During her thirty years in politics, former Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean has reinvented herself as often as Madonna has. Okay, maybe not that much. But Feeders may recall that during her stint as mayor, Dean became known as a pro-development pol, which in Berkeley meant she supported Patrick Kennedy's projects, including the seven-story Gaia Building.
Since she's been out of office, however, Dean has sounded alarms about development in Berkeley. Now, Feeder hears she has been collecting signatures for a landmarks preservation initiative designed to torpedo Mayor Tom Bates' attempt to make the landmarks law more developer-friendly. That means Dean is simpatico with the very same hysterical preservationists she battled as mayor.
So what accounts for Dean's apparent change of philosophy?
Berkeley land-use attorney John Gutierrez, who was Dean's campaign manager in 1994, says it's not a big stretch for her to side with NIMBYs since she has always viewed herself as a neighborhood advocate. In fact, Dean was one of the main players who helped craft the original landmarks ordinance in the early '70s. That was before she got elected to the city council and ticked off her preservationist pals by voting to demolish historic structures to make way for development, according to local political historian David Mundstock.
On the other hand, Gutierrez says there are rumors that Dean will run for mayor again and she could be jumping on the landmarks bandwagon for political reasons. "This is an issue that seems to have high visibility," he says. "What better vehicle to ride in on than to be the neighborhood person?"
Dean adamantly denies that she's helping collect signatures to spite Bates. "A lot of people say this is a Tom-Shirley thing," she says. "It's absolutely not."
Okay. So is Dean gonna run against Bates in November? No comment, she says.
High Jinks on the Clock?
It's no secret that Oakland city employees those who aren't cops, at least don't want Council President Ignacio De La Fuente to become mayor. He has chided everyone from park maintenance workers to department heads for being lazy or incompetent. But are city workers actually going so far as to tear down his campaign signs and campaign for rival Ron Dellums on the taxpayers' dime?
De La Fuente certainly thinks so. He suspects his enemies in the Service Employees International Union, Local 790 which is backing Dellums are telling their members in public works to rip down his signs. "It's too coincidental only my signs are being taken down," he grumbles.
Larry Hendel, staff director for Local 790, denies the accusation, noting that confusion over campaign signs happens every election season. "We have better things to do than to run around taking down Ignacio's candy-ass flower signs," he says. Hendel adds that he got a threatening phone call from De La Fuente over the signs in which the mayoral candidate allegedly warned him, "You guys better hope I lose, because if I win I'm gonna kick your ass."
That definitely sounds like something Nacho would say, but he insists he never did. De La Fuente acknowledged having called Hendel to tell him to keep his goons away from his campaign signs. De La Fuente says he said something like, "Now all you have to do is win." In other words, he made a veiled threat as opposed to a kick-your-ass threat.
Nacho concedes he has no proof of a conspiracy, but following his complaints Oakland Public Works Director Raul Godinez temporarily halted crews from removing any campaign signs anywhere last week. Public works crews regularly take down signs illegally posted on the public right of way mayoral candidate Nancy Nadel sent out a press release this week scolding her rivals for violating city codes. But earlier this month, Public Works tore down dozens of De La Fuente signs posted on privately owned chain-link fences.
Melissa Hoffer, assistant manager at Safe Storage, said that more than 25 signs were taken down after having been up for only two hours from fences around her business. "I'm like, what the heck?" she says. "We just spent all morning putting them up."
Godinez says he believes the improper sign removals were the result of a "miscommunication," and not a partisan plot by anyone on his staff. Nonetheless, he ordered the moratorium until he could draft a written procedure to avoid any other, ahem, miscommunications in the future. Meanwhile, Godinez confirms that two other public works employees have been disciplined he wouldn't say how for driving a city truck with a Dellums campaign sign on the dash. Both are members of Local 790.
The public works chief says someone spotted the truck with the Dellums sign parked on Embarcadero and complained. The driver, he says, claimed that someone else had put the sign there. Even so, Godinez says the man should have known enough to remove the sign and put it in the bed of the truck. Another city worker admitted to putting the sign on the dash, but claimed he did so after tearing it down from a prohibited spot. His boss doubts the story, however, since the sign in question looked unblemished and had no tape or staple marks.
Of course, 'tis the season for campaign high jinks, but Godinez observes, "We haven't had this many problems in the past."
Vot 4or Hellen Corbatt
A word of advice to political consultants everywhere: Hire a good proofreader. Typos can mar even the glossiest of campaign brochures, especially when you're talking about improving education. To wit: A brochure sent out this month by Ellen Corbett, the former Assemblygal running for the District 10 state Senate seat that covers much of southern Alameda County.
The mailer attempts to address the "crisis" in California schools with sentences such as "In the State Assembly, Ellen Corbett took on Gov. Schwarzenegger and demanded that the budget should not be balanced on the on the backs of our students." Then there's this incomprehensible gem: "Ellen Corbett knows our schools we must offer the technical job training ..."
Around the same time, another Corbett brochure went out that actually misidentified her. In big white letters it says, "Ellen Corbett Land is endorsed by ..." Ellen Corbett Land? Is that like Disneyland?
Corbett's consultant, Parke Skelton, acknowledges the typos and offers an amusing, if embarrassing, explanation for Corbett Land. Skelton is doing a campaign in SoCal for Assembly candidate Abbe Land. Apparently, the graphic designer was cloning a Land piece for Corbett and inadvertently left in the other candidate's surname.
So how did Corbett react? "She was wondering if she got married" without knowing about it, Skelton jokes. Yet another brochure erroneously suggests Corbett is running for her past office: "Only Ellen Corbett has the courage and the experience to represent us in the state Assembly." (All emphases are Feeder's.) Skelton says that one wasn't his fault it was done by an independent expenditure committee. Hmmm; these people all must have attended the same public school.
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