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State buildings, UC costs, Jean Quan on ‘TWINC’

I was on KQED’s “This Week in Northern California” last night to discuss the plan to sell and then lease back state buildings in order to raise quick cash to help close our budget gap. Other topics included UC tuition hikes and San Francisco’s governmental tumult, and Belva Davis interviewed Oakland Mayor-Elect Jean Quan.

Posted on Saturday, November 20th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, education, Jean Quan, Oakland, state budget, TWINC | No Comments »

Inside Don Perata’s mayoral election defeat

So former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata – who entered Oakland’s mayoral race with big-time name recognition and fundraising prowess, and who outspent all his rivals enormously – lost the race to City Councilmember Jean Quan. He conceded this morning.

This was Oakland’s first foray into ranked-choice voting, and there were 10 candidates in the field. Perata held the lead in every elimination round until the last, when City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan was cut and her supporters’ second and third choices broke almost three-to-one in Quan’s favor, catapulting her past Perata to win.

In the end, Perata’s somewhat polarizing personality and past may have proved to be his undoing, as many had predicted could happen. People tend to either love him or hate him, with not many in between; those who love him were quick to name him their top choice, and the rest were much less likely to write him in somewhere below.

John Whitehurst, a longtime Perata consultant who was one of three paid by the mayoral campaign, was still shaking his head later Thursday, and basically said his only mistake was not attacking Quan and Kaplan more.

“It’s still hard for me to swallow the fact that we won by 11,000 votes, 10 percent of the vote, and the person that won the election lost in 80 percent of the precincts,” he said.

But Perata didn’t “win” by 11,000 votes – he finished that far ahead in the first round, putting him nowhere close to the 50 percent mark he’d have had to exceed to win outright.

“The purpose of the ranked-choice voting was to make the campaigns shorter, less expensive and less negative and all three turned out to be completely false,” Whitehurst complained, saying that all the new method accomplished was to turn the election into an episode of the reality television show “Survivor,” in which candidates had to build alliances to outlast their rivals.

“Hindsight is always 20-20, and if I were to run the election again, I would’ve gone negative on Jean and negative on Rebecca the way that they went negative on Don,” he continued, noting none of Perata’s campaign literature attacked his rivals.

He acknowledged there were direct mail pieces sent out by independent expenditure committees that attacked Quan, but he said that of a dozen mailings that Quan sent out, 10 attacked Perata in some way.

“We invested a ton of money in field operations,” Whitehurst said. “Jean pretty hypocritically today said hers was a grassroots campaign, but she didn’t have a grassroots campaign, she put out 12 pieces of mail of which 10 were negative.”

Some might find it hard to see how Perata – who outspent Quan by far – was more “grassroots” than Quan, who had a smaller bankroll but still had a substantial number of volunteers pounding the pavement for her. Asked why Perata was paying three different consultants for the same campaign, Whitehurst replied he was only paid about $1,000 per month.

“I was cheaper for that campaign than a basic field organizer was, so don’t go there,” he said. “A campaign that does not have organizers is not a serious grassroots campaign.”

Whitehurst said he believes this outcome will sour Oakland’s electorate on ranked-choice voting. “This is the first time that instant-runoff voting has produced this result. It happened in San Francisco too, and I think you might see people taking another look at the system now that, in three elections, the first place winner didn’t win the race.”

“I think less than 5 percent of the people understand ranked-choice voting; walk outside the office and ask somebody how it works, I don’t think they’ll know,” he charged. “Choosing a leader is not about a game of ‘Survivor’ on TV, y’know? It’s just not.”

Posted on Thursday, November 11th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Don Perata, Jean Quan, Oakland, Rebecca Kaplan | 16 Comments »

Kaplan wins youths’ mock Oakland mayoral vote

My colleague, Katy Murphy, covered an Oakland youth candidate forum and mock election featuring three of the top four Oakland mayoral candidates; she posted this video to her excellent blog, The Education Report, but we thought all you political junkies might enjoy it too:

Posted on Friday, October 29th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Jean Quan, Oakland, Rebecca Kaplan | 1 Comment »

Perata launches first TV ad of mayoral campaign

Former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata over the weekend launched the first television ad of the Oakland mayoral campaign:

Perata campaign spokesman Rhys Williams wouldn’t discuss the ad buy’s size: “We don’t disclose strategy to other campaigns – directly or via press – but it will be on air enough for all Oaklanders to have an opportunity to see it.”

Meanwhile, mayoral candidate and Oakland Councilwoman Jean Quan – whom a poll last week showed running a close second to Perata – is busy pounding the pavement (and getting her purse snatched) as well as putting a lot of direct mail in the field.

One recent mailer, a “Meet Jean Quan” piece, is a positive piece touting her record and promising to cut the mayor’s salary by 25 percent, make no back-room deals, be accessible to the public, support local schools with a volunteerism drive and get more police officers out from behind desks and onto the streets.

The other recent mailer, “Which way, Oakland?”, goes negative on Perata, noting that he was the subject of a years-long FBI investigation, helped engineer the Raiders deal that cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, paid his son with campaign funds and has collected a tidy sum as a consultant to the state prison guards union.

That piece latter directs readers to www.notdon.org, a “Anybody But Perata for Mayor of Oakland” site that says it’s “an independent website not affiliated with any political officeholder or candidate or political campaign.” The site is run by Jesse Douglas Allen-Taylor, an Oakland-based columnist perhaps best known for his work in the now-defunct UrbanView newspaper and then in the Berkeley Daily Planet; he also runs the “How Very Jerry” website collecting about 75 pieces he wrote about Jerry Brown’s Oakland mayoral administration.

Posted on Monday, September 20th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Don Perata, Jean Quan, Oakland | 1 Comment »

Perata likes Jerry Brown, local columnist doesn’t

Don and JerryOakland mayoral candidate and former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata gave $15,000 on Friday to Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown’s campaign. Don’t worry – even with his own campaign to run this year, the Don isn’t strapped for cash, seeing as how the consulting firm he runs with his son has pulled down almost $349,000 from the state prison guards’ union since the start of last year. (On a related note, I’d not noticed before that the California Correctional Peace Officers Association’s Truth in American Government Fund – one of the two CCPOA funds that paid Perata consulting – also made a $50,000 civic donation in January 2009 to Avalon Village, an Alameda nonprofit providing concierge-like assistance to seniors living in their own homes. Perata’s Hope 2010 ballot measure committee, supporting the tobacco-tax-for-cancer-research initiative he’s helping to put on the 2012 ballot, gave $50,000 to Avalon Village this March; Avalon Village and another agency to which Hope 2010 gave money are headed by a former Perata aide and possible past paramour.)

Meanwhile, the Perata campaign continues its grassroots organizing: The candidate tweeted this morning to thank the 107 volunteers who took part Saturday in a cleanup of East Oakland’s Sobrante Park area, carting away 5,280 gallons of trash. The next Perata community cleanup is scheduled for 10 a.m. this Saturday, July 31 at Shiloh Church, 3295 School St.; others are set for every Saturday in August.

But his electoral rivals are pounding the pavement as well. City Councilwoman Jean Quan held a community meeting in East Oakland on Saturday and a house party in North Oakland on Sunday; City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan is holding a fundraiser this Wednesday evening at Everett & Jones Barbecue, 126 Broadway.

In other Jerry news, Oakland columnist J. Douglas Allen-Taylor has launched a “How Very Jerry” website collecting about 75 pieces he wrote about Brown’s Oakland mayoral administration, first for the now-defunct UrbanView newspaper and then for the Berkeley Daily Planet. Says Allen-Taylor in introducing the site:

Just like Jerry Brown, too many high-placed Democratic officeholders too often abandon the traditions and philosophies of the Democratic party when carrying out their official duties these days, hoping that progressives will keep quiet in the November elections to keep from giving aid and comfort to conservatives and Republicans.
But if we always keep quiet, how will this pattern ever end?

Oakland is my home town. I love the city and its people too much to keep quiet when its public officials abuse the power we have given them. And so I choose not to hold my tongue about the years of the Jerry Brown Administration in Oakland.

The columns speak for themselves, and no other explanation is necessary.

It is possible that this website might help the campaign of Republican Meg Whitman who, if anything, would be a worse California governor than Jerry Brown, in my opinion. That cannot be helped. Voters should always go into the booth with their eyes open. If Jerry Brown is to be our next governor, at least Californians should not be able to say that we have not been properly warned.

Posted on Monday, July 26th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Don Perata, Jean Quan, Jerry Brown, Oakland, Rebecca Kaplan | 7 Comments »

Don Perata looks for a few good phone-bankers

Former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata is stepping up his Oakland mayoral campaign, issuing an appeal for volunteers to work the phones for him.

Perata has been building his visibility with a series of cleanups (including this one, wherein KTVU inexplicably seems to think 66th Avenue is downtown), trying to create an engaged, hands-on image to contrast with that of current Mayor Ron Dellums.

Perata’s electoral rivals aren’t letting any grass grow under their feet either (and, no, that’s not a marijuana reference).

City Councilwoman Jean Quan is rallying her campaign volunteers at an office-warming party at 7 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday, July 14) at 3237 Grand Ave. And City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan is taking part in a public-safety issues forum at 7 p.m. this Thursday, July 15, in the Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, 3534 Lakeshore Ave.

Read Perata’s Facebook appeal, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, July 13th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Don Perata, Jean Quan, Oakland, Rebecca Kaplan | 3 Comments »

Rocky hearing ahead for proposed DA appointee?

As reported here earlier, Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff announced his resignation this week, urging the Board of Supervisors to appoint Chief Assistant District Attorney Nancy O’Malley as his replacement as soon as this coming week. This, of course, would let O’Malley have more than nine months as in incumbent before she must win an election to keep the post next year.

But at least one local official isn’t comfortable with what some have called an “appoint-and-annoint” succession. I just received a note said to have been forwarded from Oakland City Councilwoman Desley Brooks, urging people to come out and be heard on this.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors will appoint a new District Attorney Tuesday, September 15, 2009, at 9:00 am. The item is #8A on their agenda. They appear set to appoint Nancy O’Malley at the request of Tom Orloff.

This is an elected position. While the Board has the authority to appoint; it should only do so pursuant to a public process. In the instant case they are making an appointment with less than a week’s public notice and without a public process.

We need to pack the Board chambers on Tuesday and demand a public process for the selection process. Please help turn out as many people as you can. This position is too important for them to make this appointment in secret.

Let me know what you can do to help.

Thanks so much.

Desley

Brooks was among a few local officials who have rallied with those protesting the New Year’s Day slaying of Oscar Grant III by then-BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle; Orloff took heat from those protestors for waiting two weeks after the shooting to charge Mehserle with murder, and is still under fire from some for not also charging Officer Tony Pirone, who also was involved the fracas that led up to the shooting. I see Brooks attended at least one meeting at which an effort to recall Orloff was discussed; it’s not surprising she wants to slow down his hand-picked successor’s appointment.

UPDATE @ 9:17 P.M. FRIDAY: Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan concurs, according to an e-mail I received from her about an hour ago.

I also agree, that it is essential that there be a rational and fair process to fill the position of Alameda County District Attorney. Particularly given that the D.A. is an elected position, and also how important the role of the DA is, for our ability to improve public safety and restore public trust of police and prosecutors here in our city, and ensure protection from crime.

My view, in support of a fair process, is NOT based on supporting, or opposing, any particular potential candidate for the job — but rather, given the extreme importance of this job, it seems essential to at least have a selection procedure that is fair and coherent.

We are talking about giving someone a job in which they literally hold the power of life and death over people — surely choosing someone for such a role should require NO LESS of a process than is required to get a job — any job. To just appoint someone on Tuesday, with no process, and without allowing anyone to apply, would mean someone is chosen for a role of incredible importance and responsibility without even as much process as it takes to get a job at Burger King — and without even as much process as it takes to get an endorsement from a political club when running for office.

In terms of Solutions to this problem, I could envision two options:

1) Like with Senator Kennedy’s seat, appoint a “caretaker” for the interim, on the basis of it being a person who WILL NOT RUN for the seat, and therefore, this would allow an open and fair election next year.

2) If option 1 doesn’t seam viable, then AT LEAST if the Board of Supervisors is going to take their Power to Select someone for this incredibly important position, there should at least be a reasonable application and selection process. People must be allowed to apply, be interviewed, etc, and then a selection made on a fair basis.

FOR EXAMPLE: When AC Transit Board fills a mid-term vacancy (as recently happened when I left AC Transit to join the Oakland City Council) there is a process which includes an application period and application packet and interviews, etc. This should be the least we should expect in the process of selecting a D.A.

Posted on Friday, September 11th, 2009
Under: Alameda County, Desley Brooks, General, Oakland City Council, Rebecca Kaplan | 6 Comments »

Rebecca Kaplan gets biblical on Schwarzenegger

Oakland City Council member Rebecca Kaplan went all Old Testament on the governator today during a rally to tout a “People’s Budget Fix” of criminal justice reforms.

“There are lies being told in Sacramento,” she said – specifically, the Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s assertion that most Californians desire an budget solution based on nothing but cuts “until everyone is bleeding.”

Oakland residents just last week overwhelmingly approved a package of tax measures to help the cash-strapped city lessen the blow to crucial local services, she noted.

Then she whipped out a Bible to share what she described as some of her favorite scripture, wherein Isaiah says praying and fasting aren’t enough, and you’ve got to help those less fortunate than you if you want to please the Lord:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

“ Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

(That’s Isaiah 58:6-7, by the way.)

Afterward, Kaplan, 38, who just won election to the city council in November, showed me that it was her own bat mitzvah Bible from which she was reading. “I carry it all the time now,” she said.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear later today said this budget “contains the largest tax increase in the history of the state, enacted in February. Voters overwhelmingly rejected further tax increases to fix the budget in May. Like every business and family in California, the state must live within its means.”

Posted on Thursday, July 30th, 2009
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Oakland, Oakland City Council, Rebecca Kaplan, state budget, taxes | 2 Comments »

A few upcoming political events

Thursday, Feb. 19 – Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Oakland, and Oakland City Council President Jane Brunner will host a “Progressive Economic Roundtable Discussion” from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight in the City Council Chambers at Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza. Among those scheduled to talk about the economic crisis’ effects on Oakland residents as well as local job-creation and economic-growth strategies are Victor Rubin of PolicyLink; Professor Steven Raphael of the University of California, Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy; Shirley Burnell of ACORN; and Alameda County Central Labor Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Sharon Cornu.

Sunday, Feb. 22 – Fresh from a fracas at his speaking engagement last month at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, education professor ’60s radical Bill Ayers – joined this time by his wife, fellow former radical Bernardine Dohrn – will speak on “Building a Movement for Peace in Our Time” at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22 in the King Middle School auditorium, 1781 Rose St. in Berkeley. They’re also plugging their new book, “Race Course: Against White Supremacy” and the re-issue of Ayers’ memoir “Fugitive Days: Memoirs of an Anti-War Activist.” The event is a benefit for the Berkeley-based Middle East Children’s Alliance; tickets cost $15 for general admission, $10 for students, and are available online.

Tuesday, Feb. 24 – Conservative activist and author Phyllis Schlafly will speak about “radical feminism’s effect on America” and other issues at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24 in 110 Barrows Hall at the University of California, Berkeley, sponsored by the Berkeley College Republicans and the Young America’s Foundation. The Berkeley College Republicans’ news release say her visit “is particularly relevant given the scrutiny and support that both Governor Sarah Palin and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton received during last year’s presidential election, the current state of American culture, particularly in regards to women, women’s values, and family values, and the urgent nature of the problems affecting our country today.”

Wednesday, Feb. 25David Sanger, the New York Times’ chief Washington correspondent and author of the recent book, “The Inheritance,” will speak on the complex and perhaps unprecedented national security challenges faced by President Barack Obama at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25, in the Commonwealth Club of California’s offices on the second floor of 595 Market St. in San Francisco. A wine-and-cheese reception begins at 5:30 p.m. Tickets cost $12 for members, $18 for non-members and $7 for students with valid ID, and are available online.

Posted on Thursday, February 19th, 2009
Under: Barack Obama, Jane Brunner, Oakland, Political events, Sandre Swanson | No Comments »

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.

Posted on Thursday, December 4th, 2008
Under: Al Gore, Fabian Nunez, Ignacio De La Fuente, Ron Dellums | No Comments »