Public Comment

Commentary: Wilma Chan To the Rescue

By Barry Wolfsy
Friday March 21, 2008

Berkeley is fortunate to have the opportunity to support Wilma Chan, rated the most progressive California assemblymember, for state senator this coming June, in our District 9. The March 17 Daily Planet article indicated that Wilma Chan has raised almost all of her campaign donations from individual voters and citizens, which is exactly what we, in Berkeley, expect from clean, progressive candidates. On the other hand, I was shocked at the Loni Hancock-Tom Bates political machine’s campaign donations. A huge portion of Hancock’s donations came from developers who want special treatment by Hancock and Bates, corporate interests, and gambling interests such as Point Molate LLC, which wants to build a major casino on our proposed East Bay State Shoreline Park. 

Wilma Chan has always been a very effective and outspoken advocate on behalf of California’s children and families as an Assemblywoman. She focused her attention on progressive issues that matter to all of us: health care, education, housing, senior services, and environmental health. Wilma has demonstrated her leadership and her ability to get things done in Sacramento, because she works well with others. This is why Wilma is endorsed for her state Senate race against Hancock by incoming state Senate President Darrell Steinberg, incoming California Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, and past Senate presidents such as John Burton. 

It is time for Berkeley to retire the undemocratic Loni Hancock-Tom Bates machine. Over the past 25 years both of them have been elected mayor of Berkeley and both have been elected as Assembly members. They have failed to get much done. The polluted air in west Berkeley from Pacific Steel continues. The street crime in South Berkeley continues. Every developer, who wants to build a massive building, is given special treatment by the Hancock/Bates machine. In return, Hancock and Bates get huge cash donation whenever they run for office from these very same developers. Do you remember the so-called good environmental development (the Brower Center) that was forced on Berkeley last year? Go take a walk or drive by the corner of Oxford and Kittredge/Addison Streets. Look up at the monstrosity that is being built there. This is not “green” development. The neighbors are calling it the “Green Monster.” 

The Hancock-Bates machine gave that Berkeley city land to their friend. It was the last parking lot in the central business district. Their friend simply cut down an entire block of trees (how green is that?) They have also used so much of the Berkeley city budget to subsidize this friend and campaign donor’s project, that the Berkelely budget is now in the red. Hancock and Bates are now planning on asking you to pay more taxes just to pay for your fire, police, and other essential services. Why are the developers backing Hancock? Why are Chevron, Bayer, Union Pacific, P.G.& E., Chlorox, Pfizer, and Waste Management backing Hancock? It is time to break with corrupt politicians. 

It is time to begin to elect clean, progressive candidates such as Wilma Chan. She is depending on citizens, like you, to come forward and help her win the June Democratic primary for state senator. Come join the campaign of “Berkeley neighborhoods and Neighbors” for Wilma Chan. You can see more at her website, 


Barry Wolfsy writes on behalf of the Martin Luther King/Milvia Alliance.