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Saturday, December 10, 2016

RULE Assumes Total Power; Residents Replace Business at City Hall

"RULE Block" Bloc Takes Over

RULE Rules; Victory for Residents

First Time Ever; Businesses Have No Representatives at 
City Hall

News Analysis
All five Emeryville City Council members are now RULE backed Council members.  On December 6th, three new City Council members backed by the resident activist group Residents United for a Livable Emeryville (RULE) took their oaths of office and filled out the City Council as they joined the two already elected RULE backed Council members for an unprecedented total RULE takeover of City Hall.  Put this way, as some on the right wing in Emeryville have done, it sounds ominous: a total takeover?  Is it a complete "RULE block" as the anti-RULE pro-business blog E'Ville Eye calls it?  That's pretty disconcerting sounding, but what really is a 'RULE block' anyway?
A total RULE block means Emeryville residents interests will now have 100% representation at City Hall as opposed to what existed in the Emeryville of yesteryear when a 'business block' at City Hall and in the Council chambers looked out after business interests. 

New RULE Councilman
John Bauters
Part of the RULE block 

RULE Block
Emeryville's 2014 election seated Dianne Martinez and Scott Donahue, both RULE backed candidates and together they joined their colleague already on the Council, Jac Asher, to form the first RULE majority, the first RULE block as it were.  Now however, Emeryville residents, and their advocate at City Hall, RULE, can rightfully claim their influence and power is not simply part of a 3-5 majority anymore but their power at 5-5 is now complete and total; a remarkable turn of events given Emeryville’s not so distant staunchly pro-business history when resident's interests took a back seat.  

New RULE Councilwoman
Ally Medina
Part of the RULE block
The election on November 8th, the fifth consecutive RULE election sweep (every RULE candidate won their seat), added RULE backed candidates John Bauters, Ally Medina and Christian Patz.  It marks the wholesale accession to power for the resident's advocacy group and a total abdication of power by the business community and business advocacy groups the E’Ville Eye and also Little City Emeryville (a new organization that has inserted itself into Emeryville politics and casts itself as a replacement for the vanquished Emeryville Chamber of Commerce). 

New RULE Councilman
Christian Patz
Part of the RULE block.
Business Block
The win on November 8th consolidating total power for an advocacy group was remarkable but not unprecedented in Emeryville history; the 1997 election of Chamber of Commerce backed candidates Gary Caffee and Dick Kassis added to three other already seated Chamber backed Council members, netting the business community an eight year 5-5 total lock on power (from a 4-1 simple majority earlier).  The Chamber leveraged that power in the form of City Hall sponsored give-a-ways to the business community, automatic green lights for developers seeking approval for projects and even for itself when it secured City Hall sponsored free rent and cash grants to publish its newspaper all paid for with public money. Before 1997 you’d have to go all the way back to the 1960’s through the 1970's (before the Chamber existed) with the Emeryville Industries Association to see a similar 100% business block on power at City Hall.

Existing RULE Council members
Mayor Scott Donahue & Dianne Martinez

Both part of the RULE block.
Predictably, now that RULE enjoys the same level of power that the business community used to have, business advocates have cried foul.  Notably among the detractors is Rob Arias, the editor of the pro-business blog the E’Ville Eye who has even before the last election used his blog to chastise RULE, to insinuate the democratic resident advocacy group is somehow illegitimate, characterizing them as secretive, somehow even dangerous or nefarious. 

Former RULE Councilwoman
Jac Asher

Part of the RULE block.
She gave RULE a shout out as she stepped
down on Tuesday night.
As the locus of power has shifted to the residents, Mr Arias, who also is a co-founder of Little City Emeryville, has raised alarms about what he sees as the improper vesting of so much power in one organization.  It is remarkable that Mr Arias, for all his histrionics on the recent shift of power in Emeryville, sees crucial 
distinction between a business interest lobbying group and a citizen advocacy group both petitioning their government as one between a magisterial elite that should be shown great deference and a rag tag bunch of (hippie?) residents worthy of little more than derision.  Vexing in this calculation for Mr Arias no doubt is the unavoidable 'problem' that only citizens can vote, not businesses.  The whole idea of the franchise of course is the empowerment of resident citizens, and RULE, a democratic group open to all residents and advocating as they do for pro-resident change, represents that empowerment. 
Not prone to transparency (a quality at odds with the title 'journalist'),  Mr Arias has steadfastly refused to answer questions about his favorite punching bag, RULE for this story, regardless of the optics that creates. 

Contrary to RULE, groups such as Little City Emeryville and the former Chamber of Commerce are anti-democratic private clubs, restrictive in their memberships.  Of course, business advocates never publicly reveal their advocacy so bluntly as this.  Usually attempts are made to invoke resident's interests using the classic trickle down economic proposition, in this case: what's good for business is good for Emeryville.
Former RULE Councilwoman
Jennifer West
Before the RULE block when

RULE was in the minority. 
This plutocratic view of governance, with its whiff of desperation may be derided by most around here as too easy but it must be acknowledged and respected for what it is: a potentially effective stalking horse ripe with utility by would be demagogues and interlopers among us, even those who count themselves as journalists.

Former RULE Councilman
John Fricke
Before the RULE block when

RULE was in the minority.
But even as Emeryville slips into a new era, a ‘post land use’ era what with the last large developable sites having been developed, there's no guarantee a City Council entirely backed by RULE will be looking out exclusively after resident's interests.  Indeed, recent pro-business moves, by the RULE majority made before the formulation of the new total RULE block (the unnecessary give-a-ways at the Marketplace development, Sherwin Williams and the Anton/Nady project) are echoes of the days when business was king in Emeryville.  

RULE's accession to total power has an extra cautionary tale for haters who would take on the group in the story of John Bauters and his two year pivot; Mr Bauters ran as an anti-RULE City Council candidate in 2014 and lost. Perhaps sensing the rising power of RULE, this year Mr Bauters patched up relations with the group and sought and received RULE's endorsement.  This time RULE members even worked on the Bauters campaign (as well as the Ally Medina and Christian Patz campaigns) by phone calling and precinct walking.

The November 8th three for three election of Mr Bauters, Ms Medina and Mr Patz continues RULE’s uncanny ability to pick winning candidates for public office.  The fact that every single RULE candidate that has ever sought office (at the School Board and the City Council) over five election cycles has won speaks to the highly centrist nature of the group, regardless of the loud condemnations from extremist right wing organizations and individuals in Emeryville.  RULE demonstrably has its finger on the pulse of Emeryville; it is the pro-business ideologues at E'Ville Eye and Little City Emeryville who can't win elections anymore that are, by definition, the extremists. 
The E'Ville Eye
RULE hating pro-business blog.
Big loser in the November 8th
Emeryville election.

The 'Business Block' advocate
refuses to answer questions about RULE
even as the blog continues to report on it.
Little City Emeryville
Founded by the E'Ville Eye.
Business lobbying group;
Chamber of Commerce replacement.
Loser in the election.

Longs for the salad days of the 
'Business Block'.


  1. What goes up, must come down! We are patient.

    1. Yes, it's true. Given enough time, there's bound to be a paradigm shift. Citizen power will likely ebb some day and the business block will come roaring back. It's what happens when people stop paying attention.
      Thanks for the comment; the business community is always welcome to comment on Tattler stories.

  2. Sad as it is to see Jac Asher go, I'm loving me some total RULE block. Rob must not be a happy camper right about now.
    -RULE Sympathizer

  3. Small businesses that stumble upon this article and are considering moving to Emeryville should not dismiss it. This IS an absolutely accurate description and should be taken 100% seriously.

    The tone and focus of the author accurately reflects the attitudes and personalities of all 5 members of Emeryville's current City Council, their views on the role of small business as a part of the community, and their understanding of the role of local government.

    RULE actually does look at the world in the manner expressed here, and they now do control the local government. Make your decision about where to locate your small, locally serving business accordingly.

  4. I'm agreeing with Mr Anonymous; Any small (or large, let's not forget large) businesses that want to locate in Emeryville should not do it if the business in question is not one that would be supported by the community. We don't want (small) businesses here that don't contribute to the community, Mr Anonymous is correct. So fast food restaurants, mattress stores, et al chain formula retail establishments; please don't move to Emeryville. We don't want you here. RULE, being a group representing residents interests will appeal to the City Council to stop these kinds of businesses from locating here. It's called democracy and it's a wonderful thing. Thanks Mr Anonymous for bringing this up.

  5. Why does the Eville Eye hate RULE? I don't get it.

    1. The Tattler asked Mr Arias to answer some questions about that. He asked us to submit the written questions to him and then he changed his mind. He now refuses to answer any questions about RULE. It's an 'interesting' position for a "journalist" to take; the refusal to be accountable and to shed light on a subject near and dear to him that he has 'reported' on. The Tattler will do a story on this subject....stay tuned.