The debate on government

So last night, I checked the early returns on my way out the door to Sean Sullivan’s party, and my heart sank. Even then, I really thought we’d make it to a run-off (which is still a possibility), but it was crushing nonetheless. Now, I usually cry at the drop of a hat, so I was incredibly proud of myself for holding it together and not bursting into tears during the party, or the after-party, or even the after-after-party. But when my last guest finally left early this morning and I closed my apartment door behind him, I just fell apart. It’s tough to take.

I really thought it would be different this time, but it wasn’t, and like I do after what seems like almost every single election day, I found myself thinking about my man Herodotus, specifically a section in Book 3 usually referred to as the debate on government. It’s this awesome story about a group of Persians, all excited over their successful coup against the ruling Magi, sitting around and having, like, the Greekest discussion ever about what kind of government they should adopt next.

The first speaker argues for democracy. The following speaker favors oligarchy, and his response to the democracy pitch is…well, I’ll let you read it:

In so far as Otanes spoke in favor of abolishing monarchy, I agree with him; but he is wrong in asking us to transfer political power to the people. The masses are a feckless lot – nowhere will you find more ignorance or irresponsibility or violence. It would be an intolerable thing to escape the murderous caprice of a king, only to be caught by the equally wanton brutality of the rabble. A king does at least act consciously and deliberately; but the mob does not. Indeed how should it, when it has never been taught what is right and proper, and has no knowledge of its own about such things? The masses have not a thought in their heads; all they can do is to rush blindly into politics like a river in flood. As for the people, then, let them govern Persia’s enemies.

Ultimately, I think he’s wrong. But on days like today, it’s hard not to sympathize.

So what happened yesterday? I don’t know. Maybe people just believed all her lies. Maybe people are just totally out of touch and voted at random. Maybe I was just completely wrong, and District 3 voters really do care about the bubble ordinance and plastic bags and banning smoking at bus stops more than crime reduction and decent sidewalks and good, data-driven, well-considered public policy and implementation and fiscal responsibility, and I’m the one who has her priorities all out of whack.

Whatever the reason, it just hurts. I watch nearly every Council and Committee meeting, and I watch her performance, and I see how she treats people, and I just feel like if other people did the same thing, most would agree that Nancy Nadel is just plain bad for Oakland. Sean Sullivan, on the other hand, well I already said it, but I just can’t say enough how incredibly fortunate Oakland would have been to have him on the City Council. I’m so upset. It’s incredibly tempting to sit around and curse the voters (and not just in this race – the other City Council outcomes didn’t surprise me, but I found the margins, in every District, unbelievable. Also, poor Tony Thurmond!), but that would be unproductive. Ultimately, it was our job to make that case to the people who live here, and we just…well, as hard as it is to accept, we clearly failed to do so. I don’t know what more we could have done. I really don’t know what more I could have done. I guess I took two nights off all season to go see the A’s – could I have convinced 114 people in that time?

Wev. You can’t think like that. Almost exactly two years ago, I felt, like Joanna, that I should just give up forever on Oakland politics and the ability of the people here to make good choices. And it isn’t just Oakland. The American public has let me down over and over again. But I wouldn’t be doing this if I thought it had to always be that way. You do what you can, you try to educate people, and you just hold out hope that someday people will wake up, get informed, and do the right thing. If I didn’t believe that could eventually happen, well, not only could I not write this blog, I don’t think I could even stand to read the newspaper. So you just promise yourself to work harder next time. And until then, go back and do whatever you can to make where you live a better place. Volunteer for a cause you care about, get out there on Sunday morning and clean up the trash on your street, and try to get your friends and neighbors to do the same.

And even though the outcome was, frankly, heartbreaking, I want to say again what an incredible pleasure and honor it was helping on this campaign. I had the opportunity to meet so many amazing, caring, unbelievably hard-working people, and it was such a privilege to sit side by side with them day after day trying to bring positive change to this city. Even though things didn’t go our way, I don’t regret a second of the time I put in, a penny of the money I dug into my meager savings account to give, or a single sacrifice I made to try to get Sean elected, and if I had the chance to go back knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t do a single thing different. Except maybe skip those baseball games.

65 thoughts on “The debate on government

  1. Becks

    Last night, I was unfortunately home sick and not celebrating at Rebecca Kaplan’s victory party. I was mostly celebrating at home – it became immediately clear that Kaplan would head to the run off and I think I practically jumped up and down when I found out that Mark Leno won (especially after the numbers went back and forth all night).

    But I couldn’t fully celebrate and almost didn’t even want to go to bed until I found out if Sean would make it into a run off with Nadel (I almost fell asleep on the couch reloading the results until my girlfriend coaxed me to bed). And much of this time I was thinking of you and the hard work you had put into this campaign and how even just through your poignant and well researched blog posts, you must have convinced dozens of people that Sullivan was the better choice than Nadel.

    But the sad truth is that so few people voted in this election. And many of the people who voted are the people who have voted for Nadel for years and just assume they’re better off sticking with her – the safe choice. I have to wonder whether the results would have been different if the presidential primaries were held yesterday. With a larger, younger turnout, could Sean have forced her into a run off? Maybe so. I think this shows that we have to do a better job, not just educating, but also invigorating the electorate about local politics so that they realize that their city council representatives can effect their lives just as much as the president of this country can.

  2. Becks

    Oh, and I can completely relate to holding it all together on election night and collapsing the next day. In 2004, I somehow didn’t cry on election night in Iowa. But the second I sat down on the plan going home, I started balling. Sometimes, you just can’t hold it in any longer.

  3. Max Allstadt

    Holy crap dto! You weren’t just trying to make us all feel better last night! There actually is a little bit of hope left. I wish you were awake earlier to let us all know about that.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Sean is such a good dude and he worked so hard. He at least deserves a shot to face NN one on one. I’d prefer it if that was in the thunderdome, but a runoff would be ok too.

  4. Becks

    Max – thanks for making me laugh. I really would like to see Sean vs Nancy in the Thunderdome. Somehow I’m guessing she wouldn’t be up for that though.

  5. oakie

    I, too, fought the lowest of lows watching the results. I acknowledge Nadel is the worst, but Brunner comes in pretty close, especially with her low down hit piece 4 days before the election–including the use of McCarthyite guilt by association in her malicious charges against Patrick McCullough.

    I have been “tabling” for Patrick over the last 5 weeks or so. I’ve talked to hundreds of people. I was doing this in the highest demographic area of Oakland: check it out in for 94618. Incredibly high incomes and educational attainment. So in that context, the one disagreement I have with the character in Herodotus is to call these people rabble. In our case, these are highly educated and affluent people. The day before the election, I was asked: but look at all these endorsements, such as Sierra Club, etc. [Even the Wellstone Renewal Club: how ironic that they endorse the one candidate who used guilt by association as a tactic against her opponent! So I guess even Wellstone's name has no meaning any more, in Oakland.] Well, if you are paying attention and look at these endorsements, it’s clear that the entire power structure that has controlled Oakland for the last 15 years have managed to make a complete mess out of our city. And are content to continue this trajectory.

    I, for one, am giving up. I have no reluctance to believe in democracy, but the results of ours is a reflection on the failure of our citizenry to make good decisions about the place we want to live in.

    So, being the most dangerous city west of the Mississippi, with an inadequate police force where it is not rational to depend on 911. we have few choices (unless you can afford to live in the still relatively safe hills; even then, perhaps half our city cannot be visited without a reasonable and rational fear of crime visiting us). I do not choose to fight this any longer. I have given it a good effort, trying to contribute to making this a place suitable to live in. But the majority has spoken. Ergo, I will act accordingly.

  6. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    V, I’ve been in Oakland a bit longer and at 40, I truly am tired of bashing my head against the wall. People say they want change and then they either vote differently (ie NN) or they just don’t vote. Either one pisses me off royally. While I can believe the low voter turnout, I’m disgusted by the number of people I’ve spoken to today that DID NOT VOTE. These people are not allowed to complain EVER again in my presence. Any friends or neighbors that chose not to vote may not speak to me for at least a month while my temper cools.

    Of course I say that I won’t do anything, but I probably will. I’m heading the cause for a dog park for goodnesssakes. Crazy and stupid am I. I used to be more of a bright eyed optimist, but it’s slowly being beaten out of me. The first big crack was with the current prez, and now this sort of thing…

    My friend Kitty used to tell me every single day – “Life is not fair, so get over it.” But I like FAIR! I guess fair is fair, Nadel won it. Kudos to her. Now I’m the one wanting to pack up my crayons and head to a cave. Or maybe just go camping for a long weekend…

    Keep up the blog and the fight for A BETTER OAKLAND. Go fast and go hard as my friend Ken likes to say. For as long as you can. Beware the burnout fallout.

    I saw that Zennie had endorsed Nadel and I gave him some friendly grief on his blog about it. At least he has a reason for voting for her, even if I don’t agree with him. I’ve not seen her change for the better in the last six years, only change for the worse. I don’t see things getting done, I see things being started but never completed. Maybe I’m missing something or he lives in the famed West Oakland, I don’t know.

    I say pick one thing and get it done. Have a serious accomplishment. My thing this year is going to be a dog park. (cat person helps dogs, news at 11) I’m admittedly picking something I see as fairly easy. I figure that will be rewarding enough for now.

  7. Mike Hardy

    Every time I read election results I first have the urge to move to New Zealand (or similar, but did you know they actually use *accrual* accounting there in government? sounds like a mere technical change, but oh what a difference)

    Then I remember that you can always just re-center and start local again, slowly spreading out

    And I also imagine what it would be like if no one was even attempting to be fact-based and spread reason around. What then?

    Gotta keep fighting the good fight, it does make a difference, even if it’s not as much of a difference as you want all the time

  8. Max Allstadt

    Becks -

    The Dustfish annual fundraiser has been held in District 3, a 5 minute walk from Nancy’s house. They have a thunderdome there every year. Full size. No chainsaws though. All the weapons are foam.

    I’m just sayin, the venue IS actually available for that to happen. Scottpark, you wanna throw down? dto? How ’bout the Mayor? Jerry Brown woulda done it!

  9. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    Max, for goodnesssakes, stop bringing up JB! He was great in the first few years, maybe. But the last few years? AWFUL! He was gone more than DoNothingDellums – or at least the same amount. He totally screwed up OPD with all the hiring freezes. We’ll be paying on that debt for years to come. Oh yeah, and he was trying to save money. Sheesh. Truly, he was awful. Didn’t term limits get him? I’m all for term limits!!! The public spoke when Perata wanted to do away with term limits. I’m tellin’ ya. No JB!!! This is one issue where Steve Lowe is right on the money when even he says no to JB.

  10. Max Allstadt

    I still think he’d have faced me in the thunderdome with a nerf bat. Guy had a sense of fun. That’s really all that last comment was about.

  11. Chris Kidd

    You could try setting up an effigy of Dellums in the Thunderdome to wail on; that’d probably be a great stress reliever. Then again, if it was anything like the real Ron, it would probably dissapear before you landed your first nerf-bat swing.

  12. Max Allstadt

    Chris -

    Have you ever been to one of those thunderdome events? It’s not much more aggressive than a rigorous pillow fight. The swings and the 25 foot tall cage are cool though.

    I’m really not out to vent. I just want to get a politician in the thunderdome. If this run-off happens and Sean wins, that will be my request as a devoted volunteer. He has to do a charity thunderdome fight with Desley Brooks.

  13. Leaving Oaktown

    Well, I’m quite tired of calling 911 only to reach a busy signal, not having a police response, listening to politicos be abusive and downright nasty to concerned members of the public, having bureaucrats in City government treat me as if I am disrupting their day rather than taking ownership of my issue and being asked to pay even higher taxes.

    Oakland has tremendous potential, but it will not be achieved with same old cadre of Mayor Mcnuthing and has sidekicks Nadel and Brunner. I have thought long and hard about this decision, but I cannot conceive of having a family in such an environment with poor schools and little hope of change. The electorate has spoken. They like the status quo. They get what they pay for. But I’m out of here. There is no more personal way to vote than with one’s feet. My home search in Santa Cruz, Marin, Boulder and Portland has been put in full force and I have consulted with a real estate agent about selling my little bungalow.

  14. V Smoothe Post author

    Joanna -

    I wasn’t judging you – I’m completely empathize with the way you’re feeling. Anyway, I think it’s clear that you’re committed enough to your neighborhood that you won’t give up, no matter how much you might want to. Good luck with the dog park!

  15. Nancy Rieser

    Joanna – what neighborhood do you live in?

    Hook up with Emily Rosenberg at O’DOG (Oakland’s Dog Owner Group) at She can give you some been-there-done-that guidance (she got her park funded through Henry Chang’s pay-go funds and with the cooperation of Jean Quan.)

    Also Seth Katz — — got Mosswood funded with two pots of money – a community block grant and money from Jane Brunner.

  16. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    V – thanks. :) I think I just feel guilty for giving up, but at some point you gotta find something that can work instead of spending all this energy on things that never quite make it.

    Nancy – I am in the Jack London District and indeed I have made contact with Emily Rosenberg. I am looking to get a community grant along with neighborhood donations. I don’t think it will be a problem to raise the funds. The problem will be getting the space… so I’m going to go after a plot in Estuary Park that was mentioned before, but the way it was mentioned before was part of the O29 project – a sort of blackmail imho.

    See, the other thing I forget is that some good has been accomplished in the last six years that I had a hand in. We do now have a neighborhood association, even if I think they move like molasses. We had a neighborhood newsletter, it’s gone, but a new one has replaced it. (The JLDA Call.) The mixed-use permit parking plan did finally happen, albeit $50 more per year and five years after it SHOULD have happened. The Amtrak lot parking garage (aka “Site G”) could have been double the height. 288 Third got a better roof garden and bike storage that weren’t in the original plans.

    Others got the historic district trash cans refurbished and a walking tour brochure created.

    Simon continues to maintain the JLDA website – it didn’t exist 5 years ago.

    So okay, all is not lost. This is just a blow. We can bounce back. In a few weeks. After a few drinks.

  17. oaklandhappenings

    For all of you Nadel-bashers, make sure that every time there is a chance for you to see her speak at a CC meeting, go to it, and voice how wrong her decision is during your (what is it now, 1-minute?) speech. Even if the council are the ones voting, it is your words to the council that can make some votes lead to the better result. As for her individual choices of D3– send her emails (they are listed on the oakland city council page) or call her up as much as you need to. However, don’t say that her “decision sucks”– make sure that you have sufficient, concise, and intelligent support for what you feel. If she doesn’t get enough people to persuade her from her stupid decisions, she will go ahead and make them.

  18. Chris Kidd


    I haven’t been to Thunderdome, but Ireally really want to go. When’s the next throwdown? I love seeing stuff like that pop up in Oakland. Stuff like art murmur, urban capture the flag, east bay open studios, back when they used to show movies on the great wall of oakland.
    It raises Oakland’s profile among younger crowds, gets people spending their dough in Oakland and it gets people out in the streets at night. A way for the city to lower crime without spending a cent would be to encourage and facilitate stuff like this because when there are eyes on the street and eyes in the windows watching the people on the streets, there’s much less crime. Maybe we could turn it into a campaign platform for the next election? “Art=safety”. It’s got a ring to it! =P
    But I digress. Thunderdome. I’m in.

  19. Chris Kidd


    It’s my understanding that 029 ended at the Laney Chanel. Aren’t all the improvements for Estuary Park part of DD instead? Maybe I’m just confused.

    But Estuary Park is a great site for dog-park in JLD! That was my first thought halfway down your post before I got to where you suggested it. Would there be a way to get the DD commission to write a dog park in to their plans for Estuary Park? Is it too late for that? Since they’re going to be renovating the park anyways, now would be a great time to slip a dog park in.

  20. Max Allstadt

    Dog parks are nice, but we need to legalize dogs in all parks as long as they’re on leashes.
    Can anybody come up with any reason why we shouldn’t be allowed to walk a dog on a leash in a park? The fine is like 300 bucks, right?

    I think if we get a few hundred people to bring their dogs to a city council meeting, we can change it.

  21. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    Chris (related to Robert Kidd?),

    In the beginning, O29 included the space next to Portobello including JLAC and Estuary Park believe it or not. That got nixed mid-way because of the channel – and I think they were always willing to give that up. What they really wanted was to be able to count more waterfront “green” space. See, it’s the whole issue of “green” or “open” space that gave me the willies for O29 because to me it’s a given that the first X feet should be open space. I don’t see that it should be counted as “green” space for the project. But as usual, I digress.

    So Ghielmetti kept saying that he supported a dog park there and he’d make it happen as part of O29, but I didn’t feel that it should be part of O29 – it should just be a freaken dog park. Renovations aren’t scheduled until 2012 or later, right? (maybe there’s something that is making it happen faster that I don’t know about?) I want to get the dog park thing going NOW. I’m a NOW person. I don’t like to wait. Well, I do like to wait in lines or wait for my turn to go at a 4-way stop, but I don’t like bureaucratic nonsense waiting.

  22. jif

    V – I was completely moved by the quote you included in this post. I wish I could say that I honestly believe that the sentiment contained therein does not completely hit the nail on the head when it comes to Oakland voters, but I would be fibbing. I suspect that many of Nadel’s “law challenged” constituents ensured, with their vote, that they would be allowed to continue on their lawless rampage. Reading your post on the polling place misconduct makes me think that many of Nadel ‘s criminal sympathizers were working in those polling places and “educating” the rabble about who (or is it whom?) to vote for. What a shame!

  23. Joanna/OnTheGoJo


    I drove across the gorilla crosswalk and smiled today. It was a beautiful day to see the lake in all it’s glory. And then I saw a crosswalk at Frisbie and Harrison – same situation as on Jackson (15th?) and I wondered why the City would put one there, but not the one on Jackson.

    I’m going to do this all on the up and up (I’m silly that way), and I’m even going to find money so that NN can’t use that as an excuse. Knowing how “rich” we are in JLD after all. I’m going to have bake sales, sidewalk sales, and beg for donations. I’ve done it before in the name of the Ad Hoc Jack London District On-Street Parking Improvement Committee, so I can do it all again…

  24. Max Allstadt

    Speaking of guerrilla: If your permits cost $150 per year, and you all think it’s unfair, I’m sure you could print your own permits two years out of three.

  25. Chris Kidd

    ooop, cat’s out of the bag. Maybe I should have stayed anonymous after all. (Damn your convincing arguments, Max!)

    The Bay Trail sections behind KTVU and between Estuary Park and JLS are ideal for dog walking. Are you telling me it’s a $300 fine to walk there? That’s awful. Is that true for all Bay Trail sections in Oakland? If so, the city is sitting on an gold-mine in Jingletown. People have their dogs out on the Bay Trail section there 24/7.

  26. zach

    Let me know if you want me to put you in touch with the vigilantes who painted the crosswalk. They had a little system involving strings and did a damn good job for $60 bucks, dont you think? You can see it from a mile away!

    I’m going to lobby PW to add some other amenities like a yellow yield sign and maybe some ADA pedestrian ramps. The embedded lights would be awesome but might be too expensive. A stop sign might be overkill, and be bad for the environment b/c it would make cars stop unnecessarily too often.

  27. Max Allstadt

    As for the guerrilla crosswalk, don’t forget to use krylon’s nighttime visibility spray paint to do the last coat. It’s sparkly and reflects car headlights.

  28. Chris Kidd

    East Bay Express says there’s 37,000 absentee and provisional ballots yet to be counted for this election. Hopefully enough of them are D3 voters to make up the 116 vote differential to drop NN under 50%. I also didn’t realize that Ignacio’s 53% lead is only 166 votes from 50%. Man, NOBODY voted on Tuesday. So sad.

    Well, nothing to do but wait for the votes to be counted. Good thing Katherine Harris is 3,000 miles away…

  29. Max Allstadt

    Yup. According to the comments in that article, robert gammon says only 83% of the vote has been counted in Alameda County. It could be more or less in district 3. We’ll have to wait and see.

    In other East Bay Express news, Chris Thompson is commenting on V’s Herodotus spiel. Kinda dickish, actually. Or maybe just gentle teasing.

  30. Max Allstadt

    One more thing to add. I hereby predict that when the votes are all in, Nancy Nadel will be the only Councilmember in the city to lose her own voting precinct. Dogtown is currently a tie.

  31. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    Chris – your dad (?)rocks! He’s the key to getting JLAC built. Fabulous! Tell him I said hello.

    So yes, it is against the law to walk a dog – on leash or otherwise – in any PARK in Oakland. That includes Estuary Park and the park land adjacent to the Estuary. (I then specifically asked about the green space in front of the Landing Apartments next to KTVU and got the same answer.) That’s the primo spot for JLD dog owner’s, so just like Jingletown, if Oakland wanted to make some easy dough, that’s how they could do it. That’s why I’m going gonzo on the whole dog park thing. I like the idea of them having a fenced in place to let the little furrballs to run free.

    I watched Recount (had to go to a neighbors to get cable) the other night and it was heartbreaking. You know how it’s going to end, but Katherine Harris is truly Cruella de Ville. #&%#%)(#

  32. Nancy Rieser

    Dogs on leash: Mosswood Dog owners are going to Parks and Rec Commission (PRAC) on 6/18/8 4:30ish to ask their support rescinding the leash law so that they don’t get a tix while walking their dog to the dog run.

    How about dog owners from other neighborhoods going to the meeting and saying they:

    1) support the allowing dogs on leash in Mosswood
    2) suggest using Mosswood as a pilot for establishing a city-wide revision of the leash-law. 3) Suggest revisiting the subject as a city-wide policy in early fall. Make sure that they put it on the calendar.

    Make sure to hook up an administrative/supervisor person in Parks and Rec to be the official monitor and go between with the Parks and Recreation Commission.

    If PRAC green lights it, then the suggestion for the new law goes to Life Enrichment Committee and then to Council. And that, my friends, is when we have dogs going up and down the steps that lead to the 3rd floor council chambers.

    A bowl of dog treats at the sign in table.

    The whole nine yards.

  33. Nancy Rieser

    Re dogs on leash in parks: Mosswood Dog owners are going to Parks and Rec Commission (PRAC) on 6/18/8 4:30ish to ask their support rescinding the leash law so that they don’t get tickets while walking their dog through the park to get to the dog run.

    How about dog owners from other neighborhoods going to the meeting and saying that they:

    1) support the allowing dogs on leash in Mosswood
    2) suggest using Mosswood as a pilot for establishing a city-wide revision of the leash-law. 3) Suggest revisiting the subject as a city-wide policy in early fall. Make sure that they put it on the calendar.

    Make sure to hook up an administrative/supervisor person in Parks and Rec to be the official monitor and go between with the Parks and Recreation Commission.

    If PRAC green lights it, then the suggestion for the new law goes to Life Enrichment Committee and then to Council. And that, my friends, is when we have dogs going up and down the steps that lead to the 3rd floor council chambers.

    A bowl of dog treats at the sign in table.

    The whole nine yards.

  34. MJH


    “I think if we get a few hundred people to bring their dogs to a city council meeting, we can change it.”

    “How about a guerrilla dog run?”

    Sounds like you are following up on your statement from another day about “PRANKS” being the the last and best hope.

  35. Max Allstadt


    Well, in a city with more households with dogs than households with children, I just don’t get why dogs are banned in parks. There’s this perverse liberal authoritarian streak in this town that I want gone.

    My initial plan by the way, was to try and get rid of the cross dressing law and the dog rule at the same time… by bringing hundreds of cross dressed dogs!

  36. Nancy Rieser

    Cross-dressed …as cats and other species? Cookie Scraps does have a butterfly outfit. Will that work?

  37. Max Allstadt

    Actually I was thinking cross dressed as the opposite gender. That would be easy because owners could just temporarily swap outfits.

  38. Sean B

    My two parents voted for Nadel even though I would whine about her all the time. Why did they vote for her over Sullivan?

    “He’s getting all his money from developers! He is in their pocket!”

    When I asked my mother if she knew what Sullivan did for a living, she couldn’t say. When I informed her, she repeated the line above. I then informed her of his whole car situation. That inspired her to ask if I knew where he was getting his funding, I did not know. She had already cast her vote by then (absentee) so I didn’t feel like researching it.

    I am sure nearly all the other tenets in their building, the ones that voted at least, chose Nadel for the same reason.

    Now I’m in San Diego, so I really have no idea, but who did Sullivan target? Perhaps he was too focused on the young people and should have gone after older voters? As anyone that follows politics knows, it is the latter that dependably votes.

  39. V Smoothe Post author

    Max –

    I’m choosing to take Thompson’s post as the latter, although I do think the bit about chocolate and bubble baths was kind of sexist. I drown my sorrows in bourbon!

  40. Nancy Rieser

    Sean: “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Mark Twain was right, sadly.

    Rebecca — As I recall the last election — the mayoral race – the counting went on forever — like a week, didn’t it?

  41. Ralph

    i was going to write something completely different, but can one of those west oaklanders who voted for nn b/c she was not some developers candidate tell me wtf is wrong with development. downtown, uptown, jls it is time for us to leave the district and form a more perfect union. who’s with me.

  42. MJH

    “My initial plan by the way, was to try and get rid of the cross dressing law and the dog rule at the same time… by bringing hundreds of cross dressed dogs!”

    I love it. I love all three ideas.

  43. Nancy Rieser

    A-woa! Dog news update: C. Council decided that Park and Rec Commission can make decisions about leashed access WITHOUT needing approval from C. Council. That newish ruling as w ell as the Mosswood Park request will both be talked about at the PRAC meeting 6/18 – 4:30 at the Garden Center — the other side of the street from Children’s Fairyland (next to the Bocce Ball Courts).

    Our time has come to make our case and bring Oakland up to speed with our neighboring cities.

  44. Max Allstadt


    Sort of. It depends entirely on whether or not the Parks and Rec Commission is easier to lobby than council.

    BTW, does anybody know who’s in charge of east bay regional parks? Middle Harbor Shoreline has a dog ban too. They have a lot of geese, which might be part of the reason. But if it is, the rule should be: keep dogs away from geese, not “no dogs”

  45. Andy

    I was/am very angry about this election. I could not even bring myself to look at this blog until today. I think that I would agree with the quote. I too am thinking about leaving Oakland. I have been here 12 years, and I am tired of saying “Oakland has so much potential.” I would leave behind many friends, and plenty of things that I like to do. Maybe I need to take a chance.

    It seems that even if you have a terrible incumbent, and a good to great alternative, it is not enough to win.

    What would it take? Infiltrate some of the establishment groups that pass out endorsements? Run a candidate to directly take away votes from the incumbents base?

  46. Max Allstadt

    Another alternative: Ballot initiative amending the city charter to require that all citywide elections coincide with federal elections.

    Turnout takes the vote away from activists and gives it back to the general population.

  47. David

    Middle Harbor Shoreline has a dog ban too. They have a lot of geese, which might be part of the reason. But if it is, the rule should be: keep dogs away from geese, not “no dogs”

    Or better yet, use dogs to shoo off the geese, as they do in other places. How ridiculous is it that you can get fined for jogging with a dog on the path alongside Lake Merritt, even as hundreds of no-longer-migratory Canada Geese render the grass unsittable?

  48. Max Allstadt

    Interesting link. I hate goose shit too.

    I’ve heard various origins for the no dog rule. Is it really true that bird watchers made it happen?

  49. Nancy Rieser

    Max: No one knows — the law for ALL parks was made back in the 60-70s. Research found the ordinance but not the staff report that led to it. No other City in the Bay Area totally bans dogs in parks. Why only Oakland? Dunno.

    If the City of Oakland wants to fill the acres and acres of empty new condos downtown, then making Oakland a dog friendly city might be the smartest and CHEAPEST way to increase the quality of life for many…instead of giving potential buyers and renters yet another reason not to choose to live here.

    As for the geese and dogs — if the dogs are on leash, the geese really don’t care. I live next to the lake — when geese see bikes and runners they tend to move or scatter as fast moving objects are like faux preditors to them. Dogs on leash — the geese are vigilant and give them then eye, but don’t do much in terms of slowing waddling a few inches that-a-way before they resume grazing again.

    Off leash, dogs would happily bound into the middle of a flock and not accomplish much. That said, scattering birds near traffic is not good for the geese or dogs, so that’s why on-leash rules would be especially important to follow around the lake.

    Which, in fact, is the current practice. People walk dogs on leash on the paths around the lake all the time. No great shakes until the occasional cop gives you a ticket or a warning. The geese don’t care — dogs on leash seem to be a non-issue to them.

    PRAC should just codify the existing usage at Lake Merritt and, like every other city from here to Timbucktu, allow people to walk with their dogs on leash in a public park.

  50. Ellen Gierson

    Wow, I so agree with Nancy Rieser, re: dogs in city parks. Ain’t it ’bout time that the city start listening to us dog people? I sure would spend more time AND MONEY in Oaktown if my leashed dog myself and our buds, were allowed to stroll, in city parks. I picnic a lot. Doggie, and friends go to other dog friendly cities, Alameda, San Francisco, Redwood City, Hayward, Berkeley, etc ,and where goes me, so goes my bucks $$$$$, sometimes, big bucks.
    Supporters, sick of Oaktown’s archaic city park exclusionary laws? Come to the Park and Recreation Advisory Commission (PRAC) meeting on June 18th at 4:30PM, 666 Bellevue Avenue, across from Fairyland. A strong showing will help PRAC make the right decision to allow leashed dogs in city parks, beginning with Mosswood Park!

  51. Harry P.N. Waite

    Ellen: My discretionary bucks get spent where ever I take my pooch. My multi-task trail: schmooze with humans at Pt Izzy or Alameda dog park…then shop nearby on they way home.

    Richmond’s Costco and Alameda’s South Shore Shopping Center and Trader Joe’s get a lot of Oakland dough that could be spent here. More households in Oakland have dogs than kids…someone at City Hall eventually will think “Dogs? Kaching!”

  52. Steve Lowe

    1. If Ignacio were in a runoff come November with such a hugely important national election at stake, does anyone think he’d survive? The turnout among African-Americans in District 5, just about equal in number to the amount of Latinos there, would likely be higher than ever, prretty much guaranteeing Mario Juarez a seat on Council – no matter what Tramatola came up with.

    2. In District 3, however, Nancy would beat Sean again, as she would almost cerrtainly receive the overwhelming majority of Greg’s votes whether he endorsed her or not. Knowing that, it becomes problematic to think that Sean or his supporters would want to put the city to the expense (and more lugubrious attack ads) of a runoff he couldn’t possibly win. Even my flaccid math skills guesstimate that, already at 50%, Nancy would only need at most 4 or 5 percent of the voters who turned out for Greg to win. Again, with Barak on the ticket, the turnout among African-Americans will be stunning, and that’s not exactly Sean’s base. So, again, why in the world should District 3 taxpayers have to bear such a needless expense?

    3. I never see any one of you at any of the clean air forums, nor hear doodlysquat in the debates about how Oakland’s worse-than-almost-anywhere asthma rate (9 times worse in West Oakland than the State average) is of consequence to you or your neighbors, especially those with kids. What’s with that? Is it because Nancy (and no one else on Council) fought to make this an issue back when she first began her political career? The reason BAAQM is in the room at all is because of Nancy. Maybe having Covenent House’s kids as potential asthma cases will add to the discussion and help make MTC and some of the other regional players pay as much attention as may be possible for a bureaucracy of that size and unwieldiness.


    – S

  53. Joanna/OnTheGoJo


    I used to go – and tried hard to get Nancy to see the light (or the bad air) in our District. At some point I’ve given up because she isn’t going to change her mind (to include our area) and I’m not going to change mine (I say our air quality may be worse than West Oakland).

    CH kids don’t stay there long enough to be affected since they are limited to the length of their stay. Besides, quite a few that I have met smoke and you could say that has an impact. (just playing devil’s advocate)

  54. Nancy Rieser

    What is your reasoning for the Greg Hodge voter turning to N Nadel? The Greg Hodge supporters I encountered were extremely unhappy with the incumbant, and were turning to Hodge because they had heard the rumor that Sean supposdedly was a developer Candidate.

    They were surprised when I forwarded the summary of the finanical statements to learn the N Nadel had, in fact, accepted more money from sevelopers the S Sullivan.

    As to clean Air forums just focusing on West Oakland: Here’s a newsflash: Lakeview kids have 580 zooming past the western perimeter of their playfield AND they are down wind so they get to suck in the macro and micro particulates from one of the most busiest highways in the Bay Area (thanks to Jerry Brown’s dad who created the freeway system that cut vast swathes of Temescal and Adams point for the benefit of people who don’t live in Oakland.) Oakland High is in the same fix in terms of their playfield, except that it is upwind so the deposit of micro-particulates may be slightly less in quantity than Lakeview.

    Why the extra “expense?” for a run off, if in fact one is called for?

    Well, let’s see, there would be: five months to dispell the misstatements/mythology and five more months of meeting people and hearing their concerns and coming up with creative and viable solutions.

    Well worth every penny.

  55. Max Allstadt


    Weren’t you at the JLS forum. After Nancy left, Greg talked about how she tried to keep him off the ballot. She had told the press through one of the staff that she was uninvolved, but somehow, she called Greg and asked for his endorsement before he even found out he was off the ballot. Greg remarked that he found it awfully weird that she found out he was off the ballot before he did.

    You think he’d endorse her after that? I’d expect he’d do something far closer to the opposite.

  56. Chris Kidd


    I fail to see a direct correlation between D5′s African American voters and anti-Ignacio voters. We’d have to assume that they’re one and the same. Is there any proof of this? I can’t seem to remember any particularly bad blood between Ignacio and the African American community within his district.

    Also strange to me: claiming a runoff would definitely unseat IDF, while a runoff in D3 would be a waste of “city expense”. IDF had a higher percentage of the vote (54 to 51), while Jaurez didn’t have that much more than Sullivan (33 to 27). That would mean, to you, a 21% margin-loss is a sure win for a challenger in runoff, but a 24% margin is a waste of time and resources. I know it’s a lot more complicated than that, but it’s funny how wildly different your conclusions are from two races that were very statistically similar.

  57. Max Allstadt

    The Oakland Black Caucus did back Juarez wholeheartedly, Chris.

    Still, the odds of Juarez’s litany of skeletons staying out of the limelight in a runoff – slim as hell.

  58. Ralph

    as much as we would have liked a different council member, the game was stacked against sean and greg from jump. since i have lived in calif, it has never been in play for the presidential election.

    to combat that the state pushes the dnc to move us to super tuesday. problem is what do you do with the local elections. if you keep the events coupled, you give the incumbent a huge advantage. if you decouple the events, the incumbent still has an advantage but presumably not as huge. but let’s face it people are f-n lazy so only the die-hards, those who actual appreciate that people shed blood to ensure that all have the right to vote free of misc poll taxes, the civic minded, and those who actually give a damn vote.

    apparently d3 is littered with the brain-dead.