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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas Oaks Club Workers! Healthcare Costs Soar, Families Threatened

Workers Decry Wealth Transference at Oaks Club

Healthcare Charges Up 25% for Minimum Wage Workers
While Oaks President Takes Home $1.6 Million Salary

It appears that children of workers at the Oaks Club will have to go without Christmas presents this year.  That's because the owner of the card room, John Tibbetts, has jacked up by 25% the health insurance rates on his employees, many of whom earn the minimum wage and can't afford the rise says UNITE HERE local 2850, the workers' union representative.  The health care increase, an existential threat to non-management employees' families, drove approximately 40 workers to a protest march in front of the San Pablo Avenue card room on December 14th, where they entered the club to present the owner with the Worst Boss of the Year award for 2017.  Managers at the gambling outfit refused to take the award for Mr Tibbetts but they did threaten to call the police on the workers and Council member Scott Donahue who was witness.
About 40 workers and at least two City Council members
joined the picket line at Oaks Club on the 14th.
Councilman Donahue (center) was threatened with arrest
by managers.

The Oaks Club has not increased its contribution to its workers' health care since 2011 workers say and the recent 25% increase means workers now must pay more than $500 per month for family coverage.
The Oaks Club for its part earned $27 million in gross gaming revenue last year and John Tibbetts himself took home $1,662,784 in personal yearly salary alone, according to the City of Emeryville.  Profit taking is not included in that sum it was noted and so Mr Tibbetts likely took home considerably more than that amount.

The workers are demanding affordable health coverage in their new union contract.  “I make minimum wage. There’s no way I can afford to pay $500 a month for health care for me and my kids,” said Ricardo Vasquez.  “Our boss says we can just go on Obamacare—but Trump and Congress are trying to take away the subsidies we depend on. So, what are we supposed to do?” 
UNITE HERE local 2850 President Wei-Ling Huber agreed,  “Here in the Bay Area, we’re not going to let the most vulnerable people be denied life-saving health care. We need employers to step up and do their part. A multi-million dollar card club can afford to do that. A minimum-wage worker can’t.”

For its part, other than threatening to arrest the workers and Councilman Donahue, the Oaks Club management appears to be standing by the boss; manager Peter Schnieder told the Tattler, "I'm surprised Mr Tibbetts would qualify for that [worst boss] award.  I think he's a fair and thoughtful employer."

The 25% healthcare cost was increased "overnight" creating crisis in workers' families said UNITE HERE and the Oaks Club has offered no commitment to keeping the health insurance "even remotely affordable in the coming years."

Mr Tibbetts could not be reached for comment.

Oaks Club President John Tibbetts was
awarded this 'Worst Boss of 2017' trophy.
His managers refused to accept it but instead
threatened to call the police.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Coterie of NIMBYists at PARC Wins: No "Destination Park" for Sherwin Williams

NIMBYism Wins at Sherwin Williams Park Site

"Destination Park" Shown to be Pejorative in Park Avenue Neighborhood

Full Basketball Court Rejected by Planning Commission: Outsiders to be Discouraged

Reversing an earlier decision, Emeryville's Planning Commission voted NO Thursday night to a controversial basketball court for the planned park at the Sherwin Williams apartment project site in the Park Avenue neighborhood.  The reversal from their decision in November praising a full basketball court came after Lennar Development Corporation and the City Hall staff Thursday made a strongly one sided presentation stating a half court is "more usable" and that basketball players would rather use a half court than a real full court.  Notably absent from the presentation to the Commission this time was the previous verbal insistence to make sure the new park not be made a "destination park" with the specter of outsiders coming into the neighborhood even as the forces aligned against the full court still pursued that goal.
Barring a City Council appeal, due within 15 days, the forces that called on Emeryville's decision makers to discourage outsiders from coming to the new park, notably Park Avenue Residents Committee (PARC) and Lennar, won the fight over for whom the City of Emeryville should be building parks with Thursday's final Planning Commission vote.  Despite their decidedly negative view on building a basketball court for the Sherwin Williams park, the developer voiced agreement with PARC that basketball is not necessarily a bad thing and a court might someday be built as long as it's in some other part of town.
Planning Commissioner Steven Keller
Changed his vote from YES to NO.
He's had a change of heart about basketball. 
Before he thought it would be good at Emeryville's
newest park.  Now he says it brings a rough crowd.

Still, basketball players were left stunned Thursday night after learning the Lennar spokesman told the Commissioners a half court is better because it is "more optional" for the new park, "more flexible" and inexplicably, "A half court will get more usage."  The Planning Commissioners, three of whom last meeting said a full court was a great idea, didn't question these new findings nor did the developer offer any evidence to support the claims.  Further, it was claimed by Lennar that a full court would "change the feel of the space", presumably for the worse and that "a half court looks better."  Again, no evidence to support those claims were forthcoming nor did Lennar qualify the dubious statement that people could use a half basketball court for stretching exercises but on a full court they couldn't.

Commissioner Steven Keller who had at the November Planning Commission study session on the park, joined the majority of his colleagues and asked the staff to come back in December and present a park with a full basketball court for them to vote on, was nonetheless pleased this time with the presentation that roundly rejected that ask by the Commissioners.  Vaguely referencing the earlier PARC and Lennar concerns about outsiders coming to play basketball, and reversing previous claims of the benefits of basketball, Mr Keller this time moved to limit games being played, saying "people get rowdy" playing basketball.

With this victory keeping basketball outsiders out of the Sherwin Williams park, PARC adds to its accomplishments and builds its clout with City Hall.   The organization which calls itself a citizen's activist group reflects its xenophobic vision for this park, being an exclusive group closed to outsiders despite the self applied epithet 'community activist group'.  When PARC announced its formation last year, they claimed to speak for the community as they formulated what they called a Sherwin Williams Community Benefits Agreement with Lennar but they turned the idea of a CBA on its head.  The discriminative PARC excluded other community members and community activist groups such as Resident for a Livable Emeryville (RULE), those exclusionary aspirations being the antithesis of the democratic essence of a real CBA.  The Tattler has reported on the likelihood that a better, more resident friendly development would have come to pass if an actual CBA were to have been agreed to but City Hall chose to accept the exclusive PARC agreement (and accept PARC's crowning of their agreement as a CBA).  It is likely a real CBA would have net a real basketball court for the park as well as other amenities but this is Emeryville and that's the path not taken with the Sherwin Williams project.

Video of the meeting can be viewed HERE.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Happy Kwanzaa from the Tattler

Emeryville's annual holiday parade was a big hit this year.  The Tattler wishes everyone a happy Hanukkah (as long as it doesn't get too sanctimonious in its religiosity). 

Seen at the parade and driving around Emery since then:

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Emery Schools Worst in Bay Area: Falling Behind

Emery at Bottom of Urban School Growth

Emeryville children get only 3.8 years worth of education for 5 years of schooling 

Alarming New Stanford Study: Bottom 6% Nationwide 

Emery Unified School District is revealed to be dead last among Bay Area school districts in academic growth over a five year period and in the lowest 6% of all school districts in that metric nationwide according to a new study conducted by education researchers at Stanford University.  It's another  bombshell for beleaguered little Emery Unified, still reeling from a terrible showing on the State 'school climate index' and revelations that the district's falling test scores have dramatically dropped Emery's ranking among rival districts as revealed in October.  The new study strongly hints that Emery's poor school climate can account for the plunging academic performance.

The data shows Emery starting out low and then moving lower over five years, counter to what would be expected according to a December 5th New York Times story on the Stanford study.  Emery represents a low performing outlier cohort in a story that highlights how urban school districts with high rates of poverty can overcome that seemingly debilitating existential condition and produce high rates of growth over time, commonly higher than affluent suburban districts.  Unfortunately, the Stanford data proves Emery goes the opposite direction and serves to reinforce negative stereotypes about under performing districts the Times story seeks to disprove.  However the story and data also show how a district such as Emery could turn things around, given better leadership.

Notably, Ravenswood Unified School District in East Palo Alto, the only district with lower test scores than Emery in the Bay Area shows an impressive 4.5 years growth on the five year chart and owing to the fact that testing occurs before the end of the school year, that district is shown to be growing at a good rate, right on par with expectations independent of its high enrollment of disadvantaged students.  Emery's low test scores combined with it's negative growth proves it lags far behind Ravenswood when viewed holistically and therefore it can be fairly surmised to be the worst school district in the entire Bay Area.

It has been long debated whether test scores measure school quality or poverty.  The better measure now being offered by Stanford is one that lists students’ growth rates.  This new database looks not at how students do on a single test but how much growth they achieve over time; five years.
This new measure does not look at where kids start but at where they finish.  This measure gives the advantage to schools that serve students that start out below average, as they have the most room for growth.  And that makes Emery's sharp move down from a low start even more alarming, but conversely, with a change in school climate, more hopeful.

The Times story focuses on Chicago Unified, a similar albeit larger urban school district to Emery with declining enrollment, three in four students coming from low income homes and a tight budget.  And yet Chicago and many other urban districts large and small buck conventional wisdom and their students achieve high growth over time, sometimes leaving rich white suburban districts in the dust, at least as far as growth is concerned.  The study clearly shows the possibility of "separating socioeconomics from what's actually happening in the schools" as the Times story relates.

The data from Stanford doesn't purport to prove what dynamics result in the high growth of these urban school districts however the Times story does indicate at Chicago and other high growth districts, school 'climate' is critical.  It's the culture of student connectedness to their schools that provides the space for academic growth.  As one Chicago principal put it, despite grinding poverty at home for these students and all the dysfunction that goes along with it, at school her students feel "this is where I belong".  Contrasting with Emery, where student alienation is near total; the 'school climate' California Department of Education study showing Emery ranking in the bottom 1% on student/school connectivity.  That study showed how retaining veteran teachers is critically important for helping student connectivity, and at a 37% teacher loss, Emery ranks at the worst of all school districts in the Bay Area.  Emery's worst in the Bay Area teacher retention ranking is a result of Schools Superintendent John Rubio, a three year employee at the district and his shake-the-district-to-its-core, near pogrom on educators.

Emery: at the Bottom of Bay Area Districts
Emery children shockingly only receive 3.8 years worth of education for five years of schooling. One would expect an average student to make five years of growth after five years. The data identifies 4.8 years as the median growth level, which is consistent with expectations as testing usually occurs three to four months prior to the end of the year.

From the Stanford Study
(Emeryville's median income is $74k according to the Census Bureau) 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

High Stakes Rancor at City/School Committee Threatens ECCL

School Board Members Langner, Vargas Seek to End Committee That Bridges Schools & Community

Ad Hoc Ploy Threatens Center of Community Life 

"You want to embarrass & shame us" said Langner 

News Analysis
As a consequence of deteriorating interpersonal relations, Emeryville’s two elected bodies, the City Council and the School Board voted to convene an ad hoc committee to explore ways to sever the ties that bind them at their regularly scheduled October City/School Committee meeting.  The move to part company, brought in response to pressure built up over three years between the two entities, comes on the heels of what turned out to be a contentious October 5th meeting after School Board members lashed out against the City Council.  A vote was taken to terminate the Committee that failed (7-2 Langner & Vargas voting aye) before the Committee unanimously voted to form the unnamed ad hoc group, presumably in order to placate the insurgents.   School Board member Bailey Langner announced to her colleagues before voting to breakup the committee, “It is my intention to come into this meeting and talk about limiting the scope of the relationship [between the School Board and the City Council]” meaning she was already intending on talking of termination even before the meeting turned sour. 
School Board Member
Bailey Langner

Voted to deep six the committee.

She made it clear, first and foremost
are her feelings.  Accountability
comes somewhere farther down the list.

The mutinous faction, consisting of the two School Board members plus the non-voting administrative staffer Superintendent John Rubio, if ultimately successful in torpedoing the City/Schools Committee, will bring to a close a very remarkable partnership that culminated in the building of the Center of Community Life, Emeryville's epic $200 million  aspirational civic project meant to bridge the community and the schools.  The present function of the committee is to continue running the ECCL to fulfill its promise to the community and the schools for the betterment of both.  

That charge as it turns out is quite unusual given widely applied State constraints mandating the independence of municipalities and school districts.  The City/School Committee was instrumental in getting landmark legislation (AB 1080) written with the help of Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner back in 2009 enabling the building of the ECCL.  The legislation of AB 1080 thread a needle in a field of Sacramento roadblocks to form such a collaborative effort.  
The breakup of this committee now could reverberate across the California political landscape were it to actually happen.
As it is, the unseemly spectacle rising at the Committee earmarks the end of the season of accommodation and comity between the two government elected bodies, a heretofore special and uplifting feather in Emeryville’s cap according to Ms Skinner, now a State Senator.

The bad blood between the two groups was evident at the meeting, Board member Langner complaining she feels disrespected by the City Council members.  At one point after Council members brought up disappointing academic numbers reflecting a failing of the School District (in the purview of the Committee), Ms Langner said her feelings were hurt by the airing of factual information about the District and that she feels “hostility” from the Council, “I do not feel that the City Council is a partner with the School District.  It feels like you want to bring up these topics in an attempt to embarrass and shame us”.  City Council member Ally Medina responded to Ms Langner’s affecting lament, “Your individual feelings are not important.  The children and the residents you were elected to represent are important.”  Ms Langner actually was appointed by the Board to replace a resigning Board member.  She faces the electorate next November.

School Board member Cruz Vargas
He's outraged, OUTRAGED the City Council
is talking about academic achievement at ECCL.
It makes him look bad and he voted to crash
the committee he's so angry about it.

Superintendent Rubio, an authoritarian figure big on secrecy according to teachers at the District and the progenitor of the rancor between the two groups, provided fuel and directed the School Board’s fire at the meeting.   Accusing City Council committee members, he pointed his finger, “I saw the Council members judging the School Board members for their actions” adding he finds unacceptable “the level of disrespect and unprofessionalism [sic] that occurs in our meetings.”  Those comments brought out Council member Christian Patz who said the non-voting staff member Rubio had stepped over the line with his didactic hyperbole, “I take a challenge for you to highlight good members and bad members.”  Mr Patz reminded the administrator,  "It is outside your role.” 

Council member Scott Donahue says the dust ups at the City/School Committee, no matter how rancorous won't likely result in the termination of the committee regardless of the wishes of Ms Langner, Mr Vargas or Mr Rubio.  He told the Tattler the Committee brings accountability and he believes the group will go on, “The City Council is ultimately responsible for protecting the public’s investment in this [ECCL] project.  The City/School Committee represents a necessary collaboration between the City and the School District”.  The Councilman finished, “It is vital to ECCL’s success.” 
 It would appear the School Board (at least two of them plus the Superintendent) will have to figure out how to conduct public policy without making things personal, the first job of any elected official.  In a Rodney King moment speaking to that, Council member John Bauters addressed his colleagues, exclaiming forlornly "It is really important for the City and the schools to find a way to get along."

The City/Schools Committee will meet in January to hash out details of the new ad hoc group they will look to as they consider throwing in the towel on bridging the community and the schools.  The public can look forward to accountability, their interests, taking a holiday at the School District and at City Hall if the towel is indeed thrown in.

Correction:  We originally reported the vote to end the City/School Committee was 8-2 against.  The actual vote was 7-2 against.  School Board member Bryynda Collins did not attend the meeting and therefore didn't vote.  We apologize  for the mistake. 

Emery School Superintendent
John Rubio

He works for the School Board.
Or do they work for him?  It's not clear.
He's supposed to serve a supporting role, 

not a voting member on the Committee.
But he acts like a Committee member. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Basketball Controversy at Sherwin Williams Park: Who Are Parks For?

PARC Group Sees Basketball Court as Threatening to Their Neighborhood

Planning Commission Says Park Should 
Be For Everyone:
Let Basketball Be Played

News Analysis
"Destination Park"
Fitness and fun maybe but look who
might show up in our neighborhood if we
build a basketball court in our new park.
As the Sherwin Williams development firms up final plans for the 10 acre mostly residential project site on Horton Street, a new point of contention has risen regarding a proposed basketball court in the public park for the site, questioning whether public parks in Emeryville should really be public grounds or rather be defacto private grounds.  
At issue outwardly, is whether at the Sherwin site there should just be a single basketball hoop or an actual court for games to be played, leaving unsaid questions of xenophobia and possible racial motivations behind the insistence of neighborhood locals to keep 'outsiders' out of the public park.  The locals are insisting the new park not become a “destination park”.    

A majority of Planning Commissioners have said since there’s plenty of space for a full basketball court, people should be allowed to play games in their new park but a group of residents insist that a court would draw people from outside the immediate neighborhood to play basketball games.  
An exclusive group of residents that have banded together to weigh in on the Sherwin Williams project called Park Avenue Residents Committee (PARC), has announced that they find a basketball court unacceptable.  “We support keeping the basketball area as an informal hardscape with a basketball hoop, rather than a formal full size basketball court” the group said in a November 10th position paper meant for the City Council's purview.  Reasons as to why a full court is unacceptable were not offered by PARC. 

Emeryville Planning Commissioner
Miguel Guerrero

Thinks a basketball court is a good idea.
'I'm dying to have a place to play in town.'
As the Sherwin Williams project moves along its approval process, so far proponents for the single basketball hoop ‘non-destination park’ are winning the argument as far as providing for this kind of “urban” recreation at the new park.  But a majority of Planning Commissioners are unmoved by any dog whistle verbiage, racial or xenophobic,  embedded in the ‘destination park’ argument.  Planning Commissioner Miguel Guerrero said at an October 26th Planning Commission meeting on the topic, “Right now it’s a half of a court and here in the city, I’m dying to have a place where I can go and play a game of basketball.”  Commissioner Steven Keller joined him, adding that he didn’t see why people shouldn’t be allowed to play basketball at the new park, “It’s a very popular sport, it’s a definite way for people to get their fitness and be outside” he said.

The PARC group, exclusive in its membership, is adamant however that there be only a single hoop and the dreaded ‘destination’ concept, what they derisively call a “recreation center” has been strongly rejected they say by the whole community that they claim to speak for.  PARC favors instead that the park be a “recreation area.”  The group gave no distinction between these two concepts, seemingly nearly analogous in their lexicon but apparently existentially divergent in their practice somehow.  PARC is advising the City Council that a basketball court, if one must be built, be located in some other place in the city, not in their backyard.  

Ultimately the City Council will decide the question of just who we’re building this park for; the whole community or just local (mostly white, presumably non-basketball playing) neighbors. 
What's not to like about basketball?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

RULE Meeting

Residents United for a Livable Emeryville
Hello friends and neighbors!
Please join us Saturday, Nov. 18 for the next meeting of RULE, and help make Emeryville a great place to live and work!
Doyle Street Co-Housing
5514 Doyle Street (Common Room, 1st floor)
10 AM to noon 
Share a late breakfast and coffee, meet your progressive neighbors, and speak your mind!  We encourage residents to bring up issues of concern.

Here's our agenda so far:
  • Emeryville School District: declining enrollment, low test scores, and an exodus of roughly 40 teachers in just two years. We would like to have an open, creative discussion with parents, teachers, and residents about what they think can and should be done to improve the quality of education provided by the Emeryville School District. Please spread the word to anyone you think would contribute to the conversation.
  • The Incorruptables:  Anna Callahan of The Incorruptables will talk about the organization and how RULE might contribute to its work. The Incorruptables works to elect officials at all levels of government who will fight for economic, racial, environmental, and social justice. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Emery is Failing to Support & Care For Children Says California Department of Education

Study Shows Emery Fails to Engage/Support Students

Children Don't Have an Adult on Campus They Feel Cares About Them

Children Don't Feel Safe at ECCL Says DoE

A new study released by the State of California shows the schools at Emeryville's Center of Community Life failing to provide students with a safe campus and Emery Unified School District failing to support and engage students there.  The study, called the School Climate Index (SCI) and conducted for the Department of Education reveals Emery failing students in 'overall support and engagement', scoring single percentile digits against other school districts in the state.  But Emery is doing above average as far as providing a campus with low violence and low substance abuse among students the study also shows as revealed by surveys and interviews with students, parents and teachers.
Since 2011 however, the first year Emery participated in the statewide SCI survey, there has been a steady downward trend in student support and engagement.

For 2017, Emery High School emerged with a SCI score of 198 out of 500 in the domain of 'overall support & engagement' putting it in the bottom 2% of all schools statewide.  When compared with schools of a similar demographic, Emery rises but only just to the bottom 6% of schools statewide the study shows.  The two worst scoring sub-domains for Emery in the Index are 'high expectations and caring relationships' and 'school connectedness' both of which placed the school at the bottom 1% statewide or the bottom 2% when compared with schools of a similar demographic.  According to the study, it can be shown definitively that a clear majority of students at Emery don't feel there is an adult at the school that cares for them, they don't feel close to anyone at the school and they don't like being at the school.

Emery Unified isn't alone to blame for the bad numbers however; the District's partner, the City of Emeryville helped shepherd the Center of Community Life and that built facility net a SCI score of 228 for '[student]perceived school safety'.  That puts our new bond funded $200+ million campus in the bottom 8% for perceived safety among students statewide, hardly a ringing affirmation of the 'community' part of the ECCL.  Either through the campus as built or the programs run by Emery Unified School District or a combination of both, the students attending school every day on the new campus don't feel safe, a likely contributing factor in Emery's low academic achievement numbers.
Another contributing factor in Emery's low student support and engagement SCI numbers is the extremely low rate of teacher retention since Superintendent John Rubio was hired.  Supporting documents for the study indicate high teacher turnover, especially among veteran teachers alienates students and drives down student/school connectedness and engagement, both critical for effective student learning.  Accordingly, the Tattler has reported on how Emery's slide in academic achievement since Mr Rubio took over has translated into the District becoming the second worse ranked school district in the entire Bay Area.

The School Climate Index documents Emery's fall since 2011 in overall student support and engagement when the high school scored higher than average.  That year Emery ranked 77% compared with 25% this year and most of the fall has been in the student support and engagement domain.  The biggest fail has been in the category of 'caring relationships' where children feel there is an adult on the campus that cares about them; that has fallen from an above average 359 points in 2011 to just 200 now, and that translates now to the bottom 1% ranking (2% as compared with school districts of a similar demographic).

The SCI shows the District is clearly failing in its charge to educate and care for our children and the School Board will take up discussion of the disturbing trends revealed by the Index starting Wednesday but it is unlikely they will take action since the majority of members have repeatedly shown they will stand by Mr Rubio.  They have shown no propensity to be moved by the constant stream of bad numbers hitting the District and hence the children, be it teacher retention, academic performance or school ranking generated by the Superintendent since they hired him.

Emery scores for 2011 and 2014
Broken out are the categories in the two domains (overall support/engagement
and violence/substance abuse).  Together the combined score is called the SCI score.

Emery SCI scores for 2011 and 2014.

Emery scores for 2017
Broken out into categories

Emery Scores for 2017As translated into percentiles.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Follow Up Friday: Racist Stereotyping at Police Department Taken Care Of

Emeryville City Hall Stops Police Department 
Racist Stereotyping

'It's Being Taken Care Of' Says City Manager

At Follow Up Friday, we look back on previous stories; what's happened after our spotlight shined on it?  If there was a problem identified, has it been solved?  Has there been no change and the amount of elapsed time made the issue newsworthy again by virtue of that fact?  Look to Follow Up Friday to wrap it all up or to highlight for us all how lame our city can be.

After the Tattler twice reported on the racist nature of the Emeryville Police Department’s monthly crime blotter posted on the City’s website, the City Manager has moved to banish the formerly steadfast racist posts.  The Chief of Police, Jennifer Tejada, had been outed by the Tattler in two stories, one in December 2016 and another in February 2017 for injecting racist stereotyping into the City's official crime report.
 City Manager Carolyn Lehr acted after she received complaints from City Council members, by ordering the Chief to stop using overt racist stereotypes in the blotter.  Ms Lehr told the Tattler, “It’s being taken care of” some months ago in response to questions about if the City’s website would continue to post a suspect’s race as the only identifying quality of reported crime perpetrators the blotter chronicles.  

Emeryville Police Chief Jennifer Tejada 
The oath of office doesn't include perpetuating
racist stereotypes.
The monthly crime blotter reports crime in the city and gives descriptions of the suspects as they are given to the police from citizens. The blotter reports specific crimes, their locations, time and a description of the suspect(s) if known.  Sometimes the get-away vehicle is described or direction of travel of the suspect.  Physical descriptions of the suspects commonly include sex, height, weight, age, race, facial hair, hair length/color and distinguishing body characteristics.  The idea is to provide the public with information that could possibly lead to capture of criminals in our town.  The problem before the Tattler shone a light on it was that commonly the blotter would only report the suspect’s race (usually black) with no other identifying characteristics, leaving no way for the public to help the police capture a perpetrator.  That valueless description could only help perpetuate racist stereotyping.

Despite the Tattler stories on the subject, Chief Tejada initially stood by her racist blotter posts until she was forced by the City Manager to stop.  Now Emeryville’s monthly crime blotter leaves off a suspect’s race unless it is accompanied by other distinguishing characteristics, the way other cities in the Bay Area report crimes. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Emery's Costs Per Student Among Highest in the Bay Area

Emery Unified:  High Cost, Low Performance

$14,713 Per Student

News Analysis
Considering the fact that Emeryville is so robustly growing and its residents are so highly educated (70.5% with a Bachelor’s Degree or higher, among the highest averages in the Bay Area), one would think the school district here would likely reflect the high value residents conspicuously place in education. Yet the reality is Emery Unified School District is highly dysfunctional and becoming more so over time; its schools fading, enrollment and test scores dropping, even in the face of a rising city. 

Tracking a slide in test scores and a resultant drop in ranking among Bay Area school districts, the Tattler has shown how Emery Unified School District has suffered from a lack of leadership especially over the last three years.  However not reported in the October 24th story is spending; is Emeryville spending enough to get the results we expect?  The answer is an anomaly; it's not for a lack of money, Emeryville spends more on its school kids per student than all our neighbors do even while the same neighboring school districts far outpace Emery in academic ranking.  
Bay Area school districts generally spend more than the statewide average of $11,176 per student.  A quick look at the numbers is revealing; Oakland Unified spends $13,813 per pupil, Berkeley comes in at $14,367 while Piedmont Unified, one of the State’s highest scoring school districts spends even more at $14,561.  Emery spends $14,713, the third highest in the State of California among districts our size*.  For all Emeryville's spending, our district ranks the second lowest academically in the entire Bay Area.  

Emery is hamstrung over the fact that its small size exacerbates State mandates that each district must meet, making us provide the same minimums as large districts who can spread costs over a larger budget.  This means Emery must pay more for administration as a percentage of its budget than the larger districts.  A look at our neighbor's costs confirms this; both Oakland and Berkeley have 8% admin costs while Piedmont, even though it’s smaller than those two spends 7% of its budget on administration costs, bucking the trend.  Emery’s administrative costs are 13%.   
However, because we've had two successive superintendents binging on hiring more administrators, even when compared with other school districts its size, Emery’s admin costs are still very high.  Only one school district in California, Modoc Joint Unified, comes in higher (16%), but Modoc’s per pupil spending is only $10,200, almost a third less than Emery’s.  Statewide, the administrative average for all school districts is 6%.

Emery: Expensive and Top Heavy
California's small school districts weigh in.  At an average daily attendance of 665, Emery spends almost $15,000 per pupil with an administrative cost percentage of 13%, more than most school districts its size in both categories.
The high cost per student combined with the high administration costs would tend to give credit to those who increasingly argue Emery Unified should merge with Berkeley Unified, the likely increase in student academic performance that move would net notwithstanding.  This possibility of melding with Berkeley Unified is being compared with when the Emeryville Fire Department merged with Alameda County Fire Department several years ago netting Emeryville residents a better service profile for far less money.  Emery’s academic scoring would likely improve and its regrettable costs per student would probably change for the better were such a merging of the two districts take place.
*Numbers are for 2016, the last year reported by the State

Friday, October 27, 2017

Pledge of Allegiance is Back at Emery!

President Trump Would be Pleased to Know Jesus is Back at Emery!

Colin Kaepernick: If You Ever Find Yourself in Emeryville, Keep Traveling

Yes, THAT Jesus.  After a four month hiatus, the Pledge of Allegiance is back at Emery Unified School District, in all its God fearing automaton-like saccharine inducing patriotic glory.  It would appear the Tattler's story back last August on the demise of the loyalty oath known as the Pledge of Allegiance at Emery Unified School District was premature.  Or maybe the School Board voted to reinstate the Oath (3-2; Inch & Langner dissenting) taken at the start of every meeting BECAUSE of the Tattler.  Either way, under God, the Board can read the tea leaves and they think this kind of symbolic patriotism is de regueur in this age of Donald Trump.
So it's hats off, hands on hearts and to hell with critical thinking at Emery Unified.  Children must learn to support the government, right or wrong, no matter what.  Next comes ROTC, morning flag drills and bonnets for the girls at our patriotic little school district.

Praise be to God, Jesus, President Trump and Board member Cruz Vargas, the true blue American, for bringing this back to Emery.

10/25/17 Video Communist Alert: Listen closely and you'll hear Board President Donn Merriam (center) forsake God during the Pledge.  Board member Barbara Inch (right...should be left) doesn't even partake at all, a tell-tale sign of a godless communist.

Number 7 is not welcome at Emery Unified School District.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

ECCL Ineffective in Raising Student Enrollment: Drop Continues

Emery Student Enrollment Continues Slide

New ECCL Campus Has No Effect
Promised Increase a Chimera 

Despite building the ambitious Emeryville Center of Community Life campus two years ago, a bond funded whole new campus that school district officials had widely touted as a fail safe remedy for perennially sagging student enrollment figures, newly released enrollment data at Emery Unified School District reveals that the district is having ongoing troubles attracting children.  Year two into the ECCL era, the gleaming new school campus has shown little to no effect on raising the perniciously dropping student enrollment.  
In fact, the numbers show it's gotten worse; the district is in a multi-year general downward trend that's culminated in 698 students enrolled in 2015/16, the year before taxpayers built the new $75 million campus, dropping to 687 for the first year at ECCL followed by slight uptick this year at 692, but still lower than before the ECCL. 

Emery has been plagued with poor leadership; a series of failing superintendents cycling through every three or so years, resulting in plunging test scores and a dropped ranking, landing the beleaguered little district at the bottom among East Bay school districts as the Tattler reported October 8th.  Also discouraging for district officials is the consistently low numbers of Emeryville residents with children who attend Emery schools.  Last year 46% of children at Emery resided in Emeryville, a number that has remained stuck below 50% for years.

The School Board plans a big turn around for Emery in the form of a new set of guidelines for the District that includes bumping up enrollment including the ratio of Emeryville residents attending Emery, dramatically increasing teacher retention and a big increase in test scores.  Board member Cruz Vargas drafted the new guidelines that he forwarded to the Board at a recent meeting but he didn't say how the new goals would be met.  The Board has not yet voted on the new guidelines.

School districts receive money based on the number of students enrolled and the continuing drop for Emery has had a deleterious effect on the budget, resulting in cut backs over the years.
 Superintendent John Rubio didn't return calls regarding Emery's newly released dropping enrollment numbers.

CORRECTION 10/24 8:35 am: The School Board did not vote on the new guidelines as reported.  The story has since been updated.
Total Enrollment Emery Unified School District

Emery Secondary School (high school) Total number of Enrolled Students

There were 20 more K students in 2015-16, which is what accounted 
for the enrollment increase. It off set the high school drop. 
From 15-16 to 16-17, the drop was in K with increase of plus 2 in 6th,  
plus 5 in 7th, plus 3 in 9th and 10th.  Also noteworthy is the drop from 
10th grade in 2014-15 to 12th grade in 16-17 and the actual graduation 
number which could be as low as 30.  
Following the cohort from K in 2014-15. The group started with 63 kids, 
most of them likely Emeryville residents, 
now there are 43 students in that cohort. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

RULE Meeting

Residents United for a Livable Emeryville

Progressive neighbors making our city a great place to live and work 
Next Meeting:  After a summer hiatus we're back at Doyle St. for Saturday meetings

Where:  5514 Doyle St., first floor common room
When:  Sat., October 21, 10:00 - 12:00
        Council Member Dianne Martinez is guest speaker:  to be discussed.... your concerns (let us know)!
        School Board member Barbara Inch initiates forum on Emeryville families:  "How to attract and retain families in Emeryville"
Bring breakfast and tea provided 

 All welcome...See you there!  Judy Timmel, RULE Steering Committee

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Cop in Schools Idea Causes Meltdown Between City Council & School Board Member

Cop on Campus?:
Rift Between City Council and School Board Member Opens

Board Member Vargas Makes a Power Play

Testy Exchanges at Meeting

Vargas to Subvert Will of the Council

In an impassioned imbroglio played out before the cameras on October 5th, Emery School Board member Cruz Vargas, citing student discipline problems at the ECCL campus, proposed to fellow members of the City/School Committee that a full time Emeryville police officer with the right to arrest students exhibiting behavior issues be provided and paid for by the City of Emeryville.  It was an idea that landed with a resounding thud but not before the City Council members present directed a strongly stated contradictory barrage at Mr Vargas leaving him pained but undaunted, pledging to take his idea on the road and go around the holders of the purse strings, straight to parents.  Surprisingly, the cost to the City for such an officer, likely more than $100,000 per year, was hardly even mentioned by the City Council members, concerned as they were over what they characterized as the inappropriateness of the whole thing.  

School Board member
Cruz Vargas

He's going over the City Council's heads
and take his cop in the school
show on the road.
The ‘cop in the school’ idea, called a ‘school resources officer’ (SRO), has many critics but regardless been used by some school districts to bring 'order'.  However, in schools with large numbers of black and brown children, it has been universally panned by pedagogical experts, social justice champions and those concerned with equity issues nation wide.  Police officers trained in arresting adults, thrust into an environment where normal adolescent behavior can be misconstrued as criminal activity, SROs have been credited with contributing to the oft referenced ‘school to prison pipeline’ especially for young African Americans, what Council member Christian Patz calls a “reframe to criminality”. 
Regardless of the popularity of SROs among law and order types, the City Council attendees at the meeting took their turns joining with member Patz soundly rejecting member Vargas’ SRO objective, notably Council member John Bauters who delivered a memorably devastating and indelible riposte from the dais (see link below).  Admonishing Mr Vargas’ claim the SRO would be good for the police as well as the children, Councilman Bauters countered that schools are “not a place for PR for police” adding, “When cops encounter children who are acting like children, their instinct in many cases its treat them with the training they know.”  He talked at length on the negative effects ‘over policing’ has on many African American children before he clarified that he is not anti-police, and specifically not anti Emeryville police he stressed.

Council member Ally Medina expressed concern over inequity resulting from the use of SROs that academic studies have shown.  Noting the lack of training police have in dealing with child psychology, a problem that in America skews against schools with high levels of minority students like Emery, Councilwoman Medina quoted such studies when she addressed member Vargas, “Suspension levels are higher for minority children in heavily secured schools” she said.

Council member Christian Patz told his colleagues member Vargas had not presented a cogent reason why a police officer is even needed at ECCL, noting a lack of complaints over student behavior issues and the large numbers of administrators and teachers on the campus that has a palliative effect on discipline, let alone any possible criminal behavior.  Mr Patz counted 13 administrators on campus making for a top heavy 1:53 admin to student ratio.  If teachers are added, that makes it a 1:14 ratio and if the entire adult staff on campus is added, then there is a 1:10 ratio with students, an extremely large percentage among school districts.  Besides the highly monitored effect this large number of adults watching over the children has on tamping down bad behavior, it is also a primary reason why Emery spends so much money per student, higher than all neighboring school districts it was noted.  Mr Patz reminded Mr Vargas of Emery's low suspension rates and high attendance numbers to further illustrate his point that an SRO is not needed.

"I don't know what it was in my remarks that 
led to the impression I had an open mind on this.  
I want to make it very clear; I'm opposed to it".
-Council member Christian Patz

With a recalcitrant Board member Cruz Vargas and an equally oppositional City Council, a testy exchange between the Council members and member Vargas ensued.  Despite a united front of the City Council against the SRO proposal, the five individuals Mr Vargas would have to sway to pay for it, he saw fit to counter attack, perhaps giving hint to his next move.  After warning them he would go directly to parents to force the issue he scolded the City Council, “I don’t appreciate this issue being politicized” he said adding with vituperative finish, “the majority of the people at this table are out of touch with the parents.”  
Driving his point, member Vargas said he had been to a PTO meeting and gleaned, “the vast majority of parents in the school” support his SRO idea to which Councilwoman Dianne Martinez, who’s husband was at that meeting fired back, “I don’t appreciate you speaking for me as a parent” after asking if he was sure about his “vast majority” deduction, she questioned him; “Are you extrapolating?”   Mr Vargas shot back that the Board supports his SRO idea prompting Mr Patz to inquire, “Are you speaking for the whole Board?”  After some retrenching speech by member Vargas when Board member Barbara Inch volunteered she is not in favor of the SRO idea, it was revealed the School Board had only voted to place the issue on a future agenda to discuss it.  Having caught Mr Vargas in the fabrication of Board support, Mr Patz pounced, “[Putting it on an agenda is] very different than saying the Board supports it. It says the Board supports talking about it”

To get his cop in the school idea funded, these are
the five people Cruz Vargas needs to convince. 
It's the same five he has gone to war with

After the City Council members finally all had their say, none of it supportive of the SRO idea, member Vargas told everyone present he would hold a town hall type meeting about this and that he was happy the City Council was open to the idea of bringing a police officer to the ECCL campus and spending taxpayer money for it.  He thanked the Council for "having an open mind on this" and for their receptiveness for holding a town hall meeting.  Council member Christian Patz was incredulous upon hearing that, "I apologize, I don't know what it was in my remarks that led to the impression I had an open mind on this.  I want to make it very clear; I'm opposed to it" he said.  Council member John Bauters was less circumspect, "Not one Council member should have given the impression to you [that a police officer on the campus is a good idea]. It would be political adventure for you to hold some sort of meeting to do what we have told you is not of interest to us" he protested. 

The entire dramatic City/School Committee meeting may be viewed HERE.
John Bauter's historic speech within the meeting may be viewed HERE.