Monthly Archives: September 2010

I went to Plum last night! Hooray, new DTO restaurants!

I was in such a good mood all day yesterday, absolutely giddy about my dinner reservations at Plum, which opened yesterday at Grand and Broadway, in the space that used to house Louisiana Fried Chicken.

I was so excited when I heard about Plum! I am a huge fan of Daniel Patterson, I absolutely adore Coi, and I still remember a dinner I had years ago at Elisabeth Daniel as one of the best I have eaten in the Bay Area. So of course the second I heard they were taking reservations (you can make them online) for opening night, I booked myself a table.

Plum Oakland

Anyway, I couldn’t stop talking all day to anyone who would listen to me about how excited I was for dinner (it feels like I never do anything fun anymore, so this was like a big treat, taking the night off to go for a fancy dinner for no particular reason) and people kept responding that they couldn’t wait to read my blog about the meal. At first, I kind of wondered if any of these people ever actually read my blog, because hello! It’s about politics, not restaurants. Why would I write about Plum? I was going to dinner, not to a public hearing about their liquor license. And besides, Becks already wrote about it last week.

But then I remembered that I will probably be writing about little other than elections for the next five weeks, and thought that a restaurant post might be kind of a fun break. And it’s not like it would be the first time I’ve done something like that. Flora opens tonight! (Updated with pictures) is still my all time most viewed post, and probably will remain that way forever.

One thing before I get started. You should know that I’m what some people might call a food snob. I used to cook professionally. The last job I had before I decided to get out of the business was cooking for a year and a half at a Michelin starred restaurant. So I have pretty high standards when it comes to dining out. I love going out to eat and trying new restaurants, although some people don’t like to go out to dinner with me because they say I’m too critical. My sisters always say that they don’t think I’ve ever once ordered something at a restaurant that I actually liked. Or I’ll say I really enjoyed a restaurant after we finish a meal there, and they’ll be like “Are you joking? You complained about every dish!”

But I don’t think about it as complaining. Just because I can think of a way that something could be made better doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. Anyway. I just wanted to mention that so that you don’t go through and read the whole post and somehow get the idea that I didn’t think Plum was good because I wasn’t all over the top drooling about every item. I thought Plum was very good. And even if it hadn’t been, you can’t judge how a restaurant is going to actually be based on what their first night. It takes a while for things to gel. I love to check places out when they first open, but I would never hold a bad opening-night or opening-week meal against a restaurant. Not that that’s what happened here. Anyway, enough babbling. Let’s talk about the meal!

We started out by ordering everything in the “snacks” portion of the menu, although they were out of one item. We did get POTATO CHICHARRONES, POPCORN escabeche powder, and FRUIT AND NUTS burnt onion-fig leather, almond crisps. They were all really good. The fig leather one was the best.

Starters at Plum

One of my dining companions (who is even more of a food snob than I am) ordered ESCAROLE SALAD pomegranate, mint, lemon and complained that it was unevenly salted, which is like, the worst on a salad. I didn’t try that one.

Another of our party ordered Chilled EGGPLANT SOUP fresh pole and shelling beans, preserved lemon, cilantro, which I had one bite of and thought was really good. I love cold soup.

I had a bite of the NEW HARVEST POTATOES staffan’s lardo, fresh shallots, chanterelles, wild arugula and mostly thought it was okay. I ordered for a starter BRAISED CAULIFLOWER bulghur, almond, dandelion salsa verde. I was totally going to get the soup, and then the potatoes, but other people ordered them first so I had to end up going with my third choice and OMG I am so glad I did.

Braised Cauliflower at Plum

I loved this dish. I could have done with a little less of the dandelion salsa or whatever, which I’m sure would be good in moderation but became kind of overwhelming. But overall it was my favorite thing I ate all night.

Let’s see, what else? Oh. I really wanted to order SLOW-COOKED FARM EGG savory chicken-giblet fried farro, sprouts, but then it seemed like everyone else wanted that too, so I changed my mind and got something else.

Slow cooked egg at Plum

It looked great! And I love eggs so much. But unfortunately, I did not to taste this one, so I can’t tell you much more. Our waitress did say as we were ordering that the egg is the best dish. “The best.” That’s what she said. So there you go. I look forward to trying it when I return.

I got LAMB STEW sunchokes and wheatberries, grilled bread with chicories instead. I don’t know why I ordered this dish. Really, no clue. I don’t even like sunchokes.

Lamb Stew at Plum

The lamb was cooked well, I guess. And I liked the sauce. Mostly I was really bummed because the little crostini that came with it was covered with mayonnaise. I do not eat mayonnaise due to a scarring childhood experience and actually I have kind of a hard time even looking at it. Also. A lot of people really do not like mayonnaise. DEAR ALL RESTAURANTS: IF THERE IS MAYONNAISE ON A DISH, YOU SHOULD SAY SO ON THE MENU. Also, I’m personally not squeamish about these things, but it really does seem only fair to let people know if you’re feeding them brains, which was also not indicated on the menu. Anyway, wasn’t a huge fan of the lamb stew, but then it was really not the right thing for me to order for several reasons. So I don’t really have anyone but myself to blame there.

PORK TROTTER BURGER kohlrabi slaw, apple mustard and SEARED QUID kohlrabi, mustard greens, black rice porridge both made it to our table, but not in front of my camera or into my mouth, so I can’t say how those were. From where I was sitting, it looked like there was mayonnaise on the burger, which was also not stated on the menu. But I didn’t try it, so I can’t be sure. The whole mayonnaise thing really threw me off my game. It was just so unexpected.

I stepped outside for a cigarette between courses and happily managed to get my head back on straight for dessert.

Our waitress recommended MILK CHOCOLATE CREAM basil, pine nuts, which one of our party ordered and it was great. I’m not really a pudding person, so looking at the menu this was not something I would have ever ordered if the waitress had not been so insistent that it was the best, but I’m so glad we got it. If you go to Plum and order dessert, order this!

Milk Chocolate Cream at Plum

I got burnt cinnamon ice cream, which the waitress also raved about. That was just kind of fine. I mean, it tasted like cinnamon ice cream. Nothing special.

dto510 ordered GOAT CHEESECAKE niabel grape, graham cracker and kindly let me try it.

Goat cheesecake at Plum

The graham cracker crumbs were fine, the cheesecake was pretty good, but that grape sorbet really weirded me out. I tasted exactly like those cheap grape popsicles they would give you at, like, camp or something when you’re a kid. I’m assuming they made it taste that way on purpose, but I was not expecting that at all and it really wasn’t a welcome surprise. Other people at the table really liked it, though.

The one thing that bugged me about the meal was that when the bill came, they had added a 16% service fee. I really hate it when restaurants do that. I mean, I get why you have to do it for big parties or whatever, but for a normal table? That is obnoxious. And also, it’s confusing. Am I supposed to tip again on top of that? I mean, I can’t think of where I would go that I’m only going to tip 16% on a meal. But then, if they’re deciding they’re just going to put the charge in there and not let you decide, and they picked 16%, then why should I give more? I don’t know. It’s becoming increasingly common in restaurants and I really hate it. I can’t complain that much about the bill, though, because they did take 10% off the whole thing as like a treat for people who came on opening night. So that was sweet.

Plum Oakland

And that was our opening night meal at Plum! I loved it. I’ll probably give them a little time to get settled before I go back. But I can’t wait to visit again in like a month or so.

Should eminent domain be used to bring a grocery store to West Oakland?

Last Sunday, while you were enjoying Rockridge Out & About or possibly Goapele at the Woominster Ampitheater, I was chained to my computer prepping blog entries for the coming week.

I was working on my recap of last week’s big Mayoral debate, and when I got to the lightning round question about eminent domain, I got partway through writing it and realized I had written enough for a whole post. And then someone brought it up out of nowhere for a second time in the comments, so I decided it was actually pretty post-worthy.

So. Eminent domain is a touchy subject. And it’s a particularly touchy subject in West Oakland, where there is a long history, still fresh in the minds of many residents, of eminent domain being used aggresively and for reasons that…well, let’s just say that in retrospect, most people agree it did not end up being a good thing for the area or for the people who lived there.

Existing eminent domain rules in West Oakland

Okay, here are some things you should know. (I am trying to put this as simply as possible, so forgive me if some of the nuances are lost. We can discuss those in the comments.)

  • In California, you can use eminent domain in Redevelopment Areas.
  • When you set up a Redevelopment Area, you make a Redevelopment Plan.
  • In the Redevelopment Plan, you get to decide whether or not this Redevelopment Area will have the power of eminent domain.
  • The West Oakland Redevelopment Area was established in 2003.
  • In the West Oakland Redevelopment Area, eminent domain is allowed by the West Oakland Redevelopment Plan (PDF).
  • The Redevelopment Plan for West Oakland allows for eminent domain to be used only under cetain conditions (PDF). Briefly, those conditions are:
    • The property is located in the Clawson/MMcClymonds/Bunche subarea of the West Oakland Redevelopment Area. (There are a total of three subareas.)
    • The property is commercial, not residential.
    • The whole project the property is being acquired for does not exceed three acres total.
    • The property is located along one of four streets that have been designated as commercial corridors: West Grand, Mandela, San Pablo, and Market. The corridors are marked on this map (PDF).

Got all that? Good.

Proposed changes to West Oakland eminent domain rules

So now, the City wants to amend the West Oakland Redevelopment Plan (PDF) to modify the aforementioned eminent domain rules.

Why would they do that? Well, as explained in a recent San Francisco Business Times article:

Eager to attract a grocery store to West Oakland, the city redevelopment agency is preparing to broaden its eminent domain rules so it could acquire the final piece of a five-acre parcel desired by Foods Co.

The retailer has approached three property owners along West Grand Avenue between Filbert and Market streets. Two have agreed to sell but one, who controls just under an acre, is asking for more than Foods Co. has been willing to pay.

So, what changes exactly is the Redevelopment Agency asking for? Read the staff report (PDF) for the full story. Again, I’ll put it as simply as I can:

  • Change the total size of a project that eminent domain can be used for to 5 acres rather than 3 acres. However, you would still only be able to use eminent domain to acquire 3 acres of the land to be used in the project.
  • Add to the areas designated as commercial corridors that eminent domain would be allowed to include spaces at 24th and Filbert and Myrtle Street between 24th and West Grand.

That’s all. It would not change the rules about not being able to use eminent domain on residential property.

If you’re having a hard time envisioning the areas discussed, perhaps these maps will help. Click on them for a bigger version.

This map shows in green where in West Oakland eminent domain is currently allowed to be used on commercial property.

This map shows in yellow the new locations where eminent domain would be allowed if the amendment passed. Again, it would only be allowed to be used on commercial property, as laid out in the West Oakland Redevelopment Plan (PDF) on pages 7-9.

So, this proposal to amend the plan was brought to the West Oakland Project Area Committee in July. They voted on whether to approve the amendment (PDF), but the vote tied (5 yes, 5 no, 2 abstentions). Now the proposal is being brought to the City Council. The City Council is able to overrule the WOPAC and change the plan without their approval, but this will require a 2/3 vote.

The reason for this is because the Redevelopment Agency is trying to get a grocery store to locate in West Oakland. The national grocery chain Foods Co. wants to open a store in West Oakland. You probably read about the two stores they are opening in East Oakland. Foods Co. has found a site to locate a 70,000sf store in West Oakland, but had to acquire several properties to put together the land. One property owner in the area has not been willing to sell to Foods Co.

In order to aid Foods Co. in their quest to acquire the property, the Redevelopment Agency wants to amend the plan so they would have the power of eminent domain if they should ultimately need it. This isn’t a vote on whether to use eminent domain on the property now — that would have to be voted on separately later. I mean, obviously if the amendment to the Redevelopment Plan passes and the property owner remains obstinate and it does come to the point where they need to use that tool, then they’re going to. I’m just pointing out that we’re not actually there yet.

Anyway, the public hearing on the issue is scheduled for the City Council meeting on Tuesday, October 5th (PDF).

Proposed eminent domain rule changes at CED

So before items come to the City Council for a vote, almost everything goes through a hearing at one of the Council’s committees. And so, on September 14th, the proposed changes to the West Oakland Redevelopment Plan were heard by the Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee (PDF). If you are so inclined, you can watch video of the whole discussion below.

So. There were a number of speakers at the meeting. Several were adamantly opposed to amending the Redevelopment Plan. These people were all just totally against the use of eminent domain at all for anything.

I sympathize with that. I understand why a lot of people flip out the instant they hear the phrase “eminent domain.” That’s valid.

But the thing will all these people who came and spoke against it is that none of them seemed to understand what the proposal was at all. I mean, they all kept using this slippery slope type argument and saying that if you start allowing it for one thing, then as soon as it’s established eminent domain is allowed in West Oakland at all, the City is going to start gobbling up people’s houses. But, of course, they don’t appear to realize that it is already allowed.

The people who spoke in favor of the amendment, including District 3 (West Oakland) Councilmember Nancy Nadel, basicaly all said that yes, we know the history of eminent domain in West Oakland, and we’re cautious about using this as a tool, but the fact is that West Oakland really needs a grocery store and this is what it’s going to take to do it.

When she spoke, Nancy Nadel also mentioned that bringing in a grocery store was part of her platform when she first ran for Council in 1996, so it’s really important to her that we get one. Ha.

Anyway, the Committee elected not to delay the public hearing, as had been requested by some of the anti-eminent domain speakers.

They didn’t talk about it for very long. Jane Brunner asked a couple of questions, and after listening to the exact same explanation for the third time in half an hour suddenly acted like the fact that there is already language about eminent domain in the existing Redevelopment Plan was complete news to her, and I guess she decided that trying to wrap her mind around all that would like, make her head explode or something, so she concluded by saying that she’ll just do whatever Nancy Nadel wants because she knows how much Nancy hates eminent domain, so if even she is willing to use it in this case, it must be necessary. I don’t know where the hell she came up with that idea. Nancy Nadel is constantly talking in Council meetings about how she wants to seize people’s property. They’ll be talking about the budget or whatever, and she’ll contribute nothing for most of the meeting, and then chime in and be like “I wish we could use eminent domain to take all these properties as punishment for being vacant for more than six months. That would solve our retail problem!” Or something similarly crazy. Well, anyway. I’m getting a little off topic.

Pat Kernighan essentially said that she would support it, but that they sure as hell better turn out a massive amount of people at the Council meeting to cry about how bad they want a grocery store. Normally, I’m not much of a fan of Pat Kernighan’s do-whatever-looks-most-popular approach to governance, but in this case, I kind of agree with her. This is such an emotionally charged issue, you need to be able to demonstrate that you’ve got strong community support.

Should the Council amend the plan as requested?

I think so.

I mean, it’s a tough question. Some people just hate eminent domain and don’t think it should ever be used for anything, or maybe only for a road or whatever, and I respect that. It’s legitimate. And if you’re against all eminent domain, then of course you’re going to be against it in this case.

But the fact is that the question of whether this Redevelopment Area would allow eminent domain was really hotly debated and decided already. The people who are against using eminent domain in all case lost that debate. And it’s not like we’re talking about some ancient history from like 40 years ago or something. We’re talking about 2003. And after a lot of heated discussion and passionate debate, we made a decision that we would allow for the use of eminent domain in a specific area, and also only on non-residential properties. Now they want to change the language to allow for something that, from my perspective, is very clearly in the spirit of the way the rule was written, but outside the letter of it. I think that’s fair.

And really, it is an issue that there’s nowhere to buy groceries in West Oakland.

I was house sitting out there for like a week not too long ago, and I gotta say, the lack of places to buy groceries makes cooking out there a serious pain in the ass. I walked down to that Mandela Foods Co-Op one day, but the store was empty and they did not have any food. I mean, the loose lettuce was like, starting to cross the border between wilting and liquified, then avocados were so rock hard I honestly don’t know how you could have eaten them even if you wanted to, the tomatoes did not even smell like anything. They didn’t have any bread or meat that day, although they assured me that this was an anomaly. I mean, it’s nice they sell Clover Stornetta milk, and if it was on my normal way home I would probably stop in for a quart or something from time to time, but the fact it that this is simply not sufficient to meet people’s food shopping needs. I ended up taking BART to San Francisco and buying my groceries at that store in the bottom of the Bloomingdale’s mall. Which, BTW, was better priced than Mandela Foods.

Another day, I had nothing in the fridge and it was during this big heat wave and just the whole prospect of the ordeal of going to the store was just too much for me to handle. Forced to make do with what I could buy at the neighborhood convenience store, I ended up having a dinner of a couple of bottles of Anchor Steam, a bag of microwave popcorn, and canned peaches. Yum!

Anyway. I don’t mean to make light of the situation with my little stories. The fact is that the lack of access to groceries in West Oakland is a public health issue.

Where the Mayoral candidates stand

So, during the “lightning round” of questions at last week’s Mayoral debate, the candidates were all asked whether they supported the use of eminent domain to get a grocery store in West Oakland and instructed to answer either yes, no, or undecided.

Don Perata, Jean Quan, Rebecca Kaplan, Don Macleay, Larry Lionel Young, Marcie Hodge, and Greg Harland all said yes.

Arnie Fields said no, because “This is America.” And Joe Tuman, who, just like with most issues, clearly had absolutely no idea that this controversy is going on, had to ask to hear the question again. Then he said that he absolutely wouldn’t support it.

One more thing

So I complained a little bit earlier in the post about how the people speaking against the amendment were all uninformed and whatever. And that is true. But I don’t think it’s their fault at all that they’re clueless. It’s the City’s.

The City did a predictably wretched job of letting people living in the impacted area know what was going on. You know, they send out their required legal notice and act like that’s some kind achievement. What did they expect to happen? I mean, a bunch of people open their mailboxes and all they’re going to see is a date and the words “eminent domain” which of course is going to scare the shit out of them.

And then people want to try to figure out what’s going on and maybe they try to read this staff report that’s all in bureaucratese, and they’re scared and confused and probably feel like someone is trying to trick them or something, because hey, that’s usually they reason people are not forthcoming with clear information. Who can blame them for flipping out?

I mean, I’m sure that no matter how good a job of outreach the City did to inform people, you would still end up with several people vigorously opposing the amendment. There’s nothing you can do about that. Some people just hate eminent domain. But that’s not an excuse to act like it’s not worth it to invite comment from everybody else.

Forum Video for AC Transit D3, BART D4, Peralta D3 and D5

For those of you who aren’t as geeky as me, Reginald James of The Peralta Report, Eric of Transbay Blog, Daniel Schulman, or several devoted members of the League of Women Voters Oakland and didn’t get to see it in person, I’m happy to share with you video of four out of five of last night’s forums.

Forum breakdowns by question and recaps with my commentary will be forthcoming, but I don’t know when, and I wanted to get these up as quickly as I could, because I know some of you out there are particularly interested in this BART race. So here you go.

BART Board District 4

Candidates in this race are incumbent Carol Ward Allen and challengers Robert Raburn and Monique Rivera.

AC Transit Board District 3

Candidates in this race are incumbent Elsa Ortiz and challengers Dollene Jones and Nancy Skowbo.

Peralta Community College Board District 3

Candidates in this race are incumbent Linda Handy and challenger Monica Tell.

Peralta Community College Board District 5

Candidates in this race are incumbent Bill Riley and challenger William Mattox.

Okay, have fun! And if anyone knows of websites for the candidates that I didn’t include a link for, it would be awesome if you made a note of them for me in the comments.

DREAMING of a better Jean Quan music video

So. After I posted Jean Quan’s music video a while back, a couple of people mentioned to me that they were surprised I wasn’t meaner about it.

Block by Block

I said that yeah, the video kind of sucked, but it seemed clear to me that it was made by kids, although I think now that I may have been wrong about that. And then she posted a new version of it, which was clearly higher budget.

Anyway. I also said that I wasn’t more critical because I really do appreciate the fact that she’s experimenting with something different. I mean, everybody’s campaign materials are all the same, and it gets really boring after a while. I think it’s great that she’s trying to spice it up. And sometimes, when you try new things, they don’t work out. Big deal. At least you’ll know how to do it better next time.

Plus, the song was kind of catchy. I mean, not catchy in the sense that I had any desire to listen to it more than once. But it was at least mildly entertaining. I didn’t find myself desperately wishing it would be over already while I was watching it after like twenty seconds like I did with that that Luann music video they put out a couple of weeks ago.

So I gave “Block by Block” an A for effort.

DREAM A Better Oakland

Now Jean Quan has a new video up. Since, like I said, the first time is for learning, and she’s already had that, I don’t feel as obligated to be kind about this one.

The new video, called DREAM A Better Oakland, is a promotion for her “Envisioning East Oakland” townhall this Saturday in the Elmhurst neighborhood. The premise of the video is that she is giving some kids a ride to one of her house parties. So, right there, you’ve got a suspension of disbelief problem. Like, I don’t buy for a second that she would do that and therefore whole video is implausible to me. I can never get into it when I’m just too distracted from the very beginning by the premise.

But the bigger problem is that the whole thing is really half assed. Jean Quan does not make an even remotely credible case that she is enjoying this at all. Instead, she looks resentful about having all this noise in her car. At 2:03, she looks like she’s struggling to stay awake.

In fact, everyone in the car appears unhappy to be there. They all just seem really uncomfortable. Like, the “better Oakland” they are dreaming of is one where Jean Quan is not giving them rides.

The overall effect is just extremely grim. I mean, I get that it’s a depressing song. But you have to present at least some kind of positive feeling if you want people to think you’re going to improve the situation. The last song at least was positive, and was also about her.

Oh! And don’t even get me started on the inexplicable “Go Raiders” badge she has tacked on top of her logo at the end. Plus there are too many fonts.

Jean Quan’s second music video took several steps backward from her inoffensive first attempt. Therefore, I give DREAM A Better Oakland a C minus.

Best Oakland Mayor forum yet! I got video!

So who made it out to last night’s Mayoral forum?

I went back and forth for a long time about whether to go or not, and finally I decided that since it was in my neighborhood anyway, I should just go, and I’m so glad I did. This is the fourth Mayoral forum that I’ve been to, and it’s the first one where I didn’t find myself bored out of my mind after about 20 minutes.

This one had a different format than previous ones, and OMG was it such a refreshing change of pace. There is nothing more pointless than spending like 20 minutes listening to a string of people all say that crime should be lower or that the budget is the most important issue facing the City. Martin Reynolds did a great job moderating, the questions in this one were overall more interesting, and having questions directed at individual candidates instead of all to the group minimized the time spent on nonsense repetition and having to listen to people who clearly don’t have the faintest idea what they’re talking about. I also thought the “lightning round” of questions, where the candidates were supposed to answer with only a “yes,” “no,” or “undecided” was fun.

Obviously it would have been better with fewer candidates on the stage, so we could have gotten more time for questions, but I think the forum organizers did a really exceptional job adapting to the constraints they were under. I hope that the organizers of some of the other upcoming forums follow their lead and try for something a little more creative with their formats.

So big kudos to the League of Women Voters Oakland, the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, the Bay Area Business Roundtable, and the Oakland Tribune for pulling off such a successful event!

For those who couldn’t make it last night, you can watch my video of the event below.

If you’re confused by Jean Quan’s answer to the lightning round question about the parcel tax, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Every single person I talked to afterwards was like “What the hell?” So no, you didn’t hear wrong. She did, in fact say that she does not support her own parcel tax.

BART Board Forum on Monday!

And of course, we’ve got more forums on the way. Monday, September 27th at City Hall Hearing Room 1 at 6 PM, the League of Women Voters is hosting a second round of candidate forums. This one will include Superior Court Judge, Peralta Community College District 3, Peralta Community College District 5, BART, and AC Transit District 3.

That’s right! It’s a BART Board forum! Come on down to City Hall to show your support for Robert Raburn (who I am delighted to say recently earned the endorsement of the MGO Democratic Club) and submit tough questions to ask of incumbent Carol Ward Allen.

For those who couldn’t make it to Monday’s forum with the Auditor and District 2 candidates (among others), it will be rebroadcast on KTOP this Wednesday at 6:30, Thursday at 4, Friday at 7, and Saturday at 5. I’ll put up the video online once I get the DVD from KTOP.

Funnies Update

Finally, I know you guys are just dying to know what’s happening in the fictional political worlds of Mark Trail and Rex Morgan, MD.

Well, since it’s the comics and the only get three panels a day, not much has happened since when I wrote about them two weeks ago.

Mark Trail’s neighbor is still planning on kick-starting his political career by hosting a hunting party in his backyard, and his wife is still upset about it, so now she’s leaving him, which he’s concerned will ruin his career before it even gets started because voters like to see a family man.

Mark, meanwhile, wants to expose his neighbor’s evil plan by writing a story about it, but his editor is skeptical because he finds the whole thing implausible. Which…well, you have to admit, it kind of is.

I’m hoping that today’s little disagreement between Mark and his editor will be the start of a major plot twist, where Mark quits his mainstream media job in disgust and starts a crazy blog detailing how evil his neighbor is, www.notfrank.com. How awesome would that be?

Meanwhile, in Rex Morgan-ville, the Mayor has basically spent the last two weeks running around yelling about how he’s going to find out eventually who leaked the news about his cancer diagnosis and when he does he’s going to like, waterboard them or something. He seems kind of unbalanced and paranoid. I don’t think I’d vote for him if I lived in this town.

One of the Councilmembers wrote an op-ed in the newspaper last week criticizing the Mayor’s budget, and now the Mayor is screaming at him and saying he’s corrupt. I hope it turns out he is, because this storyline is starting to get kind of repetitive and dull.

Okay, that’s all for now, folks. Have a good weekend! See you at the forum on Monday!

More candidate forums tonight, plus video of D4 forum last week

Hey folks, I’ve got another candidate forum for you to watch. Scroll down to watch last Thursday’s District 4 City Council candidate forum.

Tonight, the League of Women Voters Oakland will be sponsoring another candidate forum at City Hall featuring several local races. The whole thing runs from 6-9 PM in City Hall Hearing Room 1 (on the right, just as you walk in the front door). The forum will cover the following races:

For those who don’t want to drag themselves all the way down to City Hall, you can watch the action from the comfort of your home on KTOP, which is Channel 10 on Comcast. Those poor souls who, like me, do not have cable can watch it all streaming online. [UPDATE: Um, apparently, I was wrong and the forum is not being shown live on KTOP. Oh well. I'll still put up the video next week.] And of course, I will be putting up video of the forums here for you to watch at your convenience, but likely not until next week.

One reason you may want to go in person if you’re particularly invested in any given race would be so that you can submit your own questions to be asked of the candidates at the forum.

For those who like to make plans more than a few hours in advance, there’s yet another Mayoral forum coming up this week, co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters, the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, and the Bay Area Business Roundtable. That one will be held this Thursday, September 23rd at the Kaiser Center Auditorium (300 Lakeside Drive) from 7 to 8:30 PM.

The League of Women Voters Oakland will also be sponsoring another forum at City Hall next Monday, September 27th from 6 to 9 PM. That one will feature the candidates for Superior Court Judge, Peralta Community College District Areas 3 and 5, BART Board, and AC Transit Board District 3.

And here’s the video of the District 4 candidate forum for those who couldn’t make it last week. If you want to see these candidates in person, there will be another District 4 forum held on October 22nd sponsored by the Laurel District Association and Laurel Village Association from 6:30 to 8:00 PM at the Allendale Rec Center (3711 Suter St).

For a full list of all forums being sponsored by the League of Women Voters Oakland, view the calendar on the League website.

All the candidates running for the District 4 seat were in attendance. As a reminder, the candidates are: Libby Schaaf, Jill Broadhurst, Daniel Swafford, Melanie Shelby, Ralph Kanz, Jason Gillen, and Clinton Killian.

Mark your calendars for candidate forums

Are you guys getting excited about the Mayoral election yet? Yeah, me neither. I’ve been to three candidate forums so far, and I’m still finding myself completely underwhelmed by all the candidates. And more bored with the whole thing after each one I attend. I wish real politics in real life was as entertaining as it is in the comics.

For example, in Mark Trail right now, Mark’s neighbor recently erected a giant fence around his property for reasons nobody understood. That is, until he explained it all to his wife, which is that he is planning to run for Governor of whatever State the Lost Forest is in, and in order to boost his chances of winning, he has imported a bunch of tamed exotic animals to his house so he can invite all his politically connected friends over for a big game hunt, which will prove to them that he’s Governor material. Don’t worry too much about the animals, though. The dude’s wife is a tattletale, and has alerted Mark Trail to his nefarious scheme.

Elsewhere on the funnies page, Rex Morgan, M.D. has recently diagnosed that town’s Mayor with prostate cancer. The Mayor doesn’t want to tell anyone because he thinks that his health problems could cost him the election, and he can’t afford to lose because then he won’t have health insurance anymore. Unfortunately for the Mayor, someone’s got other plans for him, and has leaked the news of his condition to the local paper. Luckily, the local political editor is a stand-up guy and also a cancer survivor, so he’s not going to bother informing the public that the Mayor is sick. Presumably, the mysterious figure behind the leak is not going to be deterred from ruining the Mayor’s campaign, and will soon send the information to some unethical blogger, who will publish it without a second thought.

Secret backyard safaris? Media conspiring with candidates to conceal serious medical conditions? Why can’t we get some of that intrigue up in here? Those are way better than taking advantage of loopholes in campaign finance laws.

Anyway, here’s a few upcoming opportunities to hear from the candidates:

Tomorrow, the Oakland Climate Action Coalition will be sponsoring a Mayoral Forum focused on Green Jobs and Climate Action at the Oakland Museum Theater. Details:

Tuesday, September 14th, 7:00-9:00 PM
Doors open at 6:30 PM
Oakland Museum Theater
1000 Oak Street

I know it’s short notice for the forum tomorrow. If you can’t make it, don’t worry – you’ll have plenty of opportunities to hear the candidates speak over the next few months. In particular, I’m looking forward to the forum on Thursday, September 23rd sponsored by the League of Women Voters, the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, the Oakland Tribune, and the Bay Area Business Roundtable. At this forum, the candidates will be questioned by a panel of local journalists, including Randy Shandobil from KTVU, Alex Gronke from The Oakbook, and Oakland Tribune columnist Tammerlin Drummond. The discussion will be moderated by Oakland Tribune editor Martin Reynolds. Details:

Thursday, September 23rd, 7:00 to 8:30 PM
Kaiser Center Auditorium
300 Lakeside Drive
Event Website

And of course, there’s other things to vote on this November besides the Mayor’s race. Jean Quan has vacated her District 4 Council seat to run for Mayor, and seven people are running to replace her: Libby Schaaf, Jill Broadhurst, Clinton Killian, Jason Gillen, Ralph Kanz, Daniel Swafford, and Melanie Shelby. They’ll all be on hand to answer your questions at a forum this Thursday, sponsored by the League of Women Voters, the Laurel Village Association, the Dimond Improvement Association, Melrose High Hopes NCPC, and the MacArthur Metro. Details:

Thursday, September 16th, 7:00 to 9:00 PM
Fruitvale Presbyterian Church
2735 MacArthur Boulevard

In other election related excitement, Jean Quan got herself a little music video to promote her campaign. It’s no Farouk is on Fire, but points for effort.