Dear candidates for Oakland Mayor: Nobody wants to listen to your whining

Have you guys been following this ridiculous brouhaha about the
Sierra Club Mayoral forum next week?

If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky. It’s a bunch of headache-inducing nonsense. You can go read the play by play recounting of the all the ridiculous bitchery that’s gone on in the last couple of days over at Zennie Abraham’s blog, Oakland Focus, but for those who have don’t have the time (or stomach) for it, here’s the short version.

The Northern Alameda County chapter of the Sierra Club organized a Mayoral forum for next Wednesday, which was going to be co-sponsored by the Oakland Climate Action Coalition. They invited only the candidates they decided had viable campaigns to participate — Don Perata, Jean Quan, and Rebecca Kaplan. I am not entirely clear on what criteria they were using to demonstrate viability. At first I was under the impression they were using the League of Women Voters criteria, then it seemed like they weren’t, then I heard they were, then…well, whatever. It doesn’t matter anymore. In any case, it was just going to be for the top three candidates.

So of course, the candidates who were not invited got all upset about being excluded and then the Terence Candell campaign started firing off a bunch of crazy sounding letters about how the Sierra Club and the League of Women Voters (who are not part of next week’s forum, but who are co-sponsoring a forum in September that was announced with participation criteria) are elitist and other such bullshit. And other candidates who weren’t invited sent a bunch irate messages to various mailing lists about how unfair it was for the debates to be limited to “professional politicians” and calling for people to protest forums that were not open to everyone on the ballot.

Then someone from Don Perata’s campaign told Zennie that Perata wouldn’t go to any forums that weren’t open to all candidates because it’s undemocratic or some such nonsense, even though he already attended a forum (held by the Oakland Builders Alliance) that was not open to all candidates. Of course, that was also during the period where he claimed he would not attend any forums at all because it’s “undemocratic” and “misleads voters” to have forums before the filing deadline, so clearly these statements from his campaign need to be taken with a grain of salt.

Anyway. Then the Oakland Climate Action Coalition decided to pull out of the forum altogether because too many candidates were excluded and said that they would be hosting their own forum in September. And then the Sierra Club said that their forum would be open to all the candidates after all.

What a bunch of nonsense

First, I’m really disappointed about the Sierra Club’s decision to change the criteria for their forum. I mean, I totally get why they did it, and I respect their choice, but from my perspective as a voter, it’s a real bummer. I was really looking forward to the opportunity, for the first time, to hear the people I have to to choose between speak at reasonable length, side by side, about their positions. I already went to one of these everyone’s invited forums and I’m sure I’ll end up at a few more over the next few months, so I no longer have any reason to attend this one.

And for the candidates throwing a temper tantrum about not being invited to participate in certain forums, all I have to say is this: stop whining and start campaigning.

What’s the purpose of a candidate forum?

As far as I’m concerned, there is not a thing in the world wrong with limiting participation in forums to serious candidates. The purpose of a candidate forum should be to educate voters about their choices. These things take a tremendous amount of work to organize, and nobody should be expect to go to all that effort just to provide a soapbox for people to complain about how they don’t think the City is well run. Guess what! Nobody else thinks it is either, and the fact that you managed to find fifty people to sign a piece of paper and coughed up enough cash to get your name on the ballot does not mean you have a chance at winning or that anyone is obligated to listen to you.

I was talking to someone from one of the “viable” campaigns yesterday, and they were all “Just so we’re clear, our campaign fully supports opening the all debates to all the candidates.” I was like, “Um, yeah. Of course you do. The more people less qualified than your candidate on the stage, the better it makes them look. Also, you know that several of them are going to beat up on your competitors, so it gives you the negativity you want while letting you keep your nose entirely clean.”

But let’s be clear. Having everyone running up on a stage doesn’t have a single thing to do with “democracy.” All it does is allow the leading candidates to spend less time answering questions from voters about their positions. It is always in the interest of front-runners to avoid talking at debates as much as possible.

Here are the criteria that the League of Women Voters provided when they sent out invitations to the forum they’re co-sponsoring in September:

1. Eligibility to be on the Ballot: the candidate must have correctly taken out, circulated and properly filed nomination papers

2. Viable campaign: The candidate must have:

  1. made a public announcement of an intention to run
  2. A legally registered campaign committee with the California Secretary of State
  3. Have filed appropriate financial reports with the City of Oakland and the California FPPC
  4. A publicly accessible campaign headquarters
  5. A telephone number, other than a personal or home number, listed under the campaign’s name
  6. A campaign website and/or other campaign material with articulated views on issues
  7. A campaign bank account and campaign treasurer

In addition, the candidate must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  1. The candidate has received 5 percent or more of the vote, tested in a trial heat in a professionally conducted independent public opinion survey conducted by an experienced political pollster based on a scientific sample of the entire electorate with a margin or error of less than 5 percent (at a 95 percent level of confidence), if such a public opinion survey is available
  2. The candidate has reported in legal documented filed with state or city government entities the receipt, during the election campaign, of at least one campaign contribution per 1,000 residents of the constituency (based on the total number of persons enumerated in the last U.S. census), excluding contributions from the candidate himself or herself, the candidate’s spouse, or the candidate’s natural or adopted children. Contributions do not have to be residents of the constituency to be counted.
  3. The candidate previously had been elected to or held, the office that he or she is seeking.
  4. The candidate sought the same office during the previous eight years and received at least 20 percent of the vote in the general election.

This isn’t some crazy nonsense that someone made up so they could exclude people at random. This is just clear, objective, boilerplate criteria for establishing that you’re a serious candidate, and it is completely in line with the national League of Women Voters guidelines for debate participation criteria. There’s nothing unusual about it and there’s nothing that should come as a surprise to anyone with any history of involvement in politics.

And frankly, it is simply not, by any reasonable measure, a high bar for demonstrating that you’re running a viable campaign. All it requires is that you make your campaign accessible to voters and that you can demonstrate a modicum buy-in from the electorate.

If you want to be taken seriously as a candidate, you have to actually, you know, campaign. All this whining about money and viability and who is to say who is viable? WEV. Those criteria have nothing to do with money. It’s about demonstrating support. Look, there are four hundred thousand people in Oakland. If you can’t get four hundred of them to give you a dollar, then no, you are not a real candidate.

BREAKING: Winning elections is hard!

So. From time to time, people who are considering running for one office or another ask me to talk to them about their plans and whether they should take the plunge or not. I don’t know that I have any particular insight into the subject, but I almost always tell them the exact same thing, and I think it’s pretty good advice. I say that Oakland desperately needs more people to run for office, and that no candidate should ever go unchallenged, and if they decide to go for it, I think that’s great. But, that if they do, they should make sure they understand before they get in that campaigning is really hard and also that they are probably going to lose.

It’s a harsh thing to say, and most people don’t seem to like hearing it, but it’s the truth.

And for those who are willing to accept the challenge and put themselves out there to run for office anyway? Whether or not I agree with their platform or even think they would do a good job in the office they’re seeking, I have an extraordinary amount of respect for them. It is so much work to campaign, especially so when you know your candidacy is a long shot. You open yourself and everything you believe and everything you have ever done up to a tremendous amount of criticism and rejection and…I don’t know, I don’t think I could ever do it. Whether you’re doing it to try to win against the odds or whether you really just have something you want to say and you’re using the election as an opportunity to get that message to the public, it’s an amazingly tough and also just wonderful thing to do and absolutely worthy of admiration.

But here’s the thing. To earn that respect, you have to, you know, actually campaign.

You want to get your ideas out there? Do it. You want people to consider voting for you? Then you have to be out there actually soliciting support from voters. And if you aren’t doing that outside of organized forums, if your entire campaign plan is to go make a bunch of noise at these multi-candidate events that other people put together because they want to make an informed decision about where their vote should go?

Well in that case, you are not a real candidate. Cause you know what? If every single person who went to every Mayoral forum in the entire city decided to vote for you based solely on your performance in those forum (which, BTW, is not going to happen — half the people who go to those things have already made up their mind anyway, and that’s being generous), you still wouldn’t win. You wouldn’t even come close. Because most voters do not attend candidate forums.

You absolutely have to be working for it in other ways. And if you’re not, I don’t see any reason why I should go spend my extremely limited time listening to what you have to say instead of hearing more in-depth responses from people who are actually trying to win.

So instead of sitting around whining about how unfair it is that you don’t meet some pretty basic criteria for viability, go out there and figure out what you’re going to do to meet it. It’s not fucking rocket science. Go get four hundred one dollar donations. If you’re serious about your campaign, you’re out there asking for votes anyway. Explain the forum situation to the people you talk to. If you’re actually working for it and making a good case for yourself, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to reach that threshold.

What’s that? Getting people to give your their money is hard? Boo fucking hoo. You know what else is hard? Running the City.

Whoever ends up as Oakland’s next Mayor is in for a bitch of a job for the next four years, there’s no way around that. So if you think you deserve it, and if you want people to take you seriously, well then, suck it up and stop whining. Accept the challenges before you and find a way to meet them. Because I, for one, have no interest whatsoever in another four years of listening to an endless pity party coming out of the Mayor’s office.

170 thoughts on “Dear candidates for Oakland Mayor: Nobody wants to listen to your whining

  1. Dax

    Good golly, I’d think for a candidate, or two, a public forum might be the last thing they’d desire.

    I mean, you never know what the public might inquire about regarding their public persona and background.

    Sometimes it best to not invite scrutiny.

  2. Daniel Schulman

    This is an excellent post.

    In one of Zennie’s many posts on this topic, he refers to the first 7 criteria of viability as “fine.” Yet, I do not think any of the 2nd tier candidates that he champions meet them. Do any of them maintain a public campaign office? Most don’t even seem to have a dedicated campaign phone number.

    For people who take issue with the need to get donations from 1 out of a 1,000 people, I agree it is hard, but as V points out so is running the city. Even though, I support one of the major candidates, I would have given a token donation to about half of the second tier candidates because I think they have something to say. The reason I did not, though, is because none of them ever asked me.

    How hard is it to table at farmer’s markets and street fairs and explain to people the importance of getting even a dollar donation. Candidates could also have done things like host events at trendy bars and offer drink coupons for a small donation. Sure all of this takes work, but …

    As a member of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, at the Green Forum I was really hoping to understand each candidate’s position on a transportation commission. Now with the limited time, we’ll only get silly answers like “I support it,” or “it’s good in principle, but there are more important items to address.”

  3. ralph

    Great post! I have been emailing Z about this issue. And I agree with you there is absolutely no way to put 13 candidates on a stage and have them speak for more than 2 minutes on 4 questions. (This does not even take into account the 2 minutes that Candell is going to use for peacocking before each question and the 1.5 minutes he is going to run over when he goes full preacher.) If you want to be taken seriously as a candidate do the work to merit being on the stage until then shut up and sit down.

  4. Chris

    Great post regarding running for office. My wife and I used to work in political campaigns, and we would often get the question, would you run for office?, usually from a friendly but not too close acquaintance. Absolutely not was our standard answer. Also, I would often respond to the question, “Well, if I did, I’d have to ask you for $1,000″. It’s just the nature of the beast to have to raise money, and you have to be able to ask for alot of money from all your friends, more money probably than they have ever given to a candidate or charity. Not political friends, but in-laws, college friends, everyone you know. Also, if you don’t know 400 people who would be willing to give you some kind of donation, or at least enough people who can raise 400 donations, then really, do you have the kind of support you need to be mayor of Oakland? Just working campaigns was the toughest job I’ve ever had, by multiples.

    I remember one candidate I worked for, who was the hardest working candidate I’ve ever seen, a week out from the campaign complain that people were coming up and saying “You look terrible.” Her reply to the staff, not to supporter, would be “What do expect? I’m getting 4 hours of sleep a night, I’m eating campaign crap every day, and I’m under more stress than anytime in my life.” I always remember that as pretty succinct example of what working on a campaign is like.

  5. Brian Toy

    I was going to go to the Green forum Wed but now I’m not so sure. I agree with Dan. There will probably be plenty of sound bites and short answers like “I can fix this” but not enough time for them to explain how.

    In the BART Board election Carole Ward Allen just announced her endorsement from the Alameda County Building and Construction Trade Council. No surprise there since she’s continuing to push for the OAC. I really want to see Robert Raburn and her go head-to-head in there own forum.

  6. Max Allstadt

    Perata’s excuses for not showing up to forums are getting more and more ridiculous.

    First he has so much respect for Ron Dellums that he can’t bring himself to participate in a forum held by 100 Black Men of the Bay Area. Then he won’t go to a forum at the Sierra Club because the Sierra Club is anti-democratic. Both times, he confirmed his appearance and then backed out on short notice.

    Bullshit, Don. What’s really going on here isn’t that you’re high-minded idealism is keeping you out of these forums. What’s going on is something called the “Rose Garden Strategy”.

    This is a strategy used by candidates that have a lot of money and a lot of negative baggage. Meg Whitman is using it.

    The way it works is like this: You spend lots of money of fancy PR. You do events with friendly crowds and take as few questions from the public and the press as possible. You avoid engaging the other candidates as much as possible. In short it’s the way you play when you want to buy an election.

    Don Perata, incidentally, has made a habit during this campaign of promising to appear and then not showing up.

    Anyway, yes. V’s right on all counts. Personally, I think the biggest mistake Kent Lewandowski made was to bluntly tell candidates he hadn’t invited that they weren’t “viable”.

    Even if it’s true, the fact that he lacked tact created an opening for him to be skewered.

    Now, since he’s capitulated and opened the floor to all candidates, even those who are using the race to self-promote their businesses, the best thing the Sierra Club can do is dramatically extend the hours of it’s event, and have a couple intermissions.

    Let’s make it 2 1/2 to 3 hours long, so that we really can hear detail and depth from all the candidates.

  7. livegreen

    Max, I’ll simplify Don’s strategy even more for you:

    He plans on letting the incumbents get skewered for their mismanagement. His supporting Unions focus the same.

    He doesn’t show up or propose anything of his own. Instead he just plays up the negatives of his opponents & tries to tip toe into office.

    His motto essentially is the “least bad candidate”.

  8. Policywank

    I think it’s reasonable to set a bar for a viable candidate. I’d personally set the bar a little lower than this, though. In 1996, I put a lot of volunteer hours into a _successful_ campaign where my candidate would not have met the criteria to be considered viable here. Our candidate spent 8 to 12 hour days walking neighborhoods on weekends. He did at least another hour of walking every night after his job and another three to four stuffing envelopes. I did a lot of neighborhood walking for him and a lot of hours stuffing envelopes. We were a small campaign. We never had a publicly accessible HQ and it wasn’t until the last 6 weeks that we had an office space instead of working from the candidate’s home. That office space was a conference room in a friend’s business that we were allowed to use on evenings and weekends.

    I realize that a campaign of that type isn’t going to win Mayor of Oakland, but one doesn’t have to look far in this country to find instances of underfunded, complete underdogs winning campaigns by just constantly being out there and talking to voters face to face.

  9. V Smoothe Post author

    Policywank –

    Clearly, different criteria are appropriate for different races. These are criteria for participation in an Oakland Mayoral forum. By that standard I think they are fine. But there are certainly many other races where a reasonable bar would be lower.

  10. We Fight Blight

    What we really need are forums where the public can ask the really, really tough questions of the candidates without filters and without screening and moderators who force candidates to actually answer the questions in plain english without politician speak and platitudes. Many of these candidates, particularly the professional politicians, and the apsiring professional politicians, rarely answer in a direct fashion the tough questions. Candidate forums that limit the participation to the “viable” candidates more readily lend themselves to forcing candidates to be accountable for their positions and beliefs. Having 13 candidates onstage is little more than a beauty contest.

  11. Max Allstadt


    I think moderators are necessary in most cases, and they usually operate in good faith.

    There’s a protocol to the way questions get asked and there’s a good reason for it. Members of the general public, when given an opportunity to speak directly to politicians at a debate, often abuse the format for self promotion.

    For instance, I once saw Chief Batts at a forum where there were open questions. Folks stood in line behind a microphone, and took turns asking.

    Most people were courteous and asked genuine questions, and didn’t take a long time to do it. Others did not. One guy, in particular, stood out.

    The dude actually stood up, said he didn’t need a microphone, and then shouted to the crowd for quite a while, mainly about the success rate of the private school he runs, and about how he was running for mayor. Out of politeness, the moderators basically rolled their eyes and waited for him to finish, but he wasted everybody’s time, because everybody was there to see Chief Batts and to hear from Chief Batts.

    So, Moderators are necessary. Especially in the interest of effective use of time. And I don’t think that submitting questions in written form is a huge barrier.

    One might increase the level of fairness with written questions by asking the debate organizers to scan or transcribe all the questions that were submitted, asked and unasked, and put them online after the debate.

  12. We Fight Blight


    I totally understand and appreciate what you are saying. I am not against moderators, rather I would like to see moderators who are more forceful and effective in getting candidates to actually answer questions and to cut off speakers like the self-promoting dude who wasted everybodies time.

  13. V Smoothe Post author

    We Fight Blight –

    In my experience, question screening is absolutely necessary for a worthwhile forum. I have been to forums where they just give the mic to people in the audience to ask whatever they want, and it rarely goes well. Usually you end up just getting people with an ax to grind asking either really specific questions about something that probably matters a great deal to them but not much at all to anyone else, or they will just ramble about their problems at length with no real point or question for the candidates.

    Max –

    I think I went to that same forum! What I remember most clearly about the Q&A wasn’t Terence Candell, but this guy who got up and told the Chief some story about how he beats people up with shovels, and then asked if he should be arrested for it. These things bring out all types, I guess.

  14. Dax

    “this guy who got up and told the Chief some story about how he beats people up with shovels, and then asked if he should be arrested for it.”

    And the Chief’s answer? I’d love to hear it, or did he just have Dano book him?


    Anyone… I have now read posts by We Fight Blight, Max, and Ralph regarding the behavior of one particular mayor candidate at various forums.

    Is this behavior the norm for him?
    Including the self promotion for things quite apart from becoming mayor?

  15. Daniel Schulman

    Dax, that is exactly his standard type of behavior. Go look at the email he wrote to the Sierra Club that Zennie reposted here

    One choice quote (caps in original)

    The Sierra Club might have been pretty poor in their actions on scheduling this forum, but calling them “bigots” does not seem to improve the political discourse.

  16. ralph

    As Dan has indicated the behavior of said candidate appears to be typical. And it is not just the ABO readers who take some offense to his antics. I can not find it now but in a review Zennie wrote about the 2nd Forum, he indicated that a few ladies could do w/o the antics.

  17. Max Allstadt

    V, the shovel guy was asking a totally fair and relevant police policy question, and you know it!

    And yes. Terence Candell really needs to tone it down a bit.

    He also needs to look into CalTrans policy. I don’t know why nobody’s told him that the city of Oakland can’t build an extra toll plaza by the bay bridge and take all the money. I mean the idea is amusing, but laughably uninformed too.

  18. len raphael

    How will most voters get their information and make their decisions? Candidates and their staffs all have their theories. Don’t they all agree that it’s not from the public forums which as has been mentioned, are attended mostly by supporters and some media. I never heard of ktop before i read about it here.

    Suppose if a candidate comes out with a really good sound bite or a really lame one, links to a youtube of it will be propagated to some effect.

    Am continuing to have serious doubts about the chilling effects of IRV on candidates critiquing their opponents’ records and platforms.

    Ultimately, this will come down like most elections to who gets out their likely voters and which candidate gives off the impression that you’d want to have a beer/win/smoke a doobie with her/him.

  19. V Smoothe Post author

    Christopher, the League will be holding many forums in the coming months, just like they do for every election, all of which will, as always, be widely promoted as their dates approach.

  20. Daniel Schulman

    Len, I also don’t think we should undersell the importance of endorsements and slate cards.

    Sandre Swanson’s early and strong endorsement of JQ will deliver some votes. DP will benefit from the OPOA endorsement. Not sure how much mileage he gets from the Democratic Party establishment (e.g. Feinstein and Brown).

    While there seems to be growing discord with unions, that is not true among people who are actually in unions. Many of them well be swayed by their leadership’s recommendations. The EBX and EBYD has some influence with younger voters. Pastors can move their flocks. Etc. etc. etc.

    The difficulty of the 2nd tier candidates to get these types of recommendations creates a real handicap.

  21. Livegreen

    A lot of people vote by their familiarity with a candidate or an organization supporting them, or where their politics fall. Not based on how well that candidate will do as Mayor or what ideas & plans they have for the City.

    That’s not only why we need better reporting on the candidates. It’s also why we need an electorate that spends more than a few minutes learning about candidates they don’t know, how Oakland works, and the operations, policies & politics of the City in at least minimal detail.

    Oakland’s problems don’t only stem from it’s Politicians, City Gov’t and interest groups, but also from voters who re-elect the former, are woefully uninformed about the latter two, and as such permit the system to b what it is.

    We need to gently convince our neighbors to read & learn (through ABO & some of the other great blogs in O). If voters don’t take the time, or pay attention only to national & international issues, nothing will change locally (at least in a meaningful way).

  22. Livegreen

    Clarification/Addition to above: before even voting to unseat an incumbant is letting your existing City Council Member (CCM) know how you feel on issues, and occasionally attend a CC meeting to speak in Open Forum on those issues that you especially feel strongly about. Otherwise they only hear from the Special Interests, or those with the strongest views.

    Democracy and Local Government do not function without participation. (& I don’t mean don’t function well. I mean, they DON’T function).

  23. Helen

    League of Women Voters forums that are scheduled thus far:
    1. Cosponsored by the Bay Area Business Roundtable, Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the Oakland Tribune – Thursday, September 23, from 7 pm to 8:30 pm, at the auditorium of the Kaiser Building (the tall one) at 300 Lakeside Dr.

    2. Cosponsored by the Bay Area Black Journalists Association and Holy Names University – Thursday, October 21, from 6 pm to 8 pm, at the Valley Center for the Performing Arts, Holy Names University

  24. len raphael

    Daniel, in a couple of weeks wb interesting to make a excel sheet listing side by side endorsements for the candidates.

    My impression is that it would be hard to chose among JDR based on endorsements.

    But for sure the complete lack of endorsements by popular elected officials is an almost impossible hurdle for the candidates who have never held public office.

    If you think experience in Oakland public office is a plus, then look no further than JDR.

    Don’t know how to find out how many union members live in oakland at this point. a lot of teachers maybe, city workers, maybe retired union members?

    Be surprised if more than 5% of the 200k registered voters. (btw, doesn’t 200k out 400k residents seem really high? or is pop really 500k?)

    So maybe 10% of likely voters?


  25. len raphael

    Any reason to hope that social media will lower the entry costs and hurdles for challengers to incumbents?

    Would like to believe content plus social media could overcome incumbent advantages, but not yet.

    JDR are incumbents in the sense of being part of the Oakland political self selected “elite” “establishment”.

  26. V Smoothe Post author

    Okay, it took me a good three minutes to figure out who the hell JDR was.

    Now that I have, I think it’s worth pointing out that Jean Quan, Don Perata, and Rebecca Kaplan all became part of the so-called “Oakland political self selected ‘elite’ ‘establishment’” by being involved in their communities and then doing the hard work of going out and convincing people to vote for them.

  27. len raphael

    V, absolutely.

    And onetime reformers and challengers all try to create dynasties and machines because just to get up the energy and ask for the contributions and voters, every politician has to believe she/he are the savior the voters need.

    But there’s somethings rotten with Oakland’s political establishment.

    Taboos that control the definitions of political discourse and policy choices.

    Look at that old posting by ex councilmember Dan Wan

    One of most blatant manifestations is the hiring and promotion process for civil service jobs.

    No candidate in their right mind would discuss changing Oakland govt’s low productivity organizational culture, it’s outright racism, it’s reverse racism, it’s continuing nepotism.

    Interview a random sampling of retired, fired, and current Oakland employees regardless of race, who you know are smart and hardworking. Post the anonymous remarks.

    Guess i shouldn’t run for elected office anytime soon :)

    -len raphael

  28. V Smoothe Post author

    Can you explain more specifically what you think the problem is with the hiring and promotion process for civil service jobs?

  29. Naomi Schiff

    Len, while surely there are some less than diligent public employees, I don’t believe it is the norm. I see plenty of excellent work even in city hall, and I have witnessed a good deal of creativity, and plenty of earnest and diligent effort. My experience in the private sector does not lead me to believe that the average worker is any more productive than in government, nor that private industry is particularly great at rooting out waste. Broad-brush attacks on public employees are not useful. Generalized dissing of broad swaths of people is harmful to our city and I think it is beneath you.

  30. ralph

    If by creativity you mean interpretation which brought us Nik Nak, then I think we have issues. But riddle me, if creative solutions seem to apply to people of one group and not to any others does that not present the image of biased government. (I am thinking about this now because of the selective application of BART drivers adherence of not reopening doors.)Wouldn’t it just be better to be less creative and apply the law.

    As to the city worker broad brush, you and I both know that the city union allows even the worst performers to collect an a raise even if the member doesn’t do a lick of work and it protects members from being fired. So even if all employees are good they are going to be subject to the basic flaw of unions. This is why we need to go to pay for performance in the city and in the school system.

    I would to see the next mayor say instead of annual 4% raises, the city will set aside x% based on abc formula for raises. A performers will get 70% of the pool, Bs 25% and Cs – 5%.

  31. len raphael

    Yes entirely anecdotal based on years of talking to city workers, retired/resigned in frustration workers, parents of city workers, and outside service vendors.

    Favoritism, reverse racism is common, maybe even the norm.

    How would one prove or disprove that assertion? After my sept 15th deadlines, i’ll start by reading the details of the auditor’s outside consultant reports on hiring and promotion.

    What metrics would you use to evaluate my assertion that productivity of a substantial percentage of city employees is lower than urban govt median. We don’t even have programs set up to track such data, let alone make it public.

    my assumption before reading that entire report is that outside consultants who want to get hired in the future, would downplay any criticism as long as it doesn’t make them look stupid or open to citizen’s lawsuits.

    Over the last 5 years I have spent maybe 150 to 200 hours getting zoning approvals and permits for a three house rehab project. most of that time spent at Frank Ogawa Plaza.

    I’ve had more recent interactions with fire department that were not favorable.

    Police service interactions have been excellent in my case.

    Over the years i have spent a fair amount of time working with the business tax people, Rent Adjustment Program staff.

    Many of the city workers I’ve worked with are conscientious, smart, hard working.

    A very significant percentage of them are not. The other workers don’t say anything but basically roll their eyes, shrug their shoulders to the effect “hey, this is Oakland, i have to work with everyone”

    I got the distinct impression that there is no incentive for being the former, and probably good reasons no to be.

    I don’t want to give specific examples because I might well work with some of the later group in the future.

    V, how much and frequent contact have you had with ordinary employees other than Library, the direct staff of elected officials, and zoning dept staff?

    Most residents have very little contact with city employees other than meter maids/men and cops. My local meter person is hardworking, takes his job seriously but doesn’t rush to ticket people he sees coming out of their homes, etc. My local cops do their job intelligently and with awareness.

    -len raphael

  32. VivekB

    When I asked 2 different groups of OPD personnel what they thought the best thing we could do to improve efficiency, 3 different people at 2 times immediately said nepotism combined with an absolute inability to fire awful performers was an issue (they were referring to non-sworn). I won’t post the specifics on a public blog, but they were pretty exact with me on what the personnel had done (or not done), who they knew, and how nobody could do a thing about it. They said this has a toxic impact on other non-sworn personnel as they see no impact to bad behavior.

  33. len raphael

    If you’re thinking I’m a wannabe teapartier, why not ask Danny Wan for a follow up to his posting about the elected officials code of omerta?

    Ask normal residents who’ve lived in cities around the bay area for more than 5 years, and many of them will tell you Oakland city government is worse on delivery of service than others they have lived in. They are alternately amused or angered by the acceptance of that by residents.

    eg. the other day i was talking to young resident of Uptown who loves living there but hates the crime situation. Almost everyone one she knows who lives in DTO has been mugged at least once. Not beaten up, but held up. They also are pissed off at the city’s handling of the two Grant demonstrations, allowing violence to reign after dark.

    Not exactly RK and JQ’s view of the same events as great expressions of public sentiment, marred by a few outsiders.

    -len raphael

  34. len raphael

    Speaking of Uptown, how is that working out? In last 4 days I have heard two dramatically different descriptions.

    One couple loves the place, and say that management are effectively maintaining quality and eliminating friction between residents who get subsidized units vs market units.

    The other person, a 35ish latino woman, who works night shift at a local hospital, also loves living in DTO, but is getting increasing uncomfortable with clash of lifestyles in Uptown between loud young party crowd, some poor families with screaming kids out of control. Apparently the accoustics of the attrium in her building don’t help.

    Am curious how the experiment is going because it’s a test case of how inclusionary zoning/affordable housing incentives will play out.

    -len raphael

  35. V Smoothe Post author

    Len -

    I have had many interactions, ranging from truly horrible to amazing, with city employees throughout the system. I didn’t ask you for specifics of your complaint because I think the civil service and union system is perfect – clearly, there are many problems. I asked because you stated your claim so assertively, I assumed you had some specific evidence and/or solution in mind. The issue is probably something that deserves its own post. Mostly, I just think it’s really important to remember that these systems exist for a reason. Specifically, they exist to protect both staff and the public against nepotism and cronyism.

    Generally speaking, with respect to poorly performing employees, I have no interest in defending the City or saying everything Oakland does is great. I don’t think that at all. But I also don’t think it’s as terrible as some seem to imagine either. I have worked jobs in retail, hospitality, multi-national corporations, small private businesses, medium sized businesses, and government. In almost all of those arenas, I have worked with people who are lazy and incompetent, yet keep their jobs and sometimes even get promoted anyway. I have also worked, in almost all sectors, with people who are wonderful and hard-working, yet do not get rewarded for their contributions. The line exception in my experience was the several years I spent in commercial kitchens, where everyone works unbelievably hard and no one who isn’t good at their job lasts long at all. Front of the house staff, on the other hand…

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that while I think the City is far from perfect, and I do believe there are any things that could be done to improve it, I tend to agree with Naomi in that I don’t think there’s anything exceptional or unusual about it.

  36. ralph

    I noticed in your response to Len you did not mention provide effective and courteous service to the residents as per Oakland’s mission stmt. And this is a problem – BIG PROBLEM.

    While I am not fan of the Oakland’s 2nd grade mission stmt, an enterprise should have systems in that place that support its mission. Protected union service does very little to ensure that people are incentivized to provide effective and courteous service. This is not to say that they don’t, but the pay system does not support the mission. This needs to be changed.

  37. len raphael

    V, I’m not anti civil service, or anti union. I’m anti what I believe to be Oakland’s widespread violation of the spirit if not the letter of the civil Service rules.

    Other than huge cpa firms, my experience wit private industry is limited to working closely with several hundred small and not so small closely held local businesses over the years.

    The very successful ones are dramatically more effective but not always much more efficient than what is the norm for government service delivery.

    -len raphael

  38. len raphael

    btw, I don’t assume that government’s organizations have to be ineffective or inefficient simply because they are monopolies, and certainly not because they are not for profit.

    But without market competiton, the odds are stacked against city performance.

    -len raphael

  39. ralph

    I can not speak for The Uptown, but my own experience tells me any time you mix adults with wet behind the ears kids with more money than brains you are going to have problems. I say that to say that issues between loud party animals and responsible adults is not unique to The Uptown.

    However, with the right rules in place you can limit the frequency of occurences. For example, management should employ a three notice rule. If written up for more than two violations, then one is subject to automatic eviction.

    As to the crime factor, the single worst thing to happen to that area is the recession. It needs additional development residential, retail and nightlife and way fewer parking lots and blind alleys. The increased activity will provide a little more safety. The city also needs to buy and redevelop some of those surrounding parcels as well. And finally, I recommend that the city reconfigure some of the streets to make it harder for cars to speed out in a heartbeat.

  40. len raphael

    What are the crime stats for the Uptown area for the last three years?

    ie. are we talking reality or perception of an increase, or has it just remained consistently high for street crime?

  41. ralph

    You can search the crimestoppers site to obtain crime stats for the Uptown area.

    I do not think there has been any increase in crime, more like a constant rumbling and I would be hard pressed to tell you if it is high – relative to what?

    and to clarify, I did not mean to imply that the subsidized were lousy tenants. I was specifically referring to the annoying habits of decent income people.

  42. len raphael

    Ralph, i didn’t take your comments to imply anything about poor people, just rowdy young people. age-ist not elitist

    the latina resident was implying that the young families were ghetto in that they didn’t shut their kids up.

    me, i’d say that was more typical of berkeley hills parents. :)

  43. Daniel Schulman

    Hey, I want to get back to the topic of the post. Besides, you don’t want to hear about the lazy jerk at my company.

    Somewhere up above, Len wrote:
    “But for sure the complete lack of endorsements by popular elected officials is an almost impossible hurdle for the candidates who have never held public office.”

    It’s not that these 2nd tier candidates have never held public office that hinders them from receiving endorsements, it is their lack of involvement in the community. Libby Schaaf, who in my opinion is running the best campaign in town, has an amazing list of endorsements

    Now you might say, sure LS has never held an elected office, but she is still part of the establishment. There’s truth to that, but most of her opponents for the Dist 4 seat are also running serious campaigns. Look at Jill Broadhurst’s endorsement list

    Jenn Pae running against an incumbent in Dist 2 is also conducting an extremely strong campaign. She has raised a bunch of money, and she will likely receive some strong endorsements.

    Unlike the 2nd tier mayoral candidates, these district candidates have been involved in their community which gives them a base to work from. The fact that they are actually campaigning helps also.

  44. Daniel Schulman

    Sierra Club updated their info on Facebook with the current expected attendees.

    The following candidates have confirmed attendance: Arnold “Arnie” Fields, Don MacLeay, Don Perata, Greg Harland, Jean Quan, Joe Tuman, Rebecca Kaplan, and Terrence Candell.

    Larry Young and Marcie Hodge were invited and have not yet responded.

    Hope I’m not to close to TC when he gets sick.

  45. Dax

    “Hope I’m not to close to TC when he gets sick.”

    What does “gets sick” mean?

    I’m thinking I might want to attend just to see this.

  46. Barry K

    Hey Daniel,

    the list of endorsers of LS is reason enough that I would NEVER support her.
    More of the same, more of the same.

    Are you also the Daniel Schulman in the list of LS endorsers too?

    Interesting that you also list JB’s list of endorsements. That seems really spiteful in comparing their lists. Theoakbook reported LS had $75,000 in her warchest compared to $26,000 of LS.

    (IMHO- JB’s list is of local people and business owners speaks a lot louder than LS list of the unions and elected officials that feed off each other.)

    V- I really hope that ABO won’t be exploited by certain bloggers to advance (promote) the campaigns of those they are working for or supporting. If they do, expect counterpoints, and they’ll start the mud slinging and you’ll have to blow the whistle.

  47. Dax

    Gosh, is it just me, or is this board more into abbreviations and acronyms and initials than any other around.

    Every other post and I am scrambling to figure out what or who LS, or JBL, or DTO or whatever is.
    Scrolling back, using the “find” function to see where it was defined, or trying to fit it into a certain name.

    Makes reading much harder than needed.
    I admit I do it on occasion, especially when talking about Ignacio De La Fuente.

    A question, is the board user friendly for new arrivals or people wanting to learn about Oakland politics?

  48. Barry K

    Dax- good points.

    re my reply post to Daniel, LS = Libby Schaaf, and JB=Jill Broadhurst. Both are candidates for Dist #4 CC (currently held by the Empress of Measure Y, Jean Quan).

  49. Daniel Schulman

    Barry, sorry I wasn’t clear on a few points. Yes, I am endorsing Libby Schaaf. No, I am not trying to be spiteful to Jill Broadhurst. In fact, I was trying to compliment her.

    I’ve met Jill Broadhurst several times and quite like her. I think she has a great backstory, seems competent, and would most likely make a fine council member. I would have no problem supporting her in another race.

    My point was entirely on the surface. Jill Broadhurst like a number of council candidates is running a much better campaign than any of the 2nd tier mayoral candidates.

    In my opinion, most of the 2nd tier mayoral candidates don’t seem to be in it to win it. They seem to want to promote their business, make some point, or stoke their ego. One or two of them do seem to be actually trying to win, but they don’t know how to go about it.

  50. Sandra Pohutsky

    I am reading this posting and comments with great interest. I have endorsed Jill Broadhurst for city council member, and am doing volunteer work on her behalf, something highly unusual for me. A year ago, I asked an Oakland “insider” what would be the best use of my limited time and energy to improve the City of Oakland. Without hesitation he said “Get competent people elected to the city council. Most of them are incompetent, have no idea of what they are doing and are there for the wrong reasons.” I agree that our democracy is messy and the ballot is cluttered with people who are in for the wrong reasons. My neighbors sound seriously disgusted and if they vote they way they speak, the November election will be dramatic.

  51. V Smoothe Post author

    Barry, I don’t think there’s anything spiteful about Dan linking to endorsement lists for both Libby Schaaf and Jill Broadhurst. In fact, the large difference in the amount of money each candidate has raised only serves to underscore his point, which is that you don’t have to have the most money or the most endorsements or be part of some “establishment” to run a serious campaign.

    Libby Schaaf has way more money and higher profile endorsements than anyone else in the D4 race, but you don’t see Jill Broadhurst running around boo-hooing about how hard it is to compete and how unfair it is that so many people are supporting Libby. Instead, she’s focusing on running her own campaign and convincing people why they should vote for her instead. Because that’s you do when you’re serious about winning.

    As far as the blog being “exploited,” that’s not really the type of thing I worry about. If people want to talk about why they support this candidate or that, as long as it’s relevant to the conversation at hand, I welcome the discussion. I’m sorry if Dan’s support for Libby offends you (I am supporting her as well, BTW), but he has as much right to say that he thinks she would be a good Councilmember as you have to say that you would rather see someone else in the seat.

  52. livegreen

    I have to say that the candidates for District 4 actually give hope for the City Council. Several candidates are not only viable, but also capable, competent AND in tune with how Oakland needs to be governed better. Besides that, for me the biggest questions are what changes they will work to bring to CC, and specifically how they plan to improve Oakland.

    Since only two candidates have been mentioned, I must mention two other viable candidates:
    Clinton Killian: and

    Daniel Swafford:

    (there are others too, I just don’t know if they’re viable).

    I believe Len was speaking about Endorsements, and that it is hard for 2nd tier candidates for Mayor to break into the “usual suspects” of Endorsers. I agree with that.

    Note how Daniel Schulman posted the two candidates who have the most endorsements for District 4. He seems to imply that they are the most viable. That is simply not true.
    Which I think was Len’s point. (Correct me if I’m wrong Len).

    BTW, Except for voters who vote for or against a politician stridently, I think the endorsements are largely irrelevant. People read into them too much (ie. they MUST have “this” or “that” endorsement because they agree with the endorser 100% of the time), when they should be looking into what they’ve actually DONE or what their policy & thoughts ARE.

    Being endorsed by somebody MIGHT mean they agree with somebody a lot, but it MIGHT NOT mean that. The point is, its just more guessing, which Oakland could use less of right now. Let’s be fact based wherever we can.

    Again, the ACCOMPLISHMENTS, ISSUES & PLANS of the candidates matter most. Now let’s talk about that.

    PS. V, at some point it might be interesting to do an overview of the District 4 race. At this point your agenda is getting quite full, so guest posts & a timeline pre & post election might be helpful. (Of course I prefer you, IF you have the time! :)

  53. ralph

    It is undoubtedly difficult if not damn near impossible to link for illustrative purposes a candidates list of endorsers if the candidate does not have such a list. :)

    Clearly there is a huge difference in the names in endorsers which I think proves the point it is difficult for 2nd tier candidates to obtain endorsers, but not impossible provided you do the work. And if the 10 of the 13 mayoral candidates are not willing to do the work now, what confidence do I have that they will do the work later.

    I don’t know if endorsements are irrelevant but they are instructive. If you can find me a candidate who is free of the endorsements of the large but problematic organizations, I would probably jump through fire, walk the burning sands, and eat glass for them.

  54. livegreen

    Ralph, Further to both your points, I would have a hard time recommending to a candidate whether they should have a list of endorsers or not. Libby’s list is just such an example.

    You could use it to read the tea leaves any way you want. Do I believe she’ll follow V’s endorsement, or Igncio’s, or Jane Brunner’s? Do I view it that she’ll be an independent thinker, or able to work all sides?

    You can guess, but you simply can’t tell.

  55. Daniel Schulman

    It’s true I am a very deep thinker, but I am trying to be a surface as possible here folks.

    Livegreen writes
    “Note how Daniel Schulman posted the two candidates who have the most endorsements for District 4. He seems to imply that they are the most viable. That is simply not true.”

    I’m not implying any such thing. I mentioned most of the candidates vying for Dist 4 are running much better campaigns than any of the 2nd tier mayoral candidates. I limited my comments to the two I am most familiar with simply because I know with more than two links, comments on this blog get provisionally tagged as SPAM. More importantly, I am only writing about the Dist 4 race here to draw a comparison with the Mayor’s race.

    I did also visit Clinton Killian’s website. I do not know him personally, but I do sometimes enjoy his columns. I am pretty sure he will also get some strong endorsements and run a good campaign.

    On how endorsements function, sometimes they matter sometimes they don’t. Early, I mentioned that I think Sandre Swanson’s endorsement will bring some votes to Jean Quan. Union endorsements will brings some votes to their slates. The East Bay Express can have some influence. I am not sure of the number of votes any of these will bring, but I am pretty sure it is a non-zero amount.

    In terms of the 2nd tier candidates, it is a matter of legitimacy. Some of them say they have lived here 25 years or their entire life. Ok, well then you should know someone who has been elected to office, or holds a major appointed position, or is a community leader, or runs a successful business who will vouch for you.

    Joe Tuman with his name recognition from being on TV could have vaulted to the top tier with a couple of decent endorsements at his announcement. I am not talking councilmembers or state legislators, but doesn’t he know someone on the board of EBMUD or ACTransit, or maybe a leader of a major nonprofit, or the owner of a well-known business, or a Planning Commissioner. You know someone other people will recognize by reputation or at least the reputation of their affiliation.

    Every time I apply for a job, the potential employer wants references. If the reference is from someone they know, I’m golden. If not, I try to get someone with a good title from a company they’ve heard of.

  56. Livegreen

    Daniel, you say:
    “It’s not that these 2nd tier candidates have never held public office that hinders them from receiving endorsements, it is their lack of involvement in the community. Libby Schaaf, who in my opinion is running the best campaign in town, has an amazing list of endorsements”

    I read from that that to be a viable candidate you need to have a LONG list of endorsements (I don’t read V’s point in your comments at all). You reiterate this importance of endorsements yet again in your answer to my comments.
    By linking your comments between the 2nd tier’s candidates in the Mayor’s race and Libby’s & Jill’s list of endorsements, you draw a direct line between the two.

    Now in the case of the Mayor’s race, you might or might not b correct. But there are other possible explanations such as power politics, coat tails that any incumbent is more likely to have, political camps & obligations (the reason IDLF did not run for Mayor), etc.

    In the case of the District 4 race, your 2 examples WERE made based on their large #’s of endorsements. However it is not true that two of the other candidates in that race (Clinton and Daniel) are not involved in the Community. Yet neither of them has received any endorsements that they list. (& quite frankly I’m not sure a good or viable candidate should).

    If you’re now saying your precept holds true only for the Mayor’s race and not the race in District 4, then please clarify why?

    All I’m saying is there are other reasons that candidates might not receive endorsements than “lack of involvement in the community.”
    & Its not as if the endorsements of all the usual suspects have helped either the state of our City or to get us more capable leadership.

  57. ralph

    Is it possible you are reading way too much into Dan’s post.

    My only takeaway was Dan thinks people running for office should get out and meet people. It simply isn’t enough to say one is running for office.

    I am however suspect when I see a number of viable candidates and one has endorsements from all the usual suspects. In Oakland, that is enough to make me throw that person out of the running.

  58. Naomi Schiff

    But the opposite may not be helpful either: someone with NO endorsements is not necessarily better.

    I really appreciate Dax’s point up there about the dense and mystifying abbreviations. Sometimes I am quite flummoxed. The initials JB are particularly frequent and thus perplexing: Jerry Brown, Jane Brunner, Jill Broadhurst, and many other local characters share them. (Also Jim Beam, fine with a couple ice cubes.)

  59. Wow!!!!

    You all must be white. It shows in your comments. It also shows that if you look past the “dudes” color you might be able to quote him better. As a matter of fact the writer of this article only mentioned Terence Candell(Who is black) when in fact it was someone else who got the ball rolling and began “Whinning” as you all put it. You haven’t a clue as to the order of events, because Zennie only posted the most effective letter to get peoples attention and to understand that there are other candidates out there whether you like their skin color, the amount they have in the bank or not. It certainly got yours. Or you wouldn’t have this article to write. Can you think outside the box? Remember, we did not have a primary election, because people wanted to have other choices then those that the Sierra, the Chamber of Commerce and the LOWV deemed “viable”.
    Yes, I place color in it because people like you feel that it is okay when you discriminate against others. You never mentioned anyone else. Interesting! We are racially divided in Oakland and it clearly shows. Look at his website so that you can stop quoting incorrect facts about him. He said nothing about placing toll booths by the bridge. You did. But hey, did you know they are going to place when one by the entrance of Treasure Island. How about that $6 to go accross the bridge and $1 to get into Treasure Island. Someone is thinking. Campaigns cleary creates political “Hos”. They want your money and some use our tax dollars, so they can win. What are they going to do when they get into office? Give it back? Buy off people (vultures) so they can win? None of you looked into the other candidates platform and none of them have plans for the city. By the way there are only 10 not 13. Keep up!!!!

  60. ralph

    You are wrong on two counts.

    First, it is not about race. Even Zennie, in one of his post, pointed out that the African-American women he sat with at one forum were annoyed by Candell. Candell just happens to be colorful so he draws the attn.

    Second, at I believe the first forum, Candell stood on stage and proclaimed that he would charge a toll for all people who enter Oakland.

  61. Dax

    “Second, at I believe the first forum, Candell stood on stage and proclaimed that he would charge a toll for all people who enter Oakland.”

    Hmmm, Well, that will be a job creator for toll collectors or computer scientists..
    I’m just wondering about the details.
    On the Eastern border.
    Toll booth at the top of Redwood Rd., and another at the top of Pinehurst.
    Most troubling would be the one at the Western end of the Caldecott and deciphering which drivers are going to Oakland versus passing through to San Francisco.
    That is unless you are going to only have toll booths at the end of each off ramp.
    But then you’d have to distinguish between those who have gotten on and off from Oakland versus those who have gotten on in Walnut Creek, or San Leandro and gotten off at a Oakland exit.

    I’m sure it can be done with mandatory GPS equipment plus a newer version of Fastrack.

    I actually like ideas like this. Thinking outside the box.
    I would however allow the idea to mature before suggesting it at a public forum.

    I must say though, that Candell is the one candidate that tempts me to go to one of the forums in person.
    Sounds like he brings a dramatic tone to the events.

    The more I delve into his website, the more interesting the information I find there becomes.

  62. Dr. Terence Candell

    I heard I was being misquoted and trashed on this site. Candell does not run from a fight. People who do not represent Oakland well do that…

    And, no, I will not tone it down. You don’t get to tell me to do that, especially when my constituents have specifically asked me to do the opposite. They are tired of “mealy-mouthed” politicians, who line their own pockets with our money and never speak for the masses, as you clearly do not.

    Well, let’s get to it. Shall we?

    Max Allstadt: “build an extra toll plaza by the bay bridge”? You are as laughably uninformed as you have attempted to depict my political personna. I NEVER said toll plaza at the bay bridge. That would be stupid. Of course, so is misquoting people.

    However, and more importantly, I did say create our own toll booths, whether on the freeways (three of them) or at the exits. These ideas were developed into ballot measures, awaiting the ballot, as is the commuter tax we propose, utilized in various cities throughout the US and the state, after many committee meetings, after much research.

    You do know what research is. Don’t you? I would have to be in the category of those who misquote others to have lapsed and not done my homework with Cal Trans. Why don’t you? I feel like the high school teacher you missed.

    As to the two “African-American women” Zennie sat with, he did not. They were two white women and they arrived toting banners from another campaign. I hope I annoyed them. Watch the video tape. Now, there was one African American woman who sat with him. She was a supporter of mine. Do your homework, little boys! Oops! I feel like I’m back in the classroom.

    No worries. I have been teaching everyone in this campaign, because, quite frankly, I am the only one who has ever run multi-million-dollar businesses. That is why I have had to learn to “think outside of the box” as “Wow!!!!” so aptly states.

    Now, with regard to the racism, you probably applauded Gavin Newsom when he stole my idea of toll booths for Treasure Island. Why not for my city? It does begin to give the connotation that, because the only “viable Black candidate” said it, it was somehow “laughable”. You are the ignorant ones, not me.

    When we win, perhaps you will re-locate to Treasure Island, where you will find toll booths acceptable under a “white” mayor. Good luck with that.

    Careful. I am not one of those blacks you can bully on your half-witted little blog. I am equipped for any battle you want to bring. So, bring it!

    Vsmoothe? Nice “Black” id.

    ‘You still p’d because I said I don’t want your vote? I don’t. I only want the votes of those who can make intelligent decisions.

    ‘Careful about attacking this mayor, he bites back!

    Keep watching. I know you will; but, watch me more carefully boys, okay?

    Now, I must get to a meeting, boys; and I do not have a great deal of time; but, from time to time, I will return and give you a tuneup!

    God bless.

  63. David

    Wow. Who you callin’ white?

    I’m just amazed there are people of any color who read Zennie. He’s unreadable.

  64. ralph

    Boy is a white racist word.

    Dr. Candell,
    Your toll idea is nothing more than a revenue grab which serves no valid purpose. If you were attempting to reduce congestion or support new businesses, it would make sense to me. As you have proposed it, it sounds no different than any other politician who is just trying to collect money from the taxpayer for no legitimate reason other than they can.

    You do realize if elected mayor, you are the mayor for all of Oakland. So while your “constituents” may want “a preacher man who struts about like a peacock”, I would much rather a have a Fenty, Booker, or Rawlings-Blake who can do the small stuff without making it be about himself.

  65. len raphael

    I can appreciate the power of endorsements. I also share Ralph’s perception about the usual suspects all scratching each other’s backs.

    An acquaintence of mine had a conversation with one of those candidates with an impressive endorsement list. The candidate was clueless about basic city finances.

    Muni finance ignorance shouldn’t be held against a candidate for any office here, because it would just make them less effective campaigners. No one ever got elected to public office promising bad times and painful choices to voters.

    I would bet that most of the readers of ABO have a much better grasp of our financial situation, compensation structure etc. than ANY of the mayoral or council candidates.

    Not to worry, plenty of time to learn on the job over the next several terms.

    -len raphael

  66. Barry K

    Ralph/Len- Dont’ forget those campaign promises too.

    Measure Y Takes Aim at City’s Crime
    By Heather MacDonald, The Tribune, October 10, 2004
    “A measure with only more cops or one with only prevention programs won’t win,” said Councilmember Jean Quan (Montclair-Laurel) , citing a number of polls. “If we don’t compromise, we’ll get nothing.” Despite the concerns, the money raised by Measure Y will be used to expand the department to 802 officers, Quan said.
    “All of us have to run for re-election — none of us would break such an obvious promise,” Quan said.

    From Wikipedia- http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Election_ promise
    An election promise is a promise made to the public by a politician who is trying to win an election. They have long been a central element of elections and remain so today. Election promises are also notable for often being broken once a politician is in office.
    Elections promises are part of an election platform, but platforms also contain vague ideals and generalities as well as specific promises. They are an essential element in getting people to vote for a candidate. For example, a promise such as to cut taxes or to introduce new social programs may appeal to voters.
    When promises are to be broken, all politicians know it is best to do so at the start of a term. Thus the first budget is the one most likely to see unexpected tax hikes, or slashed spending. The hope is that by the time the next election occurs in three or four years time the anger of the electorate will have faded.

  67. len raphael

    Agree 100% with Candell about the prevalence of mealy mouth disease among the candidates for all offices.

    Power of endorsements, carryover name recognition and incumbency power, IRV plus entropy hard at work on apathetic, uniformed, residents who will chose the devil they know or the more highly endorsed devil because they assume that all politicians are liars if not crooks. they certainly don’t have the the time to read the last two years of ABO posts.

    Wierd town, why don’t I say something about wonderful track records, value of experience, proven performance?

    Greg Harland showed early signs of straying from candidate banalities when he called for public consideration of Chapter 9. Then he switched to using the euphemism “legal restructuring” when people dismissed his statements as, of course that’ll couldn’t happen here). Think he’s dropped topic entirely.

    In some ways I can’t blame any of the candidates. We residents haven’t done enough informing our neighbors about the issues. Maybe we had to spend so much time and energy learning about the issues and yes talking to ourselves.

    Shouldn’t expect any candidate to bring up issues that voters don’t understand or don’t want to understand.

    -len raphael

  68. len raphael

    Plenty of terms to get automatically reelected for whoever wins Quan’s council seat to learn a little about muni finances, then run for mayor.

  69. livegreen

    Len, You don’t have to be ignorant to point out the negatives of Bankruptcy. V has pointed out several, notably that it hasn’t worked for Vallejo, and Jean that when IDLF mentioned it the Bond ratings for the City sank. (or is that not true?)

    Now as I’ve heard you or Dax say it, Muni bankruptcy is different. If so, why then did the Bond ratings slip?
    (If JQ is right).

  70. ralph

    Bankruptcy is bankruptcy but different rules apply to muni bankruptcy. I don’t recall the bond ratings slipping.

    I seem to recall JQ stating that discussion of bankruptcy is off the table because it causes the bond rating to slip. I don’t know if it really happens to muni bond issues because the actual filing is remote. In any event, from what I recall, Oakland still has very good bond ratings.

  71. len raphael

    LG, if JQ is worried about our bond ratings dropping, she won’t have too long to wait by just continuing what she and the rest of the cc have been doing for years.

    She’s especially concerned about any short term effects on bond ratings from discussing the elephant in the living room because she’s planning, like her colleagues, on pushing the “structural deficit” onto generation xyz by additional borrowing over the next several years.

    The mechanics and rules of Chapter 9 muni bankruptcy are different from personal and business filings, but the economics, risks and benefits are similar.

    Much like in business or personal bankruptcy, ongoing creditors and vendors (other than employees) would rather have a fiscally healthy city as a borrower or customer going forward, than one stumbling from one crisis to another.

    The secured creditors, who make up the bulk of our creditors per V, might actually prefer us to go Chapter 9. It makes their claims even more secure.

    Our current and future leaders are not addressing dealing with the “structurual deficit” because they ultimately believe in the “too big to fail” theory applied to Oakland.

    In their hearts, they don’t feel bad sticking gen xyz with debt and taxes because they believe in the Federal tooth fairy.

    Because so many states and other muni’s are in bad shape with no hope of getting out in our lifetimes, the tooth fairy approach would say that the Feds willz:

    issue massive additional amounts of Federal debt which they will use to make massive grants to the states and cities. if you live in a blue state coastal city, it’s easy to believe that people in Kansas and Texas would love to help Oakland.

    The variation which i think is much more likely is where Congress changes Chapt 9 to make it clear that it applies the same rules of business bankruptcy re retirement plans to muni and state plans. Then Congress will borrow money, backed by very heavy fees charged to states and cities, to fund the extension of PGBC benefits and limits to states and cities.

    One of the above or a variation might occur, but then again it might not. For our city leaders to rely on a remotely possible event instead of assuming the more likely worst case is endangering all of us, but especially gen xyz.

    -len raphael

  72. len raphael

    David et al, isn’t a lot of the current muni debt offerings skipping the muni bond market and using the Fed program for cities, with taxable bonds?

    Are those bonds guarranteed by the Feds, so that a muni’s bond rating would be much less of a factor in the bond pricing?

    But then all of this is too hard for most of our pols and wanne be pols to understand. :(

    -len raphael

  73. len raphael

    Dismissing Chapter 9 out of hand is to give up a powerful threat to SEIU re unfunded post retirement medical benefits, and possibly some pension benefits. A useful tool in an important game of chicken with the unions to drastically cut costs and improve service delivery.

    But then Perata, Quan, and Kapland are not about to threaten SEIU for any major concessions from current employees.

    -len raphael

  74. John

    I find myself agreeing with Len from time to time and this is one of those times. No matter who is elected mayor this fall, he or she and the city council will not have a very strong position when negotiating for concessions from public sector unions. So what will happen is rather than make the tough, controversial decisions that need to be made, they will punt to the voters with another fee on the next ballot. So I want the mayoral candidates to spell out just what kind of concessions they will ask of the public sector unions to help put our city on a sound financial footing. I want our city leaders to have more tools available to them when they negotiate. Two of these would be – the threat of muni bankruptcy and the ability to put more non-public safety city functions out for bid so some competition can be introduced into city services and, I hope, improve the delivery of those services.

  75. ralph

    Bankruptcy is NOT going to happen. You have a better chance of winning the lottery than you do of municipal bankruptcy. It hasn’t happened in San Diego and they have been talking about it for years.

    The costs of bankruptcy far exceed any benefits which may be gained from re-writing the terms of OPEB and courts will not change the terms of previously negotiated pension contracts. So in essence, this is an idle threat to the unions.

    More time should be devoted to viable solutions.

  76. len raphael

    Have heard variations of “it will never happen here” before.

    Most recently the layoffs of 80 cops. Remember the thread of a year or so ago, when “the cc would never lay off a bunch of cops because they’d lose Measure Y funding”

    We’ll have to add this to our list of side bets. Should I keep track or will you?


  77. ralph

    I don’t recall that thread. Then again at the same time, I held no illusions about the city’s financial condition. The math didn’t add up laying off cops seemed like the only logical step. and until you can find comments to the contrary that is my story and I am sticking to it.

    As to bankruptcy, bring it on. I feel 99.44% safe in saying that bankruptcy is off the table.

  78. len raphael

    Pican it is. Have yet to go to one of them dar fancy schmancy foodie restaurants, but i sure did like the hordurvees that Pican supplied for the OPD event hosted by Phil T last month.

  79. Daniel Schulman

    In other news …

    Got a FaceBook message from the East Bay Young Democrats. They are now co-sponsoring tonight’s Green Mayoral Forum with the Sierra Club. They also mentioned that fully 9 out of the 10 mayoral candidates have said they will be there. They did not indicate who the 10th is.

    Let’s see 90 minutes divided 9 equals 10 minutes of wisdom from each candidate!

  80. Daniel Schulman

    People love poll results, it is easy to fixate on numbers. However, you see the bias when you look at the totals.

    * Almost half of the respondents have income over $80,000

    * 56% of them are white and only 6% are Hispanic

    * Almost 2/3 of them are 50 or older

    Even accounting for “likely voters” these demographics are way off base.

  81. livegreen

    At the debate, after this poll, they’re going to focus on Perata.
    Yet he doesn’t say anything and comes out ahead. Wonder how this will influence his decision to show?

  82. livegreen

    What are the demographics in Oakland of likely voters in past mid-term elections or recent surveys that are on base?

    Mid-term & absent Obama must have some impact.

  83. ralph

    Do you have evidence that the CBS poll does not represent likely voters?

    Name recognition goes a long way. Everyone I talk to about Perata loves the man; yet, not a one can not point to a single thing he plans to do to make Oakland better. He is like a cute baby, as long as he doesn’t spit-up or make “poopie” (Fed investigation) people fawn over him. And even then, it is more like, “Oh honey, Perata make first poopie.”

  84. Daniel Schulman

    Ralph, I have as much evidence as I do to the belief that you are actually Oatmeal Cookie Ralph and not some impostor.

    I could do some research and further analysis to get a more firm determination for either of these beliefs, but ultimately they will remain beliefs and not empirical facts.

    At this point, though, I am pretty strong in my conviction that less than 56% of the actual Oakland voters will be white.

  85. Dax


    “Everyone I talk to about Perata loves the man”

    Goodness, who do you talk to?

    I don’t believe I’ve talked to anyone who loves or even likes the man.
    What I find most often is that despite their dislike for the man (and all his Sacramento dealings), that they may vote for him just because they feel he might be the only one capable of taking control of the city government.

    But “loves the man”… I would be shocked to hear anyone say such.

    Oh wait, actually when I think of everyone I know, from “A” to “Z”….one person does come to mind who may “love the man”

    That would be Mr. Arotzarena

  86. ralph

    Who is this Oatmeal Cookie Ralph of whom ye speak? Is he made of oatmeal and raisins?

    I thought there were statistics on this information; before my earlier comment, I performed a quick search but found nothing. I had some beliefs about the campaigns which align in part with the poll results. But, and I don’t think I am going out on a limb here, my beliefs are probably about as accurate as yours.
    Love may be a slight embellishment. The supporters seem to view him, as you have stated, a person who can take control of the government and get stuff done.

  87. David

    Len, the BAB bonds of which you write, do not bypass the muni bond market, they are sold on the same market/by the same brokers as any other muni bond. The buyers are a little different, but it’s still a brokered market by guys with the right brokers’ licenses.

    The Feds do not insure these muni bonds (or any other muni bond), they are simply subsidizing the interest. The issue of insuring the bond is left to the issuing municipality. I don’t recall if any of these bonds are insured in general, the market’s thinking in general is that muni bond insurance isn’t worth paying for.

  88. livegreen

    I still don’t understand why the Bonds couldn’t be Insured (shorted), then run into the ground, then take the Insurance.

    There’s a proven business model there…

  89. David

    Well, LG, that would require market manipulation, and we all know Wall Street would NEVER engage in such illegal/immoral activities.

    But in actuality, it would require some effort. Let’s say Oakland issues bonds, and I buy insurance on those bonds, with the assumption the bonds will be downgraded, if not defaulted on. How do you propose I manipulate it so that happens?

    Make sure some profligate politician gets elected? I suppose…

    Somehow corner the market on those bonds and flood the market with them at the right moment? Difficult, and illegal, and with the way the brokers’ work in muni bonds, much more difficult than, say, cornering the market in palladium.

    Spread rumors about the insolvency of Oakland? Who says they’re rumors, all you need to do is broadcast that fact…however, presumably many muni bond buyers have some awareness of that.

    So one and three are quasi-legal, if difficult, two is both illegal and difficult.

    It’s much easier just to buy insurance and assume the muni will go bankrupt/restructure/get downgraded. It’s going to happen anyway, no need for manipulation.

  90. livegreen

    Your last point is where I was coming from.

    –Are there ways outside parties can buy such insurance on City debt? (2ndary markets, etc.).

    –Is there a way for the City to buy surplus insurance & profit from the insolvency, or would this run counter to insurance clauses, potential fraud, etc.?

    Either way I guess the downside might be the effect on future City bonds…

  91. Barry K

    Is OPD doing a crminal investigation about Quan and Kaplan over their actions during the violent protests last June?

  92. len raphael

    The SEC hand slapping of NJ re its bond offering was just that.

    I’m with Ralph on the cbs perata poll. since cbs5 paid for, its fairly safe to assume they are a legit competent polling outfit. the biases you’re talking about are obvious ones they would have compensated for it in their sampling.

    another bias, and i have no idea how one compensates for it, is who answers landline pollster calls; who even has landlines, effect of do not call listings.

    if not for the marijuana initiative voter effect which will surely not be as powerful as the obamba effect was (or will it?), i would guarrantee that likely voters are over 50 and majority are howlies.


  93. ralph

    Stoners were going to vote until they got high. (or so says Afroman) And even if the dope vote does get out there is no way that it will match the obama effect.

    Tonight should be interesting. Does anyone know if this event will be shown live?

  94. Daniel Schulman

    Len, I am actually an academically trained survey research methodologist and have conducted hundreds and hundreds of surveys (though I am a bit rusty these days).

    The biases introduced by who has a landline, who actually answers the phone, and who is willing to participate in a survey are the ones I was talking about. The way you correct for it is by weighting the sample using estimates of actual voter turnout based on various models.

    This process, though, adds more of what is called stochastic variation and greatly expands the statistical error (I believe they reported +/-4.1%). To compensate you need to get a much bigger sample. As you can probably tell costs of doing a more rigorous poll rapidly become prohibitive.

    Most political polling is really awful which is why for federal and sometimes state races, they will do a meta-analysis of many polls. In a local race, we just don’t have enough polls or data to get a firm idea of what’s really going on.

  95. Dax

    What event is tonight? Where?


    BTW, ranked choice voting.

    1. Is it all done in a instant, or do they gather everyone…
    Do round one. Build suspense, then do round two, each time dropping off a candidate and shifting votes.

    2. If the bottom ranked person gets 4% and is then cut, and say 80% of his votes go to a guy who got 20% in the first round.
    So on the second round that guy has 20% plus 3.2% for 23.2%. Right?

    Then say that guy with 23.2% and he is cut. How do they allocate his 23.2%?

    Do they take the 2nd choice of his original voters, and the 3 choice of that 3.2% he picked up after round 1.

    Or does all 23.2% get allocated according to the voting percentages and ranking of the original 20% voters.

    How many rank choices do we get.
    1 through 3 or 1 through 10 etc.

    from the polling it would seem Perata is gonna get some 40% and then as soon as Kaplan is cut he will have another 7% or more.

    Without great change in voter sentiment, is it already “all over”?

  96. Daniel Schulman

    Dax, the event tonight is the Sierra Club and now East Bay Young Democrats Green Mayoral Forum that this post is about. It is held at

    East Bay Community Foundation
    353 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza (next to City Hall / 12th St. BART)
    5:30pm – 7:30pm

    For Ranked Choice Voting, you get to select your top three preferences. I am sure others can answer your other questions better.

    No it is not already “all over.” That is just one poll and the election is 10 weeks away. While I think the poll is accurate in the current ordering of the candidates, I think it overstates Don Perata’s lead.

  97. David


    There is no “retail” (which is what you mean by “secondary” if I’m reading you right) market for CDS’s on muni bonds. You have to call your broker and say, “Hey broker buddy, I’d like to buy me some CDS’s on Oakland muni bonds” Your broker will say, “Who the hell are you?” and hang up, unless you’re talking about buying $1M+ in CDS insurance. These are brokered products that only the big boys create and buy/sell.

    As for the city buying the insurance (or CDS), that sounds like buying life insurance on yourself and then blowing your head off. I’m certain the city cannot buy insurance for its own bonds (it does/can buy insurance for bond buyers–that’s traditional muni bond insurance, but the city doesn’t benefit from the payout, the bond buyer does).

  98. ralph

    Danny -boy,
    You’ve been here a wee bit longer and have probably seen your share of elections; so, in your experience, can you tell me how much public safety endorsements influence election outcomes?

  99. Daniel Schulman

    Ralph is all depends. It depends who the endorsement goes to and how much political and financial capital the endorser is willing to spend.

    Zennie just reported that Jenn Pae got Kieth Carson’s endorsement for district 2 ( This is huge – it brings her legitimacy and votes from a constituencies it would have been hard for her to reach. How many votes is a matter of how hard Carson works for her. Will he appear at events, etc.

    With the OPOA going for Perata, I don’t think it will be a huge factor in this mayoral vote. I think the people influenced by the OPOA would have voted for Perata anyway. If they spend a bunch of money on mailers and robocalls, though, it will be a different story.

  100. ralph

    Thanks. Looks like DP has lined up both OPOA and Fire. OFD seems to think that they are next on the chopping block with the current city council. I tend to disagree as Fire has, in my opn, been at the forefront, but what do I know.

    I guess I know what I will be doing on Sunday.

  101. Livegreen

    Dave, Thanks for the details. Wonder if there is any market for shorters buying CDS on muni bonds, betting some will tank?

    I’m still amazed that SF solved it’s much larger deficit with their Unions compromising. Oakland politicians are apparently more liberal than SF or Berkeley.

    JQ and RK might have fundamentally misjudged the voters by giving in to the Unions and not seeking structural solutions. (IF the CBS5 is accurate). I wonder if their prospects would have been improved if they has addressed these head-on?

  102. David

    Oh, there certainly are buyers of CDS’s on muni bonds. I have a feeling it’s more to look for gains on downgrades, not necessarily defualts.

  103. len raphael

    Daniel, what is the meaning of the 4.x% margin of error in this poll?

    are you thinking that the true margin of error is much higher?

    i never understood how you could give a margin of error if you didn’t know what the “true” numbers were. Must be why i had a hard time in my stat class for accountants class. is it strictly based on size of sample relative to the total number of voters?

    other than looking at publicly available exit polls of past elections, how would one guestimate demographics of likely voters by district, let alone by precinct?

    just for ducks, what’s your guestimate of racial, age, income distribution of likely voters for this november election?


  104. len raphael

    Might have overlooked the powerful effect of the starbucks parcel tax on bringing out legions of condo and home owners all over the flats who bought at the top and are financially massively strapped/stretched.

    endorsements by our feckless leaders will be effective with the likely to vote property owning hills people, but useless with the other property owners.

    The question is always turnout.

  105. Daniel Schulman

    Len, I don’t think anyone wants a in-depth review of margin of error, the key point, though,is that the plus or minus only deals with RANDOM error. If you flip a coin ten times, sometimes you get 6 head, sometimes, you get 4 heads, sometimes you get 7 heads. If you do flip a coin 10 times enough times, you get a nice bell-shaped distribution centered around the real value (5 +/- 2 standard errors). In the case of the survey, what would have been the results if they asked a different set of “591 likely voters from the city of Oakland.”

    Bias is completely different and not covered by the plus or minus 4.1%. It is a SYSTEMATIC error like a scale that always measures two pounds more than something weighs.

    The reason that phone surveys have the air of being unbiased is that likely voters skew from the general population in the same direction as survey respondents. Compared to the general population, voters and people who take surveys both tend to be more white, more rich, and more old.

    What I am taking exception to is the degree of skew in each case. While whites make up about 22-23% of Oakland’s population, the survey respondents were 56% white – that is a huge over-representation. Whites tend to come out to vote in higher percents than other groups, but I do not believe it is to that degree.

    Getting reliable data from survey research is really really hard. The best we can usually do is take a bunch of polls and try to see patterns. In local races, though, we have very few polls. The Oakbook reports on another one by the Quan camp –

    Finally, another thing to take into account is the random error is much higher when looking at subsets of the data. The +/-4.1% only applies to questions put to the entire sample. With IRV in a largely three-way race, though, one of the questions everyone wants to know is how do the 3rd place candidate’s supporters break for their second preference. So, in this survey, we cannot use the +/-4.1% from all 591 respondents, when we’re focusing on the second preference of Kaplan’s supporters which are 14% of the sample (83 people).

    So, what does the poll tell us? Well, I am willing to accept that the current order of the candidates is Perata, Quan, then Kaplan with a big drop-off to the fourth place candidate. The reason I am willing to accept this information from the poll is that it coincides with what I thought previously. However, the drop-off to the fourth candidate is not as great as I would have expected (see Quan poll) and the 2nd tier candidates as a group do better than I would have thought. In other words, the IRV effect may be working more as proponents claimed it would, and I wasn’t giving it enough credit. I’m not saying that’s the case, just that it is worth further investigation.

  106. len raphael

    Daniel, thank you, all these years of reading political polls and did not realize that about margin of error.

    So you don’t see this as a Dewey vs Truman polling situation.

    If someone created a table for the last 5 years, showing election turnout for june and nov, cast in person vs absentee ballot, by district, total registered voters by district, and demographics by district, might throw some light on this.

    In the June 2008 council race, District 1, North Oakland/Rockridge/Temescal the total votes cast were

    JANE BRUNNER 10,040 72.65%
    PATRICK McCULLOUGH 3,740 27.06%
    Write-In 40 0.29%

    Total registered voters in that district (darn, can’t find the site to confirm/deny) 40k?

    Excluding Obama November election, my theory is that upper middle class whites are disproportionate percentage of actual voters in the districts with the highest number of registered voters.

    in my completely invalid but random survey of people i run into in places like my dentist’s office, or when out walking my dogs, most of the people who planned on voting said they were going to vote for perata. they weren’t enthusiastic about it, but they thought the other “viable” 2 candidates were worse. No one has hear of any other candidate except “some guy named joe”


  107. V Smoothe

    The CBS5 poll demographics are a pretty typical reflection of the Oakland electorate for most elections.

    Post 2008, the base of registered voters is very different than it has been in the past – large, younger, more diverse. However, nobody knows whether people who registered to vote for Obama will return to the polls this November. Some people think they will and the youth vote will make a huge difference in the Mayoral election. Other people think they won’t and the bulk of votes will all come from the same wealthy and predominantly white neighborhoods that they usually do.

    What kind of turnout people predict for November seems to correlate fairly closely with the type of turnout that would be best for their favored candidate.

  108. ralph

    Well, the 10 person forum was not as bad as I expected. The benefits of opening up a 1.5 hour forum to all 10 candidates:

    DP must limit his nonresponsive answers to 2 minutes.

    JQ only had 2 minutes to discuss the things we tried to do but didn’t.

    TC had to stick to answering questions. He only went peacock once.

    I did walk away with a more favorable impression of a few candidates. But I have no idea of their chances of winning.

  109. Annoyed

    I don’t need to go to a forum with the top three when I already know I won’t be voting for any of them. For the “tier 2″ candidates, if a person can’t run a credible campaign, what kind of adminstration would they run?

    I cannot believe that anyone could vote for Kaplan, Perata or Quan. Quan helped drive the school district into the ground (and now the city) and her snooty, elitist attitude (this is a liberal saying this) is simply insufferable. I can’t imagine her negotiating the price of a cup of coffee with a homeless person. Perata will sell off every bit of property that the city owns to his pals so they can throw up whatever piece of shite development they want to (like he tried to do with OUSD property). This will be done without any thought for land use compatibility, any links to public transportation or any thought given to access. Wasn’t Perata one of the key players who moved High Speed Rail from Oakland to SF? And Kaplan’s position on the north Oakland liquor store in violation of the city’s deemed approved ordinance is simply indefensible. This is a matter near and dear to my heart. Imagine how she will decide on other issues that affect quality of life and public safety. No thanks.

    For the first time in over 30 years of living in Oakalnd, I will probably not vote for anyone for mayor.

    If this Joe Person is all that and a bag of chips, he better get off his butt and start getting his name and platform out there by any legal means necessary. I will vote for a so-called second tier candidate if they can prove their head is less up his/her butt than any of the top three. That’s my criteria for mayor: How far up your butt is your head?

  110. len raphael

    Daniel, I’m on the same page as V on the demographics of likely voters in this election. I’ll bet you also find that vast majority of those likely voters vote within a week of receiving their absentee ballots. Which is to say candidates have preciously little time left to persuade voters, let alone educate them.

    All of us who want to improve city government gotta settle in for a long struggle, 5 years I’d guestimate.

    We can’t rely on mere time and youth to upgrade our elected officials.

    There’s no shortage of young energetic hacks ready to fill the positions of my generation of hacks.

    -len raphael

  111. Naomi Schiff

    Well, I ran into Joe at a coffee shop and he seemed to me unfamiliar with most of the issues I find important. He was willing to say back to me that he was interested in anything I mentioned, but he didn’t seem to have thought about those things yet, much. I took him as a standard somewhat business-oriented candidate who thinks about real estate some.

  112. len raphael

    Naomi, to call Joe a standard business oriented candidate is interesting. His background is talking head and academic poly sci kinda guy.

    A bunch of old fart people tell me his social media mastery is superb. Curious what youngins think of his twittery facing stuff.

    old saavy users too. :)


  113. Max Allstadt

    Gotta agree with Dan here. The liquor store vote I disagreed with.

    However, we live in a city with an epic body count, a failing economy and city employer pension bomb waiting to blow. If one losing vote on one liquor store in one neighborhood is your deciding issue, you. have. your. head. up. your. ass.

    Perata has suggested a sales tax that would make Oakland’s total sales tax the highest in the nation.

    Quan has been chair of the City Council Finance committee for years. Look at our finances!

    Seriously. A liquor store that got closed down in the end anyway? That’s your big issue? It’s incomprehensible to me.

  114. Barry K

    Hi Naomi,

    Let me know when your at another coffee shop so I can run into you and put up some comments about you. Maybe your outfit, or the type of drink you get. Maybe test your knowledge on Muni bond index ratings, or payouts to Oakland’s NGOs. Hear-say.

  115. V Smoothe Post author

    Max –

    The sales tax proposed by Perata would not make Oakland’s the highest in the nation by a long shot. It’s also worth noting that Rebecca Kaplan voted in favor of putting the same sales tax on the ballot last year.

  116. Barry K

    V- It’s also worth noting that Recbecca Kaplan voted in favor of putting the sames sales tax on the ballot for this year too.

    And, also voting in favor of: amending the utility tax to allowing Oakland tax of cellphones, the new Telphone/utility users tax (home and business), the Waste Management tax increase, the Castration of MY (keeps taxing without police staffing), the new MYx4 (public safety, no police staffing)extort-tax.

  117. Max Allstadt


    I just read an article about cities with crazy high sales taxes, and the only number I saw that was higher than our 9.75% was Montgomery Alabama’s 10%. It’s the total of city state and local. I thought Don wanted a 0.5% bump, which would take us to 10.25% total. Am I incorrect? Please give me details.

  118. Daniel Schulman

    Barry K. – great job on outing Naomi as a Jean Quan supporter. Thanks for sharing the research.

    I think I’ve got some other supporters figured out.

    Len Raphael seems to be supporting Greg Harland.

    I think George is a Don Perata fan.

    I am pretty sure that Max Allstadt and Daniel Schulman are supporting Rebecca Kaplan.

    I’m guessing Wow!!!! and Dr. Terence Candell are big-time supporters of Terrence Candell.

    I’m working on some other ones – anybody else want to come clean.

    I haven’t got you figured out Barry K. – you seem to hate everyone.

  119. Dax

    Well, I’ve not yet figured out exactly who I want. If nothing else clears it up, I’m thinking of going by height.

  120. len raphael

    I haven’t come across a higher total sales tax rate in California than 10%. Other state’s rates are n/a because most any individual oakland resident or business with “nexus” for sales tax in oakland (basically, an office or frequent contact)would owe the oakland tax regardless of where they shopped in person or online.

    most out of oakland customers, would normally only pay their area’s sales tax on stuff delivered to them. take possession in oakland (except for cars?), then everyone pays oakland tax unless you’re fed govt or foreign embassy.

    so yes, dumb idea which most of the city council and the “viable” candidates thought was a good thing to do. Hey, it’s the same council that thought raising parking fees and fines in the middle of worst recession since 1930? was a great idea too.

  121. len raphael

    I closely followed on ktop, attended one city council meeting, talked to both sides of ktop, and know enough zoning law to be dangerous.

    Kaplan’s position on NK technically would have violated the zoning laws and would have added one more hot spot for the cops. A bad idea for a city that can’t even process fingerprints from existing crime scenes and triages literallys 10′s of thousands of 911 call’s a year.

    Do I support Greg Harland because of Kaplan on NN.


    Have no idea on Greg Harland’s position on NN.

    He’s closer to Kaplan than to me on the Gang Injunction. He’s closer to Charley Pine than Kaplan on insisting we need 1’000 cops. He’s closer to Kaplan than Perata on insisting that cop and fire and SEIU compensation and benefits get chopped so we can get better services and avoid Chapter 9.

    It’s great that people here are partisan supporters of different candidates. More of you should be.

    If you’re a none of the above person, that’s cool, but get off your butts and show up to ask the hard questions of the candidates.

  122. ralph

    There are times when I look at this lot of candidates and ask myself is this the best we can do. If possible, I’d like to reopen the filing window and ask yet another individual to join the circus. She would have my support in a heartbeat.

    There has never been an election that I skipped and tempted though I might be, it is probably wrong for me or any of us to skip voting. To the poster, annoyed by RK’s vote on NikNak and her stance when OPD invoked Unlawful Assembly, I feel you. As far as I am concerned, those moves were Dellums-esque. But as I have come to discover when talking to people about the candidates they support, not one candidate is completely clean. Supporters have at least one issue with their chosen candidate. The question is how much of their crap are you willing to overlook.

    I do not know how you define epic murder rate, but according to my stats, we are nowhere near epic.

  123. Naomi Schiff

    I’m supporting Quan with eyes open and in hopes she would make good appointments and hiring a competent city admin. I believe she is honest and I think her general goals align fairly well with my own. She isn’t perfect. None of them are. I think we do have terrible fiscal problems. I haven’t seen anything to convince me that Rebecca or Don would do any better. Don has received really a lot of money from contributors I don’t much like, and as stated elsewhere, tries to sell off public land. Rebecca seems warm, articulate, and smart, but hasn’t done all that much yet so I find it hard to judge her effectiveness. I am thinking we will be looking for a new city administrator, if Lindheim takes off. Anyone got any thoughts on that topic?

  124. ralph

    Personally, I would like to see changes made to the charter. I don’t know if DL has been good or bad, but it seems to me that we have both a mayor and a City Administrator trying to do the same job. Second, last night one of the candidates referred to being Oakland’s Chief Executive Officer. To that and all candidates, I say this, read the charter.

    The residents of Oakland, unlike most other cities with a mayor, elected to define the mayor as Chief Elected Officer, which seems mostly ceremonial. Each of the candidates spoke about being in charge, but the reality is our charter limits the mayor’s scope. And for those of you upset that RD stayed out of the budget talks, per the charter budgeting is the responsibility of the City Adm.

  125. Naomi Schiff

    RD? Lost me there. Who’s that?
    When Measure X came in we went from a city mgr. system to a city administrator. Mayor is much more powerful than formerly. Before, the mayor was presiding officer at city council meetings, and attended most or all of them. The city manager was the chief administrative officer and ran the city departments with greater authority. Now, the city administrator carries out the orders of the mayor first and city council second, a weaker position than before (one reason Bobb got tired of it), and the mayor is much more separate from the city council. The even number of city councilmembers also may strengthen the mayor position, although they have learned the art of strategic abstentions to keep decisions in their court and not give the mayor tiebreaking votes very often. I certainly would not support making the mayor yet stronger. Strong(ish) mayor hasn’t worked out too well,in my opinion.

  126. Scott Law

    For disclosure, I am currently supporting Joe Tuman. Basically, I agree with all the previous negative assertions for the top three and cannot find any honest reason to support them.

    While it is true that the Mayor actually has limited power, I think this is a critical election for our city – for symbolic as well as actual possible performance of the Mayor’s office post Dellums. I think we need a complete change in mentality and a divorce from the “old boy/old girl” network of Dellums/Dellums clones/Hancock/Perata/Wilma Chan/Oak city council/ cabal that have bankrupted the city.

    It is amazing to me that both Kaplan and Quan assert how important job creation is, yet have no, none, zero, zip connection with Clorox, Dreyers, large banks, container/shipping companies, airlines or any other entity that **actually might create ** the hundreds of jobs needed in the city. And Perata is so busy with the slimy lawyers, real estate syndicates and large union hacks I can not find one word from on business support either.

    In my conversations with Tuman and in his literature there is actually a mention of the need for small and *large* business to be successful in the city. Granted he has a little experience as the rest of them in actually running a large organization of hiring in the private sector, but at least there is some recognition.

    And, the Oscar Grant demonstration activity by Quan and Kaplan was a disgrace – completely inappropriate for a Mayor of over 400,000 people. That will certainly endear them to the police union in upcoming hard line salary negotiations.

    my 3 cents


  127. ralph

    In the event you are not being facetious, RD is Dellums. Would Cottontop have been helpful?

    With respect to the current set-up, to quote my theatre arts teacher, “Not too good, not to be better.”

  128. Naomi Schiff

    No, I just didn’t think of it and have become lazy in decoding all the initials. I can’t tell what you want in the way of city structure, but many cities Oakland’s size work on the city manager system. Just because mayors like strong mayor doesn’t really mean they do much with it, though.

  129. ralph

    As a rule of thumb, I use initials almost exclusively when referring to council and some of the other city hall muckety-mucks.

    There is something flawed in the way the Oakland strong form operates. I have not been able to pinpoint the problem though. I just know something is not working. I have lived in cities similar in size to Oakland; each one of them had a strong form and each one has managed to rise like the Phoenix while Oakland sits with untapped potential. Strong form is not the be-all, end all. I am sure other forms work, but it just seems like Oakland is running a hybrid system that works for no one.

    Our murder rate is nowhere near as high as people think. It certainly is not epic. Other crime is not as bad described either. Maybe it is the mayor, maybe it is the people who dream small so the mayor acts small. All I really know is something is rotten in the state of Denmark, and during my free time, I actually compare charters and cities. This whole exercise is really a lot like porn.

  130. Naomi Schiff

    The phoenix, maybe, but not Phoenix.

    With more than a million people, a city mgr format.

    From Wikipedia:
    Phoenix operates under a council-manager form of government, with a strong city manager supervising all city departments and executing policies adopted by the Council.

  131. len raphael

    JQ is my third choice, and DP isn’t first or second strictly because she is honest and good intentioned. Naomi, do you have several examples of her ability to pick competent staff? IDLF seems to be well above the average cc member in that ability.

    Scott this isn’t going be the election that throws out the Lee-Dellums/Perata/SEIU machines. Even if a miracle occurred and none of the top three were elected, those machines control so much fed and state patronage, or state and local employee power that they won’t roll over and go away because of a mere election in Oakland.

    -len raphael

  132. Max Allstadt


    Regarding the City Administrator hiring, Rebecca Kaplan is the only candidate who’s explicitly said that she would do a full fledged nationwide search for a new City Administrator.

    I don’t know what Quan’s plan is.

    I assume that if Perata is elected he’ll be putting Kerry Hammil in Lindheim’s job or Eric Angstadt’s job or Gregory Hunter’s job, none of which she’s qualified to do.

    I heard from an Oakland Builders Alliance insider that during their private candidate interviews, Perata was very clear that he was going to fire people, but made absolutely no mention of how he would replace them. For all we know, Nick Perata could be out next City Administrator.

    Ironically, Carlos Plazola of the Oakland Builders Alliance once asked John Russo if Oakland’s cronysim ordinance applied to Ron Dellums’ hiring of Dan Lindheim. Russo said that the Charter says that the Mayor hires who he wants to, and that the Charter supercedes the cronyism ordinance.

    That basically means that if Perata follows his old habits, jobs will be doled out like noble titles to all of his kin and cronies.

  133. len raphael

    the reason i support Harland is that I agree with 98% of his muni finance positions. (most of which aren’t even up on his site :( ) He wants to slash ALL city employee compensation/benes.

    I’m about 85% consonant with he cop and fire position of slashing cop and fire compensation/benes and then hiring a whole bunch more cops who don’t work 70 hour weeks half awake.

    I think he’ unrealistic that we’ll get competent cops for half the cost we pay now, but i’ll keep an open mind.

    Btw, the award for creating the greatest number of jobs, has to go to Perata. During his reign as king of the state legislature, maybe hundreds of thousands of new state employees and state contractor employees were hired.

    A distant second would be Greg Harland who was a co-owner of an apparel manufacturer, and later a couple of restaurants.

    -len raphael

  134. livegreen

    I have to agree with Dax and Ralph about our roster of Mayoral candidates. It’s going to come down to “least bad”.

    Electable for me is secondary, because that’s guessing on the politics of it, not who will do the best job. & right now Oakland needs the best leader, not the best politician.

    Re Perata, somewhere in Oakland there’s a lesson about Elder Statesmen:

    -Not being familiar to Oakland operations, it could take him some time to figure out where all the strings are (to get up & running);
    -Not having any policy road-map, some policies might get outsourced to his funding special interests;
    -He might not really be interested in the job at all, but we won’t know until he’s already Mayor.

    -The developer connections that scare me aren’t selling Govt. property or land. It’s another round of industrial land getting sold off to housing developers, further eroding our blue collar employment base. There are plenty of other places in-fill can work without that.

    The JB & RD examples should be staring us in the face. That’s Jerry Brown and Ron Dellums to you. I’m surprised this hasn’t been mentioned yet. It’s not like it’s even old history, and I haven’t seen this feedback loop mentioned anywhere in any meaningful way.

    Oakland: The City where elder politicians retire after they have ideas.

  135. len raphael

    if you are a “none of the above” person, read no more.

    if you believe that we need to encourage more ideas than those coming from Perata, Quan, Kaplan then donate at least $1 on the website(s)of the “non viable” 2nd tier candidates of your choice.

    each of them will need +420 contributors very very soon in order to make the cut for the League of Women’s Voter’s Forum.

    Personally, I think there sb at least 400 readers here who can afford to give say 3 bucks to 3 different tier 2 candidates to at least make the discussions more interesting.

    -len raphael

  136. ralph

    Good observation. In the DP townhall I attended, he stressed that he would fire people who were not doing their job. He went all Tommy Garcetti – at least we know he likes good television. But he never laid out a plan for the city; it makes me wonder if he will set expectations for his staff or will they need to guess. And when they guess wrong what is the criteria he will use to fill the open positions.

  137. MarleenLee

    Like Ralph, I am so not excited by any of our choices. But I am less excited about some than others. Len – you think Jean Quan is honest and well intentioned? OMG! This is the woman who repeatedly and adamantly promised us 803 officers with Measure Y, and when confronted by opponents who said the language wasn’t strong enough on the City’s obligations, openly denied it and said the City would never not hire the officers. Then what happened? They didn’t hire the officers – year after year and year. And when challenged first by Charlie Pine, and then by me, went along with the mealy-mouthed interpretation that the staffing wasn’t required. She lost me on ebonics, and my opinion of her has been plummeting ever since.

    As for Kaplan on Nik Nak – I do not think that is trivial at all. As a lawyer, I expect her to support legal compliance, particularly since she is a lawyer herself. She had no legal justification for her vote whatsoever. Anybody who so cavalierly discards legal obligations doesn’t get my support.

    Barry – I think Naomi’s criticism of Joe Tuman is justified. I spent two hours talking to him and even though I agreed with him on his major goals, and support those goals, his lack of political experience and knowledge of city workings is a major concern. I was one of those pretty apathetic citizens up until around three years ago, and even now, after becoming a local political junkie, there is so much I don’t know about how things work. I do think experience is important.

  138. Max Allstadt

    Marleen, if anybody who has flagrant disregard for legal obligations doesn’t get your support, I guess you’ll also have to abandon Perata as an option.

    Remember Instant Runoff Voting?
    Remember how Oakland voters approved Instant Runoff Voting?
    Remember how the Secretary of State certified Oakland as being ready for Instant Runoff Voting?
    Remember how John Russo issued an opinion that stated strongly that Oakland HAD to implement Instant Runoff Voting?

    And remember how Don Perata and his friend Ignacio De La Fuente and his ex-girlfriend Jane Brunner fought tooth and nail against Instant Runoff Voting, even though it was obviously legally mandated? And remember how transparent of a political ploy that all was?

    So you’ve got Kaplan who voted a way you didn’t agree with on one liquor store in one neighborhood.

    On the other hand, you’ve got Don Perata, who tried to subvert democracy itself in order to gain an advantage in an election.

    Who’s the lesser of two evils here?

  139. Naomi Schiff

    Oh I can answer that one. But there are ten choices here. It might be fun to try to rank them all 1-10, but v might run out of patience with the lengthy posting that would ensue.

  140. Daniel Schulman

    Goodness gracious! In all of the recent fun, we have overlooked something very exciting – V’s original post.

    Remember back when Zennie picked apart the forum participation guidelines and said only Arnie Fields met them since he ran before and we don’t have a poll –

    Well now we have not one but two polls and at least the one released by Quan shows four candidates qualifying. Add in Fields, and we got fully half of the 10 candidates meeting the guidelines that people were boo hooing were too strict. A couple of them still need to get their offices and phones in order, but I’d say with half qualifying or coming close, it refocuses the question on what the other five or doing and should they be allowed to participate in forums.

    I think if you want to support one of the other five, you should follow Len’s advice and send them a token donation. Otherwise, let’s have forums with answers longer than 2 minutes.

  141. Daniel Schulman

    V – I’m not sure it seems a bit convoluted, you can review Zennie’s post, but you will probably have to ask him to clairfy.

  142. V Smoothe

    Okay, I read the post. It does not appear that Zennie understood the criteria when writing it. The criteria under which he seems to believe Fields qualifies reads “The candidate sought the same office during the previous eight years and received at least 20 percent of the vote in the general election.” Fields did indeed run for Mayor in 2006, but he did not get 20% of the vote. He got 1.02%, a total of 858 votes.

  143. Daniel Schulman

    Wait you’re telling me that Zennie is not reliable? I thought his posts supported Perata’s withdrawal move and ultimately lead to us having a 9 candidate forum.

    Still, I think my initial point is still fairly valid. We now have 4 out of the 10 candidates basically meeting the qualifying guidelines including one who has never held any elected office. That seems like a good number for a forum – balancing breadth of candidates with depth of answers.

    If people want more, they can give a buck or two.

  144. Scott Law

    Len R, Max A and group…

    While you both probably spot on in your analysis… if these are true, what hope do we have ? ….and how should we vote ?

    “Scott this isn’t going be the election that throws out the Lee-Dellums/Perata/SEIU machines. Even if a miracle occurred and none of the top three were elected, those machines control so much fed and state patronage, or state and local employee power that they won’t roll over and go away because of a mere election in Oakland.”

    “That basically means that if Perata follows his old habits, jobs will be doled out like noble titles to all of his kin and cronies.”


  145. len raphael

    I wan to ask who is Arnie Fields, but I really don’t want to know.

    We should have a moment’s silence in memory of the now deceased guy who used to run in every city election. What was his name?

    Scott, I’m counting on 5 year siege of city hall, by incumbent challengers and by groups trying to get charter amendments and initiatives on the ballot, then getting them passed. If we can shame the council into adopting some of them, that’s fine too.

    Within that five years the baby boomer retirement costs will hit like an A bomb here, thanks to those great vesting schedules. Telling residents that it was all the fault of the real estate bust or stock market bust won’t fly at that point.


  146. V Smoothe Post author

    Max –

    High sales taxes are increasingly common. The highest one I am aware of is 12% in a town in Alabama. In California, the cities of Avalon, El Monte, and Inglewood are all at 10.25%. Pico Rivera and South Gate are at 10.75%.

    I’m not a fan of sales taxes, but the issue seems like a wash to me for the Mayor’s race since Jean, Don, and Rebecca have all supported the increased sales tax.

    As far as City Administrator goes, I have not seen anyone ask Perata that question at any public forums, so I don’t know what is his position is. But then, I’ve never heard Rebecca talk about it either. Jean Quan was asked about the subject at an event I attend for her campaign, and she answered that she would do a national search to fill the position.

  147. Kent Lewandowski

    Hi V, saw you in the audience on Wednesday at the environmental “Green Mayor’s” forum. I’m interested in your take on the event and, particularly, what the candidates had to say. I admit that our 2 minute time limitation did not allow the candidates to say a lot, however, I felt that some of the candidates demonstrated a surprising amount of knowledge.

  148. V Smoothe Post author

    Kent –

    I was also pleasantly surprised with a number of the candidates at the forum. With so many people on the stage, it can be hard to follow all the answers – by the time you get to the last one, you forget what the first few had said. I’m planning on writing more about the forum next week, but am still struggling to figure out what will be the best way to present all the information. I will also be uploading my video of the forum. It not the highest quality, but I hope that at least some people who were not able to attend will find it interesting.

    Thanks again for all your work in organizing the forum.

  149. ralph

    I did not take notes on the event, but the event was not as horrible as I thought it would be – some of the candidates displayed more knowledge than I expected.

    While 2 minutes was not sufficient to answer the questions, I believe at least one candidate did make the best use of the two minutes. I don’t think restricting the forum to the top candidates and expanding minutes would have invited candidates, who have never answered questions, to start answering them now.

    I might suggest that you not wrap closing stmts into the final question. I don’t know if any candidate actually answered that question.

    That I don’t recall anything memorable or particularly insighful about any of the candidates is probably some clue as to how useful I found the forum. But I think the same would have been true had you limited it to the top 5 or 6 candidates.

    I would like to echo V’s comment about the numbers. Half way through each question I found myself thinking what did the first 5 people say.

  150. len raphael

    Curious, but since one of the alternate League of WV requirements for their Forum is a min number of contributors from anywhere in the world in any currency, what is to prevent stuffing the ballot box?