The Last Word on Elections 

Progressives win in Albany, Berkeley, Oakland, and Richmond — albeit different kinds of progressives in each city.

It was a week of parties and angry rallies. Barack Obama's apotheosis provoked delirious marches up and down Telegraph Avenue on Election Night, while gays, lesbians, and their supporters muttered over their loss on gay marriage, started thinking about what jerks Mormon church fathers can be, and mobbed outside the Oakland Mormon Temple last weekend. Blacks can be president, but homosexuals can't be husbands — unless they're lying to themselves. Well, politics is a game of inches, and there are still a few more quarters left in the game.

On the local front, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates didn't even break a sweat beating veteran Shirley Dean to win reelection, "progressive" Jesse Arreguin beat "moderate" Terry Doran for Dona Spring's old city council seat (honestly, do those terms mean anything nowadays?), and Susan Wengraf went from council aide to councilmember in the North Berkeley hills. AC Transit won't have to beg neighborhoods block by block to implement the Bus Rapid Transit plan, but developers will still have to beg the Landmark Commission to build on a site where Mario Savio once blew his nose. And everyone gets to sell dope all over town. Kinda.

Over in Oakland, Rebecca Kaplan wins the only contested city council seat, sending Kerry Hamill back to the school board. Oakland voters said no to parcel taxes that would have raised teacher salaries and hired more cops. Which is fine; there were reasonable arguments against both. But those lunkheads also decided to force the city council to tie its hands every budget cycle by reserving millions of dollars each year for children's programs. So the good citizens of Oakland starved their own government and forced it to spend an enormous amount of whatever's left on kids' programs, regardless of any deficit. Good luck getting your street paved anytime in the next twenty years.

Alameda incumbents Doug deHaan and Marie Gilmore are going back to the city council, and the property transfer tax is now doubled, providing the city with more tax revenue assuming that anyone is still transferring property. In Richmond, voters approved a manufacturing tax that was specifically aimed at the Chevron refinery. From now on, the oil giant will feed Richmond's tax coffers by an additional $16 million a year. Wherever will they find the cash?

Newspaper Souvenirs Snatched Up

As Obama made history, everyone wanted a piece of it. Which is why stores around the East Bay reported a run on every newspaper they had in the racks, as voters scrambled to buy a souvenir of the election the morning after. In Hayward, the Oakland Tribune reported, one 7-11 clerk was so alarmed at the demand that she raised the price for white people to five bucks, allegedly claiming she was "trying to keep some for the brothers and sisters." Hey, newspaper buyers: where are you the rest of the year?

Kaiser Drops a Load

While everyone was focused on the national election, Kaiser Permanente quietly announced that the Oakland-based health care nonprofit lost $399 million in the third quarter. The organization keeps an endowment of stocks to help finance its operation, and the market bloodletting has bitten it hard. A Kaiser spokesperson claimed that the announcement merely happened when it happened, but San Francisco Business Times reporter Chris Rauber wondered in print if they timed it to coincide with Obama's victory and bury the news under the headlines.

So Does the State

Good morning, California residents! Would you like a little $11 billion deficit with your coffee? After more than two months of bitter fighting over what was a $17 billion deficit this summer, state lawmakers finally signed a budget, only to discover last week that the state was another $11 billion in the hole. Now, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has called for a special session to consider his emergency measures to fix the books, including an oil extraction tax and a temporary hike in the sales tax. Republican state legislators have already said nothing doing, which means we're in for more of the terrible pain we just went through this summer. The only guarantee is California schools will lose at least $2.5 billion this round.

Dellums Blows It Again

The Chronicle's Matier & Ross had a roundup of local leaders expected to rise with the Obama presidency, and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums ain't one of 'em. Congresswoman Barbara Lee backed Obama early and hard, which gives her a lot of juice in her quest to lead the Congressional Black Caucus. But Dellums, in what to Oaklanders must be an awfully familiar story, shined on Obama staffers who tried to set up a meeting between the two men. Then, without so much as a "buzz off, newbie," he backed Hillary Clinton. Now, Oakland gets to pay for his lack of manners.

Three-Dot Roundup

The Raiders lost again, going without a touchdown, to the Carolina Panthers. Al Davis has reportedly drawn up a list of underperforming stars to fire in mid-season, dooming the team to a singularly dismal few months. ... The Oakland police search warrant scandal, in which cops were caught fabricating evidence to justify the warrants, entered a new phase as lawyers filed two federal lawsuits against the department. ... And from now on, Craigslist will require strippers and "escorts" to pay for their classified ads, mostly so interested prosecutors can get their credit card numbers.


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