So here I was, all excited to go on vacation and ready and eager to spend a few days without giving a thought it the world to Oakland, or the City Council, or the budget, or insane civil service rules, or Deborah Edgerly, or any of it.
So last night, I step off the plane in the Electric City, and check my voicemail, since my flight came in early and my hostess isn’t there yet to pick me up. I have one message, from a friend all frantic and irritated about the fact that he had just been ticketed for smoking outside a bar. Continue reading →
I’ve explained before how banning smoking for air quality reasons in a venue where you’re virtually guaranteed to be no less than 50 yards away from anyone not in your party at any given time is absurd. And of course, since I don’t really play golf, I can’t get too worked up over the whole thing. You’d think the same would be true of the anti-smoking activists. But no. Several people spoke to urge the Council not to exempt golf courses, because…well, I think just because they can’t stand to lose even a teeny bit of their sweeping new law. It certainly isn’t because they’re actually having problems with secondhand smoke on the golf course:
So for the third time this fall, the Oakland City Council passed a first reading of the new outdoor smoking ban tonight. A first reading of an amended ordinance that exempts golf courses. The ordinance will have its second vote on December 4th. Continue reading →
So, amazingly, the Council did not do as I predicted yesterday and just let Barbara Killey get away with this ignoring the instruction to exempt bars. Not that she was reprimanded or anything, but they actually did not pass her legislation.
Killey’s further attempts to explain the fire safety concerns were ludicrous – she clarified what she was told by the Fire Marshal – that the concern is that people should not be blocking a radius of 5 feet from the center of a door. How this translates into a necessary minimum of 5 feet from any door or window is completely unclear. Henry Chang responded with the common sense statement “To me, 5 feet, 2 feet, whatever. If people block the door and people want to get out, they move. If people want to get in, they move.” Well said. Continue reading →
Oakland’s City Council was scheduled to have their second reading (and final passage) of the new secondhand smoke ordinance last night. The item was pulled from the consent calendar, and will be considered again, perhaps with some revisions, in two weeks, at the next Council meeting.
Local Hillary backers are abuzz over Ron Dellums’s endorsement of her yesterday. Since I don’t particularly care for either of them, the move does little to influence my vote. Still, I was somewhat surprised, given Dellums’s historical attitude towards the military and Clinton’s hawkish tendencies. I remain unpersuaded that a Clinton White House will bring meaningfully different policies for urban America, but on the bright side, she certainly can’t be any worse than what we have now.
I don’t really have anything else to say about that (but Zennie Abraham has some thoughts). Instead, I’ll share some news about our neighbors to the south that I found interesting. Continue reading →
The Council voted to pass the smoking ordinance just before 2 am this morning. Jane Brunner left the meeting before the item was heard. Ignacio De La Fuente, Pat Kernighan, Jean Quan, Nancy Nadel, and Henry Chang said yes.
Here are some highlights from what I managed to jot down of the discussion.
For some of my constituents “exposure to smoke can be as deadly to them as being shot in the street.”
Last night I got home a little before 9 o’clock. As I was walking into my building, I heard a terrible scream, so I stepped back on the street to investigate. A woman on the corner had just been knocked down and had her backpack pulled off. She pointed the direction the kid ran, but he was already out of my sight.
She was bruised, but otherwise physically uninjured. Mentally was another story. She was shaking and sobbing and hysterical, as people tend to be when this sort of thing happens to them. (At this point I see a purse snatching as little more than an inconvenience, but I remember the first time I got mugged I reacted exactly like she did. Probably worse, actually.)
It wasn’t the middle of the night. It wasn’t a bad neighborhood. And it wasn’t a deserted street.There were four people within a block of her when it happened. In the 15 minutes we were waiting for the police to arrive, over a dozen people walked passed us.
I had planned on using my evening to write some blogs for today – one about the BRC’s stupid non-recommendations and another about this idiotic smoking ordinance. But I found myself too restless and frustrated to write. I was frustrated at myself for not being able to comfort this terribly upset woman or think of better things to say to her. I was frustrated over knowing that this kid would never be caught, and even if he was, nothing would happen to him, since this isn’t a “serious” crime. Continue reading →
Tuesday night, the Public Safety Committee voted 3-1 in favor of the new secondhand smoke ordinance. It will now move on to the full City Council. The Committee struck the sections banning smoking in new multi-unit housing and declaring secondhand smoke a public nuisance.
Yesterday, Nancy Nadel was quoted in the Chronicle complaining about our inability to quell gang and drug violence in a small park north of downtown Oakland. The City was forced to close the park, and a re-opening is nowhere in sight. Tonight, the Council’s Public Safety Committee will meet, but addressing the crime plaguing the city is not on the agenda (PDF!). What is? An ordinance banning smoking in plays and performances, near bus stops, in all outdoor dining areas, outside of bars, public parks and in all newly constructed multi-unit housing (including outdoor areas like patios and balconies), among other places. The ordinance also includes a provision designating secondhand smoke a “public nuisance,” which would permit residents anywhere in the city to sue their neighbors over “drifting” smoke. Nancy Nadel is the Council’s primary backer of the ordinance. I explained the history of the ordinance yesterday on Novometro.
When the City is unable to guarantee even moderately safe streets, passing unenforceable nanny-state legislation restricting behavior inside private property sends a terrible message to the residents of Oakland about the Council’s priorities. Continue reading →
State of the Art Education Complex: Tuesday, June 26th, 6:00 PM Education Partnership Committee
Last summer, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell announced a plan to sell 9.5 acres of OUSD-owned property near Lake Merritt to New York developer Terramark for $65 million. The land sale would have put a substantial dent in the $100 million the district owes to the state. The proposal drew violent opposition from members of OUSD’s impotent School Board, who claimed that the sale would actually hurt the district financially, since the cost of relocating the five schools currently housed on the land could reach $35 million. Although their decisions have carried no weight since the district went into state recievership in 2003, the School Board voted to reject the land sale and countered Terramark’s proposal with a vision of their own – a “state-of-the-art education center” on the property. Continue reading →