NAME, Years Elected to City Council
Aaron Fibush was elected to City Council in 1897. He did not serve his full term and resigned in February of 1898. He was replaced by Edwin Woodward (see below).
Aaron Fibush was one half of the "Fibush Brothers," manuafcturers and importers of cigars, located at 1103 Broadway. (The other half was his (presumably) brother Jacob. He lived at 558 16th Street.7 His main job, though, seems to have been capitalism. This may have had something to do with the fact that in 1898 an ordinance was passed that banned the sale of cigarettes (there was already one in Alameda). Strangely, Fibush had attempted to pass one in 1897. People could still smoke, they just had to roll their own cigarettes. What was in it for Fibush is unclear, though it was speculated that the ban was an attempt to boost the sale of loose leaf tobacco.12
In 1902, Fibush made the news for leasing property at 12th and Clay where he planned to build a large hotel. Does anyone know if a hotel was built there? The lot was 100 square feet and the lease was for 25 years with an option for purchase. He was committed to building a hotel but said if for some reason his backers didn't come through (they said they would put in 100k), he would build a business lot.8
In 1898, Councilmember Fibush resigned from City Council, citing personal reasons. Fibush was a Democrat and Mayor W. R. Thomas appointed Edwin Woodward, a Republican, to fill his spot, causing some uproar. Fibush explained that he had a business to run and that he couldn't afford to do so on a Councilman's salary. His salary was $40 a month and he said he would need to make $125 a month to do what he needed to do and be on Council.1 Pleading poor seems a little odd given his business endeavors.
This was not the only sketchy part of Fibush's time on council: In May of 1897 someone from the Oakland Water Company (possibly the Oakland Waterfront Company) attempted to bribe (or "boodle") him.3 First Fibush said there was nothing to the story, then he said maybe it was true, then he said it was no big deal.4
The only other surviving thing of note that Fibush did on Council was propose an ordinance banning riding bicycles on the sidewalk in July, 1897. It didn't pass.10 This was probably a good thing as Fibush wasn't very good at following bicycle laws. In 1899 he was arrested for failing to have a lighted lamp on his bike.15
Fibush was involved in another scandal in 1898. In this case he and one Robert Biel seem to have preyed on Adoph Weake and embezzled money that he fronted them. (The article confuses me.)6
The excitement for Fibush never ended: In 1890, Fibush, "seated on a diminutive donkey led by a giant negro" followed a brass band down the street and was chased by a "mob of 1000 men and boys" down Broadway From 14th to 7th and back. There were even fireworks.This was payment for a bet that he lost.9, 11 Fortunately, he didn't fall off the donkey like the time he fell from a street car in 1901. (Seriously.)17
In 1906, Fibush even filed for an injunction against the Key Route System. First he sued for $30,000 saying that the person who was supposed to sell him a property at 22nd and San Pablo, just north of the Bell Theater. William Henshaw, hadn't given him the deed.13 He then filed the injunction to stop the Key System from building any track on the property until it was his.14 In an interesting historical twist, after the suits were settled, this property was leased to the Cohn brothers, the owners of the Bell Theater. They built the Model movie theater and then Fibush tried to take the lease back. He then bought the lease back and sold it to the Eilers Music Company, apparently for a lot of money. The Tribune notes that this part of San Pablo, now part of Uptown, was booming then.16
Fibush was Jewish, or as the Chronicle called him at the time, a "sharp Hebrew" (seriously).5 He may have been the first Jewish City Council member.
OTHER POSITIONS IN CITY GOVERNMENT
- "FIBUSH GIVES UP HIS SEAT: HIS PLACE FILLED BY A REPUBLICAN." San Francisco Chronicle: Feb 19, 1898.
- "FIBUSH GIVES UP HIS SEAT."
- "FIBUSH MAY PRODUCE A BOODLE SENSATION." San Francisco Chronicle: May 24, 1897.
- "AN AFFIDAVIT WHICH THE MAKER REPUDIATES: Some Talk of Attempted Bribery in the Oakland Water Fight." San Francisco Chronicle: May 22, 1897.
- "A SHARP GAME: A Note for $6500 Sold for $1100 OAKLAND'S ELECTRIC PLANT How Adolph Weske Was Induced to Give His Note to Robert Biel and Aaron Fibush." San Francisco Chronicle: Jan 12, 1888.
- "A SHARP GAME."
- "McKenney's Oakland, Alameda and Berkeley City Directory." 1887-88.
- "ACQUIRES SITE FOR NEW HOTEL: Fibush May Get the Capital to Carry Out a Big Undertaking." San Francisco Chronicle: May 23, 1902.
- "He Enjoyed the Ride." San Francisco Chronicle: Nov 9, 1890.
- "Fibush's Ordinance Opposed." San Francisco Chronicle: Jul 16, 1897.
- "He will ride a donkey." San Francisco Chronicle: Nov 8, 1890.
- "CIGARETTES TO BE ABOLISHED." San Francisco Chronicle: Aug 31, 1898.
- "DEMANDS DAMAGES FROM BANKER HENSHAW: Fibush Sues for $30,000 Because Deed Was Not Delivered According to Contract." San Francisco Chronicle: Feb 9. 1906.
- "FLEES DOWN BACK STAIR FROM AN IRATE WOMAN." San Francisco Chronicle: Feb 11, 1906.
- "FIBUSH VIOLATED BICYCLE ORDINANCES." Oakland Tribune: May 12, 1899.
- "SAN PABLO PROPERTY IN THREE TRANSFERS." Oakland Tribune: Jan 24, 1912.
- "AARON FIBUSH MEETS WITH AN ACCIDENT." Oakland Tribune: Nov 27, 1901.