Who's This "We", White Woman?

Becky O'Malley
Monday July 23, 2018 - 12:21:00 PM

Well, the political season has started in earnest now. An outraged citizen just forwarded to me a letter signed only “Buffy”. Here’s how it starts:

I’m incredibly proud to announce my endorsement of R*** K***for Berkeley’s City Council District 1. R** brings exactly the kind of progressive and practical leadership we need on City Council.”

Say what? Who’s this we, White Woman?

The fair Buffy is the very exemplar of chutzpah: a recent buyer of a $2 million house in Oakland’s Rockridge daring to tell us strong-minded Berkeleyans what “we need” on our own city council.

As the lynch-pin of the Stop Bernie campaign in the 2016 California Democratic primary, she has some nerve(and I say that as one of the minority of Berkeleyans who did vote for Clinton.)

We don’t do things that way around here.

Just this week, most of the several credible candidates for the AD15 State Legislature seat that Buffy's been trying to buy her way into announced their support for her opponent, Richmond Councilmember Jovanka Beckles: 

  • Dan Kalb, an Oakland councilmember who got almost as many votes as Jovanka, has strong environmental expertise and was endorsed by the Sierra Club.
  • Judy Appel (whose roots in Berkeley go way back) has concentrated on education as a Berkeley School Board member, was endorsed by the teachers’ union, and has effectively critiqued Wicks’ ties to wealthy charter school proponents. She won the support of many old-line Berkeleyans.
  • El Cerrito Vice-Mayor Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto, a nurse endorsed by the nurses’ union, has also endorsed Jovanka,.as did her powerful union.
Beckles, Kalb, Appel, and Pardue-Okimoto all together received 60,157 votes in the primary, as compared to Ms. Wicks total of only 37,141. 

Another candidate, East Bay MUD Commissioner and attorney Andy Katz, another Sierra Club environmental activist, came out unequivocally, as did Beckles, against the ongoing attempt by some developer-funded Democratic state legislators to pre-empt local control of land use, as exemplified by bills sponsored by Senators Scott Wiener and Nancy Skinner such as the much-reviled SB827. 

Wicks, on the other hand, has whole-heartedly joined the pro-developer team and taken their money, so it was very unlikely that Katz would endorse her. 

I talked to Berkeley Councilmember Ben Bartlett, who hadn’t announced an endorsement at the time this was written, at a South Berkeley block party on Saturday, and he strongly hinted that he was leaning Beckles' way. As a fellow African American in the June race, it would be very surprising if he did not jump on the Beckles band wagon.  

In an ideal world, Jovanka Beckles would enthusiastically invite all of these well-qualified progressive former rivals to advise her campaign and form a sort of “kitchen cabinet” if she wins. As a start, I saw her posing for a photo op with Andy Katz at the Berkeley Progressive Alliance campaign kickoff in Berkeley yesterday. 

Even better, legislative aides in Sacramento have traditionally been very powerful and important, and it would be to her great advantage (and to ours as constituents) if Jovanka could persuade one or more of these excellent people to join her staff. 

The national political situation is so dire that it’s hard to focus on state and local politics, I know. 

California is so much better in every way than Rest of Nation that we are tempted to become complacent, but national problems have a way of trickling down to the local level. 

When the DNC’s troglodytic establishment inserts their operative Buffy Wicks into our local race for the state legislature, and when she in turn attempts to control Berkeley City Council choices , we’ve got problems right here in River City.  

There are already at least two good candidates with a wealth of Berkeley experience vying to succeed Linda Maio in District 1, and there’s no earthly reason for an Oakland Rockridge resident to jump into the fray. 

Is she the vanguard of a Democratic machine takeover of the Berkeley City Council? Will her endorsements in our other November Berkeley council races be forthcoming? 

More on this later.