I grew up in this city and I am so disappointed in it I could just spit. How its citizenry can keep electing someone as mayor who quite obviously doesn’t care about their wants, needs or rights escapes me.
Are my fellow Berkeleyans who voted for Bates aware that he now plans to extend the parking meters until 10 p.m. to milk his individual taxpayers further but continues to refuse to have the sprawling University of California pay for the city resources with which we increasingly provide it?
Bates has been obsessed with aggressive development to win and woo outside industry and big business at the expense of his actual citizens: the small business owners, the residents, the parents and the children living in his city.
He refuses to enact a Sunshine Ordinance to allow these citizens to know what he’s doing with city funds, policy and planning. Meanwhile, he gives developers, UC and other agencies carte blanche to carve up and pollute this city and throw up high rises that may not even be occupied but will block the sun from families’ yards for good.
As a resident of Northwest Berkeley, I have watched Tom Bates engage in a transparent charade skirting the serious air pollution problem caused by Pacific Steel Casting, a company releasing dangerous manganese, other heavy metals and carcinogenic binding agents into Berkeley’s air next to preschools, shopping districts and the city’s oldest, historic residential neighborhood where thousands of children live.
Bates has stood by while Pacific Steel fails to follow mandates and clean up the problem. Yet he likes to call himself a “green” mayor and Berkeley a “green” city as he lets this 70-year-old decrepid factory operate and pollute through its failing walls as though it were an acceptable modern structure. If it weren’t so serious, it would be laughable.
He fails to allow the objective scientific data collected to be made available to the experts or affected residents. He fails to mention that his PR firm is the same as Pacific Steel’s. He sits on the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board and fails to mention it was formed 70 years ago by a Pacific Steel chairman. He claims the problem, which in residents’ opinion is worsening, is improved by citing that complaints in the area have gone down. He fails to mention that he and the Air Quality Board have made the process of filing a complaint increasingly difficult to nearly impossible and the inspection process completely unscientific as inspectors are young, inexperienced and not allowed to work with monitors or instruments.
This kind of covert, duplicitous behavior and total lack of integrity is not surprising from someone who stole and destroyed all the Daily Cal newspapers in 2002 when the paper endorsed his opponent. What is surprising is that a city with residents as savvy as Berkeley would re-elect this person. What is going on?
Bates sold our city’s air rights to developers building high rises for one fifth of the value at which they were appraised in a back room deal and says he’ll do the same in South Berkeley neighborhoods near Ashby BART. So we’ve reelected a mayor who is essentially purposefully underfunding the city’s budget? And then we are told that times are tough and our parks, libraries and resources need to be cut back or further funded by us with bonds and taxes??
Tom Bates can call himself progressive, fiscally responsible and environmentally sound when it suits him but his record says 180 degrees otherwise. I hope all you Bates voters think twice when you pay your 10 p.m. parking meter tickets—this guy is taking from you and giving nothing back. He needs to be held accountable. It’s our children he’s stealing from.
Reva Aimes is a Berkeley resident.