Mayor’s chief of staff leaves City Hall for UC Berkeley post

Julie Sinai, mayor's chief of staff, is moving to a university government relations post. Photo: Alameda County Office of Education

Julie Sinai, chief of staff to Mayor Tom Bates for the last nine years, will be the new Director of Local Government and Community Relations at UC Berkeley starting in January.

“The areas I’m really hoping to be engaged in are developing the innovation, economic and educative pathways for the East Bay,” Sinai said. “There’s a momentum around those issues that wasn’t there a few years ago,”. Sinai cited projects like the East Bay Green Corridor and the recently opened Skydeck from the Berkeley Startup Cluster.

From the start of his first term in 2002, Bates passed up the mayor’s salary (he receives a pension from his two decades as a state assemblyman representing Berkeley) and used the funds to hire Sinai. Sinai was the mayor’s policy advisor on youth, education, jobs, health, social service issues, and inter-government relations. She had previously worked for the Berkeley Unified School District.

She will replace Caleb Dardick in the university’s Office of Government and Community Relations, who left the post earlier this year. According to Sinai, her role will involve more than just the city of Berkeley, encompassing the greater Bay Area.

In an email about her move on Wednesday to her contacts, Sinai wrote: “With all levels of education massively under siege from multiple fronts, I’ve decided that this is where I need to refocus my professional efforts. This position gives me the opportunity to work for accessible and quality education by strengthening the partnerships between the University and Berkeley, the East Bay, the greater Bay Area, and the private sector.”

Sinai told Berkeleyside that her departure does not signal anything about Mayor Bates’ intentions on seeking a third term. “I completely, whole-heartedly support his agenda,” she said. “It was just time for me to change.”

Sinai’s last day in the Mayor’s office will be November 30th. She will begins at UC Berkeley on January 2nd 2012.

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  • Bruce Love

    So, in essence she’ll be leaving the mayor’s staff to accept a Cal position where she’ll lobby the city for favors for Cal and for policies that favor some developers that the Bates administration has been friendly towards?    Of course, this can’t be in any way corrupt because everyone is a nice person with decent intentions.

  • Guest

    and she’ll get paid a salary that’s “comparable” to the same position at other institutions, right?

  • SarahB

    Huh. When Mayor Bates states that he doesn’t take a salary as mayor I thought that meant the money went back to city’s general fund. I didn’t realize that meant he used the money to create a new position with benefits and a pension. Doesn’t feel quite the same now.

  • Bruce Love

    This article begins: “Julie Sinai, chief of staff to Mayor Tom Bates for the last nine years”.

    Berkeleyside might want to fact-check that.   Cisco DeVries claims on his “LinkedIn” page that he was chief of staff until 2008.   The city seems to agree:

    Per that article: “Sinai has been on the Mayor’s staff since he took office in December of 2002.”  That’s where the “nine years” comes from.

    In 2008 DeVries left to help fund “Renewable Funding” — a firm that grew out of and got revenue from the Berkeley FIRST solar panel financing program that DeVries devised in the mayor’s office.   That revolving door deal ran into trouble when it became clear that the financing tricks behind Berkeley FIRST and similar programs were unlawful but Renewable Funding has found other ways to collect taxpayer money and shoulder on.

    Sinai was DeVries’ replacement as chief of staff.

  • Julie

    I agree, Bruce, but what can we expect from Bates? Nothing, except more corruption, satisfying his relationships with developers. He doesn’t even keep to the city charter. King Bates. I am so sick of his royal attitude towards the citizens of Berkeley. If one really audited where money was supposed to be spent, and where it actually was spent, what funds they were stolen from certain accounts, err transferred from, people would be amazed. Is there anyway that you know of to really do this sort of thing. I’m just curious.

  • Perhaps you should have applied for the position if you think you would have been a better candidate.

  • Bill

    Corrupt??  This ain’t Chicago (or SF) by any means.  Just a smallish town where many people have an opinion and want the streets fixed.

  • Bruce Love

    We may be only about 10 sq. miles (dry-ish land) but the price per square foot makes it not small potatoes. 

  • Some people see conspiracy theories everywhere they look.

  • Bruce Love

    Corruption does not imply conspiracy, or even ill intent.

  • One usually needs to conspire with others in order to effectively run a corrupt government, Tom.

    One also usually likes to have concrete proof before shouting “CORRUPTION!!!” at local officials, but clearly that’s not always the case.