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George Boardman: Oakland’s mayor offers a serious challenge to the City by the Bay

George Boardman

Observations from the center stripe: Slow edition

WHEN YOU consider how long it takes to get anything done around here, the HEW building will probably fall down before it can be redeveloped … JUDGING FROM the calls and mailers we aren’t getting, the county-wide candidates don’t seem to realize voting has been going on for weeks … DON’T BOTHER to call us now: We’ve already voted … ACCORDING TO The Wall Street Journal, Dollar General puts its stores in “America’s left-behind communities” … NOBODY SHOULD be surprised if the summit with North Korea doesn’t take place. You can’t expect the North Koreans to sound conciliatory when you demand unconditional surrender before the talks start …

Fans of televised political ads have probably noticed by now that Democrats running for state office have concluded there are votes to be gained by proclaiming their opposition to President Donald Trump.

Whether it’s Gavin Newsom or Antonio Villaraigosa, Xavier Becerra or Fiona Ma, Dianne Feinstein or Eleni Kounalakis or some other candidate you never heard of, they persist in telling us how they’ve opposed the president in the past and will do so in the future.

But despite their opposition to the current administration, none of them have been referred to the Department of Justice for a criminal investigation, or had their name attached to a piece of legislation that carries a five-year prison term. No, that honor goes to (of all people) the mayor of Oakland, Libby Schaaf.

That’s quite an honor for the city on the east side of San Francisco Bay, generally treated like the red-headed stepchild of The City. As longtime San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen liked to point out, there’s a reason they make you pay to get into San Francisco from the Bay Bridge, but let you into Oakland free of charge.

Oakland just can’t seem to catch a break. The Raiders and Warriors are leaving town, and the A’s would join them if the Giants would let them build a new stadium in Santa Clara. While numerous songs have been written about S.F. including the Tony Bennett classic, Oaktown is stuck with “Oakland (We’re for You),” recorded by the Goodtime Washboard 3 in 1963 for their forgettable album, “Don’t Blame PG&E, Pal.”

But Schaaf one-upped the progressives in San Francisco and just about every other elected Democrat in the state when she called a press conference in February to warn of pending raids in Northern California by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

ICE subsequently carried out a four-day sweep across Northern California that led to 232 arrests, but ICE chief Thomas Holman claimed 800 undocumented immigrants were able to evade detention because of Schaaf’s alert. (ICE’s public relations guy in San Francisco subsequently resigned, saying 800 was a wild exaggeration and that he wouldn’t be a party to disseminating incorrect or misleading information.)

Trump suggested that Attorney General Jeff Sessions investigate Schaaf for possible obstruction of justice, and just last week, Rep. Peter King (R, Iowa) introduced the “Mayor Libby Schaaf Act of 2018” that bans officials from “the purposeful broadcast … of information related to any imminent action by a federal law enforcement officer or agent.” Violations would carry a prison term of up to five years.

These actions practically guarantee Schaaf’s reelection in November and pose a real challenge for San Francisco, which is currently stuck with an interim mayor who looks more like an insurance salesman than a bomb thrower while several candidates campaign to replace deceased Mayor Ed Lee. But given the city’s track record, I’m confident Lee’s successor will figure out a way to one-up Oakland again.

Real world math

Critics of our public schools are always griping about the lack of emphasis on the STEM subjects, the math and science courses that can get you a good paying job in our information-based economy.

These subjects would be a lot easier to teach if they could be framed in real-life situations students can relate to. Thanks to the latest mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas, a teachable moment is at hand.

That thought occurred to me after I heard the comments of one of the Santa Fe survivors, 17-year-old junior Paige Curry: “I wasn’t surprised. I was scared … It’s been happening everywhere. I always kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here too.”

Then I noticed a story in the New York Times, “New Reality in High Schools: Calculating the Risk of Getting Shot,” which featured interviews with several high school students who described how they are more careful about where they sit in class, the cafeteria, and other school venues.

So how about a math exercise to determine the chance any given high school will be the scene of the next mass shooting? Several math concepts would be utilized in the exercise to determine the probability of a school joining the list of over 200 school shootings since the Sandy Hook massacre six years ago.

Students might as well get real about this subject because the adults who are supposed to be looking out for their welfare aren’t doing anything about the problem. The reaction to the Santa Fe shooting was typical: Fake news about the shooting included a doctored picture of the shooter wearing a “Hillary for President” hat, the lieutenant governor of Texas suggesting the problem is that schools have too many doors, and a guy wearing a Trump hat and carrying an American flag and a gun showed up at the school to … who knows?

And people wonder why kids are losing respect for their elders.

You’re what?

Pauline Nevins’ recent “Other Voices” essay “The Royal Box” makes a good case for the futility of trying to put people in boxes instead of judging them on the “content of their character,” to borrow a phrase from my fellow American, Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of our friends illustrates the point: A white woman with a delightful English accent who was born in Kenya and emigrated to the U.S. from South Africa. Now that Vanessa’s a citizen, she refers to herself as an African-American. That tends to confuse people.

George Boardman lives at Lake of the Pines. His column is published Mondays by The Union. Write to him at ag101board@aol.com.

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