Saturday, July 17, 2004

A long week with inconclusive endings ... .

Started out as an addition to the National Park Service staff. Am replacing a friend from the Arts Commission who has moved into the slot as Arts chief for the city (Parks and Recreation Dept.) Michelle will work with me one day a week during the transition period -- amd while I learn the routine. The work just doesn't feel challenging enough to demand that, but this may just be that I don't yet understand the process well enough to know. We'll see.

It's been years since I've done "reactive" rather then "creative" work, and -- for the time being -- it's relaxing. I'm doing some cataloging, data entry, bits and pieces of larger projects created by others. Feels not unlike those early-in-life jobs involving file cards and "Girl Friday" stuff. Not sure I can last too long at this, unless I can find some ways to work with policy. The "Bureaucratic Waltz" is of little interest to me, but, the calvary is on the way, it seems.

As luck would have it, the mayor's personal secretary announced her retirement just this week. This has come at a time when the city is in crisis and the demands on Mayor Irma Anderson are unprecedented. The National Park Service is located in city hall, so her office is not far down the hall from where I'm located. That means that we've met in the halls a time or two, and exchanged greetings. I've had many contacts with her in my capacity as Dion and Loni's rep, so there is some relationship to build upon.

"Hi, Irma! Heard about Bobbie's leaving. I know that this is a bad time and that you need help. Do you suppose I could be of assistance?"

The upshot of that is that it is quite possible that my work with the NPS will be short-lived, and that I'll be moving up the hallway to Irma's office. Details not worked out yet, but at least two city council members have recommended that this happen, and my attorney/broker is delirious! Motivation is the fact that the city is under the same retirement system as the state (PERS) and that I'll be able to complete those much-needed 3 months that I walked away from when I resigned impulsively "on principle!". As you may recall, I quit my job with a mere 90 days to go to qualify for my pension,fulfilling the 5 year requirement. Isn't this all just too co-incidental?

The 3-hour meeting with Ken Berrick (Seneca Centers) and Dion on Wednesday went terrifically. We're proceeding with the exploration of an innovative education program for high-risk poor youth. We're looking at several Bay Area cities and towns as possible sites. I like both the people and the concepts, and will continue to work with them, informally, while doing what I need to do to protect my financial stability by staying at City Hall for the present.

On another front, Jennifer and I continue to pursue the Arts & Culture element involving the convention center, but will need to wait until the new city manager is hired (interviews are presently in progress), before any decisions can be made on that front.

With the ongoing work in preparation for this fall's elections, I'm having to stay pretty much in the present so writing will be necesssarily sparse, I suppose. Besides the national campaign where every vote is needed in order to defeat the current office holders, there are the three local candidates that I'm hoping to help to seat. I'm personally committed to Joe Wallace, running for a second term on the Alameda County Transit (ACTransit) board where he is now president; Eddrick Osborne for Richmond city council, Gary Bell and Mindell Penn (incumbents) who are also running for their second terms. All of this requires a major committment to voter registration, so weekends will be intensely active for a while. Registering every eligible voter within spittin' range is the goal, and some beyond.

As luck would have it, at that Point Richmond fundraiser last week, I ran into a woman who has a copy of a draft manuscript of a book I started some years ago. "Did you ever publish your bio for small business owners," she asked? (Couldn't recall what she was referring to.) Then I remembered. She still has a copy and has promised to dig it out for me. As I recall, it is a terrific accounting of those years in the store (1978-1985 or there abouts), and undoubtedly contains lots of material that I've love to recover for this blog. It was written shortly after I left the store, so will be filled with those small but vital bits and pieces that were the lessons learned in that remarkable life experience.

So, maybe Cindy Howell may provide that framework upon which the next pages can be drawn -- which will give me the time to devote my time to the unfolding "next chapters."

The fall promises to be life-changing for us all. This year's election cycle is fearsome. For the first time in my life, I believe, I'm feeling victimized by the unknown. I've probably contributed more of my hard-earned and shrinking funds this year to political campaigns than ever before.

I've been a MoveOn activist since the beginning. Am watching George Soros, People for the American Way, the ACLU, for leads, and -- though always the political activist -- am feeling even more the need to effect change. I would love to see Kerry move to the Left. Am disturbed by his listening too closely to the Centrists -- a move I hated in Clinton. But he's all we've got, and that has to be enough. I keep harking back to the times when I watched him (Kerry) -- spellbound -- appearing before Congress as a peace activist with Veterans Against the Vietnam War. THAT Kerry, I loved. Inside that Lincolnesque craggy face and body lives that eloquent warrior, still, hopefully. I'm praying that the edges haven't been worn down to nothing, and that all those years in the congress haven't smoothed off those rough places. I'm trying to convince myself that the office, itself, will bring out those aspects of character, and that we and the world will be the better and the safer for it.

More later ... .