Three of the thirteen putative candidates have failed to qualify for the Oakland mayoral ballot, so we now have a decent idea who's going to run the city next year. Well, if you consider ten candidates a small enough set. Let's burn through the seven whose chances are, shall we say, exotic: Marcie Hodge, who sits on the Peralta Community College board; poly sci prof Joe Tuman; college preparatory academy entrepreneur Terrence Candell; real estate broker Arnie Fields; retired fella Greg Harland; Green Party footnote Don Macleay; and — hey, whaddya know? — another real estate playa by the name of Larry Lionel Young Jr. Nothing says housing market crash like realtors looking for a career change.
Which leaves us the Big Three: Rebecca Kaplan, Jean Quan, and Don Perata. Seasoned pols all, and they've lined up their donors and supporters well before the filing deadline. Now that we can officially look forward to the end of l'ancien regime Dellums, let the games begin!
Diocese Hit with Rape Lawsuits
So what's first on the list of Oakland matters our candidates might want to address? Try the new lawsuit against the city's Catholic diocese. Last week, seven people filed suit against the Roman Catholic Church, alleging that Oakland priest Stephen Kiesle repeatedly raped them as children, and that the church's leaders knew all about it — he did plead no contest to charges of lewd conduct in 1978, after all, and even asked to be defrocked — but kept him on as a priest for nine more years. Even after the church defrocked him, Kiesle continued to serve in a youth ministry in Pinole for eight months before retiring to Walnut Creek. It's not exactly the sort of thing that comes up in League of Women Voters debates, but when the most powerful religious organization in the East Bay is accused of systematically protecting a child rapist in order to preserve its good name, you'd think one or two civic leaders might have something to say about it.
Especially since the present diocese's bishop, Salvatore Cordileone, was the most important leader in the fight to deny marriage rights to gay men and women throughout California. Cordileone spent 2008 masterminding the campaign to pass Proposition 8, and he was subsequently rewarded with his present post shepherding Oakland's faithful to paradise.
But it's not all bad news for Oakland's children. The state's academic test results came out last week, and students in Oakland doubled the average test score gains made by the rest of California's school kids. Of course, there's still a long way to go; only 41 percent met the state's proficiency goals in reading, and only 44 percent met the same goals in math. Meanwhile, Piedmont's students rocked the Casbah, with 80 percent hitting the proficiency goals. Still, progress is progress.
Hard Times Come Again No More
Outside of Oakland, the rest of the world ain't doing so well, and we've got the numbers to prove it. National unemployment insurance filings jumped by 12,000 in the latest report, bringing the total number of freshly jobless to 500,000, a number not seen since November of 2009. Meanwhile, the Bay Area housing market continues to look grim. Home sales in the region plunged by a striking 20 percent in July, as the feds' home-buying tax credit sunsetted, ending the last of the government subsidies propping up the industry. In addition, almost 8 percent of Bay Area mortgage holders are in serious danger of foreclosure, having gone 60 days without a payment.
The tough times have prompted a serious state budget crisis, and last week Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger took two major steps to dig California out of this mess. The Supreme Court ruled that Schwarzenegger has the authority to force state workers to take three days of unpaid leave every month until we get back in the black, and the savings are expected to hover around $150 million a month. Which is great for the bottom line, but might irritate more than a few clerks and bureaucrats around California. And that brings us to the Guv's second initiative: asking CalPERS, the state employee pension investment fund, to lend him $2 billion to get California through this year's budget crisis. It takes a serious set of teutonic testicles to kill three days of state employees' pay with one hand and reach out for a loan with the other.
Three Dot Roundup
Chip-making giant Intel announced that it had concluded a deal to buy McAfee, the Internet security firm, for $7.68 billion. The news underscores Intel's ambition to break into the business of smartphones and other wireless mobile Internet devices, but it also indicates that after three years of contraction, Silicon Valley is finally ramping up its plans to invest in the future. ... Hewlett-Packard buttressed this optimism by posting profit and revenue numbers that matched or exceeded Wall Street's expectations. The company, whose last CEO Mark Hurd was forced out following rumors of sexual harassment and doctoring expense accounts, was facing at least one shareholder lawsuit and a dip in its stock price. But the new numbers may keep it afloat after all. ... A new study from UC Berkeley researchers concludes that pregnant women who chow down on pesticide-laden fruit have a higher risk of giving birth to kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. ... But at least they don't smell like poo, which is more than we can say for Terminal A at the San Jose International Airport. Following a recent renovation, a nasty sewage odor has settled in the offices behind the airline counters, prompting airport officials to set up "industrial odor-eating machines" and pump smoke through the facility in the off hours.