EDAC Committee member resigns over latest City Council slight

Published On October 20, 2016 | By Guest Blogger | Community Voices, News & Commentary

Our “E’ville Voices” guest blogger series was created to net a broader range of voices within our city in flux and initiate dialogue through opinion & conversation. This contribution is by Emeryville Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) member Krisna Hanks. Hanks is a small business representative of the committee as co-owner of East Bay Pilates. Hanks abruptly resigned in protest over the latest in a series of slights by our current “progressive” city council whom have repeatedly shunned any economic input from anyone other than outside labor groups.

Hanks was one of five members of the EDAC to question Council’s fast-track approach to their EBASE/ACCE/CPD orchestrated Fair Work Week Proposal. An ordinance that was unanimously passed by the Dianne Martinez led City Council on Tuesday despite 5-1 opposition by the EDAC. A piece of legislation called “invasive” by one business owner who also questioned its enforceability and legality. An ordinance that saw Emeryville City staff spend months reaching out to business stakeholders gathering their input only to have the council undo their efforts by deferring to EBASE Deputy Director Jennifer Lin on its implementation. Below is her resignation letter that she tendered to the city today.


Dear EDAC Secretary Chadrick Smalley and fellow members,

Before stating the reasons behind this decision, I want to express my sincere appreciation for my fellow committee members. I have the utmost respect for your contributions to our community. I especially want to thank those I’ve worked with closely over the last couple years and welcome the newest members.

I also what to be clear here that I’m making a distinction between city staff and city council. There are numerous city staff members such as Chadrick Smalley and his predecessor Michelle DeGuzman, who have actively interacted with small business, within the confines of their positions and encouraged collaboration with the business community. I remain open to working with Chad if the time arises in the future.

I am resigning because I feel the representation and “voice” of Emeryville small business falls on deaf ears within our current city council. While there have been numerous statements by council members that they “care” about small business there is no action or reach out to hear what small business is saying. There is no support mechanism as in a chamber of commerce or other avenue that connects the city to small business. And there is no plan in place to change this situation.

My feelings toward the city council are not only due to the recent passing of the MWO and now Fair Work Week Ordinance. And I will add neither of those “directly” influences my business at present. It is because city council has little to no coordinated efforts to support, promote and as mentioned interact with small business. The only times one generally hears from the council is when they want to declare a new ordinance or pass regulation which greatly impacts the ability to operate a business in Emeryville.

In my mind the purpose of having city committees is to provide avenues for those living and working in our community to voice concerns and work on compromise situations that positively impact our community. We have these committees but their perspectives carry no weight nor do any council members attend these meetings.

This did not use to be the case in Emeryville previous councils had members as active participants on numerous committees. I personally had a positive experience working with councilmember Nora Davis on the Commission for Aging and Economic Development Committee.

Our small city is collectively an eclectic bunch of artists, businesses and residents. However, at present the only group that seems to have the ear of our council is EBASE, a non-profit organization that is not even based in our city. While I believe EBASE does some positive things for its’ members it does not constitute the totality of Emeryville residents and businesses. So why should it be dictating all the terms of operations of our city? This is not in my opinion a fair division of voice and potential guidance for Emeryville.

I would dare to say that many residents value small business in the area. Again it’s my personal opinion but clients have also stated that part of the charm of Emeryville is the unique small businesses and artists in the community.

The majority of small business owners do the very best to not only serve their customers well by offering services and products that customers value but by also providing good jobs to the area. In additions they (business owners) do their utmost to treat employees with respect and work hard to create a positive working atmosphere that both customers and workers enjoy being a part of.

I have owned and operated a business in Emeryville for 12 years. I have served on various committees, Park Avenue, Commission on Aging and EDAC throughout my tenure in this city. The city council wants citizens to volunteer their time to city committees. However, as we give up our time we would at their very least expect that our opinions and insight into the community would be valued, respected and from time to time maybe even incorporated into policy.

The city needs representation by ALL who both reside and work in Emeryville. None of the current council members have owned or operated a small business. Thus, they have no personal insight into what it takes to successfully run a business. But yet the council dictates the terms and ability of business to operate in this city. From a common sense perspective this is a skewed method of city governance.

Thus, my departure is in fact in protest to the anti-small business climate this current city council has created and cultivated. I urge the potential new council members to do your utmost to repair this damage.

Respectfully,

Krisna Hanks
Co-owner of East Bay Pilates

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The E'ville Eye Guest blogger series invites Emeryville City Council members, businesses, residents & neighbors to share their opinions and voice about a broad range of subjects involving our city. Contact us if your interested in submitting an editorial or story.

12 Responses to EDAC Committee member resigns over latest City Council slight

  1. Thank you Krisna for all the time, commitment and effort you have given to Emeryville. While I may have only moved here two years ago, I can already understand the frustration of having your hard work and clear guidance ignored by those who seek to exploit our city. You are a positive source of strength for the community and I hope things with the City Council turn around soon so Emeryville doesn’t lose you or East Bay Pilates.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you are thinking of opening a small local business in Emeryville, DON’T.

      Save yourself a lot of trouble and avoid Emeryville. This is not a good place any more.

    • Thank you John for the support and appreciation. When we opened our business over a decade ago, I would not have dreamed this area could become so unfriendly to small business, my how time changes. Let’s hope the new council members and moreover the public wakes up and becomes vocal, that business, artists and residents are what make a place fun to live and work in. If not nothing new will come in as well as others decide to leave, a sad day for the community.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ms Hanks, Thanks for serving and more importantly thanks for choosing to publicly acknowledge what is going on in Emeryville.

    Dianne Martinez, Jac Asher, Scott Donahue, and Ruth Atkin need a basic civics lesson in what “representative democracy” is about. I know some high school students who could teach it.

    The City Council is not about manipulating the system to do what you want. (I’m looking at you Jac and Dianne)

    It’s about representing the whole community. Jennifer Lin has been more than adequately represented. She has destroying the jobs of literally thousands of Emeryville workers. That’s enough for now.

    It might be time to move on and represent maybe one or two other people. And you aren’t allowed to count yourselves. You’ve done enough representing your own interests already.

  3. Lisa says:

    I am sorry to read this news. I have worked with Krisna and she is exactly the voice most needed in this current rush to micromanage small businesses. Glad there is an election coming.

  4. Looks like I got out of Emeryville just in time.

    For most of my 13+ years as President & CEO of the Emeryville Chamber of Commerce, I was the envy of many of my Chamber of Commerce colleagues throughout the East Bay, and I could legitimately brag that Emeryville was the shining star of pro-business attitude and economic development in the Bay Area. No longer; the current City Council — most of whom have never owned or managed a real business in their lives — have totally frittered away Emeryville’s once-strong business-friendly culture, ignored the voice of small business and have turned over City policy making to EBASE and other anti-business ideologue organizations. I am glad that I am no longer there so I do not have to personally witness Emeryville’s slow death spiral.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The local businesses should shut the city down. They have the power to do it too.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Does West Oakland provide any support or programs for small businesses that need to move out of Emeryville into a more business friendly climate?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Krisna Hanks~ Good luck in your future endeavors. Please contact me if you ever choose to use an editor. [wordsorcerer@hotmail.com]

  8. justgrc says:

    Dianne Martinez’s legacy will be remembered when people see how vibrant surrounding areas in Oakland and Berkeley have become while Emeryville is left behind as a failed utopian experiment of for lease signs and well-intentioned, but ill-fated small businesses. Of course Martinez will be long gone by then.

    Actually it’s happening now. Wake up Emeryville.

    • Rob Arias says:

      Thanks for your reply justgrc. I hope more residents like yourself begin questioning the priorities and decisions of our local government. Without sufficient oversight by the media and concerned residents, politicians can act with impunity.

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