June l976 – The New Slate Politics
BCA’s Internal Affairs
Berkeley Citizens Action emerged from the April l975 election as a viable political party whose members looked to the future with great optimism. Until this time, little attention had been paid to BCA’s internal structure. The BCA Interim Committee had been an open coordination group. Governance of the l975 campaign was also loosely organized. Having treated internal structure as a low priority, BCA had followed in the general footsteps of its predecessors.
Eve Bach and her supporters wanted to change that pattern drastically. Eve argued that any self-selected leadership group was an undemocratic clique, accountable to no one. She referred to an article entitled “The Tyranny of Structurelessness”. Eve wanted BCA to have elected leaders, chosen by the general membership. She felt that such a group would enjoy far greater legitimacy than any self-selected body.
When Eve talked about the current ruling clique, she always included me as one of its members. I certainly felt that it was a waste of time trying to devise a perfect system of internal organization for a Berkeley political group. In a choice between open leadership and structure, I always chose openness. I didn’t want BCA to be burdened by a stifling, internal bureaucracy. However, the general membership agreed with Eve and voted for structure in May l975, deciding to elect a BCA steering committee, half of which would be third world.
The first BCA steering committee election produced one notable loser, Jeff Rudolph, our l975 student candidate for City Council. Jeff was the only student who sought election to the steering committee, and he was defeated. The lesson, as Jeff saw it, was BCA’s general disregard for the student community in spite of BCA’s dependence upon student votes. Jeff stressed this lesson to the students he was training as the new leaders of the campus political organization. The lesson sunk in and would have repercussions in the relationship between students and BCA over the next two years.
BCA’s internal structure was the major focus of the new elected steering committee, headed by Lee Halterman. Steering committee members such as Lee, Eve Bach, and Larry Duga labored for the next year on a set of proposed BCA bylaws. Structure thus begot much more structure. The steering committee wanted by-laws that would encourage third world participation in BCA.
During a series of general membership meetings in l976, the initial BCA bylaws were adopted, although the steering committee continued working on improvements. The 2/3 rule was retained and expanded in the bylaws, becoming a fundamental requirement for nearly every single BCA action, both substantive and procedural. The bylaws formalized the steering committee’s role as an affirmative action symbol. The early bylaws provided for half the steering committee membership to be third world people selected by the newly established BCA Third World Caucus. The BCA general membership would elect the other half. A steering committee membership goal of 50% women was also established.
In future years, additional constituencies such as students, gays, the disabled, and senior citizens received assigned steering committee slots as the bylaws were amended. These multiple quotas often rendered the general membership’s steering committee elections difficult, because white males who had “won” could not be seated without violating the bylaws. The steering committee’s power to fill its own vacancies by appointment, subject to general membership confirmation, became the leading remedy for this problem. The appointments are used to try and obtain a steering committee composition that matches the numerous bylaw quotas.
As the June l976 primary election approached, it appeared to me that the steering committee was too engrossed with structural concerns to care. I wanted BCA endorsements and a campaign, not structural engineering. It was my original intention for BCA to mount a major slate campaign in June and November. I had to harass the steering committee, but I finally got BCA to schedule an official endorsement meeting for June l976 candidates and ballot measures. There was a full ballot ahead of us.
By a 2/3 vote, Berkeley Citizens Action made l3 separate endorsements for the June 8, l976 election. It was an unprecedented, open, and democratic process that produced BCA’s first progressive Berkeley slate in a June primary.
* Ron Dellums for Congress
Always the easiest endorsement. For the first time, Dellums had no Democratic Primary opponent.
* Tom Hayden for the United States Senate
After leaving Berkeley’s Red Family commune a few years earlier, Tom Hayden had certainly come a long way. Now married to Jane Fonda and living in Santa Monica, he was challenging incumbent U.S. Senator John Tunney in the Democratic Party Primary.
Progressive Berkeley people never cared for the wishy-washy Tunney. Many of us had strongly supported Tunney’s l970 primary opponent, Congressman George Brown, an anti-war leader who was the first member of Congress to vote against the entire Pentagon budget. Support for Hayden over Tunney thus came naturally.
At the time we endorsed him, it was impossible to predict whether Hayden’s candidacy would ever amount to much. Tom Hayden as a Democrat seemed a contradiction in terms.
* Tom Bates for Assembly
Farewell Ken Meade
Berkeley Assemblyman Ken Meade was a burn-out case. He was retiring from the Legislature as a matter of self-preservation.
Ken Meade’s first two terms in Sacramento, l970-l974, had been successful in large part due to his alliance with Assembly Speaker Bob Moretti. When Moretti ran for Governor in l974, the fight to replace him as Speaker was between Moretti’s chosen heir, Willie Brown, and Leo McCarthy, both San Francisco Assemblyman. McCarthy was politically linked to Gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, then Secretary of State. The Brown-McCarthy forces triumphed in both contests, defeating Moretti and Willie Brown.
The Speaker of the California Assembly held autocratic powers to reward friends and punish enemies. Ken Meade not only backed Willie Brown as a Moretti loyalist was expected to do, he resisted the authority of Speaker McCarthy after the fight was over at the beginning of l975.
Ken’s rebellious stance made him a target, as the McCarthy forces decided to punish Ken in order to deter other dissidents and keep the Assembly in line. Meade was downgraded and attacked in countless ways. He lost his sub-committee chairmanship, his office, and much of his staff. Meade was publicly chastised for not wearing a tie on the Assembly floor. Ken felt persecuted, becoming bitter. He got into a fist fight with Assemblyman Lewis Pappan, one of McCarthy’s chief enforcers. Pappan won the fight.
Meade was a thoroughly beaten man, depressed and disgusted with politics. He announced that he would not run for re-election in l976.
It took Ken about a year to fully recover from the Sacramento scene. Then he returned to his Berkeley law practice, very glad to be a private citizen once again.
Ken Meade’s unhappy experience in the Assembly did not discourage other people from stepping forward to take his place. Ken’s Administrative Assistant, Oakland political veteran Joe Close, promptly announced his candidacy. Among those also thinking about running was Berkeley School Board Member Louise Stoll. Many women felt that it was time to end the male monopoly of all the offices higher than City Council and School Board.
The primary race to succeed Ken Meade could have become a very bitter free for all, had it not been for developments at the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.
The Gerrymander Playoffs – Bates vs. Bort
It was time for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to re-district themselves in accordance with the population figures from the l970 census. Equalizing population among the 5 districts was easy. Gerrymandering the district lines for partisan political advantage was much harder, requiring great skill and cunning to produce the necessary three vote majority.
Tom Bates was completing his first term as Supervisor from District Five, covering north, west, and part of east Oakland. A lanky former Cal football player from the l959 Rose Bowl team, Bates was the sole progressive on the board. As a full-time, activist Supervisor with an energetic staff, including Dion Aroner, Ira Kalansky, and Lynn Suter, Bates had brought new energy to the traditionally conservative, almost moribund Board of Supervisors.
Able to function as a traditional Democrat when necessary, Tom had managed to create occasional alliances with two more establishment Democratic Supervisors, Charles Santana of Hayward and Fred Cooper of Alameda. Generally, the Board of Supervisors was still controlled by conservative Republican Joe Bort.
Joseph Bort was the last surviving officeholder from among the once dominant Berkeley Republicans. He was the perfect example of political Darwinism, adapting to every change in order to survive. He could campaign as both a conservative Republican and a conservationist. Since his appointment to the Board of Supervisors by Governor Reagan in l968, Bort had defeated challengers Wilmont Sweeney and Michael Jones. Bates and Bort would both be running for re-election in l976.
To create a progressive majority on the Board of Supervisors, Tom Bates concluded that he personally had to eliminate the opposition leader, Joe Bort. Bates’ strategy called for re-districting himself and Bort into the same heavily Democratic Berkeley-Oakland district, forcing a showdown from which Tom could emerge victorious as the new political leader of the Board of Supervisors.
The Bates plan would also create a new district, primarily in Oakland, that would join together various minority communities so that Alameda County’s first black Supervisor could be elected. John George was all set to run as the progressive candidate for the anticipated black seat. He and Tom would work as a team. Meanwhile, there was extremely vocal political pressure for such a black seat. The all-white, all-male Board of Supervisors seemed an anachronism.
Joe Bort had his own ideas about how the new district lines should be drawn. To escape the Bates trap, Bort revised his Fourth District boundaries to exclude Berkeley, while retaining all the wealthy Republican areas from the Montclair District of Oakland, plus Piedmont, down to Castro Valley, while adding San Leandro. To find a safe political haven, Bort literally proposed to gerrymander himself out of his Berkeley home.
If his lines were adopted, Bort would have to move. But that was clearly a small price to pay for political survival. The Bort plan also included a district that he could label as the black seat, all of Berkeley plus north and west Oakland. That district’s incumbent was Tom Bates.
Thus, Joe Bort and Tom Bates each tried to gerrymander the other into an untenable position. In the fight for two additional votes, Bort was victorious and his district lines were adopted. (In l976, the new lines worked perfectly as Bort easily won re-election over liberal Democrat Seymour Rose, an Oakland School Board Member. Four years later, in l980, Bort discovered that it was possible to over-gerrymander his district. Bort now represented such a conservative area that he was threatened with defeat at the hands of an extreme right winger, Howard Jarvis disciple Bob Tucknott. Always the political chameleon, Bort gracefully moved to his left, receiving sufficient liberal and moderate support to overcome Tucknott.
In l984 Joseph Bort did not seek re-election, retiring after more than 20 years in office, starting with the Berkeley City Council in l963. Bort never lost control of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.)
Tom Bates’ Switch
Having been out-gerrymandered by Bort, Tom Bates had a major career decision to make in early l976. He could pre-empt John George’s candidacy and run for re-election to his own Board of Supervisors seat, probably winning easily over a black moderate/conservative challenger. He had already defeated a conservative black opponent in l972. A repeat performance would earn Tom real enmity from the black community, followed by another four years of losing contested votes to Supervisor Bort. Or Tom could withdraw from the Board of Supervisors race in favor of John George and run instead for the open Assembly seat being vacated by Ken Meade. Tom Bates selected the Assembly race.
Tom Bates’ switch from Supervisorial to Assembly candidate discouraged all major rivals from staying in or entering the race to succeed Ken Meade. Joe Close promptly withdrew, endorsing Tom. Bates publicly pledged to support a woman as his eventual Assembly successor, and no female officeholder ran against him. Barbara McNabb, a State Chairperson of the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC), did challenge Tom for the Democratic Party nomination, trying to capitalize on the earlier strong sentiment that it was time for a woman to reach higher office in the Berkeley area. Tom’s other primary opponents included Tom Dove, a Deputy Attorney General, and Stan Naparst, previously beaten by Helen Burke for the East Bay MUD Board.
Bates, McNabb, and Naparst all appeared in person to seek the BCA endorsement, but it was no contest. Tom Bates had been a part of the progressive coalition since he managed Ken Meade’s l970 campaign. In what became nearly as routine as the Dellums endorsement, BCA’s membership voted to support Tom Bates for the Assembly.
* John George for Supervisor
It had been six years since Oakland attorney John George ran unsuccessfully as an anti-war candidate against Congressman Jeffrey Cohelan. In that l968 primary race, George was hampered by the Peace and Freedom Party write-in candidacy of Black Panther Party leader Huey Newton, which drew off left votes. Since then, John George had built an alliance with the Oakland-based Black Panthers. In April l975, when the Panthers’ new leader Elaine Brown came close to winning an Oakland City Council seat, John George was in the forefront of her campaign. Under Elaine Brown, the Panthers had become a powerful electoral force in Oakland black politics, and they were now ready to help John George in his race for Supervisor.
BCA veterans wanted to support George, but many were disturbed by his l975 endorsement of Warren Widener over Ying Kelley for Mayor of Berkeley. John George courted BCA leaders. He explained that the Widener endorsement did not reflect his true politics, but had been necessary to preserve his own legitimacy in the Oakland black community as Elaine Brown’s representative.
We were satisfied, and BCA embraced John George, beginning a relationship that lasted for more than a decade.
In the non-partisan race for Supervisor, George’s two major opponents were a new type of odd couple. Berkeley City Councilmembers Billy Rumford and Sue Hone, supposed allies as part of the Council majority, were both running for Supervisor against George. With this delightful disunity on the part of our opponents, John George was certain to make the run-off. He could combine strong Oakland support with BCA votes in Berkeley. Assuming that no single candidate received a majority of the June primary vote, the top two finishers would face each other in November.
* John Miller for Assembly
Sue Hone and Billy Rumford were not the only Council majority members who felt l976 was the year to achieve higher office. Berkeley Mayor Warren Widener now challenged 5 term Assemblyman John J. Miller in the Democratic Primary for the l3th District.
Miller’s district was a perfect gerrymander in which no Democratic nominee could ever lose. It combined black communities from Berkeley and Oakland, plus the white bastion of Alameda, and the result functioned as a black seat. Primary fights for the Democratic Party nomination could get vicious.
Although only 43 years old, John J. Miller, an attorney, was one of the East Bay’s senior black elected officials, having started on the Berkeley School Board. In l966 Miller captured Byron Rumford’s Assembly seat when the elder Rumford vacated it to run for the State Senate, narrowly losing to Republican Lewis Sherman in a vote count contested by Rumford. Assemblyman Miller had already survived two bitter primary races.
His first, in June l966, was a very close victory over Otho Green. Green had been the anti-establishment black candidate, while Miller appeared to be more in the moderate/conservative Rumford tradition. Two years later, In June l968, Byron Rumford tried to take his Assembly seat back from John Miller. Miller would not give it back and he defeated Rumford in the Democratic Primary, ending the senior Rumford’s political career. Since then, no one had seriously dared to challenge Assemblyman Miller.
John Miller was another incredible political survivor, like Joe Bort. Miller was a progressive independent in local politics, essentially a loner. Yet he had risen to immense power in Sacramento as the chief black supporter of Assembly Speaker Leo McCarthy. Miller was an indispensable player in McCarthy’s defeat of Willie Brown, persuading other black Assembly members to follow Miller’s lead. Widener was a very close Willie Brown ally, so the Miller-Widener race was a partial offshoot of the Speakership battle. Speaker McCarthy’s extensive campaign resources would be at Miller’s disposal, since McCarthy could not allow John Miller to lose.
Assemblyman John Miller wasn’t going to need BCA’s help to dispose of Warren Widener, who incidentally used to work for Miller. The incumbent did not even request our support. We endorsed him anyway, and then waited eagerly to see exactly how the Miller campaign would go about squashing Widener’s challenge.
* Duga and Girard for Municipal Court Judge
Bartolini for Superior Court
When California Governor Ronald Reagan’s term ended in l975, he left behind a pair of appointees to the Berkeley-Albany Municipal Court, Judges Mario Barsotti, 52, and James Holmstrom, 45. Both men would be running for election to the bench in June l976. It was a routine matter, with incumbent judges nearly always running unopposed.
Larry Duga, 44, decided that the re-election of Reagan appointee Barsotti shouldn’t be routine at all. After l6 years of practicing law in Berkeley, Larry was very popular in the progressive political and legal communities. He had been President of the Berkeley Co-op and active in the ACLU, National Lawyers Guild, and, of course, Berkeley Citizens Action, where he served as Treasurer. In an election limited to Berkeley and Albany voters, Larry felt that a Reagan appointee was vulnerable. Going against the establishment was a way of life for Larry Duga, and he declared his candidacy against Judge Barsotti.
Gregarious by nature, Larry preferred not to be alone in this race. He recruited a running mate, Berkeley attorney Dawn Girard. Dawn was primarily a labor lawyer, having worked for the National Labor Relations Board and then gone into private practice plus teaching. Her long list of community activities included service as Chair of the Berkeley Fair Campaign Practices Commission (enforcing the Election Reform Act), the University Avenue Co-op Center Council, and her neighborhood association.
Since Larry had targeted Barsotti, Dawn got to run against Judge Holmstrom. Holmstrom appeared even more conservative and arrogant than Barsotti. Holmstrom had made the newspapers a few years back in a bizarre incident where the judge was apparently apprehended carrying a gun in a U.C. dormitory. Duga and Girard would be a mini-slate as they took on the judicial establishment.
The third challenge to a Reagan appointee came from Richard Bartolini, a friend of Larry’s. Bartolini was trying to unseat Alameda County Superior Court Judge John Vukasin, Jr.. A county-wide race against a sitting judge would be very tough, even if the incumbent was sarcastically referred to as Judge Vacation.
BCA endorsed all three insurgents and trying to elect the Duga-Girard team became one of our major June priorities. Each race was one on one, so the winners would be chosen in June by majority vote, without a run-off.
* Fred Harris for President
This endorsement was hardly well thought out and it came without discussion just prior to adjournment of a general membership meeting. But it seemed reasonable at the beginning of l976, before the first Presidential primaries.
Fred Harris, former Senator from Oklahoma, was running as a populist candidate for President, seeking to unite the supporters of George McGovern and George Wallace. Harris had actively sought BCA’s backing in l975, appearing at one of our meetings and a fundraiser. No other Presidential candidate ever did that. Harris was certainly the most progressive candidate among a huge Democratic pack that included Arizona Congressman Morris Udall, Washington Senator Henry Jackson, Idaho Senator Frank Church, former Alabama Governor George Wallace, an obscure former Georgia Governor, and later California’s own Governor Jerry Brown. Senator Harris even had his campaign biography printed by Paul and Foster Foreman, active BCA members who operated a small scale publishing/printing business. It was Paul Foreman who made the successful motion that BCA endorse Harris for President.
This later turned out to be the major divisive action of June l976. Our endorsement system, while democratic, still had a potential for losing touch with reality.
* Save Ocean View – Yes on P & Q
The Ocean View Committee’s two initiatives were previously discussed at pages l53-154. BCA enthusiastically endorsed them.
* Nuclear Power Plant Safety – Yes on l5
Over two years before the Three Mile Island accident made the safety of nuclear power plants into a national issue, the nuclear power battle was fought in California. Opponents of atomic power qualified the Nuclear Initiative, Proposition l5, for the June l976 ballot. The measure essentially required utilities to prove to the Legislature that California’s nuclear plants were safe, or else no new atomic power plants could be built and the state’s existing plants would be phased out.
Proposition l5 was endorsed by Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club, among many other environmental organizations. The initiative’s sponsoring group, Californians for Nuclear Safeguards, had among its leaders David Pesonen, a Berkeley attorney from Charles Gerry’s law firm.
BCA also supported Proposition l5, the first state initiative to receive our endorsement. Once again we were lined up against PG&E plus the other pro-nuclear California utilities and their corporate allies.
* Save the Diverters – No on O
The enemies of Berkeley’s new traffic diverters formed a group called Citizens Against Barricades and circulated an initiative ordinance to outlaw nearly all street obstructions. The group’s leaders included Max Alfert, Robert Fink, and Leo Bach, and their supporters encompassed a fair number of BCA people, most notably Vivian Gales, our l975 City Council candidate. The Free Access Initiative, Measure O, easily qualified for the ballot with Citizens Against Barricades claiming to have collected ll,000 signatures in just two weeks. Only 3,500 valid signatures were needed, so the diverter opponents were off to a roaring start.
Berkeleyans for Fair Traffic Management organized to defend the Neighborhood Traffic Plan. The pro-diverter group brought together BCA, BDC, and centrist people who probably agreed on no other major local issue except opposition to O.
Love for diverters was not a unanimous BCA sentiment. Still, our organization and constituency clearly favored the Traffic Management Plan and we endorsed against Measure O. Meanwhile, the Conservative Coalition was significantly fractured over diverters. BDC ended up opposing O, but most hill Republicans were going to vote for the initiative.
The forces battling to kill or save the traffic diverters ended up fighting another one of those unique Berkeley holy wars that go on for years. Measure O would be just the beginning.
The BCA Slate
BCA now fielded our first comprehensive slate for a June election, seeking to define the progressive position across the board, candidates and ballot measures, for the national, state, and local levels:
President – Fred Harris
U. S. Senate – Tom Hayden
Congress – Ron Dellums
Assembly, l2th District – Tom Bates
Assembly, l3th District – John Miller
Alameda County Supervisor – John George
Superior Court Judge – Richard Bartolini
Municipal Court Judge – Larry Duga
Yes on l5 for Nuclear Safeguards
No on O for Fair Traffic Management
Yes on P & Q to Save Ocean View
This was the kind of political approach I had envisioned for the new organization, carrying a large, democratically selected slate into battle for a June election. The l3 individual components of that slate would ideally form a strong, unified whole, able to out-campaign our fragmented opposition.
Buckley vs. Valeo and the Death of Campaign Reform
In the wake of Watergate, new campaign reform laws were passed and old ones strengthened by the federal, state, and local governments. Although each law was different, they all included at least some of the following l0 key structural elements of campaign reform at the beginning of l976.
Candidates Ballot Measures
l. Limitations on campaign spending. 2. Limitations on campaign spending.
3. Limitations on contributions. 4. Limitations on contributions.
5. Prohibitions on corporate and/or 6. Prohibitions on corporate labor union contributions. and/or labor union contributions.
7. Public financing of campaigns. 8. Spending limitations or payment prohibitions for the collection of signatures to place measures on the ballot.
9. Disclosure of contributors l0. Disclosure of names and amounts. contributors names and amounts.
Berkeley’s Election Reform Act was extremely comprehensive, including all of the above features except public financing. The California Political Reform Act (Proposition 9) was less ambitious, only covering items l, 2, 8, 9, and l0. The California initiative relied on overall spending limitations backed by strict disclosure, but totally omitted contribution restrictions.
Since there are no Federal ballot measures, U.S. campaign reform law dealt only with races for President and Congress. The Federal structure was anchored by a law passed in l907 during the progressive era of Teddy Roosevelt’s Presidency. Corresponding to item 5 above, it originally prohibited all corporate contributions to Federal candidates and was later expanded to also ban labor union contributions. (Title 2, United States Code, section 44lb.)
Over 60 years later Congress added the Federal Election Campaign Act of l97l as greatly strengthened by the post-Watergate amendments in l974. Now the Federal structure became very complex, covering all 5 of the elements pertaining to candidates, items l, 3, 5, 7, and 9.
Not surprisingly, such a comprehensive set of Federal restrictions was challenged by a politically diverse group who felt many of the new provisions were discriminatory. Plaintiffs included New York’s conservative Senator James Buckley and former Democratic Presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy. McCarthy, now an independent, objected to the alleged financial favoritism shown the two major parties in the area of public financing and matching funds. Ultimately nearly every major aspect of the l97l and l974 laws came before the United States Supreme Court in the case of Buckley vs. Valeo.
I believe the Buckley vs. Valeo decision of January 30, l976 (424 US l, 46 L.Ed.2d 659, 96 S.Ct. 6l2) is the greatest political calamity this country has suffered in the last 50 years. Buckley vs. Valeo destroyed campaign reform, perhaps permanently. This decision and the ones that followed its lead granted an unlimited constitutional mandate for the purchasing of elections by corporate and individual wealth, at the expense of American democracy.
At the heart of any effective system to reform elections, there must be reasonable restrictions on overall campaign spending. Elections cannot be fair when one side is allowed an unlimited budget to drown out the opposition’s message. (See _______). Yet the United States Supreme Court ruled in Buckley that all limitations on candidate spending violated the right of free speech because:
The First Amendment denies government the power to determine that spending to promote one’s political views is wasteful, excessive, or unwise.
The Supreme Court allowed one exception: a candidate’s spending could be limited in exchange for that candidate’s voluntary acceptance of public campaign funds. Thus, public financing became the sole vehicle to limit candidate spending. Yet public financing exists for Presidential campaigns and almost nothing else. It is also unpopular, therefore extremely
difficult to enact, especially at the state or local levels.
In reality, Buckley vs. Valeo eliminated the single most important item from the entire campaign reform structure, #l, the candidate spending limitation. The Supreme Court did uphold reasonable limitations on campaign contributions, public financing, and disclosure, items 3, 5, and 9. The corporate/labor contributions prohibition was not challenged.
Undeniably Buckley could have been worse. Chief Justice Berger and Justice Blackman would have stricken all or some of the remaining campaign reform items as unconstitutional. They did not prevail.
Only Justice White would have sustained the expenditure limits, item l, to help enforce the contribution restrictions and to ensure that:
elections are not to turn on the difference in the amounts of money that candidates have to spend.
Justice Marshall believed it was constitutional to restrict the amount of personal funds a candidate can spend to get elected. His loss on this narrow point meant that millionaire candidates were once again a hot political property, with their devastating advantage over financially deprived opponents.
Buckley vs. Valeo will remain the law of the land until the Supreme Court changes dramatically or a Constitutional Amendment is passed to specify that the First Amendment does not prevent reasonable restrictions on campaign spending.
The California Impact
Buckley’s effect upon California was immediate. The opponents of Proposition l5, the Nuclear Safeguards Initiative, had filed suit to invalidate the California Political Reform Act’s limitations on their campaign spending. This was to be a major league version of PG&E vs. the City of Berkeley, with monied interests attacking the state campaign reform initiative. But the defenders of Proposition 9, including Berkeley attorneys Jerry Falk, Steve Mayer, and Natalie West, didn’t have a chance. Without dissent, the California Supreme Court held that the rule of Buckley vs. Valeo rendered Proposition 9’s limitations upon ballot measure spending to be an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment
right to freedom of speech. (Citizens for Jobs and Energy v. Fair Political Practices Commission, April 7, l976, l6 Cal.3d 67l, l24 Cal.Rptr. l06.)
Item #2 of the campaign reform structure had fallen, limitations on campaign spending for ballot measures. The nuclear power industry was now free to destroy Proposition l5 with a spending blitz.
Because the drafters of the state’s Political Reform Act, Proposition 9, had relied upon spending limits, rather than contribution limits, California’s campaign reform structure looked like this in the wake of Buckley and Citizens for Jobs and Energy:
Candidates Ballot Measures
8. Spending limitations or payment prohibitions for the collection of signatures to place measures on the ballot.
9. Disclosure of contributors l0. Disclosure of names and amounts. contributors names and amounts.
A few months later item #8 also succumbed, the Political Reform Act’s limitation on the amount of money that could be spent qualifying an initiative for the state ballot. Proponents of a Greyhound Dog Racing Initiative wished to exceed the statutory ceiling of 25 cents times the number of required signatures. Relying upon Buckley and Citizens for Jobs and Energy, the California Supreme Court unanimously held that Proposition 9’s restriction on signature gathering expenses was:
unconstitutional as an undue infringement on the rights of political expression guaranteed by the First Amendment to the federal Constitution. (Hardie v. Fong Eu, November 29, l976, l8 Cal.3d. 37l, l34 Cal.Rptr. 20l).
Thus, all the key elements of California’s Political Reform Act were destroyed in l976 except for items 9 and l0, the continuing requirement that the astronomical sums being used to buy elections be disclosed. No new campaign reforms have been adopted by California in the intervening eight years. Corporations can now essentially purchase an initiative’s placement on the ballot, or finance the defeat of a progressive initiative by pouring millions of dollars into a media campaign. While agri-business, oil companies, tobacco companies, and other similar industries compete with each other to set ballot measure spending records, every progressive state initiative, except for the Nuclear Freeze in l982, has been defeated over the last decade.
Meanwhile the California ballot is filled with lavishly financed right wing initiatives whose petition circulators were often handsomely paid. A similar spending orgy dominates California’s legislative races, as the State Assembly and Senate members become more noticeably the captives of special interests. And it all can be traced back to Buckley vs. Valeo’s l976 obliteration of the California Political Reform Act of l974.
The Berkeley Impact
The Berkeley Election Reform Act had a major advantage over the state act in that our local ordinance restricted contributions as well as spending. Thus the adverse decisions that decimated Proposition 9 left more elements of the campaign reform structure still standing in Berkeley:
Candidates Ballot Measures
3. $250 Limitation on contributions. 4. $250 Limitation on (Section 600) contributions?
(Section 600) (Section 602)
5. Prohibitions on corporate and/or 6. Prohibitions on corporate labor union contributions. and/or labor union (Section 605) contributions?
(Section 605) (Section 605)
9. Disclosure of contributors l0. Disclosure of names and amounts. contributors names and amounts.
Never again would there be a City Council campaign such as l975 in which overall slate spending was limited. But at least the candidate contribution restrictions, items 3 and 5, appeared secure. Meanwhile, the equivalent ballot measure contribution limits, items 4 and 6, had entered the legal Twilight Zone. The PG&E vs. the City of Berkeley case produced an Appellate Court decision upholding Judge Minder’s injunction against the Election Reform Act, July l5, l976, 60 Cal.App.3d l23, l3l Cal.Rptr. 350. But the Appellate Court’s language was as murky as Judge Minder’s ruling. Were items #4 and #6 unconstitutional in all cases or just when applied to PG&E’s campaign against Measure W (public ownership of PG&E facilities)?
There was absolutely no way to tell exactly what the judges intended. Resolution of these ambiguities would be an extremely painful process. (See page 234).
But these were problems for the future. We had no City Council races in June l976 and the forces battling over Berkeley Measures O, P, and Q turned out to be all relatively low-budget operations.
John George hired Mal Warwick to run his campaign while Mal simultaneously coordinated the overall BCA slate campaign. This was a perfect arrangement with Mal operating out of a gigantic campaign office (formerly a bank) at 3250 Adeline Street in Berkeley that was official headquarters for George, Dellums, and Miller. It also housed the BCA slate operation.
The Fred Harris Fiasco
As the Presidential Primary season began, BCA’s endorsed candidate, former Senator Fred Harris, failed to develop any momentum. After several mediocre primary finishes, in which he failed to receive enough votes to qualify for continued Federal matching funds, Harris ran out of money. Fred Harris then announced that he was ending his Presidential campaign.
It then seemed automatic that BCA would withdraw its endorsement of Harris and probably not support any other candidate. A special BCA general membership meeting was called for the sole purpose of dis-endorsing Harris.
To the surprise of most electoral people, Paul Foreman, now running as a Harris delegate, appeared with a contingent of die-hard Harris supporters. They insisted that since Harris was still on the California ballot and remained the best candidate, BCA should continue to endorse him.
Having our BCA slate headed by a withdrawn Presidential candidate seemed indescribably stupid to the majority of those in attendance, and we said so. Yet when a vote was taken to withdraw the Harris endorsement, the motion failed to receive the necessary 2/3 vote. The Harris contingent, although outnumbered, prevented the endorsement from being removed thanks to a perverse use of the 2/3 rule. Fred Harris remained the BCA candidate for President. This was the low point in our June l976 campaign.
The Campus Community Coalition (CCC)
BCA’s inability to release itself from the Fred Harris embrace created a major campaign backlash. Thanks to Jeff Rudolph’s coaching, a very strong student political organization emerged in l976, the Campus Community Coalition (CCC). Its leader was David Poindexter, assisted by Suzanne Campi, Cathy Card, and Nicole Magnuson, among others. CCC ran an extremely successful voter registration drive, and l0,000 new voters were added to the Berkeley rolls.
Jeff Rudolph taught his proteges to be wary of any BCA electoral weirdness or anti-student tendencies. To the CCC leaders, maintaining the Fred Harris endorsement was so asinine that they could not accept it. As pragmatic electoral people, they felt the rest of the slate would suffer if the top of the ticket was an ex-candidate for President. To avoid ridicule by association (and establish their political credentials), Dave Poindexter and the CCC resolved to produce their own slate literature and their own election day doorhanger, both of which would parallel BCA’s choices except for the deletion of Fred Harris.
BCA and CCC did not engage in destructive competition with each other. Mal Warwick and Dave Poindexter divided the city into two spheres of campaign influence, with CCC taking the hard core campus community precincts and BCA all of west and southwest Berkeley. The CCC then ran its own slate campaign out of 2490 Channing Way, Room 2l0, next door to Loni’s office.
The powerful student group led by Jeff Gordon in the l970-73 period had functioned in a similar way, always maintaining independence from the April Coalition. For June l976, the CCC campaign headquarters also served as the official campus office for Tom Bates and No on O. BCA and CCC coordinated to reduce duplication of effort.
This arrangement produced a pair of slate tabloids which were distributed door to door. BCA published Mal Warwick’s four page Berkeley Election Bulletin, forerunner of the Berkeley Citizen. Its slate was headed by Fred Harris, who the tabloid said, “was forced to stop active campaigning,” but “has not dropped out of the Presidential race.”
CCC re-discovered the advantages of working with Democrats United who were producing a four page tabloid that excluded all Berkeley contests. Dave Poindexter printed a 2 page CCC insert stressing the Berkeley candidates and ballot measures. The result was a six page, hybrid slate piece that CCC used in its territory. The Democrats United/CCC slate was headed by Tom Hayden and ignored the Presidential race.
While we certainly lacked organizational unity, BCA and CCC were still supporting nearly identical tickets and the two slates did not conflict. This was a vast improvement over l97l when the April Coalition and April 6th Movement endorsed conflicting school board slates, leading to the theft of April 6th Movement literature by supporters of Black Caucus/April Coalition school board candidate Maudelle Shirek.
Candidates and Issues
While the BCA and CCC parallel slate operations moved ahead, each of the individual campaigns fought their own independent battles.
Senatorial candidate Tom Hayden addressed a huge, enthusiastic
crowd at a Sproul Steps rally on the U.C. campus. The Hayden campaign now featured TV spots by his father-in-law Henry Fonda, and the polls showed Hayden to be closing in on Senator Tunney. Tom Hayden, Democratic Party candidate for U.S. Senate, was unexpectedly a serious contender. The Hayden campaign recruited many Berkeley volunteers who became the local nucleus of his continuing state wide organization, later called the Campaign for Economic Democracy (CED).
Supporters of the Nuclear Safeguards Initiative, Proposition l5, tried to get people incensed at the multi-million dollar media campaign now being directed against them with huge contributions from PG&E, Bechtel, General Electric, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electricity, and the oil companies. Thanks to the judicial removal of Proposition 9’s spending limits, the nuclear industry was pouring anti-l5 money into California from all over the country. A No on l5 mailer featured Senator Tunney and former Governor Pat Brown warning of economic catastrophe if the initiative passed. Anti-l5 TV spots had the same message. This scare effort, although on a much larger scale, was all sadly familiar to Berkeley veterans of our campaigns against PG&E and the Berkeley Four. Proposition l5 was doomed.
Tom Bates’ campaign for Assembly rolled along with unstoppable force. He had incredible voter appeal and every imaginable endorsement. Plus, the Bates people always campaign with the desperate attitude of an underdog. This psychological/political tactic certainly eliminates overconfidence, but it can also lead to Bates landslides that are almost embarrassingly large.
Meanwhile Barbara MacNab seemed to campaign against Tom Bates on the sole basis that a woman had to be elected and Tom was therefore unqualified. McNab used the slogan: “She’s Not Just One of the Boys!”
Assemblyman John Miller’s campaign produced a legendary mailer that dramatized for the voters precisely why they should reject Warren Widener. It’s the most effective single piece of election literature I can remember. In bold letters, the cover asked:
Has the Widener Campaign Sold Out
to Republican Doctors?
The first page continued:
Decide for yourself…Republican Doctors and the right-wing political arm of the medical association wants to destroy a good man — Democrat John Miller.
How much are they willing to spend to buy this Assembly seat?
(2 Widener campaign statements and a newspaper article followed listing various amounts.)
Where will it end? $75,000, $l00,000? The cash keeps pouring in from all over the state.
Meet a few of the Outside Doctors trying to buy our Assembly seat …
Then the unbelievable payoff. Inside was a reproduction of Widener’s campaign statement individually listing by Name, Occupation, City, and Amount nearly 300 doctors and medical committees that had contributed money to Warren Widener’s race. The vast majority of the addresses were clearly from outside the l3th Assembly District. The piece concluded with a nine point summary of Miller’s accomplishments in the Assembly under the heading:
While Widener’s been hustling the Doctors … John Miller’s been representing you.
What’s so impressive about this piece is the way it captures the political sell-out philosophy of Warren Widener. In l976 lawyers and doctors were fighting in Sacramento over legislation to regulate medical malpractice lawsuits and insurance. Lawyers such as John Miller massively outnumbered doctors in the Legislature, so naturally the lawyers were winning.
As Chairman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, John Miller was a special foe to the doctors. So naturally the physicians wanted to oust Miller and elect an Assemblyman of their own. No one had a larger “For Sale” sign posted than Widener, himself a lawyer. So Widener sold out to the doctors, just as he had sold out previously to Berkeley’s right wing.
But this time the Miller campaign blatantly exposed the sellout by mailing everyone the huge list of Widener’s medical contributors.
Widener’s own literature never mentioned doctors. The Mayor did a slate mailer headed by Dellums and Senator Petris, neither of whom endorsed him. On the cover was a picture of Widener with Senators Cranston and Tunney, plus Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley. They didn’t support him either. And who was Widener’s Campaign Chairman? Ernie Howard, the man Widener had wanted to be Berkeley City Manager two years earlier, an office the Charter said should be filled without regard to “political beliefs”.
But it really didn’t matter what Widener did or said anymore. After the doctors piece, he was finished.
The June race for Supervisor was fairly dull in comparison, largely thanks the difficulty in presenting actual county issues. John George was advised by Bill Cavala, an East Bay political pro who also worked on the Miller campaign including the doctors piece. George campaigned as “The Democrat” for Supervisor, stressing his endorsements.
Billy Rumford countered that “The Office of Supervisor is a non-partisan seat. … This is too easily forgotten when many candidates over-emphasize party and machine politics.” Berkeley Vice-Mayor Sue Hone seemed to be having problems developing a campaign, with Rumford cutting off her normal right wing base, while John George advanced against her from the left. Hone ended up trapped in the center. With two black opponents likely to dominate the black vote between them, Hone was in deep trouble if Rumford and George could also capture a healthy share of support from color-blind Berkeley whites who found her either too conservative or too liberal.
On the judicial front, the Duga-Girard slate was countered by a Barsotti-Holmstrom slate campaign, featuring the endorsement of both incumbents by the Alameda County and Berkeley-Albany Bar Associations. Barsotti and Holmstrom stressed the need “to be free of political influences”.
Meanwhile Duga and Girard emphasized judicial reform and accountability, plus the fact that Ronald Reagan had appointed their opponents.
But the real trench warfare came over the Berkeley initiatives. Measure O’s crusading supporters proclaimed their measure: “THE PEOPLES’ INITIATIVE”, using the following language in an emotional four page tabloid:
Don’t Divide It With Barriers
Read on – About how our city officials are trying to deceive us.
Barriers Are Unjust
Barriers Are Unsafe
Barriers Are Extravagantly Expensive
There once were some people in Berkeley
whose neighborhood group did decree:
“Put traffic on others,
who cares whom it smothers,
as long as it doesn’t hurt ME!”
Stop the City From Manipulating Real Estate Values
Stop special favors to council members, friends, and
special interest groups.
Don’t let yourself be diverted.
Vote against the barriers.
Vote For City Measure O.
Endorsers of Measure O included merchant associations, an ambulance company, the Alameda County Central Labor Council, and the Berkeley Fire Fighters Association.
Berkeleyans for Fair Traffic Management were much more genteel in their approach to this issue. With lowered voices, their literature urged that Measure O be defeated in order to:
PROTECT OUR CHILDREN
PRESERVE OUR NEIGHBORHOODS
PROMOTE PUBLIC TRANSIT
In this same leaflet, a diverter spoke for itself, pictured with a planted, hand-lettered sign that read:
This barrier makes our
neighborhood safer and
Please respect it.
Measure O was also attacked for requiring the removal of approximately two dozen older, “non-controversial” diverters installed up to six years before the Neighborhood Traffic Plan’s new diverters. The initiative had a very limited “old” diverter exemption section.
The anti-O ballot argument signers included the bi-partisan combination of Shirley Dean, Loni Hancock, and Ed Kallgren. Every City Councilmember except for Carole Davis and Billy Rumford was publicly No on O. Davis and Rumford appeared to be neutral. Thus the supporters of Measure O were unquestionably taking on the entire Berkeley establishment, including BDC, BCA, and the city staff.
A much more traditional partisan battle was fought over the Ocean View Initiatives, P & Q, although the emotional level matched the traffic diverter contest. Here the Ocean View Committee plus BCA were lined up against the BRA, city staff, and the Council majority.
An immediate dispute broke out over the City Attorney’s “Impartial Analysis”. City Attorney Don McCullum had resigned soon after the Council unanimously voted on October l4, l975 to prohibit outside employment by department heads. McCullum had always maintained his private law practice, including service in the BRA attorney post, while simultaneously holding the City Attorney position. Now McCullum went back to the full-time private practice of law until Governor Jerry Brown later appointed him to the Alameda County Superior Court.
The Acting City Attorney was now Lois Johnson. She promptly agreed with the BRA/McCullum position that measures P & Q both conflicted with state redevelopment law and were illegal, a statement she wished to include in her Impartial Analysis of the measures for the voters handbook. This exercise with the Impartial Analysis procedure (begun in l975) was extremely frustrating. To Loni, Ying, John, and the Ocean View Committee, Lois Johnson’s analysis represented a partisan, anti-P & Q attitude on more than just the legality question. However, motions to make the analyses truly impartial, or, in the alternative, eliminate them entirely, were defeated by the Council majority. At the same time Measure O’s supporters loudly complained that the City Attorney’s Impartial Analysis of their initiative was also severely biased against them.
Disputes over alleged prejudice in the City Attorney’s Impartial Analysis thus became another standard feature of most ballot measure fights, together with arguments over biased and misleading ballot titles.
However, in June l976, the entire voters handbook probably had much less impact than usual. For the first and only time, the City Clerk produced a bi-lingual English/Spanish voters handbook, with the two languages alternating. The result was almost incoherent, since the reader had to overcome up to nine separate language switches to get through the title, text, ballot arguments, and impartial analysis of each measure. In the future, voters would be given a choice of election materials entirely in one language or the other, but not both.
The Council majority unleashed their big guns against P & Q in the negative ballot arguments, signed by Widener, Ramsey, Rumford, and Marilyn Couch, President of the Berkeley League of Women Voters. “No” votes were urged against P to “Keep politics out of redevelopment”, (an incredible argument); and against Q to “Save jobs, taxes, (and) social services!”
The BRA and the Council majority tried a big lie scare campaign with ads blaring:
Don’t Bankrupt Berkeley!
Vote No on “P” & “Q”
…Passage of these measures would have disastrous effects on all segments of Berkeley. It would mean fewer jobs for the unemployed, higher taxes for the homeowner, higher rents for tenants, and reduced social services.
The ads claimed that passage of the initiatives would threaten the city with default on the Industrial Park bonds, and thus:
The only choices would be to raise taxes or slash social services such as day care centers and health care for the elderly.
The above ad was signed by all six members of the Council majority including Shirley Dean. A similar ad in the Daily Californian threatened students with higher rents if P & Q passed. These doomsday arguments were pure fabrications, and the entire fear campaign was hardly a defense of the industrial park or a real discussion of Berkeley’s land use choices.
There was also a major contradiction between the BRA’s claim that the initiatives were legally void on the one hand and fiscally catastrophic on the other. But most importantly, the scare campaign was a low budget effort.
Meanwhile the Ocean View Committee produced a relatively sedate four page brochure that explained OVC’s view of the issues in excruciating detail. But the back page was really special, with pictures of 27 Ocean View Committee members (not counting one child and two dogs), plus photos of fourteen prominent P & Q endorsers including Congressman Dellums, Assemblyman Miller, Tom Bates, John George, and the three BCA Councilmembers.
Not pictured was the most fascinating endorser of all, Robert Nisbet, former Chairman of the Berkeley Redevelopment Agency, a man who spent years implementing and defending the West Berkeley Industrial Park before he changed his mind.
As election day approached, one could have mistaken Sacramento for Berkeley, at least in the treatment of an anti-establishment initiative. A set of alternative nuclear safety laws, intended to undercut support for Proposition l5, were hurriedly pushed through the Legislature, Public Resources Code Sections 25524.l-.3. Denounced as fraudulent tokenism by Proposition l5 supporters, the new laws did require that nuclear wastes be properly stored and disposed of before future atomic power plants could be constructed in California. But Proposition l5 was much more comprehensive, covering existing and proposed plants.
However, Proposition l5 was defeated 2 to l, and these heavily maligned laws became the initiative’s sole statutory legacy. Since the problem of nuclear wastes was not being solved, these laws operated as an effective bar to the expansion of atomic power. In another ironic reversal, Proposition l5’s supporters worked with the California Energy Commission to defend these laws from utility attacks during half a decade of litigation. The United States Supreme Court finally ruled in favor of California’s nuclear laws, granting the states extensive decision making power over whether to allow future atomic power plants. That decision upholding states rights, PG&E v. State Energy Resources Conservation & Development Commission (l983) l03 S.Ct. l7l3, can properly be called the final victory for Proposition l5.
Back in Berkeley, the major newspaper endorsements held few surprises. The Daily Cal supported the entire Campus Community Coalition slate, except for the omission of the Superior Court contest. The Berkeley Gazette endorsed the opposite way on nearly every contested race. But the Gazette opposed all the initiatives, including Measure O to ban traffic diverters. For Alameda County Supervisor, the Gazette succumbed to indecisiveness, endorsing “Sue Hone or William Rumford”.
On June 7, l976, the Campus Community Coalition held another in our long series of spectacular day before election Sproul Steps rallies. This one included Loni Hancock, Tom Bates, John George, Ying Kelley, Florence McDonald, Country Joe McDonald, Dawn Girard, Larry Duga, and the featured speaker, Congressman Ron Dellums. The rally was marred by anti-Dellums hecklers from the U.S. Labor Party, followers of Lyndon LaRouche, a mysterious anti-progressive demagogue. Their repeated harassment of Congressman Dellums helped deter him from subsequently speaking on the Sproul Steps. Thus, while Dellums’ inspiring Sproul Steps speeches used to be a vital part of a U.C. political education, Ron’s withdrawal from Sproul since l976 made him much less accessible to more recent generations of students.
Election day, June 8, l976, featured the appearance of two separate progressive slate doorhangers, the last chapter in the Fred Harris mess. Berkeley Citizens Action’s doorhanger was actually headed on one side by “National Convention Delegates Preferring Fred R. Harris”, while the Campus Community Coalition version ignored the Presidential race, also omitting John Miller because his district was outside the campus area. Otherwise, the two doorhangers had eleven endorsements in common and were part of a single campaign. BCA and CCC each did a wonderfully successful get out the vote effort within their own designated areas, well coordinated with all the other allied campaigns. In spite of the Fred Harris irritant, this unified coalition blanketed most of Berkeley below the hills, producing the greatest slate impact that had ever been achieved to date for a June election.
The June 8, l976 Results: 49,884 Voters
United States Senate: Tom Hayden 23,289(69%) (percentages exclude
John Tunney 10,5l9(3l%) minor candidates)
Berkeley District Wide
State Assembly: Tom Bates l4,l0l(65%) 3l,892(56%) l2th District Barbara MacNab 4,253(20%) 10,230(l8%)
Tom Dove 2,339(11%) 9,765(l7%)
State Assembly: John Miller 7,40l(70%) 28,754(74%) l3th District Warren Widener 3,l27(30%) l0,197(26%)
Alameda County John George l5,484(38%) 26,897(37%) Supervisor Billy Rumford 11,773(29%) 23,389(32%) 5th District Sue Hone 9,25l(23%) 15,04l(2l%)
(Top 2 finishers Stan Naparst 4,370(l0%) 7,l00(l0%)
in November Run-off)
Berkeley-Albany (#2) Mario Barsotti 18,634(52%) 23,046(54%) Municipal Court Larry Duga l7,5ll(48%) l9,467(46%)
(#3) Dawn Girard 20,180(55%) 22,522(53%) James Holmstrom l6,2l0(45%) 20,29l(47%)
Alameda County Richard Bartalini l7,843(54%) l07,970(4l%)
Superior Court John Vukasin, Jr. l5,248(46%) 154,057(59%)
California Nuclear Safety YES 32,5l4(72%)
Initiative (l5) NO 12,946(28%) Defeated State Wide 2 to l
Anti-Diverter Initiative (O) YES 20,449(44%)
NO 26,224(56%) Defeated
Redevelopment Accountability YES 23,928(58%) Passed
Initiative (P) NO l7,020(42%)
Ocean View Neighborhood YES 25,l66(59%) Passed
Preservation Initiative (Q) NO l7,257(4l%)
Turnout was high, up by over 8,000 voters compared to the June l974 primary two years earlier. In fact, the number of June l976 voters matched the November l974 general election turnout. The biggest turnout increase was in the campus community, in large part due to the work of the Campus Community Coalition.
Discounting Dellums running unopposed and also disregarding the Presidential Primary (in which Fred Harris received 885 Berkeley votes, l7,000 behind the local victor Jerry Brown), the BCA/CCC slate came out ahead in Berkeley on l0 of ll contested races, including 6 clear local victories (Bates and Miller for Assembly, Girard for Judge, No on O, Yes on P & Q), and one plurality going into a run-off (John George leading Rumford for Supervisor).
The BCA/CCC slate carried the entire progressive area (the greater campus community), building up large victory margins in south campus, central and north central Berkeley that were able to stand up against adverse votes in the hills.
The Ocean View initiatives, P & Q, carried nearly every single precinct outside the hills, receiving an impressive mandate, 58-59% of the vote. This gamble by the Ocean View Committee paid off, and the majority of Berkeley’s voters, including the black community, spoke loudly to preserve and expand housing within the contested six square blocks of the West Berkeley Industrial Park. Passage of P & Q was a clear repudiation of all six Council majority members who had campaigned in opposition to the measures.
Would the Council majority now listen to the voters and concede gracefully, or would they instead use all the legal and political tools at their disposal to disregard the initiatives and continue trying to implement the l967 industrial park plan?
In the municipal court races, Dawn Girard ran about 7% better than Larry Duga in all parts of Berkeley as well as in Albany. Most of that advantage was probably due to voter preference for a woman. Dawn was the only woman running for judge and the only woman on the BCA slate. That appeared to make the difference as Dawn won while Larry Duga lost.
Ironically, Dawn Girard’s victory removed one of Berkeley’s nicest, hardest working citizen activists from participation in local public affairs. Dawn vanished into the judiciary, generally re-appearing only to perform marriages. She is unknown to most current BCA people. Judge Girard was later promoted by Jerry Brown to the Alameda County Superior Court. There, her judicial colleagues include a trio of Dawn’s former Berkeley adversaries,
Judges Wilmont Sweeney, Don McCullum, and Henry Ramsey.
Larry Duga returned to his full schedule of legal and political activities, waiting for another chance at the Berkeley-Albany Municipal Court.
Richard Bartalini’s 2,600 vote advantage from Berkeley was irrelevant as the rest of Alameda County buried his Superior Court candidacy. However, Governor Jerry Brown later made up for this by appointing Bartalini to the Alameda County Superior Court.
The anti-diverter initiative, Proposition O, generally won in the areas that had not received new traffic diverters, primarily the hills. Narrow, twisting hill streets already obstructed vehicles naturally without city intervention. However, certain flatter conservative neighborhoods, such as Thousand Oaks and Claremont, in which new diverters had been installed, voted against O. The greater campus community, recipient of more diverters than any other part of town, defeated O by a decisive 2 to l margin. The black community was fairly evenly divided, although in the San Pablo Park neighborhood, whose old diverters were exempt from Measure O, the initiative passed.
On balance, it appeared that most people who received new diverters under the Traffic Management Plan felt they had obtained a benefit. Meanwhile, neighborhoods which were not diverter recipients voted from a driver’s perspective to eliminate the barriers. The defeat of Measure O did nothing to end the traffic diverter controversy.
For some candidates, city and community boundaries made little difference. Tom Bates and John Miller carried every single Berkeley precinct in their own respective Assembly districts, destroying the opposition in other cities as well. Miller’s obliteration of Warren Widener by over 2 to l in Berkeley was an entertaining highlight, as Widener lost district-wide by nearly 3 to l.
Proposition l5 won in every Berkeley precinct except #20020 in the hills, the same conservative bastion that recorded Nixon’s only victory in November l972. 20020 traditionally also serves as the Council majority’s flagship precinct in municipal elections, demonstrating their reliance upon Republican support.
Berkeley’s 72% vote in favor of the Nuclear Safety Initiative was about 40% above the state-wide “Yes” vote. On a state ballot measure, Berkeley will usually score 30 to 40 percentage points higher on the liberal side than California as a whole.
Among all the contested races, Tom Hayden’s Berkeley results were the most fascinating and instructive. In a primary contest with only Democrats voting, the ex-radical Hayden swept Tunney in the campus area by 4 to l while Hayden only lost in one hill precinct. The hills’ liberal Democrats embraced Hayden, giving him 2 to 3 times more votes than BCA City Council candidates ever receive. Yet Hayden and BCA are politically quite similar. If BCA’s municipal candidates could ever achieve anything close to Hayden’s vote among hill liberals, they would be unbeatable.
Meanwhile, John Tunney, the incumbent Democratic Senator, ran best in the black community, defeating Hayden in l6 precincts. In contests where both candidates are of the same race, black voters traditionally prefer incumbents and familiar names, especially Democrats they had previously supported, like Senator Tunney. At least as to Tom Hayden vs. John Tunney, conservatism among Democrats was stronger in the black community than the hills, the exact reverse of normal.
As for the California results, Tunney defeated Hayden by a comfortable margin. But Tom Hayden had established his Democratic Party credentials and would now turn towards creating his own progressive state-wide organization, the Campaign for Economic Democracy (CED). Hayden and BCA would remain allies.
The race for Alameda County Supervisor was now only half over. Vice Mayor Sue Hone was out, a victim of Rumford’s strength among conservative white voters and her own dismal showing in the Berkeley and Oakland black communities. John George’s narrow 3,500 vote advantage over Rumford came entirely from the BCA heartland. Otherwise, Rumford and George fought to a virtual draw in Oakland and the Berkeley black community, with George slightly on top in Oakland and Rumford barely ahead in west and southwest Berkeley. John George was therefore beatable if Hone’s votes transferred to Rumford and John failed to expand his own base of support.
The run-off between John George and Billy Rumford would be the key local contest in November l976, a black on black showdown between the progressive and conservative coalitions.
Summing up, BCA and CCC emerged from June 8, l976 in triumph, having upset the conservatives in multiple races for the first time in a primary. election. Our slate approach had worked exactly as planned. We had clear momentum, rising from the April l973 disaster to the respectable November l974 showing, then the morale boosting April l975 tie, and now the June l976 breakthrough. It was on to November l976 with continued optimism, followed by high hopes for the April l977 municipal election.