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Peter Camejo 1939-2008

Extremely sad news: The Green Party of California reports that Peter Miguel Camejo — a three-time gubernatorial candidate and 2004 vice-presidential candidate under Ralph Nader — died this morning at his Folsom home after a long bout with lymphoma. He was 68.

The release said Camejo recently had returned home after his health had declined rapidly over the last few days because of the “aggressiveness of his cancer and strength of the drugs used to combat the disease,” according his family.

Camejo was the Green gubernatorial candidate in 2002, the 2003 recall election and 2006; earlier, he had run for president in 1976 on the Socialist Workers Party ticket, and earlier yet had been prominent in 1960s anti-war efforts at the University of California, Berkeley. Born in New York City, he spent much of his early childhood in his parents’ native Venezuela; he later would compete as a yachtsman for Venezuela at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Camejo was the co-founder and former CEO of Progressive Asset Management, a financial investment firm that encourages socially responsible projects; he later founded another such firm, The Camejo Group.

I had the honor of speaking with Camejo many times over the years, and it was always a pleasure. I meet a lot of people in politics who sometimes are calculating, sometimes self-aggrandizing, sometimes in it for all the wrong reasons; this wasn’t Peter Camejo.

Camejo was a passionate and compassionate advocate of social justice for the poor, the disenfranchised, the uninsured, the immigrants and anyone else he thought was getting a raw deal; a policy wonk who could provide reams of facts off the top of his head to support his arguments; and a genuinely good, nice guy. He knew he wouldn’t win those elections; he gloried in getting his message out, trying to shape the debate however he could. Let’s hope he did. California is poorer for his loss.

Camejo is survived by his wife Morella; daughter Alexandra; son Victor; three brothers Antonio, Daniel and Danny; and three grandchildren Andrew, Daniel and Oliver. Arrangements and memorial services are pending.

UPDATE @ 9:42 P.M.: This from Nader:

“Peter was a friend, colleague and politically courageous champion of the downtrodden and mistreated of the entire Western Hemisphere. Everyone who met Peter, talked with Peter, worked with Peter, or argued with Peter, will miss the passing of a great American.”


“When his autobiography (with the working title Northstar) is published, we will all be able to get a vivid sense of the great measure of Peter Camejo as a sentinel force for civil rights and civil liberties, and expander of democracy. His lifework will inspire the political and economic future for a long time.”

Posted on Saturday, September 13th, 2008
Under: Green Party, Ralph Nader | No Comments »

Bay Area activism, near and far

There’s plenty of liberal activism a-brewin’, as usual.

El Cerrito piano tuner and longtime pro-Palestinian activist Paul Larudee, a cofounder of the Free Gaza Movement, and his cohorts are about to set sail from Cyprus en route to the Gaza Strip in an effort to “raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation.” It won’t be a cakewalk for this international band of activists; Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Sunday that Israeli defense officials “favor forcefully blocking” the boats’ arrival, as “allowing the ships to reach the Gaza coastline could create a dangerous precedent.”

Closer to home, CODEPINK is gearing up for the Democratic National Convention in Denver next week. Bay Area doyenne of dissent Medea Benjamin and her group will be holding a “Peace Room” pre-convention party “to make art, friends, plans, and a peace platform” from 7 to 9 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 19, in the CODEPINK/Global Exchange office on the second floor of 2017 Mission St. in San Francisco. Later this week, they’ll have an “All Aboard for Peace” send-off for six Bay Area activists getting on Amtrak to Denver; that’ll be at 8:15 a.m. Friday, Aug. 22, at the Emeryville Amtrak station, 5885 Horton St. According to their news release, they’re headed to Denver and later to the RNC convention in St. Paul, Minn., to “demand, in full creative force, that an end to the occupation of Iraq, no war with Iran and a commitment to peace be at the top the political agenda… CODEPINK will also be speaking out against the financing of the conventions by oil, telecom and pharmaceutical companies, exposing how corporate money corrupts the political system.” They’ve even put their schedule of actions at the conventions online.

And, speaking of the conventions, some prominent Bay Area activists — including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg of Berkeley and “peace mom” Cindy Sheehan, who’s now running an independent Congressional campaign to unseat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco — are among those who’ve issued an open, online letter calling on people to go to Denver “to protest war, torture, and repression.” Other signatories include Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney; historian and activist Howard Zinn; and Vietnam veteran and activist Ron Kovic (“Born on the Fourth of July“).

Posted on Monday, August 18th, 2008
Under: Berkeley, Cindy Sheehan, Cynthia McKinney, Democratic Party, Elections, General, Green Party, Iran, Iraq, Nancy Pelosi, Republican Party | 1 Comment »

Big May Day rallies planned for tomorrow

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s West Coast dock workers — including those at the ports of Oakland and San Francisco — have voted to stop work tomorrow, Thursday, May 1, to protest the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. Joined by other labor organizations and community groups, they’ll be rallying against the war and for workers’ and immigrants’ rights.

In Oakland, there’ll be a rally and cultural performances from 3 to 4 p.m. at the Fruitvale BART Plaza; a 4 to 6 p.m. march from there along International Boulevard to City Hall; and then another rally and set of performances at Frank Ogawa Plaza from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Among the confirmed speakers are Green Party presidential candidate and former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney; ILWU Local 10 executive board member Clarence Thomas; Alameda County Central Labor Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Sharon Cornu; Oakland Education Association President Betty Olson-Jones; Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition advocacy coordinator Evelyn Sanchez; and Mujeres Unidas y Activas program director Maria Jimenez.

There’ll be major happenings in San Francisco too, including a noontime rally at Justin Herman Plaza with McKinney, Cindy Sheehan, Alexander Cockburn, Danny Glover and other speakers.

Posted on Wednesday, April 30th, 2008
Under: Afghanistan, Cynthia McKinney, General, Green Party, Iraq, Oakland | No Comments »

The week in review

Lots goin’ on this past week, so I thought maybe we could recap some of the highlights…

We saw Bill Clinton in Oakland trying to mobilize a mostly-minority crowd for Hillary, and we saw Barack Obama in San Francisco trying to mobilize women.

We saw Tom Lantos endorse Jackie Speier to succeed him, and we saw Leland Yee promptly declare he’s not running — but wait, here comes Yul Kwon, a San Mateo management consultant who won the $1 million prize on “Survivor: Cook Islands” in 2006, reportedly considering a run. He’s a former aide to U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. — which quite frankly might be more hinderance than help in Lantos’ district.

We saw Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger endorse Proposition 93, which would lower the total number of years a state legislator could serve from 14 to 12, but would let him or her divide those years between the houses as they choose — and would grandfather current officeholders so people like Don Perata and Fabian Nunez could serve another term. The governor’s own party this week called Proposition “a self-serving measure, authored by a small group of state legislators seeking to extend their terms in office beyond the limits set by voters in Proposition 140.”

We saw the Green Party hold a presidential debate in San Francisco, with former George Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney a clear front-runner.

And we saw Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums give a passionate State of the City Address… but it’s not his passion with which some disgruntled residents are taking issue.

Posted on Friday, January 18th, 2008
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, Barbara Boxer, Bill Clinton, California State Senate, Cynthia McKinney, Don Perata, Elections, Fabian Nunez, Green Party, Hillary Clinton, Jackie Speier, Joe Lieberman, Leland Yee, Oakland, Tom Lantos, U.S. House | No Comments »

The Greens are coming to SF

It promises to be a left-wing bonanza at 2 p.m. this Sunday, Jan. 13 as the Green Party hosts “Campaign 2008: A Presidential Debate that Matters” in the Herbst Theater/Veterans Memorial Building, 401 Van Ness Ave. in San Francisco.

mckinney.jpgThis will be the first and only live debate between the Green Party’s presidential candidates, including former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga.; Maryland independent journalist and university assistant professor Jared Ball; West Virginia activist Jesse Johnson; San Diego air-quality inspector Kent Mesplay; and the big kahuna himself, consumer rights icon Ralph Nader (who isn’t actually a candidate, although some have tried to draft him).

nader.jpgAnd as if that’s not enough to guarantee a lively debate, antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan — now running as an independent against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — will co-moderate, along with 2006 Oakland City Council candidate Aimee Allison; former San Francisco Supervisor Matt Gonzalez; and San Francisco Board of Education President Mark Sanchez, now a candidate for city/county supervisor.

The event is open to the public with a suggested donation of $10-25. Click here for more information. It’s sponsored by the Green Party of Alameda County, the San Francisco Green Party and the Sacramento County Green Party, and it’s endorsed by the Green Party of San Mateo County.

Posted on Monday, January 7th, 2008
Under: Cindy Sheehan, Cynthia McKinney, Elections, Green Party | No Comments »

Chi-town beats Oak-town for Green gathering

Chicago has beaten out Oakland, Minneapolis and Detroit to host the 2008 convention of the Green Party of the United States.

The Green Party of Alameda County had put together a detailed proposal to host the convention either at the Marriott/Oakland Convention Center in downtown Oakland, or at Berkeley Community Theater. But Chicago’s proposal won out as delegates from state Green Parties and caucuses in the party’s National Committee completed their vote Wednesday, and so the Windy City will host the gathering next July 10-13.

“We were quite impressed with the presentations from all four cities, and we know Greens faced a hard choice,” said Ruth Weill, co-chair of the Green Party’s Annual National Meeting Committee. “We thank all of them and congratulate Chicago, and we look forward to seeing everyone — and the media too — in Chicago next summer.”

At least two California Greens have declared intent to run for president next year: Kent Mesplay, a San Diego air quality inspector who ran in the 2004 Green presidential primary and the 2006 Green U.S. Senate primary; and Paul Kangas, a San Francisco man who apparently believes that fasting can cure cancer and that George H.W. Bush assassinated President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Posted on Friday, August 31st, 2007
Under: Green Party, Oakland | No Comments »