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Revenge of the Gnomes!

Two nights ago, I wrote about hundreds of little hand-painted gnomes that have become affixed to a lot of utility poles, and other places, around Oakland, California! Everyone seems to love them, except some of the humorless folks at Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), who were going to dispatch crews to REMOVE the wee folks, for “compromising” utility equipment.

Anyone who has watched Congress over the last few years knows that “compromise” is a BAD thing! ;-)

Well, today, even some of the heartless folks at PG&E had a “change of heart” and announced:

“We received a great deal of public feedback, so we’re declaring the poles gnome-man’s land. We’re not going to remove them,” PG&E spokesman Jason King said. “We’re committed to working with the artist, the city and the community to find a peaceful resolution.”

According to SFGate.com:

The gnome paintings, which have been screwed to the base of utility poles in Haddon Hill, Adams Point and other neighborhoods, have invoked much love in a beleaguered city that’s been struggling with the state’s worst violent crime problem.

They’ve inspired dozens of delighted blog posts and tweets, and have been the talk of almost every cafe and preschool.

Children’s Fairyland, on the banks of Lake Merritt, even offered the artist a lifetime golden key, which the artist politely declined because he didn’t want to risk his anonymity.

After The Chronicle reported Sunday that PG&E had threatened to remove the gnome paintings, the gnomes’ creator begged the utility for clemency.

“I’m a resident of Oakland who simply thought this would be a nice way to make my fellow Oaklanders happy and proud,” he wrote in an e-mail to PG&E.

“We see too much garbage on the streets here, too many shootings, too much violence, not enough that makes one stop and smile. … They were meant to be an ongoing gift to my community.”

Please read the SFGate.com article for more information, but revelations include the nature of negotiations with the City and the fact that there are MORE THAN 2,300 gnomes in Oakland from Jack London Square to the area around Highland Hospital (which is both a good place to get shot and a good place to get patched up afterward)!

The artist also called City Hall, hoping officials could grant political asylum. The city responded by calling an emergency meeting with PG&E staff members.

“We are holding peace talks in a secret mushroom patch near the Rose Garden,” said Zac Wald, chief of staff to City Councilwoman Lynette McElhaney, whose district includes the preponderance of the gnome population. “People love the gnomes, and they are District Three residents.”

SFGate goes on to describe the uneasy “peace” and an apparently “happy ending” (you didn’t think that PG&E was going to develop a sense of whimsy overnight, did you? Those Myers-Briggs _STJ types can be pretty hard-nosed “realists,” in THEIR OWN reality, of course ;-) Now that PG&E knows HOW MANY gnomes there are, they can decide whether it would be economical to REMOVE them!):

Ultimately, PG&E wants to see the gnomes migrate to other locales, but is not going to forcibly relocate them, King said.

Staff at Fairyland were ecstatic at the PG&E pardon.

“We are thrilled that a giant organization like PG&E can appreciate a little magic,” said Shannon Taylor, Fairyland art director. “It’s great that so many people came together to try and save these little creatures.”

-Bill at

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