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Indybay Feature
EASTWEST #6: With a Feature on the Oakland Elections
Tuesday Nov 4th, 2014 12:37 PM
700 issues have been distributed prior to the election, including at the MacArthur and West Oakland BART stations at rush hour. More will be distributed this week. This issue is dedicated to the "little people."

There is much excitement around the upcoming elections in Oakland. The citizens of our fair city will vote on November 4th for who their mayor and city council members will be. But we must remember that a clear majority of registered Oakland voters will spend November 4th doing anything, but voting. During the 2010 election, only 44% of registered Oakland voters cast their ballots. That same year, only 209,000 out of 390,000 residents registered in the first place. This mean that less than ¼ of the Oakland population voted. In case you missed it, this clearly indicates that most people with the ability to vote preferred not to.

Over 150 years have elapsed since Oakland was declared a city, and in that time local democracy has degenerated to the point where most people do not vote. And why should they? Year after year, decade after decade, the offices of City Hall are filled with politicians who routinely ignore and disregard the real concerns of Oakland residents. In the meantime, these mayors and city council members make side deals, receive kickbacks, or rest comfortably in their preexisting wealth. The act of voting these people into office usually brings disappointment, resentment, and regret to those who elect them. In search of a new hero, these frustrated citizens quickly move on to the next charlatan who claims to be more liberal, more conservative, more pure than their predecessor.

In this manner, the charade of voting continuously renews itself. The real force that can create better conditions for poor and working people are not politicians, but direct action carried out by the people themselves. Jean Quan is a perfect example of this fact. Back in the 1960’s, (that source of credibility for dinosaurs everywhere), our current mayor was dedicated to the teachings of Mao and determined to break the Anglo-Saxon stranglehold on higher education. She fought for ethnic studies during her time at UC Berkeley and in 1969 she helped organize a student strike with the Third World Liberation Front.

Throughout the next decades, a time when most of her peers sold themselves to capitalism, Jean Quan rose to power within the Oakland Unified School District Board. During her tenure on the board Quan witnessed the outbreak of the 1996 teachers strike, a conflict that lasted five weeks. During this time, Quan opposed the strike and refused to give a raise to working-class teachers facing over-packed classrooms. The teachers picketed Quan’s home during the course of the strike as a consequence for her betrayal. Quan alleged that she received ‘racist death threats’ to her home phone during this time.

Since then, Quan has shouted the word racism whenever she is politically challenged or unable to deal with consequences of her foolish and self-serving actions. Despite the hatred she engendered during the historic strike, Quan billed herself as the “education candidate” when she ran for City Council after winning control over the rich Montclair district. During her term, she presided over the federally coordinated repression of the Occupy Movement, the closing of five OUSD schools, the Domain Awareness Center, and the gentrification of North and West Oakland. When she was challenged over her support of the Brooklyn Basin luxury housing project at a recent mayoral candidate forum, Quan claimed only racists would be against the project. This woman is clearly power mad, vicious, and tyrannical. If she is re-elected, she will also preside over the greatest rebellion Oakland has ever seen. Count on it.

Faced with the prospect of having Quan as mayor for another four years, many registered voters will be tempted to vote for Rebecca Kaplan. She is queer, she says the right things at the right time, she is fairly innocuous on the City Council, and her ego is far smaller than Quan’s. But if we look at her record on the council and the AC Transit Board, we see her voting along with the other pinheads whenever she could get await with it. Signing her name to police grants, approving gentrification plans, saying yes to an anti-worker surveillance system at the port, going along with attacks on bus drivers, and giving the thumbs up to law enforcement are all just
par for the course with her. As mayor, she will certainly continue to rubber-stamp all manner of vile laws, ordinances, and development schemes as fast as they come before her.

But waiting in the hills is Libby Schaaf, the golden girl from lace-curtain Montclair. After replacing Quan as city council member for this rich district, Schaaf quickly sought to undermine her as mayor. Now the two are facing off over turf. This writer witnessed both candidates walking down opposite sides of upper Fruitvale Avenue. They entered different businesses, asked to put placards up in windows, and talked with people on the street in the hopes of getting more votes. This incident was remarkably petty and illustrates the determination with which Schaaf is attempting to knock out Quan. We can only imagine the Roman plots, intrigues, and vendettas these women carry after their immersion in Oakland politics. None of us should have to care about their bureaucratic insanity, though, so well spare you an interesting but nonetheless stupid account of the political machine to which Schaaf and Quan belong.

All that really needs to be said about Schaaf is that she was born and raised Oakland, knows all the right gray-hairs in the hills, and posed for a really nice picture with ex-NYPD “law and order” police chief Bill Bratton (see previous issues) when he was in town. She also has shown her own ruthless side when faced with political opposition. During the debate over the DAC surveillance center proposed for Oakland public streets, a series of posters was put up in downtown Montclair the night before the weekly farmers market. The posters showed a picture of Schaaf with a swaztika on her forehead with text reading, “STOP SCHAAF - STOP THE DAC.” The smaller text on the flier explained that Schaaf was poised to vote for a federal surveillance system that would monitor all Oakland streets. It also attacked the federal government over its importation of cocaine into Oakland during the 1980’s. After hundreds of people had seen this flier, Schaaf reacted by telling the media that the fliers were a racist attack. She is Jewish after all. While council member Noel Gallo had a similar poster directed at him for his proposed youth curfew, he did not cry racism at the first opportunity. He is Mexican after all. Clearly, Schaaf is quite adept at misdirection.

As for Dan Siegel, the “workingman’s candidate” and only hope of defeating racism and police brutality (as this poster proclaims), we can only lift our finger and point at another bald white man: Jerry Brown. That’s right, current governor Jerry Brown was once championed as a righteous candidate who would hold it down for leftists, unionists, and the movement. Even Elaine Brown, chairwoman of the Black Panther Party, supported Jerry Brown when he was elected governor. And look at what happened with that! Look at pig-loving, dam-building Jerry Brown now! Unfortunately, history seems to be repeating itself. Seigel has the black vote and the labor vote, surely, and on their shoulders he will advance into the den of snakes called City Hall. Maybe he will be “the one” we’ve all been waiting for, the politician who magically transmutes the poison of capitalism and bureaucracy into bread and gold for the people of Oakland. But more than likely he will succumb just as they all have, one after the other, to the silver-tongued voices offering to make them rich. Like Jerry Brown, like Barack Obama, like all of them.

We are not being negative. We are being realistic. We know that soon capitalism will push tens of thousands from the Bay Area, driven out by inflated rents and rising taxes. What is needed now are massive rent strikes, occupations of vacant buildings and workplaces, and the taking of land to feed ourselves. We do not want you to vote for anyone, we want you to take matters into your own hands.

You do not need to ask permission to free yourself, just go ahead and do it. Capitalism keeps most of us poor and on the run, so let’s stop electing people who only want to keep capitalism alive. We will only be able to create a new world together when we are free from the laws, the jails, the police, the guns, and the brutality that City Council can use against us. Don’t vote for anyone. Clearly most people aren’t. When we look at the exciting things people are already organizing in their own neighborhoods, it is evident that there is much more we can do besides voting. In East Oakland people occupy a vacant library and hold classes, plant gardens, read to children, and distribute free books. In North Oakland, residents fight gentrification and the turning of a public gathering place into a yuppie dog park. In Berkeley, people plant crops at People’s Park, share food, and gather together against police repression. In Albany, people that several years ago were being shot at by police for occupying the Gill Track now are eating the bounty of their harvest. People take over vacant buildings and stop foreclosures. They go on strike and fight their bosses. They come together in the streets and riot and fight the police. Why
would we ever want to vote for a new bureaucrat?

City Hall is so filled with corruption that it will be a joy when the people finally burn its empty and hollow form to the ground. Until that day comes, let’s look only to each other, not to the politicians.

Long live anarchy!
Listed below are the latest comments about this post.
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reallylolThursday Nov 6th, 2014 1:14 PM
Long live anarchy -- and the Democratic party?East Bay JayTuesday Nov 4th, 2014 4:17 PM

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