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

Friday, February 27, 2009

City Auditor's Plea for Help

City Auditor Courtney Ruby set out an unprecedented plea for help from Oakland citizens today after the administration of Mayor Ron Dellums illegally withheld documents from her. Ruby is requesting that citizens contact the Mayor's office (510) 238-3141.

Dear Concerned Oaklanders,

You have likely seen the article in today's Chronicle. It is accurate - the Administration is trying to withhold key documents essential to my audit of the City's hiring practices.

There is no question that these documents should be released to my office. As City Attorney Russo states, "I issued an (legal) opinion in 2007...under the charter, the auditor has unlimited review power."

I am your eyes and ears inside City Hall. These anti-nepotism documents, as part of my Hiring Practices Audit, are critical to restoring transparency and accountability in Oakland's government.

My office will be pursuing legal avenues, but nothing is as effective as the power of a concerned electorate. I encourage you to contact the Mayor's office today and let them know that you expect the Administration to fulfill the City Auditor's request.

Committed to serving you and Oakland with the utmost integrity,

Courtney A. Ruby, CPA
City Auditor

Office of the City Auditor
City of Oakland
1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, 4th Floor
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (510) 238-3378
Email: cityauditor@oaklandnet.com
Website: www.oaklandauditor.com

According to Oakland Residents for Peaceful Neighborhoods:
"Oakland auditor Courtney Ruby is attempting to check compliance with a City ordinance requiring that 'All current City officials and supervisors must disclose all known family relationships, consensual romantic relationships and cohabitant relationships with existing City employees, managers and officials.' Ruby developed a simple one-page form for the City's 800 or so supervisors to complete. All responses to the auditor are confidential.
"Dan Lindheim, the City Administrator, refuses to cooperate. He's not providing the questionnaires to Ruby. Apparently, he is not even insisting that supervisors complete them. Lindheim says he fears for the privacy of supervisors. The city attorney has confirmed that the city auditor has a right to the documents. It is Lindheim's legal duty to get the forms filled out and on to Ruby."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oakland Blog Spotlight: Fake Plastic Fish

Beth Terry is an Oakland accountant who writes about living a plastic-free life over at Fake Plastic Fish.

Terry is not alone in her concern about how our passion for plastic -- plastic toys, plastic wrap, plastic bags, plastic clothing, plastic containers, plastic blankets, plastic diapers, plastic hair clips, plastic notebooks, plastic dishware -- is choking the oceans and killing the planet.

On April 29, 2009 David de Rothschild is planning to set set from San Francisco in the Plastiki, a 60-foot vessel made from plastic bottles and recycled waste products. Rothschild is headed for Sydney, Australia by way of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The "patch" is a Texas-sized sea of garbage drifting below the surface of the ocean between Hawaii and California. Learn more at the GreatGarbagePatch.org.

Photo courtesy of kqedquest.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Meeting on Feb 19 to Improve Downtown Lake Merritt BART Station

The City of Oakland, BART and Peralta Community College District teamed up with the Asian Health Services, the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce and the City of Oakland to invite you to attend a series of community meetings focused on improving the area near the Lake Merritt Station. At this meeting, we will explain the Lake Merritt BART Station Area Plan process and present the survey we will use to gather input from members of the community.

RSVPs are encouraged, but not required. To RSVP please contact:

Kerry Jo Ricketts-Ferris at kjferris@oaklandnet.com, 510 238-3944
Jennie Ong at oaklandctchamber@aol.com, 510-893-8979 or
Julia Liou at jliou@ahschc.org, 510-986-6830 ext. 267

WHAT: Lake Merritt BART Station Area
Community Meeting

WHEN: Thursday, February 19, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

WHERE: Asian Cultural Center's Main Auditorium
388 Ninth Street, Suite 290

Thursday, February 12, 2009

City Attorney John Russo on the Riders' Settlement

Last year an arbitrator upheld the City of Oakland's right to fire to former police officers, Clarence Mabanag and Jue Siapno, for insubordination and multiple acts of police misconduct connected with the notorious "Riders Case." The former officers signed a settlement agreement with the city that was finalized earlier this month.

Here is a video of City Attorney John Russo discussing the settlement, which he called an "unconditional and complete victory" for Oakland. Russo said the case is important because of the principle at stake. "Officers must be accountable to their commanders within the department and ultimately officers are accountable to us, the residents of Oakland," he said. "If officers are able to refuse to answer to police brass and to internal affairs investigations, it would be impossible to have oversight of police behavior."

Russo goes over the history of the case in the video, and explains why the city settled with more than 100 plaintiffs who alleged that they had been mistreated and abused by the Riders gang. Russo said that the reforms the city agreed to make as a result of the suit can be met by next January if there is political will in city hall. The finalization of the monitoring agreement would make a big difference for Oakland, freeing up police resources and lifting the morale of the department.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Wells Fargo Scam

Here is a warning from Wells Fargo:

"Wells Fargo customers are being sent FAKE emails right now. These emails request information about customer accounts and services, including passwords. If you responded to an email like this, you MUST IMMEDIATELY call your Relationship Manager or 1-800-AT-WELLS (1-800-289-3557) to protect your account and information.
DO NOT PROVIDE any information in response to any e-mail or phone call unless you are ABSOLUTELY SURE it is from Wells Fargo. These emails are known as 'phishing' which are fake email schemes that attempt to collect secure information from you and from your computer."

"On rare occasions, legitimate inquiries may be made from a Wells Fargo representative who requests your User ID and Company ID. You should only provide this information when you are sure you are speaking with someone from Wells Fargo. Report any phishing or fraudulent attempts to ReportPhish@wellsfargo.com."

APAC Meeting, February 10 at 7 p.m.

(posted at request of APAC)
The Adams Point Action Council (APAC) serves everyone who lives, works, studies, worships, or conducts business in the Adams Point neighborhood. We are committed to addressing quality of life issues, building community, and reducing crime in our neighborhood.

APAC meets at the same location and time every second TUESDAY of the month.

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-involved.


1. Welcome, Agenda Review (Matt Isles 7:00-7:05 pm)
2. Report from 14X Problem Solving Officer, Q & A(Officer Menandro Madlansacay 7:05-7:20 pm)
3. Special Guest Speaker: Alicia Vasquez, EBMUD – Will give updates about the drought which California is experiencing, and talk about water conservation and adjustments being made by the East Bay Municipal Utility District (7:20-7:50 pm)
4. Frank Davis, will be speaking about America Works, a non-profit that’s working with the of City of Oakland to find jobs for re-entry citizens (7:50-8:05 pm)
5. Community announcements (8:05 - 8:10 pm)

Coffee, tea and water will be served, courtesy of The Bellevue Club

Friday, February 6, 2009

Property Tax Reassessment Scam

Official letters from a Los Angeles company called "Property Tax Reassessment," have been mailed to homeowners throughout Oakland. The letters urge homeowners to file a pay $179 by February 26,2009 to file a property tax reassessment application. BEWARE. This is a scam. Property reassessments are free and done by the Alameda County Assessor's office. The letter is designed to look official and is marked with an "Assessor's ID" which is actually your parcel number. In the small print it says it is not a government agency. Indeed, this is a private business that has no connection with the Alameda County Assessor's office whatsoever.
The San Jose Mercury News has as story in the paper today about the "property-tax meltdown" in Santa Clara County. According to the award-winning newspaper, the Santa Clara County Tax Assessor is reviewing about half of the homes in the county to determine if their value has dropped during the economic meltdown.
"Never before has the assessor reviewed such a wide swath of properties — approximately 200,000 of the county's 416,000 houses, condos and townhouses — and never before has the annual ritual of determining home values to set property-tax rates reached back so many years," the newspaper writes. "Historically, the assessor's office has only reviewed homes purchased in the previous year to determine whether their values have dropped since they changed hands."
The San Jose Mercury News has also published information about how homes in the HarriOak zipcode are doing. While the 94611 zip code is doing far better than many other zip codes in Northern California, it hasn't escaped unscathed.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The City of Oakland "facilitates" more protests

Here is an -email from Zach Seal, president of the Downtown Lake Merritt Neighborhood Group.

Message to the Downtown Oakland Community
RE: Protest Planned for Tomorrow Night

In keeping with our commitment to enhanced communication about public safety issues downtown, the City of Oakland is writing to inform you about a demonstration planned for tomorrow afternoon. Here is a summary of the information we know to date:

* An organization called the Bay Area Revolution Club has applied for a sound permit for a rally on Friday, February 6 at Frank Ogawa Plaza .

* The City of Oakland granted a sound permit between 2 and 5 pm. The organization’s request to march to the Oakland Police Department Administration Building and continue the sound permit until 7 pm was denied.

* The City of Oakland (Mayor Dellums’ Office, Oakland Police Department and Public Works Agency) is working to manage the scope and impact of this event, and we are in communication with the event organizers, who have promised a peaceful rally.

* We believe that a bicycle protest organization called Critical Mass intends to arrive at 14th and Broadway that same evening at 6 pm; they have not requested a permit, nor have the organizers been in touch with the City.

* There will be no street closures associated with the rally, and OPD intends to keep downtown traffic and transportation routes open.

* The City has established an information hotline where callers can receive safety updates from OPD. During business hours, the hotline will provide a live message to callers. After hours, the message will be available in English, Spanish and Chinese. The hotline number is: 444-CITY.

* In addition, OPD has received information that some people are planning to print 1500 pro-riot stickers and plaster them downtown. Please notify your groups that if they see people affixing such stickers, they should call OPD at 9-1-1 or 777-3211.

* According to OPD, on Friday, February 6 and Monday, February 9, at 8:30 am, protesters plan to be at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse at 661 Washington to protest the charging of rioters.

* OPD will have plenty of officers to handle all of these events.

* For information about BART service delays or disruptions, check the BART web site at www.BART.gov, where you can also sign up to receive text message or email alerts.

We recognize that the violence following several well-organized and peaceful demonstrations last month has had a very negative impact on our community’s public safety as well as a significant financial impact.

The City of Oakland is committed to facilitating peaceful protests and ensuring the right to free speech, but as an organization and community we will not allow violence and vandalism in our city.