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

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.