When asked what I write about on Our Oakland, I list a variety of things: food, history, art, maps, bicycling; "whatever catches my interest about Oakland." Rarely do I write about politics in Oakland, in part because they generally annoy me too much. But a number of people have asked me for recommendations lately, so I figured it was time to put them down in writing. Agree or disagree, here are my recommendations for the upcoming election.
If you're unsure which BART, AC Transit, or whatever district you're in, check out this web page from Alameda County, Districts Lookup. It will even tell you your flood control zone! Don't know your Oakland city council district? Check the Oakland City Council Districts map I made a couple of years ago.
U.S. Representative - Barbara Lee - Barbara Lee is the only one in congress who voted against a blank check for Bush to invade Iraq. She's also the only major politician who's never disappointed me. 'nuf said.
BART Board District 3 - Rebecca Saltzman - Rebecca Salztman is passionate about Oakland as well as transit, bicycling and pedestrians. She rides BART (& AC Transit) and knows the challenges facing BART. She's got a zillion endorsements from the Sierra Club to state senator Loni Hancock to much of the existing BART board, and for good reason. She's clearly the best candidate for the job.
Oakland City Council at large - Rebecca Kaplan - Many people have wondered why Ignacio De La Fuente is giving up his sure-thing seat in District 5 to run for the at-large seat. The only reason that makes sense is so that he can have more influence over the council and get wider support in Oakland for an eventual mayoral run. Which would be OK if he was up front about it, but he's running by trying to downplay the contributions of Rebecca Kaplan. And if his linking to his campaign site from his city council page isn't illegal, it should be. See also this EBX article. And this list of 10 reasons not to vote of Ignacio De La Fuente.
City Attorney - Barbara Parker - I was leaning towards supporting Barbara Parker because it seems like she's done a good job. Then the OPOA came out in support of Jane Brunner, and released some ads that lie about Parker's record. Then there's this gem about Brunner's plagarism. See the same EBX article.
Measure A1 - NO on A1 - I love the Oakland Zoo (while being somewhat conflicted about zoos in general.) The zoo is pushing A1 as "for the animals" and say the money won't be used for a controversial expansion into Knowland Park. However, the measure has a loophole you could ride an elephant through that would allow them to, and my trust in them dropped further when it was discovered the zoo has broken several election laws during the campaign, and is spending nearly $1 million to try to pass the measure.
Measure B1 - YES on B1 - It's always hard to vote for increased taxes during a down economy, but this is one I can support. There's currently a 1/2 cent sales tax in Alameda County that goes towards "transportation", which generally means roads and infrastructure for cars and transit. Measure B1 would extend the sales tax, increase it to 1 cent, but most importantly, specifies that 48% go to transit, 8% of the funds would go to bicycle and pedestrian projects, and 5% would go to sustainable land use and transportation projects.
Proposition 30 - YES on 30 - The state economy is a mess, and one of the no-brainer ways to help fix it and get additional funding for education is by increasing taxes on the wealthy (people earning $250,000 or more a year). It's not perfect, but it's better than nothing.
Proposition 32 - NO on 32 - It's a clear attempt by big corporations, PACs and their moneyed friends to try to limit the voice of unions, while they continue to spend lots on buying elections.
Proposition 33 - NO on 33 - Another attempt by insurance companies to increase their profits. They're spending $16 million to try to get their way.
Proposition 34 - YES on 34 - The death penalty doesn't work as a deterrent, is hella expensive to implement, and too many innocent people across the country have been wrongly executed. It's telling that most of the countries that still have the death penalty are ones like China, North Korea and Iran that we regularly ding for human rights violations. Even if you don't agree with the moral aspect of opposing the death penalty, the finances of it and its failure to work should be reasons enough.
Proposition 36 - YES on 36 - "Three strikes" was a good idea, but went a little too far. 36 will dial it back a little, by making it so the 3rd strike has to be for a serious or violent crime. It will save the state money, reduce prison overcrowding, and provide fairer sentencing for lesser crimes.
Proposition 37 - YES on 37 - This measure isn't perfect, but is a big step in the right direction. Genetically modified food hasn't been sufficiently tested to prove it's safe; some of the studies that have been done show unexpected side-effects. Consumers (that's all of us that eat food) deserve to know what's going into our food.
I live in city council district #4, which isn't being contested this year, but it also means I haven't been following the races in districts 1, 3 and 5 as closely. If there's something I haven't listed, the race either doesn't apply to me or I haven't figured out how I'm going to vote on it. Or I forgot.