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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Alameda County Fire Department Rescues Emery Schools With Donations

The Alameda County Fire Department Union, Local 55 responded to Emery school teacher's pleas for requisitions for the start of the new school year with a massive school supply drive culminating with a big school site presentation on Tuesday.
Individual fire fighters stood in front of Office Max, Toys R Us and other such stores for weeks collecting donations for the drive.
The huge haul presented to the Emery schools by the Fire Department this year stood in contrast to the supplies donated from the Emery Education Fund, the organization tasked with the yearly school supply drives.  Teachers noted in recent years the hauls from the Ed Fund have been lacking prompting the Fire Fighters Union Local 55 to step in this year.
An anonymous teacher opined the Ed Fund donation drive had come up short again this year, "It's pretty pathetic"the teacher said of the meager offerings, "It's less than $100 worth."
Any thoughts of disappointment in the performance by the Emery Ed Fund however were quickly forgotten after the big red antique fire truck arrived bearing the proceeds from Local 55.

Thanks to the Alameda County Fire Department Union Local 55 and Anna Yates Elementary School teacher Tiffany Johnson for coordinating the supply drive.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

City Calls For Community/Business Input on Horton Street Bike Boulevard

The City Council is soliciting opinions from the community and businesses on whether or how to implement the Pedestrian/Bicycle Plan with regards to the Horton Street Bike Boulevard:

Monday, September 8, 2014

Letter to the Tattler: Christian Patz

Received from Emery School Board member Christian Patz:

Your opinion piece on August 30th [New High Buy-In Make Emery School Board Elections Exclusive], brought attention to the fees charged by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters to candidates for the Emery School Board of Trustees.  I am newly appointed to the Board and I'm a candidate for the position in the November general election.  Your story accurately stated, candidates for Emery School Board must pay $832 if they want to have their candidate statement published in the voter guide.   
As someone who was impacted by this fee, I agree with the concept that we need to keep money out of politics. I am not sure this plan solves the problem. While your plan would help the first three people, it does not offer relief to everybody. The biggest challenge I had in filing my paperwork was getting to the office during business hours. Once there, I had to decide if I could afford the outlay of the fee. On that day, I felt I could not. This may hurt my election chances, but it was the right decision at the time. An alternative that I could support is what they do in other races; pay the fee or present registered voter's signatures. I think the community should decide if the District should pay for the publication of a candidate’s statement. 

Christian Patz, Ed.D.
Appointed Incumbent and Candidate for Emery School Board

Christian R. Patz (Ed.D.) is on the Emery Unified School District Board of Trustees, appointed to the position last June to fill in for outgoing Board member Josh Simon. Mr Patz is currently a Special Education Administrator at the Mt Diablo Unified School District and he is running for election to the Emery School Board in November.  His campaign website is HERE.
Christian lives in Emeryville with his wife and young child.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Emeryville's November Election Draws Sacramento Lobbying Group

Out-Of-Town Real Estate Interests Set Up Political Committee for Emeryville Election

Statewide Realtor Association Money Dump 
Special Moneyed Interests Work to Nix Local Control

Emeryville residents, get ready to get "IMPACed".
That being a big money dump from the California Association of Realtors political action committee to fight against a November election over local control of the town.
IMPAC, Issues Mobilization Political Action Committee, is the political action arm of the Sacramento based statewide Realtors Association, the State's top real estate lobbying group.
The issue at hand are two Emeryville ballot initiatives, both brought by unanimous consent of our City Council for a vote by the citizens November 4th; one being Measure U the Charter City Initiative, a local control initiative and the other Measure V, an initiative to establish a real estate transfer fee, the same fee charged by neighboring cities Alameda, Oakland and Berkeley.

The committee set up to fight both initiatives is calling itself "Citizens to Preserve Emeryville" and lists its Treasurer and Vice Treasurer as hailing from Sacramento and Oakland respectively.  The bank for  Citizens to Preserve Emeryville is in Roseville California.

Emeryville Chamber
of Commerce Vice Chair
Jason Crouch

His backing of the Realtors
subverted the will
of the Chamber. 
A check of the filing documents shows IMPAC has kicked off the spending on the Emeryville ballot initiatives with an initial drop of $20,000.  An extra $5,000 in "interboard solicitations" was also approved to fight Emeryville, IMPAC records showed.  With nearly unlimited resources available at the 160,000 member California Association of Realtors, more money could follow as the anti-Emeryville local control campaign progresses.

Chamber of Commerce's Interests Hijacked
The drama of the California Association of Realtors pushing their weight around Emeryville is further heightened by the unseemly spectacle of the Vice Chair of the Emeryville Chamber of Commerce, Vallejo resident Jason Crouch, hijacking the Chamber's wishes by joining the fight against U&V.  The Board of the Chamber of Commerce has voted to join with the City of Emeryville and endorse both Measures but Mr Crouch signed his name and he included his Vice Chair position on the Chamber Board to the ballot measure arguments against U&V.  
The ballot measure arguments for and against will be in the official Voters Guide printed by Alameda County appearing in voter's mailboxes later this month.

The Sacramento real estate group's chief argument against the charter city initiative (a municipal governance model referred to as 'local rule' or 'home rule') is that it will allow Emeryville citizens themselves to decide many functions of governance that Sacramento now dictates with Emeryville as a 'general law' city.  The actual vote in November will only give Emeryville residents local rule to the extent that they decide whether to initiate a real estate transfer fee.  As it stands now Emeryville misses out on the funds from these transfers that our neighboring cities collect.

The City Council has noted with the demise of the Emeryville Redevelopment Agency, an entity that formerly entailed 90% of the town, fully half of the city budget has been lost.  Infrastructure, parks, maintenance--the things City Hall builds for residents to retain the quality of life will be increasingly out of reach.  Further it should be noted that Sacramento gets to change the rules on general law cities moving forward.  That's what happened when the Redevelopment Agency was eliminated.  Without the local control that the charter city designation brings, Emeryville won't have a right to collect the same fees as the neighbors, putting our budget at risk.

Some are speculating the California Association of Realtors sees Emeryville's local control vote in November as potentially a landmark case, spurring other general law cities in California to became charter cities.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

New High Buy-In Make Emery School Board Elections Exclusive

$832 Stops Democracy in Emeryville
But a Fix is On the Way

Opinion/News Analysis
The Alameda County Registrar of Voters this year has quietly raised the fee to print a 'candidate's statement' in the official Voter's Guide to $832, making the cost for non-incumbents to run a credible campaign for Emery School Board now beyond the reach for all but the independently wealthy.  The punishing new bar set by the County openly discourages all and outright stops many would-be participants from seeking the non paying, no benefits and high workload job of a school board member at Emery.

This high fee is doing a major disservice to the idea of democracy in public education, having the effect of entrenching power by exacerbating and increasing the incumbents advantage while pushing down newcomers who offer a change.  In a School District like Emery where for years, an anti-teacher, anti-parent culture has taken over the School Board, this new high bar for entry to challengers has already proved to be nullifying to democracy: We know of at least one new candidate considering a School Board run this November who was scared off by the high fee.
New ideas at Emery School
District can't see the light
of day without a bunch of 

these behind 'em.

The $832 fee reflects the printing cost of including a candidate's statement along with the candidate's name in the Voter's Guide, or so Alameda County tells us.  They're doing an end run around accusations of anti-democratic high fee exclusivity by continuing to allow a candidate to have his/her name appear in the Guide and on the ballot for a nominal fee.  It's the candidate's statement, the critical chance to inform voters what the candidates stand for, that costs $832.  Rather than go to war against the prodigious plenipotentiary power of the County Registrar of Voters, we see a fix for this intolerable problem here in Emeryville.

The Emery Fix: District Picks Up The Tab
Emery Unified School District is going to have to start paying the County for non incumbent Emery School Board candidate's statements. Incumbents are helped as everybody knows by the fact they're incumbents and voters know that fact because it appears in the Voter's Guide (for no extra money) and on the election ballot.  Non-incumbents will need financial aid from Emery.  
Since it's unreasonable and too expensive for the School District to pick up the tab of every non-incumbent candidate, we propose the aid be doled out on a first come first served or a lottery basis, enough to fill out a full slate of challengers on the ballot.
  Allowing the millions of dollars this school district spends on questionable 'community engagment' given in the form of lucrative contracts to chummy corporate consultants for all sorts of less democratic citizen empowerment than this, we trust they will not cry poverty with this idea.
"After spending millions on 
'community engagement' forwarding 
the Center of 'Community' Life, 
they're going to have to spend 
a little on democracy."

We find it hard to overstate the importance of lowering this fee and allowing new voices on the School Board.  As we stated, this new fee has already curtailed democracy here at Emery.  This year it has stopped the people's right  to have a choice in the direction of their School District: as a result of too few candidates running, the best case scenario for those wishing change will be a 2-3 School Board minority (the 3 representing the existing established power).  We can only elect two challengers this year and that's not enough to bring about new direction.  This November, we can only hope to bring incremental change, change at the margins for our School District.  The $832 fee has limited our choice.

School Board members here at Emery tend to not fill out their terms.  They resign early, giving the power elite on the Board a chance to appoint their favored new replacement (even if sometimes an independent, less-than-compliant pick gets in by accident).  This is no good.  The citizens need to be able to effectively weigh in here. Every election cycle, the people of Emeryville should always have the capacity to vote for a change in their government be it at the School District or at City Hall.  At Emery Unified School District this November, there's going to be no chance for change, regardless of what the people want.  This is unacceptable.  $832 shouldn't stop democracy.  It's time for the School District to pony up, even if the idea of change is threatening to them.  We're going to have to spend a little from now on to ensure democracy doesn't go missing.  Ironically, they may learn to love it; real democracy will give legitimacy to this District and that's something that's also been missing.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

School District Demurs on Mesfun Explanation

Thursday comes and goes:
Still No Answer on School Principal

The Emery Unified School District announced today they will not offer citizens and parents an explanation as to the status of newly hired Anna Yates Elementary School Principal Russum Mesfun as had been promised earlier in the week.  Principal Mesfun continues to be absent at the school and the Superintendent of Emery Schools, John Rubio, himself responsible for hiring Mr Mesfun, will serve as both Superintendent of the District and Principal of Anna Yates indefinitely.
On the first day of the new school year, Monday, Mr Rubio announced the District would offer something by way of an explanation for the missing principal on Thursday but today Mr Rubio begged off, telling the Tattler "I have to check with legal" and that "I'm not done with internal processes [that would enable an answer]."   Superintendent Rubio now refuses to give a timeline for citizens and parents as to explaining what's happened with Mr Mesfun.

Superintendent Rubio hired the controversial Mr Mesfun and has offered that he himself would be responsible for any negative eventuality as a result.

Look to the Tattler to stay on this story as we will make sure the people get an answer to this.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Breaking News: New Elementary School Principal 'No Show' on First Day of School

Missing School Principal

Today, the first day of the new year for the Emery Unified School District is marked by a dramatic no show from the newly hired but controversial Anna Yates Elementary School Principal, Russom Mesfun, an event likely initiated by District Superintendent John Rubio the Tattler has learned.  Mr Rubio, who was responsible for the hiring of Mr Mesfun, announced more information would be made public on Thursday regarding the missing school principal.
Asked directly, Superintendant Rubio was cagey but he hinted that if intractable problems arose between a new Principal and staff at the school, he would support the staff.  He indicated he would be filling in personally for the absent Principal, at least temporarily.  The District has also recently hired a new Assistant Principal for Anna Yates, Barry LaBasse.  The assistant principal is a newly created position for the school.
Superintendent Rubio said the District would reveal all that could legally be revealed regarding the sudden shake up at Anna Yates, starting Thursday.

The hiring of Principal Mesfun caused a stir within the pages of the Tattler recently.  Several teachers from another school district that claimed prior negative interaction with Mr Mesfun made alarming comments regarding Emery hiring him.  Those stories and comments can be accessed HERE and HERE.

The Tattler will closely follow this breaking story and report as events unfold.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

RULE Endorses Candidates for Change on School Board

Patz, Merriam, Affeldt: In
Dwin: Out

The resident activist group Residents United for a Livable Emeryville (RULE), has endorsed two new comers, Christian Patz and Donn Merriam for Emery School District Board of Trustees as they seek election in the November general election.  The group also gives an endorsement nod to incumbent John Affeldt while leaving aside the other incumbent Miguel Dwin.
  Three seats are up for election and the endorsement vote by RULE shows a desire to effect change for Emery. The rejection of long time incumbent Miguel Dwin combined with the approval of Mr Patz and Mr Merriam represents the maximum dissatisfaction with the School Board possible given that three choices are available to voters in a field of four candidates.
Board member Christian Patz was temporarily appointed by a vote of the Board in the spring to replace outgoing member Josh Simon. November 4th will be Mr Patz' and Mr Merriam's first time facing Emeryville voters.