A tale of two perspectives: On November 6, a small army of young lobbyists dropped in unannounced at Jerry Brown's Oakland City Hall digs. They consisted of about 75 rappers, spoken-word artists, and youth activists, including members of groups such as Mindz Eye Collective, Freedom Fighter Records, Let's Get Free, PUEBLO, and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. Their gripe? That Jerry's $70 million bid to put one hundred more cops on the street was misrepresented on the ballot as "more money for crime prevention."
The intended message, says Jahi, a thirty-year-old hip-hop performer and member of Mindz Eye, a group he says is trying to educate young people on political matters, was that the neighborhoods need investment in job training, education, and other violence-prevention programs, not "a hundred more guns."
Something was apparently lost in the translation.
The sizable youth contingent showed up at Jerry's office with TV news crews in tow. Some of the kids wore shirts spattered with fake blood -- red paint -- to symbolize police brutality. All very nice, but let's just say this isn't the way the mayor prefers to conduct his meetings. "We were denied access," laments Jahi. "The mayor didn't want to take time out of his schedule to meet with concerned young people."
Jerry's version, summarized in an e-mail (RE: post-election break-in) was a bit different: "A rather noisy group did come by my office and then was joined by a handful of demonstrators wearing ketchup-stained shirts. They pushed past the receptionists and charged screaming into a room adjoining my office. Then they attempted to push into my office itself."
The mayor says Police Chief Richard Word and City Manager Robert Bobb were in an adjoining conference room and rushed in to see what was happening. "At this point a few more police from within the building responded to the secretary's frightened call for help. She incidentally was whacked in the face and was nursing her bruise when the group stormed out in response to the police chief's assistant telling them to leave," he writes.
Erica Harrold, Jerry's press aide, claims the young people were chanting and incoherent, more interested in staging a stunt for the cameras than having a real dialogue. "I'm sure there were legitimate concerns," says Harrold. "It just doesn't get across."
It was no stunt, Jahi insists. His crowd really did want to meet with the mayor, despite the lack of an appointment. "We asked him for five minutes, and he said, 'Let me get my jacket,' and we said he didn't need a jacket, and then he went back into his office and had his people close the door so we couldn't come in," Jahi says. "If we were so unruly, why was nobody arrested? We were peaceful."
With any luck, the mayor and the kids will figure out a better way to communicate. In the meantime, neither the cops nor the neighborhoods are gonna get paid, since voters shot down the three tax measures required to fund Measure FF, and the city is looking at a big fat deficit. -- Michael Mechanic
Bald ambition: Shortly after becoming his town's mayor-elect a few weeks ago, Martinez Councilman Rob Schroder went out and shaved his head. No, he didn't do it to win Warriors tickets. Six months ago, his longtime dream of becoming mayor nearly ended when his wife, Carole Schroder, was diagnosed with breast cancer. "I told her, 'If it's a choice about keeping our family together, I don't need to be mayor,'" he says. Carole, who runs the family insurance business alongside her husband and was treasurer for his campaign, insisted he continue running, and had her surgery and treatment behind the scenes.
With the election now safely out of the way, Rob Schroder made good on his earlier decision to support his wife by doing the Kojak thang -- Carole lost her hair due to the cancer treatments. "I didn't want people to get the impression that I was going for the sympathy vote," he says, asked why he'd waited. "I did it for my wife." Carole, who says she's thankful for her husband's support, concurs. "I didn't want to make that a point in his campaign," she says.
Schroder, who takes office on December 4, says he's received lots of support from people who've heard about his head-shaving decision. And, he's enjoying the self-reflection that comes with losing his signature gray hair. "Hair is a really big thing in our society," he says, "and taking it all off is really exposing yourself. It's good to take a little bit of a risk." -- Helene Blatter
Her cross to bear: Sniff. It was with great sadness that we watched our fave gadfly, octogenarian Nancy Jewell Cross, ousted from the AC Transit board on election night, threatening to cost 7 Days plenty of entertaining copy in the years to come. But just as we were to bid a weepy adieu, Dr. Nancy (a Ph.D, presumably) came to our rescue by filing a dubious legal challenge of the election results. She claims the election was tainted by the "censorship" of her ballot statement in which a judge barred her from misleadingly describing herself as a regional transportation developer.
As all of us who rock the vote know, censorship is un-American. Tying up the court system with bogus lawsuits, however, is as American as Lite beer in an aluminum can. And Nancy sure knows how to file 'em. Ten years ago, a judge in San Mateo County declared her a "vexatious litigant" -- someone who has filed so many frivolous lawsuits that they are barred from filing new ones. Soon thereafter, Cross filed a suit accusing San Mateo supervisorial candidate Ted Lempert of not living in his district. As a result, a judge threw her in the pokey for a few days, where "she went limp and refused to eat," according to Peninsula weekly newspaper The Almanac.
Alameda County Registrar Brad Clark says Cross can't contest the election until the election has been officially certified, which at press time it wasn't. Furthermore, Clark says neither he nor other county officials can find any record of her most recent complaint. "We don't know for sure if she's filed anything," he says.
She did, however, fax us a copy of her complaint, which shows it being stamped by a Superior Court clerk on November 15. So perhaps there is a real lawsuit pending after all, and perhaps it will land her in jail again, which, perhaps, will merit another 7 Days update on Our Lady of the Lawsuits. Sniff. Good to have you back, Nancy. We hardly missed ya. -- Will Harper
Can't they just go away?: For most voters, Berkeley's petty campaign squabbling became a distant memory shortly after the ballots were counted, with all thoughts turning to turkey and upcoming vacations. But District 8 residents can get a little taste of Florida right here at home.
The district's city council race simply refuses to go away. Front-runner Gordon Wozniak fell just 29 votes short of the 45 percent consensus he needed to win. Now, even as the Alameda County registrar counts every last provisional ballot in hopes of certifying the final numbers by Thanksgiving, the city is proceeding with a runoff-by-mail between Wozniak and second-place finisher Andy Katz.
That's a tough break for Woz, and a lucky one for Katz, who has everything to gain from a runoff. Between the idiosyncrasies of the US Postal Service and a November 7 Chronicle article that created confusion by proclaiming Wozniak the winner, there's some concern among his staff that their man is in for a difficult time.
This is only the second time since 1996 that the mail-in process has been put to the test, according to Berkeley city clerk Sherry Kelly. Less than half of the district's roughly 10,000 registered voters cast ballots the first time around, and Kelly anticipates a much lower return for the mail-ins, even though her department received 1,400 completed runoff ballots in the first three days. "Anything more than 2,500 would be good," she guesstimates.
Katz, who won 33 percent of the vote during the first round, says the city has so little experience with this type of runoff election that the outcome is impossible to predict. "Most voters don't know what's happening," he says.
Wozniak has already uncovered one snafu: snail mail -- literally. A week after the city sent out the ballots, he says, at least sixty of his supporters have reported that they still hadn't received one. Ballots are due back at City Hall by December 3, and given the Thanksgiving hubbub, Woz fears many will be lost or misplaced. Kelly, who says she's working with the post office to investigate the delay, has agreed to mail out new ballots to anyone who requests them. Still, Wozniak is worried. "Hundreds of people in our support area not getting them could be a problem," he says. "We're certainly talking to election lawyers."
Woz supporters also raised the alarm over Katz get-out-the-vote bins placed at UC Berkeley sororities and fraternities. The city has strict rules for mail-in elections: Barring special circumstances, each voter must mail his ballot individually, thus making ballot-collection boxes a violation. But Katz, a 22-year-old Cal graduate student who has campaigned extensively on campus, counters that the boxes were merely used to collect voter registration cards, not ballots, to encourage students to vote. In fact, no one from the Woz campaign was actually able to confirm seeing boxes allegedly marked "place ballots here."
Mail-in or not, both candidates know this is a brand-new horse race. Signs for Katz have appeared around campus proclaiming "A vote for Gordon Wozniak is a vote to end pre-game barbecues." And the candidates are back to trading barbs over their respective environmental credentials and over a letter the local Sierra Club chapter recently sent out accusing Woz of falsely implying that he had the nonprofit's endorsement.
After all, what fun is a horse race without a little mud? -- Helene Blatter
Steal this Web site: Shortly after the release of last week's cover story -- the second installment of an Express investigation into Yusuf Bey's local empire -- many hundreds of papers mysteriously disappeared from their street racks, presumably stolen by parties who didn't want the public to see the article. Thanks to the Internet, quashing free speech isn't so easy these days. Anyone who missed the Chris Thompson series ("Blood & Money: The troublesome history of Oakland's most prominent Black Muslims -- and the political establishment that protects them") can find it at www.eastbayexpress.com under the "Web Extra" heading. -- The Editors
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