A Better World Begins in OaklandTheres a popular saying in the Bay Area: A better world is possible. According to Aimee Allison, a young, dynamic candidate for the Oakland City Council, A better world begins in Oakland. For her it begins in District 2, where shes waging a grass-roots campaign against the Brown-De La Fuente machine. Pat Kernighan, her opponent, is one of the Oakland insiders. She votes consistently with De La Fuente. In her first election, Kernighan raised $86,000., a lot of money for a small district. Some say she just bought the election. In contrast, Allison accepts no corporate donations.
The Aimee Allison Campaign for City Council
by Paul Rockwell
City Council contests rarely attract attention. But the outcome of the Allison groundswell may well change the tone and direction of Oaklands City Council, an administration that does not even run its own schools, and is currently paralyzed by a wave of crime and murder. If Allison, who has an audacious plan to attack the roots of crime, wins a seat, she becomes a swing vote, and the corporate backers of De La Fuente may just meet their match.
Crime in Oakland is the biggest issue on voters minds today. Under Brown, De La Fuente and Kernighan, Oakland has one of the highest homicide rates in the nation, triple the national average. That fact alone requires a change of leadership. In the context of Oaklands failure to protect the safety of its own citizens, the Allison campaign against crime takes on special significance. Only a few weeks ago, the manager of the Bangkok Palace restaurant was gunned down near Allisons campaign office on Grand Lake.
That night of the shooting, Allison told me, took me through the trauma of violence in Oakland. As the police hauled the manager out on a stretcher, I saw the victim with a bullet in his head. He was a real person, not just number 46. His co-worker was sobbing, and I sat with him through police questioning. The whole experience touched me, and I realized that City Council policies are not working. Our leaders have failed to grasp the magnitude of violence in Oakland. Thats why I am calling for a new, bold policy to end the crime wave, to dig into the roots of crime.
Last week I walked with Ms. Allison through her precinct, door to door. Every person who opened a door agreed the City Council has failed to do its job. Allison took time to explain the dynamics of crime in Oakland. There are 10,000 parolees in Oakland on any given day, she said, quoting the police chief. They are the products of a city without jobs, decent education. When they get out of prison, theyre dumped on Oakland streets like empty cans. The city provides no jobs, no skills, no training programs, no drug rehabilitation. Inevitably many fall back into a life of crime.
Published in In Motion Magazine May 23, 2006
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