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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Opaque City: Emeryville Clams Up

Is Emeryville Hiding Something?

Unnecessarily Blacked Out Public Info, Violation of Public Records Act

What Could Possibly Go Wrong With This?

Emeryville is acting like its got something to hide.  The public is asserting their right to see their own information that's ensconced at City Hall and the City is in lockdown mode.  Even to the point of breaking the law.
It's all as a result of a still unfolding debacle at the police station.  There the City's incompetence is on full display regarding the lack of a fire escape for the second floor public lobby as reported by the Tattler and the East Bay Times. The whole thing has been a major source of embarrassment for City Hall and so they're responding by battening down the hatches: If no harmful information gets out, then no harm will come to them.  That's what they must think.
How else to explain why the City of Emeryville would return a 100% redacted architect's plan of the police station the Tattler requested under a duly noticed public records request?  Or the fact that the City has utterly ignored another duly noticed request for internal documents related to the City's bungling of the fire escape at the police station?

Emeryville Transparency
The 100% redacted architect's drawings represent a furtive transgression that is particularly outlandish.  Using a spurious argument about another municipality keeping prison plans secret, Emeryville will not let the public see even their own public lobby represented in the drawings.
We're trying to establish what went wrong with the lack of legal egress for the part of the police station that's open to the public and they're saying the public can't even see that limited part of the drawings.  We understand they have an interest in keeping secret those parts that are sensitive, like where the weapons are stored or the fire escape paths of egress for police personnel but the public lobby is already public...we can see it with our own eyes...right now.  We just need to verify about when illegal work was conducted making the lobby a fire trap without a legal escape for the public.  Was it part of the 2012 major remodel at the police station?  Was it done afterward? The drawings would show that.  And then we could answer what went wrong. But the City is throwing a blanket over the whole thing, using their legitimate right to block from view sensitive information about the police as a cudgel against our rights to see the parts we're allowed to see and to block our seeing our government's own failings.  It's as obvious as it is thuggish.

Equally pernicious is the City's total breakdown of the ideals of transparent government with regards to the State of California mandated Public Records Act: they're not releasing documents about the police station fire escape the Tattler requested back in June.  A government agency has 10 days by law to provide duly requested public documents.  In special circumstances, for instance when the request is extremely broad and would necessitate the fetching of a very large number of documents, a city is allowed to take an additional two weeks to produce requested information.  That extra amount of time has come and gone with this request and the City of Emeryville is now in Emery Unified School District territory...meaning the City is keeping company with that highly dysfunctional School District by simply ignoring the Public Records Act.  Again, particularly thuggish behavior.

All this makes us ask, why?  Is it just incompetence the City is hiding?  Or is it something worse?   As one Tattler reader recently commented; how is it the City could think this path they're taking is going to turn out well?  It's like they settled in on the Nixonian tactic of deception by cloaking, either by cool calculation or in a hot panic but either scenario engendered their asking the question, common to all vain and hubristic governments, "What could possibly go wrong?"

The City of Emeryville recommends this company to other cities with lots of secrets to hide-
They're good to repeat customers and they offer bulk user discounts.


  1. I think the city will start playing ball. They are not stupid. The East Bay Times taking notice will get the city to start taking notice. If they don't, next up will be the Chron. City Hall will get a pass on this from the Eville Eye but not from the bay area press or the people of this town. It will keep getting worse for the city. Next will be the report on how much we'll have to pay to fix this and where the money will come from. When citizens start hearing about how they can't get a park or something because of this, they'll let the city council know. Ignoring and hoping for the best isn't going to work.

  2. Not allowing info out and being secretive at the police station is one thing, spending a bunch of money to fix this fire escape thing is another. I'm holding out until we find out how much money it's all going to cost. A lot of money will raise my anger and a little will make this whole thing some meh.