:  "There's someone dressed up as a man's private parts in front of the Pixar entrance."  Police checked out the lone costumed picketer and left the scene to attend to the seminal work of crime fighting.  The individual seeking to gain Pixar's attention distributed business cards reading:
Pixar can you help? We are a small innovative charity hoping to inspire your support. Can you help us?
 The charity's website reveals that this is "Mr. Testicles" which is part of the Male Cancer Awareness Campaign, which seeks to challenge the "prevailing ‘culture of embarrassment’, that discourages men from discussing and resolving problems related to intimate parts of their body."  The charity argues that "too many men die of prostate, bowel andtesticular cancer because they do not know how to detect the symptoms in the early stages, when treatment would be more effective."
Perhaps the funniest call that the EPD will receive today might also be their most important.  Have you or the men in your life been screened?
The American Cancer Society provides guidelines on who should be screened (and when) on their website: 


Emeryville's Congresswoman on Worker Wages & CEO Pay

Emeryville's representative in the United States Congress, Barbara Lee, weighs in on inequality in her district and America as a whole.  Ms Lee is concerned about increasing poverty and how worker's wages haven't kept up with productivity gains.  Emeryville, as a major business locus affecting the greater region, has many large corporations operating from within our boundaries.  Food for thought as Emeryville considers increasing the minimum wage in town, now set at $9 per hour.

CEOs Are Rewarded for Keeping Their Employees in Poverty.  
It's Time to Change That.
By Rep Barbara Lee

In 1978, the average American worker earned enough to raise a family, buy a house and save for a retirement. Adjusted for inflation, these workers were paid an average salary of $47,200 — a middle class paycheck.  
By comparison, the average annual CEO pay in the 1970s was around a million dollars; or nearly 30 times the pay of the average worker in their company.
In the intervening four decades, these inequities have ballooned. In fact, the story of the late 20th century is the decline of the American middle class and the rise of the super wealthy.  
CEO pay has increased by 937 percent since 1978. If the average American worker had seen similar gains in pay, she would be earning $480,460 a year.

For most American families that income is a pipe dream.  Since 1987, pay for the average worker has barely budged while the cost of everything — milk, gas, college tuition — has gone up and up. Families got squeezed as prices rose and paychecks froze.

Tragically, families who once worked their way into the middle class are now sliding into poverty.

Communities of color have been especially hard hit by the decline of the middle class. African Americans are more likely to live in poverty and experience unemployment. Seventy percent of African Americans who grow up in middle income families will see their personal income fall below their parents.  Languishing wages force families to choose between necessities: a secure retirement or sending a child to college? Repairing a leaking roof or a broken car? Back-to-school shopping or replacing a winter coat that’s too small? Paying the rent or buying groceries?

While these families are making impossible decisions, corporate executives are enjoying unimaginable wealth.

Few realize that CEO bonuses and “performance pay” are subsidized by the American people. Corporations are given major tax breaks for providing exorbitant compensation.  Surely we can agree that corporations don’t need taxpayers to subsidize massive CEO pay — pay that’s grown nearly 1000 percent since 1978.
In America, corporations and executives are playing with a deck stacked against hardworking families.  And the Republican response to this profound income inequality has been a collective yawn.  It’s wrong for any business to keep workers in poverty while padding CEO’s wallets.  It’s even worse that some of these same businesses take huge tax deductions for millions in bonuses.
Clearly, our tax code is not designed to work for all Americans — just the select few.
My bill, the Income Equity Act, prohibits employers from taking tax deductions for excessive compensation — defined as any pay more than 25 times that of the company’s median wage worker or $500,000.  Congress should get to work for hardworking families, not millionaires and billionaires that want to get even richer on the backs of taxpayers.