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California's Feminist Socialist Political Party

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Bob Evans Présente!

Posted on July 1, 2013 by the Communications Committee

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By Marsha Feinland, Berkeley

Robert (Bob) Evans was born on Oct 9, 1945 in San Francisco, where he grew up. He attended U.C.Berkeley and received his law degree at Boalt Hall. He was an attorney in private practice specializing in criminal defense and tenant protections. He was often appointed by the court to represent indigent clients.

Bob was active in the fight to defend rent control in Berkeley. He was an elected commissioner on the Berkeley Rent Board from 2002-2006.

Bob was devoted to the struggle for socialism in this country and worldwide. He was a frequent candidate for office as a Peace and Freedom Party nominee for State Senate and for State Attorney General.

Bob served  on the State Central Committee of the Peace and Freedom Party. He was also an editor of the Party newspaper, The PARTISAN. He was passionate about promoting the socialist perspective of the party, both in his writing and presentations.

Bob is survived by his wife, Suzi Sargent. Cards can be sent to her at 1639 9th St., Berkeley, CA 94710.

A memorial gathering will be held in Berkeley on Saturday, July 20. More details will follow.

By Matthew Siegel, Peace and Freedom Party registrant

I have no idea where Bob Evans was born. No idea where he went to school or what his favorite food was. I do know he liked Vodka. I do know that he was a founding parent of Rent Control. Had one of the bushiest moustaches I ever saw and was one of the smartest people I ever worked with.

As a tenant attorney working in an office of tenant attorneys, when we had an arcane issue that needed analysis we went to Bob. When we had to parse out an overly cryptic statute with thirty-seven commas and that was written by a landlord lobbyist and we needed to attack it, we went to Bob. When we were desperately searching for a novel, yet rational way to argue a legal point, we went to Bob. And when a demurrer needed filing and we were all fresh out of ideas….we went to Bob. And more often than not, Bob had an answer.

I didn’t come to the Peace and Freedom Party until late in life. I’m not involved in the party, have never attended a convention. I will tell you this though….as far back as I can remember, back when I was in my 20’s, my 30’s, my 40’s. Enough already. As far back as I can remember, before being a member of Peace and Freedom, before personally knowing him…. I voted for Robert Evans for Attorney General because his were the best values one could want in any elected official……compassion combined with thought. The strength to stand behind your beliefs….the ability to reason with intelligence and to argue without histrionics.

Bob Evans turned me on to on-line poker and the day it became illegal in California, we both cried. Metaphorically speaking. Although I’m pretty sure we saved some money because of it.

Bob was different. We all know that. He was private. He was dedicated. He was tireless in trying to live his life true to his beliefs.  I served with him as a Berkeley Rent Board Commissioner and again got to witness how smart he was. He always seemed one step ahead of any argument that was happening in the room. I respected and admired him. He was one of the smartest people I knew.

Since leaving the law office at Franklin Street, I didn’t see Bob for quite some time. I knew his health was failing, but didn’t know it was severe. I know that Berkeley, for all it’s Nobel laureates, peace activists, hunger activists, environmental activists, social justice activists and all round engaged citizenry will be that much less passionate, that much less engaged now that Bob is gone.  

 

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By Debra Reiger, Sacramento

Bob had a wonderful, and wry, sense of humor, and contributed so much to our party.  He ran for attorney general several times, as most of you know, and typically got good vote counts to help us stay on the ballot.  His legal advice has been vital to us over the years. And he was a good guy..
 
Many of you knew him better than I did, but I do know that Bob's passing is a big loss to us and to the progressive community. And I will miss him greatly.

Bob Evans Présente!

By Guillermo Herrera, Solano

I had only met Bob a few times.

His was a voice of experience, and at meetings I felt respect for him, and deference.
I never spoke to him, but I thanked him for being a Scientific Marxist (a thankless role, especially these days).

Hasta La Victoria!

By Eugene Ruyle, Berkeley

Bob Evans on Working Class and Socialist Revolution

Our Peace and Freedom Party Platform states our commitment to the working class and to socialist revolution:

"We represent the working class, those without capital in a capitalist society.  . . . Under capitalism, the proceeds of labor go to the profits of the wealthy few. With socialism, production is planned to meet human needs. . . .Socialism can only be brought about when we, the working class, unite and act as a body in our own interests."

Our Party has recently lost one of its most committed activists in Bob Evans, a Berkeley attorney and frequent P&F candidate for Attorney General.

Bob was absolutely committed to the working class and to socialist revolution. Here’s what he had to say in response to those who might have thought that theory was unimportant:

“There is nothing wrong with the terms "middle income," "lower income", etc. But "middle class" to describe people who work for wages or salary and have no significant ownership (much less control) of the means of production (and the raw materials used to produce) and distribution is wrong from a socialist (or at least marxist) perspective and legitimizes liberalism's thesis that such things don't matter.

“They do matter. An understanding of the vital importance of ownership and control of the means of production and natural resources, and the resulting (when ownership and control is capitalist in nature) production for profit rather than production for use is key to building an understanding that socialism is not reformed capitalism, but a fundamentally different system and that socialism is not merely a nice idea but is essential to the progress of human society.

“We should never use the term "middle class" unless that is what we mean. It is true that one's class is sometimes disguised, but class and income level are not the same thing. (Take my case: my income level is lower certainly than the median income as a whole and lower than many if not most genuinely working class -- certainly lower than unionized workers -- I am nevertheless genuinely middle class: I am self-employed, don't work for wages or a salary, don't have a boss, pay rent for my workplace, etc. However, demonstrating what I meant when I said that one's class is sometimes disguised, up until a few years ago the largest portion of my income came from a program I've quit participating in where lawyers were court-appointed to represent criminal defendants who could not, because of a conflict of interest, be represented by the public defender. I was paid by the county, not the client, and when they called and told me to go  to court for someone, I went, so in a sense I had a boss. At that time one could make a case for the theory that I was working class. But not now.)

By Miriam Clark, San Diego

Really sorry to hear of Bob's death.  My most treasured memory of him is in Seattle.  I was next to him in a huge circle surrounding about 30 people sitting down peaceably in a major downtown crossing.  The police were circling around them, slapping batons threateningly into their own palms.  Bob got out his notebook, got right up in each officer's face, saying "Let's see - this is officer _______ _______, badge number ______" and writing it down, and I was holding his cell phone up or something and following along, very composed and absolutely calm.

By Emma Mar

The first time I met Bob was when he came to my house with Hilda Cowan to collect my signature to run for office.  We had just moved to Oakland.  I ended up going with them to observe the signature-gathering procedure; I realized immediately how difficult and tedious a process it was.   It wasn't very encouraging when we conversed with the Peace and Freedom registrant who gave the oddest reasons for being in the party.  I mentioned this to Bob who shrugged and said there were more like her.  Somehow I had expected the liberal Bay Area to have some flaming revolutionaries.  How disillusioning!  When I started collecting signatures for myself and others I came across a number of people who said they would gladly sign a petition for Bob because he had helped them in some legal way, probably pro bono.

Bob was one of the most honest persons I've ever known.  He did not suffer fools, liars or phonies readily but used his legal training to expose them.  At state meetings, it was especially gratifying to watch Bob annihilate someone being manipulative or dishonest.  However, he was never mean-spirited, spiteful or petty.

In the legal battles the party has had with the State of California, Bob's knowledge of election laws and other legal matters helped extricate the party many times.  In state elections, Bob ran for the office of state attorney general a number of times.  If he had been elected, he would have been great--fair-minded, always championing the underdog.  Locally, Bob was greatly concerned with tenant problems.  He was an elected member of the Berkeley Rent Board.  I'm sure Berkeley tenants will miss him as one of their stout advocates.  He was also one of the persons responsible for Berkeley having a rent control law.

The party will miss Bob, not only for his legal expertise but for being such a staunch socialist, always sticking by his beliefs and principles.  That is integrity.  So long Bob.  I personally will miss you.  It was really good to know you.

In comradeship, friendship and struggle,
Emma Mar

By Georgia Williams, Fresno

At the first State Central Committee meeting I attended, on image stands out among all others:  Bob Evans, saluting--arm raised and fist clenched, singing The Internationale, his voice heard over all others.  I'd like to include its chorus here, as I say Bob Evans Présente!

'Tis the final conflict,
Let us stand in our place.
The international working class
Shall be the human race!
'Tis the final conflict,
Let us stand in our place.
The international working class
Shall be the human race!

Bob Evans died on June 20, 2013.

 

 
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