What’s it like to be Fabian Nunez right now?

Former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez has joined that small, sad fraternity of elected officials whose children stand accused of heinous crimes.

Esteban Armando Nunez, 19, and three others were arrested in Sacramento on Tuesday and charged with murder and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the Oct. 4 slaying of a college student from Concord in San Diego. According to the arrest warrant, “Nunez said whatever happens, he would take the rap for it” and that “hopefully his dad would take care of it and could get them off on self defense.”

It’s heartbreaking, in so many ways — first and foremost for the family of Luis Santos, the young man killed in the incident. There can be no true, full justice for the loss of a child.

But you’ve got to feel for Fabian Nunez too, just as so many must’ve felt for Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, whose son, Michael, has repeatedly been denied parole from his 15-to-life sentence for murdering a reputed drug dealer in 1979. Or for Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, whose namesake son is serving 14 years in prison as a serial rapist.

You’d have to feel for any parent who sees his or her child stand accused this way, to understand the doubt and dismay inherent in pondering what went so terribly wrong. Whether or not the parent had a close relationship, or any relationship at all with the child, seems to matter little when you know the person up there in jail togs and chains is your blood. As a courts reporter, I used to see that horror in parents’ eyes all the time; as a parent, I imagine I feel it every time I read a story like Dellums’ or De La Fuente’s or Nunez’s.

Even those whose kids stand accused of lesser crimes – think Jeb Bush’s Noelle, or Al Gore’s namesake son – must feel this pain, though they need not take upon themselves the pain of victims and their families.

Any parent of any defendant must feel this way, but I’d imagine that to endure it as an elected official means a certain sort of amplification: The public has chosen you to represent its interests, and now it sees your child as the very bogeyman you were elected to protect against. There will be no privacy for you during this painful process; all the eyes that watched your work will now watch your personal pain as well.

Then again, it could be so much worse. Just ask former state Senator and Secretary of State Bruce McPherson.

You don’t have to agree with a politician’s politics to empathize with him or her as a human being, as a parent. So think a good thought for Fred and Kathy Santos of Concord as they grapple with the tragic loss of their son, but think one as well for Fabian Nunez as he grapples with how and why his got so far away from him.


Bill Clinton is coming to town tomorrow

bill_clinton.jpgFormer President Bill Clinton will headline a cocktail reception tomorrow night at the Rotunda Building in downtown Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza to raise funds for the presidential campaign of his wife, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY. It’s $500 a head, or $2,300 to get into the VIP reception starting half an hour before the 7 p.m. main event.

The event’s co-chairs include Clear Channel Outdoor executive and noted Democratic politico Michael Colbruno; Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums; attorney Kenneth Katzoff; state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland; Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Oakland; and developer Phil Tagami.

And among the hosts for the evening are Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente; Oakland City Councilwoman Jean Quan; Unity Council CEO Gilda Gonzales; Oakland Unified School District board vice president Kerry Hamill; and others. See the whole skinny here.

Surely they’re hoping the money they raise will help turn around what’s been a not-so-hot week for the candidate, what with a debate performance on Tuesday night that seemed less than stellar.

Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic party chairman and longtime friend of the Clintons who now is Hillary Clinton’s national campaign chair, told me a few weeks ago that Bill Clinton has an extensive travel schedule set for this fourth quarter, raising funds on his wife’s behalf. “Every day he’s doing something for us,” McAuliffe said, calling the former president “probably the most popular man in the world today.”

UPDATE @ 12:55 P.M. THURSDAY: The Sacramento Bee today reports that voters in California strongly believe former President Bill Clinton should play an active role in his wife’s bid for the White House and also think he would be an asset in a Hillary Clinton administration, a new Field Poll revealed Wednesday. But the poll of 579 registered voters conducted Oct. 11-21 found comparatively lukewarm views on the Democratic Party front-runner herself.


ACLU praises Oakland for rejecting surveillance

under-the-watchful-eye.jpgOakland got a shout-out from the American Civil Liberties Union’s California affiliates this week with the issuance of their report, “Under the Watchful Eye: The Proliferation of Video Surveillance Systems in California.”

The report finds that “(p)ublic video surveillance systems threaten privacy and, especially in combination with other technologies, have a real potential to radically change the relationship between the public and the government. Despite that risk, cities and agencies throughout California are increasingly deploying surveillance camera systems with little public debate or consideration of potential consequences. This is a serious mistake.”

As for Oakland, it says:

There is a Better Way: Oakland Rejects Video Surveilance Twice
While many California cities rush to roll out video surveillance programs, one city considered and rejected them—twice. The Oakland city council, in both 1997 and 1999, rejected proposals to spend between $500,000 and $1 million on a video surveillance system.
Council members fully evaluated both privacy concerns and evidence of the systems’ effectiveness. Council member Henry Chang, an immigrant from China, reflected on his decision to come to the United States, saying, “We came because we don’t want to be watched by Big Brother all the time.” Council member Nancy Nadel rejected the monetary tradeoffs, arguing
that “it made me feel physical pain — the idea that we would spend public dollars on cameras before spending money to fight illiteracy.”
Council member Ignacio De La Fuente cast the deciding vote, citing a lack of evidence that cameras are effective in reducing crime and concluding that the program was not “worth the risk of violating people’s privacy rights.”
Then-Mayor Jerry Brown concurred, saying that “reducing crime is something the community and police must work on together. Installing a few or a few dozen surveillance cameras will not make us safe. It should also not be forgotten that the intrusive powers of the state are growing with each passing decade.”
While the city has rejected a broad city-run camera system, it has allowed some public money to be used to fund cameras for businesses in public-private partnerships.


Alameda County GOP reaches out to Latinos

The Alameda County Republican Central Committee in March had invited a couple of African-American clergy members to speak at its monthly meeting, as part of its outreach to minority communites. Next Tuesday, May 15, it’ll be the Latino community’s turn to meet and greet with the GOP; Charles Hargrave — who’s piloting this outreach while launching his campaign to unseat Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, in 2008 — said three speakers are expected to attend the committee’s 6:30 p.m. meeting at its San Leandro headquarters:

  • Ana Chretien, CEO of Oakland-based ABC Security Services Inc., which is among the Bay Area’s largest Hispanic-owned businesses. ABC’s biggest clients have included the City of Oakland and the Port of Oakland; Chretien has been a prolific political donor, supporting Democrats including Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente; state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland; and state Attorney General Jerry Brown.
  • Henry Rosales, executive director of the Spanish Speaking Citizens Foundation, a nonprofit based in Oakland’s Fruitvale District working to improve the lives of low-income Latino residents by offering social services and enhancing opportunities for leadership development and civic participation.
  • Hugo Guerrero, executive director of the Asociación de Comerciantes y Profesionales de Oakland (the Merchants and Professionals Association of Oakland), and owner of Hugo’s Tours and Travel in Oakland’s Fruitvale District.
  • Hargrave said he’s planning to invite Asian-American community members to attend June’s meeting.


    Money, that’s what they want

    Some e-mails about the Tribune’s top story today: Civic bucks bigger than ever

    Firstly I would like to find out how to obtain a 200K job in Oakland. Even with my college education I have been unable to obtain such pay in the Bay Area. Secondly I want you to take a hard look at my children, our future and have you tell them why our schools are in such a mess but we can find a way shell out +200K in salaries. I can guarantee you that there
    are qualified people that will wait in line for 120K in pay to replace Deborah Edgerly and we would get 2 for the price of one.



    I cannot get my head around the compensation.

    I had to translate it into a normal workweek. Using the figures you reported, and assuming these employees get time and a half for their overtime hours, it would still appear that the high paid fire inspector is on the job from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm seven days a week, 365 days a year! If this person only works 5 days a week, that is an 16 hour day – 52 weeks of the year!

    How can this person possibly function at the level necessary to perform his/her job? I don’t care how much it saves the City in the short run by hiring fewer people.

    –Sandra Turnbull


    Status quo

    Eight days after Ignacio De La Fuente was re-elected president of the Oakland City Council — prompting many in the audience at the Paramount Theatre to erupt in boos and jeers, and some to hurl racist epithets at De La Fuente — the council Monday night quietly, and unanimously, approved his committee assignments.

    That must have come as a surprise to at least some city officials: instead of the one or two police officers that usual keep watch at council meetings, as many as a half-dozen officers kept a watchful eye on the low-key proceedings.

    With the exception of one minor change — Councilmember Pat Kernighan will take Councilmember Jean Quan’s seat on the Public Works Committee — everything will stay the same. In fact, Councilmember Larry Reid, who lost his bid to unseat De La Fuente, will keep his seat on the powerful Rules Committee and hang on to the chairmanship of the Public Safety Committee.

    [A side note: Reid publicly said last week he did not want to remain chairman, saying the honor should rotate among his colleagues. But he said nothing during the brief and rancor-free discussion, despite vows to be a very different council member in 2007.]

    Before announcing the assignments, De La Fuente said last Monday was “a very painful day for me and my family. But that’s the way it goes in this business.”

    In remarks that he could not deliver last week because of the angry crowd, De La Fuente promised to work with his colleagues, and Mayor Ron Dellums, to make Oakland a better place.