So across Oakland on Election Night, there was dancing in the streets, with cars blowing horns well into the night and impromptu gatherings all across town. My office had a big post-election Obama bash yesterday afternoon complete with bubbly goodness and cakes. (Okay, technically it was a non-partisan “election celebration,” natch.)
Tuesday brought mostly good news for Oakland:
- Berkeley voted down its anti-BRT measure that could have rippled our direction.
- Voters across the state gave the nation’s first high-speed rail system the green light!
- The regional parks and transit bonds passing with flying colors.
The proposed city taxes for police and schools failed, but both were laden with problems, so that’s neither particularly sad nor especially surprising. On the state level, the one big loss (or rather, one big bad win) was Proposition 8, California’s same-sex marriage ban. It’s now headed back to the California Supreme Court for what promises to be another long bout of appeals, so we’ll see where that leads. Otherwise, things shook out roughly as expected (if not as hoped).
The only big surprise for me was that Oakland’s Measure OO made it through. It’s a well-intentioned city measure that allocates millions to funding programs for children and youth. Unfortunately, because the proponents didn’t want to present it as a new tax in tough economic times, the measure instead called for getting the money by allocating 2.5 percent of Oakland’s total city revenues to the programs, which means to pay for it, the Council will have to axe $17+ million from other programs and services. Not good news for a city already strapped for cash. There’s still hope, though—it doesn’t take full effect till 2011-2012, which means we have a couple of election cycles to put a replacement ballot measure out that could identify an alternate funding source or another means of paying for these programs. I have a feeling many of the people voting for it didn’t think about the fact that they might lose library or parks or arts funding as a result.
On balance, though, there’s an optimism throughout the city that I haven’t seen in a long time. Like Americans across the country, everyone around here seems hopeful that better times lie ahead, and that President-elect Obama will be successful in steering the nation towards a strong future. Only time will tell, but it’s nice to go to sleep at night feeling good about tomorrow.