There seems to be widespread consensus, at least from the people I’ve spoken with, that Nancy Nadel needs to go. She has failed her district for the past 12 years, she doesn’t represent our interests, and she doesn’t respect her constituents. Still, I’m finding that some people are reluctant to commit to support for Sean Sullivan, not because they don’t like him, but because they feel like they need to evaluate all their alternatives first.
I’m here to tell you, you don’t have any. I feel as strongly that Sean Sullivan will be an excellent representative for District 3 as I do that Nancy Nadel is long past her expiration date on the City Council, but both of those are arguments for another post. Today I want to talk about Greg Hodge, who people keep telling me they need to learn more about. Look, there’s nothing to learn. You already know everything you need to know about him.
I’m not talking about the fact that he was president of the school board when they ran up a $57 million deficit, or about his support for the retention of superintendent Dennis Chaconas after the district’s financial woes became clear, or about his being unceremoniously removed as board vice president by his peers, or the lack of fiscal responsibility he demonstrates when he shrugs off multi-million dollar deficits as unimportant. Those are all reasons not to vote for him, but somebody who follows the schools more closely can tell that story better than I can.
What I’m talking about is his inability to get it together to even run for Council. First, there’s his getting on the ballot saga. For those who missed it, here’s the whole story.
To run for City Council, you have to fill out a nomination petition with signatures of people who support your candidacy. Specifically, you have to get the signatures of 50 registered voters in your district. You’re allowed to submit as many as 100.
Greg Hodge turned in his nomination petition with 75 signatures on the submission deadline Friday, March 7. After Assistant City Clerk Marjo Keller called Hodge on Monday, March 10 to tell him that the County Registrar of Voters was only able to confirm 47 valid signatures, he went to the County Registrar of Voters and waited in their reception area while they conducted another review of his signatures. After reviewing the signatures again, the Registrar ultimately determined that the petition contained 50 valid signatures, and Assistant County Registrar Lee called the City Clerk’s office to say that Hodge had indeed qualified for the ballot. Keller confirmed this over telephone with Hodge the next day, then sent a certified letter the following day confirming that Hodge had qualified.
The next day, James Vann and Stuart Flashmann came to the City Clerk’s office with two requests. They wanted to examine the nomination petition themselves, and they also wanted Keller to verify a specific signature. After reviewing that signature, Keller determined that it was valid. While doing that, she noticed another signature that had been marked invalid, and she determined that it had been marked incorrectly, and was actually valid.
Now this is where I think it gets kind of shady. At this point, Keller had verified 51 signatures on Hodge’s nomination papers, surpassing the minimum required. But for some reason, Keller then decided that since she had discovered one error in his favor, all of Hodge’s signatures should be re-reviewed. After this second review, Keller identified two other signatures that were not properly verified, and determined that Hodge’s total was only 49. The following day, March 14, Keller called Hodge to inform him that he did not qualify for the ballot.
Hodge challenged the determination in court, arguing that the signature of a Mr. Charles Mouton had been improperly invalidated. Mouton, who has lived on Myrtle Street in West Oakland since 1971, and has been registered at the address for 20 years, has two separate addresses on his house, which he apparently uses interchangeably. He registered to vote at one of them, but wrote the other on the petition. The judge sided with Hodge, and allowed him back on the ballot.
I think Judge Roesch made the right decision in allowing Hodge on the ballot, but that doesn’t mean I think anyone should vote for him. How could you? 47, 50, 51, 49, 50 – it’s ridiculous! The ballot fiasco illustrates just how unprepared he is to serve the City. There is no excuse for all this nonsense. What’s asked of the candidates is not that demanding. It’s true that sometimes people might lie and say that they’re registered when they aren’t. That’s why you check your signatures before you turn them in. Candidates have access to the exact software the County Registrar of Voters uses to verify the signatures (amusingly named DIMSNET), so they can perform a preliminary check. Hodge apparently didn’t bother to do this, nor did he bother to obtain the maximum number of allowable signatures, a provision that exists to protect against this exact situation. Squeaking by with 50 signatures is embarrassing – Oaklanders deserve more than the bare minimum from their representatives.
Hodge’s lazy attitude is hardly limited to his nomination petition. Check out his website.
There’s nothing on it. Come on. A photo of Hodge with a cute kid and a donate button. No bio. Nothing about what his priorities are. Nothing to indicate why he’s running for Council, or why you should vote for him. No phone number to call, no office to visit, and no e-mail address to contact him. He asks for our money, but doesn’t even try to sell himself to us.
And apparently he won’t even be attending tonight’s candidate forum at City Hall to tell voters where he stands!
With less than nine weeks until election day, Hodge can’t be bothered to explain to District 3 residents why he deserves their vote, and that is exactly why he doesn’t. You don’t need to find out anything about him – he’s already told you all that you needs to know – he’s unorganized, unprepared, and unavailable. We already have a Councilmember like that – why on earth would we even think about electing another one?