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Sunday, February 7, 2016

"Soft" Opening at Joseph Emery Skate Park

Skaters have used a hole in the fence to check out the still under construction Joseph Emery skate park today.  Featured at the unofficial 'soft' opening were some knocks and scraped skin.  The actual hard opening date is to be announced but some locals are giving themselves an unauthorized preview.  Reviews so far from the 20+- skaters: "nice" & "pretty good".



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Letter to the Tattler: John Lindsay-Poland

Special to the Tattler-
Guest blogger John Linsay-Poland is drawn to Emeryville on the anniversary, today, of the shooting of Yuvette Henderson by the Emeryville Police Department.  

Police Assault Weapons in Emeryville
By John Lindsay-Poland

John Lindsay-Poland
A year ago today, Emeryville Police shot and killed 38-year-old Yuvette Henderson, using an AR-15 assault weapon. Henderson had just dropped off her kids at school, and allegedly had shoplifted at Home Depot, was injured, and left when police gunned her down. According to the autopsy report, she was shot in the back.

Emeryville PD’s Sgt. Fred Dauer told me that the advantages of the AR-15 are that it is highly accurate at a distance, and that it pierces body armor. Yet Henderson was killed from a short distance, and she wore no body armor. Besides Yuvette’s death, the AR-15’s extra capacity to go through people and objects and penetrate others creates additional hazards. Police shooting last February 3, for example, also shattered the car windows of a bystander.

In December, a number of community members addressed policing, militarization, racism, immigration enforcement, and the Yuvette Henderson case at a forum in Emeryville (see the video here). There, we talked about some uncomfortable facts: in 2015, Black people were more than twice as likely as White people to be killed by police. But if Black people were unarmed, they were three and a half times as likely to be killed by police.

Just six blocks from where Henderson was killed, less than a week before, a White marijuana grower pursued police deputies in Oakland and fired a high-powered gun at the officers, but they did not even return fire.

People often say that police need assault weapons because criminals are killing them. Folks can be forgiven if they think there is a “war on police,” since some media promote this idea. But in fact, the number of police killed by others in the line of duty is at an all-time low, according to data compiled by the American Enterprise Institute.

EPD chief Jennifer Tejada has claimed in public that the AR-15 is not an assault weapon, but the gun industry has long said otherwise – at least when it wants to capture a certain market. As the Violence Policy Center notes, “The NRA, the gun industry, the gun press, and other pro-gun “experts” today claim that there is no such thing as a civilian ‘assault weapon.’ They prefer to call them ‘tactical rifles’ or ‘modern sporting rifles.’ But before these types of guns came under fire, these same experts enthusiastically described exactly these civilian versions as ‘assault rifles,’ ‘assault pistols,’ and ‘military assault’ weapons.” Private possession of assault weapons is illegal in California.

Emeryville PD officers said that when Yuvette Henderson was killed, they were protecting the public, because, they say, Henderson had a gun pointed at them (though it is unclear then how they shot her in the back). The officers also say that the only time they have fired an AR-15 since the force acquired them in 2002 was when they killed Henderson. Chief Tejada told me that no police report is made about the AR-15’s use it unless it is fired. In other words, if police go out and take the AR-15 out of the patrol car, but do not fire it, they do not include that in their report of the incident. This makes it difficult to evaluate their claim that the AR-15 is protecting public safety, since the only record of its use in Emeryville resulted in police killing someone. That actually demonstrates the opposite.

EPD officers did a training in December around ‘officer involved shootings’ which lasted a full week, costing more than $7,000. That appears to indicate the Department believes that officers’ judgment in using lethal force needs improvement.

Meanwhile, Chief Tejada is attempting to shore up her political support by getting members of the City Council to attend a “force options” training between now and April to put themselves in the positions of police officers walking into situations and then decide on use of force.

If Emeryville PD has not done so already, it should do some training of officers in implicit bias. Study after study shows that even well-intentioned people – of all races – have unconscious biases against African-Americans. When police face individuals suspected of a crime, those biases can quickly become deadly. Two hundred fifty police agencies have already done some form of such implicit bias training. The aggregate results of this testing should be made public, so we may know where EPD stands in our common imperative to reduce and eliminate the hurtful practices of racism.

The City’s Public Safety Committee will consider its use of force, including AR-15s, next Thursday, February 11 at 11 a.m. You can make a public comment or listen. The meeting will be at the Emeryville PD, 2449 Powell St.



John Lindsay-Poland is Wage Peace Coordinator with the American Friends Service Committee. He blogs for Huffington Post and is the author of  Emperors in the Jungle: The Hidden History of the U.S. in Panama (Duke University Press).  He lives in the Bay Area. 

Mayor Martinez: Dispatches From Washington

Emeryville Mayor Dianne Martinez reports to the Tattler from the annual US Mayors Conference in Washington DC.  Ms Martinez represented Emeryville as a 'guest mayor' since our city has less than 30,000 population.  Here's the Mayor's report:

Just two weeks ago, I had the honor of representing the City of Emeryville at the U.S. Conference of Mayors (UCSM) Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. The group is the official non-partisan organization of larger cities, creating a forum in which mayors can share ideas and information. USCM also promotes the development of effective national policy, strengthens federal-city relationships, and strives to ensure that federal policy meets urban needs.

I attended a meeting of the Environment Standing Committee, where Gina McCarthy, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, gave an overview of the Clean Power Plan – our nation’s first-ever set of national standards that address carbon pollution from power plants. While appreciating that we are moving away from carbon-intensive energy production here in the U.S., I pressed McCarthy to address the transit of coal by rail that is destined for other countries. She confirmed that there are many conversations at the federal level concerning the safety of hazardous materials by rail. There are many proposed projects that may be exporting coal from the Western seaboard, and McCarthy pointed out that the EPA’s role is to make sure there is a complete disclosure in terms of environmental impact. She remarked, “We’ll certainly be at the table to make sure that environmental impacts are considered and well analyzed.” The tragedy over drinking water in Flint, Michigan was at the top of everyone’s minds, and McCarthy did not shy away from this topic. “Our first priority has to be and is to make sure that the water in Flint is safe,” she said. Later that same day, it was publicized that McCarthy accepted the resignation of the EPA regional administrator in charge of Flint.
Emeryville Mayor Dianne Martinez
with
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti


The mayors in attendance were also witness to a speech by First Lady Michelle Obama, who talked about the successes and continued efforts to end veteran homelessness in American cities. And finally, we mayors had an audience with the man himself, President Barack Obama. In the East Room of the White House, the President discussed the role of mayors in American government. “Mayors can’t wait for congress. Mayors can’t get stuck in partisan gridlock. We’ve got Republican mayors here and Democratic mayors, but frankly if you’re a mayor, nobody cares what your party is. They care what you’re getting done.” The President remarked on the 40 cities and counties that have taken action on the minimum wage and on paid family leave. Among other topics, he also touched on the water crisis in Flint, criminal justice reform, the scourge of opioids and heroin, building new housing in our growing cities, and making it easier for people to vote.

While it was definitely a perk to be in the company of the President and the First Lady, the lasting benefit of the U.S. Mayor’s Conference is the opportunity to connect with mayors whose cities are exploring new ways to combat the major problems of our time. For instance, after accepting the First Lady’s Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, Salt Lake City, Phoenix and New Orleans have effectively done so. I’d like to learn from the leadership in these communities and apply the lessons learned from taking on these huge challenges.

In addition to networking with officials from other cities, I was able to connect with members of the Small Business Administration – notably, it’s administrator, Maria Contreras-Sweet. I hope that this connection proves to be fruitful in leveraging federal resources for our small businesses right here in Emeryville.

I look forward to representing our fair city as your mayor for the remainder of this year, and I hope you’ll share your thoughts and concerns with me at dmartinez@emeryville.org.


Links:

President Obama’s remarks to the U.S. Conference of Mayors - http://www.c-span.org/video/?403576-1/president-obama-remarks-us-conference-mayors
Environment Standing Committee - http://www.c-span.org/video/?403512-1/us-conference-mayors-discussion-carbon-emissions


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Revenue Numbers From Contested Real Estate Tax Reveal $3.4 Million Boon For City Hall

Real Estate Transfer Tax Rains Money 
on Emeryville

Emeryville's general fund received $3.4 million in calendar year 2015 under a new real estate transfer tax voted in by the electorate in November of 2014 according City Hall, an amount far exceeding what the City has hauled in during any other year for these transactions.  The tax, called the Real Property Transfer Tax (RPTT), was dramatically increased when Emeryville voters passed 2014's Measures U&V that transformed the town into a 'charter city' that enabled the revenue increase on real estate transfers and was panned in the run up to the election by the business community and outside lobbying groups including the powerful Sacramento based California Association of Realtors.

Councilwoman
Jac Asher

Urged passage of the
real estate transfer tax
in spite of dire warnings
from Sacramento lobbyists. 
The formerly cash strapped Emeryville took in a $3,397595 windfall for 2015, the first full year of transfer taxes at the new rate which became effective on January 1st, 2015 the City announced last week.  This compares to calendar year 2014 under the old tax rate when the City took in just $475,001 despite a vigorous real estate churn.  Before Emeryville voters approved the switch, real estate taxes were charged at the rate of 55 cents per $1000 of value, the maximum a 'General Law' city can charge versus unlimited but set at $12 by the City Council now that Emeryville is a 'Charter City'.  By comparison, one real estate transfer last year, the sale of Emery Tech on Hollis Street, netted City Hall's coffers more than a million dollars alone.

Supporters of the Charter City Initiative, including its chief backer and progenitor Councilwoman Jac Asher, told voters before the November 2014 election much revenue could be gained by raising the tax rate and the numbers released last week tend to vindicate Ms Asher.
Emeryville had stood alone as a general law city among its charter city neighbors Ms Asher reminded voters and the City Hall had left some $21 million on the table with its former anemic 55 cent rate over the last few years.
Jason Crouch
Real estate salesman
and former Chair of the
Emeryville Chamber of Commerce:
If Emeryville voters approve
this real estate transfer fee,
"It's the beginning of the end
for Emeryville". 
The NO on Measures U&V side said passage of the Charter City Initiative and the increasing of the real estate transfer tax would bring a domino effect of general business failure and real estate collapse to Emeryville, even possible bankruptcy for City Hall.  Former Chamber of Commerce Chair Jason Crouch posited himself as point man for the NO on Measures U&V and he hosted public forums warning of the dire consequences to befall Emeryville if the voters said yes to the higher tax rate even though at $12 per $1000, the new rate is still lower than what Berkeley or Oakland charges.  "It will be the beginning of the end for the Emeryville we know and love" the Vallejo resident said.

Voters soundly rejected incessant pleadings in the 2014 election from the NO side in the form of volumes of mailers from portions of the Emeryville business community and especially the California Real Estate Association who dumped more than $85,000 to defeat the two measures.

The money from the new tax, more than $300 for every woman, man and child in Emeryville, pays for among other things, sidewalk repair, park maintenance, street maintenance, landscaping and other needed infrastructure work.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Emeryville Police: What's Next? AR-15 Assault Rifles on Bikes?

Shouldn't Cops on Bikes Be Able to Shoot Through Concrete Block Walls Like their Car Driving Counterparts?

Opinion
Emeryville's new Chief of Police Jennifer Tejada commented at the 'Goal Setting Workshop' meeting on Saturday at City Hall, she would like to see electric bicycles for the police to patrol with.  She seemed to be very passionate about it.  We think it's a great idea...get the police out of their cars and mix with the community more.  You know, 'community policing' and all.

We have a modest proposal to add to that; how about if Chief Tejada adds some AR-15 assault rifles to the bikes?  The Chief says the bad guys are arming themselves with these high powered assault rifles and there's a 'war on police' so we figure just because our police officers are on bikes, why should they be exposed?  Shouldn't they be armed to the teeth with 3200 ft/sec armor piercing projectile velocity, 1300 foot pounds of muzzle kinetic energy weapons just like Emeryville's car riding cops are?  Rounds from these rifles can go right through a concrete block wall or three bad guys standing in a line so why shouldn't our guys riding the bikes be able to do likewise?  We think this is a wonderful marriage between Chief Tejada's insistence that Emeryville police be driving around armed with AR-15 assault rifles and her new found love of cops on bikes.

Next year watch for rocket propelled grenade launchers mounted on Emeryville police bicycles as the 'war on police' continues.  Coming soon to your neighborhood; cops on bikes with RPG launchers (can SAM Surface to Air Missile launchers be far off?).
An AR-15 slung over the shoulder is nice but...


Look how much better this rear mount scabbard is.
All that's missing is the Emeryville Police Department logo
on the bike.

The front handlebar mount style is great
for rapid aim and fire. Wonderful for
rapidly "raining death" on punks.



Then of course there's the ever popular
front scabbard mount to deliver a wall of
lead to the bad guys.

Let's not forget Emeryville motorcycle cops need
massive firepower too.  AR-15's for everybody!

This nice piece of flaming deadly firepower
could be drawn in seconds.


But we like the 'shoot 'n skoot' headstock mount the best.
No need to even stop riding.
Emeryville cops could REALLY put the hurt on the
bad guys with these!


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sherwin Williams Project: 'Cars Are Good, Bikes Are Incompatable'

Sherwin Williams Primer:
'Bike Boulevards Not Acceptable'

EIR Says Glut of Cars Should Push Bikes Out
If All Goes to Plan 

There's only one way the 540 unit Sherwin Williams project gets built; and that's by accommodating its glut of cars seeking its 1000 parking spaces by getting rid of Emeryville's General Plan mandated Bike Boulevards on Horton Street (as well as 45th and 53rd streets) according to City Hall and the environmental document it directed for the project.
But it wasn't supposed to be this way. The document prepared to study the effects of the Sherwin Williams residential building development proposal that has been written that precludes the three planned bicycle boulevards was specifically supposed to accommodate the bike transit corridors in its traffic analysis.  Emeryville's Directors of Planning and Public Works made an executive decision as it turns out, to only study one traffic scenario for the project; one that disregards the three bike boulevards.  The document was supposed to assist the City Council in their decision about the Sherwin Williams proposal as if bike boulevards could coexist with the cars.

"It didn't occur to us" 
to accommodate bike boulevards
-Charlie Bryant 
Emeryville Planning Director

The State mandated document, called the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DIER), was prepared by Maurice Kaufman, City Hall's Public Works Department Director as well as Planning Department Director Charlie Bryant by deleting from the City's General Plan the bike boulevards and moving the project forward with a field leveling, full steam ahead Statement of Overriding Consideration for the City Council to sign.  Alternatively, the bike boulevard standards quantified by the Emeryville's Bike Plan (part of the General Plan), could be "loosened" by amending the Bike Plan to permit the piling of more cars onto the bike corridors Mr Kaufman told the Tattler Wednesday.  However Emeryville's allowance of 3000 vehicles on its bike boulevards is already very high by national standards, "That's probably too high" Steve Clark, the 'bike friendly community director' at the League of American Bicyclists told the Tattler last summer.  Regardless, four years ago, Emeryville's Bike Plan was recognized by the League as good enough to award the city with the designation 'bicycle friendly city'.

Emeryville's General Plan provides for no more than 3000 vehicle trips per day on the three bike boulevards and provides a remedy of traffic diverters to maintain that metric.  Mr Kaufman and Mr Bryant directed the DEIR to assume two 'half diverters' for Horton Street, one at 40th Street and one at 53rd Street that would permit southbound traffic only and northbound traffic only respectively, in order to try to bring down the number of vehicles on the street but the study reveals the remaining traffic would still exceed the 3000 vehicles per day limit as the Bike Plan spells out.  The scenario studied in the DEIR calls for no diverters for either 45th Street Bike Boulevard or the 53rd Street Bike Boulevard.
Directors Bryant (L) and Kaufman (R)
Bike boulevards are only possible
"If you loosen your standards" (Kaufman)

 because "It didn't occur to us" (Bryant)
 to accommodate bikes (as mandated 
by the General Plan).
The DEIR could have studied the traffic effects of the Sherwin Williams project with enough diverters on the bike boulevards to accommodate Emeryville's Bike Plan but Planning Director Bryant told the Tattler that idea wasn't entertained, "That didn't occur to us" he said.  For its part, LSA Associates, the firm that actually wrote the DEIR thinks the two half diverters as proposed by City Hall, while not adequate to save the bike boulevards, are the "maximum that is feasible", a representative told the Tattler.

The public is allowed to comment on the DEIR and any comments received will be reflected in the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) as well as any responses deemed reasonable from LSA Associates.  Commenters should contact the City of Emeryville.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Protest March in Emeryville May Have Been Largest in History

Monday's Martin Luther King Day protest march in Emeryville was joined by "hundreds" according to the Emeryville Police Department.  The civil disobedience was peaceful; no vandalism or criminal activity save the blocking of streets was reported by the police.
Protestors are concerned about the Emeryville police shooting of Yuvette Henderson last year with a high powered AR-15 assault rifle, a weapon the citizens have recently learned the EPD now carries as a matter of routine in their patrol cars.  The arming by Emeryville police of these assault rifles has sparked a debate among residents and the City Council promises to look into the issue with police use of deadly force protocols being reviewed according to Councilman Scott Donahue, Chair of the Public Safety Committee.

The crowd started out in Oakland's
Oscar Grant Plaza at city hall thousands strong...
all ages, races & demographics.

East Bay Bridge Mall
Emeryville's suburban style shopping malls were
transected along the march route.

Over the 40th Street Bridge and past another
Emeryville shopping icon: Ikea...

Many 'inconvenienced'' drivers were supportive.


The Bay Street Mall
Into the holy of holies for Emeryville: the BSM,
what passes for our city center downtown.
A substantive protest has never ventured into
this mall before Monday.

Down Shellmound Street...

The intersection of 40th and Ohlone street was blocked
for an hour and a half.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Bay Street Mall to be Site of Major Protest Action

A protest action to call attention to an uptick in unwarranted police killings of people is planned for Emeryville's Bay Street Mall on Monday that may end up being the largest protest march in Emeryville history.  A consortium of Bay Area social justice activist groups including Black Lives Matter, Reclaim Martin Luther King, MLK Shut it Down and the Anti-Police Terror Project sponsored by the activist collective 96 Hours of Action will conduct a march from Oscar Grant Plaza at Oakland City Hall at 14th & Broadway to the Bay Street Mall in Emeryville to protest the killings by police in general and specifically in Oakland (some eight black men killed since last June alone) and the Emeryville Police killing of Yuvette Henderson last year are cited by organizers as among the reasons for the protest march.
Oakland ranks third in police killings per million people in 60 of the nation's largest cities.
More than one thousand people have indicated a willingness to participate in Monday's march organizers have noted.

The largest protest march in Emeryville history up until now was a hundreds strong November 2008 march from the Bay Street Mall to City Hall to protest the Woodfin Suites Hotel and their refusal to pay their workers the increased minimum wage mandated by 2005's Measure C, the Living Wage for Hotel Workers.

Monday, protesters will march from downtown Oakland to Bay Street in Emeryville from 11 AM to 4 PM organizers say.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

RULE Meeting

Residents United For A Livable Emeryville
Come and meet your progressive neighbors and make Emeryville what you want it to be!
  
Our next meeting will be: Sunday, Jan. 17, from 4:00-6:00 pm (Note:date change from Jan.10 due to Steering Committee scheduling issues)
Artists' Co Op, 1420 45th St. at Horton
(Someone will let you in...meeting room is just inside the door.)


Facilitator:  Lillian Schroth
Note taker:  Judy Timmel
Agenda:
-Police Use of Force issues...................Sarah Harper
-(Possibly) Fair Work Week practices...............EBASE
-Next City Council election: identifying candidates........Steering Committee
-Committee reports
(Adjustments to agenda may be made)


Bring Snacks; tea provided
Hope to see you there!

For more info call 
510-601-6521

Judy Timmel, RULE Steering Committee

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Emeryville's New Motto?

Emeryville
"City of Techie Dorms and Suburban Malls"
Opinion
Most of Emeryville's neighboring cities have a flag or a logo and a motto.  The idea of the motto is to celebrate identifying features of the city, what makes that city unique.  Emeryville already has a spiffy 1970's supergraphic logo...we need to add a motto that celebrates who we are.  A modest proposal:
Richmond
"City of Pride and Purpose"
Oakland
"The Bright Side of the Bay"

Alameda
"The Island City"
"City of Homes and Beaches"
San Francisco
"Baghdad by the Bay"