Monthly Archives: February 2008

Local news is a rough business

I can’t stop blushing! I’d like to offer a grateful welcome to all the new visitors checking out the site because of Chip Johnson’s column about local blogs, and thank everyone who’s commented or e-mailed about it for their kind words. My little space on the interweb has gotten more traffic today than I’ve ever dreamed of, and I’m confident that I won’t be breaking my new record for quite some time, if ever. I do hope that at least some of my new visitors will find the site worthy of regular visits in the future.

Wednesday’s post complaining about local news coverage has drawn a ton of comments, including a defense of the Tribune’s Oakland coverage from managing editor Martin Reynolds. I have enough to say in response that I figured it deserved its own post.

My initial (and totally snotty) reaction to Mr. Reynold’s comment would be that the Trib doesn’t cover the Port or Alameda County in any meaningful way, most stories the Trib runs about Oakland’s government are simply recycled press releases that fail to provide any perspective, and that I would imagine that the Great Falls Tribune faces similar, or possibly more difficult, regional reporting challenges than our paper, since it’s responsible for covering communities as far as 80 miles away.
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$7.7 million – spend it now, pay for it later

If you’re reading this, odds are that you’ve also read one of the many stories in local newspapers about Ron Dellums’s police recruitment proposal over the last three weeks. You may also have read some of my thoughts on the plan.

So you probably already know that Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums is asking the Council for $7.7 million from Measure Y funds to fund a new strategy to fully staff the police force by the end of this year. Did you ever wonder about all that cash? Like, where it came from? Or why we aren’t using it already if it’s just sitting there ready to spend? Or what it’s supposed to go to? Continue reading

More in the endless saga of the police recruitment plan

Today’s Trib has a follow-up story about the Public Safety Committee’s changes to Dellums’s police recruitment package, this time with a little more detail. Apparently, the Committee only reduced the advertising request by a third, leaving $1 million for the police department to fund their 12 week media blitzes.

Samee Roberts apparently thinks that this will make it tougher to reach people in New York:

As for the marketing, Samee Roberts, the city’s marketing director, said a reduction from $1.5 million to $1 million would hinder the city’s ability to launch a national campaign to find new recruits.

She said that with a $1 million budget, marketing and advertising would focus primarily in the nine-county Bay Area and secondarily on other locations in the state.

Only a few select markets outside of California would be targeted.

I was actually pretty surprised when I read that, since the funding request (PDF!) explains that the money would be used to:

Saturate local, regional and statewide media markets, including print media, radio, TV, internet, and job fair presence, prioritizing media markets with proven track records.

In other news, I am in pretty much complete agreement with Nancy Nadel for the first time, um, ever:

Councilmember Nancy Nadel (Downtown-West Oakland) went a step further, saying Dellums was “grandstanding,” but not doing the gritty, detailed work required for such a proposal.

She’s 100% right. The “strategy” is poorly thought out and an inefficient use of money we don’t really have (check back later today for more on that).

Kudos to Nancy Nadel for calling it like it is. Of course, out of everyone on the Council, she should be able to spot grandstanding, since she’s such an expert at it herself. In a particularly stunning example of her hypocrisy, check out this exchange on the Dogtown yahoo group, where Ms. Nadel accuses a local developer of ruining the streets in the neighborhood, and the developer strikes back with photos of the nice, shiny sidewalks in front of their projects side by side with pictures of the code-violating sidewalk Nancy Nadel put in front of her house.

Sigh. Just one more reason to vote Sean Sullivan for District 3.

$1.5 million in police recruitment ad money denied

When I was buying my plane ticket for vacation, I struggled with when to return. My real work schedule allowed me to come home on Tuesday, but I hesitated to stay away that long, since it would mean missing all the Committee meetings for that day. I ultimately decided that it was beyond sad to schedule a vacation around the City Council, and went ahead and booked the longer trip.

Of course, when I found out that yesterday’s Committee meetings included a report (PDF!) from the Oakland Partnership, more discussion of the Estuary Policy Plan update, and Dellums’s police recruitment strategy at the Public Safety Committee, I was kicking myself. So many important topics, and I was going to miss them all!

Luckily I can get DVDs from KTOP, but until then, I’m stuck trying to tease out what happened based on a Trib story. Continue reading

What’s wrong with Oakland’s political coverage?

As much as I adore Oakland, I have to admit that it always feels great to get away for a while. At home I tend to forget how incredible it feels to fall asleep in silence and make it through a full eight hours without getting woken up by sirens, motorcycles, or the mentally ill. Getting out of town also gives me an excuse not to blog for a while, which is nice, because getting something thoughtful and informative up here on a daily basis is kind of…um, challenging.

At least once a week, someone asks me why I do this, and the truth is that I don’t really know. I believe people should know what their government is doing and where their tax money is going, and there just doesn’t seem to be any reliable source providing that around here. Leaving town reminds me that it isn’t just because I love Oakland. I do, but beyond that, I think I’m just hopelessly geeky when it comes to local politics. Even on vacation, I can’t seem to get my mind off it. Continue reading

Despite what you may have heard

The City Council is not doing anything about affordable housing today, and they are also not considering a plan to fight crime that Dellums has submitted. Instead, they are going to listen to an hour of public speakers saying we need IZ or we don’t need IZ, then sit around and have the same conversation they’ve been having for years, then not do anything about it. Later, Dellums will ask for Measure Y reserve funds that we actually do need to pay police salaries and buy equipment so he can spend it on buying TV advertisements instead: this is is plan to fulfill his completely unrealistic goal of getting to 803 by the end of the year. Any small shred of optimism I had that this was possible was wiped out after getting Chief Tucker’s head-in-the-sand one line answers to a series of questions I asked about the specifics of the recruitment package. Follow-up questions have not been answered at all.

Anyway, I’m tired of writing about this stuff, and busy with other work, so that’s all I’m going to say for now. Maybe if I get my errands done quickly I’ll have more about the recruitment package up before the Council meeting starts, but it’s also possible that I won’t.

Does being green make up for being dangerous?

So last fall Oakland made headlines for getting named the nation’s fourth most dangerous city by CQ Press. I’m sure City leaders are hoping that Popular Science naming us the country’s fourth greenest city will generate as much attention.

So what was it that makes us so green? Is it our bold stance against plastic bags and styrofoam? Is it our ludicrous promise to be Oil Independent by 2020?

Um, no. Popular Science uses the following boring old criteria: electricity (how much energy is drawn from renewable sources), transportation (how many commuters take public transit or carpool to work), green living (how many LEED buildings; how many parks), and recycling/green perspective (how comprehensive is our recycling program; how important to citizen think green issue are).

Here’s how we stacked up:
Electricity: 7/10
Green Living: 3.1/5
Recycling/Perspective: 4.9/5
Total: 22.5

And the rest of the top 10: Continue reading

What is Ron Dellums’s vision?

I have no idea why there was nothing to write about for a month and now there’s like ten zillion things going on at once. So by my count, I’ve promised and not delivered three posts just this week – affordable housing, the financial issues with Ron Dellums’s police recruitment funding request, and commentary on the industrial land use resolution that the Planning Commission endorsed last night. And there’s like 6 other things that came up this week that I didn’t get to. Anyway, I’m not getting any of those done today. They’re all complicated enough to deserve more time than I have right now. At least one of them (maybe two) will hopefully go up tomorrow.

Anyway, at the Planning Commission meeting last night, I heard reference after reference to Ron Delllums’s vision. At least six people said something about how it’s so great that the Mayor has this clear vision for Oakland and now we have to implement it or something to that effect. So this got me thinking, and I realized that I don’t have the faintest idea what Ron Dellums’s vision for Oakland is. And I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I think I follow these things a lot more closely than most people. What is this vision? I’m not being snotty – I really just don’t understand. What is there to implement? Am I missing something? Can anyone help me out here?

So many meetings, so little time

Tonight is lousy with important meetings. Blighted buildings, industrial zoning, Measure Y, and Children’s Hospital are all competing in the Wednesday night time slot. How is a concerned citizen supposed to choose? If only we had TIVO for public meetings. Anyway, take a look at what’s on the calendar. Continue reading

Nancy Nadel cares about your health, but only until she gets her way

During her seven month long crusade to ban smoking outside, Nancy Nadel couldn’t stop making snotty speeches about how much she worried for the health of her constituents. She was doing this for them – not only for all the kids she represents for whom secondhand smoke is “just as deadly as a bullet”, but also for all of us who were happily killing ourselves with the cancer sticks.

In September, at the first City Council meeting when the ordinance was discussed, she smugly informed the two dozen people who came to speak against the law that she had added to her website information about local smoking cessation assistance resources and implored us to go look at them.

So this morning, when I decided I needed that exact information, I remembered her offer (that level of self-righteousness really is unforgettable) and went to said website, a little bit thrilled that Nancy Nadel was about to be useful to me for the very first time. Here’s what I found:

Do you see anything about smoking cessation on here? Yeah, neither do I. (The County provides this list (PDF!), although I’m not sure how current it is.)

Apparently Nancy Nadel’s heartfelt desire to help her constituents kick the habit lasted only as long as it took to get her smoking ban passed.

OPD to Oaklanders: Crime only happens to bad people

This story has been edited since it first went up yesterday. The new version is more favorable to the police. One absolutely shocking statement from police spokesman Officer Roland Holmgren is now gone. You can read the original version here (PDF!).

The disturbing line (emphasis added):

“We understand residents are scared,” Holmgren said. “It’s something we’re working on so they don’t have that fear. For the most part these are not random acts of violence. Our message to the community is if you’re not doing something you’re not supposed to, then you should be fine.

I’d like to hear him tell that to Christopher Rodriguez.