Tom Bates to Kriss Worthington: Move away from me

Mayor Tom Bates (right) and Councilman Kriss Worthington currently sit next to one another at meetings. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Mayor Tom Bates is moving away from City Councilman Kriss Worthington. Not politically. Just physically.

Bates has put an item on Tuesday’s council agenda to change the seating arrangements of city council members on the dais. Worthington currently sits on Bates’ right. The mayor wants to move him one seat away and have his ally, Councilman Laurie Capitelli, sit next to him.

When asked why he wants Worthington to move, Bates half-joked, “So I don’t strangle him.”

The last year has seen a rise in acrimony between the mayor and Worthington, who represent opposite factions on the city council. Things came to a head when Worthington ran against Bates for the mayor’s seat earlier this month.  The two often exchange testy words at meetings and, in July, Worthington led a group that interrupted a council meeting. The council was discussing whether to place a sitting ban on the November ballot but had to stop the debate after Worthington and dozens of others started dancing and singing “We Shall Not Be Moved.”

Worthington later decided to run against Bates in part because of what he saw as the mayor’s cavalier attitude towards residents.

Bates trounced Worthington in the November election carrying every precinct in Berkeley. The sitting ban, Measure S, was defeated however.

Bates said he wants to move Worthington because he often observes a lighted board on the dais that indicates the order in which city council members have signed up to speak. Worthington puts his name on and takes it off in order to manipulate the discussion, said Bates. He usually tries to get in the last word, he said.

“We are not getting along,” said Bates. “Our meetings are more hostile. I think this will be good and he won’t have an opportunity to position himself to speak last.”

If Worthington is moved away from Bates, he won’t be able to see the lighted board.

“I feel like I would like to be surrounded by Linda Maio and Laurie Capitelli to make the council flow more smoothly and evenly,” said Bates. [Maio is vice-mayor.]

Worthington laughed when he heard that Bates thought he tried to game the speaking order.

“How funny,” he said. “I cancel my button when someone else has already said what I have to say or when I see someone who pushes their button to speak who hasn’t said a single word. Then I defer to them to give them a chance to speak. I have no desire to have the last word. That is not at all true.”

Bates could not remember exactly how long Worthington had sat next to him, but thought it dated to the time vice-mayor Maudelle Shirek left the council, which was in 2005.

Despite moving Worthington further away, Bates said the two men are cordial to one another. Bates said he is is trying to work with Worthington.

In fact, Bates is adopting at least one of Worthington’s mayoral campaign platforms: moving controversial items to their own meeting. Starting in January, Bates intends to have big issues be the main topic of city council meetings rather than cramming them in on a long agenda.

Berkeley sitting ban goes to ballot after raucous meeting [07.11.12]

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  • Jack Handey

    When a child can’t handle responsibility, you take it away from them.

  • The Sharkey

    I’m surprised the whole Council doesn’t automatically change seating order every few months just to keep things fresh. I can’t think of a downside to shaking up the seating arrangements every once in a while.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    So much for “we shall not be moved.”

  • Abigail S.

    How petty. What a shame.

  • The Sharkey

    Trying to filibuster a vote by singing so that the vote can’t be held? I agree. Very petty.

  • Completely_Serious

    I wish Kriss would move away from District 7.

    Oh, wait. Didn’t he already do that?

  • Howie Mencken

    When you were little did your Dad ever let you sit in his lap and pretend you were driving? I think there’s some of that in Kriss sitting so close to the mayors chair.

  • Mk112

    If Bates can’t get along w/ Kriss, he can’t get along with 47% of this City. Why doesn’t he just steal the seat?

  • mark

    You’re obviously not serious, just a joker.

  • 3rdgenberkeleyan

    Mark my words Bates will step down and appoint Laurie to his position before his term is up.

  • Completely_Serious


  • Completely_Serious

    How do you figure? If the election is a proxy for the citizenry, then a mere 21% side with Kriss. Tell me how I’m wrong.

  • Completely_Serious

    “Bates could not remember exactly how long Worthington had sat next to him, but thought it dated to the time vice-mayor Maudelle Shirek left the council, which was in 2005.”

    See, Bates is just moving Kriss back to where he used to sit. Why?

    All together now,

    Because Berkeley is the most nostalgic place on earth.

  • serkes

    What’s the “Real Councilmembers of Berkeley” Cable Channel again?

  • guest


  • guest

    How could we tell? The beard?

  • David D.

    Bates received 54.1% of the vote. Worthington only received 21.7% of the vote. Sounds like a landslide to me!

  • Guest

    Okay. But, isn’t it time for Kriss to remove all the signs left over from his failed campaign? San Pablo is awash with them.

  • black lotus

    wow that’s really adult Tom.. I’m glad our mayor really has civic issues at the forefront of his agenda

  • guest

    Only 45.9% didn’t vote for Bates, not the 47% you so boldly claim.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    The smooth functioning of the city council IS a civic issue. Kriss is a liability.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Has it been 15 days yet? If they’re still up after then, he’s liable….

  • Marcia Poole

    I watched the City Council meeting that you cited. Actually I watched it twice. Kriss did not lead the group that started singing at the meeting. He joined them – as did two other council members. The Mayor led a walk-out as a reaction to the singing and there were later accusations that the Mayor’s group violated the Brown Act by conferring with each other out of sight of the public. The journalistic facts require accuracy, which I do not believe you expressed.

    As far as the Mayor wanting to move a council member to a different location based on a personal aversion to him – perhaps couple counseling might help.

  • Lynn

    I know Worthington actually does live in his district as one night I screwed up and went knocking at his door at midnight and woke the honorable gentleman up. Yes, he does live there and Obama is not a Kenyan.

  • Lynn

    It’s pretty obvious that this “neutral” news reporter does not like Kriss Worthington. Why have any pretense? Why bother to ask others their opinion at all if they are not yours?

  • Marcia, I must respectfully disagree with you. Kriss was at the front of the council chambers singing and clapping his hands and acting as a leader at the protest. Just click on the link in the story to a photo of him. While others may have started to sing while he was on the dais, he stepped down and took a leadership role.

  • franhaselsteiner

    Is council really going to discuss seating arrangements at the meeting? Really?

  • Lynn, how do you reach this conclusion? I am writing about animosity between two elected officials not analyzing which one is right. Please explain your reasoning in more detail as I do not see where you are getting this.

  • EBGuy

    Nice job on flagging this Council agenda item. Neither party ends up looking that good, so both camps will be irate at you for reporting it. You do a great job reporting the news from all angles.

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    so he lives there one night a week…or one night a month…or just one night? how many times did you say you knocked? oh that’s right once…that doesn’t disprove that he spends most of his time in El Cerrito like people have claimed over the years.

  • Marcia Poole

    Greetings Frances,
    I must also respectfully disagree with you. I was at home watching the council meeting on tv in order to hear the testimony of the people who had come out to speak. I watched the whole meeting and then watched it again on my computer. Kriss did not lead the group. The group consisted of members of the public who were in line, trying to give testimony and who were being limited by the mayor. They got frustrated, linked arms and started singing. Kriss was sitting with the other council members, but got up at an early point in the event and joined them. They put him in the center. There were no leaders or followers. Max and Jesse joined them a few minutes later. The Mayor and the other council members had retreated to the back room, only to reappear later. I suggest you watch the actual video, which is in the council archives. It shows the whole progression of events.

  • tr

    Oh Lordy-Tom Bates should grow up.

  • James Pallot

    Kriss looks strong, despite the pressure of his job. Bates looks tired. Way tired.
    No wonder he’s so negative. Maybe Tom could steal Kriss’ seat and through it in a dumpster.

  • Starting in January, Bates intends to have big issues be the main topic
    of city council meetings rather than cramming them in on a long agenda…
    and jumping up to get in the last word, Worthington said “he got that idea from me.”

  • Frances Dinkelspiel

    We will have to disagree. I was at the meeting and watched the video as well. We wrote several stories on the issue.

  • Howie Mencken

    Kriss has a job?

  • Tzedek

    Kriss has been an unpleasant person to deal with from “day one.”

    Years ago, Kriss was just nasty to Mayor Dean, behaving in a way we though Kriss was a REPUBLICAN.

    Any sane mammal would want to be seated as far away from Kriss as possible, which, for me, meant not going to city council meetings.

  • BerkeleyIsNotSuburbia

    Does this mean that Bates will be whispering away to Capitelli and Maio during meetings?

  • Tom one every single precinct in Berkeley? Wow.

  • Tzedek

    If “whispering” with other members of our city council will facilitate actually doing business necessary to have a livable city, a city where families can live / work / play safely, “whisper” away!

    As a city, we are far better served by such “whispering” than wasting more city council meetings having to deal with even more of Kriss’ self-aggrandizing and waste-of-everyone’s-time nastinesses.

  • OldBerkeley

    Seating arrangements??? Mayor, this is not high school. Please get over yourself and respect your office. If you take your opponents, who were elected by Berkeley citizens, personally, how can you do good job and truly represent all of Berkeley?

  • The Sharkey

    It looks an awful lot like he’s leading them to me:

  • Julie

    Marsha is correct and the link sharkey provided is out of order of what occurred. Two well known singers started the singing, and after perhaps 30 seconds Kriss stepped down to join them. Also the Mayor didn’t retreat TO the back room, they went thru the back room and had a discussion outside chambers, where some listened to what they were saying. I was also there and I just watched the original video. I did notice at the time when I was singing that before midnight,( even though there was an extension till 12:30 ) the mayor turned the sound off which meant the hearing captions went off at the same time. I found it somewhat disturbing that the mayor said something that because we were being disloyal to him, he was just going to pass this anyway ( paraphrasing ).