A community news source for residents of the HarriOak neighborhood in Oakland, CA.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ode To Oakland

We just found this lovely letter to Oakland, written just last week by an Adams Point resident who posts at Philosophy and Letters.

Here's an excerpt. Please visit her blog for the whole post:

To the City of Oakland:

During the sunset, sunrise or when I look at the trees turning into shade of autumn, or when I see the busses or look at the lake, or even when I’m on my way to work that I have the urge to tell others how I feel about you. However, I don’t know who I should talk to. The trees? My reflection in the lake that’s clouded and green? The crackheads the street or the normal ones standing on the corner of 14th and Broadway about how much I love you? I don’t know whom I should talk to, anyone or anything, so I’m writing you a letter and posting it on this blog, just to tell you know how much I adore you.

On the brink of graduating and participating in the VISTA program I decided to nestle and make my home in Oakland (or the Bay Area in general) because my former supervisor said that the programs are more refined in that part of the state, and it’s the city that reminded me most of Chicago. I know it seemed weird, and most people don’t understand it, unless they’re native s of Chicago. I felt an immediate kinship with the city. Possibly because it was larger than Oceanside, or Riverside, but it wasn’t as large as London, which made me feel alienated for how big it is.

"I love being here for other reasons. Like that there are so many different kinds of people, neighborhoods and things. Outsiders who have never been to Oakland are surprised when they meet people who love it out here. It’s because it’s a gem, and not all parts of Oakland are created equal. It’s mostly known for its violence (I think it’s the 4th most violent city in the nation), particularly in East Oakland, but no one talks about the Taco Trucks, the Old School ice cream trucks that serve Mexican ice cream and soft serve (sometimes in the same truck!) or the sense of community. There’s the Oakland in Glenview (the rich wannabe Piedmont part), Oakland in Downtown (the nightlife part), Oakland by the lake (the central part with the Famer’s Market), Oakland in the West (another residential low income part that’s much like East Oakland, but slightly quieter and where folks say good morning to each other), Oakland in Temescal (where the Berkeley-esque people kick it), Oakland in Montclair (see Glenview) and Oakland and Piedmont — which is actually not Oakland, but they can use our libraries. Each of these neighborhoods are distinctive in different ways, so of course the most common question Oakland residents ask one another is “What part of Oakland do you live?” where it’s ok to represent your address. Believe me– I get a lot of props for living in Adam’s Point even those I may have to leave that neighborhood sadly :-(.

It’s a place where people jog the lake wearing wife beaters, nylon running shorts and gloves or mittens to protect their hands from the cold. It’s a place where people wander the farmer’s markets with their yoga mats and struggle to find the freshest organic produce at Whole Foods. There’s the Oakland where the rich play and the East Oakland which everyone joke about avoiding. There’s College Ave with posh shops, boutiques and restaraunts and International Blvd. which is notorious for having bad things happen to good and bad people alike. But the Oakland I love is when these two worlds meet. The other day I saw a teenager with dark wash skin tight jeans, Kool Aid red extensions and an airbrushed jacket sporting a LIVE FEED bag from the Whole Foods. Those are times when I love this city because how would a tourist know that site even exists?"

photo courtesy of Brad Greenlee and Flickr

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Speedy Graffiti Removal

Hours after we posted a picture of this utility box covered with graffiti (see below) it had been cleaned up. Thanks for the quick response!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Neighborhood Watch Meeting Dec. 16

The first of two meetings to organize new neighborhood watch groups in HarriOak/Adams Point will be held on Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. in the library of the Westlake Middle School. If you'd like to form a neighborhood watch group and get neighborhood watch signs on your block, you must attend these meetings and bring at least two of your neighbors (and preferably more). The second meeting will be on January 20 at 7 p.m. in the same location.

Oakland Online

Six months ago we got all excited about the increasing number and quality of blogs about Oakland. Since then, the online media landscape has gotten even richer. A Better Oakland, the doyenne of Oakland bloggers, did a round up of her favorite blogs in a recent post that just made my morning and inspired our new sidebar. You can get depressed about crime and our incompetent city council if you'd like, or you can cheer yourself up with OaklandGoods' report on Ozumo, a new restaurant in HarriOak (or Uptown if you really want to be technical), learn more about the Port of Oakland at Oakland Streets' Dredge Report, let Chloe Veltman convince you to buy theater tickets or network with urban gardeners at Ghost Town Farm and The Inadvertent Gardener. There are blogs about local real estate and a growing number of Web sites dedicated to community organizations, like our Beat 8x neighbors in Greater Mosswood and KoreaTown. All these online publications have one thing in common: They celebrate Oakland's rich and vibrant culture and highlight it musical, artistic and intellectual passion.

HarriOak Feeds 60 Families

Belinda Gilchrist-Day said the Darreis Project was able to feed sixty families a Thanksgiving Dinner thanks to the generosity of the local community. "It was beautiful," Gilchrist-Day said. "We had lots of elderly people who really needed help. No one drove up in a Mercedes Benz."

Photo courtesy of cobalt123

New City-Wide Crime-Fighting Organization

The United Neighborhood Councils of Oakland, of UNCO, was officially formed on December 9. The organization brings together Oakland's 52 neighborhood counci in order to advocate for issues of concern and to facilitate and promote full implementation of community policing as laid out in the City Council of Oakland Resolution 79235 CMS. UNCO will have three officers: a chair, a vice chair and a secretary, who will be elected by the delegates at the first of four annual congresses. Delegates will be chosen by their neighborhood councils (also known as NCPC's or neighborhood crime prevention councils) and there will be one delegate from each council. More information can be found at the Google Group.

Graffiti Clean Up

We are making good progress cleaning up the graffiti in the neighborhood. Graffiti has been removed from 85 Garland (repeatedly), 264 Oakland Avenue (repeatedly) 306 Oakland Avenue, 3333 Harrison Street and 201 Orange Street, and the city has been notified about graffiti on signs on Oakland Avenue, including 381 Oakland Avenue, 355 Oakland Avenue and 155 Pearl Street.

If you see graffiti on public property please report it to the city, which will send someone to clean it up. You can call 510-615-5566 or just snap a picture with your phone and e-mail it, along with the property address, to pwacallcenter@oaklandnet.com.

If you see graffiti on private property, please remind the property owner that they are responsible for cleaning up the graffiti or they can be fined for violating the Oakland Municipal Code. (See the copy of the code below.)

The problem-solving officer has taken a look out the graffiti, and it is not gang graffiti, but it is blighting the entire neighborhood. Graffiti hurts.

Oakland's Blight Ordinance - Get more Business Documents

Dellums Fires Staffer After She Hugs a Relative

Chip Johnson of the San Francisco Chronicle, who has been doing an tremendous job reporting on the disaster of the administration of Mayor Ron Dellums. Today he writes that Anne Campbell Washington, the highly competent and widely respected assistant city administrator was fired after she gave a hug to an elderly relative who spoke at a city council meeting against one of Dellums' appointments to the city housing authority commission in early October. (Campbell Washington was one of city employees who has helped HarriOak navigate the city bureaucracy in our fight for traffic-calming measures.)

Chip writes:
"The goings-on in Oakland City Hall these days are absolutely repugnant and in no way representative of the way open government is supposed to operate.
Sadly, as Oakland residents have reeled under the leadership of the Dellums regime, there has not been one voice of dissent from any elected official in Oakland government. Nothing, nada, zip. Not even a peep.
Not one of the city's eight elected council members has ever summoned up the gumption to call the tea kettle black, and there are a myriad of reasons given."

That includes Nancy Nadel, who represents HarriOak on the City Council.

More information on a movement to recall Mayor Dellums is at www.recalldellums.com.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Very Important New Land-Use Law

The San Francisco Chronicle on Saturday ran an article about SB375, which is designed to encourage local governments and builders to concentrate growth in urban areas close to public transportation. The Chron calls the law, which was signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in late September, "perhaps the state's most important land-use law in more than 30 years." This could have pretty important ramifications, potentially positive and negative, for communities like ours.

A question of love

A commentary on Prop 8 from MSNBC.

Monday, November 24, 2008

WOBO Membership Meeting Dec. 2; 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Walk Oakland Bike Oakland is holding their regular membership meeting at Vo's on corner of Grand and Webster on December 2 starting at 6:30 p.m. WOBO is a group of cyclists who in addition to gourging themselves on Vietnamese food, holding barbecues in the park and generally cutting loose, has also achieved real change by working with the City of Oakland to make roads more friendly to cyclists and pedestrians.

For example, on Monday November 3, the City Council voted to add a dedicated staff engineer to the bicycle and pedestrian unit. You are probably thinking, "What's the big deal?" Well, change doesn't come easy. WOBO pushed for this for two years. The new engineer will make a difference because each step the city takes to make roads safer and more bikable must be reviewed. Without this additional city staffer, modifications represented by the bike and pedestrian plan would not happen.

Please take a minute to visit WOBO's Web site and send a letter of thanks to council members. (All you have to do is click, click, click.) There is also an action call to request a halt in the construction of closed medians on MacArthur Boulevard, which will turn the street into a freeway, rather than a community corridor.

Bike to the Movies Night

The Parkway Speakeasy Theater at 1834 Park Boulevard is offering cyclists free valet parking and discounted movie tickets for the first two shows if you ride your bike the theater. (This week, however, they will be closed for Thanksgiving.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bank Fraud -- Wells Fargo

A fake e-mail is being circulated to Wells Fargo customers from fraudsters who are seeking to steal identities. DO NOT CLICK ON IT. It is from security-services@online-updates.com. The text is below.

Your Online Banking is Blocked

Because of unusual number of invalid login attempts on you account, we had to believe that, their might be some security problem on you account.

So we have decided to put an extra verification process to ensure your identity and your account security.

Please click on continue to the verification process and ensure your account security. It is all about your security.

Thank you.

Continue To Online Banking

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Westlake Community Coalition Meeting

This Tuesday, November 18, the Westlake Community Coalition will hold its final 2008 meeting @ 5 PM. Meeting will adjourn @ 7 PM. Location is First Congregational Church on Harrison X 27th Streets, in the Smith Library. (Next meeting may be prior to spring.)

Purpose of meeting is reformation, and re-establishment of implementation priorities for 2009 city activity. We will submit a request for action to appropriate city offices/officials.

If you have special topic/item of concern, please, convey to Barton before Monday evening. Agenda and priorities establishment for coalition will be determined by prior input, and agreements concluded Tuesday. Crosswalk safety identification, street lanes narrowing cyclist routes/lanes, recirculation/median alteration, trees replacement, bus stop eliminations and addition, are among items to be accentuated in the efforts of coalition.

Between December and February it is likely that the Caltrans-funded study of this community will generate our attention and require participation. For this reason, it is prudent to distinguish among our members, and to the community, the existing recommendations in need of implementation, independent of the 18 month study project. All of our previous efforts should not fall into "needs further study" slot.

The intersection of Harrison, 27th, 24th, Bay Place, adjacent to Whole Foods (and affected by popularity of the store), needs special attention. Collaboration with the First Congregational Church, Westlake Middle School, and Whole Foods management, is in the interest of everyone living nearby. The traffic patterns there, and the problems associated w/the loading dock on Harrison, and street hazards on Vernon should not be ignored. Persistent traffic problems do not go away without persistent attention and requests for improvements. City priorities are dictated by input, communication from those who are aware, interested in change and active. The coalition has attention of city reps. You are part of our coalition. Every participant is significant to success.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thanksgiving Food Drive

Belinda Gilchrist-Day of Project Darries wants to remind people that November 17 is the last day to donate to the neighborhood food drive. Donations are being accepted at the First Christian Church at 111 Fairmount and there is also a drop off box on the porch at 339 Oakland Avenue.

Photo courtesy of Cloned Milkmen.

Neighborhood Watch Meetings: December & January

The HarriOak and Adams Point neighborhoods are coming together to organize a network of neighborhood watch groups. If you want neighborhood watch signs on your block, you MUST attend two organizational meetings at the Westlake Middle School. The first meeting is Tuesday, December 16, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. The second meeting is Tuesday, January 20, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. We will publish the room location as soon as we know it.

Here are some notes from a Fairmount block captain who recently attended the city's big Neighborhood Watch Steering Committee meeting at City Hall.

1) I recently attended a Neighborhood Watch Steering Committee Meeting at City Hall. A presentation was given by Deputy Chief Jeffrey Israel of the Oakland Police Department regarding the recent increase in burglaries in Oakland. There was a great deal of information provided including tips on taking preventative measures. A good deal of emphasis was placed on neighbors taking an active role in observing activities in your neighborhood. Here are some items to consider:
a) Potential burglars observe activity in a neighborhood, or lack thereof. If they walk up and down a street will they be observed or greeted? Sometimes the fact that their mere presence has been observed could be enough of a deterrent.
b) Some "casing" techniques are riding up and down the street on a bicycle, sitting in a parked car for a long period of time, someone knocking door to door, or it could be someone that you don't recognize just sitting in place for a long period of time.
c) One of the most effective ways to assist the police department is to funnel information to them. If you place a call, try to be as detailed as possible. Include such details as a description of clothing, direction of travel, height and build, etc. If it is not an emergency that does not require 911, you can reach the Oakland Police Department non-emergency line at (510) 777-3333.

2) A few of you may have observed the Neighborhood Watch Signs that were installed along Fairmount Avenue between Harrison Street and 29th Street. Currently there are 3 signs up. We are currently awaiting the installation of 2 additional signs. These signs are at the very least a visual reminder that a watch group exists on our street, however to be an effective watch group will require real participation through keeping a watchful eye on our street with a willingness to call the police department when appropriate.

3) Our relatively quiet street had a few incidents over the last few weeks. Some of these occured in the early hours of the morning. Several residents were awakened and the police were called on the scene several times. These turned out to be domestic disturbances with no observed physical violence or arrests taking place. A reminder: It is not enough to simply stand by your window or balcony, rubbernecking over what may happen next. Do not leave it up to your fellow neighbors to call the police in these instances. Take action and make the call yourself! Good work to those who took the initiative to make those calls.

4) We are having an Emergency Preparedness Meeting at the First Christian Church on Monday, November 10 at 6:30pm. This FREE training class is sponsored by the Oakland Fire Department. I have attached 2 informational sheets regarding this class, which is called the CORE 1 Home and Family Preparedness Class. We will have a Core 2 class on the following Monday November 17 at 6:30pm. This is open to all who would like to attend. See Attached Information:

Photo courtesy of Adam Rice.

New Traffic Plan Underway

Design, Community & Environment, a planning and design firm based in Berkeley and Ventura, has begun work on a community-based transportation plan for the Harrison Street/Oakland Avenue corridor. They held an initial meeting with neighborhood stakeholders Tuesday night at the First Congregational Church with the goal of establishing an effective consensus for calming traffic and improving neighborhood livability along the corridor. DCE is a respected firm that has done extensive work for Bay Area communities, including the Adams Point Urban Design Plan, the Albany Bicycle Plan, the Ames Research Center Environmental Impact Study for redeveloping Moffett Airfield, the La Honda Creek Open Space Preserve Master Plan and the Marin County North-South Bikeway Feasibility Study for the Marin County Department of Parks, Open Space and Cultural Services.

As part of the planning process the firm will be holding a community workshop in January. We will publish the details once we know them.

The Harrison/Oakland study is made possible with a grant from Caltrans. Below is DCE's transportation planning brochure.

Design, Community & Environment - Get more Business Documents

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Crime Meeting: November 20, 2008

The next meeting of the Beat 8x Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council will be held Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. at the First Christian Church at 111 Fairmount Avenue.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Core Training

Robert Carson, of Fairmount N.O.W. (Neighbors On Watch), has organized Core emergency-prepared training for our community. There will be two sessions, details below, held at the First Christian Church at 111 Fairmount Avenue.

November 10 (Monday) CORE 1 Home and Family Emergency Preparedness - Approx. 2 1/5 hours, starts at 6:30 pm

November 17 (Monday) CORE 2 Neighborhood Preparedness And Response - Approx. 2 1/5 hours on Monday starts at 6:30 pm

If you are planning to attend, please e-mail Robert at robertfcarson at gmail dot com so he can get a headcount.

Also, see materials below.

Core Document1 - Get more Business Documents

Core Doc2 - Get more Business Documents

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Local Election Results

Editors Note: We originally reported Measure OO as having failed. That was wishful thinking. The measure, which was a greedy grab for taxpayer money by Kids First at the expense of programs for the elderly and parks and a bunch other programs that benefit the entire city, passed by about 6500 votes. As explained below, it locks Oakland into paying people to run afterschool programs and means there will be fewer ways of funding for other, equally and perhaps more pressing city needs. Oakland will now be spending more on teenage recreation on than on its libraries.

Measure N: FAILED (This is the Oakland Unified School District tax)
Measure NN : FAILED (This is the police tax)
Measure OO : PASSED (This was the set-aside measure sponsored Kids First)
Measure WW : PASSED (This is the East Bay Regional Park District tax)

Councilmember At Large: Rebecca Kaplan
Rebecca Kaplan 61,431 or 62 percent of the votes
Kerry Hamill 36,845 or 37 p percent of the votes

AC Transit District Director, At Large: H.E. Christian Peeples
H.E. Christian (Chris) Peeples 171,355 or 64 percent of the vote
Joyce Roy 94,697 or 35 percent of the vote

East Bay Regional Park District Director, Ward 1: Norman La Force
Norman La Force 21,699 or 50 percent
Whitney Dotson 21,052 or 49 percent

photo credit: joebeone

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Police Nab Burglars

Police arrested two men suspected of rash of burglaries in the Montclair area on Monday, October 27, after a resident noticed a suspicious car on Balboa Drive. The suspects, Chas Langley, 24, of Marin City, and Kevin Simmons, 31, of Denver, were driving a stolen, blue 1989 Honda. According to the Oakland police, burglaries in the Oakland Hills have jumped 73 percent since Sept. 1. Thirty burglaries involved suspects kicking in doors in North Oakland and the Oakland Hills. Langley and Simmons are suspects in at least ten of those burglaries.

Police are continuing to investigate a rash of burglaries in HarriOak, including one burglary and one attempted burglary that occurred on 2900 block of Harrison in October, as well as a burglary on the 300 block of Oakland Avenue, where a burglar entered through an open window. One person has been arrested. A truck was also stolen from the corner of Pearl Street and Orange on Tuesday night.

Police are urging residents to call about any suspicious person or vehicle (510) 777-3333. They also said burglars appear to have been deterred by burglar alarms and surveillance cameras.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ballot Help: East Bay Regional Park District, Ward 1

(We are reprinting a letter that Paul Klein sent to some friends and neighbors about the East Bay Regional Park District, Ward 1, race, with his permission.)

On the November ballot, residents of Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Kensington, Richmond, San Pablo, parts of Oakland, and a small part of Pinole will be asked to choose between Whitney Dotson and Norman La Force to serve on the Board of Directors of The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD, Ward 1).

Mr. Dotson is well-qualified, and is receptive to ongoing off-leash recreation in the EBRPD. Mr. La Force has a very well-established and readily verifiable track record in strident opposition to off-leash recreation in the East Bay and elsewhere; it is in fact entirely fair to state there has been no more unwavering and very loud voice than his in opposition to off-leash recreation on public land. I am to correspond about the details of Mr. La Force's record via email to rovenorth@yahoo.com.

If this issue is important to you, please spread the word about it. Vote for Dotson. La Force is the end of the world for off-leash recreation hereabouts. Too, Dotson is arguably preferable on the grounds - if no other - that he will become the sole African-American on the EBRPD BOD, as would be appropriate, to say the least, to a public agency that serves the East Bay.

Many thanks,

Paul Klein

Workshop on Restorative Justice

BayNVC, one of our neighborhood nonprofits, is asking us to help spread the word on a workshop they are hosting this weekend.

Restorative Circles Trainings
With visiting trainer Dominic Barter

Dominic Barter has traveled from Brazil and will be visiting the Bay Area November 1 - 3. He will hold two workshops on Restorative Circles. The Restorative Circles process is a restorative practice through which communities can compassionately handle conflicts, heal from these conflicts, and learn what conflicts have to teach us. His work has been informed by his experience in the Restorative Justice movement and his exploration of NVC. Restorative Circles have been used with exciting results in Brazilian schools and Brazil's juvenile justice system.

Nov 1-2, Building a Compassionate Justice System: An Introduction to Restorative Circles

Nov 3, A 1-day Restorative Systems and Circles Practicum

Space is still available in both workshops. For more information and to register please see the flyer below the video.

Workshop on Restorative Justice - Get more Business Documents

Ballot Help: Measure OO

Community leaders, including Susan Montauk and Gene Zehas, have created a Web site urging people to vote no about Measure OO.

Their key arguments are worth reproducing:

Measure OO is Unnecessary: City Council has already extended the Kids First funding for another 12 years.

Measure OO is Unfair: It would decimate city programs that serve ALL of Oakland’s population--kids, families and seniors—in favor of programs that serve only kids.

Measure OO is Fiscally Irresponsible: By doubling its share of City funds (from 2.5% to 5%) without adding new monies, it will usurp funding for important city services such as parks, recreation programs, libraries, senior services and more.

Measure OO is greedy: If passed, Measure OO would mandate an additional $16 million a year—more than the entire Parks & Recreation budget! At 5% a year, Measure OO would wreak havoc with other critical city programs:

Measure OO is Reckless: With no renewal or sunset clause, Measure OO is a permanent earmark. It locks the city into 5% of the budget a year ($26 million a year in today’s dollars) to kids’ programs FOREVER, no matter what the other demands and economic pressures on the city of Oakland.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Neighborhood Crime Meeting Recap

Thanks everyone who came to the neighborhood crime meeting. About two dozen folks showed up for a presentation by Reve Bautista and David Hall who talked about the City Attorney's new anti-crime program. (Read the Trib story on the program here.) Also, Benny Kwong, senior project director for EAH housing gave a presentation on a new development near Beat 8x. (Addresses are 616 - 620 & 634 21st Street and 635 22nd Street, 2100 Grove Street, 2126 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, 22nd and Martin Luther King Jr. Way and the a PDF with initial info is included below.) Priorities were set as (1) The homeless problem along Telegraph (22nd to 40th Street) (2) Graffiti on Broadway/Harrison/Oakland Ave (3) Drug dealing from 20th to 35th Street. Elise Ackerman was elected as the Beat 8x rotating chair. Elise said she would like to fill the role for six months and that she is hoping someone else will be able to volunteer starting in April. The main responsibility of the chair is to organize the meetings and be a point of contact for the city. In addition, the group also voted to have meetings every other month and to rotate them throughout the beat. The next meeting will be November 20th, location TBA, followed by meetings in January and March. Finally, the sign-in sheet disappeared after the meeting. If you grabbed it by accident can you please email harrioak at yahoo dot com.

EAH Housing Proposal 21st and 22nd Streets - Get more Business Documents

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hard Times In Corporate America

A friend just sent this over and while it's not exactly neighborhood news, it is funny!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Whole Foods Coupon

Here is a link to a Whole Foods Coupon, good through Oct. 21.
Or here.

Illegal Robocalls

Those annoying automated calls you are getting about various campaigns or ballot are illegal. What should you do if you get a call? Here is an FAQ on robocalls from the California Public Utilities Commission and here is a link to the law. If you want to take further action, there's a Political Do Not Call group that has created a registry. It has requested that large robocall companies stop calling folks on the list and has had some success.

Robocall FAQ - California - Get more Business Documents

Monday, October 13, 2008

Propositions 1A and 3

Trying to understand the ballot can make anyone's head hurt. Here is a good analysis of Propositions 1A and 3, regarding authorization of bonds for high-speed rail and children's hospitals.

0810_bb_proposition1A_and_3 - Get more Business Documents

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The 7th Oakland International Film Festival

The festival, which is being hosted at the Grand Lake Theater, started on Friday and runs through next week, ending on October 16, 2008.

The schedule is here.

Tonight's films include the "Passion of Power," a movie about the dark and secret past of a common household appliance - the vibrator - by Emiko Omori & Wendy Slick, and "Hit, Run and Score: the Oakland Banshees Story," a documentary about female athletes who are professional tackle football players by Kenya Davis. Those films, and others, will be showing from 6 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.

Community Meeting About Air Quality at the Port

You've read the news about how terrible the air quality is at the Port of Oakland. Well, there's a plan to improve it and the Port wants to tell you about it.

The Port is hosting a community information meeting about the Port of Oakland Maritime Air Quality Improvement Plan (MAQIP) on Saturday, October 18, 2008 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon at the West Oakland Senior Center.

West Oakland Senior Center
1724 Adeline St. - Multipurpose Room, 2nd Floor
Oakland , CA 94607

If you have questions about the community meeting, please contact
Laura Arreola, at (510) 627-1135 or via email at: larreola at portoakland dot com.

Self-Defense Course for Women Oct 18 - Nov 8

This course is being offered by the City of Oakland Office of Parks and Recreation. It is designed to empower women to feel confident by teaching them specific skills and techniques to defend themselves in potentially dangerous situations. The course covers topics such as Self Protection and Sexual Assault Awareness. Participants must attend all four of the three-hour sessions to successfully complete the course.

Saturdays, 3pm - 6pm

October 18 - November 8, 2008
Redwood Heights Recreation Center
3883 Aliso Avenue, Oakland

Course Fee: $40.00

(Fee includes course instruction, Certificate of Completion and personal protection items to take home.)

Register online at www.oaklandnet.com/parks/registration
Activity # 74233.403
For more information, contact Titus Taylor at (510) 238-2384

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Keep Old Medicines Out of the Bay

EBMUD is hosting several local medicine collections this week as part of No Drugs Down the Drain Week, Oct 4 - 11.

Info on disposal locations here.

Or easier to remember for the future: www.ebmud.com/cleanbay (and click on events link)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Thanksgiving Food Drive

Project Darreis is kicking off its annual Thanksgiving Food Drive. Please consider making a donation! They are accepting everything from canned food to monetary contributions that can be used to help families get a turkey. There is a drop off at the Project Darreis's offices at the First Christian Church at 111 Fairmount Avenue or at the home of Belinda Gilchrist-Day, the founder of the project, at 339 Oakland Avenue. For more information please e-mail projectdarreis at yahoo dot com or call 510-467-5053 or 510-692-1957. The deadline for donations is November 17. Last year the project gave away 38 bags of food and 50 turkeys to people in the neighborhood who needed a helping hand.

Belinda talks about the food drive in the video below.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Crime Prevention Meeting October 23, 2008 7 PM

The regular crime prevention meetings, which were in hiatus during the summer, are starting up again. The first meeting will be on October 23 at 7 p.m. at Providence House, 540 23rd St,Oakland, CA 94612 (510) 444-0839. In addition to touching base with OPD about what they have been doing in our neighborhood, including recent arrests and crime trends, we are hoping to learn more about how we can finally start getting misdemeanors prosecuted. In the past, petty criminals in Oakland basically got a license to wreck havoc from District Attorney Tom Orloff, though funny enough, misdemeanors did get prosecuted in other cities in Alameda County. We'll leave the politics of that unusual situation aside. Thanks to City Attorney John Russo, we've got a solution. Russo has set up a new misdemeanor unit within his office.

Among the crimes we will now be able to get prosecuted is the petty drug dealing that openly goes on at Oakland Avenue, Harrison Street, Orange Street, Pearl Street, Frisbie Way and Fairmount Ave, graffiti, loitering and disturbing the peace. Please come and learn how you can make a difference.

See above map for the location of Providence House or follow this link.

What are those Squiggly Lines?

PG&E is replacing the pipes leading to houses on Oakland Avenue and Harrison Street. They are bearing all the costs for digging up and then and paving over the street when they are finished.

Please Help Find Louie

A very friendly and much beloved black and grey tabby named Louie has gone missing from his home on Fairmount and Frisbie. He likes to follow strangers and is very affectionate.
If you find him please call 1-888-466-3242.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Public Records Workshops (Free)

The California First Amendment Coalition has organized three workshops on retrieving public records to be held Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008, at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. If you are a blogger or community activist, this is a great opportunity to learn how to get the records you need to hold public officials accountable. In Oakland, city employees blithely violate the California Public Records law. Don't let them stonewall you. It's against the law. Get informed about your options for addressing these violations in court.

Register Here.

Workshop 1.: Getting the Most Out of City Hall and Police
Leading investigative reporters and legal experts pour through
the public files, explaining what key information can be gleaned from
them, where to go to get it and how to overcome obstacles to access.
Knowing your rights is just the starting point.
Presenters: Karl Olson, Levy Ram and Olson; and Thomas Peele, Contra Costa Times

Workshop 2.: Accessing Government Databases
Leading investigative reporters and legal experts discuss the
enormous amount of information now being stored electronically by
governments, how to obtain that information and overcome obstacles to
Presenters: Rachel Matteo-Boehm, Holmes Roberts and Owen; Erin McCormick, San Francisco Chronicle; and Phillip Reese, The Sacramento Bee

Workshop 3.: Getting the Most Out of Court and County Files
Panelists, including journalists and lawyers, follow the
trail of public records from birth to death and explain just what
information is available, where you go to get it and how to overcome
obstacles to access.
Presenters: Tom Newton, California Newspapers Publishers Association; Tim Crews, Sacramento Valley Mirror; Burt Robinson, San Jose Mercury News; and James Chadwick, Sheppard Mullin Richter and Hampton

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Nancy Nadel, Jane Brunner kill proposed Nepotism Ordinance

Oakland nepotism ordinance dies in committee
Christopher Heredia, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Councilwoman Jane Brunner said the law as drafted would be overly
intrusive. Brunner said the law should require a supervisor to report
only a familial, romantic or cohabitant relationship she or he has
with a subordinate if the two city employees work in the same agency
or department..."

This is astonishing given that the former City Administrator Deborah Edgerly is under investigation by the FBI after she interfered in the arrest of her nephew, A CITY EMPLOYEE, during OPD's crackdown on a notorious street gang. The ordinance Brunner is proposing would not require employees like Edgerly to disclose such relationships.

Unfortunately, it's not surprising that Nadel voted against the ordinance. Nadel has repeatedly defended Edgerly in the past.

You may wonder how Nadel herself stayed in office? Only 8777 people in District 3, which is Nadel's district, bothered to vote in the last City Council election and Nadel was able to hold onto her seat by winning an extra 229 votes.

Jane Brunner, who represents District 1, did slightly better, with 13,820 people voting in her district. Brunner got 73 percent of their votes, compared to Nadel's 51 percent.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

WOBO Bike Ride September 27

Join Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, a local nonprofit that is a force for safer and friendlier streets for a group bicycle ride from Jack London Square to Lake Temescal on Saturday September 27, 2008. You'll have a chance to learn about the City of Oakland Bicycle Master Plan, and important developments that could affect your future ride and communities along the Broadway corridor.

Manifesto Bicycles will host a rest stop in their side yard. Lemonade and energy bars will be provided.

Manifesto specializes in urban bike culture: affordable, lightweight, minimal bikes that are easy to customize. The shop promotes bicycling, art, customization, re-purposing and the great city of Oakland.

Ride Details:
  • Meet Saturday, September 27, 10am at the Jack London Square Barnes and Nobles
  • Riders of all skill levels welcome.
  • Route is ~5 miles, multiple stops at points of interest, small climb at the end to Lake Temescal.
  • Refreshments will be provided en route by Manifesto Bike Shop.
  • Bring along picnic items to enjoy at Lake Temescal to round out the day
(Photo is courtesy of Ducamendes. You can check out Manifesto's Flickr Photo stream here)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Finally, good news on crime

The latest report from the Federal Bureau of Investigations shows a decrease in major crimes in 2007, and a spokesman for the Oakland Police Department said the trend is continuing in 2008.
Of course, the bad news is Oakland still ranks fifth in the nation for violent crime, but at least the numbers are starting to move in the right direction, except homicide which is up slightly.

Rapes are down 14 percent
Burglaries are down 10 percent
Auto thefts are down 10 percent
Robberies are down 1 percent

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lake Merritt's fountains need our help

Lake Merritt lovers may have noticed that all the fountains have been turned off.
Four of the motors have failed and are out of warranty. A replacement motor is broken.
Three of the four fountains are owned by the Lake Merritt Institute, which is struggling
to come up with the $7,000 it needs to replace the motors. Let's help!

Please send donations, whether they are large or small, to the Lake Merritt
Institute, 568 Bellevue Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610. The institute is a non-
profit, 501C3 corporation, so donations are deductible to the extent
of the law.

Below is an excerpt of a letter that the Institute's Dr. Richard Bailey sent to the Adams Point Action Council, which is spearheading this fund drive.

"Cheers: That is great! We could certainly use this kind of help. To
answer your questions:

"Funds for the aeration fountains should be sent to: The Lake Merritt
Institute, 568 Bellevue Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610. We are a non-
profit, 501C3 corporation, so donations are deductible to the extent
of the law.

"Functions: Each fountain aerates (provides oxygen) to at least one
acre of water around it. They also mix the top and bottom layers of
water, and - to most people - are aesthetically pleasing.
These aeration fountains are important to the Lake because all life
depends on ample oxygen. As you may know, in 1998 the US EPA listed

Lake Merritt as an impaired body of water due to low oxygen.
The fountains provide oxygen in areas of the lake where it is needed the most.

"Why they failed: Essentially the motors are several years old and
four of them have failed since July. At Glen Echo, the mechanical
seal failed; at the Embarcadero, the bearing is bad and the bottom
cap has rusted off; at the Bandstand, the motor has a short circuit.
Our spare motor has a locked armature. The warranties (typically 2
years) on all four have expired. Capacitors, circuit breakers,
splices, and underwater cables also fail from time to time.
Failure is typically related to salt water corrosion, electrolysis,
the fact that they run 24/7 and the growths of barnacles, mussels,
bryozoans, tubeworms and sea squirts that clog the intake screens,
motor tubes and everything else.

"Replacement costs for all four total to more than $7,000. We have
some funds promised but not enough. Shipping, packing and labor
costs for installation and maintenance are also expensive.
We expect to get the Embarcadero unit back on line next week, but the
others will take longer.

"The city owns one of the fountains and we will be using some city
money. But the other three are owned by the Institute, which does
the maintenance on all four. The city pays the electricity costs.

Dr. Bailey at Lake Merritt Institute

photo courtesy of The Young Ryan G

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dellums Pushes Regional Climate Pact

Mayor Ron Dellums joined Mayors Gavin Newsom of San Francisco and Chuck Reed of San Jose to pledge support for a for a regional climate-change compact at the 10th annual meeting of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group at Santa Clara University this week. Listen to the KCBS report here.

It's Not Just Us

The headline from a release from the Palo Alto Police Department today:

Two Victims Robbed in Three Days

For those HarriOakers who occasionally visit this upscale Peninsula burb, the incidents occurred near the 100 and 200 blocks of California Avenue. The first incident occurred at 10:35 p.m. on Monday September 8. The victim, a woman, had just emerged from the pedestrian undercrossing from California Avenue to North California. The second incident occurred at 9:35 p.m. on September 10. The victim, also a woman, was walking on North California Ave, passing Bryant Street, when she saw a figure sitting in a parked vehicle on Bryant Street. The robber approached her from behind and grabbed the woman's purse. He then fled with the purse back to the car.

This is part of a continuing series of posts to try and help put Oakland's crime problems in perspective.

Gardening Workshops

Fall is the best time to plant in the Bay Area. The rains and cool weather help plants take root so that they thrive during the hot, dry summers. StopWaste.org has information on local native plant sales and nursery talks.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Oakland A's Fan Rally August 30

Village Bicycle is organizing a rally for the As. Meet at: Lois the Pie Queen: 10am: bring your bike: wear green and gold. From their blog:

"It’s going to be a big day, so I recommend you order the Reggie Jackson Special. Be careful, it’s a big meal. We’re making room for playing pranks with various media sources during the coordination of this event, so listen up: 8/30/08 is the correct date."

"My buddy and I are organizing an Oakland A’s Fan Rally that will highlight the history of the Oakland Athletics in their hometown. It’s going to be big, fun, and family friendly. We’re making costumes, games, noisemakers, and bikes with grills on the back for tailgating. Ooh yes, there will be tailgating."

Folks at the Village Bicycle are organizing an Oakland A’s Fan Rally that will highlight the history of the Oakland Athletics in their hometown. It’s going to be big, fun, and family friendly. They’re making costumes, games, noisemakers, and bikes with grills on the back for tailgating.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

NYT story about the Cathedral

The New York Times has a story about Cathedral of Christ the Light, now nearly completed at the foot of the HarriOak neighborhood. The Cathedral has a lot of interesting architectural detail: The golden interior built of Douglas fir, the silvery glass veil that drapes the exterior, the finials that point heaven-ward, adding exclamation marks to ascending prayers. The story focuses on a small, controversial healing garden for victims of sexual abuse by priests.

Picture courtesy of peggydaly

Friday, August 22, 2008

FBI Investigating Deborah Edgerly

The FBI has opened an investigation into public corruption and the former Oakland City Administrator Deborah Edgerly, the San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday.

Edgerly was fired after she intervened in the arrest of her nephew, a city employee and suspected gang member. But the FBI is digging into more than that.

Meanwhile, Chip Johnson highlights Mayor Dellums puzzling reluctance to remove Edgerly from her post and the deplorable lack of action by the City Council. (Who elected these spineless fools?)

"Dellums flip-flopped for two weeks over whether to fire Edgerly, deciding to do the right thing only after she flatly refused to relinquish authority over the Police Department.

"And I wouldn't bet on the City Council moving aggressively on a half-dozen reform proposals, including an audit of city hiring practices over the last five years - for which the council has yet to approve funds. Instead, it took a six-week vacation.

The jig is up for Oakland's elected leadership. It can either get behind efforts to expose the truth about inefficiencies, patronage and how taxpayer funds are spent, or stand on the train tracks.

Dellums is responsible for his city administrator, and the city administrator is responsible for providing the resources and know-how to implement the public policies adopted by the council."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Indigo Girls Headlining at Art & Soul Oakland

The Indigo Girls, Stephanie Mills, The Matches, Bobby Hutcherson, Rose Royce, Walter Hawkins are among the performers at the 8th Annual Comcast Art & Soul Festival at City Center.

The Festival will feature six concert stage. Acts will perform August 30, August 31 and September 1 from noon to 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door, $5 for youths 13-18 and seniors over 65 and kids 12 and under get in free.

There will be free attended bike parking. Yeah!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Oakland Avenue Sidewalk Sale, Sat. August 16

When: Saturday, August 16, 2008 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Oakland Ave: 27th to Pearl Street

What: nice furniture (dining rm, bdrm) home accessessories, stereo TV, bikes, washing machine/dryer (in one) music, sewing machine & notions, cool clothes, art, collectibles & more

Questions? call Stefani 510-978-2554

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lake Merritt/Uptown Community Benefit District

Earlier this month, the city council approved a resolution establishing a Lake Merritt/Uptown Community Benefit District. The district is expected to raise $1.2 million a year from a special tax that will be assessed on the property owners in the district. The money is expected to be used for enhanced cleaning, security and marketing services. Similar models are used for economic development in Rockridge (established in 2000), Montclair (established in 2001), Laurel (established in 2005), Fruitvale (established 2001 and renewed 2006) and Koreatown/Northgate (established in 2007). Boundaries of the district are 24th Street extending to the Whole Foods on the north, 17th Street on the south, Telegraph Avenue on the west and Jackson Street to the West Side of Lake Merritt on the east, through Veterans Memorial Park to the Whole Foods.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A worthwhile parking workshop

Councilmember Nancy Nadel invites you to a Community Workshop to Explore Truck and Truck- Trailer Parking Limits on Neighborhood Streets

When: August 12, 2008 ~ 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Where: Poplar Recreation Center, 3131 Union Street, Multipurpose Rooms 1&2

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mosswood Dog Lovers Need Help

The new Mosswood Dog Park in Oakland is finally open after much work
from community members, but currently there is NO water access! An
installation proposal has been submitted and the grant application has
been submitted too, but the Mosswood dog walkers are desperate for letters
of support so the City of Oakland will grant their proposal.

They are asking neighbors (you!) to take 5 minutes or less, if you are willing, and
please send a quick note stating your support for water fountains in
Mosswood Dog park. The note can be very brief, even one sentence.
Emails need to sent by close of business Friday, July 25.

Emai to: Kathy Kleinbaum: kkleinbaum@oaklandnet.com

Or feel free to cut and paste:

Dear Ms. Kleinbaum:

I support the installation of water fountains at the Mosswood Dog Park
in Oakland. A constant supply of fresh water is essential to a dog's
good health and comfort. Both heat and and exercise can dehydrate dogs
quickly and lead to serious health issues. Dog parks are good for the
community: they have been shown to decrease crime in the areas they
are in, promote neighborhood unity and lead to happier, healthier dogs
in an urban environment.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Oakland Residents for Peaceful Residents is reporting that the City Council voted not to collect the $12 million LLAD tax that was passed via a rigged election. The council members did not admit any wrongdoing at the meeting, which was held early this morning (Tuesday, July 22, 2008). According to ORPN, Pat Kernighan, who represents our neighbors near Grand Lake, went out of her way to defend the vote. There's great picture on the ORPN site that shows a vacant city lot on 71st Avenue who was given a vote of 169 versus a tidy single-family home across the street whose vote was counted at 67. (The city devised an ingenius -- and certainly illegal -- way of counting the votes so that votes associated with property owned by the city, the county and the Port of Oakland, would be worth more.)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Whistleblower Ordinance Passed Unanimously by City Council

Perhaps the most important thing the City Council did at its meeting last week was to pass the Whistleblower Ordinance proposed by City Attorney John Russo and City Auditor Courtney Ruby. They had been working on this for more than a year and had been blocked by Deborah Edgerly, the former city administrator whose questionable practices in office finally led to her termination.

Below is an op-ed they wrote seeking support for the ordinance.

By John Russo and Courtney Ruby

RECENT ALLEGATIONS HAVE severely shaken the public's confidence in City Hall. Oakland has failed in the eyes of the public to conduct the people's business in the most ethical, open and transparent way possible.

With the shakeup that occurred inside City Hall over the last two weeks, the City Council has an opportunity to clean up some of the loose practices and policies that have allowed certain officials to operate in gray areas with little transparency or accountability.

At the top of the council's list should be the city's policy on retention of public records.

As your elected "watchdog" officials in City Hall, we have serious concerns about the city's records-management policies — especially the policy of systematically deleting e-mails from our servers after only 30 days.

These days, a great and ever-increasing part of the city's business is done through e-mail. Permanently erasing important directives, decisions and electronic "paper" trails puts a shroud of secrecy over the workings of City Hall and prevents public officials from ever being held accountable for their actions.

Without reliable public records, no one is ever responsible when something goes wrong. Citizens hear the old "mistakes were made" excuse. But documentation showing why mistakes were made — and who made them — never sees the light of day.

It is also difficult for us, your elected watchdogs — the city auditor and the city attorney — to do our jobs if critical documentation supporting an audit trail cannot be found and key legal facts are deleted from our servers after only one month.

As a growing field of case law shows, destroying e-mail records exposes the city to serious and unnecessary liability if and when those records are sought in the discovery phase of a lawsuit. In recent years, companies have been hit with multimillion dollar jury verdicts and court sanctions in cases where they failed to properly turn over e-mail records during discovery.

The potential legal and financial costs to the city far outweigh the cost of putting in place a workable system that would protect all paper and electronic records for a reasonable amount of time.

More than a year ago, the city auditor and the city attorney started pushing the city administration to convene a special committee on improving the city's shoddy records-management policies. However, when we insisted on changing the city's 30-day e-mail deletion policy and improving paper-records retention, we were excluded from committee meetings by order of the former city administrator.

Under the circumstances, no one should be surprised that the crisis in Oakland's records management continues unabated.

The city has a responsibility as a public corporation to retain electronic and paper records on behalf of its shareholders — the public. In the interest of real accountability and transparency, Oakland should hold itself to a higher standard.

More Bad Taxes

The Oakland Tribune has a editorial today on two more ill-advised bond measures by Tim Hunt.

"IGNORING THE REALITY of the economy that is suffering because of the financial industry fallout from the popping of the housing bubble, both the state Legislature and the East Bay Regional Park District are moving ahead with ill-advised bond issues this fall.

East Bay parks, which struggles to operate the land and facilities it already owns, wants voters to approve a $500 million bond issue that essentially will extend an expiring bond. It amounts to $10 per year for $100,000 of assessed value — not a great deal of money — but yet another hit on folks struggling to make ends meet in these days of nearly $5 gallon gasoline.

It's also worth remembering that $500 million used to be considered a healthy total for a statewide measure, not one covering just two counties."

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ignacio De La Fuente's Excellent Stand on the Police Tax

City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente gets criticized a lot. Still he deserves major props for the stand he has taken on the police tax. As A Better Oakland notes, the League of Women Voters asked for this tax to have a sunset provision so Oakland residents wouldn't find themselves paying for this forever. The League representative was ignored and there is no sunset provision in the measure, which Oaklanders will be asked to vote on in the fall.

Here is De La Fuente's letter. If only our representative, City Council Member Nancy Nadel wouldn't take as principled a stand. The council passed the police tax proposal on Tuesday, July 17. Nadel voted for it. De La Fuente and Delsey Brooks voted against it.

City Hall should clean up its own house, before it taxes yours

Dear friend and neighbor,

There is no way that I can in good conscience support the police services parcel taxes
proposed by the Mayor and other council members for the November ballot. The simple
reason is that until we here at city hall get our own house in order, we should not be
raising taxes on your house.

I do not believe that we have earned your confidence in our fiscal responsibility to ask
you for more money for police services. We have yet to even fully implement Measure
Y and we have been collecting those taxes since 2005. I am currently working on three
critical reform measures to "clean house" including a whistleblower ordinance, an antinepotism
ordinance and a hiring practices audit. think we must make a determined
effort to pay for increased police services with the money you already give us. Given
that we are experiencing a budget deficit, doing more with less and prioritizing spending
are more critical than ever.

In fact, I encourage you to defeat any City parcel tax measure put on the ballot. I need
you to help me send a strong message to everyone here in City Hall that we need to
clean up our own house first. The recent controversy over the voting process with the
Landscape and Lighting Assessment District (LLAD) also raises serious concerns that I
will express fully at the appropriate time.

All city leaders need to roll up their sleeves to cut unnecessary spending, conduct
performance audits of all departments, implement performance standards and practices
to improve efficiency, and negotiate effectively with our unions to ensure City employees
get a good day's pay for a good day's work. With these efforts, we can deliver higher
quality services to you without raising your taxes.

For several years, I have emphasized reform within city government, before it became
popular to do so. I even made accountability a cornerstone of my mayoral campaign.
But it wasn't until now, because of the recent events at City Hall, that we are getting
united around this cause: true government reform that leads to responsible use of our
tax dollars.

I have pushed for performance audits of all city departments, but the bureaucracy has
aggressively pushed back. The opposition to my re-election campaign by Local Union
1021 representing city employees was grounded in resentment of my efforts to bring
accountability to the city bureaucracy. I have pushed for investigations of wasteful
spending by city agencies, individuals, and city contractors. I have been pushing to
install GPS equipment in all city vehicles, especially police and fire, to ensure that we
manage our resources and be able to effectively respond to emergencies.

In this moment of public outcry, several elected officials including me are putting reform
proposals forward. We can't allow any excuses such as cost or past practices or other
delay tactics to stop the immediate implementation of these reforms. You must also hold
us all accountable to see reform efforts through after the excitement has died down.
Let us also work together to grow our budget through economic growth so we don't
have to continually pay more taxes. With leadership and vision, I believe it is possible to
have more police, more money for affordable housing, improved parks, and improved
services to seniors and youth, without constantly raising our taxes.

I ask you to hold us accountable as your leaders, and force us to get our own house in
order, before we tax yours again.

Ignacio De La Fuente
P.S. Thank you to the 533 of you took my on-line survey on the proposed police tax, and
the hundreds of you who left heartfelt and informative comments. Only 31.3% of you
said you would support the proposed tax as initially proposed (the proposal has been
modified since that time). See the survey results and comments here.
Ignacio De La Fuente
Council President Ignacio De La Fuente
1 Frank Ogawa Plaza 2nd Floor | Oakland, CA 94612
Office: 238-7005 | Fax: 238-6129
idelafuente@oaklandnet.com | www.idelafuente.com

Image courtesy of Gwen on Flickr.

Judge Rules It Was Legal To Mislead Voters

Charlie Pine of Oakland Residents for Peaceful Neighborhoods pointed out the absurdity of this KTVU headline today. The story is about a ruling by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch on a lawsuit that came about because the city has been collecting Measure Y taxes since the 2004 ballot measure passed but not hiring the promised police officers.

According to KTVU, Roesch said his hands were tied by an appellate court ruling. Marleen Sacks, an attorney who lives in Oakland and filed suit against the city asking that it be forced to return $60 million to its taxpayers, alleging that it has failed to live up to its promise to hire more police officers, said Roesch's ruling "gives any politician a license to lie" to voters to get measures passed. Roesch said, "I may say it's unjust and I don't like it." Read the full story here.

Why We Are in Such Deep Trouble: 3500 Journalism Jobs Gone

This blog got started because there was not enough local journalism being done about our community. There's also not enough reporting about our city or elected officials like Nadel wouldn't feel empowered to endorse such perversions of democracy as the LLAD election. There's not enough state reporting or we wouldn't be stuck in a yet another financial crisis. There's not enough there's not enough national reporting or we wouldn't be mired down in a war in Iraq.

And it's about to get worse.

According to the the MediaDailyNews 3,500 newspaper jobs were cut in the past two months. That figure doesn't include cuts that the Bay Area News Group, which had a new round of layoffs at the end of June.

Home Grown Blues (from District 3 announcements)

2008 Home Grown Blues Concert Series

The Bay Area Blues Society
is an Oakland institution. They have been hosting concerts throughout Oakland for more than 22 years.

Through August 27, 2008, the group will host the 2008 Home Grown Blues Concert Series at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, right outside of City Hall. The concerts series started on July 9, and the first two concerts have been nothing short of remarkable, so please don’t miss out on the remaining concerts.

Event Details

Dates: Every Thursday, from July 9 through August 27, 2008

Time: 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Location: Outside City Hall in Frank H. Ogawa Plaza

Cost: Absolutely Free!

For more information
about the Home Grown Blues Festival, visit http://www.bayareabluessociety.net/HomeGrown07.html.

The music series is hosted by The Bay Area Blues Society and co-sponsored by the City of Oakland, the Offi­ce of Councilmember Nancy Nadel, the Zellerbach Foundation, and others.

Nancy Nadel: LLAD Vote Rigging Ok by Me

Below is an exchange between Councilwoman Nancy Nadel and a HarriOak homeowner about the rigged LLAD vote. The city added extra weight to the votes made by the Port of Oakland and by city-owned properties to insure the measure would pass. In a country that was founded on the principal of no taxation without representation, this is surely illegal. Nonetheless, Nadel defends the practice. One thing to keep in mind is that the average Oakland homeowner with an assessed value between $300,00 and $400,000 is already paying $5000 a year in property taxes. In contrast, Nadel, who lives on a very pretty, largely renovated street near the Emeryville border, pays less than $1700 thanks to Proposition 13. Keep that in mind as you read the following exchange. The name of the homeowner has been removed to protect his privacy.

Sent: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 12:59 PM
To: Nadel, Nancy
Subject: LLAD tax vote

Dear Ms. Nadel,

Simply put, I am appalled over what I have been hearing in the media regarding the LLAD tax vote.

I became a resident and homeowner of Oakland one year ago and was optimistic about life here in Oakland. But since my arrival I can only say I have been disappointed by the City government in almost every way. Wasteful spending, nepotism, corruption, and an almost complete denial of reality regarding the crime problem and our hopelessly inadequate police force.

And now comes the LLAD vote rigging which, in the opinion of myself and many of my neighbors, is the ultimate insult (at least to those who live in what is supposed to be a democracy.) As I understand it, the LLAD votes were weighted by how much of an increase the voter would be required to pay. But a simple reading of the facts shows that the Port of Oakland’s votes were weighted by the total amount they would pay, NOT the increase. If all of our votes had been weighted this way, the measure would have been defeated. In fact, the measure would have been defeated by every method of counting except the one you used. Never mind the question of why an entity like the Port of Oakland has any say at all about homeowners’ property taxes, but that’s another letter.

It seems fairly obvious that the citizens of Oakland are not in favor of a property tax increase. I respectfully request that will of the majority of the people of Oakland be acknowledged and that the improperly counted LLAD vote be declared invalid.

This issue will not go away. And the City government has a long road to travel to regain the confidence of the people you represent. Recognizing the seriousness of this issue and implementing, what to most Oakland residents is, the obvious solution would go a long way towards regaining some trust.



From: Nadel, Nancy [mailto:NNadel@oaklandnet.com]
Tuesday, July 15, 2008 1:18 PM
Subject: RE: LLAD tax vote

Dear J.

Not sure what factual media account you might have read about the LLAD vote. I don’t know any investigative reporters anymore, sadly. The blog, newspaper and yahoo group information is inaccurate as is David Mix. Incorrect things repeated over and over doesn’t make them correct. The Port had no LLAD assessment in 1994 therefore the votes based on the full assessment rather than the difference was appropriate.


Sent: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 1:44 PM
To: Nadel, Nancy
Subject: RE: LLAD tax vote

Hi Nancy,

Thanks for your response, Nancy.

From what I’ve been able to find, the argument for the Port’s votes counting as much as they did is that the LLAD tax that they’ve been paying all along was done so on a voluntary basis, an assertion that I find unbelievable. I would love to see this claim documented. Am I to believe that the Port has been paying this tax out of the goodness of their heart, as they would to a charity? Surely they have been paying this tax as part of an agreement they made with the City, which makes it a tax nonetheless (maybe it wasn’t “assessed”, but it has been an obligation on Port’s part.)

Since the Port has been paying the LLAD tax for many years (voluntarily or otherwise), their vote should count based on the increase, not the total amount. In any event, the logic used here to validate the vote counting method is so convoluted that it makes me ill to think that people in our city government actually devised it.

You know, I’m not opposed to raising taxes when it’s necessary and the money is used wisely. But this LLAD tax vote has to be one of the most convoluted things I’ve seen in government. This was so poorly represented and explained that it’s no wonder people are calling this fraudulent.

One last question for you: can you understand why people are so upset about this?


From: Nadel, Nancy [mailto:NNadel@oaklandnet.com]
Tuesday, July 15, 2008 1:54 PM
Subject: RE: LLAD tax vote

Dear J,

I can understand why people are upset about many things in Oakland government but the LLAD increase is not one of them for me. The city is constantly increasing parks and landscaped median strips at the request of residents and we had no escalator in the earlier LLAD. As property to maintain increases, and inflation increases, the money has to come from somewhere to do the maintenance on parks that people want. Mandela Parkway, Bancroft median are huge new areas for which we had no money to maintain. Even with the LLAD increase, Mandela Parkway is not in it and I had to peel off money from a seismic rehab project just to fund continued maintenance of Mandela which is supposed to be our catalyst for industrial attraction in West Oakland.


Sent: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 2:45 PM
To: 'Nadel, Nancy'
Subject: RE: LLAD tax vote

Hi Nancy,

I’m totally with you when the City needs money to do something and the money is used wisely. But that’s not the issue. The issue is that the City isn’t counting votes properly. If the LLAD tax had won (that is, a majority of people in Oakland had voted in favor of it) I wouldn’t have a problem – I might express my feelings about whether the money is used efficiently and, for instance, not used to pay people who don’t show up for work.

But in this case, the voters declined the tax increase, only to find that after a rather convoluted method of counting, the City government declared the tax increase had won. And guess what, the City government was almost unanimously in favor of the increase.

This just isn’t democracy: the vast majority of PEOPLE in Oakland voted against it, yet it passed. Wouldn’t you be angry? The issue isn’t the tax, it’s the counting of the votes. It makes me feel like the only reason we had a vote at all was to give people the illusion that they had some control over this issue.

I think people would be more comfortable with tax increases if there were very specific requirements for how the money would be used. As it is, taxes are increased on Project A, and money that was coming from the general fund to Project A gets diverted to some other project and replaced by the tax increase. I’m simplifying here, but the point is made, and it makes people furious.

Anyway, thanks for writing, Nancy!