Emeryville Councilwoman Ruth Atkin Relents, City Attorney Ballot Initiative to Go Forward

July 28, 2011

(Reprinted from the Emeryville Tattler)

by Brian Donahue

Nora Davis and Kurt Brinkman holdout to the end

Barraged with calls and e-mails from constituents, councilwoman Ruth Atkin finally relented today and agreed to permit a November ballot initiative to eliminate the position of Emeryville City Attorney to move forward.  Ms. Atkin’s change of heart marked the culmination of a week of high drama in the City Attorney election fight that started with a solid wall of opposition among her colleagues but ultimately withered, leaving Ms Atkin as the swing vote and exposed to the resident’s wrath.

The initiative began last April as a petition to replace the City Attorney with subcontracted legal work for the city, mostly as a cost cutting measure, by council member Ken Bukowski.  Mr Bukowski submitted the signatures to the County Registrar of Voters for certification and it was announced on Friday that the election could move forward if the city council OK’ed the County certification in time.  Problems arose when the rest of the council demurred on a required August 2nd certification meeting, citing long held vacation plans, regardless of council protocol permitting voting by telephone.  Failure to meet on August 2nd would sink the whole thing, owing to a State mandated time schedule.

After a couple days consideration, councilwoman Jennifer West told the City Manager she would be willing to participate in the required August 2nd and follow-up meeting.  She challenged the other council members and invoked a moral duty to democracy, stating, “The council must show that we hear all 567 people who signed the initiative and we should place this item on the ballot in November”.

Ruth Atkin’s change of heart today joined with her colleagues Ms West and Mr Bukowski and crumbled the city council’s wall of opposition.  Left standing and resisting the November election, and the people they serve, are council members Nora Davis and Kurt Brinkman.



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