Way back in the day, the day in this case being 1979, a real Bay Area punk band, the Dead Kennedys, recorded a mocking little ditty about then-Governor Jerry Brown called "California Über Alles." In it, singer Jello Biafra spews comical lyrics portraying Governor Moonbeam as a Zen fascist, a hippie dictator who forces kids to meditate in school and warns his subjects mellow out or you will pay (see Take Out). According to Wikipedia, the DIY online encyclopedia, "the song illustrates lead singer Jello Biafra's concern with the dilution of the radical and revolutionary tendencies of the '60s by 'yuppies' and their representatives, such as, one presumes, Jerry Brown."
Twenty-six years after the song's release on the album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, millionaire members of Bay Area fake punk band Green Day hosted a $1,000-a-head fund-raiser to aid the Oakland mayor's current bid to become California attorney general and head the state's suede-denim secret police.
Yep, that's right: Last week the increasingly political boys of Green Day held a pricey soiree at Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe, an Emeryville burger-joint co-owned by bassist Mike Dirnt, né Mike Pritchard. Feeder was not allowed to attend, but someone who did go said he spotted Dirnt and drummer Tre Cool, but no Billie Joe Armstrong. Brown campaign spokesgal Julia DeRouen assured Feeder that the singer also likes Jerry and has cut him a check.
DeRouen says that members of the band actually approached Brown, who is running against Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo in the primary, offering their support. "They grew up in Oakland," she said incorrectly, "and love Jerry. They wanted to support a hometown guy." Singer Armstrong actually grew up in Rodeo, Tre Cool is a Mendocino County kid, and Dirnt is a Berkeley boy. Jerry Brown is from Mars.
DeRouen says the bandmates met with Brown not too long ago at Cinder Block, a highly successful Oakland screenprinting and merchandising company, and liked what the attorney general wannabe had to say about the environment and, like, other stuff. By the by, Cinder Block principal Jeffrey Bischoff, formerly of local band Tilt, likes Jerry so much he donated $5,600 to Brown's campaign last year.
So, does the 68-year-old mayor like Green Day's music? DeRouen insists Jerry does indeed. Brown, however, didn't respond to requests from Feeder to name his fave Green Day tune. (It's probably the one about jerking off.) Anyway, Feeder's spy at the fund-raiser says Brown jokingly "threatened to sing 'The Governator'" Green Day's swipe at Arnold Schwarzengger "but said he thought that maybe he should do a rendition of 'California Über Alles.'"
Now hearing that would have been worth the price of admission.
She Brooks No Dissent: It's been a rough week for Oakland City Councildiva Desley Brooks, who has come under scrutiny for giving tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to black civic organizations with ties to her dear "friend" Frank Tucker. But the news stories on the grants from Brooks' office account to 100 Black Men and the Oakland Black Caucus either missed or buried an important detail: that Brooks had oodles of unspent cash to throw around the Trib estimated $240,000 during her term because of the incredible staff turnover in her office, which left a lot of unused salary money.
According to preliminary personnel stats supplied by the city final numbers weren't available at deadline Brooks has employed nineteen full-time employees, temps, and part-timers since she took office in January 2003. That's eight more than the council member with the next highest turnover rate during the same period. You see, Brooks is apparently a hard lady to work for. "I've seen her dress down people in public in a humiliating way," says Councilwoman Pat Kernighan.
Brooks readily admits she's a demanding boss. "My standards are high," she says, adding that "some people didn't think they were going to have to work hard." She also points out that not all her ex-staffers left on bad terms. Former employees like Kathy Neal and Alton Jelks remain her friends and supporters, she says.
Pamela Drake, who lasted only a couple of months working for Brooks last year, also remains a supporter. "I wouldn't want to work for her again," Drake says, "but I would vote for her if I lived in her district."
The upcoming June primary may be hogging the headlines, but in Berkeley they're already gearing up for November, and supporters of B-town citizen initiatives should be collecting signatures over the next few weeks to get their proposals on the fall ballot.
The most noteworthy one, tentatively called the Affordable Home Ownership Act, would boost the number of condo conversions allowed in the city each year from one hundred to five hundred, or 2 percent of the city's rental housing stock. "The demand for ownership in Berkeley is huge, and the demand for rentals is way down," says attorney David Wilson, a legal adviser for the initiative. The condo-conversion initiative already has low-income housing advocates such as City Councildude Kriss Worthington warning of widespread tenant cleansing. "Five hundred conversions year after year would have catastrophic and gentrifying impacts on the city," he says.
Fields of Dreams
A Feeder friend who lives on Harrison Street in Oakland spied this handmade sign on the apartment building next door last week: "Arnie Fields for Mayor."
The following day, the tenants in the unit above put up their own sign: "Arnie who?"
Yes, Oakland, there are actually six people running for mayor, even though we in the press would have you believe there are only three: former Congressman Ron Dellums, City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, and Councilwoman Nancy Nadel. The others are businessman Ron Oznowicz, perennial candidate Hector Reyna, and, yes, some guy named Arnie Fields.
Fields understandably complains that he doesn't have a chance to get his message out if no one will air his ideas, which insists are the "freshest." Well, Arnie, sorry I can't help: This is a gossip column, not an idea column, and I don't want to waste precious ink on ideas. But curious Feeders can check out his Web site at ArnieFields.org
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