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

Saturday, January 31, 2009

A considerate carjacker?

Michael Anthony Lozito, 22, was walking back to his black 1998 Nissan Altima at 7:35 p.m. on November 3, 2008 after shopping at the Vernon market at 3210 Harrison Street. As Lozito walked along the eastern side of the street he was approach a black man with cornrows in his late 20s. The man, who was about 5'11", unshaven and wearing an orange sweatshirt and blue jeans said, "Give it up," and he patted the right/front area of his sweatshirt. Fearing for his life, Lozito started going through his pockets. The man said, "Don't say anything." Lozito gave the man everything he had in his pockets, including his keys. The man calmly walked over to Lozito's car and drove away. The next day, around 6:45 p.m., he arrived home and found the car parked in front of 439 Oakland Avenue, where he lives.

Does anyone have any idea who the carjacker is? It sounds like he might be from the area, and possibly a Vernon Market regular.

Friday, January 30, 2009

New Exhibit at the Creative Growth Art Center

Creative Growth, an internationally reknowned art center for artists with disabilities, unveiled a new exhibit on Thursday featuring the work of Kerri Damianakes, John Martin, Ron Veasey, George Wilson. Work by Creative Growth artists is included in prominent collections and museums around the world. Last year, the work of one of the center's artists, Dan Miller, was featured as part of a group show at the MoMA in Manhattan. The name of the show was "Glossolalia: Languages of Drawing." Creative Growth is located at 355 24th Street, just off Broadway between Harrison Street and Valdez Street.

Highlights from Mayor Dellums' State of the City Address

Adams Point blogger Zennie Abraham has put together some highlights from Mayor Dellums' address on Monday, where he was repeatedly interrupted by hecklers.

Outrage over appointment of City Administrator

There appears to be a lot of disappointment over Mayor Ron Dellums' appointment of his long-time aide Dan Lindheim as City Administrator. Future Oakland writes: "Never mind that the interim appointment of Mr. Lindheim was illegal, or that Mr. Lindheim has no experience as a city manager, or that his seven months as interim administration have been among the city’s worst. His appointment must be confirmed by five members of the City Council, and it is up to them whether Oakland continues its deeply frightening downward spiral or demands professional, competent, and qualified management instead of cronyism." The nomination is expected to be approved next week by the City Council.

Below is a letter written by the Oakland Builders Alliance (reprinted from A Better Oakland.)

Dear Neighbor:

Last night, the board of the Oakland Builders Alliance took an emergency vote and unanimously decided to send an open letter to Oakland residents condemning the appointment of Dan Lindheim as the new permanent City Administrator of Oakland. It also voted to file a formal complaint against the mayor for Cronyism, which will be submitted Monday per the Enforcement Section of the Anti-Cronyism Ordinance.

Dan Lindheim’s appointment as City Administrator stands in stark contrast to the appointment of two highly qualified individuals, Marianna Marysheva-Martinez and Walter Cohen, both of whom come with substantial experience and proven leadership in their field. Unfortunately, they’ll be managed by someone with almost no experience. And Oakland deserves better.

Lindheim may be a “smart guy” - certainly he’s someone that Mr. Dellums has learned to rely on over the last 30 years. But this is not the time for a band-aid, learn-on-the-job solution. Oakland is hemorrhaging and we need someone with skills and experience who can stop the bleeding and inject new life into the city.

Mayor wastes $150,000 in taxpayer funds on “nation-wide” search, and then appoints friend.

Mayor Dellums stated that he spent $150,000 in tax payer funds to conduct a nationwide search for a City Administrator, only to appoint his long time friend and ally, Lindheim. Meanwhile, no one knows who else was interviewed. No list of applicants was produced. No disclosure was made of how the funds were used. When asked by city hall gat-fly Sanjiv Handa at yesterday’s press conference why he did not make the names of the finalists public, the Mayor stated that he did not have to. Why is our city council silent on this issue? Was the search just a sham? Did the mayor know all along that Lindheim would be his appointment? If so, why did we spend tax money to retain the Hawkins Company, a head-hunting fim?

Appointment flaunts Anti-Cronyism ordinance passed just weeks ago.

On December 8th, 2008, the Oakland City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting Cronyism in hiring practices. The language reads: “‘Cronyism’ means participating in any employment decision that may be viewed as a conflict of interest, such as one involving a close friend, a business partner, and/or professional, political, or commercial relationship, that would lead to preferential treatment or compromise appearance of fairness.” About the Ordinance, Councilmember Nadel, the author, stated “I see (cronyism) as being more of a problem than nepotism.” (Oakland Tribune, December 4th, 2008.)/

The Oakland Charter reads: “(The City Administrator) shall be a person of demonstrated administrative ability with experience in a responsible, important executive capacity and shall be chosen by the Mayor solely on the basis of his executive and administrative qualifications.“

The mayor’s own job announcement detailed the following mandatory qualification for the City Administrator position: “Twelve (12) to fifteen (15) years of senior level executive management experience preferably in a large sophisticated diverse urban governmental organization.“

While Mayor Dellums is mandating that all applicants meet this requirement he is allowing his political friend and ally to qualify with almost no experience, simply because he is “smart”. The is the very definition of cronyism. (Merriam-Webster defines Crony as “a close friend especially of long standing“, and Cronyism as “partiality to cronie especially as evidenced in the appointment of political hangers-on to office without regard to their qualifications“.)

The choice of Dan Lindheim as City Administrator flies in the face of the recent ordinance and the city charter. The question now is: will the Oakland City Council ignore its own Anti-Cronyism ordinance, and render it purely a grandstanding move, or will it stand behind its own commitment to outlaw cronyism from employment decisions?

Our Leadership’s acceptable of mediocrity a reflection of low self-esteem.

Oakland is battle-scarred. We’ve been through tough times. And as a result, our leadership no longer is demanding excellence, or even mediocrity for the most important position in the city. Instead, they are using standards such as “he works well with us” or “he’s smart” as the baromete of good management. The Oakland Builders Alliance believes that for Oakland to become a great city, we must demand great management. And residents should settle for nothing less. Marysheva-Martinez and Cohen are excellent choices for their respective positions, but they will be managed by someone who does not have the experience to steer Oakland out of the current crime and budget crisis, and position it for greatness when the economic recovery comes.

Oakland residents must demand excellent management and accept nothing less from our leaders. The voters are the ones who set the bar of expectations, unless we abdicate this to those we elect.

The Oakland Builders Alliance will continue to demand excellent management. We invite you to join us by writing or calling your councilmember and demanding excellent, proven leadership, especially at the top. Urge them to deny the appointment of Dan Lindheim as permanent City Administrator and to instruct the mayor to use the $150,000 in tax payer funds allocated for the search to look for proven leadership. Oakland deserves nothing less.

Oakland bloggers are asking citizens to contact city council members and request records of Dellums' search and the appointment of an experienced administrator.

At Large: Rebecca Kaplan, rkaplan at oaklandnet dot com

District One (Rockridge - Piedmont - North Hills - Golden Gate): Jane Brunner, jbrunner at oaklandnet dot com

District Two (Grand Lake – Chinatown – San Antonio): Pat Kernighan, pkernighan at oaklandnet dot com

District Three (West Oakland – Downtown – Adams Point): Nancy Nadel, nnadel at oaklandnet dot com

District Four (Montclair – Dimond – Laurel): Jean Quan, jquan at oaklandnet dot com

District Five (Fruitvale – Glenview – Jingletown): Ignacio de la Fuente, idelafuente at oaklandnet dot com

District Six (Millsmont – Seminary – East Oakland): Desley Brooks, dbrooks at oaklandnet dot com

District Seven (Outer East Oakland – Airport – Coliseum): Larry Reid, lreid at oaklandnet dot com

Electrical Outage

The electricity went out on Oakland Avenue on Thursday between 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. after a tree branch got caught in electrical wire, PG&E said.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Oakland Police Chief Wayne Tucker Resigns

Police Chief Wayne Tucker resigned Tuesday amid numerous investigations of the department's management. During the last year the department has come under fire for everything from its handling of the murder of journalist Chauncey Bailey in 2007 to a whistleblower complaint that alleged Tucker improperly promoted an officer who was then president of the police union. Tucker said he has tried to resign several times during the last six months but Mayor Ron Dellums convinced him to stay. Tucker criticized the City Council for failing to adequately fund the department and for suggesting a 20 percent budget cut this year. "They are paying lip service to public saftey," he said.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Oakland Poetry Slam

The Oakland Poetry Slam & Open-Mic
Featuring Oakland's own nerCity & Chi-town's Billy Tuggle
When: 8:00PM Thursday, January 29th
Where: The Oasis Restaurant & Bar

Mayor Dellums' State of the City Monday January 26

Monday, January 26, 2009
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
City Hall
Council Chamber (3rd Floor)
1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza
Oakland, CA 94612

Due to limited seating at City Hall, the State of the City Address will also be televised on KTOP (Channel 10) and shown at the following venues:

Geoffrey's Inner Circle
410 -14th Street
Between Broadway & Franklin
Oakland City Center/12th Street
BART Station

Oakland Asian Cultural Center
388 - 9th Street, Suite 290
(2nd Floor)
Oakland City Center/12th Street
BART Station

Everett & Jones Barbeque
126 Broadway @ 2nd Street
(Near Jack London Square)

Eastmont Branch Library
Eastmont Town Center, Suite 211
7200 Bancroft Avenue

César E. Chávez Branch Library
3301 E. 12th Street, Suite 271
(Located in Fruitvale Village)
Fruitvale BART Station

Golden Gate Branch Library
Directions & information: 5606 San Pablo Avenue

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

Laughter Yoga!

Laughter Yoga! classes are being offered every Tuesday from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Grand Lake Neighborhood Center, 530 Lake Park Ave.

Classes include a series of breathing, stretching, and laughter exercises. It is "a time to let go and be silly and free!"

Cost is $10 a class but open to trades or negotiate. For more info contact Purvi, pveggielady@yahoo.com.

View Larger Map

Book Zoo Anniversary Party

We are sorry we missed this one! Book Zoo, at 6396 Telegraph Avenue, celebrated its fifth anniversary on Dec. 12, 2008.

Music, Art and Poetry at Studio One

The Studio One Art Center (365 45th Street) in the Temescal neighborhood, just up Telegraph, is expanding its regular First Fridays event. Starting at 6:30 p.m. on February 6, photographer Jennifer Ward will be presenting "Outside In: A New Oakland View," an exploration of the downtown's changing landscape in photos and spoken words. At 7:30 Paige Heimsoth, a local singer-songwriter will be performing. Here's a review of her new album, Paige, available on CD Baby.
"No fancy effects, nothing to hide behind. With this CD Paige has given us an intimate session in our own living room. Close your eyes and she is sitting right in front of you with only a guitar and a smoky, soulful voice. This CD was my first introduction to Paige, and she has left me longing for more. Every song is another window into her soul; writing, rhythm, and melody paint a more vivid picture than any visual medium could. I was a first time listener, now a faithful fan."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Neighborhood Watch Meeting Tues Jan 20

The second (and last) neighborhood watch organizing meeting will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, January 20, at the library at Westlake Middle School from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. If you are interested in participating in the watch groups, or having input into where the signs will be place, you need to attend this meeting.

For All You Urban Gardeners Out There

The Fruitvale - Oakland Blog found this and it's worth sharing with all of you. We've got lots of gardeners in HarriOak.

Farmer Joe's remembers Oscar Grant

Farmer Joe's and friends, a blog about the grocery store where Oscar Grant worked as a butcher's assistant, has a post remembering him.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Traffic Workshop Thursday Jan. 22 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

There is an important traffic workshop at the First Congregational Church at 2501 Harrison Street on Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Residents will work with consultants hired by the City of Oakland to come up with a plan to make the Harrison Street/Oakland Avenue corridor more livable by slowing the traffic and beautifying the area. The design process has been funded by a grant from Caltrans.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Neighborhood Crime Meeting Recap

About a dozen people attended the Beat 8x Neighborhood Council Meeting on Tuesday. Only one priority was present to Problem Solving Officer Ercivan Martin: ongoing crime on Telegraph between 23rd Street and 26th Street. The group decided it would hold regular meetings at Providence House at 540 23rd Street on the second Thursday of every other month for the rest of the year. The meeting dates will thus be: March 12, May 14, July 9, September 10 and November 12. Barbara Cook of Providence House chaired the meeting and agreed to be the vice chair. We had a discussion about how the NCPC/Neighborhood Council model is not working well given the way that Beat 8x is currently drawn. Hoang Banh, our neighborhood services coordinator, said that she expects the beats to be redrawn at some point in the future and we are seeking to get a date on this. We also discussed outreach for the neighborhood council. Everyone was asked to bring outreach ideas to the next meeting that they are willing to help implement.

Former BART Cop arrested for murder

Johannes Mehserle, the former BART police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man on New Year's Day in a Oakland BART station has been arrested, reportedly on murder charges.

Authorities are hoping the arrest will help calm tensions created by the killing of Oscar Grant III, which was caught on video (see below). About 1000 people are expected to protest in Oakland on Wednesday.

"We're hoping that people act civilly and they take this recent action as a sign (District Attorney Tom Orloff) was committed to doing a job and moving forward with a complete, thorough and unbiased investigation," Assistant Police chief Howard Jordan told the Oakland Tribune.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mayor Ron Dellums said that he understands the anger people feel after the shooting, but said taking that anger out on other people is an injustice in its own right.

"It's fundamentally contradictory to stand up for justice and then dispense injustice," Dellums said. "You can't operate on both planes. You can't walk both sides of the street."

Friday, January 9, 2009

A video of the riots

Zennie Abraham went out with his camera during the riots and got some great quotes from people who were upset about the lack of city services, the dismal performance of Mayor Dellums, the lack of accountability of the city council and more. He shows Peter Van Kleef, of Cafe Van Kleef's bar, rolling down a security gate to protect his customers and also interviews some protesters who proclaim, with a remarkable lack of irony, "you can't fight violence with violence."

Crime Meetings this month

The Beat 8x NCPC will be holding its regular meeting January 13 at 7 p.m. at Providence House (540 23rd St, Oakland, CA 94612)

The second of two neighborhood watch organizational meetings will be held January 20 at 7 p.m. at the library of the Westlake Middle School. If you are interesting in participating in neighborhood watch on Oakland Avenue or Harrison Street, or any of our surrounding streets, please come!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Copters and the Bart protest

The helicopters you heard in Adams Point on Wednesday night, January 7, were related to a violent protest near the Lake Merritt BART station over a shooting on New Year's Day. Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old man from Hayward was killed by Officer Johannes Mehserle, a two-year veteran of the BART police, after police responded to reports of a fight on the train. A video of the shooting shows two or three officers surrounded by an angry crowd while Grant appears to sit quietly against the wall. Grant is unarmed and appears to be cooperating. The small group of police who are guarding him and two or three other men are surrounded by an angry mob, who yell "fuck the police." There then appears to be a small scuffle as police try to put Grant in a face down position and then he is shot.

Here is a video taken by a woman on the BART train along with her commentary.

The protest started peacefully around 3 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon at the Fruitvale Bart station, where the shooting originally occurred around 2 a.m. on New Year's Day. The protest turned violent after it moved to downtown Oakland in the evening.

Here's the account from the San Francisco Chronicle:

"...shortly after nightfall, a group of roughly 200 protesters split off and head toward downtown Oakland, prompting the transit agency to close the Lake Merritt station.

"Oakland Police Officer Michael Cardoza parked his car across the intersection of Eighth and Madison streets, to prevent traffic from flowing toward Broadway and into the protest. But he told The Chronicle that a group of 30 to 40 protesters quickly surrounded his car and started smashing it with bottles and rocks.

"Cardoza jumped out of the car and said some protesters tried to set the car on fire, while others jumped on top of the hood - incidents repeatedly shown on television. Cardoza said the protesters "were trying to entice us into doing something."

"A group of protesters also set a trash bin aflame, moving it adjacent to the police car. "

The violence got worse as protestors marauded through the city targeting small businesses and random cars:

"Protesters smashed the storefronts of McDonald's as well as stores called Creative African Braids and Oakland Yoon's Pharmacy. Cars along 14th Street were smashed, and some were set ablaze.

"A woman walked out of Creative African Braids holding a baby in her arms.

"'This is our business,' she shouted. 'This is our shop. This is what you call a protest?'

Nia Sykes, 24, of San Francisco, a protester who was with the group, said, 'I feel like the night is going great. I feel like Oakland should make some noise. This is how we need to fight back.

"'It's for the murder of a black male,' said Sykes, who is black. The demonstration 'is totally appropriate.'

"Sykes had little sympathy for the owner of Creative African Braids.

"'She should be glad she just lost her business and not her life,' Sykes said. She added that she did have one worry for the night: 'I just hope nobody gets shot or killed.'

"Near 14th and Alice streets, Myron Bell was taking lessons in a step, a form of dance popular among African Americans, when he looked out the window and saw people jumping on his Lexus sedan.

"Bell, 42, came out to find that almost all of his windows, including the front and back had been smashed and it appeared that someone had tried to set the car on fire.

"'I'm for the cause,' Bell said. 'But I'm against the violence and destruction.'

"Nearby, Godhuli Bose stood near her smashed Toyota Corolla, and a protester walked by, repeatedly calling her a misogynist epithet.

"'F- your car. F- your car,' he said to Bose. Bose, a high school teacher: 'I can't afford this.'"

Here's a commentary about the BART shooting by Oakland blogger Zennie Abraham.