Monday, January 08, 2007

Yes, Virginia, there is a mayor.

Virginia Berkman, 82, is Chris' mother and my new housemate. She's great. Anytime the conversation lulls, just ask her about The Depression and settle in for some stories.

From 1960 to '64, she was a fieldwork supervisor at the U.C. Berkeley Department of Social Welfare. Her best student was the young and charismatic Mr. Ronald Dellums. Virginia has followed his subsequent career, including twenty-six years in U.S. Congress, with interest and affection.

On January 8th, Ron Dellums was to be inaugurated as the new Mayor of Oakland. Virginia decided to make an appearance and I volunteered to escort her.

The ceremony began with open meetings of the Oakland School Board and City Council. I expected to be bored, but was instead captivated by drama and controversy. The eight-member City Council was to vote on the Council Presidency, and many members of the audience made passionate speeches urging current President De La Fuente to step down. Instead he won again by a vote of 5 to 3, provoking so much cat-calling and outright booing from the audience that Mayor Elect Dellums came down to the podium and asked for civility and respect for the democratic process. It was better than the West Wing.

Eventually, Mayor Dellums was inaugurated and gave a strong, inspiring speech.

Then it was time for the reception line. Would the Mayor remember his fieldwork supervisor from forty years prior?

Apparently so.

There was some interest on the part of the media.

A most enjoyable day.

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