Keeping on Keepin' On, even in the summertime

Becky O'Malley
Friday June 10, 2016 - 12:21:00 PM

It’s summertime, and the livin’ is supposed to be easy. What that means is that some of us, including me, are starting to want to slack off. Regular columnists will be absent from some issues (this week it’s Bob Burnett).

Thank goodness the primaries are behind us. What’s left of them reminds me of deodorant ads of my youth: “Even his best friends won’t tell him.” We can only hope that Bernie Sanders’ best friends can steer him away from becoming the Harold Stassen of the early 21st century. It’s just as well that he’s probably too old to choose the perennial candidate path, in the interest of preserving his reputation in future generations. His candidacy is history, but his ideas need to survive.  

One interesting number which we can glean from the scatter-shot election results is that Jane Kim, running for the state senate seat for San Francisco, ran ahead of Bernie Sanders, even though she was one of a very small number of candidates he actually endorsed. It’s reasonable to argue that some of his supporters just didn’t bother to show up at the ballot box in SF when it became apparent that Hillary Clinton had already won the majority of convention delegates, but some of those who showed up and voted for Kim seem to have rejected the chance to also vote for Sanders. 

One of the many peculiar phenomena observable in this particular primary was the proliferation of faux endorsement slates on the internet. Around here, as I noted last week, low-information commenters on my local NextDoor thread pointed to a couple of sites which appeared to have been vetted by the Sanders campaign, though in fact they were not. One of them promoted Nancy Skinner for state senate in a district that jams in parts of Oakland, most of Berkeley and somewhere-over-the-hill, possibly Orinda. The self-identified Democrat who came in third was Kathryn Welch, who is from over there, leaving Skinner and veteran Oaklander Sandre Swanson to slug it out in November. I wonder how much of a role the faux-Bernie sites played in this outcome, and what it bodes for November. 

As an old Democratic precinct captain, I was not at all surprised that the Sanders vote in California fell behind what the polls predicted. I learned the hard way, many years ago in Michigan, that all those “independent” , “declines to state” and “no party preference” voters had a higher than average rate of just not showing up to be counted on election day. I used to call them the “can’t be bothered” crowd: can’t be bothered to learn the rules or even to figure out where their polling place is located. No one should ever count on them to put a campaign for anything over the top. They talk a good battle, but don’t deliver. 

How many of the actual Bernie voters will show up in November for Hillary Clinton? The more hysterical ones, the BernieBros and BernieBots who seem to spend most of their copious free time flaming in online comment sections, might drop out, but I strongly suspect that their numbers are much smaller than they’d like you to think.  

Most people who have active offline lives are more sensible than this, and they’ll recognize that Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to our form of government who must be stopped. Quite a number of them might even realize that Hillary Clinton is a smart, well-educated and competent person with a wealth of experience in both the executive and legislative branches who will do an excellent job as president.  

I’ve already designed the bumper stickers: “Hillary Clinton: Plenty Good Enough!”. (I’m tempted by “Good Enough for Government Work”, but no…) 

Minority voters, who have more at stake, have already figured this out, as their primary votes show.  

Donald Trump’s remarkable misogyny will turn off most women—even conservative women will probably skip voting for him, particularly, oddly, because of his previous record of supporting abortion. Many women, if not most, are delighted to be able at last to vote for a woman, and that includes me.  

That leaves Old White Guys, maybe even Young White Guys. Some of my best friends are White Guys who are just fine, however. Even some who denigrate Hillary for being “shrill” have too much sense to vote for Donald Trump. 

But does that mean that we can all just kick back and go to the beach this summer? No, the stakes are too high. 

Besides, as we’ve been distracted by primaries, some really bad stuff has been happening on other fronts. In particular, there’s been a sudden push in Sacramento, spearheaded by none other than Governor Jerry Brown, to undermine local control of land use planning by mandating big concessions to speculative developers in places like downtown Berkeley in return for trivial gestures toward inclusionary affordable housing.  

The scam is flying under the false flag of “regulatory reform”. Tenants’ rights activists and environmentalists are concerned that this will add up to fast-tracking displacement and gentrification, but they’ve been caught off guard and are just now getting organized. For Berkeleyans, it’s important to find out how unopposed incumbent Democratic state Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, who was supported by many Berkeleyans in the last election, and state Senate candidates Sandre Swanson and Nancy Skinner are reacting to these proposals before they’re a done deal.  

Lame-duck Senator Loni Hancock is on the committee where the decisions are going down. Call her office and ask what she’s been doing. 

On the local front, two really bad projects are speeding through the pipeline, as the lazy Berkeley City Council scurries to get out of town for their long vacation. One would allow a big busy car repair garage to be plopped down on top of the Streamline Moderne building which housed the original Berkeley Bowl, way back when it was a bowling alley and then after it became a neighborhood-serving grocery store. It puts a mess of traffic in a residential area at a super-busy intersection. Lots of zoning concessions are being sought by the Honda dealership which was displaced fora “luxury” apartment high-rise across Shattuck, despite that fact that they already have a successful repair shop in the appropriately zoned area in West Berkeley.  

Then on Telegraph the “Village” at Telegraph and Dwight, an iconic example of what’s now being touted as “Hippie Modernism”, a textbook exemplar of adaptive re-use of an existing building, faces demolition for yet another—wait for it—“luxury” apartment block, the kind designed for cramming in as many students who want to party it up without dorm rules as possible.  

If you know about these or similar situations, please let us know. We depend on citizen commentators writing for the Planet’s Public Comment op-ed section to keep us informed about all these threats. The editor will be trying to take some time off in the next two weeks, so additions if any will most likely be to this same issue instead of in a new one.