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LOCAL Commentary :: Civil & Human Rights : Education & Youth : Government & Elections

Why I'm not voting for Emily Reilly

Emily Reilly was the top vote-getter in 2000. Her pleasant demeanor and her self-deprecating comments endear her to some. But what is her record? What kind of leadership has she really shown? HUFF activists have examined her record and the results are not very encouraging.
Santa Cruz, Ca. -- Until Coral Brune entered the City Council race, Emily Reilly was the only woman candidate for the Santa Cruz City Council. Reilly runs a long-established bakery on the westside and has been on the city council for the past four years.

What has she done in that time?

On the plus side – She saved the Mission Redwood tree.
--- She supported the new Family Homeless Shelter
--- She supported Free Radio Santa Cruz
--- She voted for the resolution against the War entering the War in Iraq (but declined to make any resolution calling to remove troops from Iraq, even on a timetable)

She led the city to create a whole long list of new “crimes? to punish kids, homeless people, and hippies with. These include –no sitting on a sidewalk 14 ft from a building. No silently asking for food after dark with a sign. No playing hackysack, no blowing bubbles, no frisbees, no footballs, and no bouncing of any balls. All political tables must move after only one hour’s time. No playing music standing next to a building ( if there is a tip cup there!!) She rushed through this process with 4 council meetings in 2 weeks during the summer—undoubtedly to have it a fait accompli before the students returned in September) She completely ignored huge public citizen input that said police harassment was the biggest problem downtown.

On her website she lists her accomplishments, which seem to be holding down a lot of seats on boards around town. On the Santa Cruz Metro Transit District, as Board Chair, she oversaw cutting bus routes, raising fares. As a member of the Regional Transportation Commission, she proceeded over the criminalization of bicycle riders, skateboarders, and skaters, continuing their banishment from public roads, bikelanes, sidewalks, and parking lots in favor of automobiles. She has overseen cutting of bus routes, massive expansion of a permit-parking system, and a failure generally to fix the potholes and ruts in our city streets. Speedbumps have dramatically increased though out the city during her tenure.

--- She was part of a Blue Ribbon Panel for School Closure Strategies:

Gee, I’d hate to have my neighborhood school shut down by a runner-up! What a thing to brag about! Closing two schools right after a major bond increase was voted in by the taxpayers specifically to save the schools. These schools, BTW, are closing because of her lack of leadership in seeing to it that the people who live here can afford housing here. During her four years on the council, the cost of housing has spiraled out of control.

--- Founding Member of Sister Cities Network for Sustainable Development:

Yes, Emily jet-setted to Alushta, Russia to represent the City of Santa Cruz. She’s our regular international ambassador! She hosted a delegation from Alushta, too and provided us with some of her most profuse gushing. Emily is good at gushing!! Unless it’s a homeless person who’s car got towed from one of her many “permit? parking zones—then she has nothing to say. Not even “oops!?

Emily lists her priorities for the next four years as:

--- Support regional planning and careful growth. Support funding for social service programs

This “careful? growth means more of the same. Lots of new, huge $500,000 suburban homes, and very little in the way of housing affordable to people who live here---like the workers at Emily’s Bakery. BTW four years ago she claimed her workers were paid a living wage ($12.71/hr). Activist Steve Argue pointed out that her workers are NOT paid a living wage.

She funds social service programs that help homeless people while she funds police services that harass, cite, arrest, and jail them. In fact, she spends a lot MORE money on harassing the homeless than she does on helping them. And she does it all with a smile!!

Reilly rubberstamps everything that crosses her desk from City Manager Dick Wilson and City Attorney John Barisone, even if it conflicts with her stated election platform.

She voted to “enforce the camping ordinance along the San Lorenzo River? at the same time that the council was struggling to find a legal place for the Camp Paradise homeless community, in attempt to pre-empt the entire process.


--- Advocate community participation in public decision making.:

This one’s a real laugh. She CUT city commission meetings in half—so that volunteer boards and commissions only meet half as often. These citizen commissions have been a part of the citizen involvement in the day to day operations of the City for decades. She completely eliminated the Citizens Police Review Board citing budget concerns. But she is going forward with the Salz Tannery remodel for an artists live/work facility costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.

--- Pursue sustainable, long-range transportation. Promote development of affordable housing:

So far her long range transportation accomplishments has been to cut back bus service, routes, eliminate stops, and raise fares. Gee. What more do we have to look forward to? As for promoting the development of affordable housing, she failed miserably to protect 262 units of affordable housing at De Anza Senior Mobile home park and at Clear View Court. She mowed down 55 units of affordable housing, spent $17 million to build 48 units to replace those, and now wants a medal for her good work. Never mind. I will pass.

Emily gave public speeches before she was elected to the council about how concerned she was for homeless people out in the cold AND criminalized if they sleep or cover up with a blanket. (I have the videotapes!!) Once in office, she did a 180 and now supports the Sleeping Ban so strongly that she won’t even put it on the city council agenda for discussion. Forget democracy. Forget public input. And mostly, forget the plight of the homeless.
 
 


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Comments

Re: Why I'm not voting for Emily Reilly

Another half-truth-filled posting, slanted and one-sided with conclusions drawn completely out of context. For instance, you rail that somehow Emily Reilly personally led the fight to cut bus routes, insinuating that she really hates bus riders and wants to make their lives miserable. Well, then, what were the other options? Raise the fares again to make bus service even less affordable to those who need it most? If she had done that, and kept the routes, you would be bashing her now as anti-poor because she made mass transit unaffordable. I guess there is the "if I lived in my dream world" scenario that you might offer: dissolve the police and fire departments and use that money for bus services. For the rest of us that operate in the real world, that is not an option.

Oh, the list is endless... for instance, the bond that was passed last January was lead by parents after the commission listed closure lists. It is these parents who misled the public (those who believed the campaign at least, which I am not one of), not just Emily Reilly.

What else... oh, yeah, your claim that the only new housing being developed in the City is $500,000 "suburban" housing. Well, I know that there is at least one new multi-unit complex on Pacific and Cathcart, with the inclusionary required amount of low-income apartments. It's close to the Metro Center and retail areas, so it's smart growth. While I'm not versed in all of the development in town, just living and being here I don't see that much new housing going up at all, certainly not McMansions like you claim.

Oh, and then there's the incredible new facility run by Mercy Housing in the Beach Flats. How you could possibly think that the units that were there previously were better than what is there now blows my mind. Yes, space was an issue and they (the developers, not the city, genius) could not build the exact number of new units. However, you fail to mention that this new complex, besides not being a slum run by the Seaside company, now has a day-care center and low-cost health clinic. So yes, a few units were lost, but look at what was gained.

On and on I could go. It just shows how one-sided, purposefully misconstruing you are in your statements, and why you have no credibility with anyone in this city. For all of us who know what the whole picture is (and, for the record, I have nothing to do with her campaign or any city council campaign for that matter) we see the positive. You and your cohorts prefer to skew and lie and mislead. Isn't it sad that you can't use the truth to make your points?
 

Emily Reilly, results mixed

I think there's merit to what Becky has said and to what Jerry has said. There are good and bad things about Emily Reilly. I really can't decide whether to vote for her. She is not as bad as some of the other candidates, but she is not as good as a true progressive might be, either.

I respect Emily as a person. She grew up in Western Pennsylvania. I can say, from spending my college years in Pittsburgh, that you haven't seen economic decline until you've spent some time in that part of our country. She was a single mom. She coped with the suicide of one of her sons. She started her own business. And she became mayor. Obviously, she is a strong and hard-working person.

Emily has told me that she does pay a living wage to full-time employees at her bakery. I haven't verified the details. I do know that she provides the employees with free transit passes. In general, these claims tell us that she cares a little bit more than the average businessperson. They do not indicate that her business is a perfect employer.

I don't agree with her political approach. She says she wants to please everyone, but doesn't really do it. I am most familiar with her record on transportation, and somewhat familiar with her record on downtown issues and her record on housing.

At Metro Emily has supported four service cuts and a substantial fare increase, all since 2002. By convention, these votes are unanimous, so there's nothing unusual about her record. What people miss though, is that she and the other Metro board members made no effort to keep unit costs down. Their inability to say "no" over the years made the service cuts inevitable.

Very specifically, Emily and the other Metro board members failed to balance the interests of senior union members with the interests of bus riders and junior union members. Senior union members wanted large raises. Bus riders wanted to keep their bus service. Junior union members wanted to keep their jobs.

The Metro board committed itself to a string of large raises, knowing that revenue (primarily sales tax) was falling. The 2002-2005 bus driver contract, for example, was signed long after the economy began to falter. It provided a 5.8% raise in 2002, a 4.2% raise in 2003, and a 4.2% (junior) or 9.4% (senior) raise in 2004. The cost of living, as measured by the local Consumer Price Index (which includes housing, health care, food, entertainment, etc.), rose about 2% in each of those years. The bus drivers were already being paid fairly. I don't want to single them out, though, because inside workers and (the very few, very overworked) managers had also received similar raises.

A service cut was necessary to pay for the first year of the drivers' contract. The Metro board approved the contract and the initial service cut, more or less simultaneously. Every year since, the board has been forced to approve another service cut. A service cut, it should be noted, harms riders (who pay the same amount of money but have fewer travel choices) and junior union members (who get laid off). A 25 to 50% fare increase was also necessary in 2003.

A leader like Emily, had she really wanted to please everyone, might have suggested that Metro limit raises to the cost of living. This approach would have offended everyone initially, but saved the day in the end. No senior Metro employee would have lost ground to inflation, no junior Metro employee would have been laid off, and no Metro bus rider would have lost service. (Fare increase would still have been necessary, to keep pace with inflation.) Emily and her colleagues picked the easy route and offered the large raises. Unions -- led primarily by senior workers -- are an important political constituency. Bus riders aren't. To the junior workers who lost their jobs, and to the bus riders who were left with 20% less service in the end, Emily and her colleagues just kept on saying "sorry" and pretending that the results were completely unexpected.

On housing, Emily is one of the people who initially voted against the Cardiff Place Apartments. The project called for 45 studio apartments across the street from the largest public employer in the County and a block away from the street corner with the most Metro bus service in the County. The units were privately financed, and marginally affordable because of their small size. Emily initially sided with homeowner groups, who didn't want scummy apartment-dwellers like me (!) living next door to the $500,000 homes that Becky Johnson mentions. (Becky's remarks about lousy housing policy are right on the money, I think.) Cardiff Place was scaled down and did pass on the second try, at least.

I think Emily and the others really mishandled the downtown "problem". If you're worried that the people hanging out in your downtown are scaring away suburban shoppers, it's probably not a good idea to announce this, convene lots of council meetings that last until midnight, and then pass lots of silly laws that can't really alter people's behavior. Instead, you talk quietly with the affected parties (business owners, the homeless, street musicians, political activists, etc.) and troubleshoot. You also extoll the virtues of your colorful and lively downtown, and tell the detractors to do their shopping at Walgreens in Scotts Valley.

Emily and the others made downtown into a "cause celebre", which really did have the effect of scaring the suburban shoppers away. Banning hackey sacks, putting up planters, shooing street musicians away and shutting down political tables didn't stop people from hanging out in their downtown. A visionary leader would have realized that there really wasn't a big problem, and would have tackled a few specific incidents/difficulties quietly.

I respect Emily as a person, and I acknowledge that she has done some good and bad things as a politician.
 

Re: Why I'm not voting for Emily Reilly

Thank you, Mr. Marcelin-Sampson, for one of the few thought-out, well-reasoned and articulate postings on local politics on this site. Not everyone in elected office does everything that we want them to do, but that does not make them bad office-holders (or people, as you are quick to point out as well). I'm just tired of the Norse/Johnson rhetoric that is only one-sided and skewed and without any merit.
 

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