Tag Archives: Berkeley government

Op-ed: Is the city of Berkeley getting more efficient?

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Maybe the headline should be “man bites dog” but there’s a bit of good news on council’s Tuesday agenda: a vast improvement in timely approval of contracts. Our performance audit “Most Contracts Executed Timely but Contract Project Managers Could Use Better Tools and Guidance” tells the story.

The bigger story here, to me, is the many more substantial improvements I’ve seen in nearly 21 years of auditing city programs and performance. Whether I look at our 2004 audit of contracts, … Continue reading »

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Suit against zoning board’s Tregub resolved after apology

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The president of the Berkeley Property Owners Alliance has dropped a libel lawsuit against Igor Tregub, a former candidate for the Rent Stabilization Board and a current Zoning Adjustments Board commissioner, ending three years of controversy.

Sid Lakireddy and Tregub resolved the lawsuit after Tregub agreed to apologize for sending out an inflammatory email during the 2012 election linking Lakireddy to crimes committed by his uncle, Lakireddy Bali Reddy.

Tregub recently emailed the apology to his mailing list — to the same people who received the controversial email during the election.

“On October 18, 2012, I made a fateful mistake,” Tregub wrote. “The intent of this email is to apologize to a valued member of the Berkeley community who was rightly upset by my printed words.

“In the midst of a heated campaign for reelection, I mistakenly made inaccurate accusations about the President of the Berkeley Property Owners Association, Sid Lakireddy. I wrongly connected him to crimes committed in the 1990’s by one of his uncles, Lakireddy Balireddy, that had absolutely nothing to do with Sid.” … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: City manager’s departure is big blow to Berkeley

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The North East Berkeley Association (NEBA) recently convened a board meeting for the express purpose of discussing the sudden resignation of the City Manager Christine Daniel.

We believe the loss to the city of Ms. Daniel reflects a very serious and growing problem within our city government.

Although we did not always agree with Ms. Daniel on many policy decisions, we appreciated her clarity, brevity, breadth of knowledge, and amazing ability to stay on top of almost all city … Continue reading »

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Mayor paints general picture of progress for Berkeley

Mayor Tom Bates. Photo- Frances Dinkelspiel
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Mayor Tom Bates last night delivered a picaresque tour of developments in Berkeley in his State of the City address at the Shotgun Theatre’s Ashby Stage.

Bates lauded projects and improvements in each of the city’s main areas, singled out efforts to address street repairs with revenues from Measures M and BB, talked about the need for affordable housing, the police department and the December protests, and touched briefly on challenges the city faces with unfunded pension liabilities and an aging infrastructure.

“That’s a general rosy picture of how we’re doing,” Bates said at the conclusion of his main tour of what’s happening in the city.  … Continue reading »

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Williams-Ridley named Berkeley deputy city manager

Dee Williams-Ridley
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Dee Williams-Ridley, currently the deputy city manager for the city of Modesto, has been named as the new deputy city manager for the city of Berkeley.

For the past four years at Modesto Williams-Ridley oversaw human resources, public information, information technology, public works, and the community and economic development departments, in addition to working closely with the Modesto City Council on city-wide strategic planning.

“Dee’s commitment to public service, community engagement, and cultivating strong team environments made her a clear choice to help manage this dynamic city,” said Berkeley City Manager Christine Daniel, who made the selection after a nationwide search.

Williams-Ridley replaces William Rogers, the former deputy city manager, who left in September 2014 to become COO for Goodwill Enterprises in San Francisco. Beth Pollard, the former city manager of Albany, has been acting deputy since Rogers’ departure, and will continue to serve under Daniel until Williams-Ridley comes on board Feb. 9.Continue reading »

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Berkeley election 2014: Voters pass historic soda tax, reject downtown initiative; Droste takes District 8

Lori Droste is a candidate for District 8
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Berkeleyside covered the local 2014 election results live from 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 4, through 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5. See the live blog below, with continuing coverage through Tuesday, Nov. 11. See complete Berkeleyside election 2014 coverage.

Nov. 12, 6:39 p.m. And the votes are in! The final tallies have just been posted on the Alameda County registrar of voters website. The one race still in play as of Tuesday was Berkeley’s City Council District 8, with Lori Droste and George Beier battling it out for the top spot.

Currently, Droste has 2,072 votes to Beier’s 2,056, with no more votes to count. The results have not yet been certified, however. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Mayor’s Chief of Staff leaves post after one year

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Judith Iglehart, who was appointed Chief of Staff to Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates in January 2012, has left her post to pursue a job opportunity in the private sector.

Mayor Bates said he was sorry to see Iglehart go as she had done good work in helping the office analyze opportunities for economic development  in the city, in particular for new-business startups.

“She leaves as a friend,” he said, citing the former staffer’s valuable work on the “nitty gritty” of how to get businesses started. “I am really pleased to have been offered an understanding of what we can do in that area,” he said on Monday Jan. 7.

Iglehart, who had not returned calls at press time, is believed to be starting a new company with a friend.

Before being employed by the City of Berkeley, Iglehart worked for the Keiretsu Forum, a network of angel investors. … Continue reading »

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Where to watch election results in Berkeley

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We definitely want to hear from you throughout election night. Here’s how: (1) Post on our Facebook page. Comment on the outcomes, share photos of your election event, and more. (2) Email us at tips@berkeleyside.com. You can always reach us via this address. (3) On Twitter, use #berkvote to alert us to your election-related posts, and follow us here.

Berkeleyside will live blog about local reactions and the results of all the local races starting at 8 p.m. on Nov. 6. Scroll down to see a list of election night parties open to the public in Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Still undecided about the election? Let us help

Will you miss all the lawn signs on Berkeley medians after tomorrow? Photo: Alan Tobey
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Over the last several months, Berkeleyside has run many dozens of articles on Berkeley’s mayoral election, council seat races, the school board contest, the rival rent board slates and most of the 10 city measures on the ballot tomorrow. On top of that, our collaboration with MapLight on Voter’s Edge Berkeley provides a handy one-stop site for information about the ballot measures. And our Opinionator op-ed section has overflowed with rival views about various election issues.

What Berkeleyside is not going to do is make any endorsements in the election. There are two reasons why. First, we believe in an educated, informed citizenry. Newspaper endorsements are a relic of a pre-Internet era when readers had to rely on insiders to tell them what was what. Our goal is to make sure you have as much information as we have, so you can make up your own mind. We don’t feel the urge to make it up for you. Second, we work hard to be impartial in our news reporting of Berkeley. Even if we convince ourselves that we could create neat compartments between our opinions and our reporting, our readers would be understandably skeptical. … Continue reading »

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Disability advocate challenges Max Anderson for council

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Dmitri Belser runs a program that makes technology accessible to disabled people, he chaired Berkeley’s Commission on Disability, he renovates dilapidated Victorian homes, and he has raised two sons.

Now he wants to be the District 3 city council member.

“I’ve been frustrated for a long time with how District 3 has been represented,” Belser told Berkeleyside in an interview conducted amid dangling wires, creaking floorboards, ladders and drop cloths at a 62nd Street Victorian he’s refurbishing with his life-partner and campaign manager, Tom White. The couple lives a few blocks south-west on Parker Street near Shattuck Avenue.

“I’ve heard from a lot of my neighbors and a lot of people in this district that they don’t get responses” from Council Member Max Anderson, he said, contending that Anderson, in office since 2004, has been ineffective in solving issues of crime and helping the struggling business district at Adeline and Alcatraz.

“If there’s one skill that I have, it’s customer service,” he said. “I know how to respond to people.”

Belser, executive director at the Center for Accessible Technology (CAT), pointed to his work helping to get the Ed Roberts Campus project built. The campus, above the Ashby BART station, houses nonprofits serving the disabled community, including the CAT. Belser chairs the Ed Roberts Campus board. … Continue reading »

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Council members’ charitable donations vary widely

City Council members can use their annual budgets to make charitable donations. Some donate less than $1,000 a year and some donate much more. Chart: Natalie Orenstein
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By Hannah Long and Natalie Orenstein

During the past four years, city council members have used money from their city budgets to donate $99,999 to various charities, such as the Juneteenth Festival, UC Berkeley student associations, local business groups, and non-profit arts and community organizations, according to public records.

These donations range from $100 to a few thousand dollars, and, while some city council members are big spenders when it comes to supporting community organizations, others choose to use their money elsewhere.

District 7’s Kriss Worthington is consistently the most liberal with his donations. According to public records, he donated $7,807 to community organizations in the 2012 fiscal year. His $4,332 donation to the Northside Merchants’ Association to buy Christmas decorations was more than the total donations of any other council member in 2012. Other large contributions include $1,000 to Youth Spirit Artworks and $700 to San Francisco LGBT Pride, where Berkeley had its first parade float this year. … Continue reading »

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Police contract agreed after 15 months of negotiations

New Berkeley Police Department three-year contract comes after 15 months of talks. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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After lengthy negotiations, the City of Berkeley and the Berkeley Police Association (BPA) have reached agreement on a new three-year contract that forgoes cost of living increases, creates a second tier CalPERS pension formula for new employees, mandates cost sharing by employees in the employer’s contribution to CalPERS, and significantly changes retiree health benefits.

The new agreement was approved by the BPA at a July meeting by 107-21. It will be considered by the City Council at its September 11 meeting.

“I think it’s a fair agreement,” said Tim Kaplan, president of the BPA. “It was a long process, but it really was the true sense of collective bargaining. There was a lot of work done by the Police Association negotiating team to come up with creative solutions to the problems the city was facing. The state of the economy is not lost on our members at all. We’re helping in a number of ways through concessions.”  … Continue reading »

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City Council approves pools measure, debates streets

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A comparatively quiet City Council meeting sprang into life late last night as councilmembers discussed whether to prioritize street repair over watershed improvements in a November ballot bond measure. The council also approved unanimously to put a $19.4 million pools bond measure on the ballot, along with a parcel tax to pay for pools’ operational costs.

Public comment focused exclusively on the long-running campaign to restore the Willard Pool and the city’s warm pool. Although pools supporters were cheered by the unanimous support for the measure, many expressed concern about the need for a second tax measure. The measures are linked — both need to pass for either to be brought into effect.

“Just getting a bond measure is not enough. We need a bond measure that can pass,” said pools supporter Donna Mickleson. She described the “poison pill” of the linked measures as “disastrous.” … Continue reading »

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