Public Comment

Commentary: Recall Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates

By Julie Dickinson
Tuesday January 08, 2008

In December a recall petition was begun against Mayor Tom Bates of Berkeley. 

Two questions come to mind: What has Bates done wrong, and what has happened to the petition? 

Bates’ agenda for development and growth in Berkeley is against the predominant opinion of the citizens, and he works to achieve these goals through secret deals. He has also been visibly rude to Berkeley citizens protesting some of his actions as documented on City Council videos. 

The list of problems is long; it includes: 

• Ignoring citizens’ opinions at City Council meetings. 

• Using the Green movement as a pretext to overdevelop, cut trees, fund developers—the Brower Center is a boondoggle, a public parking lot has been eliminated and City funds are being used to support this private development. 

• Encouraging huge polluting development in favor of University expansion, such as a virtual take-over by BP (British Petroleum) and massive development in our Strawberry Canyon above Memorial Stadium. 

• Discouraging citizens from shopping downtown by eliminating downtown parking, ruining businesses. 

• Giving Federal HUD Section 8 vouchers to developers (Project-based Section 8) and not to deserving tenants. 

• Voted against saving Iceland, a landmark ice rink. He said, “We can put up a plaque.” 

• Weakening Landmark laws to enable demolition of the structures that give Berkeley character. The mayor and the Board of Education are intent upon replacing our warm pool (in a landmarked school facility) with a tremendously expensive building that has no parking for handicapped users? $4 million in bond money was voted in by the electorate to fix the pool, and now the City wants a $15 million bond issue to replace it. 

• Supporting unpopular BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), which would turn leafy Berkeley avenues into bus-only lanes even though BART already serves the same corridors. 

• The DAPAC committee for downtown Berkeley came out of his secret deal with the University in 2005. Development enthusiasts were appointed to this body; thus high-rise and extreme growth were the consensus. 

The recall petition 

The City Clerk refused to review or approve the form of the petition and additional requirements surfaced in the City Charter in regards to a recall—That a precinct number be placed after every signature, and “that each petition had to be sworn to before an officer competent to administer oaths.” Does this mean a notary public? We are awaiting the City Attorney’s opinion. 

These are serious roadblocks to First Amendment rights of citizens to make petitions for Recall. It could take more than 1,000 hours of petitioners’ time and more than $30,000 in Notary fees! 

This is reminiscent of the Mayor’s collection and trashing of the Daily Californian on the eve of his first election several years ago. 

A comprehensive list is at, Or check the website at Signatures are being collected by volunteers. Please email or call Julie Dickinson at, or 510-432-1054. 


Julie Dickinson is active in Berkeley politics.