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.
Co-owner of East Bay Pilates