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

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!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Plant Exchange

Oakland's Lakeshore Avenue Neighborhood Plant Exchange is already planning its next event for October. They need help, as well as folding tables of any size, shape or condition. Please check out the blog at plantexchange.wordpress.com for more info about volunteering.

Photo Courtesy of SARhounds

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Missing Cat

Percy has been missing since May. If you see her please call 510-410-8948. She is carmel and brown with white stripes and a white belly. She has green eyes and weighs about 10 pounds.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Event: Bikes4 Life July 13, 2008 2 p.m.

Bikes 4 Life - Ride to Silence the Violence
Jul 13 2008 - 2:00pm - 3pm
Address: Lake Merrit, we begin the ride at the Playground
Cost: free

Ever heard of the Trunk Boiz, Scraper Bikes, Onefam, American Friends
Service Committee? Well you don't need to have. All you need to know is
that youth in East Oakland have come up with creative solutions to
address our country's overconsumption of oil with the new Scraper Bike
Movement! And Bikes 4 Life is hosting a ride around Lake Merritt to
promote a gun truce in Oakland. We'll be meeting at the Playground Area
of Lake Merritt at 2 PM. We're even looking for volunteers if you want
to get in deep. So bring your bikes (Scraper or not) and bring your
soul, and be a part of the movement!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Rigged LLAD Election

City officials rigged the results of a recent election that raised property taxes to finance the city's Landscape and Lighting Assessment District. This was first reported by Oakland Residents for Peaceful Neighborhoods, and it is outrageous.

The city wanted to get measure passed, because they underestimated how much the LLAD district would cost. Since property tax owners opposed it, the city changed the rules for the election. As explained by this excellent East Bay Express article, instead of counting votes, they counted how much an individual property owner would have to pay. As expected, the majority of property owners voted against the measure, but the city figured that the Port of Oakland, which owns a lot of property would pull the measure through.

But it turns out that the Port of Oakland did not own enough property to out vote the property owners. So guess what the city did?

"The city valued the port's votes at nearly three times more than they should have been worth. And without that vote manipulation, the LLAD would have lost."

City Attorney John Russo declined to comment to the East Bay Express.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Message from Nancy Nadel

Councilwoman Nancy Nadel recently sent out this e-mail to constituents:

Dear Oakland Resident,

We are in the midst of troubled times in Oakland. I have been receiving many calls and emails about the issues surrounding the City Administrator and the Mayor’s response. As a scientist by training, I am intent on getting all the facts before rushing to judgment as I determine the best course for the city and continue my work to empower our residents to be active, productive and proud of their city. As I become aware of the need for deeper investigation, I will approach the appropriate level of government to provide it.

I want to assure my constituents and all the residents of Oakland, that I will work diligently to expose and eliminate any corruption and just plain sloppy practices that diminish our city and devalue the hard work of the many city employees who are principled and reliable.

Whenever there is a crisis, there is a dance of opportunism of which we should all be wary. I encourage you as Oakland residents to listen and evaluate carefully all that you hear and see going on whether in the press or in the realm of politics. Leadership is not the same as opportunistic power grabbing. The kind of leadership Oakland needs is leadership that will inspire honest and ethical behavior, and empower Oakland’s residents and workers to be all that they can be.


Nancy Nadel

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

APAC Meeting, July 8

Adams Point Action Council Meeting
Tuesday, July 8, 7:00-8:00 PM at
The Bellevue Club, 525 Bellevue Ave, Oakland, CA - (510) 451-1000ý

1. Welcome / Agenda Review Matt Info 7:00-7:05 pm
2. Report from 14X Problem Solving Officer, Q&A Menandro
Madlansacay Info and Discussion 7:05-7:20pm
3. Measure DD – Updates on Implementation Joel Peter, Measure
DD Program Manager Presentation and Discussion 7:20-7:50pm
4. National Night Out 2008 planning and coordinating Group
Discussion 7:50 - 8:00pm
5. Committee Updates, Community announcements Group Info and
discussion 8:05-8:20 pm

This is your council. We need you to make it work! You deserve safe,
quiet, and clean streets. This is the time to get involved or re-

Dellums Fires City Administrator

Late on Tuesday, Mayor Dellums finally fired Deborah Edgerly, the city administrator who ran Oakland like her private fiefdom, hiring friends and family members. Edgerly is threatening to sue to clear her name. In this case, a lawsuit would be a good thing, as all the dirty laundry that has been building up for well over a decade would finally get washed. The incident that sparked Edgerly's dismissal is that she allegedly tipped off her nephew -- a city employee and a suspected member of a violent street gang -- to a police crackdown on the gang. Edgerly, of course, oversaw the police department. She later showed up on the scene when police began towing her nephew's car as part of the operation and confronted the officers. (The operation led to the arrest of 56 suspected members of the Acorn gang.) According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "The nephew, 27-year-old William Lovan - who works for the city as a parking meter repairman - had left the car running and locked the keys inside, along with a gun" outside a West Oakland liquor store.

According to KTVU Channel 2:
KTVU Channel 2 learned that Edgerly may be the focus of federal investigation over information she divulged regarding wiretaps being used to track members of the notorious Acorn gang. The sources say that police listened in on a phone call between Lovan and Acorn gang leader Marc Anthony Candler a day or two after Edgerly's alleged confrontation with the police. During the call, Lovan reportedly told Candler twice "Get rid of all your mitts. I got this straight from the head." According to sources, the call was a warning that the "mitts" – a code word for phones – were tapped and that the information regarding the wiretaps had come "from the head," who sources believe to be Edgerly.

This isn't the first time one of Edgerly's relatives who are employed by the City of Oakland has been in trouble. According to a post on A Better Oakland,
"Another on of Edgerly’s nephews was at the center of controversy 2 years ago- he was the animal control officer who killed animals without putting them to sleep first and tossed half-alive animals on top on dead animal carcasses in the freezer. He was pulled off duty — then a new animal control director from Florida was hired in response the the demoralizing crisis. He quit without notice when Edgerly unilaterally re-instated her nephew back into contact with animals. Suffice it to say, we have a new Shelter Director and it is my understanding that Rashon McLarty, the nephew in question, is no longer in contact with animals. But that whole mess was in early indicator of Edgerly’s protecting and promoting relatives."

The always excellent SF Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson provides a telling anecdote about how race was used to cover-up for incompetence and nepotism
inthe City of Oakland. Oakland blogger and entrepreneur Zennie Abraham provides more examples. He writes: "Oakland's government has a long history of hating well-educated Black men who don't follow the normal ethnic stereotypes."