Mayor Jean Quan has not completely given up on a failed tax that would have raised nearly $2 million to help prevent wildfires in the fire-prone Oakland hills.
The mayor is asking City Attorney Barbara Parker if the city can count late ballots after it was discovered that she and Councilwoman Libby Schaaf -- apparently acting on incorrect information from the city clerk's office -- told voters in email blasts that ballots would be accepted as long as they were postmarked by Nov. 13.
The actual deadline for the mail-only election required all ballots to be in the hands of the city clerk by 8 p.m. Nov. 13. City Clerk LaTonda Simmons said she was looking into claims that her office was the source of the misinformation.
The tax measure failed by only 66 votes, and 246 ballots arrived in the four business days following the deadline. "We want to do everything we can to make sure that folks who wanted to cast a ballot get their vote counted," Sean Maher, Quan's spokesman, said.
The City Attorney's Office was closed Friday.
Linda Olvera said she mailed her ballot Nov. 13, after reading Quan's email blast, and thinks the vote should count. "I am very upset that I was given the wrong information," she said. "But there also is a part of me that asks why I waited until the last minute."
Quan had given out correct information on her Facebook page days before the deadline, but on Nov¿. 13 she sent out her weekly electronic newsletter, which stated in all capital letters that ballots must be "postmarked by today." Similarly incorrect information was dispensed by Schaaf and by email chat groups in the hills. Simmons said she immediately informed Quan and Schaaf that their email blasts were wrong, and corrections were quickly made.
The correct filing information had been posted online at the city clerk's website as well as on the ballot mailed out to more than 40,000 residents in the hills.
Sue Piper, Quan's former spokeswoman who led the campaign supporting the tax, doesn't expect that the voting deadline brouhaha will change the outcome. "We have accepted the vote," she said. "As frustrating as it is to lose by 66 votes."
Oakland law would regulate circuses
The next time the circus comes to town it, ringmasters might be taking orders from city animal service inspectors.
With the backing of the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Councilwoman Libby Schaaf is proposing that Oakland set written guidelines for the humane care of animals in circuses and empower Oakland Animal Services staffers to compel compliance. The proposal will be heard Tuesday by the council's four-member Public Safety Committee.
Schaaf's proposal stops short of outlawing the use of bullhooks on elephants. Last month Los Angeles became the first city to outlaw the sharp-edged prod, which animal welfare advocates say hurts the pachyderms.
Schaaf said she would support banning the tool, but didn't think it could pass the full council.
With the bullhook ban off the table, Schaaf said Ringling Bros. appeared willing to keep performing at Oracle Arena. Feld Entertainment, which produces the circus and several other events at the arena, including Disney on Ice, motorcycle racing and monster truck shows, did not return calls for comment this week.
The company's events bring in about $1 million a year for the publicly owned arena, arena officials said.
Raiders trip abroad would save $250,000
If the Oakland Raiders play a "home" game in Europe next year as expected, there will be two guaranteed winners: the city of Oakland and Alameda County. The co-owners of the Oakland Coliseum actually lose money every time the Raiders kickoff at home.
Playing a game in Europe would save taxpayers $250,000, according to a city staff report. The public authority that runs the Coliseum handles the costs of running the stadium on game days and preparing the field for the Raiders following Oakland A's baseball games.