Condition: Emeryville

One resident runs for office in Emeryville. From the start to the finish. By William "Michael" Webber.

Webber for City Council 2011

Latest articles on top, scroll to the bottom and go to the bottom of the oldest page if you want to start at the beginning.

Safe Protesting At Berkeley

As the Colbert Report points out, the UC Berkeley website has a page guiding students on how to protest “safely.” Colbert then shows a video of the pretty brutal use of batons to gut punch (and liver/spleen punch) the protestors supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement, and a follow up press release about the police merely “nudging” the protestors with batons to break up the protest. Things then get really funny on the Colbert Report:

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/402024/november-10-2011/occupy-u-c—berkeley

Thank you for voting last night, and to those who voted for me, thank you for the vote of confidence. I will see you again in two years.

Thank you for voting last night, and to those who voted for me, thank you for the vote of confidence. I will see you again in two years.

Every single one of your votes means a great deal to me.

I know that I started my campaign late - although I filed my nominating papers within the same time frame as the other new candidate and the sitting incumbents, I had not planned on running and had not done the massive groundwork usually required to build grass-roots community support before actually running. I now have two years before the next Emeryville City Council election and will do my best to get to know as many of you as possible, personally, so we (you and I) can make a difference next election.

I ran on reform and change. While Emeryville is not in the dire straits that face Vallejo, not all is as perfect in Emeryville as the incumbents would want you to believe. The “devil is in the details” and a lot of details get dropped by the City Manager and by the City Council. Fortunately we have a very active, concerned electorate that tries to root things out and fix them by making public comments at Council meetings and by communicating with Council Members by email, telephone, or in person. We all need to keep doing that. Emeryville is not “as good as its Council” it is as good as its residents.

Once again I thank you. Next time I will earn, will win, the popular vote, not just the thoughtful vote. This time I got a preliminary vote of confidence from 259 voters who were both thoughtful and open-minded. Next time we will get the message out to the larger community and win.

Working together to make Emeryville better, post-election.

As a candidate for City Council, I am very aware that the election is only days away, and that half or more of those voting, do so at the polls and not by mail.

So my number one goal is still to get elected, but at the same time it is important to think of about what we, as a small community of neighbors, can do to make Emeryville a better town, a better COMMUNITY, post-election.

With that in mind, I would like to make these pledges to you, the Emeryville residents and voters:

  • I pledge to work with whoever you choose to elect to City Council. I do not burn bridges. I can and will work with all Council Members, whoever they are, post election. 
  • I pledge to remember my promises to the residents of Emeryville. This blog, and my campaign webpage, will stay up to remind me.
  • I pledge to join community and neighborhood groups to meet, townhall fashion, with you to find out what your needs and desires are.
  • I pledge to serve no more than two terms.
  • I pledge to fully serve out each term. I have no aspirations for regional political office.
  • I pledge not to move out of Emeryville! Yes, one candidate who lost in the last election promptly moved out of Emeryville, so this pledge is only slightly tongue in cheek.
  • I pledge to WORK with businesses and large property owners, to forge more balanced deals for the City, NOT to be obstructionist. Madison Marquette (Bay Street) did not have to donate $1,000 to my campaign, as they did for the other new candidate, to ensure fair treatment.
  • I pledge to get the 53rd Street bridge, to connect the east side with Bay Street, open as soon as possible.
  • I pledge to involve PARENTS in the ultimate decision to co-locate, or not, kindergarden and grades 1-6, to the high school campus.
  • I pledge to work for a MORE RATIONALLY SIZED and better community-serving ECCL at the present high school campus.
  • I pledge to do my best to keep Anna Yates open, particularly given the chance to capture some interdistrict transfers from the closed Oakland elementary school.
  • I pledge to support Jac Asher and Bob Carver, new but very caring and committed Emeryville residents, in their efforts to make Emeryville a better place to live.
  • I pledge to make policy making and major decisions in Emeryville more transparent to residents, and to engage residents as early as possible in the decision making process. One of the first things we need to do is figure out how to make the official Emeryville web page more “user friendly.” In the meantime I will open a Facebook page for the express purpose of communicating with residents and businesses and workers in Emeryville.
  • I pledge to treat City of Emeryville employees - whether serving in the offices at City Hall, or on the front-lines as police and fire, with respect, fairly, and with a long-term, not short term, approach.

People have asked me why I allowed myself to be associated with Ken Bukowski in this campaign. I never “allowed” myself to be associated with him. Ken Bukowski is the only Council Member who took the time to come to our new condominium community, Andante Emeryville, and to help us with our problems over 6 years ago. He doesn’t care whether you have lived in Emeryville for 30 years or one year (as was my case, 6 years ago), if you are a resident he is the ombudsman for our concerns. When I saw that the entire City Council was turning against him because he was taking the Council’s particular “dirty laundry” - the performance, qualifications, and tenure of the City Attorney and allegations of “cronyism” between the City Attorney and some Council Members - to the public via a petition calling for selection of an outside law firm to serve as City Attorney instead of having a direct employee - I did not want to abandon Ken BECAUSE HE HAS NEVER ABANDONED US, as residents. I have supported his campaign, while running my own on my own separate issues, because to me, this City, this community, needs to acknowledge Ken for all that he has done for us.

I repudiate the two recent posts on EmeryvilleAction.com and have nothing to do with that website.

Breaking news - the offensive portions of Emeryville Action were taken down as soon as I called Ken this morning. His supporter wanted them left up, and Ken had to argue with him since Ken does not own or fund that site, which is completely run by a well-intentioned supporter, but in the end Ken prevailed. Thank you to the emailer who called my attention to the problem. My original article, un-edited, remains below:

Here is my complete response to an email I opened early this morning, together with my shorter response to the email itself. First, the email and my response (the sender’s name and email have been deleted to preserve the sender’s privacy - no other edits were made):

No it’s not it was done by a friend of Ken’s against my wishes esp. the over the top corruption language. I included no links to that site on my blog or web page or in my campaign literature. I did link to the YouTube video they made from the candidates forum but at YouTube not at his site. I will publish a clarification on my website and blog. 
Also Ken got a copy of the 460 for the hate mail and Kurt Brinkman is the chairman. 

Sent from my iPod- quoted text
On Nov 1, 2011, at 7:48 PM, xxxxxxxxx wrote:

Michael, I would have to imagine that Ken has filled you in on the Emeryville Action website.  He urges people to vote for just the two of you and he has a number of videos and references to you.  Is that how you want to be viewed by Emeryville residents?  Many of the people on the “Toxic People” list are friends and neighbors of mine, as well as neighbors of Nora’s.  When I first knew Ken over twenty years ago, I used to urge Ken to stay away from negative politics, which is why I found it somewhat amusing that you were such a stalwart supporter of his and wanted people to “repudiate” the flyer that was sent out about him.  You’ve also made many complimentary comments about The Tattler and it leads me to believe that you must not have read the earlier articles they have printed in both The Secret News and The Tattler about Ken.  The Secret News goes back to 2008 and has all of their articles on line and The Tattler started a year or so later, but also has all of the articles on line.  You might want to check them out.  It might give you a slightly different perspective on things. (And, I have absolutely no idea who financed or organized the flyer that was sent out about Ken, let alone who may or may not have “repudiated” it.)  For a candidate to turn around and attack residents is certainly an unusual approach.  It’s difficult for me to imagine that it is going to win him any supporters. xxxxxx

To reiterate: every voter should vote as they choose. No voter should throw away a vote and leave it to chance who the third new Council Member will be. Also, supporters of other candidates are ultimately just as important to me as my personal supporters and Ken’s supporters - if we don’t ALL roll up our sleeves post-election and work together, Emeryville may not only fail to reach its full potential it may well decline. We don’t need that. I fully intend to work with EVERYONE in this city, whether I am elected or not, post-election to make Emeryville better.

I just got off the phone with Ken. He is as appalled as I am and is going to talk to that particular enthusiastic, but wrong, supporter to take the offensive language down. If that person truly supports Ken, he will listen to Ken’s request. I hate to repudiate the work of someone who is trying to help, however poor the judgment, but I am running a clean campaign and stand by that. I will attack other candidate’s positions but not them personally, and I will not attack another candidate’s supporter unless that person personally attacks me.

Regarding the “hate” piece that went out several weeks ago - the filing papers for that committee list Kurt Brinkman, a standing City Council Member not up for re-election this season, as committee chairman. I have yet to see public repudiation of that piece from any of the three candidates (Jac, Ruth, Nora) whose pictures, and ostensible tacit endorsement, are on the piece.

I ask Jac, Ruth, and Nora to publicly repudiate negative campaigning, in particular that piece put out by Kurt, just as I have repudiated the negative campaigning done at Emeryville Action.

Finally, not all parts of Emeryville Action are bad. The Leslie Pollard video is particularly compelling as an example of why Emeryville needs to change its policies and practices.

Ken and I are not running as a “ticket.” We are both running to improve and reform Emeryville (isn’t Ken’s Measure F the best reform initiative to come from a City Council Member in years?), but we do not agree on all points as a viewing of the Candidates Forum, link below, will show. Be suspicious of tickets and endorsements that seek to co-opt a candidate or that, worse yet, seek to co-opt your independent analysis and judgment as a voter.

Candidates Forum link on City webpage:

http://emeryville.org/MediaCenter.aspx?CID=Candidates-Forum-2 

Halloween 2011 - several treats, no tricks!

I was walking the children when an Emeryville Police SUV swooped in on us - to wish us a happy Halloween and offer bags for each of the kids. Thanks EPD!

Two residents recognized me and told me they voted for me. Thanks, Emeryville voters!

I got another campaign mailing in the mail today (a big bucks piece that is the third for that candidate). But no negative “hate” literature, like the one circulated a few weeks back. Thanks, fellow candidates!

The kids made out like bandits, with trick or treat bags filled with goodies. 

I came home tired, but feeling good.

Thanks neighbors!

If you missed the live broadcast of the League of Women Voters Emeryville City Council election Candidates Forum last Wednesday, you can see all my responses edited down to just one short video (other candidates omitted):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdapQw3aKCE&feature=channel_video_title

Or you can watch all five of us answer the questions on the “instant replay” posted on the City website here:

http://emeryville.org/MediaCenter.aspx?CID=Candidates-Forum-2

Thanks to the residents who have been calling and emailing me with words of encouragement, and to those who have said so in person.

I know that I have had to introduce myself to Emeryville voters on a very short time schedule. I did not plan to run a year ago! I ran because I saw problems developing in Emeryville and believe Emeryville needs a focused, strong Council Member representing residents’ interests. 

I would like to thank those of you who have called, met me in person, and emailed their support, and especially I would like to thank those who are planning on voting for me, or have already done so by mail.

Remember, you have three votes since 3 Council positions are available, and you should have one Council Member who is going to look out for you.

Thanks again!

Reprinted article from Tattler

Former Mayor Harper Cries Foul:
Nora Davis Falsely Claims Former Mayor’s Endorsement


Former Emeryville Mayor and continuing Emerville resident, Greg Harper has announced the Nora Davis city council re-election campaign is falsely using his name as an endorser. 
After a city-wide mailer was released from the Davis campaign, listing Greg Harper as an endorser, Mr Harper drafted a letter to neighbors in response stating, “Yesterday you voters may have received a campaign piece from Nora Davis listing me as a supporter. I do not support her, and she has no reason to think otherwise.”  
Mr Harper declined to further elaborate and Ms Davis could not be reached for comment.  The campaign mailer was sent out to registered voters across town.

Click through to Tattler, October 28 or www.emeryvilletattler.blogspot.com/2011/10/nora-davis-false-endorsement-list.html .

The audacity of claiming an endorsement from one’s political enemy for years is amazing.

But no greater than the audacity of the campaign “hate piece” that went out from the “Committee to Elect Asher, Atkins [sic - Kurt, the chairman, still doesn’t know how to spell Ruth’s last name] & Davis & Defeat Bukowski & Webber - Emeryville City Council 2011” a couple of weeks ago. In that “hate piece” Asher, Atkin, and Davis had their pictures - all smiling - prominently displayed. Asher, at the Emery Bay Village candidates forum, stated that she signed a pledge not to engage in negative campaigning, but refused to repudiate the piece. Atkin ignored the question altogether. Davis was still absent due to illness.

First the bonds, and now the operating budget.

First the bonds, and now the operating budget.

First, the COC (Citizens Oversight Committee) and the School District were told that the available proceeds for the Emeryville Center of Community Life (the joint City/District “all-in-one” facility) would be cut in half from $120 million to $65 million. Since the City’s contribution remained constant, the shortfall comes entirely from the School District’s expected contribution. The shortfall is taking place because neither the City (which was involved in the process - the ballot statement in favor of Measure J was signed by Ruth Atkin, as then Mayor of Emeryville) - nor the School District (Miguel Dwin, Josh Simon, etc.) took into account the likelihood that property tax values would continue to decline in Emeryville instead of rising. Guess that phone call to the Alameda County Tax Assessor to find out how property values were trending would have taken too long to make, huh?

Now, we find out that “The Department released its first interim status report for fiscal year 2010-11 and Emery School District is on the list of “qualified certifications”,  those districts that have been red flagged for internal financial problems such that its financial obligations might not be met.  Emery Unified joins 96 other school districts statewide on the watch list, nearly 10% of the total school districts in California ”:

http://emeryvilletattler.blogspot.com/2011/10/school-district-might-not-meet-its.html 

(Wish we had a “regular” newspaper in E’ville - you know, the kind that seems to be dying out anyway - but I’ll take an occasional tonic of snarkiness as my “subscription fee” for the outstanding “real world” coverage the Tattler provides.)

Well, with most of the City of Emeryville in a “redevelopment district,” that entitles the Redevelopment Agency (a legal “alias” for the City Council) to grab hold of all increases in property values resulting from the redevelopment it sponsors - so the School District, like a fly in amber, is stuck in a moment of time with an inadequate share of property tax revenues. Sort of like running a school district on the taxes that were available 24 years ago before the big redevelopment boom started. Before the City of Emeryville used its large share of the property tax increment (sorry, before the - cough - Redevelopment Agency - to to keep those legal aliases straight) started siphoning off the lion’s share of the rich new property taxes based on the wave of developments to pay for further “bribes” to developers (tax subsidies, outright payments) who would have developed in Emeryville anyway due to its prime location and available large land parcels. (Paying to help clean up toxic waste, to level the playing field with other jurisdictions, was ok, imho - in my humble opinion. So long as we were not subsidizing the contamination caused by the current owner itself!)

So it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that at the same time the School District is moving forward on grandiose plans to build the ECCL (Emeryville Center of Community Life) it is also teetering on the verge of operating expense collapse.

Of course the School District is not without blame. This is the same School District that HIRED (under Nora’s watch, and Nora was an executive recruiter, a head-hunter, an EMPLOYMENT specialist) the infamous DL Handy who had run his prior District into bankruptcy by embezzling funds, and guess what, did the same to Emeryville. That THEN went on to hire ANOTHER shady superintendent, Steven Wesley, who simply faked portions of HIS resume, something the SF Chronicle found out with a couple of phone calls to the educational institutions Wesley claimed to have credentials from. Simple resume-checking the Trustees of the Emeryville Unified School District should have done.

Don’t tell me that the School District is separate from the City of Emeryville. I agree that legally, it is, much more so than the Redevelopment Agency. But at the same time, the City, via the Redevelopment Agency, has tremendous power to affect the funds and financing of the School District, and he or she who writes the checks, should take some responsibility for HOW and WHERE the funds are spent. (For example, I think that every City Council Member should sit on the COC - Citizens Oversight Committee - to see how the ECCL - Emeryville Center of Community Life - funds are being spent. NO funds are supposed to be spent on “administration,” since that was a Measure J ballot promise made by Ruth Atkin, Miguel Dwin, and others. (See, a City Council Member was involved in School District affairs in 2010, so the City Council should likewise be involved today.)

Today we are in a quandary. To what extent should the City proceed with the ECCL, and to what extent will it get caught up in the fiscal mis-management that has been a continuing problem at the School District? Last night at the debate, when a question on budgets came up, Ruth Atkin offered that she can read and understand City budgets, but School District budgets are written up in such a way they are very hard to follow. What does that tell you about the risks of linking our fortunes with the School District?

How can we be building a $120 million (now $65 million) project with the School District?

I would like to propose that we scale back the ECCL, for now, to include JUST a renovated Emery Secondary School (it’s physically close to shambles in its current state); a new community theater (which would serve Emeryville residents and not just the school kids); and a new public library (we really need a public library, and it’s focus needs to be on e-books, DVD’s, and internet for adults, with a strong children’s section with “real” books - sort of like a scaled down Berkeley Public Library, Main Branch). 

That would let Anna Yates, the jewel of the Emeryville Unified School District, stay open where it is (otherwise you are going to see a mass exodus of parents from Emeryville schools in the K-6 range), and give us a library and a meeting place at the ECCL (the community theater can be our new “town hall” as well). The scale of the ECCL would be reduced, and life will be better for the Emery Bay Residents.

Finally, the before- and after- school center on San Pablo needs to be FIXED. I like its location next Anna Yates, but keeping it in ramshackle temporary buildings is bordering on a public disgrace.

In short, I favor de-centralization, using our existing properties to good value. We just spent $8-9 million to spruce up Anna Yates, let’s not throw that money away.

As always, I would like to ask for your vote on November 8. My literature will be hitting your mailboxes this week and next. I am mailing to voters who vote in “slow years” for my first mailing, and voters who vote in “exciting years” i.e. Presidential election years, for my second mailing. Please email me at michael.webber@gmail.com and let me know when you get your campaign literature from me and what you think about it.

~Michael

Webber for City Council 2011

Thanks for turning out for candidates’ night at City Hall - League of Women Voters forum - will be rebroadcast.

Thanks for turning out for candidates’ night at City Hall - League of Women Voters forum - will be rebroadcast.

Tonight, October 26, the League of Women Voters sponsored a “candidates forum” (not quite a debate) at which all 7 candidates for City Council responded to questions from the League and from the audience (audience questions were presented to the League moderator in writing).

It was great that a significant portion of the community was willing to make the trip out to City Hall to submit questions and watch the “forum.” As candidates, we got to do a 2 minute introduction of ourselves, answer 1 minute questions in rotating order, and, and wrap up with a 1 minute 15 second summary. 

There will be “re-runs” on both the Emeryville cable channel and (at the same time) via internet streaming video, and as I understand it the scheduling will be announced on ETV’s “community calendar.” I will locate the link for you and post an update with scheduled re-broadcast times.

Two cogent reasons for not shutting down Anna Yates and moving the kindergardeners and 1-6 to Emery Secondary high school - Aristotle Webber, the prankster, and Alexsi Webber, who is not daunted by her large school pack!

Two cogent reasons for not shutting down Anna Yates and moving the kindergardeners and 1-6 to Emery Secondary high school - Aristotle Webber, the prankster, and Alexsi Webber, who is not daunted by her large school pack!