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Endorsements and predictions: June 2008

This week, everyone but the Trib is making endorsements in the many competitive elections in Oakland and the East Bay. So, like Robert Kennedy, I thought Why not? Here are my endorsements for who will make decision affecting the future of Oakland, from a transit and Smart Growth perspective.



City Council District One: Jane Brunner

I have a lot of problems with Ms. Brunner, so this endorsement comes with serious caveats. I think that she is often illprepared for meetings, as V-Smoothe pointed out, and seems to vote however the last person who got to her wants her to vote, but her staff is not as scattered as she is. I’ve already decried using Inclusionary Zoning, a rare ideological split on the Council, as a litmus test, so I’ll forgive her decade-long quest to impose price caps on condos. The real housing issue is that District One builds no affordable housing, and very little entry-level housing. I grew up in Rockridge and I’ve been forced out by the lack of development! There are fewer apartments now than there were in 1987, when Market Hall opened, and no newly-built condos. Ms. Brunner has offered little leadership on development in Temescal, instead exacerbating the neighborhood’s battles by meddling in projects (with the full consent of the rest of the Council). However, Mr. McCullough has no position on development.

The hot issue is crime, but Ms. Brunner hasn’t been particularly worse than anyone else on the Council; unlike Jean Quan and Nancy Nadel, she’s not a ringleader of the anti-cops brigade. Her shameful refusal to condemn Black Uhuru’s slander of Mr. McCullough is disturbing, but she does listen to crime concerns and is belatedly pushing for the high-tech crime-reduction strategies championed by Sean Sullivan. Honestly, I don’t see Mr. McCullough offering much in the way of crime but attention. Unlike Sean Sullivan, he doesn’t have detailed plans or a clear policy direction. I think Mr. Pine has the same problem except that he talks about the number of police relentlessly. Mr. McCullough also has no support from other councilmembers or institutions so he would probably be an ineffective councilmember.

And effectiveness is exactly what Jane Brunner offers. IZ wouldn’t have a chance if it were pushed by Nancy Nadel, but Jane Brunner knows how to work the system. For her constituents she’s delivered bicycle lanes and bike parking, the only successful Measure DD project (Studio One), and a dog park at Mosswood (which Ms. Nadel took credit for). Her staff is involved in the negotiations with CalTrans over the Caldecott Tunnel, which is entirely appropriate. She makes noises about Smart Growth and will deliver the MacArthur BART project, even if has taken fifteen years. Without an experienced opponent with a clear alternative vision, Jane Brunner deserves reelection.


City Council District Three: Sean Sullivan

This is easy. V-Smoothe wrote an excellent essay entitled Nancy Nadel Has to Go. Now., and I have little to add. Sean Sullivan has impressed many people with his well-organized, aggressive campaign and positive, detailed vision for the future of the District (I’m part of his campaign). Greg Hodge barely got on the ballot, and has run an invisible campaign that is short on specifics. Sean Sullivan offers energetic, hands-on leadership at exactly the time Oakland needs it most, and his record delivering a multimillion-dollar youth center and effective violence prevention programs is the experience City Hall needs. He is endorsed by Desley Brooks and Pat Kernighan, the two swing votes on the Council who are also the most junior. The ranks of newer councilmembers, not beholden to the old power structure, deserve more members.


City Council District Five: Ignacio de la Fuente

Ignacio is the best member of the Oakland City Council. He is the most respectful and attentive to public speakers, his staff are the most open to new ideas and new activists, and he has been there for public transit and Smart Growth every time. He attempted to lobby the MTC for an East Bay HSR alignment (but was thwarted by Nadel), which is perhaps the biggest single transit issue of the decade. Under his leadership, Fruitvale has become a charming, thriving district. In the mid-nineties, when I lived in Rockridge, nobody thought of going to Fruitvale for dinner or shopping. Now many people do, and the Transit Village is a model for the entire region. Jingletown exists because of Ignacio’s vision of reclaiming industrial land and creating access to the waterfront. Even if his leading opponent wasn’t an inexperienced businessman with a checkered past, Ignacio de la Fuente would deserve reelection.


City Council Seven: Larry Reid

Larry Reid is good. He stands up for what’s right, not what’s politically correct, like with plastic bags or industrial zoning. He does a great job attracting retail and residential development to his economically depressed district. I hear his constituent services aren’t very good, but I don’t see Clifford Gilmore offering anything better. Running a terrible campaign doesn’t help matters. This is a great example of the Guardian’s endorsements revealing themselves to be utterly irrational.


City Council At-large: Clinton Killian

This is a crowded field but honestly the choice wasn’t that hard. Charles Pine is one-note and wouldn’t be effective on the Council. Frank Rose is awesome but he gives so much to the community without being on the Council, so I don’t think he really brings much to this particular role. Kerry Hamill doesn’t bother to campaign downtown at all, is nowhere on transportation and development (though the big developers love her for some reason), has no credibility on the crime issue that she’s pushing, and says annoying things that are obviously political, like we need fewer political staff, even though she is political staff (she was Don Perata’s Chief of Staff and is now a Policy Analyst for BART). Rebecca Kaplan is appealingly energetic, and says a lot of the right things, but she doesn’t really have a track record of clear positions. I need to know more about her.

Clinton Killian, despite some minor business troubles years back, offers a great mix of experience for the City Council. He’s been on the AC Transit Board, the Planning Commission, and serves on the Paramount Board. His commitment to downtown, smart growth, transportation and the arts is unquestionable, and those are my priorities. I also appreciate how he brings together two often-squabbling sectors of the business community, the mainstream businesses and the ethnic businesses. His campaign has a clear message and is well-targeted, and he has a great shot at the runoff despite being outspent. That’s a good sign.


School Board District One: Brian Rogers

Who cares that he’s a Republican? At least he has something to say about education that’s relevant. Jody London, who just oozes politician, managed to squeeze green-collar jobs, energy independence and Save The Bay into the School Board debate, and said that she had no position on charter schools but is against them. Her entire campaign appears to be based around the fact that Mr. Rogers is a Republican. I think the race is pretty clear-cut: Rogers represents reform, London the status quo. She’s endorsed by the outgoing Boardmember, the Teachers’ Union and all the usual suspects. Brian Rogers supports educational innovation and charters, involvement from business, and continuing the Expect Success reforms opposed by Jody London and the Teachers’ Union.


AD 14: Tony Thurmond

I agree with the Express, the Chronicle and the Trib that the Richmond Councilmember is best to represent the district, rather than a Berkeley politician. His resume, running a successful nonprofit serving at-risk youth, reminds me of Sean Sullivan. Kris Worthington and Nancy Skinner are awful, the perfect embodiment of everything that’s wrong with the Berkeley City Council (NIMBYism meets Communism). I worry that Phil Polakoff will take too many moderate North Oakland / Berkeley votes and hand the race to Nancy Skinner, unfortunately. No runoffs in a partisan primary! But if you live in this district, which I don’t, please vote Tony Thurmond.


State Senate: Wilma Chan

Since we’re all getting two pieces of mail a day about Loni Hancock and Wilma Chan, many people may have made up their minds. I think the mail itself is a pretty good way to judge the candidates: Ms. Chan has a clear argument, that she accomplished more when she was in the Assembly than Ms. Hancock did (that’s true). Ms. Hancock, on the other hand, is all over the place, bragging about big-time endorsements one day and then bashing Wilma Chan for not having enough endorsements the next. Her mailers are full of stupid quotes like “the courage to lead” and dumb photos of her staring over the Berkeley Marina or talking to college students. Anyway, this one is easy: Wilma Chan represented Oakland and Alameda, Loni Hancock Berkeley and points north. Gotta go with the home team.



City Council: all the incumbents win outright except Nancy Nadel. Nadel may be bested by Sean Sullivan, who has reached out to people his opponents haven’t contacted, and seems to have the momentum heading into the final weekend when the undecideds are making up their minds. As for the at-large, Rebecca Kaplan will make the runoff with either Hamill or Killian in second place.

School Board: Incumbents in D5 and D7, Olu in D3 (Jumoke Hodge will do as poorly as her husband, because they didn’t campaign very much). There will probably be a runoff in D1, since Tennessee Reed has some name recognition and Rogers and London seem to be dueling it out pretty evenly. Rogers has a clear message so he could win, though I may be overestimating the voters’ willingness to overlook party registration.

Assembly: Thurmond could make it, otherwise Skinner. Polakoff’s base is too narrow but he’s probably done lots of mailers. Thurmond’s mailers contain typos but the demographics are on his side (everyone else is from Berkeley, he’s from the other half of the district).

State Senate: Wilma Chan will pull it off. The endorsements Hancock’s touting aren’t going to matter all that much, since Ms. Chan has great name recognition. Ms. Hancock is a divisive figure in her own Assembly district, so she can’t count on her half of the Senate district serving as a base. Chan’s mailers have a clearer message, as I said before, and so are more effective. I guess we’ll see on June Third!

Posted in berkeley, california, citycouncil, delafuente, elections, endorsements, housing, iz, nadel, news, oakland, ousd.

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16 Responses

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  1. Andrea says

    Thanks for taking the time to make the endorsements. I don’t know if you’ve gotten this far down the ticket yet, but I hope you will look at endorsing the Grassroots Progressives slate for the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee. Take care. Andrea Laiacona Dooley,

  2. dto510 says

    I don’t support the “grassroots progressive” slate (or the LaRouche slate!) in AD14, I recommend voting for everyone else. The two slates are pretty radical and that’s not appropriate for the DCCC. Despite my annoyance at their endorsements, I support the approved slate, particularly these three candidates in AD16: Darleen Brooks, Michael Colbruno, and Kathy Neal.

  3. inami says

    Interesting! Opinions just like butt holes everyone’s got one!

    Could someone tell me where Olu campaigns? at brooks office? Where is he?

    I do know he wants a cop on every school campus and to bring back basket weaving to prevent drop outs!

    maybe he should have an invisible campaign as well, if too many people find that out all the Oakland newcomers might be flocking to charter schools. Or just give up on Oakland and move to Walnut Creek…humm not a bad thought.

    So glad we all have opinions!

    June 3rd

  4. R Kaplan says

    Thanks for delving into the local election. Especially, this unusual year, with local races taking place June 3rd (in the past, they have been on the same day as the presidential primary, so people are projecting low turn-out this time).

    I’d be happy to talk, (or by email) so you can have the opportunity to ask me questions, etc., since I notice you say you would like more information. kaplan2008 – at – earthlink – dot – net.

    In the meantime, I’d like to share two examples of specific proposals, one on Public Safety, and one on Economic Development.

    Online at:


    A couple updates to my thinking since I started:

    1) In the homebuyer program for police, at first, I was going to propose helping them buy a house within Oakland. Now, thanks to conversations (especially with people who are family members of police), I have been convinced that it would be best to offer OPD homebuying assistance anywhere in the inner East Bay. Give them and their families more choice about where and how to live, e.g. Albany, Hayward, etc., while also helping them afford to live close enough to get here in an emergency (and not be cut off by a collapsed bridge or tunnel).

    2) In terms of economic development, a new issue has come up recently, regarding a proposed down-zoning of downtown Oakland. I *oppose* that proposal, and I believe that it is essential, especially if we want to avoid paving over the last remaining farmland and open space, while also wanting to provide vitality in Oakland, that we support a thriving downtown core — especially near transit hubs.

    Best wishes,
    -Rebecca Kaplan

  5. dto510 says

    Well, that was a good response, Rebecca. You did come in second on my list, you might have noticed. I should have made it more clear that I think we have a bumper crop of qualified Council candidates in the at-large race, and Oaklanders should be proud of their great choices. In other races, like D1, perhaps the choices aren’t so great.

  6. Chris says

    This is easy? Indeed. You have effortlessly illustrated how straightforward your bias is for one particular candidate, how unbalanced, subjective, and partial you’ve been in your assessment, how myopic, near-sighted, and elementary your analysis, and in more simple terms, how well you’ve done to disservice the people of the Oakland community.

    I find your critique appalling, because our greatest concern is to transform our Oakland community in a positive way, to progress our people forward towards achieving a higher quality of life. Your responsibility, as a person who is attempting to inform the public, is to give them adequate, comprehensive, impartial, objective information, so that they may make the best decision about which candidate is going to do that for them.

    Propaganda is defined as “information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.” You are treading in mentally polluting water.

    What you have done is impose your ideas upon the people that read these endorsements, projecting your beliefs in hopes of persuading them to validate your opinion. You are projecting, a behavior pattern which undoubtedly derives from the ego, and I find that to be selfish and reckless. You succeed in revealing your bias for Sean Sullivan, and fail miserably at objectively articulating why he is more fit to institute positive growth for District 3, versus Nancy Nadel or Greg Hodge. And yet you open your assessment by calling the decision easy? I’m disgusted by your arrogance.

    You begin by endorsing V-Smoothe’s essay. You call it “excellent.” I find it excellent as well; excellent in revealing its deficiency of a comprehensive understanding of Greg Hodge. That essay failed to be impartial and objective just as you have done so here. “F” is for the fallacy of your judgment and for the fogginess of your vision.

    You work on Sean Sullivan’s campaign, which clearly impairs your ability to offer a balanced, objective, truthful analysis of any candidate. You frame Sullivan’s campaign as “well-organized,” “aggressive,” “positive,” and “detailed.” Greg Hodge has run a well-organized, proactive, positive, and detailed campaign as well. They have been walking the precincts and making calls everyday, attending various forums and community dialogues, talking to thousands of District 3 residents. Your inability to see that doesn’t make it invisible. It means that you either choose not to look, that you aren’t looking close enough, or that your vision is impaired. I’d say you have a distorted (read: biased) perspective.

    Among many things, vision depends on your vantage point, it depends on context, and it depends on the very frames and ideas that form the foundation of your thoughts. Many of these ideas derive from your ontology, that is your experience and what your senses absorb. Have you ever experienced Greg Hodge? Have you looked him in the eye and asked him to describe his experiences, his beliefs, his opinions, his perspective, his analysis of our community, or his plans to transform positively? No? No wonder your vision is foggy. “F” again.

    Greg Hodge was hindered in his ability to get on the ballot due to the fallacy of a process and the judgment of those who employ that process. Greg Hodge does well to articulate the matter here: . It would behoove you to seek clarity and have a look.

    Short on specifics? You even site his webpage,, yet you summarize his campaign in one phrase as if you’ve never read a single word about him, his experience, or his plans for the future of Oakland. Perhaps you missed the debate, where he speaks specifically and succinctly about his plans for our community: Part 1 & Part 2

    Again, it would behoove you to seek clarity. Your vision is clearly meddled by the darkness (read: ignorance) you presently reside in. Read the site you reference and develop a comprehensive understanding of your opponent before you try to assess him.

    Being “energetic” and “hands-on” are not the characteristics that we should focus on to properly assess a candidate’s ability to move us forward as a people. A balance of hindsight, insight, and precise foresight, as a result of authentic experience, critical thinking skills, acquired wisdom, and comprehensive knowledge, are better points of comparison. “Delivering a multimillion-dollar youth center and effective violence prevention programs,” is not adequate experience to assess whether Sullivan is capable of transforming the Oakland community. The fact that you declare it is such is disheartening. You fail to be thorough in your critique, of Sullivan, Nadel nor Hodge. And again, you do a disservice to your audience by your weak efforts.

    You distort (read: lie) by the omission of a complete and balanced truth.

    Greg Hodge has been endorsed by the East Bay Express, the Oakland Post Newspaper, The Globe, Local 55 of the International Firefighters Union – Oakland, AFSCME Local 257, Oakland ACORN, Jack London News, and the Oakland Black Caucus Political Action Committee. Tell me again how you justify calling this campaign invisible! An Emerson reference is appropriate here. Hodge is “invisible”, understandably, simply because you refuse to see him. Your tendency to distort what you see, or to see “everything and anything” except him leads you and your readers to question his existence. You are myopic and near-sighted at best, and I deplore you not to impose your distorted perspective upon the rest of us.

    District 3 needs authenticity. Authenticity derives from empiricism and ontology. Who better to serve Oakland, with genuity in their ideas than Greg Hodge, who has lived in West Oakland for 16 years, and has nurtured, cultivated, and proactively served its people for the majority of that time?? The well-organized, proactive, positive, visionary specifics are there. You just have to look for them.

    You were right. That was easy.

  7. Eastsider says

    It’s obvious you condemn what you are ignorant of. Check out Clifford’s website, read some of the materials, view the interviews, talk with people who have been in the forums, and most importantly, visit East Oakland and see first-hand why we need new representation. Reid is and always will be a shill for developers, and does not place a priority on his constituents, especially those who live in the flatlands.

  8. dto510 says

    Chris – First, Greg Hodge did not receive the Globe’s endorsement, and I don’t think he got the endorsement of the Post, though they haven’t updated their website in two weeks. The leader of the Oakland Black Caucus is on Sean’s list of endorsers, I don’t know about their PAC. Nadel claims ACORN’s endorsement. I got the feeling from the EBX’s endorsement that they weren’t ready to endorse Sean and wanted to keep him on edge during the expected runoff, but that’s just speculation.

    In terms of Hodge’s visibility, well, I’ve never seen him campaigning anywhere but the Farmers’ Market, and I’ve never received a phone call or an email from him. I’ve seen only two Hodge signs (one banner near my apartment on a commercial building, one on a house in West Oakland when I was walking for Sean) and no mailers. He raised hardly any money and Nadel is spending her campaign parroting Sean’s talking points, not Hodge’s, so it’s clear who she thinks is the biggest threat.

    Your comment is so looong and negative. Why do people attack me instead of my reasoning? Part of your comment is a response and part is blather. But here’s what’s important. You say:

    Being “energetic” and “hands-on” are not the characteristics that we should focus on to properly assess a candidate’s ability to move us forward as a people. A balance of hindsight, insight, and precise foresight, as a result of authentic experience, critical thinking skills, acquired wisdom, and comprehensive knowledge, are better points of comparison.

    I couldn’t disagree more. D3 needs some who will work hard to deliver real improvements for the community, not someone who can talk a good game. The incumbent offers neither of these traits, so I guess we’re in agreement there.

  9. Chris Kidd says

    Chris – too little, too late. The time to convince people about Greg Hodge (on this site or elsewhere) was weeks ago. Your wild, extended, ad hominem attack on DTO smacks of nothing but desperation. Plus, it’s his blog. He can write whatever he well pleases. I’m not sure why he should be held up to some “golden standard”. He says up front that endorsements come from a transit and smart growth point of view. If you want to slam him, slam him for endorsing a candidate that doesn’t match with that perspective.

    But since we’re feeling all pot-shotty right now: You say that Sean founding and running a youth center for homeless, at-risk youth isn’t the right kind of experience to run for city council. Should I then assume that presiding over the trainwreck known as OUSD are the appropriate chops?

  10. Chris says


    You continue to condemn the very things you are ignorant about. Have you not learned anything from the commentary of this post?

    Greg was endorsed by everyone that was listed. It’s on his website as well. Since the day I stepped onto the campaign, Greg has not been dishonest about any aspect of the campaign. He would not lie about his endorsements or supporters. Sean on the other hand…I’ve heard some interesting things. The Globe did endorse Greg, as did everyone else listed. I will repeat that you should go to Greg’s website and check their facts about endorsements. ACORN gave a dual endorsement to Greg and Nancy, giving it to them and not Sean because they feel that Greg and Nancy are the stronger competition.

    My comment was so looooong because I’m thorough, a characteristic you’ve clearly proven to lack. You don’t see Hodge’s endorsement on the Globe site. Did you call the paper? Did you look on Greg’s site? You give up your search too quickly, and thus you come to incorrect conclusions. That is the essence of being near-sighted.

    I attack you and your reasoning because they are one in the same. They are not mutually exclusive. Your reasoning is impoverished. You made untruthful statements about the visibility of Hodge’s campaign. You also insinuated that the Hodge campaign is antithetical to the “well-organized, aggressive, positive” Sullivan campaign. You would do much better to provide a more objective contrast of the candidates.

    A doctor can be hard working and still amputate the wrong limb. Due diligence does not equate to intelligence.

    If you are not going to uphold your integrity to be honest and knowledgeable in your assessment, then its up to me to hold you accountable.

  11. Chris says

    Chris Child -

    My intent is hold DTO accountable for the untruthful, incomplete, error-ridden statements he made. The golden standard is a personal one to be impeccable with your word, regardless of whether it’s the highest levels of journalism, or the lowest walks of life itself. I slam him for being sloppy in his writing, and condemning Hodge out of ignorance, not what you described.

    And I stated that developing a youth center is not ADEQUATE experience to ASSESS a candidate’s ability to transform an entire city. I need more to be convinced. Perhaps that’s all you need. You called it the “right kind.” I didn’t use that rhetoric. Correct yourself.

    You should not assume that one man is responsible for the errors and dysfunction that preceded him. I hope you and DTO enjoy your vacation in myopia lol.

  12. Becks says

    Woah. I hadn’t realized that elections bring such critical people to the comment sections of Oakland blogs. I’m not sure if I should feel lucky or left out that they haven’t made it over to mine yet.

    While I disagree with your at-large endorsement, I respect your opinion. I hope that your predictions for the run-off are correct and hope that when that happens, you’ll learn more about Rebecca Kaplan and see that she’ll be a committed leader for Oakland who has a wealth of fresh ideas for improving the city.

    I especially enjoyed reading your endorsements in District 1, the school board, and the Senate, as I’m still somehow undecided in all of those.

    However, I felt like I was in an alternate universe when I read your endorsement of Chan. I could understand why you would endorse her, but I think her mailers are not a reason why. In fact, I thought she put out some of the worst, most disingenuous mailers of the campaign season. I was leaning towards Chan before I received those pseudo-endorsement mailers, but now I’m incredibly frustrated with her.

  13. V Smoothe says

    Chris -

    I looked at the Globe’s published endorsements and when I didn’t see an endorsement in District 3 City Council. So, I actually did call them today to ask whether they had made an endorsement in that race or not. I was told no. I don’t know why you claim the paper’s endorsement for Greg Hodge, especially when Hodge doesn’t actually claim it on his own website.

    I find it highly ironic that you would criticize dto510′s well-argued and well-researched post for “untruthful statements,” which you can’t show any evidence for, while at the same time insisting on fabricating an endorsement for Hodge that simply doesn’t exist.

  14. Chris Child says


    Um, wow. Way to split hairs on my last post… I’m not sure what “rhetoric” you’re referring to. You seem quite eager to jump to conclusions about what kind of views and positions people hold from a single post.

    Didn’t mean to slam Greg before, I was just pointing out two equally absurd statements. If Sean’s work at Covenant House wasn’t enough service for you to determine whether to support him, then go find out more about him until you’re satisfied. To claim that as a reason to oppose him is as silly as laying the blame for OUSD’s current problems solely at the feet of Greg Hodge.

    And really, wouldn’t your cause be served better by trying to convince people to vote for Greg rather than berate them in a highhanded, imperious fashion? It seems somewhat self-indulgent and more than a little counterproductive. Pointing out inconsistencies while cordially encouraging people to reconsider their held positions = good. Treating people like a bunch of drunk 5 year olds trying to burn down your house = bad.

  15. Kevin says

    It’s rare that I find a comment on local political blogs so funny that I spew coffee all over the keyboard at work, but Chris’ comment that “Authenticity derives from empiricism and ontology.” did just that. Thanks, man. I mean, that’s truly f’ing funny in its meretricious emptiness. Chris, dude, I know your busy doing last minute work for Greg Hodges,but if you take a minute to explain this claim further, I know some pious Heideggarians who would derive great pleasure from reading your response. Hilarious.

  16. Chris says


    It has been brought to my attention that my name is listed on your web site
    as an endorser of your candidacy for the District 3 City Council seat. In
    addition, your web site lists the Oakland Black Caucus, which is a 501C6 and
    legally cannot engage in endorsements as such.

    For the life of me I cannot fathom how my name or the Oakland Black Caucus
    found its way to your web site, but I demand that you remove it immediately
    and issue an apology to the Oakland Black Caucus in general and Geoffrey
    Pete in particular. For the record, I did not personally endorse in said
    race and the Oakland Black Caucus PAC endorsed Greg Hodge for Oakland City
    Council District 3.



    Geoffrey Pete

    Geoffrey’s Inner Circle

    410 14th Street

    Oakland, CA 94612