A Sunday Afternoon in Berkeley

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Photo by Sheraz Sadiq, KQED

Yesterday we held a No Hate Rally in Berkeley and the haters didn’t come–or did they? I went and I’ll admit that I have hate in my heart toward the whole Trump Clan, the hideous Trump cabinet and the Republican leadership.

So what was the story yesterday in Berkeley? Was it a violent riot as most media portrayed it, a beautiful peaceful gathering for the whole family, a staunch defense of the city or… a mixture of all of that? So far I’ve read about a dozen versions and each is colored with its own bias, of course. I’ll share some of them leaving out the names of those who described their personal experiences unless they have been published them.

One friend who has mobilized as security for demonstrations over the years and engaged in self defense at times said, “I saw a large group of Black Bloc young people congregating on the corner.  There were 30 – 50 of them there…. As I walked down Allston toward McKinley, this group of Black Bloc people started to chase down one person who was running from them toward McKinley.  I have no idea who this person was.  The Black Bloc people caught him, threw him to the ground, and started to beat him with a stick, kick him and beat him with fists.”

This stands in contrast to another report, “others rallied and then started marching toward MLK park. After a few blocks we were joined by about 100 antifa activists dressed in black to create an inspiring demonstration of unity and determination to make Berkeley and the entire East Bay a fascist-free zone.

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Photo by Sheraz Sadiq/KQED

Once at MLK park people prepared to defend themselves against the kind of attack that left at least seven people suffering from knife wounds in Sacramento last June. Instead, the handful of fascists stayed behind the police barriers, some literally kneeling at the cops’ feet as they hurled racist jibes and gave the finger to the anti-fascist protestors. People became predictably angry…..Remarkably, and contrary to some of the media narratives, the fascists escaped with their lives and without serious injury.”

This is a little of what I saw and posted on facebook, since corroborated by some reporters who were there, “Ok there is one guy here that the crowd was chasing as he left the park. Apparently he had his hat and glasses knocked off and then was surrounded while he was still arguing that Trump had created jobs. A couple of BPD had to come and rescue him, sending him on his way.
I expected to go to Civic Center Park to be angry at these guys but then I started to feel afraid for him. I still don’t like mobs nor the idea of picking on the weak, which he was at the time.” He was eventually led away by a Berkeley cop.

Other friends testified to peaceful crowds and heartening speeches even at Civic Center. There were certainly many folks, thousands at the alternate rally, lots of good signs and happy faces with the Berkeley/Oakland Stands United Against Hate posters that were produced by the hundreds.

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Photo by Dan Brekke/KQED

Further facebook topics for discussion:

One lively discussion as to whether Antifa  and especially the masked black clad crowd (Black Bloc) were useful/positive/ protective demonstrators and necessary or a truly violent faction of the Left. After the events in Charolottesville and the role that Antifa is said to have played in protecting peaceful church going folk, mostly Black, by the way, some of us, me included, have felt the need to-if not embrace them-then not reject them for their “bravery” or others for their dedication if not their tactics.

The other isue that has been raging is whether the media or was it the “fake news” -please note I mean this ironically-over played the violence of the day in Berkeley given all the folks carrying signs with young and old family members, large groups in Groucho masks, they were the “Marxists,” and speeches about love and inclusivity.  Still I can’t blame reporters who saw some attacks and at least one beating and were themselves threatened. One reporter even jumped between the black clad counter protestors and the right winger they were beating.  https://www.revealnews.org/blog/reveal-host-al-letson-shields-man-from-beating-at-anti-hate-rally/

Our own Darwin BondGraham of the East Bay Express filed this report, tweeting it in real time, https://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2017/08/27/liveblog-east-bay-demonstrators-protest-against-hate . “Update at 2:10 p.m.: Antifa members badly beat up an alt-right demonstrator on a downtown street.”

Here’s another account that seems a little bipolar but it was that kinda day, “Anyone who was on the ground in Berkeley yesterday will tell you how beautiful a demonstration it was: thousands of people, old and young and in between, socialists, anarchists, liberals, unionists, brass bands, religious groups, students, you name it. There was tactical cooperation between very different groups. A large Antifa contingent played a vital role in defending the community from the 30 or so white supremacists who showed up armed and looking to fight. There were a handful of scuffles, and a few Nazi’s got mildly beat up and removed from the park by Antifa folks. But the day was overwhelmingly celebratory and peaceful.”

And yes, I also saw a report from a “No Hate Rally” organizer who was at least momentarily glad that some Antifa were there when faced with the White Supremacists at the park.

But here’s a divergent point of view from someone I respect as a very thoughtful human being though I know her only a little, “#1: If you live in Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville, Albany, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, El Cerrito or Richmond, in other words, the inner East Bay, you knew this would happen. You knew 200 or so self-righteous, BAMN/BlackBloc/Antifa, or whatever the hell our masked avengers call themselves this week, would show up with aggression and hostility in their hearts and make sure they push a small number of extremists around, punch them, and dominate the news cycle. You knew this would happen no matter how many thousands of peaceful people showed up. We need to stand up to these people. They are harming our community. They distract the media from what we are fighting. What we are fighting here is white supremacy. Comment #2: I’m not all that excited that 4,000 mostly white people showed up in Berkeley to protest what in our community amounts to an extremely small fringe group who have zero impact on how we live day to day, and congratulated themselves about how they’re fighting Nazis and KKK types. Look at our community and you will see that how we live day to day supports institutionalized white supremacy. Start with R-1 zoning which protects white privilege in housing, move on to the underfunded AC Transit system which many people of color depend on because car ownership is too expensive, look at all the laws and regulations, starting with the U.S Constitution and moving on down to our regional transit and air pollution agencies that prioritize property and profit over people’s health and well being. I love living in Berkeley. Relative to the rest of the nation, we are a deeply progressive community. However, relative to reality, we have a very long way to go to address privilege and build our commons.”

20170828_182727And lastly, my friend who witnessed the beating suggested, ” My view, deeply held, is that massive unity and nonviolence (with appropriate defensive security) is the way toward social progress.  The difference between our side and theirs is that they rely on violence; we need to rely on politics and unity.  If we become the mirror image of them, we lose.”

We can blame the media, we can certainly blame the fascists, the president and his followers who knowingly opened a Pandora’s box of evil and keep it open–but then–we’ll have to decide. We may have a romantic notion that if the communists, free thinkers, and artists who thrived in Germany in the 1920’s had only had more sticks, more street fights or even arms, the Nazis would’ve been beaten back, but I doubt that. I think we’ll find that the fight was already lost by the time those streets fights had begun to take over the life of that country.

I’ll admit I have lots of hate in my little formerly-Quaker heart. I really want to hurt some of those folks that I can never even reach and I think they deserve it. I would attack someone who attacked my own but I just can’t be a bully for other side. Punching down will always be something I feel in my gut is wrong.

I don’t think we are on the verge of  a Brown shirt nation either. So many folks have come out all over the country to stand against hate and white supremacy, In fact I didn’t even think I’d live to see the day that that term is acknowledged as an American problem. 34,000 people signed up to be a on a coalition call that I was on recently to fight white supremacy. Thousands rallied to the airports with almost no warning. We are not that country even though a hateful percentage has been unleashed-our young folks have lived differently than the Trump generation, my generation, they will not accept it and neither will we.

So maybe we need to go home and call our neighbors to do some radical activities like my friend above suggested-fight for local transit and push back when NIMBYS refuse to let low income housing into our neighborhoods, put our kids in public schools and demand they be funded-there’s so much else, much less heroic.  Don’t get me wrong (though I know many will), we should confront this evil and I’m always ready to take to the streets, it’s in my DNA. But I need to know I’m fighting evil not becoming one with it.

                                                                     Addendum

My simple rules for tumultuous times or how not to become a reactionary:

*don’t react with violence towards people with little to no power.
*don’t react with generalizations against the media when they report things you didn’t want them to see.
*don’t react with new (or existing) laws that criminalize people based on association.
*don’t be ready to restrict others speech just because it’s hateful unless they attach actions or the imminent threat of actions to speech.

Or to paraphrase Miranda Rights and any NCIS show you’ve ever seen-no matter who you are, all of the above can and will be used against you.

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Top 10 Reasons Why I Don’t Understand Republicans

Political parties are like the people in them, contradictory and conflicted but for the current GOP, the dissonance has become deafening.

  1. They say they’re for deregulation—then why do they want to regulate every aspect of women’s reproductive lives, who marries whom and where folks go to the toilet?   images (7)download (6)
  2. They say they’re for business, large and small–then why do they want to ban the marijuana business AND punish those for whom it provides medical benefits-is it re-regulation of deregulation?
  3. They say they’re for individual liberty–but love to tell you where and how you may protest, if at all?
  4. Many claim they’re Christian–so unless it’s the version popularized by the Inquisition, why are they for oppressing and suppressing everyone else and yeah, that little thing of do-unto-others-as-you-would-have-them-do-unto-you, didn’t have a codicil that says, unless there’s a tax break involved0335171bb0bd1ac6ad5be4321a88d400--spanish-inquisition-green-teas
  5. They say they’re for state rights–unless the state wants to provide-in a Judeo-Christian sort of way-sanctuary for its most vulnerable citizens.
  6. They say they’re for government transparency—unless they are the ones doin the governin.
  7. They say they’re for the 2nd amendment but why is that the only one they care about-don’t the 1st, 4th, 5th. 6th, 8th and 10th amendments count? And if not, why not?
  8. They say they’re for jobs and a strong economy but in many states immigrants represent the majority of entrepreneurial activity and the marijuana industry offers jobs and tax funding to local economies which would make them less dependent on federal government spending yet they seem to want to prohibit both from flourishing.
  9. They say they want us to be world leaders–then why do they weaken our influence by reneging on treaties.  download (7)
  10. They claim to want a strong nation—but—our country became powerful (besides through imperialist policies which both parties love) because the majority of our people were well fed and educated. When we cease funding these basic needs and allow our country’s health to deteriorate, that is, the health of our people and its institutions, its infrastructure, its support of scientific exploration (I would include- of the arts but we have never been a country which cares about art or artists,) its land and its air–decline is inevitable and perhaps, irreversible. nuclear-union-25890-1920x1080-min

I just don’t get you guys. 

The Mother of All Mistakes

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I started a blog last week and this was the headline and first paragraph-

Chronic Trump Fatigue Syndrome or what to do about Syria, Sessions, Gorsuch, Russia, the courts and more…  download (5)

On another dark and stormy night in Northern California reminiscent of the night before the Trump inauguration, Trump launched his biggest success since his election and installation-which-you remember was the biggest in history-period. He sent 59 cruise missiles onto a Syrian airfield (which remains mostly undamaged) and a few more children died as collateral damage but he won the ratings war.   I didn’t finish it before..

More crap happened

20170414_125740Fast forward to Thursday- I went to lunch with an expert on immigration law and while my comrades and I were learning how to combat the inhumane way our long term undocumented fellow citizens-I’m using that word quite on purpose-are being treated, our White House commander-in-chief told HIS military to go ahead and play with the best toys they got, firing off the MOAB-mother-of-all-bombs.

After the first missiles were launched to such rave reviews-while doing nothing to stop Assad’s attacks-our Hollywood president, decided to go bigger; and this time in a place where even fewer people would be there to document the damage.

He did this on the day after we all watched a man being casually brutalized for wanting to use his ticket to fly. It’s even kind of amazing that we still have the ability to be shocked when authorities take total advantage of us with impunity.

Some facebook friends of mine were startled (running out of words for this phenomenon) that the Chicago police so offhandedly described how the passenger had injured himself. But we see those videos all the time, cops firing at innocent drivers into cars with children in Black neighborhoods. (Heaves sigh, maybe it’s good that we still are somewhat in touch with our humanity.)

And while all this is going on in full color with terrible soundtracks, the new #Hollywoodtroll administration is threatening to unravel Obamacare which you may find out while trying to make a doctor’s appointment. They have also set course to defund Planned Parenthood so that the remaining care for women may disappear, amid discussions of cutting the payroll tax as a way of killing social security. And, of course, they are delegitimizing science and data collection in hopes that everything they do can be excused as necessary.

There’s lots more, this is just a short list from the last couple of days and doesn’t even refer to the rants by the #GhostoftheConfederacy Jeff Sessions who’s running the Department of No Justice for You, you filth (by the way, he didn’t actually say it, but it was in his transcript.) http://www.marketwatch.com/story/jeff-sessions-changes-prepared-speech-to-not-call-criminal-illegal-immigrants-filth-2017-04-11

So, what about the possibility of starting a war with North Korea? I almost had in-laws, or my son did, in Seoul and I can’t help but think of a little girl there in the bosom of her family. While Kim Jong Un is a human rights criminal, he is not stupid. Any small country who wants to oppose ours, would do well to arm themselves to the hilt-except, of course, when the US is run by a criminal too, one with no concept of humanity, oh well.

Phew, it may have helped me to get all this down, but now it’s out of my head and into yours. What to do, what to do…?

I’m thinking that maybe we’re lucky that he has gotten, the #Trumptroll I mean, so crazy so fast. Americans of heart, Americans with brains, hell, Americans with any sense at all, have just gotten Woke and will hopefully, Stay Woke, https://www.bustle.com/articles/134893-what-does-woke-mean-theres-more-to-the-slang-term-than-you-think. They are rallying, marching, making signs and art, hashtags and laws to oppose this crazy shit.  Watch this for some fun.

 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/04/12/you-lie-constituents-just-used-rep-joe-wilsons-own-line-against-him/?utm_term=.092ef17ca9f9

Attitudes and Info for our times-

*Stay skeptical but resist cynicism

*Recognize absurdity and laugh at authority, media and yourself.

Check this out-  http://www.vox.com/2017/4/3/15163170/strikethrough-comedians-satire-trump-misinformation and this-  http://www.danajerimaier.com/writing/resist

*Resist authority when you see it taking advantage of the vulnerable, in a plane, on a train, in town, in a gown (where is Dr. Seuss when we really need him) and everywhere your eyes and mind take you.

*Try saying “Stop that,” at casual abuse.

**When cruelty becomes fashionable, remain kind.

Oh this one is so hard. I wanna go to Berkeley tomorrow (April 15th, if you don’t know, I won’t clue you in) and punch a fascist but then I remember 1) I don’t know how to throw a punch and 2) it would probably just make me angrier and not change a thing. But, I didn’t say I don’t fantasize revenge….  195bbff98d0c993afffae301f74ac97c

*Self Care is important but planetary care is even more important

*Or How I learned to Embrace Anxiety Disorder and Love the Chaos...

We in the First World, whose homes are not being blown out from under us and whose air is still breathable-we who spend more hours worrying about obesity and eating right- than watching our children starve, well, we already know about long walks in nature and booting up our kindles to a good mystery.  20170414_125826.jpg

Naivete is OK but Ignorance is not.

*My best antidote to being overwhelmed is information. For a couple years now I have been very disturbed by the conflagration in Syria and our ability to ignore it-it’s going into its 7th year!

I saw Progressives taking sides without really knowing how it all came about-it’s not all false flags, folks. Then I looked up Phyllis Bennis, wise, kind but full of hard knowledge. Read this-  https://www.thenation.com/article/the-war-in-syria-cannot-be-won-but-it-can-be-ended/  I’m also reading journalist, attorney and Syrian-American, Alia Malek’s new book which I got out of the Oakland library,  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25898173-the-home-that-was-our-country The Home That Was Our Country.

*Watch https://news.vice.com/ . If you don’t get HBO, just check out Vice News online. They have brief and in depth stories from all over the world. It is really important to get news that’s not straight #MSM, main-stream-media.

*Social media is important-

Sequestering yourself may work for a time, but jumping into the political fray works better for me. Instead of yelling at the TV, I yell or joke or carp on twitter or instagram. Yeah, I work, I’m active in  many organizations, read, go out to dinner, well, maybe I let 20170414_125435the dishes sit a little longer-but there is still time for social media and it’s a necessary part of participating in politics.

 

Except for this-

Stop wasting time with the Hillary vs Bernie argument, progressive puhllease

I’m glad Bernie is still in the Senate and taking an active role but he’s not my hero. I’m also glad that Hillary speaks out, given her knowledge and background, but she will never be my candidate again. That’s all over and we’ve discussed what went wrong ugh nauseum.

In all the bad news, I forgot to promote our progressive California legislature-doing things like making California a Sanctuary State, working to rid of us the unfair bail system,  promoting single payer healthcarehttp://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-spring-break-in-canada-california-1492029238-htmlstory.html . Rather than isolate us from other states, we should use this struggle as a model and, btw, New York just passed free college, well kind of   https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/11/nyregion/new-yorks-free-tuition-program-will-help-traditional-but-not-typical-students.html?_r=0. 

**Let’s breath deeply, let’s hug each other and take in a movie together, and then let’s fight like hell in the most creative, outlandish and life affirming ways we didn’t know we had in us**

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Celebrate Women’s Day

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So world wide women, as a group, we get a day. As social media types are fond of tweeting, let that sink in. There is so much to say about this global subject that I won’t get started if I try to speak too broadly. But as it’s said in the women’s movement, the personal is political so here goes-

Let me share a sliver of my life. I am a 70-year-old woman. I am officially old, but not elderly since we know that 70 is the new 50! When I look at pictures of my mom at 70, while she was still incredibly vibrant, she definitely appeared older than I do now. A lot of that is due to improved healthcare, more and fresher food choices unless we live in food desserts [I remember my mom’s salads, ice berg lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise] and regular exercise, plus we just dress younger.

When my mom came home from work, she had to take off her girdle and stockings before she could do anything else, which should explain why women did not exercise as much as we do now, it was uncomfortable even to walk to the car.

By the time you have lived to 70, you have experienced a few lifetimes, lifetimes that often seem to be separate worlds, different movies, if such they were. For many of us Baby Boomers, our stories wouldn’t work as a series but as wholly separate genres of film.The main character sometimes even changes her name.

There’s the early boring story of the dutiful daughter, the nerdy student who slowly morphs into the teacher-correcting-smart-ass-to-be, your friend, then the prankster, whose goals in life were wildly disparate and equally unattainable. This skinny, dark-eyed, buck-toothed (yes, I got all the Bugs Bunny jokes) girl who wanted to be either a ballerina or a Quaker preacher, Crusader Rabbit, was what my father called me.

And in every woman’s life, there’s the dark side, not only of expectations to be perfect, kind and obedient but also the butt of jokes, put downs, even abuse about our bodies and its shape. Most of us don’t talk or write much about that but no girl goes unscathed into adolescence. We learn, regardless of culture, that whatever happens to us, whatever nasty words or physical assaults we experience it is our shame and ours alone to bear.

Last fall the revelations about our current despicable president brought it all back to most of us, if truth be told. But it won’t be told –and now he is considered leader of the free world, but whose world, whose freedom? At such times the poet Muriel Rukeyser’s words come back to me unbidden,

” What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.”

So let me drop a few choice anecdotes … my father along with the boys in my 7/8th grade classes made fun of me for being skinny and flat chested. My father made it clear that I wasn’t an acceptable copy (maybe that was lucky) of my voluptuous mom.

I spent my entire adolescence so convinced of my unattractiveness that as a result I broke numerous hearts in my years of galavanting about San Francisco State in micro mini skirts, wondering why men were following me down the street and why male “friends” reacted badly when I blithely ignored their pleadings.

Then later after my revolutionary period and as an activist member of first, the anti-war movement and then the women’s consciousness-raising movement, and finally as a single mom, I found myself myself at the ripe age of 37, hiding in the women’s bathroom because I didn’t know how to discourage an obnoxious suitor on the dance floor.

I told a friend about my epiphany – it occurred to me I was too old to still be hiding in the bathroom from unwanted attention. She made the astounding suggestion that I simply say, “no thank you,” when someone approached me who I didn’t wish to spend time with. Now, I know that doesn’t work in a dark alley much less on the job-how well I know that one [a story for another time!] But it was a revelation to me, me-a single mother of two-that I didn’t have to make myself available because someone demanded it of me, that I could say NO.

I wish I could say that things have changed so much from those days, but when my daughter was just at the beginning of her music exec career, she would call me from the grocery store or the street and ask me why men seemed to feel they could comment on her smile or lack of one as she passed them by.

I remember noticing that by early adolescence my daughter had developed a way of carrying herself, that was a bit haughty, almost princess-like. I commented to a friend once that she seemed to be aloof to the point of arrogance.

My friend, who had known her as a small child in our parent coop nursery school pointed out that as a tiny girl, more petite than most, quite pretty and also, one of the few Black girls in the school, other kids often attempted to take advantage of her but she had learned how to hold her ground. My friend thought, sensibly, that she had learned to carry herself in a way that said, “don’t even think about it.”

But another  International Women’s Day and the stats are still appalling. More women are in poverty than we can even imagine and that means their children experience two things 1) continued generational poverty, 2) that the women who raise them and are their role models are are not valued as human beings no matter how hard they work.

Here in the “free world” our so-called leader, rather than electing the woman who asserted that women’s rights are human rights, we got the guy who said, “you can do anything, grab them by the pussy….and they let you get away with it.”

Now I know there were lots of other reasons that Hillary didn’t win,. but there really is no excuse for any of it. We all hold some of the blame.

One of my friends who marched in Washington in her pussy hat, asked me the other day if I was a little embarrassed by the whole pussy hat phenomenon. We were raised in a time when that word was not used by women. Since then it’s usage has exploded but it is used as a term of disparagement-of weakness, the lack of manly strength to stand up for what you believe in, an inability to fight back. So maybe it’s a good thing that we have taken it back as a symbol of strength, persistence and even resistance.

What real, principled strength is, a toughness that doesn’t lash out at the vulnerable, these are qualities that are difficult to put into logos. They are complex and thoughtful but I have seen them codified more often lately as in the principles of Bay Resistance:

Lead with Love, Power Across Difference, Transformative Justice and Collective Action….

As part of of our spirit of resistance in this transformative time, let me hold up some of the young women leaders among us. These women are able to bridge some of the many divides we women have found ourselves in– Alicia Garza, Zahra Billoo, Jennifer Tran and so many more.

By our one day of recognition next year, there will be more, some of them will be running for office, some organizing campaigns and still others leading a movement that will exist outside of electoral politics. I can’t wait, really, we can’t.

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Towards Resistance–a Resolution

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This morning a I read a tweet by a Trumpette making the case that at least our marches were peaceful because they were mostly women. I responded that she couldn’t count on non-violence if/when they come for our rights or those of our children, our sisters and let me add, our brothers.

Yes, I was a raised a Quaker and still honor what I learned from that faith even though I don’t claim any religion or even a firm belief in God at this moment. Could I physically harm someone in my care, by that I mean someone who asked for my forgiveness or demonstrated their vulnerability to me at a specific point in time, I doubt that I could. But, don’t expect me to let you come for someone else who is vulnerable or who has unmet needs, no, I will defend them from marauders, from bullies, and those who casually abuse them.

A Resolution:  img_20170121_170039_103

So, if you put in a place of power an Attorney General, who is a proud son of the Confederacy and who wants to dispose of the right to vote for Black people, old people, poor people, or the formerly incarcerated; and believe that people who moved here to actually make America greater should be treated as criminals, and be refused the protections of our Constitution, or take away the rights of people who do not define gender in the way that you do, or-take a breath-has asserted the rights of police as judge and jury, to deny sanctuary to any and all of the above,

Or if you put in charge of our Public Education system someone who seeks to remove the one institution that has traditionally offered opportunity-at another time we can discuss how that has devolved-to all who seek one from us as a country,

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Or, if you name as the head of the EPA a person who seeks to overturn the basic American assurances that they can drink clean water-though we have been set up for that with Flint, the Love Canal, etc-and have the unalienable right to breath clean air,

Or, if you position a director of Public Lands (Secretary of the Interior) a man who would sell them off to his billionaire accomplices,

Or give our Treasury, in all its power over average Americans to a man-of course-who2016-10-09-01-08-33 spent his previous days foreclosing on orphans and widows and joyfully stealing the homes, dreams and security of struggling families all over this country,

Or, any judges who elevate the 2nd Amendment over the 4th or pledge to return women to the days of coat hangers by criminalizing abortions AND birth control,

Or, if you appoint a Secretary of State whose job is to plunder the known universe for men who believe they own the earth and can kill off every living thing that might reduce their profits, who think that no one on this
planet has the right to share in the wonders of it–if they are not members of the their klan,

Then, we will have to prevent that with lobbying, with lawsuits but also with disruption and civil disobedience and yeah, some of it might not be too civil. But that is up to you, dear leaders, by how uncivil your push to rollback the American Dream becomes. img_20170121_164914_180

If and when you come for our friends, our families, and our communities, we will repel your attacks, even at great cost to ourselves [you will not know who among you will make the greatest sacrifice until the time comes, see http://www.annefrank.org/en/Anne-Frank/Anne-Franks-history-in-brief/.] We will begin by arming ourselves with the energy of our creativity, love and compassion-but we will not take one step back.

 

{A small aside, if you claim to support our goals and have a position of power in any legislature and don’t back up your words a la, “I’m looking for someone else to carry the bill,” you are complicit.}  

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A Letter from the Democratic Party.. I want to receive

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We need to hear swiftly, definitively and defiantly from our leaders in the disloyal opposition before we let the winner of the Electoral College debacle into the White House. This is what I’m asking them to say, but first they must account for their many failures.

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We recognize that many are suffering in this country and around the world, especially since the economic crash brought on by Republican politics and the wars in the Middle East, terrorism and fears of it also brought on by NeoCon policies during the Bush years.

We accept full responsibility for acquiescing to those policies sometimes with our votes and often with our silence while knowing full well that the devastation wreaked in faraway places would drain our people of needed resources while enraging the residents of those far places.

We admit that no American banker or oligarch was jailed while families lost their homes, their pensions and their hopes for the future. Even as that continues to happen, the bodies of small children wash ashore in the Mediterranean as a result of those disastrous votes and the funds to back them. We never told the American people the truth about how that happened nor of our responsibility in it. We must start now!

The same can be said of  Central American families seeking refuge from murderous regimes while we jail and deport families back to lands they may not know or to violent cities and countrysides from which they fled.

We have been complicit in putting our population under surveillance and lying about it while hunting down those who would expose the rumors as truth-giving rise to far fetched conspiracy theories and the complete loss of trust in our democracy.

There is more in which we have been complicit, privatizing our schools, denigrating our union movement, and ignoring the unfathomable fear that has replaced the American dream. We even told our citizens that education was a necessity while making a profit off of those who have worked so hard to achieve it, along the way, indebting an entire generation out of their birthright.

We spent decades building prisons lest Black Americans attempted to seek their long-ago-earned part of the American Dream-whose only compensation for their hard work has been more restrictions including death for shopping, driving, working, walking, breathing. Many of us never stood up for our first Black president when he sought solutions for all working Americans while taking on all of the old festering problems of a dying republic.

Now that the pathway to facism, destruction of the planet, and targeting of whole swathes of our population has been made manifest, we declare:  2016-11-14-11-51-29

To prevent the acceptance of any court nominee (Supreme or lower) who does not uphold individual rights, voting rights, rights of women and people of any gender to control their bodies, the rights of workers and consumers, and the most basic right-that of the planet to continue to make human habitation possible. We further assert that the 4th Amendment to the Constitution be reinstated-the right to be safe in our persons being the most basic and necessary to survival.

To prevent cuts in funding to any marginalized group (as defined by Dave Chappell) including our elders, our children, our students, and those who have long lived without the protections and benefits others have taken for granted.

To prevent violations of our communal property-parks, schools, housing, and health, including ending fracking, mining public lands and other acts of destruction in order to provide cheap energy and subsidizing communal needs.

To reassess the need for and usefulness of the FBI, NSA, and especially the CIA while eliminating funding for military hardware, including in our cities and for our local law-enforcement agencies. 20161113_153003

To maintain and spread the prohibition against private prisons, indeterminate sentencing, jailing people who cannot pay fines (debtors’ prisons,) cruel and unusual punishment-oh hell-just really read the Bill of Rights and stop trying to limit them-with one addendum that they not be limited to men, or white folks or straight folks or restricted for those with disabilities/differences or those born in other places than these 52 states (which must include Puerto Rico and DC.)

To stop the border wall and close border detention/concentration camps, registration of immigrants or religious groups.

To demand a basic income for all Americans including healthcare, childcare and higher education. We vow to educate Americans to the true cost of privatizing all these needs and the ways in which we can all contribute to the betterment of our country through fair taxation.

To rebuilding our decaying infrastructure and restarting our leadership in innovation including making internet and information access available at low or no cost to our country’s families, families not defined by one type-by training and hiring those at the bottom of the pay scale first.

We refuse just to fight against reaction and nihilism but to demand a better life for all of us, including those in other corners of the globe. We will fight to be the beacon-we-always-pretended-we-were and not-in-some-1950’s-fantasy but as our best angels might envision us.

This is a long expensive list, it’s true but if we really want to be great as never before, we have to tackle a future where everyone can live, thrive, and have the opportunity to pursue even a modicum of happiness.

Signed,

The Democratic Party of the United States of America

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November 2016 Oakland Voters’ Guide

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The presidential election is still getting almost all of the coverage, but in our state, county and city lots of important issues are getting decided so please focus in for a bit. With Measures JJ, LL, HH and county Measure A1, we have some options that can make life a little easier-it’s only the start of meeting the needs of Oakland’s residents but it’s a good start.

So, let’s briefly discuss the presidential election. I believe Hillary will win in a landslide; and given the ugliness of the Trump campaign [and I wrote this prior to the Trump sex predator tapes], it’s the only thing that can keep me sane and not ashamed to be an American.

imagesI have to believe that we will reject an openly bigoted, hateful man if only because he’s such a liar and a bad businessman/conman more than that he courts neo-Nazis. I hope everyone will get out and vote for Hillary even as we prepare to organize against some of her policies as soon as January. But make no mistake, the ugly forces that the Trump campaign has unleashed will still be here. How those forces will manifest is too frightening to conjecture but they will and we have to be prepared.

Here in Oakland, gentrification is changing our city so rapidly it’s hard to keep up.
But given the reactionary mood of our country, I hope we don’t stop welcoming the folks who come here because they want to participate in our culture of diversity and resistance.

OAKLAND MEASURES

Measure JJ  Yes  Yes  Yes  protectoaklandrenters-jj-11x17

What we can do is protect those folks who are struggling to remain in this community by voting for Measure JJ. It’s the Renters’ Protection Act and though it doesn’t include everything that the Citywide Displacement Network had wanted, it does flip the script and puts the burden of justifying rent hikes above the cost of living onto the landlords who will be forced to keep a lid on exorbitant increases.

It doesn’t affect everyone, however as renter’s protections do not apply to newer buildings. While it expands “just cause” eviction rights to thousands, thousands will remain unprotected. Sadly, people are being evicted as I write this but come January, if we vote for JJ, some neighborhoods may be stabilized and many lives will be made measurably better.

Measure LL Yes  Yes  Yes   yesonll_gray

The Oakland Police Department has been under federal monitoring for 13 years and it was expected that under Chief Sean Whent, the Negotiated Settlement Agreement would have been completed by now. The federal monitoring has cost the city $30 million as of last year and lawsuits against OPD have cost another $70 million, at least. But due to the bombshell revelations of corruption-the sex trafficking of a minor and documented abuse of at least one underage female-the whole process of reform has been cast into doubt.

The Coalition for Police Accountability which put forth the independent Police Commission charter change, saw the ongoing problems as systemic and realized that reform would have to start in how the department was administered by city officials. The group, of which I’m a member, has been working on a fix for at least 2 years. In fact, we attempted to get this charter change on the ballot in 2014 but only Council Member Noel Gallo, then chair of Public Safety, would champion it.

The Measure which is now supported by the entire City Council and the Mayor will establish the strongest commission in the country, have the power to impose discipline on officers, determine some police policies, and direct the search for a police chief in the future. But beyond that, it opens up the workings of the most expensive department in the city to residents. Wouldn’t you like to know how half of your general fund monies are spent?

Measure HH   Yes   Yes  oaksodatax_logo

The soda tax is not a grocery tax. The fact that you’ve gotten so many glossy fliers full of these lies should tip you off to how much profit the sugar beverage industry expects to lose if more of these measures pass. But the explosion in diabetes among the young, not to mention obesity and tooth decay has become hard to ignore. This tax has been proven to work [http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/08/23/491104093/berkeleys-soda-tax-appears-to-cut-consumption-of-sugary-drinks]. Now we just need some healthier options for folks in neighborhoods too often served only by corner stores.

Measure KK   Yes

This is a gigantic bond-$600 million-to fix lots of infrastructure ills that have been building up in Oakland since the Great Recession and before including the gas tax grab by the governor so that our road repairs and replacements are close to 100 years behind.

This measure is being billed as anti-displacement bond but that is a little misleading. One sixth of the bond-$100 million- would be used to rehabilitate housing and keep people on the verge of displacement in their homes, possibly building some new housing. The bulk of it-$350 million-would go to repairing and repaving our streets and sidewalks plus bike lanes, our wonderful public stairs, etc. Since the city is ignoring dangerous sidewalks on Lakeshore as I write this, they must expect that it will pass. I hope someone doesn’t break their neck before that [update-one of them was finally fixed.]

I haven’t personally decided if I can vote for it. It’s not that we don’t need it, but there are lots of things we need-employment programs, summer jobs for kids-but looking at the long term charges, gives me a little pause as I hope to retire some day. Whether you vote for this or not will largely be determined by your pocketbook . However, it may fairly be said that postponing these fixes will cost more in the long run. Check it out for yourself and decide http://www.spur.org/news/2016-09-13/taking-care-basic-needs-support-measure-kk-oakland-infrastructure-bond.

Measure II  Yes

This measure simply allows the city to lease its land long term, up to 99 years, rather than sell it to developers so that it remains in the public domain but also encourages developers to invest in a project a la 12th Street which, unfortunately, has been sold away, rather than leased.

County Measures

Measure A1   Yes  Yes  Yes  2016-10-09-01-13-05

This county bond will provide more affordable housing to Oaklanders than is contained in Measure KK & at a lower cost so it is very important that we all support it. It spreads the cost of building affordable housing around the county as it also provides housing throughout it. In addition to building rental housing, it will provide loans to seniors, etc, who may need adaptive improvements to stay in their homes, first time buyer programs for middle and low income families, and investment in future affordable development. http://acgov.org/cda/hcd/documents/AlCo-HousingBondFactSheet.pdf

It totals $580 million in bonds which may put it at odds with the city measure in some folks minds. I rank A1 as the most important bond proposal on the ballot but I ask you to consider also supporting KK, since they actually pay for different but very real needs. Both will require 2/3rds approval to pass.

Measure C1 for AC Transit  Yes  Yes  Yes

This measure extends the existing parcel tax for AC Transit but does not raise your taxes. AC Transit is the only public transit we have that actually serves folks who have no other way to get to work, school and shopping. It has received less than its share of transit funding for too long. We must continue to fund this need.

AC Transit At-Large-Christian Peeples

No one knows transit, any kind, like Chris and he uses transit exclusively even with his cane. When Summit Bank removed a bus stop near the hospital, Chris came to the bank with the members of ACCE’s Riders for Tranist Justice to protest and challenge their assumptions about bus riders. Return Chris Peoples to the board.

Measure RR for BART upgrades  Yes  Yes

BART was a premier transit system for a couple of decades but that time is long gone-as a former train operator, I remember it well. This bond is needed to get us back up to speed or at least not slow the system down any more than we’ve seen or experienced, track upgrades and earthquake safety are among the items it will pay for.

I just have to say that one of the reasons that this bond has received less than positive responses should be laid at the feet of the BART board-no, not because they gave away too much to the unions–but because they drove the system to a devastating strike that brought us anti-working family legislators like Steve Glazer of Orinda who has made his bones by trashing union workers.

Now Rebecca Saltzman, who was completely clueless when the board doubled down on pressing the union to give up more wages and benefits than they had voluntarily given up during the Recession, and even more clueless towards Black Lives Matter demonstrators, is being opposed by a Glazer-type candidate from Orinda. We should support her against this onslaught of anti-working class folks from over the hills but let’s not forget she was one of the board members who gave us this situation and the backlash against BART in the first place.

If voting for Ms. Saltzman leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you can make up for it by also voting for Lateefah Simon for BART, District7 https://www.lateefahforbart.com/.  Correction: of course, you can only vote for one in whose district you live.

State Propositions

We all know the list is so long that many California voters may not make it through it but I have some favorites. Please vote to abolish the Death Penalty-Yes on Prop 62, extend the top tier income tax-Yes on Prop 55, fairness for non-violent felons and youth offenders-Yes on Prop 57, and to maintain the ban on plastic bags-Yes On Prop 67. There are many other worthy props but go to Wellstoneclub.org for more info on them.

US Congress-Barbara Lee

She speaks for me and the overwhelming majority of Congressional District 13. There is no one else like her even though lots of folks seem to be getting in line. But take it easy, she’s not going anywhere for a long time.

California State Senate-Sandre Swanson

Endorsed by Congresswoman Lee, Assembly Members Rob Bonta and Tony Thurmond, he is a fighter for Oakland and our particular needs. He doesn’t always do what party bosses say but he knows what is best for our district and would be the only Black Senator from Northern California. He stands for old-fashioned integrity-and is a no excuses legislator-vote for Sandre Swanson for Senate!

18th Assembly District-Rob Bonta

Running unopposed, Rob has worked hard for children and working families in our district and the state and will be reelected.

Oakland City Council Races

Now the choices narrow but the issues do not. The Oakland City Council is set up for possible turnover every 2 years with even and odd numbered districts running at opposite intervals. The At-Large seat is up along with the odd numbered districts, Disricts 1, 3, 5, and 7.

District 1-Dan Kalb

In District 1 the choice is easy. While Kevin Corbett comes from a well-known political family, he himself seems to be a throwback of some sort-he cannot bring himself to support innovative solutions to the crises in affordable housing or corrupt policing.

So Dan Kalb will win overwhelmingly and should. Despite some complaints about his style, deemed as arrogant and detached, he has engaged in the heaviest lifting on the city council. He led the way on the fight against coal trains rumbling through Oakland, hiring an expert himself to research the issue, he spent hours with our Coalition for Police Accountability going over our petition to establish a police commission with real power and came up with the measure now on the ballot, and was the first council member to recognize the crisis for renters, writing early ordinances to protect them. He proposed the first one while Mayor Schaaf was still on the council. Unfortunately, she successfully watered much of it down but it has still been able to protect tenants from the worst abuses.

Kalb’s work for tenants has been overshadowed by what Council Member At-Large Kaplan has managed to get on the ballot for this election, Measure JJ. But Kalb also successfully passed an ordinance to prevent landlords from gold-plating improvements in their buildings in order to jack up rents and ultimately push out tenants. As he has a strong moral center and a work ethic to match, this blogger just wishes he’d be more willing to rock the boat and push a critical agenda including challenging the mayor more often. But I admit that may be a bridge too far.

District 3-Noni Session

Lynette Gibson McElhaney came to the council in the last election in which she was, according to her own words, the “only adult in the room.” But she had no real base in Oakland as she had spent her career working in Richmond.

This blogger admits that she seems to have built a sufficient base to win this election. She manages to stay folksy and down home to the folks in West Oakland while courting developers and Chamber of Commerce types in the downtown. She straddles both worlds in an almost schizophrenic way, and for a long time I thought she just didn’t know where she stood herself.

Ms. McElhaney initially opposed Measure FF, but to be fair, most of the CMs oppposed it at the time, since there were no carve-outs for small businesses or for summer jobs for youth. She did support it being placed on the ballot so I was mistaken in my original post which I am correcting here. As Council President she affirmed the city’s actions to restrict attendance at city council meetings which a judge had to overturn [I have no knowledge where the decision originated, city administrator, mayor’s office?]  On the other hand, she was responsible for a more progressive budget being passed than the one given to her by the Mayor.

So, even though I believe that some of the complaints against her are overblown or just wrong-there’s no evidence that she herself is a house flipper-Noni Session is the true innovator and progressive candidate for this seat.

Ms. Session is a West Oakland native with deep roots in the district. She is also a highly thoughtful person, an academic-which cuts both ways in politics-and is committed to protecting her neighbors against a corrupt police department and predatory developers who seek to make big bucks while ignoring community needs. If she had begun to campaign a year earlier, her chances would be much better than they look now. As it is, the very complaints made against the incumbent may propel her back to the council presidency or at least the D3 seat.

District 5-Noel Gallo

In the Fruitvale/Glenview district Noel Gallo is the clear choice. He came in as a long time school board member and a law’n order guy, but he has risen to the crises which surround Oaklanders and threaten to pick them off one family at a time. He has fought for affordable housing and shaken his support in the police union, OPOA, to the point that they, apparently along with the Mayor, are running a candidate against him.

If the city council is represented by the characters in the Wizard of OZ , which admittedly works only in a narrow comparison, Noel is the beating heart of Oakland. While he still download-4supports the police and many in his district need protection (real protection, including from sexual trafficking, sigh,) he heard the refrain from community groups that this department cannot work for its residents without real oversight and championed it [Measure LL.]

He has made points about how the affordable housing crisis affects our neighbors by noting how it affects his own family and therefore, the Oakland family. He fought for affordable housing on the 12th Street project and supported Measure JJ early on. He has joined with CM Brooks to support a proposal that marginalized Oaklanders receive a significant return from the growing marijuana business.

Viola Gonzales is a nice person who has worked in many non-profits. In some ways, she is the opposite of Mr. Gallo. She is a successful bureaucrat who is unwilling to take positions on the issues of the day–housing and policing. She has received funds from the police union, OPOA, and would probably be a dependable vote for the Mayor’s proposals.

It’s understandable that the Mayor would want CMs who are always willing to see things her way, but it makes for better “checks and balances”when a mayor has some thoughtful opposition on the council–and that leads us to the At-Large race.

At-large-Rebecca Kaplan

Rebecca Kaplan is running for a 3rd term for this city-wide office but this is the first time that her political career is in jeopardy. Her first two terms could have been characterized as seeking popularity rather than taking tough positions on the issues. But now as she faces a fight for her political life against a candidate with deep pockets-thanks to the Jerry Brown/Schaaf machine-she seems to have gathered her courage to take on the issues that are at the crux of Oakland’s crises-housing and policing. To be fair she undertook this work before Moore made her entrance into the race.

She’s also developed an interest in taking charge of neighborhood issues with citywide implications not resolved by the district CM. For instance, she shepherded the return of a bus stop in D3’s uptown that affected Summit Hospital patients, especially older and disabled riders, who depended on a stop that was removed by the mayor’s administration at the request of a local banker.

One of her opponents is Bruce (No Relation to Jean) Quan, a former civil rights attorney who recently moved back to California from China. He was instrumental in securing Chinese funding for the giant project that was languishing at the Brooklyn Basin and is close to Chinatown social justice organizations. He also walks weekly with neighbors in the Ceasefire program who are trying to secure their streets. But he is relatively unknown outside of those neighborhoods and has little chance for a good showing much less a win.

Ms. Kaplan‘s real challenge comes from the Brown/Schaaf machine in its effort to secure an influential seat more amenable to development and top down politics.The affable Peggy Moore seems an unlikely machine candidate and, indeed, she denies that she is, even going so far as to say that she wasn’t able to get much done working in the mayor’s office.

Moore‘s campaign is run by well-known operative, Ace Smith. He describes himself as a, “30-year veteran of state and national politics and has directed winning campaigns from district attorney to president. With deep experience on the West Coast, he specializes in high-stakes political, governmental and public affairs campaigns.”

His campaigns are expensive, and seemingly willing to use questionable tactics like sending out a push poll implying that Congresswoman Lee endorsed Moore. Lee’s office has now sent out at least 3 press advisories stating that they have not and will not. Ms. Moore, is someone I consider a personal friend, but not someone who has shown much in the way of policy chops, is calling herself a community organizer but a better description would be political operative.

Kaplan herself wrote Measure JJ, an important renter protection proposition, has supported Measure LL for an independent Police Commission and fought the mayor’s uncompromising position that she be granted as many appointments on that body as she demanded. We hope that Ms. Kaplan will stay in the fight for the soul of Oakland. She is an able competitor and we need her.

District 7-Nehanda Imara

Larry Reid will have been on the council for 20 years come January and while he has accomplishments to show, notably, the East Oakland Sports Complex and the new and improved Foothill Square-thank you also to Jean Quan and Sheryl Walton-he most often accedes to whoever is in the mayor’s office and often seems on the verge of retiring. In any case, at twenty years, it’s time for turnover-but realistically that probably won’t happen.

Nehanda Imara is the East Oakland organizer for Communities for a Better Environment and  teaches an Environmental Justice course at Merritt College [which she designed], where she trains the next generation of environmental advocates and activists, hence her endorsement by the Sierra Club. Check out  http://www.cbecal.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Nehanda-Imara-Oaklands-mother-of-environmental-justice.pdf  “Nehanda has been an environmentalist and powerful advocate for environmental justice for more than thirty years.” Regardless of the winner of this particular race, we hope Ms. Imara‘s influence will continue to build in District 7.

School District 1-Don MaCleay

Jody London has all the right answers and once vowed to stop the proliferation of charter schools but seems to have become another who has learned to follow the superintendent’s lead whoever he is and wherever he leads. I have serious reservations about Don MaCleay’s campaign but I’m glad to see a Green running to build the party locally and not from the top down, that is, like Jill Stein’s nonsensical run for the White House. Now, if only the Greens would have the good sense to support Measure LL, a necessary first step to police reform.

School District 5-1)Roseann Torres, 2) Mike Hutchinson

This district has been targeted by the folks at GO, Great Oakland Schools, which promotes charters over public schools. There are whole books on that subject but the bottom line is that at this point, there are almost no measures of accountability for how charters recruit or expel students, how they spend their funds, and more-but their proliferation does reduce funding to public schools and creams the best students out of neighborhood schools.

Rosie was once naive about charters but she has learned and taken some tough votes. As a result, she is now targeted by a well-funded campaign from the pro-charter folks. She has built a good rapport with the parents in her district and developed a sense of the power of the board vs. acquiescing to the administration on every issue.

Mike Hutchinson has been a lifelong student of how OUSD functions (or doesn’t function.) He is a leader in the field of public schools vs. charters and deserves a vote for his dedication to the Oakland school community.  However, the incumbent has a better chance of holding her seat vs the GO folks onslaught. Vote Rosie no. 1 and Mike no. 2. Don’t let the GO folks split the ticket and win.

School District 7-Chris Jackson

Chris is a long time organizer for ACCE and now works with the Private Industry Council helping young people find employment. He has been endorsed by almost everyone-the local Democratic Party, The Wellstone Club, Block by Block (BBBON,) The Labor Council, the Oakland Justice Coalition, and OEA for starters. He still faces a well-funded incumbent-however-he has a chance to win and he has been walking the district for many months.

School District 3-1) Kharyshi Wiginton 2) Ben Lang

Incumbent Jumoke Hinton-Hodge has never met a charter school she didn’t like. Additionally, she has been an uncritical champion year after year of whoever the current superintendent is and everything his administration is attempting to foist on parents, teachers and students in this district. It’s time for her to be replaced.

Kharyshi Wiginton is a dancer and educator who runs a program for West Oakland youth. She knows the importance of full services for children who may come to school with few of their needs met and she knows what it takes to meet them. She has been endorsed by the local Democratic Party, the Oakland Justice Coalition, OEA, and the Labor Council. Ben Lang, a former teacher, who also has a good grasp of the problems in OUSD should get the no. 2 spot.

Peralta Board-Karen Weinstein

Ms. Weinstein has long worked for women and the needs of marginalized people. She will be a good representative for the student body at our community colleges.

Superior Court Judge-Scott Jackson

During the primaries I recommended Scott Jackson as one of the choices for this post. He is now running against Barbara Thomas. He has been endorsed by most of the local Democratic clubs, the local party and well-respected judges like Gordon Baranco. He is the best candidate for the job.

East Bay Regional Park District 2-Dee Rosario

It’s going to be difficult to fill the shoes of anyone like John Sutter, an icon in the Open Space movement and a board member since 1996. but Dee Rosario has the background and knowledge to follow John when he retires this year. He was a park ranger and then supervisor for 37 years and has been endorsed by the Sierra Club in addition to other important endorsements. He’s got the kind of experience our park district needs.

If you didn’t find a race in this guide, it’s probably because the incumbent has little opposition. However, for more info, check these sites-wellstoneclub.org, the League of Women Voters’ site-votersedge.org/ca, the John George Democratic Club  http://jgdc.org/

Vote like your life depends on it and then make sure your representatives hear from you early and often. Thanks for all you do!

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Pamela’s Primary Voter Guide for the 18th AD

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If you live in Assembly Member Rob Bonta‘s district (he’s on your ballot so you’ll know) then these recommendations apply to you and your particular choices. Many of these choices overlap the assembly district but since a few don’t, I’ll stick to this part of the Central and East Oakland/Alameda/San Leandro electoral district.

First, remember that you can still register or reregister if you want to vote in the Democratic Primary, that is, in order to vote for Bernie, you have to be a Dem or a Decline to State but not a member of another party such as the American Independent Party-which is a right wing creation-not the designation for a non-party voter. You have until May 23rd!

Yes vote for Bernie if you want to see a real change in the party, at least at the top.But, in my opinion fighting for good government on the local level is the way we truly build change. The Republicans learned this years ago, and despite rumors of their demise, the old Mark Twain phrase, that party controls many statehouses, state legislatures, and the Congress by working their way up-not down. This is no small thing! It is why voters’ rights and access to birth control  are disappearing in many states and, affordable housing and transportation budgets have been whittled to nothing while student debt bankrupts the young.

So please join me in learning about local elections and get active in local politics. There’s always more to do but it can get complicated. I’ll start with the California Senate race in Senate District 9. Here we have the choice of two good candidates, three actually, including the almost unknown Katherine Welch but with just enough of a difference in vision to be important in our day-to-day lives-which is where we live them, after all.

Vote for Sandre Swanson

Sandre Swanson, Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro’s previous assembly member was termed out and replaced by Rob Bonta-Rob is running for reelection-who, along with Congresswoman Barbara Lee-she’s also on the ballot and the choice of over 80% of us-Assembly Member Tony Thurmond, and current State Senator Loni Hancock have endorsed him in his run for State Senate as Loni Hancock is now termed out.

Sandre bucked the established Democratic party and the governor who wanted to cut social programs like Healthy Children and eliminate Redevelopment-which the guv managed to do- and which has greatly exacerbated our housing crisis. Nancy has also done a lot of good work but we have to make a choice here–Skinner is well funded and has the support of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf which tells me something about their competing visions.

Sandre wrested local control back from the state for our school district, has fought to end the scourge of sexual slavery/trafficking of young girls in California, Oakland particularly, and established the Men and Boys of Color Commission which traveled the state gathering community info and putting it to use to create legislation to help these young men. There’s more-Sandre is principled, progressive and will not back down to the party establishment. I’m voting for him.

Vote Bonta

I’m voting for Rob while pushing him to support tougher laws on police transparency and accountability, because I appreciate his hard work fighting for programs for children who need services that were rolled back by the governor. Both Rob and Tony Thurmond are working to bring benefits to marginalized communities but are often stymied by business Dems and a very frugal governor.

The big state race seems to be a foregone conclusion. Senator Barbara Boxer is retiring and despite the long list of candidates for US Senate, Kamala Harris is the favorite. She has all the right stuff, good connections, extensive credentials, a career as a top law enforcement officer and movie star looks-which we know count even if they shouldn’t. I just have a little trouble consistently electing prosecutors who use the right lingo about criminal justice reform with very few specifics. I need specifics so I’m treading water on this race hoping to get some specific info thrown my way before proceeding to her anointment.

Vote for Carson and Miley

Keith Carson and Nate Miley are running for their supervisorial districts as incumbents. Both should get reelected. Carson is a prince among politicians who works quietly for the various constituencies in his district, listens to their needs and responds accordingly. Miley has his faults, one of them being his inability to deal with criticism. I have had my differences with him in the past but recognize the amount of time he puts in for his constituents and his penchant toward innovative solutions. His opponent has no experience relative to his ambition, believing he should start at the top without grappling with the contentious issues a supervisor faces.

Judicial Races

Now to the judges. There are three judicial races which is an unusual number for one election. I can only suggest you follow the endorsements on their web pages if you have not attended any endorsement meetings. Since I have attended a few, I have a set of suggestions rather than recommended candidates.

Jennifer Madden who’s running for Superior Court has been actively campaigning which cannot be said for Jonathon Van Ee. Jennifer has been endorsed by the Alameda Labor Council, the County Democratic Party and the  John George Democratic Club, among others. It’s true she is a prosecutor but she heads the Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit (H.E.A.T.) and supervises H.E.A.T Watch, a 5 point strategy to combat Human Trafficking. I attended a panel discussion that BBBON, the Block by Block Organizing Network held a couple of years ago on how girls in Oakland are affected by this modern day slave trade and was impressed by her work. So I’m endorsing her. See  https://maddenforjudge2016.com/ for more info. Vote Madden.

In the other contested Superior Court case, there seem to be some good candidates: Scott Jackson, David Lim and Barbara Thomas. I’ve seen Scott Jackson at three endorsement meetings and Lim and Thomas at one each.

The Alameda Labor Council has endorsed Lim, who as a council member in San Mateo helped google bus drivers unionize, while Supervisors Carson and Miley have endorsed Jackson. Both have been prosecutors so that’s a wash. However, Jackson trumpets his social justice beliefs and given how few Black judges there are in a system bent on incarcerating young Black people,that is something. Bottom line, there are 2 good candidates to choose from.

Democratic Central Committee for the 18th AD

I am running on a slate of candidates for these positions. We are all volunteers who represent the local Democratic Party. If you are not registered as a Democrat, you will not see this ballot though you may still vote in the presidential primary. You have until May 23rd to register as a Dem for this primary and can do so online http://www.acgov.org/rov/registration.htm .http://www.acgov.org/rov/registration.htm

As Central Committee members, we promote voter registration, we endorse both candidates and issues, and pass our policy ideas along to the state party in the form of resolutions. If a local candidate has been endorsed by the state party, that is us.

Given that Alameda County is one of the most progressive counties in the country, we should have an activist party that pushes the state toward more progressive solutions but that is not always so. Please consider joining, or visiting or running for one of these offices in the future.

I am a member of this body and am running again. As the local politics coordinator for the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club and the political action chair for the Block by Block Organizing Network, BBBON, I have been very active in the struggle for affordable housing and the fight to bring an independent police commission to the City of Oakland.

Besides working for tougher renter protections (please sign the petition for the initiative proposed by the Oakland Tenants Union and ACCE, ) my next project will be working to repeal the Costa Hawkins Act which restricts any kind of renter protections on units built in the last couple of decades and into the future.

You will hear more about this next push (repeal of Costa Hawkins) in the near future. If we do not build more affordable housing while protecting those who live and work in California now, we will ultimately damage the long term economic viability of our state.

These folks are also on the slate that Rob Bonta has endorsed (also Nate Miley, Keith Carson and Abel Guillen) and while we may differ in some areas, overall we are working together to strengthen the progressive direction of our state-Robin Torello, Jim Oddie, Howard Egerman, Malcolm Amado Uno, Linda Perry, Diana Prola, Marlon McWilson (also running for County Board of Ed,) and Corina Lopez. Our entire slate has also been endorsed by the Alameda Labor Council, ALC.

My personal endorsements include-the East Bay Women’s Political Caucus, Black Women Organized for Political Action, the Asian Pacific American Democratic Caucus, the John George Democratic Club, and of course, the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club.

Measures

Yes on Measure AA-our bay needs us and wetlands are not only important to the critters who live there but as a buttress against sea level rise. It’s $12 a year, folks, so while it may not be a perfect measure, it’s damn good.

Prop 50

No.This was written after some high profile cases of corruption involving state legislators surfaced. It will do little if anything to prevent that while it damages the almost forgotten tenet that you are innocent until proven guilty. It will win but I’m not voting for it.

I’ll be happy to hear your suggestion, differences, additions. Please feel free to comment!

One more thing, if someone darkens your door promoting their candidate or issue, or, heaven forfend, t calls you on your own little phone, please thank them for volunteering to promote democracy, don’t yell at them for violating your privacy or interrupting the game. You might even join them next time.

 

 

 

 

 

Open Letter to Hillary Re College for All

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And Hope over Nope

“Now personally, I don’t want to be paying for Donald Trump to send his kids and grandkids to college,” she said. “I want to pay to send your kids and grandkids to college.”

Yes, Hillary, I would be willing to pay for Donald Trump to send his kids and grandkids  to college-through my taxes and yours-albeit yours should be at a considerably higher percentage than mine! 2016-05-07 12.22.25 (640x360)

Yesterday Hillary came to the Town, Oakland that is, and I dropped by outside to see what was going on. One friend was standing outside with a handmade sign containing a list of complaints against our presumptive nominee and a few young folk were chanting “Bernie,”and I mean a few, five or six. I heard someone got thrown out for some kind of heckling but altogether, judging from the selfies, a good time was had by most. 2016-05-06 15.10.37 (387x640)

Local reporter and father of the darling Silas-who was featured in a photo in the pages of our paper formerly known as last week-Matt Artz covered her comments. She took a hit at Bernie once again since he has a viable campaign operation for the California primary-when and where I will cast my vote for him for the last time.

Now, let me state again to the chagrin of my most purest of friends, that I will vote for the woman when November comes (but not in the June primary–Bernie !) I may even find myself campaigning for her but I wish she would stop making it so damn hard!

Ok, here I won’t go into her hawkish bona fides, perhaps the most horrendous part of her record, most recently in Honduras, murder capital of the world, in no small part thanks to us, the US. I admit that I try to not read all the lurid details of her dealings with corporations, I don’t blame her for husband’s love of mass incarceration, etc, because I believe all the Republicans, not just Trump, are evil and promote cruelty towards anyone who hasn’t been lucky or  who doesn’t look like them-I need to be able to vote for her.

I’m honestly so frustrated with these tirades against the so-called far left ideas of Bernie’s that I’m reduced to sputtering. But I’ll give it a try.

Dear Hillary,

I’m a single mom whose kids attended public school all their lives. They struggled with a barely funded system where everyone tries to get into the right elementary school, you know what I mean, the ones in the white neighborhoods whose parents can afford amenities like a school counselor or librarian (now even having a school library is a privilege not a right.)

They both went away to HBCUs, you know, historically Black universities and colleges, but you knew that acronym right? I paid for housing and living much as I could though I’ve never even made what is now considered median wage-still working at 69 btw–but they took out loans and I took out loans. My son went to law school, looks like he’ll be paying them back the rest of his life.

I came to California when it had truly free higher ed which has been gone since Reagan, of course, but unlike many countries that didn’t include rent and food and living in California was never cheap.

So let me explain something-In case you’ve noticed California still has a rep as a place of innovation and forward thinking due in no small part to our once free higher education guarantees. There was no means test for those guarantees. And why would there be?

Do we have a means test, in other words, a sliding scale of charges for our K-12 program? Our public libraries? Well do we? When  you drive on the highway, have we instituted a sliding scale cause Donald Trump can afford to pay?

How about social security? Many have argued that it should include a means test and that wealthier people don’t deserve it? Do you think for one minute that social security would have survived if it were just for the poor?

So here’s the first problem I see with your plan. In our country where white supremacy informs all our decisions, including who is the deserving poor and that resentment trickles down to all in need-college assistance for the poor would be ill-funded and subject to immediate defunding at the first sign of distress. Americans would resent it because someone they didn’t like might get it. They would resent it because they got it and it would be seen as a handout, charity, a dirty word in our society since its founding.

Of course, a college funding program would also preclude free egalitarian universities where everyone is on a equal footing which would look something like our public schools are supposed to look. So that’s truly utopian, I guess, though some countries seem to have those kinds of schools where no matter your color or parents’ level of income, you get a k through 12 school that’s clean and safe and all decked out with the latest books, computers, and unleaded paint, etc. But that’s the subject of a whole other column, er, letter.

That leads me to another little thing, why would you seek to lead the Democratic Party, a party you claim is against all that Trump and those other nasty little men the Republicans put in office, promote a mean-spirited plan that pits us against Trump’s grandchildren? How Trumpian is that?! What if Trumps’ kids decided not to pay for their children’s education, should we punish them for that?  Once again , how-trickle-down-resentment, how Trumpian is that?

It’s quite one thing to use the anger many of us (including me) have against the 1% to attack their plans to make all our lives harder. And it’s another thing to assert that free higher ed is some far out idea that only silly people believe in despite the fact that many countries, even those not overly wealthy, provide it and healthcare and childcare-when you know how doable it is!! As Secretary of State, you did travel a bit, am I right?

Is it because you don’t think you can convince Americans that paying taxes for something you can see and use instead of weaponry and bank bailouts is just too much work.? Or is it a cynical ploy to make Bernie appear less pragmatic than you? But free public university and college education is the best way to build a future for our kids, it’s a viable economic plan. You, who have details on the tips of your fingers, can certainly make a case for higher ed for all.

Maybe the problem is that your class doesn’t want its taxes raised so that my class of folks can attend college without bankrupting our future, maybe they want us indebted and servile forever. I hope that’s not it, but I have to consider that. It’s also true that poor people are more generous than the rich-watch them tip and give to panhandlers if you don’t believe it.

Bottom line, Hillary, you won’t inspire the young or their parents by telling us we can’t do what we want for our children because someone elses children might benefit too. Just stop it. That’s not the kind of world we want.

We want a larger vision, not a shrunken one. We want a better world, not a slightly improved one. As someone else put it, we want Hope not Nope.I know I need to vote for you in the fall—so stop making it so damn hard!

Oh,by the way, Happy Mother’s Day!

Yours,

Pamela,

Another Mother for Hope

 

 

 

It’s Time for Americans to Choose

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I recently watched Michael Moore’s new movie which reminded me of the  idealism that Americans were renowned for in the past. It also reminded me that the US, my country once gave the world great ideas, ideas and ideals it has failed to live up to. After viewing hours of non-stop Trump hate-is that a hashtag yet-#Trumphate on TV, it was a revelation.

Trump Rallies & Protests-At the same time, the internet has been atwitter over who is responsible for the “violence” at recent Trump rallies. I put the term in quotes because, while the anger has been palpable at those rallies-the one in Chicago was not a riot-sure some people yelled at and shoved each other, but so far serious injuries have been avoided.

Trump is the Inciter!-And yet Hillary supporters have been accusing Bernie supporters of inciting the “violence.” In other words going to the rallies and shouting down Trump is considered violence or incitement. I would hope we all know who the real enemy is. Trump himself, as Rachel Maddow documented, probably planned this collision of forces to stir up fear and chaos which, in classic strongman fashion, he can use to his benefit. Whether or not you think it’s wise to take the bait, it is not the protestors’ fault that some fist fights and pushing ensued. Trump and the Republican Party caused it.

“You always had the power”-Here’s the thing, the final quote in Michael Moore’s movie, Where to Invade Next, came from one of my favorite movies, The Wizard of Oz, when Glynda the Good tells Dorothy, who wishes to go home, “You always had the power.” Well, for all our talk of lesser of evils, and here I’m talking to Democrats or anyone mildly liberal, progressive or radical, please LISTEN (yeah, I am shouting now,)listen to the discussion that’s actually happening not the accusations, insults or ancient history on the Democratic side.

Progressive Change is Possible-The Democrats this time around are talking about how to get our young folk out of debt, how to stop building prisons and build justice instead, how much to raise the minimum wage right now, how to make it possible for immigrants to gain their citizenship rights and women to keep the right to control their destinies. They’re working in fits and starts on plans to give us more higher ed at less cost, more healthcare for all. These are no small things

I know, I know, Bernie is being castigated for talking like we could have free healthcare for all (like most of the civilized world and that includes Central American and Asian countries, not just Europe.) And Hillary has a terrible history of supporting the crime bill and calling our young people predators, but Bernie also voted for that bill, a law which has destroyed generations of families.

Yeah and some Dems think that anyone who supported a freely elected socialist like Daniel Ortega is anathema while others remember-recent history-the coup in Honduras engineered by the Obama-Clinton administration. But, listen to them, the conversation has moved. No, we won’t soon have seven week vacations and five month paid parental leaves like Italy and France, more’s the pity. But-

The Republican Apocalyptic Vision-The Republicans are offering a completely different vision, they’re offering a world with no social safety net-the end of Medicare and Social Security, the end of any kind of universal healthcare, no minimum wages at all, prisons for all and no right to free public  education. Oh and yeah, the removal of 12 or so million of our folks to violence-torn countries.

No one wants Austerity-One thing that Trump has shown though is that even Republicans, caught up as they are in tribal hatreds and scapegoating, are rejecting tax breaks for the rich and austerity for their families. No one wants a vision of a country laid waste by decrepit infrastructure and crumbling town halls anymore, no one.

Heed the Call-The Democrats and all who ever sympathized with them would do well to heed those demands and win, win big, win the Senate and some state houses. But that can only work if we stop scapegoating each other-Bernie and Hillary and supporters. Stop treating your candidate like he or she is a religious icon. They both have feet of clay. They’re both human. But both are saying or beginning to say the things we all need to hear.

Choose Any Democratic Candidate-For those who cannot forgive Hillary her history of triangulating, her eyes on the polls, and stupidest of all, her husband’s mistakes, listen, she’s hearing where the country is now and mirroring our needs. For those who can’t forgive Bernie for challenging her or for understanding that Fidel was the right leader at the right time in that place-remember without Bernie, the only populist in the race, might appear to be Donald Trump. Bernie has saved the Democratic Party leaders from themselves.

Yeah, we have a real clear choice, clearer than the choice we had even eight years ago. At this point it doesn’t matter to me, yeah I’ll say it, it doesn’t matter who gets the nomination. Stop the sniping, quit yer bitchin. We don’t only need to stop Trump, and the other creeps running under the GOP banner, we need to come together as a country and reclaim our real heritage-that of idealism and Hope Over Fear.