No-Spanking Zone Swatted In Oakland - City Council knocks amended resolution
By Chip Johnson, columnist for San Francisco Chronicle, February 11, 1999
The majority of the Oakland City Council apparently wants to reserve a parent's right to spank unruly children.

Or they simply took pleasure in spanking supporters of a resolution to declare the city a ``No Spanking Zone.''

Thordie Ashley, a politically active Oakland resident, brought the plan to his office last November.

Ashley got the idea from Jordan Riak, executive director of Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education, who publicly urged city officials to put up ``No Spanking Zone'' signs around Oakland.

Ashley and Riak met on KSBT's Morning Beat show last fall.

Riak is the author of a bill that outlawed paddlings in

California public schools in 1987.

Thank goodness the council voted 5 to 3 against the resolution on Tuesday, putting an end to another goofy plan that brought the city the kind of national attention it doesn't need.

A phone operator who recognized Riak's name when I called for his number had an opinion about the plan.

``Yeah. Most of us kind of laughed at it, anybody who's got kids,'' she said.

City officials, including Mayor Jerry Brown, said the plan creeped a little too far into parent's rights to decide how to raise a child.

No one supports an adult who physically abuses a child, or another adult for that matter. That's pretty obvious, and some resolutions are nothing more than politically correct posturing.

Nonetheless, supporters offered an emotional plea for some statement from the city endorsing their position.

Joe DeVries, who is an aide to Oakland City Councilman Nate Miley, authored both versions of the plan. DeVries said supporters hoped that they could salvage a victory by changing the wording of the resolution after a council committee shot it down two weeks ago.

``We wanted to pass something that sent the message, but we used the wrong phraseology,'' DeVries said. ``The no spanking zone was wrong.''

The marketing strategy seemed fine, it was the intrusive implication of the message that was flawed.

Riak also has received calls from interested parties in Anchorage, Houston and Los Angeles.

He was bitter about his Oakland council experience, and said a videotape segment of his presentation on the subject was sabotaged.

Riak also admonished his council critics for not properly researching the subject.

The second draft of the resolution called for the city to condemn corporal punishment, provide literature and look into funding parenting classes.

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