Public Comment

Commentary: Attack on Mayor Was Misguided

By Don Jelinek
Tuesday September 26, 2006

Randy Shaw’s long attack on the record of Mayor Bates was a study in strange contradictions and outright errors. I’ll just take a few moments to point out a few of them. 

First, Randy bemoans the fact that Berkeley appears to be uniting in favor of Tom from all across the political spectrum and that he is assured of re-election. Most of us view Tom’s record as a strong leader willing to work across the old political divisions as a sign that Berkeley may finally be growing up and acting as the progressive leader that it can be rather than wallowing in small disputes that keep the Council in session until 3 a.m.  

Second, Randy criticizes Tom for allowing the university to decide the fate of a hotel in downtown Berkeley. In fact, after UC proposed the much-needed hotel and conference center as a university project, the mayor loudly insisted that it be a private project and that it come entirely through the city’s approval process. Thanks to the mayor’s intervention, UC changed its position and the hotel is now entirely in the city’s hands.  

Third, Randy seems to ignore his own postings. He complained that under Tom, Berkeley is losing its position of progressive leadership. But just a couple months ago, he wrote a long article praising Berkeley’s leadership in adjusting its inclusionary ordinance to maximize affordable housing. Randy writes, “the City of Berkeley moved toward revising its inclusionary law—long more stringent than San Francisco’s—in a way that is so smart that one wonders why San Francisco does not follow its lead.” Apparently Tom’s strong support for these changes and his help getting them approved got lost in the last couple months. Randy must also have lost track of the fact that Berkeley was recently ranked the third most “sustainable” city in the country or that it was one of the few to be given an ‘A’ for meeting its state required “fair share” of affordable housing. 

Lastly, I was struck that Randy criticized Tom for Clif Bar’s decision to move to Alameda. He ignores the owners of Clif Bar who wrote in the Berkeley Voice and elsewhere that the mayor was a tremendous advocate for keeping Clif Bar in town. The owners wrote, “at all times during our facility search process, we were very impressed by [Mayor Tom] Bates’ and [Councilmember Linda] Maio’s advocacy for Berkeley, their pragmatic and creative approach to solving problems, and their support for Clif Bar.” He also must have lost track of the fact that many other businesses have opened or expanded in Berkeley. For example, the mayor helped preside over the announcement that Bayer Healthcare was moving its international headquarters for Biological Products to Berkeley with more than a hundred jobs and millions in capital investment.  

No one agrees with an elected official 100 percent of the time, but let’s look at the record honestly here. Mayor Bates has been leading this city with civility and fairness. He has pushed hard for Berkeley to be a progressive leader by carefully developing good policy and building strong support for it. He has earned the broad support he is receiving and I look forward to his re-election and continued leadership. 


Don Jelinek is a former candidate for mayor of Berkeley. 


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