OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | Oakland Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney is proving to be a rising star. However, while her ability to bring together fractious groups to settle the clearing of the Oakland Army Base and her soaring oratory is unquestioned, her first year in office has sometimes been uneven.

Her comments Tuesday regarding a proposed ordinance to strengthen safety regulations for circus animals and spectators at Oakland venues, was one of those odd moments. In response to a push to ban the use of bullhooks on animals, McElhaney said it would be low-income residents who would suffer because of the dearth of family-friendly entertainment options in Oakland. There are indications the owners of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus would pull out of Oakland, if a ban is enacted by the Oakland City Council.


The brutal use of the bullhook by circus trainers on elephants can be easily accessed on the Web. Nevertheless, McElhaney lamented the trouble families encounter by traveling long distances for entertainment, such as rolling skating and Chuck E. Cheese’s. “It seems not to be a big deal for some of these families,” McElhaney said, apparently referring to more wealthy families, “but it’s an extreme burden.”

She added events like the circus bring “normalcy” to the lives of underprivileged children. “I know the circus may not be ideal entertainment for some people, but it is an option for some families,” she said, before conjuring the image of childhood wonderment at the circus, “I want you to look at the kid’s faces.”

Get Microsoft Silverlight