Public Comment

Petition re Parks and Pools

By H. Scott Prosterman
Wednesday June 22, 2011 - 11:41:00 AM

We, the undersigned DEMAND the immediate resignations of Berkeley Parks, Rec & Waterfront Administrators Phil Harper-Cotton, Scott Ferris and William P. Rogers. We make this demand on the basis of the mean spirited, cavalier and arrogant performances of these three directors, which has resulted in destruction of the Berkeley Aquatic System including: 

-The intended destruction of the warm pool. 

-The deliberate destruction of Willard Pool, and the brazenly illegal nature of this. This destructive action was carried out without appropriate public notice as required by law! The aforementioned administrators carried out this illegal actions without bothering to get approval from the Park Commission or City Council! The cost of this was greater than the operating costs for the pool for a full year. 

-The deliberate squandering of other vital public resources including decreasing availability for swimming. People want to swim and lifeguards want to work. 

-The gross and dangerous lack of qualifications of Mr. Cotton, who has no training, certification or experience in this field. How can Cotton know what a model swim program is if he does not even know how to swim? 

-The Unconstitutional nature of the new pool rules, initiated by Cotton and approved by Ferris and Rogers, which make it a crime to do yoga or extended physical therapy on the pool deck. 

-The Unconstitutional nature of the new pool rules, initiated by Cotton and approved by Ferris and Rogers, which make it a crime to petition on park property without prior permission from the directors. We are shocked and embarrassed to learn that such rules were initiated and allowed by the City Attorney. 

-The deeply callous and arrogant disposition these men have presented whenever thoughtful questions or challenges arise about their stewardship. These three men present the attitude that Berkeley citizens are there to serve THEM, rather than being good public servants for the . . . public. 

-In addition to the resignations of these deeply corrupt and incompetent officials, we also demand: 

-The immediate restoration and availability of ALL Berkeley remaining aquatics facilities including full restoration of hours for the Warm Pool, King Pool and the West Campus Pool. 

-The immediate revocation of the Unconstitutional restrictions of a person’s chosen physical activity and rightful Constitutional freedom to petition of public property, as guaranteed by the 1st Amendment. 

-The immediate restoration of swimming privileges for H. Scott Prosterman, who has been wrongfully evicted from the system for daring to challenge the authority of these three destructive administrators. Mr. Prosterman was involved in a DROWNING episode at the King Pool on July 1, 2010. In the aftermath, Mr. Prosterman’s investigation revealed that Cotton has no experience in aquatics and does not know how to swim. Cotton retaliated against Prosterman for calling this out by creating the Unconstitutional rules and manipulating his eviction. Prosterman’s wrongful eviction was also prompted by his making a complaint to OSHA for chemical storage violations in October 2010. Cotton’s gross ignorance of pool customs and codes led to the presence of many chemical containers on the pool deck, in violation of OSHA regulations and common sense. 

-Swim Coach Blythe Lucero must be placed on probationary employment status for endangering all pool patrons on July 1, 2011. Lucero directed an ill-advised and dangerous “White Cap Drill”, which elicited a rescue response from Mr. Prosterman, who performed admirably in demonstrating to all the lifeguards present and the public, how to perform a rescue with a rescue dive and proper rescue technique in “rescuing” Coach Blythe that day. In her embarrassment, Lucero worked with Cotton, Ferris and Rogers to wrongfully evict Mr. Prosterman. 

We the undersigned recognize that the problems within the Parks, Rec & Waterfront Division are symptomatic of the political dynamics of Berkeley, which has evolved away from liberal activism, and is now characterized by elected and administrative officials taking illegal actions to “consolidate” and solidify their power and employment security. We also express our strongest objection to the performances of City Attorneys Mark Zembsch and Zack Cowan in providing legal cover for these wrongful actions. We demand that the City Attorney’s Office dispense with their petty political agenda of supporting these corrupt and incompetent officials, and carry out the Constitutional obligations of their jobs by instructing that the Unconstitutional pool rules be rescinded. 

In summary, we are demanding the immediate resignations or terminations of Phil Harper-Cotton, Scott Ferris and William P. Rogers. We further demand that the pool hours for the Warm Pool, King Pool and West Campus Pool be restored to their availability of 2 years ago. We also demand the re-instatement of Dr. Rosemary Fonseca as the City’s Aquatics Director, for which she is well qualified and served admirably. We most urgently object to the City of Berkeley moving Dr. Fonseca OUT of her position so that Cotton could satisfy his retirement requirements, in a position for which he is grossly unqualified! Dr. Fonseca MUST be re-hired as Aquatics Director and be given full authority to correct the damage created by Cotton, Ferris and Rogers.