My 2018 Primary Recommendations & a Look Foward to November

20180517_105917

Vote Dan Kalb AD 15, Pamela Price DA, & Write-in N.O. Confidence for Sheriff

You got your ballot in the mail and your handbook before that and wow, this is another fine mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. With an open seat in Berkeley/Oakland/Richmond for state assembly and our current governor being termed out from his last incarnation, we have lots of folks to study and TV ads to avoid.

So let’s tackle the governor’s race first. Like most Californians, or most voters, I don’t know any of these guys and gals too well. At least the current governator was once our mayor and though I didn’t much like him, I had some idea what he’d do. Scratch that, with Jerry you’re never sure of anything.

The once flamboyant Governor Moonbeam has turned into Gov Scrooge and it’s well known by all our legislators that if we want more money for programs for kids and housing for the bottom, say, 75% of us, we’ll have to wait for the next boss in Sacramento.

Governor-Delaine Eastin

Gavin Newsom had sucked all the air out of the room until two billionaire charter school proponents, Eli Broad and Reed Hastings, started pumping billions into the race for Antonio Villaraigosa. Having met him once and found him to be a bit sleezy and a lot opportunistic, I would take Gavin over him if those were the only choices.

However, despite Newsom’s image as the brave guy who promoted marriage equality, I remember when San Francisco was on the brink of total gentrification from a wonderful pastiche of cultures and revolutionary instincts to the stultifying center of finance and tech bros it seems to be today, and Newsom presided over that change, encouraging it all the way. Oakland is there now and woe to us if we don’t heed the warning signs.

So my choice was between State Treasurer John Chiang and former Schools Superintendent Delaine Eastin.  Delaine has all the right instincts and when I saw her at Oakland’s rally to repeal Costa Hawkins law which prohibits many municipalities from passing renter protections,  I gave her my vote. You should too.

Lieutenant Governor-Gayle McLaughlin

I am not excited about this race but most voters never are. The only obvious reason to run is to be the next in line for governor. I had thought to endorse Ed Hernandez and then looked at his list of supporters-I was very impressed that he has all the union support but then noticed that that included all the police unions and that worries me. It’s already very difficult to get police reform bills passed, and I doubt he would oppose anything police unions support.

Gayle McLaughlin has operated in the tiny crucible that is Richmond politics where Chevron is the obvious villain to be opposed and most who do, come out looking like heroes. I find her naive and not as grounded as I would like but I will vote for her in lieu of the establishment candidates. BTW, if you notice the inundation of your airwaves with Kounalakis ads, look her up. She is a developer who is the daughter of a developer who has spent her life being appointed to high profile commissions. Don’t let the Obama imprimatur cloud your weepy eyes.

US Senator-Kevin De Leon

State Senator De Leon is responsible for most of the progressive legislation which got through the legislature this year as he was the Senator Pro Tem who pushed and organized the resistance including defining us as a sanctuary state. Now that Senator Feinstein has managed to portray herself as a staunch supporter of the Resistance and, given her millions in campaign cash, Kevin may have little chance but we should look for him to lead our state in some other capacity soon.

Congress-Barbara Lee Speaks for Me-as always

CA Secretary of State-?

I’m sure there are folks who can tell you why or why not to continue to support the incumbent, Alex Padilla, but I could find little or no information on that race. It looks like Padilla is guaranteed a return to that office.

Also, the Wellstone Voting Rights Task Force, for complicated reasons, is voting no endorsement in this race.

Betty Yee for Controller and Malia Cohen for State Board of Equalization.

Attorney General-Xavier Becerra

Ok, so I changed horses in mid-season. My club, the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, had heartily endorsed Dave Jones for Insurance Commissioner and feted him with a celebratory dinner. I got many calls from him and finally decided to endorse him before the California Democratic Convention back in February.

But then I got more info from someone who worked as an attorney in that department under both Garamendi and Jones. Describing Jones as insurance commissioner,”Jones could have pursued a pro-consumer agenda, like John Garamendi. But instead he was as passive as he could possibly be. He didn’t even bother to replace people who were in positions subject to his appointment. He just left the Republican holdovers to keep doing whatever they were doing (he didn’t seem to know or care).”

And more specifically as a reference to Jones’ environmental platform, “But where he has real power to help consumers–by making insurance companies treat policyholders fairly–he’s pathetically timid.
Here’s an example I {former employee} know about:  the insurance commissioner has the authority to disapprove all health insurance contracts (policies). There are department lawyers who review every word to make sure it complies with the law.
There was a huge backlog of these policies (the insurers could use them until and unless they were disapproved).  While literally thousands of these policies were sitting without review the laws changed and included more consumer protections. I tried to get those policies disapproved, since they clearly no longer were valid.
But the policies were being used by insurance companies and Dave Jones didn’t want to upset them. So he ordered that they all be approved, even though they all violated the law.”
I’ve heard that Jones was weak on money bail reform while Becerra was not. So I am now endorsing AG Becerra. Maybe Jerry managed to do something right.
Tony Thurmond for Superintendent of Schools-very important!
Now to the fun down ballot stuff. It often seems like throwing darts at your handbook would work just fine which leads me to believe that some of these positions should be appointed rather than elected as they are based on professional credentials that few have and even fewer may desire. But here we go:
Assessor-James Johnson
I can’t say I know a lot about this office though I suspect it’s one that shouldn’t be based on political expertise. I have a recommendation from a progressive friend who has worked with him that Johnson does indeed know the work of this office and is highly competent to carry it on. She is concerned about that the next assessor see the job as important and not just as a political stepping stone so I’m going with that.
Auditor-Controller-Irella Blackwood
Ok, I’ll admit to knowing little about what this office does too but it seems very important. One of the reasons I chose Irella was that during a forum she mentioned why she would present more transparent reports than her opponent Melissa Wilk, who already works in the county auditor’s office, is currently doing. Of course, promises are cheap and we’ll have to see but it is a concept her opponent did not push.
They both have great endorsements but Blackwood’s includes Ann-Marie Hogan while Wilk’s includes Sheriff Ahern who is being targeted by civil rights groups demanding his department be audited for why spending is going up for county jails while prisoner numbers are falling.
I’m sure they would both be fine auditor’s but I want to see this office removed from the sheriff’s influence.
County Board of Supervisors- Wilma Chan-this incumbent has quietly led the fight against the worst of the Trump crimes here in Alameda County.
District Attorney-Pamela Price
I’m happy to note that since I endorsed her, George Soros has followed my lead, LOL and pumped some money into mailers to elect her and other progressives into the office most responsible for mass incarceration of Black and Brown youth.
I’ve written more extensively about this endorsement here – https://draketalkoakland.com/tag/pamela-price/

And I will just add that while Nancy O’Malley has accomplished good things in the past, she is a traditional DA and the times call for innovation and a focus on dismantling mass incarceration. Whatever happens we should be grateful to Candidate Price for taking this on.

Sheriff-Write-In–N.O. Confidence

As I detailed in the blog above, there was a search for someone to run against this sheriff with the necessary law enforcement background but no one took that on despite our coalition’s effort. Since then, some of us have been beating the bushes to find a write-in candidate who would not be required to have the law enforcement certification but would be the antithesis of what most California sheriffs have become,  gung-ho supporters of the Trump anti-immigration policies and purveyors of the abuses of the mass incarceration state. Because they are elected independently, they act with impunity and little can be done to restrain their most negative impulses.

We still have until May 22nd to find a write-in candidate who embodies what real public safety would look like, a California where everyone is encouraged to watch out for each other without imposing their biases on them and where all feel free to come forward and ask for help in times of need. That person must be a registered voter in the county and be willing to obtain 20 signatures to prove it. That’s it, sign up!

But if as likely, no one steps forward-ideally a POC who works in the re-entry, anti-violence or public health field-then we will promote a campaign for everyone to write in the well known anti-sheriff candidate (gluten free of course) N.O. Confidence, who uses the pronoun “they.

State Assembly AD 18-Rob Bonta

Assembly Member Bonta is running unopposed probably because he is one of the hardest working folks in that body and is one of our reps who ushered in the resistance against the regime in DC while also fighting for affordable housing, renter protections, and money bail reform. That’s just a sliver of the issues he is taking on. Show him your support.

State Assembly AD 15-Dan Kalb

This is an open seat in a wide-open race. We have a well-heeled candidate, Buffy Wicks, whom almost no one knows and who has’t lived here for long but due to the Obama nostalgia and piles of cash, has a good chance of getting in the top 2 of our weird primary system.

Wicks is also not a supporter of the repeal of Costa Hawkins which would allow municipalities to enact renter protections on some of the units not now affected by any protections, and she is quite willing to take contributions from the charter school industry. Outside of those pivotal issues, she might be a fine rep but I have nothing to base that on. She worked in the Obama administration but I have no way to know what her real contribution was.

My candidate, Dan Kalb, is widely acknowledged to be the most likely to write successful legislative initiatives in the legislature. His expertise ranges from environmental experience to fighting for affordable housing through knowledge of and a willingness to enact police reform. He is a principled politician who will not make promises he can’t keep.

So now I have to add that I like Jovanka Beckles and Cheryl Sudduth. I keep scratching my head wondering why CNA, the nurses’s union, declined to support Beckles in favor of a political neophyte when they might have put Jovanka over the top. Maybe it’ll still happen, we’ll see. In terms of Cheryl, I am really impressed by the number of issues she is involved in, particularly the layers of sanctuary she reps, and the passion with which she addresses them.

Judge Superior Court-Karen Katz

When Tara Flanagan ran she made a big splash and was a very visible and able politician. But since then she has disappointed those who closely watch trials as more law and order, especially for Black defendants, than was hoped for when elected.

Karen Katz has spent her life as a public defender and is running because she says, “we are all safer when justice is administered fairly.” I have no idea if she has a chance to beat a sitting judge, actually that is probably unlikely, but given some of what I have heard about Judge Flanagan’s court, it’s worth a try.

Propositions-County & Regional

RM3-NO

This measure raises the tolls on the Bay Bridge over the next few years to fund a hodgepodge of projects which claim to be public transit oriented but list to the side of ferry boats while stalling out on your daily AC Transit route leaving you stranded as you bike, albeit in better lanes, to the BART where your wait might be a couple of minutes shorter or not, depending on where you live. As one wag said, these are projects inspired by a transit agency that recently moved to the west bay at great expense but wants East Bay drivers to fund far flung transit and highway improvements to traffic nightmares wrought by Silicon Valley. Why must we continue to pay for all their sins?

The worst part about this mishegoss of a measure is that once these tolls are implemented, there will be no place left to go for funding by transit agencies which are still cleaning up the crumbs left by this mess.

As Jack Kurzweil, one of the founders of the Wellstone Club says, “The projects are not presented as part of a grand plan to address the future transportation needs of the Bay Area.  That’s because there is no such grand plan.  Consequently, there is little basis upon which to evaluate the choice of projects.  They are parts without a whole.  The Bay Area needs a transportation vision that makes sense.”

County Measure A-Childcare-Yes

Although it’s a small increase to the sales tax, the type of tax I rarely favor, we can handle this to fund something as desperately needed as good childcare. I recently bought shoes in Santa Monica and their sales tax is higher-yet I saw lots of shoppers there so go ahead and vote for this.

City of Oakland Measure D-Libraries-Yes

This is a relatively small increase in property tax, $75, but it will have a big impact especially for children for whom their local library branch is a sanctuary and the 30% whose school libraries have been shuttered. With this tax, library hours can be increased as well as the services they supply.

By the way, as some of you may know, adult education was wiped out in Oakland over the last decade and the library is one of the remaining spaces which provides adult literacy classes. And if, like me, you’re a kindle user, the library is a great place to get your ebooks too and the librarians are quite helpful in getting you signed up.

Prop 68-Yes-Park bonds

Prop 69-Yes-funds for Transportation to be spent on Transportation-Duh

Prop 70-NO, no,no-Don’t hobble the Legislature waiting on Republican votes for these projects

A Word about the Upcoming Mayoral & Council Contests

As many of Oaklanders look forward to the fall 2018 elections to remove some of the Trump stain, we also have to take stock of our city. We see the cranes all over the downtown and the crowds at the Lake. We have a plethora of renowned restaurants to choose from when we go out–and all this is good.

But  we may be becoming inured to the ever growing empire of tents, the daily displacement of families & couch surfing youth; at the same time as many of our 1920’s cottages turn into million dollar homes, more and more of us live in unspeakable and highly visible squalor on our streets. And others band together in older homes and apartments hoping that when they go out to work, they don’t get attacked and deported by agents of a xenophobic and lawless regime in Washington.

Our neighbor San Francisco now has the lowest percentages of families of any city in the country. Are we on the verge of becoming the same kind of city as that, cleansed of  its Black leaders, its Latino entrepreneurs, its artists and writers, its Bohemian youth, those who struggle and yearn for justice and new ways of living?

We are in the last moments when the way out of that reductionist and ultimately bleak future is clear–reelecting the folks who have tinkered with small solutions and toyed with our fears while so many go quietly away from us, is not the answer. Just as we’re doing on the national scene, we must allow our creative and compassionate ideas to flow and design the Oakland we have always dreamed of. That means we must stop looking for someone to blame and start proposing bold even outlandish solutions, then join with others to make them happen. Si se puede.

PS. Don’t be fooled by those who denounce the regime in Washington while doing little for the least of these in our hometown. Watch what they do, not what they say.

safe_image

920x1240

 

 

 

 

 

Why I am voting for Mayor Jean Quan, Abel Guillen, Annie Campbell Washington, Julina Bonilla, Marguerite Young and Measure Z, plus Measure FF, Props 45 & 47

2014-10-05 11.16.23
My mini-Oakland-voter-guide:
As your neighbor, small business advocate, local politics chair of the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, single mom, and former teacher, and, oh an elected representative of the Democratic party, these are some of the candidates and propositions I urge you to support. Jean Quan, Oakland’s first woman and first Asian mayor, who rose through the ranks, leading local government boards and agencies putting our youth first, is far and away my first choice for mayor of Oakland.

As a woman who has been somewhat of a trail blazer with a small “t”, whose mother was a newspaper reporter who blazed trails in her time, I have to say, I resent the notion that Ms. Quan has to prove her worth over and over.

In any other town, when a city is improving in as many ways as Oakland is with less violent crime, whose streets, sidewalks and parks are filled with families, couples, youth and old folks from all economic backgrounds and ethnicities picnicking, jogging, bicycling and enjoying the beauty that is Oakland together-why should this mayor have to defend herself against so many challengers, so many untested folks who have not done the work and who do not offer the results that this mayor has shown us? No, I believe if it weren’t for sexism, racism, biased press coverage, and yes, her own inability to be glib, including her occasional tongue-tied responses to reporters, there would be no consideration for any of these other candidates.

On the other hand, you could write an entire book about Jerry Brown’s gaffes, including the numbers and groups of people he offended and his general inattentiveness to Oakland’s regular folk. You could talk about the police chiefs he went through and the mistakes he made with city managers.

Jeez, that was years ago and even now some folks who run the Coliseum are trying to bring one of them back, Robert Bobb, to shore up our sports teams that Jerry so glibly dissed. We might have had a downtown A’s stadium by now had he cared enough to consider it, but for so many reasons, some very obvious and some not as obvious, his mistakes were shrugged away.

But Jean Quan has worked diligently to keep our teams without sacrificing our community’s largesse or dignity. We’ve been through many mayors and many proposals for the former Oakland army base and still nothing had happened-remember the Wayans’ studio, the shopping centers, the car sales lots, but now we’re doing with that land what is was meant for-building a logistics center to move goods into and out of our port, one of the most important ports in the country. This port had begun to lag behind others on the West Coast just as trade to the Far East started to pick up-now it will once again become the economic engine of the Bay Area, and possibly all of California. Jean Quan made the tough decisions and fought for the funding to make it happen. It will provide family and community sustaining jobs for the Oaklanders who need them most way into the future.

To make sure that our long-time residents are prepared for those jobs and because many aren’t, she is working directly with our community colleges to build that school to career pipeline, to insure that classes are available for youth who need a GED, specialized training, and counseling for those thousands of jobs which will develop out of our logistics center.

Mayor Quan spends much of her time fundraising for the summer jobs program, for toys for tots, peace in the parks and all the programs that bring direct city services along with opportunity and hope to the young people and families who live in long-neglected neighborhoods. She now knows many of those kids by name when she holds her barbecues in the park, or knocks on doors, or personally delivers Christmas presents to them. Everyone says they have seen this mayor in the toughest neighborhoods of Oakland more than any other politician, even including their own city council members. It goes without saying that they’ve seen her much more often than our city council member-at-large who is only seen when she is running for office.

Mayor Quan has laid the foundation for so many improvements in this city that if someone else is elected, that work may be able to continue for a while; but I challenge you to find a candidate who will work with and for our youth like this mayor has, and for that, she holds a special place in my heart. Please give her your vote if you agree that Oakland is moving in the right direction and you want a mayor who is already up to speed.

Abel Guillen is my candidate to be our District 2 Council Member. I have known Abel for a number of years now and I like him more each year. He has proven himself as a legislator as President of the Peralta Community Colleges Board. He also is an advocate for our youth. He like Mayor Quan is the child of immigrants, he knows how every day obstacles can become insurmountable and make it almost impossible to succeed without an advocate. He helped students get bus passes so that they would not miss classes at our community colleges. He is already working on securing that school to career pipeline with Mayor Quan that will result in family-sustaining jobs.

Abel is an expert at municipal finance something that the Oakland City Council sorely needs. He is that rare creature-a fiscal expert with a conscience and will make decisions considering all the needs of Oakland residents. Since we have another vote, I suggest neighborhood activist Andrew Park who gets my second. Sorry no suggestions for your 3rd vote but there are lots of reasonable choices out there.

I’ve endorsed Annie Campbell Washington for District 4 even though I cannot vote for her. She is a budget analyst, a level-headed and kind person who knows Oakland, its finances, its neighborhoods and their leaders inside and out. She is also a liberal running against an ideologue. Her opponent was recently scolded by the Sierra Club for using their logo without their endorsement, an endorsement that Annie does have.

Julina Bonilla is running for the Peralta Community College Board to take Abel Guillen’s place. Julina is currently the director of the West Oakland Job Center which was set up to help Oakland residents get at least 50% of the new jobs coming from the port/army base and other projects. She has spent her life working in re-entry programs and advocating for careers in non-traditional jobs for under-served youth. She herself rose through the community college system and is passionate about its needs. She is also a member of the Wellstone Club’s coordinating committee and we have appreciated her organizational skills and clear thinking.

Most of us don’t spend much time thinking about down ballot races like the East Bay Municipal Utility Board, that is, EBMUD our water agency. This year may be different. Many Oakland residents have worked hard to decrease our water usage as the drought drags on, but we watched with horror last spring as leaks, spills, and gushers ran down our streets as pipe after pipe failed and precious drinking water was lost forever. Because we know that we’re lucky enough to flush our toilets, water our gardens, and wash our clothes with some of the best drinking water in the world, we had reason to be upset.

That is why I am voting for Marguerite Young who is running to replace a long-term politician and the former mayor of Piedmont who has shown little leadership on the EBMUD Board. Marguerite is really an expert on water issues, where our water comes from, how to preserve it, and what EBMUD needs to do to prevent its loss. Her slogan is apt, “Make every drop count.”

Measure Z is the renewal of Measure Y with some improvements and restrictions. I have heard all the slanders on this compromise property tax, but I think it has worked well combining neighborhood-oriented law enforcement and programs that promote both intervention and prevention against the kinds of violence that have long plagued Oakland.

Programs like Missey which counsels and serves young women who’ve been caught up in prostitution and the renewed Operation Ceasefire-partially funded by Measure Y and currently saving lives in East and West Oakland-will be continued by extending this existing tax. It also funds some fire services that we desperately need. Given all the budget hits Oakland has endured over the last few years, loss of this fund would be devastating to all Oakland officials. That’s why the leading mayoral candidates have joined together to support it.

I’m excited by the probable passage of Measure FF, the initiative that would raise the minimum wage immediately to $12.25, but I will admit that I was concerned about the suddenness of the increase for our small businesses. I have been convinced by the economic research that these businesses may only have to increase the price of their products by pennies and that the workers who make these low wages will return those dollars to the local economy in buying power.

Proposition 45 was proposed by our Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, himself up for reelection and deserving of it, because he’s grown tired of watching insurance companies increase the rates of individual and small company plans without being able to stop them when they are not justified. Nothing you see in the anti-Prop 45 ads, paid for by our friends on insurance company boards, by the way, is even relevant to the content of this proposition.

This is how the League of Women Voters describes the proposition, “Prop. 45 applies only to individual and employer small-group plans. The Insurance Commissioner would have to approve rate changes for those plans before they could be implemented. The application process would require the company to publicly disclose and justify its requested rates. Consumers or insurance companies could challenge the outcome in court. Rates in effect as far back as November 6, 2012 would be subject to refund if found to be excessive. Under Prop. 45, “rates” would be defined to include any charges that affect cost, such as co-payments, deductibles, installment fees, premium financing, and more.” Vote your self-interest on this proposition.

Prop 47
Here’s how the League describes this prop in a nutshell, “Prop. 47 would reduce the penalty for most nonviolent wobblers and felonies to misdemeanors, unless the defendant has prior convictions for violent and serious crimes. Prop. 47 would permit resentencing for anyone currently serving a prison sentence for any of the offenses reclassified in Prop. 47 as misdemeanors, and certain offenders who have already completed a sentence for one of those felonies may apply to the court to have their convictions changed to misdemeanors.

State savings from Prop. 47 would go to a newly created fund, “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund,” for truancy and drop-out prevention programs in schools, victims’ services, and mental health and drug treatment services designed to keep individuals out of prison and jail.”

After we succeed in passing Prop 47, it’s time its’ time to take on the proliferation of private prisons in addition to tackling the concept of imprisoning whole sectors of our population at a rate and in a style that would warm the heart of your average Inquisitor back to the Middle Ages.

Yes, there are other important initiatives and races on the ballot that deserve your attention. I have picked the ones that are the most important to me. Remember that you can go to Votersedge.org, the former Smart Voter, or CAvotes.org to get more info and background on all the races-state and local-that you might find on your ballot. You can also look up the recommendations of my Democratic Club, Wellstoneclub.org, for more of our endorsed candidates and positions.

Most importantly the last day to register in California is October 20th. You can debate all day about how we make progressive social change or you can urge everyone you know to vote and remind them and remind them again until they do it. Expect a call from me or someone like me on election day until you get out and cast that vote!
14545076699_be5b97c7a5_z