Berkeleyside’s approach to local politics

With less than 11 weeks to go to election day, interest in politics, nationally and locally, is growing steadily.

We’re determined to provide comprehensive coverage of local politics here on Berkeleyside, looking at the issues, the candidates and the many ballot measures voters will encounter on November 6.

In addition to our news coverage, we have already published a number of candidate profiles, and we’ll be doing more (see below for a list of some of the articles we have written so far). We also plan to try a number of more innovative approaches in our coverage this election season, using some of the powerful Web tools that exist to provide more data and more opportunities for our readers to engage with local politics. We’ll be rolling some of these innovations out in the coming weeks.

Through all this, we will try to be as objective as we can. Berkeleyside doesn’t endorse candidates or positions, and we have no plans to do so. We do accept political advertising — at our usual rates — which is open to all candidates on a space-available basis. The ad sales side of Berkeleyside is run separately from the editorial side.

If you have ideas for political stories you’d like us to cover, please let us know in the comments below.

Roster of 2012 Berkeley candidates firms up [08.13.12]
Capitelli, Bates, lead in campaign fundraising [08.06.12]
Beat poet joins crowded field for mayoral race (07.19.12)
Max Anderson kicks off council re-election campaign (07.02.12)
Jacquelyn McCormick vows to be a more inclusive mayor (06.18.12)
Sophie Hahn announces candidacy for City Council (05.09.12)
Berkeley’s Mayor Tom Bates announces his re-election bid (04.26.12)

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  • School Board candidates:  what specifically will you do to stop enrollment fraud in BUSD?  

  • dasht

    For some reason I don’t know I  appear not to be blocked from posting comments at the moment.  I have very little I wish to say but you asked this question:

    If you have ideas for political stories you’d like us to cover, please let us know in the comments below.

    And so I would call your attention to where you wrote:

    Through all this, we will try to be as objective as we can. Berkeleyside
    doesn’t endorse candidates or positions, and we have no plans to do so.

    You write those two (well, three) sentences as if they were not mutually contradictory.   I maintain that you can be more objective overall if, indeed, you are quite open with honest editorial opinion.

    Surely, personally, you each have your political biases.   You may have some positions in common and differ with one another on on other positions  — I don’t mean that there is some definitive “Berkeleyside bias”.    Your positions may be characterized by uncertainty.  Surely, though, you have your individual and group biases as do we all.  It’s one of those “human condition” facts of life, right?

    Perhaps you work to suppress or perhaps to disguise these biases in your news reporting and, like anyone else, you will succeed and fail at that in all sorts of ways.  It is a complicated muddle.   It is impossible for anyone to get Right in any ultimate sense.  Becky and the BDP can’t be objective and, for the same reasons, neither can Berkeleyside and neither can I.  Tune in at 11 for updates on this and other old news.

    But what you said here, in that quote, is that you decline to openly acknowledge and discuss your biases in the ordinary, customary way.   You won’t state your preferences, except perhaps indirectly.   I ask you to think harder on that and to reflect on the role of opinion in news publishing.

    You are declaring your aspirational objectivity towards everything and everyone  — excepting yourselves.   Your bias, with the quoted declaration, is the one thing you refuse categorically to discuss.  I think this colors your other reporting (and policies) poorly.  You’d be better off being open about your opinions and letting the rest of us figure out — with more honest information — how that figures into your reporting. 

    The one single constant theme to your reporting is your evolving biases and it is a mistake to declare that that is the one thing you decline to report on!  

    You are the primary source for how you look to yourselves, and how you look to yourselves certainly colors how you’ll cover the news.

    It seems to me that the main legitimate purpose of publishing editorial opinion is to more honestly and usefully frame all the reporting.    Editorial opinion from the horses mouth is an essential context when trying to interpret the published reporting.  

  • AlanTobey

    We will be blessed with ten — 10 — local ballot measures this November. Just separately summarizing what each purports to do, and then perhaps learning from our ever-passionate commentariat what we might think of them, would be a good start.

  • The Berkeleyside team is in intensive cardio training to steel itself for our analyses of all 10. 

  • John Holland

    Wow, it’s almost as bad as the California ballot has been getting over the last several elections.

  • TizziLish

    Jacquelyn McCormick is having a campaign event — not quite a kick-off, which I believe already happened — at PIQ tomorrow, with free food. I bet journalists can partake of the tasty treats. And, yes, I’d love to see berkeleyside cover it but I doubt you could possibly cover all the campaign events. I have curiosity about her since she is new to me. I know all I will ever want to know about Tom Bates and far more than I wish I did. I know something of Kriss Worthington but am curious to see how he distinguishes himself as a mayoral candidate: why does he think he should be mayor?

    Berkeley’s mayor’s race is widely regarded as a done deal for Tom but one can dream of good change, even here, right? I think the mayoral race is the most important vote in Berkeley this fall so I think berkeyside should give the mayoral race lots of coverage but I realize you have lots of stuff to cover? school board, ten local ballot measures, some council races.

    But to me: the mayor’s race is the most important. Just what I think.

    Tomorrow’s McCormick event, at PIQ, begins at 7 p.m. And, no, I do not work for her campaign. And I am not particularly inclined to vote for her. I don’t know yet who I will vote for for mayor, only who I will not give my vote to, now or ever.

  • Jesse Townley

     This is the 1st Berkeley mayoral election that is going to be run with IRV (Instant Run-Off Voting) so it will be interesting to see how candidates use or not use the system.

    In Oakland 2 years ago, the big $ candidate, Don Perata, basically ignored it and lost to the 1-2-3 ranking of Nadel, Kaplan, & other candidates like Green Don Macleay. San Francisco’s district elections are chock full of candidates running partially as teams (as in, “Rank me 1st, rank my fellow candidate 2nd, and don’t rank the other candidate at all”). (I think this last thing is already happening in this race)

  • Anonymous

    School Board Candidate: “Er, we don’t have any enrollment fraud. Wow, look at all of these kindergartners! We need $500k to put up some portables right away.”

  • guest

    McCormick, Worthington and a third candidate are running “together”. Seems they are trying the Jean Quan method of running against Tom Bates.

  • guest

    …hoping to elect Kriss Worthington mayor it seems

  • WhoButtersYourBread

    Please be sure to cover and publish the campaign donor lists, as released, for each Berkeley candidate and ballot measure.  It’s always illuminating to follow the money.

  • bgal4

    this is disinformation.

  • Danni

    …and look what it got Oakland – the most incompetent mayor in recent history.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    I think it would be especially cool to try some of the visual analysis the NYTimes sometimes does with complex budget questions on the national level.  As several commentators have pointed out, one of the problems is that each of these measures was tossed over the fence at us voters in isolation.  No one on the council seems to consider what the total spend looks like and the sample numbers in the analysis aren’t often relevant for people with different living circumstances:  own/rent bought recently/not-recently.

    I suppose you could do representative samples.  Or you could do an interactive calculator that lets readers input details from their situation and then check individual ballots to see a total cost figure and a measure-by-measure cost breakdown.  

  • barracuda

    Commissioner Nicole Drake’s fight for her political life after having missed more meetings than she attended ( should be illuminating. Why does she still want to run other than a feeble attempt to hang on to power at all costs?

  • Anonymous

    They get $500/month plus benefits.  It would be worth it just for the benefits.

  • The Sharkey

    A Worthington win is a possible outcome of voting for a McCormick/Worthington/Whatever slate. Most of the people whose votes were counted for Jean Quan as a 3rd choice candidate didn’t really want her to be mayor.

  • Big “B”, Lil “b” Berkeley

    Make use of local resources to enhance election and ballot measure coverage on two fronts: What’s the real cost of ballot measures? How ‘representative’ are these candidates? 

    I. Contact the Haas Business School or UC Economics Dept. to propose coverage of a class project analyzing ballot measures in multiple contexts, e.g.:

    – Historic analysis. How much has been spent on the issue, with what outcome?

    – Comparative analysis. What are similar size cities spending on the issue?

    and a host other comparisons others more informed than I could suggest.

    II. Contact the Political Science Dept. to propose coverage of a class project of analyzing voter statistics to answer questions such as:

    – Historically, how many votes does it take to elect a candidate to a council or board seat or to pass a ballot measure?

    – What percentage of the registered voters does that number represent? What percentage of the persons of voting age in Berkeley (or a particular district) does that number represent?

    and a host other comparisons others more informed than I could suggest.

  • bgal4

    Agree with the relevance of voting only for the candidates you want elected.

    But there is an important correction to this comment.
    There is NO slate. McCormick is an independent candidate, read her blog posts about civic matters and it is easy to see why she attracts a diversity of support.

  • I love the idea of the interactive calculator. We’ll put our thinking caps on. If any readers have the programming chops to help us with this, let us know. 

  • Bill N

    Especially if you don’t have to go to a lot of meetings! 

  • Bill N

    It doesn’t matter whether there is an actual slate or not it’s how people vote and rank the three candidates that matters. Anyone of the three could achieve a victory that’s why The Sharkey’s advice is spot on.

  • Jesse Townley

     That’s not a result of the method of voting, that’s a result of the candidate not governing well once she was elected.

  • The Sharkey

    I don’t think Quan would have been elected in a traditional runoff.

  • The Sharkey

    Unless McCormick takes a stand against some of the also-running nutters, it’s very possible for us to end up with an “anybody but Bates” slate that slides Worthington into office.

  • The Sharkey

    Here’s my current unofficial candidate ranking, which is subject to change pending debates, etc.

    Candidates Who Have The Potential To Successfully Run Berkeley:

    Candidates Who Have The Potential To Successfully Run Berkeley Into The Ground:
    Running Wolf

  • bgal4


    explaining  how rank choice voting strategies  affect election results in one thing, understanding the various political associations and dynamics is equally if not more important to the upcoming election.

  • bgal4

     Agree, I said so much to the campaign.

  • Anonymous

    I agree. She should really pay back the stipends she received for not coming to months of meetings. It’s the landlords’ registration fees after all.

  • EBGuy

     Take a stand?!  Her anti-Sit-lie and NIMBY development stance puts her closer to Worthington than Bates.  She has a broader appeal though, as her attention to fiscal details will win over those who care about such things.  She has nothing to gain by denouncing anyone (except the incumbent).  Egads — if she doesn’t garner enough first choice votes to top Kriss we may be in trouble.

  • Berkeley Resident

     I think Berkeleyside, while reporting the issues/candidates in the upcoming election should include, more than once, Sharkey’s teaching moment above.  So many are confused about the intricacies of ranked choice voting and his information could help untangle the confusion. One article about the upcoming election could be in-depth reporting about ranked choice voting, how it works, etc. with visuals as well as text.  It’s crucial.

  • Alejandro

    Obviously U have no idea how Berkeley works. Kriss for Mayor! Mac &Kali #2 & 3.

  • Vmcnzbx

     I got to vote in the Oakland Mayor’s race. I voted MacLeay, Kaplan, Quan.

    As a reasonably astute citizen I had a good guess that Don was not going to win. I felt empowered in being able to display my hope for a broader pool of possible candidates. He didn’t win, but he got my first place vote on his tally. Kaplan would have been a great mayor. I would have been very happy having my second place choice actually win the election. Quan worked incredibly hard on her campaign. I saw her “out in wild” at least five times handing out flyers and knocking on doors. I was proud that with RCV and a boatload of her hard work, my wishes were expressed and she got my vote and won.

    I still don’t understand how voting for Macleay in November and then voting for Quan in a December runnoff appears ‘good,’ and as one person one vote. But, doing it all on one ballot is somehow ‘undemocratic’ with me getting more than one vote.  I only got one vote. Quan. in either of these two scenarios.

  • GeorgeDorn

    Lack of voter education is an issue, but a more serious concern is that the preferences of voters aren’t fully represented in RCV. For example, suppose the votes in Berkeley look like this going into the final rounds:

    49%: Bates > McCormick > Worthington
    25%: McCormick > Worthington > Jacobs-Fantauzzi
    26%: Worthington > McCormick > Jacobs-Fantauzzi

    The result would be that Jacobs-Fantauzzi would be eliminated, then McCormick, then Bates, leaving Worthington as mayor even though 74% of the electorate would have preferred McCormick.

  • The Sharkey

    I can’t parse what you’re trying to say in your final paragraph.

    Glad you got what you wanted. I hope it’s working out for you, but I sure as hell hope Berkeley doesn’t get stuck with a Mayor as incompetent as Quan.

  • The Sharkey

    Check out George Dorn’s comment on this thread showing how IRV ranking could lead to McCormick losing to Worthington even if more Berkeley voters would prefer her.

  • The Sharkey

    Have you missed the dozens of discussions about Worthington’s childish tantrums at City Council meetings?

    Have you missed the major decline of Telegraph Avenue during Worthington’s reign?

  • Guest

    It’s hilarious how Worthington’s opponents portray him as supreme dictator of Telegraph.