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Elections Hit the Bay, Trump Hit the Russia Investigation, Another Shooting and a Man Who Should Not Be Forgotten

This is your special edition weekly news wrap for the Bay and beyond, bringing you local election results, the story of a man who should not be forgotten, some pretty important stories that popped up in the the last 24 hours and a couple ideas of how you can shake off the funk this weekend. This is not a slow news day, so go get your cup of coffee and dig in. Let’s go…

They Bay’s Electoral Highs and Lows

Folks around the Bay cast their ballots along with the rest of the country Tuesday and it was handily decided that there were two big winners by the time West Coast results started trickling in: Democracy and women.

Over 100 million people hit the polls or mailed in ballots, which comes out to nearly half of the country’s eligible voters, breaking records for a midterm turnout going all the way back to 1914. A lot of those voters were newly registered and that’s a good thing no matter how you spin it.

As a result of all that civic participation, the U.S. broke yet another record by sending nearly 100 women to Congress. Thirteen of those female leaders will go on to hold the line with the other 10 women still seated on the Senate, but Congress in general will have a whole new look in January with an estimated 95 women elected to the House. At last year’s Women’s March, the motto had changed up a little: “Last year, we marched. This year, we run.” They weren’t playin’ around. Not only will there be far more women representing us, but a record number of women of color fought for and won their place to have a voice on Capitol Hill.

Record numbers of women elected to the House. Photo courtesy of Conscious Life News

On the statewide end of things, Sen. Dianne Feinstein held her seat but constituents may have sent the old timer a message with nearly 46 percent of the vote going to her opponent Kevin de Leon, also a Democrat. The “Kavanaugh effect” is real on both sides of the party line and let’s be honest, that shitshow overshadowed everything Christine Blasey Ford had to say and handed the GOP a bag of fecal ammo to unload all over the #MeToo movement. She’ll be feeling the ire from that one for a while. We see you, Senator.

Former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom took his predestined place at the helm as the next California governor, although early numbers reported from smaller, rural counties had his Republican challenger in the lead, reminding us urban centers that there are still some mighty large conservative strongholds in the Golden State. Democrat Eleni Kounalakis will join Newsom as lieutenant governor and she’ll hopefully put her housing development chops to work as the state continues to face a demon-like affordable housing crisis.

Democrat Alex Padilla held onto his position as the Secretary of State, blowing out his Republican opponent Mark Meuser, whose platform was hyper focused on voter fraud. Betty Yee and Fiona Ma swept the field for Controller and Treasurer spots, respectively, and Xavier Becerra came out 20 points ahead of super Catholic porn avenger Steven Bailey for state Attorney General.

The race for Superintendent of Public Instruction is still being hashed out. Marshall Tuck, who was heavily funded by charter school advocacy groups, is barely one point ahead of Tony Thurmond but the winner has yet to be called in this one.

The battle for Superintendent is still undecided with Marshall Tuck and Tony Thurmond neck in neck.

In a huge blow to housing advocates, Proposition 10 failed. As of now Costa Hawkins is still around and that is bad news for people seeking rent control and housing relief in our overpriced, gentrified neighborhoods. However, on a positive note, Propositions 1 and 2 passed and will enable the state to spend about $6 billion in bond funds toward affordable housing projects with large chunks allocated for veterans and the mentally ill.

Proposition 3 was rejected by a fairly small margin. The proposed $8.9 billion water bond felt warm and fuzzy on the surface but the measure was skewed to largely benefit the almond industry in Central California and wouldn’t have done enough for the rest of the state’s water infrastructure, not for that price tag at least.

UCSF Benioff (a.k.a. Oakland Children’s Hospital), where kids go to get healthy. Thank you, Prop 4!

Proposition 4 passed, as it damn well should have, giving hospitals some much-need funding to expand and renovate non-profit facilities that treat children regardless of family finances and insurance. On a personal note, my beautiful niece was just treated at Oakland Children’s Hospital in October and I thank the voters for taking care of the places and people that take care of our kids. Muchas gracias, California.

The rejection of Proposition 5 means that older homeowners won’t be able to transfer their property tax rates from a $200,000 home to a $1 million home. That was basically the gist of this deal and as much as I’m sure we all want financial security for our elders, the amount of revenue lost would have been insane.

Thankfully, Proposition 6 also failed. No, we don’t like the prices at the gas tank but it turns out voters are much more concerned with bridges not collapsing during commute.

Bay Bridge bolt failures and inspections in 2013. Photo courtesy of NACE International

Proposition 7 was by far the most meaningless bubble to fill on Tuesday’s ballot, but in the battle between day and night, daytime won. We really only voted for the opportunity to have permanent Daylight Savings Time considered by the state legislature, which will need a ⅔-vote to pass. So, there’s that.

Proposition 8 didn’t take, which would have put a check on exorbitant kidney dialysis costs, but on the flip side, clinics won’t threaten to shut down over the regulation changes. Not sure who really wins here.

Private ambulance employees will now be required to be on call for emergencies during their paid breaks due to the passage of Proposition 11, which sucks if you’re in the middle of a sandwich but could save more people in crisis…so this is probably worth it. Also falling into the “worth it” category is approval of Proposition 12 that mandates egg-laying hens be set free to roam and increases cage sizes for other four-legged friends that eventually become dinner.

Locally, Libby Schaaf took over 56 percent of the vote to retain her seat as mayor of Oakland but the second runner-up in the ranked choice vote was activist Cat Brooks, who ran one hell of a race. We can be sure Brooks won’t sit quietly for long.

Of the 27 measures on Alameda County ballots, only three were rejected. The 24 adopted propositions will go far in securing housing, increasing revenue, funding schools, taxing cannabis and facing climate change in the East Bay. All 13 Contra Costa County propositions passed, which were also highly focused on taxation and school funding. In San Francisco, passing of Proposition A will help shore up the Embarcadero seawall for earthquake safety, privacy wins with Proposition B, Proposition C taxes businesses to help fund homeless services, the city’s cannabis industry will pay between 1 and 5 percent in taxes toward the general fund under Proposition D and artists get some love with an allocation of hotel taxes under the approved Proposition E. The clear winners in district supervisor races were Matt Haney in the 6th and Rafael Mandelman in the 8th – other races are still being worked out.

That’s your election roundup for the Bay and just in time to kick off the 2020 campaign season, which is already off to a combative start. God help us.

Remember Timothy Lee

Friday marked the 33rd year since the death of Timothy Lee on Nov. 2, 1985 and I will find every way possible to keep mentioning this story until it is someday set straight.

His body was found hanging from a fig tree in an empty lot near Concord BART. The tree is still there.

He was 23 years old when he got off work from an embroidery, fabric shop in San Francisco, where he also went to school for fashion design. It was Nov. 1, the weekend just after Halloween in 1985. He met up with friends to hit a few bars, caught a decent buzz and took BART back home to Berkeley, except he never made it there. Timothy fell asleep on the train and woke up at what was then the last stop in Concord. To make matters worse, he missed the last train back home.

He was stuck in Concord in the middle of the night. The city has changed a whole hell of lot since then, but in 1985, it wasn’t a place you’d want to be stuck if you weren’t from the area, especially if you were young, black, native American and gay..

Just before that, police were called to a bar not far away from the BART station in response to a stabbing incident. The victim was a black man who told police he was attacked by two men wearing KKK robes and hoods. Police would later find those robes and those two men went on to face charges in court for that stabbing. They claimed the robes and hoods were Halloween costumes, nothing more, but at least one article claimed the outfits were complete with full insignia.

Lee’s death was ruled a suicide before his parents even made it to the coroner’s office to identify their son’s body. The Concord Police Department claims the records surrounding that case have been lost. There is much more to say about his story and one day, I will. But for now, may he rest in peace.

Hello, Russia

In case you missed it, the president fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions Wednesday, one day after the Dems took control of the House. Instead of following the line of succession, which would have positioned Rod Rosentein as the new head of the Department of Justice, Donald Trump appointed a loyalist by the name of Matthew Whitaker to step in as acting AG until he can nominate someone who can pass Senate confirmation. Whitaker has been vocal on conservative news outlets about his distaste for the Special Counsel’s investigation into Trump’s campaign and Russia, warning that red lines would be crossed if Robert Mueller and team were to step into Trump’s family and business finance territory.   

Special Counsel Robert Mueller faces scrutiny under new acting Attorney General. Photo courtesy of Slate

This particular bit of news is not going over so well, but activist organizations have been preparing for this moment for months and are ready to take action Thursday with over 900 scheduled protests occurring at 5 p.m. in cities across the country. Indivisible and MoveOn.org have called to “break the glass” and implement mass public mobilization to demand the Russia investigation be protected and allowed to complete its work. There are over a dozen planned events in the Bay Area alone – you can check the exhaustive list of protest locations here in case you want to join in for the SOS call or just avoid the traffic during prime commute hours.

Another. Mass. Shooting.

Ian David Long, 28, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps from Newbury Park walked up to the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks Wednesday night with a handgun and extended clip, shot the security guard on duty and opened fire on the crowded bar full of college students. Twelve people were killed, including Sgt. Rob Helus of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.

Six off-duty police officers were present when the incident occurred and it’s been reported by witnesses that several of them attempted to protect others, one standing in front of an unarmed civilian like a shield.

Aftermath of shooting at Borderline Bar & Grill Nov. 7, 2018 in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Photo courtesy NBC News

Long was found dead in the bar’s office – his motive and exact cause of death is still unknown at this time. A crisis intervention team was called to the shooter’s home for a disturbance in April; however, he was evaluated on the spot and not taken into custody at the time.

According to a press conference just after 7 a.m. Thursday, Thousand Oaks authorities report that the tragic scene unfolded in under three minutes. When Sheriff Geoff Dean was questioned about why mass shootings seem to be so prevalent in the U.S., he said:

“If I knew the answer to that, I’d do something to stop it.”

Weird shit to do on your day off

Some super weird shit is exactly what the doctor ordered such after an intense week. We’ve got a couple ideas to get you started.

From 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, you can be a ninja! Who doesn’t want to be a ninja? Free beginner “urban ninja” parkour classes will be held at Mulford Hall on the University of California, Berkeley campus. Kids are welcome with parental permission but you don’t have to be a kid to want to learn how be Spider Man and it’s a monthly event in case you’re really into it.

Maybe you’d rather drink and get fat instead – that’s cool with me! Gluttony is on the menu in San Francisco if you’ve got $60 bucks to get your fill at the Beer and Bacon Classic going down from noon to 10 p.m. at AT&T Park Saturday. Check out the details here.

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Just in: a fire has broken out in Butte County, forcing thousands to flee about 90 miles north of Sacramento. This story is developing.

And…I’m spent!

Good night and good luck!

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.