City Council District 5
City Council District 5

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January 21, 2011



In this issue:

A Note from Councilmember Capitelli
The Chancellor's Community Partnership Fund
Youth Arts Exhibition
Am Councilmember, Will Travel
District 5 Profile: Bob Lutt, Founder of Cazadero Music Camp
Conduct Job & Business Research from Home
City Contacts and Resources



A Note From Councilmember Capitelli

Dear District 5 Neighbors,

On the morning before New Year's, reading the newspaper about the many challenges facing Oakland in the coming months, I ran across this comment from SF Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson:

"Berkeley as the model: Quiet as it's kept, the lovely City of Berkeley has not experienced the economic shortfalls that have afflicted virtually all of its neighboring East Bay cities. Three-term Mayor Tom Bates, who served two decades in the California Assembly, should receive his due as a city leader. Berkeley has retained its ultra-liberal image while providing some of the best services in the region."

Chip Johnson rarely writes about Berkeley. That he would hold Berkeley up as a role model was both flattering and humbling. The flattering part didn't last long, though, as a few days later Daniel Borenstein from the Contra Costa Times published an "exposé" of the City of Berkeley's unfunded liabilities (more of a rehashing of a staff report requested by the City Council) — how our obligations to retirement and other benefits are suffering from a long-term $310 million projected deficit.

Both articles are correct. Berkeley still has the best bond rating of any other city its size in California. Despite projected budget shortfalls each year since 2002, Council has continually whacked, tightened and tweaked in order to bring home annual balanced budgets.

But in the long term, unfunded liability debt is very real, as it is for most every other government jurisdiction, including the state of California. Lulled by the economic boom of the late 90's and the rosy but unsustainable projections of the state retirement system (CalPERS), overly generous benefits were both mandated by the state and negotiated and granted to government workers. The downturn in the economy, the subsequent loss in investment returns, the radical increase in healthcare costs and projected take-backs from the state have brought us to a fiscal crossroads.

At its January 18, 2011 special workshop, City staff carefully outlined for Council the source and depth of the problem. The message was clear: we cannot "grow" out of this situation. We instead must make some hard decisions moving forward. Options available to Council to address it include:

  • Engage an independent, outside actuary for investment projections. (This has been in place for two years).
  • Continue to reduce the work force. (130 positions have been eliminated since 2002. Staff recommends eliminating up to 75 more positions. Expect lay-offs as early as March.)
  • Explore a reduced workweek. (Many staff already effectively work a 36-hour week given that many city services are closed every other Friday. This excludes Fire and Police who have mandatory staffing levels.)
  • Explore alternate service delivery methods, including consolidation with other jurisdictions and/or contracting for services.
  • As labor contracts are renegotiated, explore increasing employees' share of benefit costs.
  • Contracts for new employees will include a more sustainable package of benefits (often referred to as a 'two tier' system).

Though it is not a pretty picture, I have confidence that we on the Council understand the import of this moment, and are committed to setting the City back to a sound financial track. We have directed staff to develop five-year and ten-year goals and a road map, exploring the options above, to get us there.

* * * *

!On a neighborhood note, most of you know that the Oaks Theater has closed its doors. The empty marquis is an iconic reminder of the financial struggles of our business district. It also reminds us of the infusion of support and new opportunities the district needs from both patrons and policy makers. On the heels of my Solano Avenue Survey and subsequent economic development proposals, many of which are targeted to Solano Avenue, the Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association will be polling residents in their area about visions and next steps for the district. I look forward to sharing my proposals and hearing new ideas.

And finally, my office is a bit sad to say good-bye to our Area Coordinator from the Berkeley Police Department, Officer Casimiro Pierantoni. "Cas" has been a wonderful colleague, infusing great attention and energy into his role as liaison to the Police for the last four years. Thank you Cas for your great compassion for crime victims, for your informative Area 1 Updates, and for your unflappable good humor. You will be missed.

The flip side is that we are very happy to welcome Officer Byron White to his new role as Area 1 Coordinator. He is an 8-year veteran of BPD as well as a graduate of St. Mary's College High School and UC Berkeley. We very much look forward to working with Officer White in his expanded job with the Police Department and the City.

Regards,


Laurie Capitelli
Berkeley City Council, District 5
510-981-7150

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The Chancellor's Community Partnership Fund

The 2011-2012 grant cycle has been launched for the Chancellor's Community Partnership Fund. Established by Chancellor Robert Birgeneau in 2006, the UC Berkeley Chancellor's Community Partnership Fund supports projects and programs that establish, extend and strengthen collaborative partnerships between UC Berkeley and the wider Berkeley community. The Fund seeks to enhance the quality of life for people who live and work in Berkeley by providing grant funding to neighborhood improvement projects and community service programs that link the university's energy and resources with those of the community.

The Fund is now seeking interested applicants for the 2011-2012 partnership grant awards. Please go to the Fund's website for more information, recent revisions to the application process and application forms.

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Youth Arts Exhibition

What: IDENTITY: Exhibit of Artwork from BUSD Students, K-8
When: February 3 - March 20, 2011. Gallery Hours Wed - Sun, 12:00 - 5:00 p.m. Opening Reception: Thursday, Feb. 10, 5:30-7:30p.m.
Where: Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut Street, Berkeley

Students in grades K-8 from the Berkeley Unified School District will present artwork based on the theme, IDENTITY at the Berkeley Art Center in February. Participating schools include Oxford, Washington, Emerson, Jefferson, Le Conte, Thousand Oaks, and Malcolm X Elementary Schools, and King, Longfellow, and Willard Middle Schools. Each school will identify a head teacher/artist who will curate the students' artwork. Accompanying programs will include a daylong family art workshop (more below) and music/drama performances. This exhibit is presented in conjunction with Youth Arts Exhibition: Berkeley High School at Kala Art Institute. Both exhibits are part of Art IS Education month, featuring special arts programming across the state during the month of March.

What: Family Art Day
When: Saturday, March 5, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Where: Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut Street, Berkeley

Enjoy a range of art activities for all ages, led by BUSD teachers in Berkeley Art Center's beautiful gallery space and reception patio. Light snacks and beverages provided. The program is offered free of charge to the general public, and is made possible by a generous grant from the Berkeley Public Education Foundation.

Admission is free but donations are appreciated. Please visit BERKELEY ART CENTER or call 510-644-6893 for more information or to learn about related public programs.

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Am Councilmember, Will Travel

One of the pleasures of being a member of the Berkeley City Council is meeting with local residents to talk about the large issues facing the City and how they impact the neighborhoods. In that spirit, please know that, schedules permitting, I am always ready to attend neighborhood gatherings, social or informative, and to delve into the complexities of city-wide issues, or to hear about very specific neighborhood concerns.

Please contact my office, 510-981-7150, and talk with Jill or Pam about setting up a date.

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District 5 Profile:
Bob Lutt, Founder of Cazadero Music Camp

"Why are we playing so much music?" reads a plaque in the Cazadero Performing Arts Camp's practice room. Although at least one former camper was puzzled by the incredible amount of time dedicated to music in a music camp, Cazadero's founder and District 5 resident, Robert Lutt, has an answer. "I think that every child should at least have the opportunity to experience the performing arts."

Bob's efforts to encourage creativity in young people have not gone unnoticed. He was recently awarded the prestigious local Jefferson Award, an honor given to individuals who've greatly improved their communities. Cazadero, or "Caz," has flourished in the fifty-three years since its creation: more than one hundred thousand children and adolescents have crossed the bridge that leads to the camp, a haven for aspiring musicians and artists. Bob describes the curriculum by saying, "[At Cazadero] we try to challenge students with difficult music. They work under various directors and learn a wide scope of musical genres."

Read more. . .

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Conduct Job & Business Research from Home:
Berkeley Library Offers Two Free Workshops

What: Business Resources Workshop
When: Saturday 2/5 at 2 p.m. & Tuesday 2/8 at 6 p.m.
Where: Berkeley Public Central Library, 2090 Kittredge
3rd floor Electronic Classroom
What: Job Resources Workshop
When: Saturday 2/19 2 p.m. & Tuesday 2/22 6 p.m.
Where: Berkeley Public Central Library, 2090 Kittredge
3rd floor Electronic Classroom

Want to learn more about the free online tools you can access with your Berkeley Public Library card to give you an edge in these challenging times?

Join Library staff for two great workshops on using the library's free resources to tackle your job search or small business research needs. Each workshop will be offered twice, and will include instruction, training exercises and lots of time for questions and practice.

For more information visit this link, please call 510-981-6148 or visit Berkeley Public Library.



City Contacts and Resources

Listed below are important city phone numbers to keep close by:

Laurie Capitelli, District 5 Office

510-981-7150

Tom Bates, Office of the Mayor

510-981-7000

Officer Byron White, BPD Area Coordinator for North Berkeley

510-981-5773

Non-emergency (to report a past event or suspicious activity)

981-5900

Emergency (to report a crime in process or an emergency)
from a landline 

911

From a cell phone 

981-5911

To report nonfunctioning street lamps, graffiti, missed garbage pick-ups

On Line Service Center
or dial 311

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