Public Comment

Letters: Save Yassir Chadly’s Job!

Friday May 25, 2007


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’m writing to make you aware of a situation that is happening in Berkeley and perhaps should be the subject of investigative reporting. 

Yassir Chadly, head lifeguard for the Berkeley city pools, has worked for the City of Berkeley for 17 years and now that he has reached the age of 53 his hours are being reduced and he will lose his health benefits and his retirement benefits. It would be interesting to know if this is how the City of Berkeley treats its long term aging employees. 

Yassir is well liked by all the people who use the pools—seniors, master swimmers, lap swimmers, children, etc. It would be terrible to lose this well loved employee but worse to find out the City of Berkeley has the policy of trying to get rid of its older employees. 

Alice Scheelar 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Yassir Chadly has been a valued employee of the City of Berkeley for 17 years. As a head lifeguard at the city’s pools, he manages a great deal of responsibility, as well as welcoming the people who come to swim. It is Yassir who transforms lap swimming into community. He greets us, knows us by name, and finds us a place to swim when the pool is busy. He cares about us. He creates community. The lap swimmers love him. The senior aerobics class loves him. Come watch and hear the seniors laugh for an hour as Yassir leads them in water aerobics with his inimitable sense of humor and Middle Eastern music. The kids love him too.  

The decision to remove him from his position, turn him into a temporary worker, and remove his health benefits is a travesty. This is a mature man with a family. He does an excellent job. This is not a college student who is heading to a more highly paid future. Who made this disastrous decision? What were they thinking? 

Building a warm community of healthy people is what Yassir does. Making Berkeley a better, happier place to live is what Yassir does. Yassir should be reinstated in the position he has had, with full benefits. The mayor and councilmembers can show Berkeley’s citizens that Berkeley does care about our health and happiness and community spirit, and about its highly valued employees, especially Yassir Chadly. 

Sally Nelson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

My wife and I have swam in Berkeley public pools for 19 years. We have just heard about the city’s firing of Yassir Chadly, a beloved life-guard at the city’s public pools. Yassir has greeted us for most of these years each early morning we arrive bleary-eyed to swim. It is through his ministrations—greetings, wisdom through advice, matching of swimmers in lanes, introducing folks to each other—that swimming at a city pool is transformed into an experience of community building. 

This soul of a man is an asset to the city; dare I say a living treasure to all he whose lives he touches each day at the pool. 

I managed large public sector R&D projects for 25 years. People (not ideas, technologies whatever per se) are the core to the success of any such enterprise. Pay for the right person, encourage and build around their skills, and the swimmers will come. Thus, Mr. Chadly’s incredible influence on the city’s swim programs. 

Mayor Bates and Councilmembers, reverse this travesty of a decision to fire Yassir Chadly. 

Peter Seidman and Bonnie Benard 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The City of Berkeley swimming pools need lifeguard Yassir Chadly, who has for the past 17 years cheerfully, determinedly, and faithfully held together a chaotically administered public aquatics program. Cutting his position in order to save the cost of health benefits is wrong.  

Yassir’s humor, warm greetings, and knack for knowing who will be good lane partners are just the tip of the iceberg. His respect and sociability toward each individual, child or adult, who enters, permeates the swim experience. His work to make the pools centers of health and harmony ripples out to the entire community. 

Yassir serves the public generously, creatively, and responsibly. If city budget managers were more like Yassir, we wouldn’t have to write letters like this. 

Gael Alcock 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I write to support Yassir Chadly, an employee of City of Berkeley Aquatics Department for the past 17 years. Apparently, on June 15, his position will be reduced from half-time with medical benefits to hourly without medical benefits.  

Yassir’s welcoming community-building character as well as his pool safety knowledge and gentile management of lap swimmers, master’s swimmers, children, and us folks over 55 cannot be replaced. His senior aerobics classes promote health through stamina, cardio, bone and strength building exercises; relaxation; and a joyful sense of community to those who participate. 

I feel that it makes more sense to promote him than demote him. However at least continuing his medical benefits would be a kinder, gentler way to go. 

Mary B. Moorhead, MS, LMFT 

Elder Care Consultant 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have patronized Berkeley pools since 1984, which has enabled me to observe the job performance of many lifeguards. Currently, Yassir is the only lifeguard who knows the ins and outs of all pools, performs optimally, has relationships with all swimmers, understands and cares about our needs, and goes the extra mile for consumers. While other staff are content to do the minimum, Yassir is conscientious, takes initiative on thing like cleanliness and efficiency, sets an example for younger lifeguards, and motivates them to maintain the pools and their surrounds. He’s the only lifeguard who, on his own initiative, takes out a screen and cleans the pool. 

Today I swam at Willard for the first time this year, having been turned away daily due to operational problems, which still exist. When I arrived, I pointed out to the lifeguard a homeless person sleeping bag at the entrance, who was still there when I left. The lifeguard tried to dissuade me from swimming, stating that the pool was dirty. Yassir would have cleaned it; this lifeguard didn’t. Yassir would have had the sleeping person removed, aware that many swimmers don’t use Willard because they don’t want to walk over bodies on their way in. Yassir is the go-to guy for problems. He doesn’t pass the buck and is committed to customer service. His pleasant demeanor and sense of humor provide a high quality environment for both pool users and staff. He has managed our pools in the past, will manage King Pool’s summer program without medical benefits (outrageous!), and already acts in a supervisorial role day to day, supervising staff who respect and admire him. He is very intelligent, learns quickly, and can easily be trained to perform tasks required of the supervisor position. 

This decision cannot stand or Berkeley will lose the Aquatics program’s most valuable asset. I have run my own business for 40 years, and Yassir Chadly would be for me the ideal employee. He brings honor to the City of Berkeley, and it’s a shame that, rather than being appreciated, he is being forced out. That will be a great loss for all of us. 

Marcy McGaugh