Public Comment

New: Support Change: Voting Recommendations

By Tim Hansen, with the help of friends
Wednesday October 31, 2012 - 10:20:00 AM

Many of us feel uneasy about the direction Berkeley is going. We believe it is time for a change. If one looks, the signs are everywhere:

  • Our roads compared to other California cities, rank in the bottom 20%.
  • Our property taxes are among the highest in California.
  • Infrastructure—culverts, storm drains, and underground creeks—is in disrepair.
  • Our top city employees are paid significantly above the state average.
  • Our pension obligations are requiring an ever-increasing percentage of our revenue.
  • For a city our size, we have one of the largest legal departments in the State.
  • Per capita, our city is one of the most sued cities in the United States.
  • We lack a soft-story building ordinance, putting at risk thousands of people should we have a major earthquake.
  • It is much more difficult for us to get a zoning or building permit than in other cities.
  • We have had a steady loss of recreational facilities—Iceland, the warm water pool available to the public at Berkeley High, and Willard Pool.
  • Our city is not open, hiding information about the closing of the main post office and the state of our financial affairs.
It is time to step back, reflect, and step off in a new direction. To this end we recommend the following for Berkeley: 


Mayor: Tom does many things right, but it is time for him to retire. No other Berkeley mayor has served over two terms in a row. Tom is running for his forth. Tom doesn’t recognize the problems we face. He will not release the study commissioned to evaluate the city’s finances. He negotiated a higher pay for the City Manager just before he retired, meaning a significantly larger pension. Because of our financial problems, the city is being considered for a bond downgrade by Moody’s. Tom and the City Council must shoulder responsibility for this. Tom is against the sunshine ordinance (U) and the Facts Initiative (V) which are put forth to help solve our problems. He put forward Measure S, which is an affront to Berkeley’s long standing tradition of upholding the rights of its citizens. Tom is responsible for the loss of Iceland, which the city forced to shut down. If the city was concerned with Iceland’s refrigerant they should have worked with Iceland to correct the problem instead of forcing them to close. Tom’s reelection money is mainly coming from a small group of developers. He has raised more money than all the other mayor candidates put together. Tom doesn’t address the problems we are facing. Instead he is claiming this is “Berkeley at its Best” and pretending everything is ok. It is time to thank Tom for his hard work and move on. It is time for a change. 


For a new beginning, my first choice for mayor is Jacquelyn McCormick. She is smart, honest, dedicated, and hard working. She will make a good mayor. For second and third I am putting anybody but Bates. 


District 2: Darryl Moore has hitched his horse to Tom’s wagon. He needs to be his own person. Darryl supports Measure T (T) saying it will bring jobs. But T will also cost jobs for those businesses that are forced out. In the short run there will probably not be a net gain of permanent employment. Darryl didn’t support Willard Pool staying open and he didn’t support Iceland. It is time for someone new. The other two candidates, Adolfo Cabral andDenisha DeLane, will do well. I would put Moore third. 

District 3: I support Max Anderson. While I don’t always agree with him, he is his own man and understands the problems we face. I respect him for taking a stand against Measure S. 

District 5: I support Sophie Hahn. I had high hopes for Laurie Capitelli, he has done some things well, but overall he is a disappointment. Laurie has been on council eight years. He has had his chance. It is time to move on. Laurie didn’t support Willard Pool staying open and looked the other way as Iceland was forced to close. He opposes Sunshine (U) and the Facts Initiative (V), which I support. He supports the West Berkeley private redevelopment plan (Measure T) which I think is a wrong direction for the city. Laurie’s campaign literature is misleading. He, or his campaign, are telling untruths about his opponent and has even made untrue claims about his list of endorsers. Sophie Hahn supported Iceland while on ZAB, and supports most, if not all, of the measures I believe in. She is smart and is running a good campaign. Sophie understands the problems we face and will do the city proud. 

District 6: Susan is running unopposed however many people are writing in Phoebe Sorgen. 



M – No. General Obligation bond, Streets. As written there are no guarantees that the money will be spent as proposed. The amount is also just a drop in the bucket of the kind of money really needed. It is very poorly written and just doesn’t add up. The city council should have done better. 


N – Yes. General Obligation Bond for Pools. 

This measures is to re-build pools in Berkeley – to bring it back to where it was a couple of years ago with replaced and remodeled facilities; a warm water pool and Willard Pool. Currently there are no public pools south of West Campus. The one built on the Berkeley High campus ten years ago is not open to the public, and the pool at the Y requires a membership, as do those on campus. The mayor and council are behind this, and the fiscal conservatives and money watchers in the city are not. I believe there is a strong community need. It is disgusting that the very people who put this forward are the ones who voted to close the pools in the first place. Now they are seeking another funding source. View it as a necessary fix for poor decision by our existing city council. 

O – No. Special tax to fund operations and maintenance of pools. 

The money should come from the general fund. 

[Editor's Note: A reader tells us that: to vote "yes" for pools you MUST vote "yes" to both "N" and "O". If measure "O" does not
pass, even if "N" is passed, "N" won't go into effect and the pools will not be built. See the city attorney's impartial analysis of N: "This bond measure would authorize the issuance of $19.4 million of general obligation bonds but only if a companion measure to pay for operation and maintenance of those pools is also approved by the voters at the November 6, 2012 election."]

P – Yes. Reauthorizes expenditures of voter approved taxes. 

This is required every four years for expenditures the voters approved but has not been made yet. 

Q – Yes. Modification of the Utility Users Tax. 

Seems reasonable and gives an exemption to low income utility users. 

R – No. Adopt a special redistricting plan. 

District elections should stay as they are or be done away with. There is no reason to substitute one broken thing for another. In the future, we should also consider supporting term limits. 

S – No. Prohibits sitting on sidewalks in the downtown. 

This applies to the downtown only. It would just push homeless elsewhere and do nothing to solve the problems. I believe we need to work to get the homeless the services they need to break the cycle of homelessness. It is a difficult, one person at a time, kind of job. We have cut back on our efforts to get the homeless off the streets and it shows. We should empower the Downtown Host Ambassadors to more effectively deal with this kind of behavior. Using police to enforce a no-sitting law is a waste of resources and is probably not legal. It will lead to another lawsuit. 

T – No. Amendment of West Berkeley Plan to facilitate private redevelopment. 

This is about seven very powerful men verses the people who live and work in West Berkeley. These seven property owners and developers want to see Emeryville move north. Six massive sites to start in the first ten years, and then everything is up for grabs in the area north to south, freeway to San Pablo Avenue. West Berkeley will continue to develop. The question is how fast and how many people will lose their jobs or be forced out. This is just redevelopment with the funding source disguised. It will dislocate families, kill jobs, and destroy neighborhoods. West Berkeley is a vibrant, exciting, wonderful place for many small business and families. It should not be turned into an office park. 

U – Yes. The Sunshine Ordinance. 

Our current city council is goal oriented. They simply ignore procedures when it is to their advantage. In controversial issues, people really don’t like loosing when they feel the rules were not properly followed—so they sue. Not following rules has led to Berkeley becoming one of the most sued cities in the nation. While our city attorney says the ordinance will cost the city 2 million dollars (a made-up amount), I believe it will actually save the city money by reducing the number of lawsuits. This ordinance is needed to force the city to clean up its act. 

V – Yes. City Financial Disclosure Requirement. 

Requires financial disclosure before city can proposes more bonds, taxes, or fees. 

One would think this is a no brainer. Yet Bates, Capitelli, and Moore are against it. McCormick, Hahn and the others support it as necessary for making prudent financial decisions. It is supported by most neighborhood organizations. Ironically, Capitelli voted for a nearly identical measure in 2010 that passed unanimously then was totally ignored. This measure simply makes the city do what it already requires of itself.