It was in 1959 that an African-American baseball player broke the color barrier on the last segregated major league baseball team.
The team was the Boston Red Sox, and the player was Pumpsie Green of El Cerrito.
The El Cerrito City Council Tuesday night presented Elijah Jerry "Pumpsie" Green, 78, with (The proclamation is attached to this article.)
Mayor Jones offers encomium
"We are honoring more than a baseball player tonight," said Mayor Bill Jones. "We're honoring a very good person by all accounts."
Jones noted that he and Green both graduated from El Cerrito High School (Green in 1952 and Jones in 1968) and both played baseball. "So it's pleasure from one Gaucho to another to be part of this presentation," Jones said.
"I'd like to talk a little bit about history," he continued. "A lot of us, the vast majority of us, we really live through history. ... But few of us are history."
Jones then recounted Green's entry onto the Red Sox roster during a game in 1959. "When he entered the game," Jones said. "Pumpsie Green became history. He was not only the first African-American to play for the Boston Red Sox. He ended segregation in major league baseball. For the Boston Red Sox, as we all know, was the last team to integrate in major league baseball."
Jones noted that it was more difficult to break into the major leagues then, when there were only 16 teams (compared with 30 now) and only 400 roster positions.
"You had to be really, really good – a really good ballplayer – to be playing at that time," Jones said. "And in 1959, if you were African-American, you had to be exceptionally good. And Pumpsie Green was."
"After Mr. Green's career with baseball had ended, he came back home and for the next 25 years he devoted himself to his community," Jones continued, noting that Green coached baseball for 25 years at Berkeley High, where he also served as a student supervisor.
Green not only helped hundreds of students develop baseball skills, he "also touched thousands of other students at Berkeley High, helping them navigate through the complex ordeals of high school and preparing them for adulthood," Jones said.
Green seemed obviously moved by the honor. "This is beautiful," he said after receiving the proclamation. "Thank you to all the people of El Cerrito, the City Council, the Mayor, the Chief of Police and all you wonderful people that are here tonight."
"And," he added before concluding his brief comment, "I will see you around town because I live right down the street."
Officer Schillinger also honored
The council also approved a proclamation commending El Cerrito police Officer Terry Schillinger on his "recognition by the Richmond Elks Lodge No. 1251- Police Officer Appreciation Night." Each year the lodge honors an officer from each police agency in West Contra Costa County for outstanding service, and Schillinger was chosen from El Cerrito.
The council resolution says Schillinger "led the department in criminal apprehension; and ... has excelled in deterring and apprehending suspects involved in robbery and narcotics trafficking."
In comments to the council, Police Chief Sylvia Moir offered her praise, saying, "His performance during this past year has absolutely exceeded expectations and cannot pass without notice."
Schillinger said, "I'd like to thank the City Council, the El Cerrito police department, and the fellow members I work with (for) the honor and opportunity to serve the citizens of El Cerrito. It's a great honor." He too received applause. A copy of the proclamation commending him is attached.
City budget on track
In the annual mid-year budget review, El Cerrito’s administrative services director, Mary Dodge, told the council that city staff recommend no mid-year corrections because the $29 million general-fund budget is largely on track and that the city is close to maintaining its 10-percent reserve.
Some projected revenues fell short and some came in higher than expected, while administrative belt-tightening enabled the city to maintain existing services, she said. She said that the weak economy and other pressures on municipal revenues will mean continued frugality.
“The budget for 2012-13 will continue to be a challenge,” she said. The city’s fiscal year begins July 1.
Dodge's written report to the council report is attached to this article.
Salvaging remains of Redevelopment Agency
The council also took steps to solidify its plan to assume existing contractual obligations of the city’s former Redevelopment Agency, which was axed by state law along with nearly 400 other local Redevelopment Agencies in California.
The city will serve as the Redevelopment Agency’s “Successor Agency,” under the supervision of a seven-member "Oversight Board." Two members of the board are to be appointed by the Mayor, the council voted 4-0 to affirm Mayor Jones' appointment of himself and Hilde Myall, city senior housing program manager. Councilwoman Ann Cheng was absent from the meeting.
The council also approved a draft "Recognized Obligations Payment Schedule" detailing in effect the budget for the continuing redevelopment functions to be taken over by the Successor Agency.
Councilwoman Janet Abelson asked whether the state might object to city assumptions about what revenues and assets it can keep, and attorney Karen Tiedemann, special counsel to the city on redevelopment issues, said the city is entitled to retain the "effectively contractual commitments" of the Redevelopment Agency. These include a range of expenses such as payments on bonds sold by the agency and promised loans, including a loan to the developer of a planned senior-housing complex next to City Hall.
"They can't impair contracts," Tiedemann of the state's options. "They can try, but then they are setting themselves up for a lot of litigation from the contract-holders, like your bond-holders. ... I think we're down to the basics of what they no longer can touch."
City staff reports containing details on the dissolution of the Redevelopment Agency are attached to this article.
Correction: In the original version of this story, the second mention of the last name of attorney Karen Tiedemann incorrectly added an "r" to it. It has been corrected.