Stateside With Rosalea: Pollies on Parade

Published: Fri 4 Oct 2002 08:59 AM
Stateside With Rosalea: Pollies on Parade
On the last Sunday of September each year, Berkeley holds a street parade called "How Berkeley Can You Be?". It's a great opportunity for the locals to poke fun at their own reputation for outrageous ideas, and in election years it comes at just the right time for candidates and ballot measures to get a bit of publicity.

In 2000, Barbara Lee, who represents California's 9th Congressional District (of which Berkeley is a small part) in the US House of Representatives was the Grand Marshal of the parade. In 2001 she didn't join the parade, perhaps because it was too soon after hers was the lone voice raised in Congress opposing giving the President wide-ranging powers to declare war on Afghanistan, and there were concerns for her safety. This year she hitched a ride with a local candidate for city council, Linda Maio, whom she is endorsing.

The city races are nonpartisan, so there is no mention of candidates' political affiliations in their campaign material. However, they may be "endorsed" by parties, individuals and organisations. Tom Bates is a former California State assemblyman and is endorsed by both the Greens and the Dems.

Bates is challenging the incumbent Mayor, Shirley Dean, whose contribution to the Old Glorification that seized the US after September 11, 2001, was to encourage the flying of the US flag on fire trucks and police cars that attended anti-war demonstrations, despite the city council asking them not to as it might be interpreted as intimidation.

Not everyone likes Mayor Dean. One sign reads: Dean takes from the poor and gives to the rich. Another says: We won't turn our backs on war but we will turn our cheeks. Being naked in the HBCYB? parade is not an extreme statement... these folks are here every year, protesting whatever is topical.

Apparently not everyone likes Barbara Lee yet either. Those two solid chaps in the Team Barbara Lee aqua T-shirts aren't there to hand out sweets.

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