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Exciting news & Sierra Club City Council candidate forum

6 Jul Sierra Club candidate forum

Last night my wife was cleaning out some boxes that we hadn’t looked through in years, and she found a box that was full of a bunch of papers from my high school years, including some sweet hand written letters from friends and my sisters. In this box I found several drafts of the personal statement I submitted to get into UC Berkeley, full of hand written notes (no tracked changes) from my mom and dad. Reading my personal statement made me realize that though I have changed quite a bit since my senior year in high school, my values were very similar. (My writing issues apparently haven’t changed much either – my dad’s notes on one draft say “too many commas” and “too many transition words”.)  Here’s one paragraph from a draft of the statement:

Once issue that I have felt strongly about since childhood is ecology. In elementary school, our classes held an annual fund-raiser to buy and preserve several acres of the rain forest. I also participated in my school’s ecology club during eighth and ninth grade. Each year we organized an ecology fair and disseminated information covering issues ranging from vegetarianism to fuel conservation. We also instituted a recycling program, which the school still uses.

Being a longtime environmentalist, I was so excited this week to receive the news that the Sierra Club had endorsed my candidacy for BART Board. The decisions made in the next decade at BART are crucial not just for BART, but also for the Bay Area’s environment for decades to come. I’m just as eager as I was in elementary school to address the environmental challenges we face.

The City of Oakland also faces a myriad of environmental challenges, and next year we will have at least two new city councilmembers to address these issues. The Sierra Club and the Oakland Climate Action Coalition (OCAC) recognize the importance of the open seat races in districts 1 and 3 so they’re holding a forum on Monday featuring nearly all of the candidates running for these seats (a few couldn’t make it). From the Facebook event description: Continue reading

Oakland ballot measures go down in flames, sending $800K in election expenses down the drain

16 Nov Oakland Ballot 2011

In the midst of Occupy Oakland, some Oaklanders might have forgotten about our municipal mail in only election. Whether they forgot or just decided not to vote, a full 75% of eligible voters did not return their ballots so yesterday evening the election was decided by just under 25% of the electorate. And that quarter of Oakland voters rejected all three ballot measures.

Since I opposed two out of the three measures (and in the case of Measure H – which would have changed the city attorney position from being elected to being appointed by the Council – I vehemently opposed it), I’m pretty happy with the outcome. What I’m not happy about is how much money, time and energy was wasted on this useless election.

Mayor Jean Quan of course blamed the failure of Measure I, the parcel tax, on Occupy Oakland: Continue reading

Nathan Stalnaker: Moving Oakland Forward

27 Oct Moving Oakland Forward

This guest post was written by Nathan Stalnaker, who spends the day organizing in West Oakland and serves on the Board of Make Oakland Better Now! and is an elected at-large member of the East Bay Young Democrats.

The City of Oakland suffers from gridlock and a fiscal crisis that just won’t quit.  Even so, again and again, the same characters are repeatedly elected to the same positions.  Our system is broken.  Our local races are anti-competitive.  New people enter the races and win only when an incumbent steps down.  It begins to seem that to become an elected official in Oakland, you already have to be or have been an elected official or spend your time currying favor with those already in office.

A Catch-22?   Sure.  Could an initiative calling for term limits for City Council stir things up sufficiently enough to get fresh policy thinking in City Hall?   Absolutely.  Read the petition yourself.  To balance experience and fresh ideas, the petition was crafted with a three-term (12 year) lifetime limit. Continue reading

Election open thread

24 Oct Oakland Ballot 2011

UPDATE: I’ve posted my endorsements for the ballot measures.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting my endorsements for Oakland’s November election, but before I do, I thought I’d create this space for Oaklanders to discuss the election and the three ballot initiatives – Measures H, I and J.

Feel free to share your opinions, and if you have questions, please ask them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them in tomorrow’s blog post. Continue reading

Oakland showcased at Obama fundraiser rally last night

21 Apr Obama

Last night, along with 3000 other people, I went to San Francisco to watch President Obama speak. I have to admit that I’ve been feeling pretty down on Obama’s presidency recently, particularly after spending this past weekend in San Diego with a friend of mine who’s a federal public defender. She deals with a lot of immigration cases and says Obama has been worse on immigration than Bush, which is pretty scary. She said she plans to vote for Obama again but is not excited about it.

I had her stories in the back of my mind as I reached the Masonic Auditorium last night, but even just as I arrived, the energy of the crowd infected me. I couldn’t help but feel a bit more optimistic.

My optimism grew throughout the night, particularly as Oakland was showcased at this San Francisco event. Peggy Moore, California Political Director for Organizing for America, and a longtime Oakland LGBT activist, opened up the night with a rousing speech, which had everyone in the crowd shouting “I’m in” by the end of it. Continue reading

Vote for your delegates to the California Democratic Party this Saturday

6 Jan

UPDATE: Thanks to the 255 who braved the cold to vote for me, I was elected as a delegate to the California Democratic Party. Thanks so much to everyone who supported me! I look forward to serving as your delegate for the next two years.

I’m sorry I haven’t had time this week for more substantive posts. I started a new job at the California League of Conservation Voters, have had meetings late every night, and am still trying to get over a cold I’ve had for a week and a half so I haven’t had much time or energy for blogging. I have plenty on tap – a review of Plum, a recap of Vicky Kolakowski’s incredible induction ceremony, and more, but that will all have to wait until next week.

I did want to post a reminder about the 16th Assembly District California Democratic Party Delegate election this Saturday, as I’m running. If you missed the post explaining why I’m running, you can read the whole thing here, and as a recap, I’m running because I’m committed to working hard to help grow and evolve our state party. Since I last posted, I’ve sought endorsements and I’m proud to be endorsed by the East Bay Democracy for America Organizing Team and the following elected officials:

  • Lena Tam, Alameda City Councilmember
  • Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember
  • Pat Kernighan, Oakland City Councilmember
  • Libby Schaaf, Oakland City Councilmember
  • John Russo, Oakland City Attorney
  • Elsa Ortiz, President, AC Transit Board of Directors
  • Chris Peeples, AC Transit Director
  • Andy Katz, East Bay MUD Director
  • Doug Linney, President, East Bay MUD Board of Directors
  • Abel Guillen, Peralta Community College District Trustee
  • Karen Weinstein, Chair, California Democratic Party Women’s Caucus
  • Darleen Brooks, Alameda County Democratic Central Committee Member
  • Rocky Fernandez, Alameda County Democratic Central Committee Member & Former AC Transit Director
  • Edie Irons, Alameda County Democratic Central Committee Member
  • Mario Juarez, Alameda County Democratic Central Committee Member
  • Igor Tregub, Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board Commissioner

I hope you’ll take 5-10 minutes to come vote for me, Rebecca Saltzman, and the Local 5 Progressive Unity Slate I’m running on:

The vote takes place on Saturday, January 8th from 2-4pm at Laney Community College Theater, 900 Fallon St. All registered Democrats in the 16th AD can vote. The 16th AD covers all of Alameda and Piedmont, and the vast majority of Oakland (if Sandre Swanson is your assemblymember, than you live in the 16th). If you can make it, please RSVP to our slate’s Facebook event or leave a comment below, as we’re trying to get a count of our votes ahead of time.

Also, if you’re so inclined, you can do the following:

If you have any questions about my candidacy, our slate or the process, please feel free to ask here or at the Blogoaksphere Party tonight. I hope to see you on January 8th and hope to continue serving as your 16th AD delegate through 2012!

Why I’m running to be your delegate to the California Democratic Party

23 Dec

For the past two years, I’ve served as an appointed delegate to the California Democratic Party (CDP). I have to admit that this was an appointment I sought at the last minute and I didn’t know much about what I was getting myself into. But I knew that I wanted to get more involved in the Party, and this seemed like a good way to do that.

I soon found out that being a delegate can be fun and empowering, but also at times trying and demanding of hard work. I attended the last two conventions and cast some very important votes to elect new party leadership, to endorse ballot initiatives for the 2009 statewide special election, and to endorse candidates for statewide office this year. I stayed for every last vote but was appalled that not everyone did the same. Particularly in 2009, it seemed as if half of the delegates had left by the time the endorsement votes came up for the special election initiatives on Sunday afternoon.

This is part of the reason I’m running to be a CDP delegate for 2011-2012. I’m willing and eager to not only attend every convention and stay for every last vote, but also to work on campaigns leading up to the convention. In 2009 I helped the 16th AD caucus with our No on 1A campaign, which led to the Party staying neutral on the initiative by just a couple dozen votes, even though the state elected officials pushed hard for support. This year, I led outreach leading up to and at the convention for Yes on 19 campaign. We secured 500 signatures from delegates on our Prop 19 statement of support and talked to hundreds of other delegates at the convention. Though the Party ultimately stayed neutral on 19, our work shifted the conversation.

I want to continue this important work so I’m asking for your vote for 16th AD delegate to the CDP. The vote takes place on Saturday, January 8th from 2-4pm at Laney Community College Theater, 900 Fallon St. All registered Democrats in the 16th AD can vote. The 16th AD covers all of Alameda and Piedmont, and the vast majority of Oakland (if Sandre Swanson is your assemblymember, than you live in the 16th). You can come and stay for the meeting and speeches, but if you only have a few minutes, you can vote and then leave. It’s quick, easy, and incredibly important for the future of the California Democratic Party.

You might be wondering how you’ll vote for me if you don’t who I am. I’m guessing most of this blog’s readers know me by now, but for those who don’t, my name is Rebecca Saltzman. Here is my candidate statement:

I am currently an appointed 16th AD delegate and associate member on the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee. As President of the East Bay Young Democrats, I’ve worked to increase the representation of young people in the leadership of the Party. Since high school, I’ve been active in electing Democrats and fighting for progressive causes. The day after graduating from UC Berkeley, I began leading a fundraising office that ultimately raised more than $1 million for the DNC. I was Deputy Campaign Manager for the Yes on Prop 19 campaign, which garnered more votes than any statewide Republican candidate, including Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, and made marijuana policy reform mainstream in California and nationwide. I spend much of my time volunteering with the Democratic Party, and for transit, environmental, and good government advocacy groups. I have attended and done outreach at the past two CDP conventions, and am familiar with party structures and procedures. If elected, I will bring energy, commitment, and diverse experience to the role of 16th AD Delegate, and will use my position to get more people, especially young people, involved in our party.

I hope you’ll save the date and take few minutes out of your day on January 8th to vote for me. Two years ago, some of the delegate elections came down to literally one vote so this is truly an election where every vote counts.

You can vote for up to 6 men and 6 women, and I’m running on the UFCW Unity Slate so I hope you’ll vote for our full slate:

Men:

  • Sean Dugar
  • Joel Freid
  • Richard Fuentes
  • Abel Guillen
  • Dan Rush
  • Sean Sullivan
Women:
  • Ronnie Caplane
  • Emmy Fearn
  • Jennifer Pae
  • Chantal Reynolds
  • Rebecca Saltzman

I’ll write another blog post with a reminder closer to the election date, but for now, please mark the date and time on your calendar.

Also, if you’re so inclined, you can do the following:

If you have any questions about my candidacy, our slate or the process, please feel free to ask. I hope to see you on January 8th and hope to continue serving as your 16th AD delegate through 2012!

Robert Raburn, Bob Franklin & hope for BART in 2011

16 Dec

This morning, along with dozens of other transit advocates, I attended the swearing in of Robert Raburn to the BART Board of Directors. Raburn was sworn in by AC Transit Director Chris Peeples, which is meaningful as it symbolizes his commitment to work with AC Transit instead of against them and to work to better connect BART to other transit, biking, and walking. Alameda Mayor-elect Marie Gilmore and representatives of Congressman John Garamendi and Mayor-elect Jean Quan were also on hand to to support Raburn.

I was so proud watching Raburn get sworn in – proud of how hard he, his wife, and his supporters worked to get him elected and proud of the stellar campaign we ran. Last year, when folks first started talking about finding a transit advocate to run against Carol Ward Allen, it was somewhat of a fantasy, and Robert made this dream a reality.

His election proved that entrenched incumbents can be unseated, especially when they ignore their constituents and then rest on their incumbency to win them the election. And especially when their opponents run serious races and work hard to win.

Many people have asked me – so what? Robert got elected and that’s great, but many have wondered if that will just mean all controversial votes will be 7-2 with Raburn and Tom Radulovich voting against the majority. I never thought this would be the general pattern. Sure, it might happen once in a while, but with two strong transit advocates on the board and other members now taking transit advocates (and their re-elections) more seriously, I foresee many more 5-4 votes occurring, and some of those decisions will end up in transit advocates’ favor.

There’s some good news beyond Raburn’s election. Today the Board elected a new president – Bob Franklin. But before Franklin could speak, outgoing President James Fang (the only elected Republican in San Francisco) gave a very long self-congratulatory speech. He had the nerve to brag about about how BART is one of the most fiscally sound public agencies. Please tell me, in what world is borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars to to build an airport connector that will lose money annually fiscally sound? Fang then droned on about how many jobs BART has created and will create, saying that was the most important thing BART does. As I tweeted - Shorter Dir Fang – BART is about creating jobs, transit is just a bonus.

After sitting through that nauseating speech, it was nice to hear some of what incoming President Franklin had to say. Sure, Franklin talked about some of the projects that I think are wasting BART’s money – like the Oakland Airport Connector and BART to San Jose – but his top three priorities didn’t include extensions. His top three priorities are:

  1. Replacing aging cars – Yes, this is a huge priority! Except that Franklin says BART doesn’t have all the funds so will have to go to voters for more funds. Hmm, maybe some of that OAC money could have come in handy here.
  2. Improving community relations – Uh, yeah, hopefully by making substantial changes that the community supports.
  3. Improving relationships with employees – Also needs to happen to avoid another round of heated negotiations.

Franklin then moved on to a really exciting possibility – extending BART hours on weekends! Years ago, when I was a transit rider but well before I knew the ins and outs of transit, I talked about running for BART Board on the platform of extending BART hours to 2:30am. Everyone I talked to at the time agreed with me – it would be so much easier to cross the bay for a a fun night out if BART ran later. Over the years, I learned more about transit operations and funding, and though it’s still one of my dreams, I didn’t think it would be a reality anytime soon. So to hear Franklin talk about this got me really excited.

Franklin went on to mention the Make BART Trains run 24 hours Facebook page, which he said has 22,000 fans. Tom Radulovich chimed in, saying he was a fan of the page, drawing laughs from the crowd. Franklin said that if that many people have supported that page, it’s clear there’s demand for making the trains run later and that it should be studied. Streetsblog has a full story on the proposal, so if you want to learn more, check that out.

So it’s clear that Franklin is interested in studying some serious changes to BART, and we know already that Raburn and Radulovich would support changes that improve BART for riders. But unfortunately the Board is still likely to be very divided next year. Fang’s speech showed that now as much as ever he sees BART as a job provider primarily and supports building extensions at any cost. And there’s likely to be push back from some of the other directors and staff.

What this means is that advocacy will be more important than ever. We have a couple strong allies on the Board – Raburn and Radulovich – and at least one more who’s open to change, but they’ll need us to back them up to win over their allies. We need to send emails and show up hearings, and we need to help them change the debate.

It’s going to be an exciting but challenging year for BART reformers, and I can’t wait.

It’s time to vote… and party!

2 Nov

Woo hoo! It’s finally election day. That means it’s time to vote if you haven’t already, anytime between 7am-8pm.

If you’re not sure where you’re polling place is, you can find out with this Google tool. And if you’re still unsure of how to vote, check out my endorsement post.

Tonight, there are tons of election night parties in Oakland, and no matter who you support, I’m sure there’s somewhere for you to go. Here’s a listing of all of the public election night parties I could find. If you know of others, please share them in the comments and I’ll do my best to update this post throughout the day.

You might be wondering about the Jerry Brown and Prop 19 parties. Unfortunately they’re both private events so unless you have tickets already, you should stick with one of these other great parties.

Ella Baker Center/Oakland Rising Victory Party
What: Celebrate all of the community’s work and victory at the polls with The Ella Baker Center, Oakland Rising, Communities United Against the Dirty Energy Prop and more. Join us for music from DJ LN & DJ Sol Sisters, food, drink and a community that knows how to party!
When: 8:00pm-2:00am
Where: The New Parish, 579 18th Street

Rebecca Kaplan for Mayor Election Night Party
What: Rebecca Kaplan and supporters will watch the polls on Election Night at Everett & Jones BBQ.
When: 8:00-11:00pm
Where: Everett & Jones Barbeque, 126 Broadway

Don Perata for Mayor Election Night Celebration
What: Please join the PERATA for MAYOR Team in celebrating Don’s campaign at Z Cafe & Restaurant from 8pm, and watch the election results roll-in on multiple HD-TVs. Special guests, The Zydeco Band, Miracle Mule! will play live music in the adjoining “Celebration Hall” for anyone tired of listening to the talking heads on TV!
When: 8:00pm-11:45pm
Where: Z Cafe and Restaurant, 2735 Broadway

Jean Quan for Mayor Election Night Party
What: Come join Jean Quan and “Team Jean” as we party on Election Night! We’ll be thanking all of the volunteers for their hard & tireless efforts, watching the returns, connecting and reconnecting with good neighbors & friends, and celebrating our wonderful city of Oakland! Please bring something to share. We’ll have food and drinks available, as well as great music to celebrate.
When: 8:30pm
Where: ILWU Local 6 Union Hall, 99 Hegenberger Rd @ Pardee

Don MacLeay for Mayor & Green Party Election Night Party
What: With Laura Wells, Green Party Candidate for Governor, along with as many other Greens and friends who want to join us.
When: 8:00pm
Where: La Estrellita Cafe & Bar, 33 446 E 12th St

Libby Schaaf for City Council District 4 Election Night Party
What: We’ll have multiple election results streaming on a big screen!
When: 8:30pm
Where: Monaghan’s on the Hill at 2820 Mountain Boulevard

Jennifer Pae for City Council District 2 Election Night Party
What: Come watch live election results in great company with food, drinks, and music by dj flood!
When: 8:30-11:00pm
Where: Lucky Lounge, 3332 Grand Ave

Pat Kernighan for City Council District 2 Election Night Party
When: 8:00-10:30pm
Where: Peony Restaurant, on the second floor of Pacific Renaissance Plaza in Chinatown at 9th and Webster

Courtney Ruby for City Auditor Election Night Party
When: 8:00pm
Where: Vo’s Restaurant, 59 Grand Avenue

With so many undecided voters, it’s not too late to get involved in the campaigns you care about

26 Oct

It’s a week before the election, and believe it or not, there are still tons of undecided voters in many races. On Saturday I made some calls for Rebecca Kaplan and was astounded by how many regular voters were still undecided – even though many of them claimed to have given some serious thought to the race. Out of the 40-50 people I talked to, only two had voted already and one additional person had decided how to vote (one other refused to talk and I suspect supported someone else for mayor). Less than 10% of the people I talked to had decided!

Despite the deluge of mail from Jean Quan, Don Perata, and independent expenditure groups, plenty of voters still haven’t decided either who they’re voting for or in what order they’re marking their choices. For many, it takes a live discussion with a friend or a stranger to solidify their choice. Through the course of my calls, I was able to convince 5 more people to support Kaplan and several were leaning her way after talking to me.

And there are some issues on the ballot that voters have given even less thought to! I’m consistently amazed how many of my very politically involved friends are unaware of some of the ballot measures, particularly the one that scares me most – Prop 26. This initiative would force a 2/3 vote for fees, which might not sound so bad, except that it would make it incredibly difficult to pass local fees and it would make AB 32 basically unenforceable because 32 is fee based. So even if Prop 23 goes down, if 26 passes, buy buy AB 32, which is why some of us are calling it the Polluter Protection Act.

So I’m making one last plea to readers – go volunteer for a campaign. Find the website for the campaign you care about most, shoot them an email or give them a call. Any campaign would be super grateful to have you. It’s definitely not too late – there are tons of undecided voters out there, and soon campaigns will shift to get out the vote operations and will need help reminding their supporters to vote.

Need help plugging into a campaign? Email me at oaklandbecks at gmail dot com and I’ll help you, unless it’s a campaign that goes against what I believe in (like Meg Whitman or Yes on 23). Even if you have an hour or two to spare, please do so – campaigns appreciate all help, whether you can be there for one or ten hours. And every voter you contact makes a difference.

Another way to help  is to spread the word to people you know. Post an endorsement note on Facebook, email all your friends with endorsements, call people you know vote but who aren’t very engaged, chat with your neighbors when you run into them, or forward campaign emails and videos when you receive them.

Speaking of campaign videos, I can’t help but share two amazing ads that the Prop 19 campaign has recently released. The first is a web ad that my friend Andrew Epstein, who I met in college through Students for Sensible Drug Policy, put together. It was great working with him again!

The next is a TV ad that started running today. It features former San Jose Police Chief Joe McNamara, who’s been an amazing spokesperson for the Yes on 19 campaign.

We did an initial decent sized buy to get it up on TV, but we’ll need contributions to keep in on through election day so if you want to keep it up, contribute at www.yeson19.com/ad. At that link you can also share the ad on Facebook and Twitter with one click.

There’s just one week left, so take some time to turn those undecided voters into decided voters. Whatever happens on November 2nd, it will feel so much better if you know you’ve made a difference.

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