Berkeley City Council to consider new police chief, gender pay gap resolution, senate bill

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Berkeley City Council will convene Tuesday to discuss the appointment of a new police chief, a resolution that seeks to narrow the gender pay gap and a senate bill that discourages emergency room closures, among other items.

A recommendation by City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley announcing her selection of Berkeley Police Department Acting Chief Andrew Greenwood as the permanent chief is listed on the agenda as a topic of discussion at Tuesday’s meeting. Greenwood became the department’s acting chief last fall following Michael Meehan’s resignation.

“(Greenwood’s) leadership in the department itself has reflected a broad commitment to all levels of the organization, leading to increased morale and effectiveness,” Williams-Ridley said in a statement. “His skills, experience and sense of commitment have demonstrated an ability to serve Berkeley according to its progressive, community-focused values.”

Councilmember Sophie Hahn said she believes there are many reasons why Greenwood is uniquely qualified for the position, but added that the community has raised some important questions she hopes Greenwood will respond to at the meeting.

The council is also scheduled to address a referral at the meeting that was introduced by Councilmember Kriss Worthington, which would amend the Berkeley Municipal Code to require city contractors with 20 or more employees to submit an Equal Pay Report, according to the action calendar. Worthington said businesses and employees within the city will undergo a pay audit that examines how males and females are paid for equal work.

The recommendation also proposes an incentive that awards contractors who demonstrate a less than 10 percent pay gap between male and female employees in the same job category in their Equal Pay Report.

“It’s been a long time that women have been asking for equal pay,” Hahn said. “Given the fact that knowledge and advocacy of the issue have not resulted in equal pay for women … incentives and requirements are the only way. This is long overdue.”

Five of the nine councilmembers must vote in favor of a recommendation in order for it to pass. Both Hahn and Worthington expressed confidence that the referral would pass.

The council will also discuss a senate bill, authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, that would discourage hospital closures. The bill, known as SB 687, would allow the attorney general to assess the consequences that would result from a reduction of emergency services. The council’s resolution, authored by Mayor Jesse Arreguín and Hahn, proposes that the council support Skinner’s bill.

California has 6.7 emergency departments per 1 million people, the lowest proportion in the country, according to the resolution. The resolution also states that the closure of Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo resulted in increased ambulance transports to Alta Bates, in addition to the  5,000 patients already transported there annually by the Berkeley Fire Department.

“(California) has hospital deserts — distances that people have to travel to get to hospitals are very difficult,” Hahn said. “The entire hospital landscape is changing, and it’s a public health issue that needs to be addressed.”

Contact Carina Zhao at czhao@dailycal.org.

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