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Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me

September 4, 2008
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Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me

by Marc Albert After an unscrupulous grifter bankrupted the Emery Unified School District seven years ago, logic suggests the school board would do everything in its power not to be played like a bunch of small town rubes all over again. Well, logic is apparently in short supply. The San Francisco Chronicle says it spent a total of $40 uncovering what the District’s $7,000 background check could not. That most of the degrees and credentials claimed by Stephen Wesley, hired in November as Superintendent of Schools in Emeryville, were made up out of whole cloth:http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/09/03/BASK12IO7K.DTL Within hours of the story hitting the streets, Wesley was hitting the bricks. The school board accepted his resignation: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/09/04/BA0O12O1UM.DTL The current “reform” school board, elected after the former board was purged, has proven itself as incompetent as those they replaced. While Wesley didn’t have the District pick up the tab for a trip to China, leather furniture, or daytime hotel lodging, as his predecessor, J.L. Handy, is alleged to have done in published reports, (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/09/22/MN28570.DTL) it is inexcusable that the current board gave the District’s $150,000-a-year top job to a fraudster. When they ran for office, the reformers said they knew better. Now they

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Tree Law Won’t Stop Chain Saw

August 30, 2008
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Tree Law Won’t Stop Chain Saw

Can Emeryville Be As Tree-Friendly As Oakland Or Berkeley? By Brian Donahue A citizen-led drive against the incessant chopping of Emeryville’s trees led the City Council at its final August meeting to change course and strengthen the city’s tree ordinance. The Council ordered city staff to study ways to bolster the existing ordinance so it may be revised accordingly. A date for a future hearing has not been set. It seems that the Council’s declarations of arboreal love came not from their sudden realization that the city’s Urban Forestry Ordinance (UFO) failed to protect the city’s trees, but because of unrelenting public pressure. Council member John Fricke, a vocal and longtime advocate for strengthening the tree ordinance, has stood alone among his fellow Council members in support of stronger protections for the city’s trees. After the Aug. 19 meeting, he questioned the sincerity of his colleagues:“If the City Council actually follows through and adds broader protections to the city’s tree ordinance, the real test will come when a developer asks for a waiver.” Fricke cited numerous violations of other city ordinances by developers with the Council’s nod. The tree ordinance, approved several years ago in response to citizen concerns, has

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All This Development IS Good for You: Just Ask the City Council’s Pricey PR Expert

August 22, 2008
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$15,000 PowerPoint to “Hone in on Certain Messages” PROPAGANDA n. Any widespread or systematic dissemination or promotion of particular ideas, practices, etc. to further one’s own cause or to damage an opposing one. Often used disparagingly to connote deception or distortion. by Brian Donahue There has been a lot of talk in Emeryville lately about all the new development, and whether or not the community has benefited. Mindful of growing public concern, the City Council is moving to head off public disapproval — not with a change in direction, but with a pricey public relations campaign aimed at convincing voters that the Council’s development-at-any-cost strategy is paying huge dividends to residents. The campaign, by the way, is being paid for with your tax dollars . At a Council meeting June 17th, the Council voted (4-0) to spend $15,500 on a PowerPoint presentation extolling the virtues of all the new development and, perhaps more ominously, to smooth the way for increasing the pace of development to come. Helen Bean, the city’s Director of Economic Development and Housing, urged the Council to craft the presentation to “hone in on certain messages”. City Council Member Ruth Atkin stressed that residents need to know

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Public Market Development Plan Will Bring More Traffic, Few Benefits to Residents

August 19, 2008
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Public Market Development Plan Will Bring More Traffic, Few Benefits to Residents

Developer To Get $10 Million and Street Widening Residents Might Get a Park – in 20 Years by Reem Assil One of Emeryville’s biggest development proposals received a green light last month, when the City Council gave its approval to a major overhaul of the Emeryville Public Market site. The plan is for a sprawling mall and office at the city’s heart. Voting 4-1, the City Council approved a 25-year development plan that will add hundreds of housing units, additional commercial space, and a park to the existing site. The site now has a food court, an office building, and movie theater. Known officially as the Emeryville Marketplace, the current site is bounded by Shellmound Way, the railroad tracks, 64th Street, and Christie Avenue. The proposed expansion would add additional office space, 52,000 square feet of retail, and up to 340 new housing units on what are now large parking lots. Council Member John Fricke, the lone dissenter, voiced three major concerns: TMG Partners, the project’s developer, requested and received approvals locking in zoning approval of any combination of residential/commercial/retail for 25 years. Fricke strongly objected to the fact that under the proposal, construction of the future park isn’t required

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One Family’s Saga: Our Eviction from the Woodfin Suites Hotel

August 17, 2008
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One Family’s Saga: Our Eviction from the Woodfin Suites Hotel

by Juanita Carroll Young My activism was born out of personal experience. You see, my 11-year-old daughter and I were evicted from the Woodfin Suites Hotel in Emeryville last year. We resided there for close to three years while waiting for our Emeryville condo to be repaired of a construction defect. In that time, we became friends with many Woodfin employees, and I voted for Measure C, Emeryville’s Living Wage Law, because I saw firsthand the hotel’s difficult working conditions. Measure C passed, but the Woodfin refused to comply. When the workers took to the streets in protest, they were fired. The whole time, my daughter and I stood in solidarity with the workers, joining them in protest marches, at community or city council meetings, in delegations, and at the big “Let My People Work” march, the largest march in Emeryville’s history. Since we didn’t work there, the Woodfin couldn’t fire us. Instead, they threw us out — they evicted a mother and daughter because Mommy had spoken out in support of the workers. Woodfin General Manager Hugh MacIntosh gave us one month’s notice, and no explanation, but he told the media, “We can’t afford to have her here any

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