Category Archives: Government

Berkeley’s own political earthquake: Arreguín becomes mayor, progressives seize council majority

Jesse Arreguin. Photo: Courtesy of Jesse Arreguin
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Jesse Arreguín, 32, decisively won the mayorship in yesterday’s election, becoming the first Latino Berkeley mayor.

To close observers of Berkeley’s local politics, the chattering started over the last several weeks of the election. First, Jesse Arreguín won the endorsement of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, as well as the Sierra Club and the Alameda County Democratic Party. Then there was word of thousands of new voter registrations on the UC Berkeley campus.

Missed the election night action? Read our live blog.

After 14 years of Mayor Tom Bates and his secure City Council majority, could Councilman Arreguín best Bates’ hand-picked successor, Councilman Laurie Capitelli?

It didn’t take long for the results on Tuesday night to answer that question. When the Alameda County Registrar of Voters produced the first data shortly after 8 p.m., Arreguín already led Capitelli. As long-shot mayoral candidate Ben Gould explained to Berkeleyside, those results, largely from early, mail-in ballots, usually reflect more of the “hill” vote, which Capitelli supporters had hoped to win decisively.  … Continue reading »

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News analysis: Who will control Berkeley’s City Council post-election?

Old City Hall. Photo by Melati Citrawireja
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“Nobody knows anything,” said screenwriter William Goldman about Hollywood’s inability to figure out which movies would be hits and which would be flops. The same is true about Berkeley’s local elections. If Berkeleyside were so minded, we could do election punditry until the cows come home. But there’s zero data, or close to zero. There’s no possibility for a Berkeley 538 or Upshot, sifting lots of data sources to give some insight into the election.

If you haven’t voted yet, check out our Election Hub, and use the Voters Edge tool!

What we do know in 2016, however, is that there are an unusual number of open races: for mayor and for two City Council seats. Because of the power of incumbency in local races particularly, open races present a rare chance for the dynamic of city politics to change.

Berkeley’s City Council has had a clear majority supporting Mayor Tom Bates, generally with a 6-3 vote, for years. The three-vote minority, Jesse Arreguín, Kriss Worthington and Max Anderson, is frustrated more often than not.

Follow Berkeleyside’s live election blog, on the site starting around 8pm.

But Bates is retiring. If Councilman Laurie Capitelli, currently representing District 5, wins, the mayor’s vote will largely be a continuation of Bates’ positions. But if Arreguín wins (or, far less likely, Worthington), the mayor’s vote shifts from a Berkeley moderate position to a self-described progressive one. Similarly, if Capitelli’s current District 5 seat is won by Sophie Hahn, a moderate will be swapped for a progressive. If Stephen Murphy wins Capitelli’s seat, the current council majority will be shored up on most votes. Anderson is also retiring: on the stated positions of the four candidates running for the District 3 seat, it is harder to predict who will be a regular moderate or progressive vote. … Continue reading »

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Before it’s over: ‘Live’ photo gallery of Berkeley election

Oakland resident Anya Wayne votes from her bed at Alta Bates Summit Hospital . Photo: Pete Rosos
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The election season in Berkeley has been in full swing since just after Labor Day. There have been marches and forums, endorsements and op-eds about the multitude of measures and candidates. Enjoy this photo gallery of all that has been happening in Berkeley. And let’s keep it going: share your photos with us by dropping them into the Berkeleyside Flickr pool, emailing tips@berkeleyside.com, or tagging us on Twitter or Instagram. We will be adding photos to this gallery until the election is over. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: All parties agree… Vote no on BB and CC to preserve the City Council’s landmark minimum-wage ordinance

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The Berkeley City Council unanimously passed a new minimum-wage ordinance that is one of the most progressive in the country and is a significant victory for workers and the community. The new ordinance takes the best from both BB and CC. All stakeholders agree: vote No on BB and CC, enabling the superior council ordinance to prevail.

Berkeley’s minimum wage will increase to $15/hr in 2018 and, starting in 2017, workers will be entitled to up to 72 hours of … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Why I’m voting for Darryl Moore — The neighborhood grocery store that almost wasn’t

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When picking out organic produce or enjoying lunch at our neighborhood jewel, West Berkeley Bowl, it’s hard to believe how many people tried to block it from being built, and how very close they came to succeeding. Amazing, and yet true. And it’s just one of the reasons why I am happy to vote again for Darryl Moore for City Council, District 2.

Around 2003 the Yasudas, owners of the original Berkeley Bowl, purchased a long vacant lot in our … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Open letter to Mayor, City Council about homelessness in Berkeley

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Dear Mayor Bates and Berkeley City Council members,

Once again, as winter approaches, Berkeley is confronted with the inadequacy of our efforts to address the issues confronting our homeless population. In the absence of significant progress, the city has once again turned to police action, confronting and dispersing homeless encampments that have often been established as vehicles of protest.

I have a few observations to make, none of which are in any way original, many of which have been made … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: A response to Terry Roberts

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When responding to an opinion piece, as Terry Roberts purports to do, it is often quite useful to base your response on both on the opinions expressed in the original piece and also on actually relevant personal experience. The first makes it easier to follow your response and the second, of course, is more of a courtesy offered to logical argument. Evidently Roberts considers neither standard binding.

Isabelle Gaston and Patricia Mapps did not say that utility undergrounding … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: We get what we deserve

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Berkeley voters overwhelmingly support reducing the influence of money in politics. We also aspire to a political system marked by civil discourse focused on real policy differences. Everyone seems unhappy with the role of money and the tone of the discourse in this campaign, both nationally and locally. So how did we get here and why do candidates feel that negativity is a necessary element of campaigns? My argument is that Berkeley voters, just like voters in the country as … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: A solution to Berkeley’s political price tag problem

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Since 2008, I’ve had the privilege and responsibility of looking out for every Berkeley tenant and landlord while serving on the Berkeley Rent Board. Doing so has provided me a unique look at the skyrocketing cost of housing, the lack of affordable rental units, and the many other difficulties of Berkeley’s challenging housing market.

I’ve been elected three out of the four times I’ve run for office, and, while doing so, I’ve raised thousands and thousands of dollars. Even when … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Utility undergrounding must be considered in disaster planning

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I read Patricia Mapp’s Oct. 27 and Isabelle Gaston’s Oct. 26 Opinionater articles suggesting that utility undergrounding is not an important priority when considering public safety and disaster preparedness.

I totally disagree.

I have first-hand experience when it comes to utility undergrounding, emergency preparedness and public safety. I am a former public works director in Oakland, managing first-line emergency response in both the 1989 earthquake and the 1991 Oakland/Berkeley fire.

I was behind the fire lines in Oakland … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Why I’m supporting Cheryl Davila for City Council, District 2

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Walking around District two, I can’t help but notice the purple Cheryl Davila signs displayed in windows and poking out of front gardens all over the neighborhoods of West Berkeley. I’m thrilled that Cheryl has answered the call from the district for new leadership, and I’m proud to support her campaign.

In 2013 I was elected chair of Berkeley’s Peace and Justice Commission. Our plate was full — we were holding public hearings to regulate drone use by police, participating in … Continue reading »

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Police roust homeless camp; activists vow to return

Berkeley police arrest Nanci Armstrong-Temple on Nov. 4. The Alameda County District Attorney declined to press charges.  Photo: Paul Blake
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Early Friday morning, Berkeley police dismantled an encampment that had been set up on Adeline Street to protest the way the city provides homeless services.

A contingent of police officers came to the intersection of Adeline and Fairview around 5 a.m. and forced the 30 or so people sleeping on the pavement to get up and out.

The nature of the interaction is in dispute, with many homeless people saying they were rousted without warning, manhandled, even injured, and their stuff was thrown indiscriminately into the back of a truck. A city spokesman disagreed with that characterization and said the encampment had received two previous warnings to pack up and leave, and that police were respectful. In addition, said Matthai Chakko, the tents, blankets, sleeping bags and other belongings that were collected were bagged and tagged. The city’s homeless outreach worker was on the scene to help facilitate a return of those items to their owners, he said.

Following the early-morning incident, Berkeley Police issued a Nixle alert around 12:20 p.m. to say there was “a civic demonstration in the area of northbound MLK north of Ashby.” They advised motorists to use caution.

Four people were arrested Friday morning. (See below for details)  Nanci Armstrong-Temple, who is running for City Council in District 2, appears to be one of those who was taken into custody. She came to the scene shortly after the raid commenced, part of a group of allies of the homeless who are contacted via an e-tree or phone tree when an action is imminent, according to Mike Lee, who is running for mayor.

“They were slamming women to the ground,” said Mike Zint, an activist who was one of the leaders of Liberty City, an encampment set up in front of Old City Hall. “It’s horrible what they did. They specifically targeted Nanci. Also Andrea Prichett.” (Prichett is a founding member of Copwatch.) … Continue reading »

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Volunteers target swing states at the Berkeley-Albany Hillary Clinton campaign HQ

The Berkeley-Albany Hillary Clinton campaign HQ at 1224 Solano Ave. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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A group of women sits around a table, all heads down, tapping into their cellphones. They are also chatting and laughing as they text people they don’t know in North Carolina. The automated message they are sending informs people in this swing state that early voting is available to them. The women are just a few of the many volunteers who are packed into a former toy store on Solano Avenue, now the bustling Berkeley-Albany headquarters for the Hillary Clinton campaign.

The phone- and text-banking hub is also the national call center for Clinton as the campaign, whose epicenter is in Brooklyn, determined that California is the state with the most resources. It opened on Oct. 22, and will remain open, said the HQ’s co-lead Allie Janoch, until the result of the presidential election is called.

Barbara Bryant, one of the group of texters, said she had been doing three-hour shifts with her partner for the past four days and would be coming back every day through Tuesday. “We have got to counter the deep sexism of that man,” she said, unable to mention the name of Clinton’s adversary. … Continue reading »

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