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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Emeryville Police at East Bay Bridge Mall Protests

East Bay Bridge Mall (Emeryville)
EPD / Alameda County Sheriffs Deputies faced off protesters earlier this evening before looting began at Best Buy.

Shop owners quickly boarded up at Hollis and 40th Street
waiting for darkness.

Emeryville police joined with Alameda County Sheriffs deputies
ready to face off protesters at the Michael's Craft
store at the East Bay Bridge Center. 

Alameda County Sheriffs Office Deputies formed a line facing off protesters.

Breaking News: Emeryville Protests

Breaking News: (Emeryville)
Protesters tonight broke through metal barricade doors at the Best Buy store and streamed out with electronic merchandise.

Monday, May 25, 2020

School Board Member Proposes Official District Apology for Steve Dain Firing

School Board Member Donaldson: District Needs To Apologize for "Unjust Firing"

1976 Termination of 'Teacher of the Year' Still Isn't Resolved 
at Emery

A week of rapidly moving events at the Emery Unified School District including bad press from the Bay Area's LGBTQ community have culminated in a board member announcing she will propose the district draft an official apology for the 1976 firing of an Emery teacher who after gender confirmation surgery, transitioned to a man, ending in his termination for what the district called at the time, “immoral conduct”.  School board member Susan Donaldson said she will propose to her colleagues at the beleaguered district they write an official letter of apology to acknowledge the wrong done by the district against its former employee, Steve Dain in his “unjust firing”.
Emery School Board Member
Susan Donaldson
The announcement comes after the Emeryville City Council last week pledged to rename the street fronting the high school where he taught, Steve Dain Drive’.  The City was moved to action a year after the School Board failed to act on promises to honor Mr Dain in some other capacity following a board vote against naming the school gymnasium after Mr Dain.
Mr Dain died in 2007.

Current board president Brynnda Collins drew the ire of the LGBTQ community and the news outlet, the Bay Area Reporter during the naming debate last year after she reprimanded her colleague, then board president Barbara Inch for proposing the district honor Mr Dain with the gym name at all, calling it abjectly “political”.  She proceeded to call down Mr Dain, telling her colleagues that instead they should name the gym after “a pillar of the community”.  It was a comment that City Council member Patz called “transphobia”.
Ms Collins refused to elaborate or clarify her ‘political’ charge for purposes of this story.

The idea for honoring Mr Dain initially came some six years ago from then board member Christian Patz who learned of the fired teacher that earned ‘teacher of the year’ commendation from the district the year before they fired him.  Mr Patz proposed naming the newly rebuilt gym after Mr Dain who had been a PE teacher at Emery.  The concept did not go over well with his colleagues who subsiquently deep sixed the idea.  It wasn’t until later, after Mr Patz was elected to the Emeryville City Council and his spouse, Barbara Inch was elected to the School Board, the idea was brought up again.  The board however still resisted the idea of naming the gym by fiat with a simple up or down vote as they could have.  Instead the board members voted to consider other people to name the gym after and then do ranked choice voting.  That vote allowed three choices and Steve Dain lost to a former coach at the high school, Elio Abrami.
Board President Brynnda Collins
Naming the school gym after
the former gym teacher

Steve Dain is "political".
Steve Dain came in second place in a field of 12 choices.

Board member Brynnda Collins voted for Mr Dain as her third choice while member Cruz Vargas didn’t vote for Mr Dain at all, offering instead a vote for Steph Curry, a person who has no association with Emery Unified School District.
Mr Vargas refused to return calls from the Tattler.

President Collins, aware of a public relations kerfuffle stemming from last year’s rejection of Mr Dain followed by last week’s City Council street renaming, has been contacting local leaders (and the Tattler) to let them know she is happy the City is renaming 47th Street Steve Dain Drive.  However, she refused to comment to the Tattler whether the District would go ahead with their promise to honor Mr Dain in some other way as they promised they would last year.

Here is a portion of the text of Board Member Donaldson’s letter proposing an official apology from the district:

I will be proposing to the school board that we issue an official letter of apology to Steve Dain’s family regarding his unjust firing in 1976.  I am in support of the city naming a street after him and am so happy to see that honor, but I would like the school board to officially apologize for the action it took many years ago.  As a board, we have updated our policies to reflect that we will provide a "Safe, Nondiscriminatory School Environment for Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming” students and staff.  Now we must be the change that we ask our students to be by acknowledging this wrong from our past and apologizing for it.  There is more work to do, but an apology is a start.

Susan Donaldson
Member, Emery Unified School District Board of Trustees

Elio Abrami Gym Name: Not Political (presumably)
However, the newly named Elio Abrami Gymnasium
will have a Steve Dain Drive address.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Breaking News: Council to Name 47th Street 'Steve Dain Drive'

Council Moves to Honor Former Emery Teacher After School District Twice Fails

Breaking (City Hall):
Tonight the City Council moved to change the name of a portion of a street in town after an Emeryville PE teacher that was fired by the Emery Unified School District for “immoral conduct” in 1976 after he had gender confirmation surgery, transitioning to a man.  The unanimous vote  to rename 47th Street between San Pablo Avenue and Doyle Street ‘Steve Dain Drive’, came after the Emery School Board failed to name the school gymnasium honoring Mr Dain last summer following a tumultuous public debate there.  The vote tonight directs the staff to bring the issue back to the Council for the final OK at a future meeting that hasn’t been announced.  Emery High School and the gymnasium are located on 47th Street, a piece of infrastructure owned by the City of Emeryville.

Council member John Bauters was the most animated among his colleagues during tonight’s discussion, stating he found the School Board had “reached a new level of disappointment” and that he was “very unhappy” over their refusal to make amends for the unpropitious firing of the Emery teacher, “terminated for who they were” Mr Bauters said.  However the lone School Board supporter of the naming of the gym to honor Mr Dain last year, Board member Susan Donaldson, expressed support for the renaming of the street in a phoned in comment to the Council tonight.  “I was on the losing side” Board member Donaldson told the Council recalling last year’s School Board retrenchment on the Steve Dain issue, but she praised the Council’s vote to “right this wrong” done by the district to the former Emery teacher.
Former Emery Teacher of the Year Steve Dain
His courage will finally be remembered for all
time with the naming of our street in his honor.

The short section of 47th Street to be renamed has the AC Transit’s bus yard facility and the Emery gym and high school on it, fittingly the same address where Mr Dain was a teacher for ten years.  Notably, during his time at Emery, Mr Dain was elected teacher of the year before he was terminated by the district.  He died in 2007 at the age of 68.
There are no residents or businesses located on the portion of the street to be renamed.

After the school district balked on naming the gymnasium after Steve Dain last year, Board members announced they would seek to honor him in some other unspecified way but they failed to do that, a fact noted by Council member Bauters tonight.  Councilwoman Dianne Martinez raised the issue of Emeryville’s legacy with the renaming of the street, recalling that Steve Dain is “an important part of our history.”
But it was Mayor Christian Patz that seemed to best capture the mood of the Council, “you should be allowed to be who you are” he said as he cast his YES vote.

The City Council will make the vote official at a subsequent meeting followed by a street sign replacement, probably this summer.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Breaking News: Emeryville Police Chief Announces Her Retirement

Today, after serving four and a half years on the force, Emeryville’s chief of police Jennifer Tejada, announced she is retiring, effective in mid June the Tattler has learned.  Chief Tejada notified the City Manager, Police Department employees and the City Council of her imminent departure earlier today.   No reasons were offered yet aside from her desire to leave service.  Ms Tejada is 57 years old.  Chief Tejada's short one month notice will necessitate the City of Emeryville to begin searching for a replacement directly.

Chief Tejada was hired in September 2015 after a four and a half month search by the City of Emeryville.  She previously had been the chief of the Sausalito Police Department, having served there for four years.

A controversial chief of police for Emeryville, Ms Tejada instituted a program of “mindfulness”at the department including liberal use of officer yoga.  Sources within the department have told the Tattler over the Chief’s tenure, her managerial style is generally not well received by the rank and file who have complained it has sometimes come at the expense of basic and necessary police work. 
Retiring Police Chief Jennifer Tejada
She made the cover of 'Mindful' Magazine

in 2017.

The Tattler has often been a critic of Chief Tejada’s policing policies, especially her equipping Emeryville beat officers with 'AR-15' assault rifles in their everyday neighborhood rounds and her injecting racist entrees into the Emeryville police blotter released for public consumption.
Ms Tejada insists the rifles in question are not assault weapons, contravening public pronouncements from the State of California and chiefs of police from around the Bay Area, all of whom confirm the rifles now carried by Emeryville police do qualify as assault rifles.
The Chief was told by the City Manager to take down the racist blotter entrees after a Tattler exposé in 2016.  She finally complied after a second Tattler story caused widespread embarrassment at City Hall.

More recently, Ms Tejada was revealed to have failed to alert her officers and technician employees that the Emeryville Police Department is the Emeryville enforcement arm of the mandated Alameda County COVID-19 emergency orders, leaving the rank and file believing the Alameda County Sheriff's Office was the agency tasked with that work.  As reported by the Tattler, an unreported number of Emeryville citizen complainants were mistakenly not assisted and/or deferred to the sheriff's office as a result.

Ms Tejada leaves the Emeryville Police Department after 24 years in police work.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Emery School Board Continues Undemocratic Tradition of Appointing Its Members

Yet Another Appointment to Emery School Board
After Another Elected Trustee Resigns

Emeryville, Meet Your Newest Board Member- 
John Van Geffen; Advocate for Business Interests 
& Foe of the Working Poor 

News Analysis
In his third attempt, local attorney and former City Council candidate John Van Geffen was finally successful this week in securing an appointment to the position of Trustee on the Emery School Board, a governing body that is supposed to be elected by the people of Emeryville.  However due to recurring resignations among Board members, executive appointments to this legislative body here are often the norm.  Also common is the appointing of community members to the Board that have been previously rejected by the voters of Emeryville.  Or in the case of Mr Van Geffen, a candidate that had been previously rejected by the voters AND (twice by) the School Board.  He now takes over the position of former Trustee Sarah Nguyen who resigned earlier in the year.

This week's continuation of Emery's Board of Trustees tradition, manifested by the elevating of Mr Van Geffen, comes after his 2016 City Council bid when he came in last place in a field of six candidates.  The deeply unpopular John Van Geffen was bested by current Board member, appointee Brynnda Collins, who also lost her Council bid in 2016, coming in 5th place in the six candidate field.  Unlike Mr Van Geffen however, Ms Collins actually won a subsequent (2018) School Board bid put to the voters.
Political office aspirants facing voters is the norm in a functioning democracy except here at the Emery Unified School District where Board members commonly resign before their terms are finished.
Third Time's a Charm-
Newly Appointed School Board Member
John Van Geffen

He lost a City Council bid and two previous
attempts to get appointed to the Board.

Newly minted School Board member Van Geffen was a controversial pick for the existing four Board members with his conspicuous ‘limited government’ conservative philosophy and open hostility to Emeryville's popular and progressive minimum wage and 'fair work week' ordinances in his failed City Council bid (see the League of Woman Voters video below).  Whereas Emeryville voters (and previous iterations of the School Board) soundly rejected Mr Van Geffen's attacks on the working poor in the community in 2016, the newest iteration of the Board now see a simpatico fellow traveler they can work with.

The appointment of Mr Van Geffen to the Board of Trustees adds to two existing other appointees currently on the Board.  Not including Board member Collins who was appointed and finally elected,  the Emery Unified School Board now is comprised of only three members whom voters have elected and three that have not been either rejected at the ballot box or appointed to their Board position.  A spare majority of three were selected by the people of the City of Emeryville, a tenuous majoritarian condition given Emery's historic inability to hold onto Board members for their full terms.

Readers may wish to review Mr Van Geffen's presentation in the League of Woman Voters' 2016 City Council candidates' forum in the video below and the Tattler 2016 City Council candidates' questionnaire, in four installments: