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Press Release: A Practical People’s Platform- Things a Berkeley Mayor could accomplish

From Mayoral Candidate Kriss Worthington
Tuesday July 24, 2012 - 09:15:00 AM

1. FAMILY FRIENDLY COUNCIL MEETINGS: City Council meetings should be moved to a larger room when a controversial proposal is likely to attract a large crowd. This will reduce the frustration factor of people forced to wait outside or in the hallways. People with children, people with jobs the next morning, and disabled residents will be less likely to give up and go home. Any small cost for live television broadcasting is worth it to promote democratic participation.

2. MORE MEETINGS ORGANIZED MORE EFFECTIVELY: Planning Department Public Hearings on ZAB appeals should be scheduled at special meetings with nothing else on the agenda. Staff and management from other departments should not be subjected to hours of unnecessary delay. The number of City Council meetings per year has been decreased. The convenience of hundreds of members of the public is more important than the convenience of nine City Council members. Increasing the number of Council meetings to what they used to be is not an unreasonable burden.  

3. PARLIAMENTARIAN: when a Councilmember (or anyone else) insults other Council members, the Chair or a designated Parliamentarian should point out this is not the place for such behavior. Max Anderson defended himself, but the chair should have intervened promptly.  

4. EQUAL TREATMENT FOR THE PUBLIC: Speakers should not have arbitrary requirements made up on the spot limiting their ability to speak, and the rules should be enforced fairly.  

5. POSTING UPDATED AGENDA LIST: It is difficult for the public in the room or on tv to know what items have been completed, and what items are left to be discussed. Items are added to or removed from the Consent Calendar or withdrawn or postponed but it happens so quickly that the public may be sitting there waiting for the item for hours. After the Consent Calendar is voted on, a list of remaining items could be posted in the room and given to the television broadcasters.  

6. DIVERSITY: The splendid diversity of our City should be reflected in who gets appointed to City Commissions. The Mayor has been elected citywide for ten years, but every diversity study shows a lack of fair representation of Asian, Latino and/or African American commissioners in who he has appointed. Out of thirty four possible appointees, there are many talented people of all races qualified to be Commissioners. 

7. PROFESSIONAL SUPERVISION: The City Council should conduct an annual evaluation of the City Manager. This has only happened a few times in the past ten years. It is an important step to provide praise as well as feedback. In some ways it is the most important job of the Mayor and City Council and it is being neglected year after year. 

8. FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY: If the City Manager were to be fired for horrible job performance, they would still receive a one year severance package of almost a quarter of a million dollars. This is not an incentive for good performance. It is also the wrong message to send to the social service programs that have suffered painful cuts, and employees who have been laid off or sacrificing to save the City money by taking unpaid VTO (voluntary time off) days.  

9. NOT JUST TRICKLE-DOWN DEVELOPMENT: If you have not participated in a development debate you probably think Berkeley is on the right track. Many hundreds of residents who have encountered a neighborhood development issue become frustrated with the incumbent’s starting point that benefits automatically trickle down from development. In reality, development that pays its fair share can be great, but development which fails to pay for fair labor policies, parking, traffic impacts, affordable housing and open space can be very problematic.  

10. COST-EFFECTIVE PROGRESSIVE POLICY: Many other City Councils have eclipsed Berkeley in adopting practical progressive policy. Graduate and undergraduate students have numerous innovative ideas, but are denied their seat at the table. When we adopted the Climate Action plan, with hundreds of possible implementation policies, I repeatedly requested a cost effective analysis of what actions would contribute to the most greenhouse gas reduction. City actions have not achieved significant greenhouse gas reductions, in part because we have yet to receive that analysis and therefore are not prioritizing cost effective strategies. 

Please consider these and numerous other ideas I will introduce during the candidate forums. Public policy is more important than personalities and politics. I am running for Mayor to have a platform to alert people to what is happening and to advocate common sense solutions. 

Berkeley attracts a talented team of City Staff, Department Heads and City Management, then we subject them, and the public, to poorly organized Council meetings that waste their time and leave them tired for the next day’s work. We can facilitate maximum public participation with respect for the public and city workers as well. Berkeley is an incredible beautiful diverse city populated with people providing innovative ideas and leadership on environmental and countless social issues. We can do more to channel their enthusiasm into a dazzling display of democracy in action, if we make some positive practical changes. 

Some say this is a David and Goliath battle where the incumbent will have overwhelming money from corporate developers. Many will be afraid to stand up against the “machine”. Still others fondly remember their former Assembly member and are unaware of current issues. As I walk and talk with residents of Berkeley I hear again and again that they want a choice. I run to offer ideas, and an alternative choice. My middle name is David and I have tackled many difficult and seemingly insurmountable challenges in my life. I welcome this new challenge. There is plenty of room in Berkeley for many opinions. I appreciate anyone and everyone who takes the time to consider these ideas.