Dress for Success 

Candidate's sharkskin just won't do; won't anyone run for council to advise poor North Richmond? And Peralta district is Moore-less.

Candidates for public office must not only report who's giving them money, but also how they spend that money. In California, campaign finance forms direct candidates to identify the categories under which those expenditures fall. One of those categories is "Meetings and Appearances," which applies to money spent by the candidate to attend meetings or in making public appearances. In most cases, that is. Berkeley punk-rocker-cum-city-council-candidate Jesse Townley applied a broader definition of "appearances" to buy himself some nice clothes for the campaign trail. According to Townley's most recent campaign filing, he spent $176.31 at Macy's and $139.20 at Jeremy's, a clothing boutique on College Avenue, on his "appearance." Not to say this is improper -- although it may be unprecedented.

For those who don't know the 33-year-old Townley, he's perhaps better known under his stage name, Jesse Luscious, the punk-rock journeyman who's been in bands like Blatz, the Gr'ups, the Criminals, and now the Frisk, and co-wrote a tune called "Berkeley Is My Baby (And I Wanna Kill It)" (see "From Political Punk Rock to Politics," Cityside, 9/15). And, like those intolerable X-plicit players, he's been known to perform in the buff.

While that might go over just fine at a fund-raiser at 924 Gilman, the famous punk venue where Green Day got its start, a birthday suit is probably not suitable for candidate forums and door-to-door canvassing in the tony North Berkeley district Townley hopes to represent.

Actually, the young Green Partier already owned some decent duds for his day job, working at a nonprofit for the disabled (which apparently doesn't partake in clothing-optional Fridays), so Mr. Luscious did have some button-down shirts prior to the campaign. "But you can never have too many," he reasons. What was really missing from his wardrobe was a respectable looking sport coat, so he picked one up at Macy's. "The shark-kin suit or the vintage suit I got married in, neither one was appropriate for the district," he says. "At least not for the image I'm putting forward."

The Job Nobody Wants

If running for Berkeley City Council sounds unglamorous, there are far less enticing posts out there that, amazingly, people seem to covet. Some folks are passionate about wastewater policy, dammit, so they run for the sewage district board to make sure the public's poop is properly handled. There are actually four people competing for the three seats on the Byron Sanitary District board of directors. Apparently, though, there's one elected position so unattractive that no one wants it: a seat on the North Richmond Municipal Advisory Council, which advises the CoCo County Board of Supervisors.

For our West Bay readers, North Richmond is the East Bay's own little slice of the Third World. It's an unincorporated part of town downwind from the Chevron refinery. It's where trash-haulers who want to save a few bucks go to dump all their crap. The median household income is just $8,763, according to the county's community development department.

There are two open seats for the North Richmond MAC and ain't no one runnin'. So why doesn't anyone want the job? MAC member Lee Jones explains that the job doesn't pay well -- matter of fact, it doesn't pay anything. Then there's the matter of the $590 fee required to get your name and written statement on the ballot for the job that pays nothing. And the other hitch, Jones says, involves the changing demographics of North Richmond. Most of the new arrivals, he notes, are recent Latino immigrants who tend to be more concerned about making a living and sending money back to the motherland than paying to sit on an advisory board. "Civic things are not that high on their agenda," Jones says.

Can't-See TV

It looks like Peralta Community College District will have to scrap its plan to run Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 on its public-access cable channel prior to the election. According to district propagandist Jeffrey Heyman, the movie's distributor, Lion's Gate Films, won't let Peralta air the anti-Bush feature for fear of jeopardizing a $15 million cable deal. This struck Heyman as odd since Moore had just sent out an e-mail exhorting his followers to buy or rent the DVD and show it to as many people as possible. "Nothing would make me happier than to have you share it with everyone you know," Moore wrote in his October 5 missive. "All surveys have shown that, the more people who see it -- especially those still sitting on the fence -- the more likely we will have regime change come November 2nd."

Heyman says when he called the distributor, Lion's Gate rep John Ferro told him, "Fuck Michael, he doesn't own the rights anymore." Heyman calls the snub the "ultimate in hypocrisy," given Moore's call to spread the word however possible. "Isn't this just what the Peralta Colleges are doing by showing the film on its public cable station?" he said in an e-mail.

Reached by Feeder, Ferro claimed the F-word quote attributed to him wasn't accurate. However, he did confirm that Peralta was denied because it might complicate a future cable-rights deal. He also urged Feeder to not run an item about the whole imbroglio. "Just leave it," he implored.

Sorry, Johnny, this ain't Hollywood.

Peralta had planned to show Moore's film on Election Day Eve as the fourth installment of its four-week "Films for Democracy" series. The district, Heyman noted, had no trouble getting permission to run the three other scheduled flicks, Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election; Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War; and Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism. What, then, will PCTV air as a replacement? Heyman jokingly suggests George W. Bush: Faith in the White House, citing the antidote-to-Michael-Moore DVD that New York Times columnist Frank Rich has subtitled The Passion of the Bush.


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