Daily Archives: July 19, 2010
In Berkeley: here are a few of my favorite things [Berkeley Naturally]
Clinical psychologist Susan Raeburn helps clients face the music [SF Chronicle]
“It’s exciting to know that camels lived in Berkeley.” [Bay Area News Group]
We’re number one: in unicycle basketball [East Bay Express]
Illustration: Clark Kerr campus building 14, ink and watercolor by Jana Bouc.
The opening of Northgate path, which connects Shasta Road to Northgate Avenue, followed nearly a year of hard work — involving both physical labor and negotiations with neighbors and the city’s planning department.
Like many of the pathways resurrected by Berkeley Path Wanderers Association, Northgate was identified as a right of way by the city many decades ago, but never developed.
Berkeley … Continue reading »
Berkeleysider Michael Moore has the photographic scoop on the newly unveiled mural in the Gourmet Ghetto (above).
The mural is on the south-facing wall of Virginia Bakery at 1690 Shattuck Avenue. Read about its creation as Berkeleyside reported it on our mural stories.
Most of us have experienced Berkeley’s cellphone problems. For a reasonably dense city in a hotbed of technology use, there are just too many zones with poor coverage. It may be understandable in the hills, but it happens in non-hilly areas as well. What’s a user to do?
I am finally getting rid of my iPhone … Continue reading »
A couple of items distinguish Mayor Tom Bates’ office from the municipal run of the mill. Among the ceremonial tchotchkes exchanged with foreign mayors, there’s a large bottle of beer labeled AB 3601 and on the wall is a photo of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata. The Zapata image might be more in keeping with a Berkeley dorm room than the mayor’s office, but it’s in the character of the city that a mayor that is seen as a centrist conciliator has a place in his heart for a revolutionary army leader. (The oddly named beer bottle is a tribute to Bates’ leading role in passing Assembly Bill 3601 in 1982 which spurred the brew pub movement first in California, then across the nation.)
It’s clear from talking to Bates that social innovations like AB 3601, or the solar financing scheme Berkeley FIRST, are what really get him excited. He peppers his conversation with references to his long years in the California state assembly, his wife Loni Hancock‘s current tenure in the state senate and — next year — the distinction of being Berkeley’s longest serving mayor.
Berkeleyside sat down with Mayor Bates and his chief of staff, Julie Sinai, last week. The conversation ranged over numerous topics, many suggested by Berkeleyside readers.
Reading some of the questions people would like you to answer, it seems some people attribute to the mayor the powers of a prime minister or a dictator. How would you characterize your powers as mayor?
There’s a nine-member council and I’m a member of the council. As a mayor there are certain innate powers that go with the mayor’s office. First of all the media. The mayor is seen as the principal political person for the city. Second of all, I’m blessed to have the opportunity of having a staff.
I was in the legislature for 20 years, so I have a pension from my time as a legislator. And as such when I came to the mayor’s office I’m not entitled to take a salary as the mayor. So I use that money to have a very talented staff. It keeps me more in touch with what’s going on. And knowledge and information equate to power.
When I came in, I tried to break up the notion of polarized sides that were divided around rent control and other issues. Instead, I thought we should try to deal with problems rather than ideologies. That’s worked pretty well. It’s polarized more in the last couple of years, with councillors [Kriss] Worthington and [Jesse] Arreguin sticking together, but generally we vote all sorts of different ways. It’s not like, “If Tom is for it, I’m against it.”
The other thing that has happened is that, coming from my position as a legislator, I’m used to putting things together. I passed 220 laws and I know how to work across various groupings to make things happen.
Are there things that frustrate you in your role?
The downturn in the economy has really frustrated me. We were doing so many great things and suddenly so many of the initiatives we were going pell mell on have had to be rethought and restructured.
The most important one for me in the one we call the 2020 plan, where we try to deal with the health disparities and the achievement gap. It’s meant that we won’t be able to put the resources and the people power [in place], particularly with our health department being cut back and our mental health department being cut back. We won’t have the resources to do what I’d hoped to do, which is see real results that occur during the time that I’m mayor. That’s been frustrating.
It’s also true that Berkeley is a difficult place in that you have people who are brilliant on every side of every issue. And there’s also a great feeling of entitlement. They’re used to getting what they want. It’s difficult to get people to realize that if you get 95% of what you’re after, you don’t have to fall on your sword for the last five per cent. … Continue reading »