How did the East Bay - Oakland and Berkeley specifically - evolve from a conservative Republican bastion into a region with a global reputation for left-wing politics?
John Curl, an inside player and observer of the region's complex political matrix, explains the transition in a lengthy, and more than slightly critical, examination of one of its most enduring characters, Berkeley Mayor (and former assemblyman) Tom Bates. And it's creating a stir in Berkeley's hyper-active political community, where minute shades of ideological difference can have a major effect.
Bates, whose wife, Loni Hancock, is now an East Bay state senator, is quoted extensively in the article, "Tom Bates and the Secret Government of Berkeley," thanks to an oral history archive in which Bates participated during a lull in his nearly half-century-long political career. And some of his pithiest and most candid observations are about what happens behind the scenes in the Capitol and how its appearances conflict with political reality.
Curl's 54-page article was first published in the Berkeley Daily Planet. Although he praises Hancock for her decades-long activism on behalf of leftish causes, he depicts Bates as posing as a true-blue progressive while aiding pro-development forces, particularly the expansion of the city's immense University of California campus.
Bates did not respond to a request for comment on Curl's monograph.