|East Bay Express Analyzes
November 15, 2001
The following can be found in the November
14 East Bay Express, web page:
And the winner is ... money: We must admit to being mildly disappointed with the outcome of last week's city election in Richmond. Voters smugly ignored the desires of pun-happy political columnists and did not elect Tom Butt and Corky Booze (pronounced BOO-ZAY, for you urban sophisticates). They did, however, return frizzy-haired People's Lawyer Jim Rogers to the City Council, which should provide a few cheap yucks over the next couple of years. But enough about our petty concerns. Let's take a quick look at this year's winners and losers:
Contra Costa County Central Labor Council: Clearly, the evening's big winner. Labor dumped nearly $100,000 into the campaign. At the end of the night, four of its five candidates were victorious, including Mayor-elect Irma Anderson. Can you say "Living wage"?
BMW: A loser. Something is screwy when an organization called Black Men and Women endorses an Asian-American candidate over a well-respected black reverend, Charles Belcher. The endorsement confirmed suspicions that BMW really is a front for the Richmond Firefighters Union, Local 188, and its consultant, Darrell Reese. The firefighters' union had targeted Belcher for annihilation because he didn't back its retirement benefits package. The campaign also revealed a deep fissure in BMW. The ostensible group prez, Lonnie Washington, was marginalized by a mysterious committee that authorized a hit piece on Butt that he called "a waste of money," and sent out another piece for failed mayoral aspirant Nat Bates, which, to Washington's chagrin, didn't even mention the date of the election.
Darrell Reese: At first blush, Reese seems like an election-night loser. His buddy, Bates, got creamed. But all three candidates that he and the firefighters backed for the four-year council seats -- Maria Viramontes, Richard Griffin, and Jim Rogers -- cruised to victory. Also consider that in 1999, Reese was at the center of an FBI corruption investigation and headed for political oblivion. Two years later, he's a "legitimate" player in Richmond politics once again.