Nancy's Travelblogue

... there isn't a train I wouldn't take, no matter where it's going. -- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Location: California, United States

Monday, June 05, 2006


Oh dear, tomorrow is voting day. Voting has been the absolutely last thing on my mind, not only because of my preoccupation with my manuscript and Willa's passing, but also that politics is now beyond the pale .

So here I am at the 11th hour, going through my ballot, attempting at an educated opinion at selecting our electees. The Green Voter Guide begins with a very interesting clip on Oakland's political history. Since I run the Oakland Living History Program in my day job, I'm always on the lookout for succinct descriptions of my city. This is a good one, as long as you are aware of the Green bias.:

"Oakland has been treated as second-best ever since it was a good place to live while San Francisco was being rebuilt after the earthquake of 1906 and a good place to cut down redwood trees to ferry across the Bay for rebuilding. When factories were dirty and noisy places, Oakland was a convenient place to locate them. After World War II, when real estate developers got rich building modest homes for working-class veterans, they built a lot of those homes in newly developing areas like Hayward and Fremont, not Oakland. It wasn't so long ago that the San Leandro line was where African-Americans could expect to stop finding places available for them to rent or buy. A thriving business area along Seventh Street (in West Oakland) was demolished for the BART line being built in the 1960s to whisk those Hayward and Fremont and Walnut Creek suburbanites to their jobs in downtown San Francisco.

"But Oakland has also seen amazing movements of the left-out speaking up for their interests. Oakland is the home of the Black Panther Party, started in 1966. Bobby Seale's campaign for Mayor (1973) and Elaine Brown's campaigns for City Council (1973 and 1975) registered a lot of new voters and paved the way for the election of Oakland's first African-American mayor, former Superior Court Judge Lionel Wilson, in 1977.

The good news was; finally an African American mayor. the bad news ever since then has been people's expectations of policies benefitting the majority of Oaklanders are disappointed as mayor after mayor, and city council after city council, hands scarce City funds to developer after developer to build whatever they decide will be profitable.

Unfortunately this resembles similar sad resuslts in other US cities as African American mayors assumed responsibility while declining tax revenues during the 1980s and 1990s left them presiding over a shrinking pie. "

Source: Green Voter Guide of Alameda County, June 6, 2006 election.


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