Brown Makes His Move

Hank Sims sims at
Fri Jun 12 07:54:10 PDT 1998

I haven't heard anyone mention it on lbo-talk yet, so maybe people have missed what's been happening with Jerry Brown (subject of the May LBO cover story).

Those of us who see Brown as a bush-league demagogue will be gratified to hear that he's now pushing a petition around Oakland that will give him veto power over city council actions and direct control over the city manger's office. Apparently, Brown's big electoral mandate has emboldened him into making this big power grab.

In today's SF Chronicle, Chip Johnson reports that Brown Fever hasn't abated since the election: "He has a seemingly endless supply of eager volunteers, and their numbers grow every day. In a four-day period after the election, more than 200 people walked up to his doorstep and asked for [the strong-mayor] petitions..."

Will a Brown with autocratic powers be a disaster for Oakland? I have a feeling that he will be. The theory-practice gulf is especially wide in his case. His interest lies in fuzzy-think stuff, in "empowerment" (in the California sense) and "process" and God knows what-all. He imagines himself a deeper thinker than he is, and he knows in his heart that he deserves more power than he has. That, I predict, will end up wreaking havoc with his new demesne's public works.

The difference between him and Willie Brown, over in San Francisco, is that Willie being a /bon vivant/ and doing nothing, really, in the City. A few ballparks here and there. But Jerry, no doubt, sees Oakland as his palette-- and himself as a visionary.

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