Deja Lu

I swear, when I saw the headline for this story, “Guardian Angels to patrol Oakland streets” pop up in my RSS reader last night, I assumed there had been some kind of error. After all, that happened like a year ago, right?

But as it turns out, the problem was not with my RSS reader, it was with my memory. I was confusing today’s news with “Guardian Angels coming to Oakland” from June 2007. You can see how one might make the mistake, especially once you start reading the article. I mean, the only thing that ever seems to change in these stories is who requested the Angels’ presence this time around. Back in 2003 it was Shannon Reeves:

The legendary Guardian Angels — the red beret-wearing street patrols who work with neighbors to reduce crime and violence in urban neighborhoods — are coming to Oakland. Curtis Sliwa said Tuesday he’s making plans to meet with Mayor Jerry Brown, Police Chief Richard Word, NAACP President Shannon Reeves and community leaders, including those who are already patrolling Oakland streets.

Then last year it was a local NCPC:

With crime continuing to plague Oakland neighborhoods, the Guardian Angels have agreed to start patrolling the streets tomorrow in what once was regarded as a generally peaceful and safe district near Lake Merritt.

They come at the request of the Grand Lake neighborhood crime prevention council, which is meeting tonight to discuss a rash of robberies and burglaries in the area, a stretched-thin police force and how the Angels’ might step in to help.

This time, it’s the Mayor:

About 20 members of the Guardian Angels, the volunteer safety patrol group, will begin roving patrols beginning Friday night, city officials said Tuesday.

The help, which comes at the request of Mayor Ron Dellums and police, couldn’t have come sooner, business owners say.

I don’t really have a point today, just wanted to share my epiphany that since nothing in Oakland ever changes, I can stop worrying about maintaining this blog far into the future. Since all we do if have the same fights and the same news over and over and over again, eventually I’ll be able to just start republishing my old blogs and all I’ll have to do is change the names!

Anyway, what do you all think of the Guardian Angels? Do they make you feel safer? Do you ever wonder, when you read all these stories about them, why they can’t seem to actually get an Oakland chapter going, despite the apparent constant need for their presence? Do you agree with Pamela Drake, who, we learn in the newspaper both today and exactly one year ago yesterday, thinks they’re creepy?

26 thoughts on “Deja Lu

  1. Deckin

    What a strange feeling: I agree with Pamela Drake! I think the Guardian Angels are not only creepy, they scream ‘We’re out of control and can’t govern ourselves as a responsible citizenry’. They’re the human equivalent of ubiquitous chain link fences, pitt bulls tied up on the porch, and razor wire. I completely share your despair on this point. Let’s face it, our city is a manifest example of a city with civic rigor mortis, despite having an absolute wealth of some of the best and the brightest anywhere. My two cents is that this is an inevitable result of incredibly smart, overwhelmingly liberal citizens running up against some nasty facts about the world, people, poverty, and human character that they were told were only right wing fictions in the cossetted confines of their upper division and graduate seminars. As any psychologist will tell you, when something dramatically unexpected happens, the perfectly natural reaction is to freeze. So that’s where we are, with a good chunk of our city frozen in the headlights of the effects of what they were taught was ‘social justice’ and ‘thinking globally, acting locally.’ Let’s see how long it lasts. I’m thinking there’s a critical mass of muggings and mayhem, beyond which even the most devout can’t go. But this is balanced by the depth of the ideology. Hopefully there aren’t too many victims and friends of victims still with our mayor in feeling deep sympathies with the criminals.

  2. Max Allstadt

    The Guardian Angels had a few bad PR incidents early on, but aside from the occasional over-grown-hall-monitor vibe I’ve gotten, they’re totally cool. What would be cooler would be if the City trained non-sworn, lightly armed (pepper spray) officers to walk around commercial areas, preferably with good cameras with good zooms, so they could “shoot” perps and call it in.

  3. Andy

    I had the same feeling when I saw the headline.

    I don’t have much hope in this town changing. People here are either isolated (live in the hills/safe areas) and don’t care, or feel that they are victims of the system (police/economic system, etc.) and are unwilling to support change. There is also a very small group that is pissed off/can’t believe what is happening.

    For there to be change, things will need to get much, much worse. Take over robberies on Piedmont Ave., shootings of a kid at a piano lesson, take over robbery at a Hills pizza place are not enough. Scary, but true.

  4. Robert

    What happened to the unarmed walking patrols project approved by the council this spring? Are they still going to do this? I remember that for some unfathomable reason it was going to take 6 months to implement, but it should be about time by now.

  5. Rebecca Kaplan

    A better approach for the future:

    Yes, we do need more safety patrols. Besides needing police, it is also helpful to have a middle-level type of patrol. Uniformed professionals, who are trained to help provide public safety, yet who are cheaper and faster to hire than police, and who can also take on slightly different roles.

    I do not fault the Guardian Angels themselves, and I respect anybody willing to help out. Nonetheless, I do not think relying on them is a good long-term plan. A good example of an alternative method for providing safety patrols can be found in Atlanta, where they have a safety and information patrol function. They provide directions, maps, information, along with safety services, and thus, they are also a real economic revitalization strategy for commercial districts.

    I would like to bring something like this to Oakland. It has been reported to be very successful in the commercial core area in Atlanta — both in terms of crime reduction, and in terms of making it a welcoming place to shop, etc, and thus, attracting customers and revenue for the city — which are all things that Oakland needs.

    See, for example:
    http://www.atlantadowntown.com/ambassador.asp

    So, may next year’s news be something better!

  6. 94610BizMan

    Do any of the regular commenters here REALLY believe that if a uniformed crossing guard, armed with a camera and pepper spray, had been standing at the corner of 51st and Shattuck or Piedmont and Pleasant Valley or Grand and Mandana that:

    -Peralta would not have be carjacked?
    -The kid would not have been shot?
    -Cafe Milano would not have been robbed?

  7. Felix Paladin

    If you have any doubts on the Guardian Angels just read the following conclusion from an US Dept of Justice report on them and how ineffective they are at combating or deterring crime:
    Findings
    Overall, the findings indicate that, while the Guardian Angels may have had some impact in reducing the fear of crime in some segments of the population, it is unlikely that they had been successful in preventing or deterring crime. For example, the results revealed that 60 per cent of the citizens who knew that the Guardian Angels patrolled in their area reported feeling safer, but the number of citizens who knew of the Guardian Angels patrols ranged from nearly all those surveyed to less than half. Also, while a drop in the number of violent crimes reported was observed from pre- to post-introduction of the Guardian Angels patrols in an experimental area, an even greater drop was found in the control area where no Guardian Angels patrols occurred. Similarly, even though a significantly greater drop in the number of property crimes occurred in the experimental area than in the control area, the presence of other factors prevented any firm conclusions being drawn about the extent to which this could be attributed to the Guardian Angels patrols.

  8. Felix Paladin

    Mr. Sliwa started a Angels chapter in Halifax.Canada. The Mayor Pete Kelly and Police Chief Beazley did not endorse the Angels and prefer the local Citizens group to work with the City police instead. Link Below to Halifax’s Mayor Kelly’s Decision below:
    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/nova-scotia/story/2007/12/27/kelly-guardians.html
    If you have the time to listen Halifax Police Chief Beazley was interviewed in a 45 min podcast on the Angels at the link below:
    http://therightperspectivepodcastblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/angels-out-of-halifax.html The Host “Frank of Queens” has much info on Mr Sliwa & Guardian Angels
    Also listen to a former GA member called “Magic” in this podcast at
    http://trp.fileburst.com/TRP_2008.03.28_Magic.mp3 Interview is at the 1.5 hr mark in the show.
    Magic, a former Guardian Angel who was one of the founding members of the group’s Staten Island chapter, speaks about why he joined and then left Curtis Sliwa’s quasi-militia group in disgust after five years. Magic tells us how Sliwa recruited homeless teens as Guardian Angles, and then forced them to buy their own uniforms and other expenses, how Sliwa did not do background checks on the people he recruited, and how Curtis’s ex-wife Lisa was not raped as she claims. Magic also gives his perspective on the alleged “shooting” of Curtis Sliwa by associates of John Gotti, Jr.
    Mr Sliwa has started a Angels Chapter in Mexico City where he appointed a Pro Wrestler named “Vampiro” to lead the Angel’s chapter.
    What can “Vampiro” train his recruits..”The Bela Lugosi neckbite’?! Sliwa is a cartoon character appointing another Cartoon Character he calls the “Hulk Hogan
    of Mexico”. I wonder how anyone can take him and his organization as serious “Crime-fighters” ?. Link below to Vampiro article:
    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/us_world/2007/12/05/2007-12-05_former_wrestler_vampiro_to_take_bite_out.html
    Lastly down in Lake Worth ,Florida this summer Mr Sliwa started a local chapter of Guardian Angels that were exposed to be ineffective and quite honestly full
    of recruits that had criminal pasts. The excellent reporting by Ashley Harrell is in the article link below:
    http://www.browardpalmbeach.com:80/2007-08-02/news/wingin-it/1
    Oakland Citizens you are better off going down to your local move theater and see “The Dark Knight”if you want to see a “crimefighter” in action. Keep out this Joker who NEVER had ANY law enforcement training!

  9. Max Allstadt

    94610 –

    No, I think that if Don Perata hadn’t been a portly, weak looking old white man in a thugmobile, that incident would have been easily avoided.

    But seriously, the camera idea isn’t about stopping crimes during the crime. It’s about creating an atmosphere where thugs slowly come to understand that they have a very good likelihood of being clearly photographed if they try anything. Having people trained to observe and report with or without cameras can help.

    Having people who know the neighborhood and know the regulars and know when someone is fishy and doesn’t belong also helps.

  10. 94610BizMan

    Low level crime is likely to be reduced by citizen awareness but crazy armed thugs doing take-over robberies and carjackings are not going to be stopped by camera wielding civilians or crossing-guard types. These brazen crimes along with robberies and burglaries are what need to be reduced as soon as possible and “observe and report” isn’t going to cut it.

    I’ve done “observe, photograph and report” twice in the last six months, once for an auto theft and once for an attempted mugging both in broad daylight. For the auto theft the police took the report hours later but basically blew me off and told me that they hoped that the guys who stole the car didn’t see me taking their pictures. For the attempted mugging they showed up faster but told me I was too old to try “heroics” and would get hurt or killed (their words). Again the (different) police warned me that the mugger would come after me if I was recognized. They said I should have just called 911 and not get so involved. I’m sure the police meant well both times.

    In both cases I was the neighborhood regular.

    BTW Max, I note you only mentioned Peralta and not my other two example to which I could add the additional “take-over” robberies and many other violent crime stories I’ve heard from Oakland victims. Even your Peralta come-back while witty doesn’t hide the fact that no crossing guard will stop the car jack of a flashy car which is the point no matter who the driver might be.

  11. len raphael

    what are the economics of the GA’s? are they composed entirely of trust fund kids who can afford to do dangerous work just for expenses? Not.

    but of course, even assuming the impossible about the GA’s, they ain’t volunteering to walk down MLK or Havens Court at midnite.

    i’d have to paraphrase the old left wing agitprop, which fits the facts in oakland as deckin described: the contradictions will have to get a lot worse before people here wake up.

    or just be patient: in the next real estate cycle, those condo’s in the flatlands will fill up with residents who can’t ignore the conditions here. i assume the powers that be are actively figuring out how to neutralize that with high inclusionary zoning percentages and encouraging low income rental housing over condos or market rate rentals.

  12. Deckin

    I think words and ideas matter, so I think not a bad place to start would be for official Oakland to drop this crap that ‘we can’t arrest our way out of the problem’. There is so much confusion in that one idiotic catchphrase, so quickly parroted by the sadly subjugated police brass that it’s hard to know where to start. For one, what ‘problem’ is it that we supposedly can’t arrest (prosecute, imprison) our way out of? Pace our somnambulist mayor, it’s crime–not poverty, hopelessness, despair, or whatever else it is that’s got him all torn up inside–that’s the problem. Never mind that other cities with far worse problems did and do just that–arrest their way out of it. Never mind that a high percentage of the thugs over whom mayor sleepy frets so much are already employed. Never mind that there’s never been a shred of hard evidence that poverty is the most important cause of crime. Never mind all of that. Far more important that we keep to our threadbare neo-Socialism while whole swaths of our city are more dangerous now than Baghdad.

  13. californio

    One place to start thinking about crime is with the notion of a deterrent itself, which may not apply to others as it applies to oneself. We all thought the fear of death was the greatest deterrent imaginable, until suicide bombings began cropping up in the news 25 years ago. For most of us here, even a very light deterrent–damage to one’s credit report, say–has a powerful effect on our behavior. But this is not true of the people committing takeover robberies and similar crimes. Since they have so little to lose, materially and otherwise, fear of arrest is not much of a deterrent; in fact, it’s glorified as a rite of passage and seen as a way of life, especially for those who have already been to prison. These are people who, no matter what they do, will never have a job, buy a house, get a college degree, or any of the other things we take for granted. How else besides jail can they assure their food and shelter, medical care, entertainment, and so forth? If you look at it from this perspective, recidivism makes perfect sense. It also explains why prisons are such a rapidly growing form of housing. Arrest is, at best, only a vague deterrent for a lot of these guys. Which is partly why there’s so much crime to begin with. They don’t care in the same way we do, and we have to readjust our thinking to meet theirs if we want to find solutions. What would be a deterrent? I don’t know.

    The real problem is that a segment of the population has nothing to lose, and that in this group and for this reason, the notion of deterrent is turned on its head.

  14. Max Allstadt

    Biz, the Peralta thing was sarcasm for it’s own sake.

    I’m actually more for putting security cameras up than anything, but that’s a non-starter in this town, because of civil liberties concerns. I wouldn’t advocate permanent installation, but rather temporary installation that required removal once reported crime went down for that location.

    The idea is that if you have a corner with a non-stop prostitution problem, you use the camera to get the johns’ plates and/or bust them. Once people catch on and move, you move the camera to their next location.

  15. 94610BizMan

    The thug who shot the kid seems to be the thug who car jacked Peralata and was out on catch and release from other violent crimes. He is also under investigation for other violent crimes. If he was locked up for his previous crimes (a very NOT vague deterrent) the kid would not be paralyzed.

    What astonishes me is how folks around Oakland often discuss crime in the area at such an abstract level that the real and known particulars of repeat violent offenders are lost in the fog. The mugger I referred to in my earlier post was known to the police. The robber who pistol whipped my neighbor last fall was known to the police. Again catch and release.

    Max I already referred to my experience with cameras and the Oakland police. I’m not sure that I have read all you previous posts, so forgive me if my surmise is incorrect, but it seems that you haven’t talked to the OPD as part of your regular neighborhood watch program or haven’t photographed a crime in progress and then went to the OPD. I have and I’m co-chair of my neighborhood assoc. watch program. We live in “low crime” neighborhood and at our last OPD meeting we were basically told due to the shortage of police we are on the bottom for police presence.

    What I’ve learned on this blog is
    -lack of a jail with waste of police time
    -fewer police per capita for a high crime city
    -DA that does not prosecute
    -City employees over paid (translate the over paid COLA $$ into potential number of extra police)
    -City employees tipping off gang members about police activity

    Cameras, crossing guards and meditating about deterrence just obfuscates the particulars about these violent thugs and the systemic problems with the city government.

  16. Max Allstadt

    biz,

    my second comment was about surveillance cameras that could be placed by the police, not citizens taking snaps.

    and I live at 24th and MLK. My experience with crime and the OPD is anything but abstract. I also attend my NCPC meetings when I can.

    You’re “what I’ve learned” list is depressingly correct. But I will say that the OPD’s presence in my neighborhood has been increasingly effective. Unfortunately, until we get them more money to hire more officers, it’s a shell game, and it seems the marginal improvements near me are leading to marginal backsliding near you.

    In this particular thread, I’ve been exploring alternatives to increasing the amount of cops, because the issue of increasing the police force is already sort of a given for many folks who read this blog. We know we want that. What else do we want?… but…

    I think that if we really really want to cut crime we need more cops. And if we want more cops, there is a certain demographic that will have to stop demanding attention to things like tree removal and park improvements in nicer areas, and get their priorities straight. We also need to stop paying city employees more than they’re worth.

    Frankly, I’d be happy to cut funds for the rose garden or something if it means more cops and less dead teenagers. The people in the areas surrounding parks in safer neighborhoods can volunteer and donate, and they probably will. As for city employees: we have a crisis, in a corporation, when there’s a crisis, you cut bonuses, raises, and sometimes even reduce existing salaries. I don’t think keeping somebody at 65k for the next three years is going to starve anybody’s family. So do it. I’m experiencing slow growth in the private sector, cutting luxuries, and thus paying in less tax, shouldn’t that be passed along?

  17. 94610BizMan

    Max with your clarifications I’m completely with you. I’m just so pessimistic about city competence that “what comes next” is over the event horizon compared to getting more police out there and eliminating the deficit. I’m just looking for more efficient corrupt-o-crats.

    My neighborhood is “good” by Oakland standards which means one burglary or auto theft per month and three violent crimes per year. I went to high school in Cicero IL and was an early “urban pioneer” in a loft near Cabrini Green in Chicago (with no car) so I’m fairly streetwise. Many of my neighbors are not. At least our OPD contact was honest with us and I understand how tough it is for the OPD.

    Sorry about the Perata/Peralta name. I’m moderately disabled and often use speech to text software which will substitute words and I need to add all the proper names by hand and remove similiar phonetic homologues.

  18. Max Allstadt

    Doug ya got me!

    that’s probably just muscle memory. I lived on Peralta St. @24th for quite a while. Biz did you do it too? Eek.

    Biz – I think one of the things that makes folks like Steve Lowe chime in and tell us we’re a bunch of sore losers is language like “corrupto-crats”. I realize by unending Don Perata cracks and calls for the invasion of Piedmont probably go along with this, but I do think it’s more productive in the long run if we lean towards address points of fact and history.

  19. Deckin

    Californio makes an argument that is heard often and that merits a response. This view, that punishment or its credible threat doesn’t deter crime has been put forward by many, but typically without much evidence. It’s more a seat of the pants type of thought experiment that, as Californio puts it, when you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose. However, the groundbreaking work of Nobel laureate Gary Becker has shown pretty conclusively that this commonplace is false. Potential criminals do respond to credible threats of punishment, but they must be that: credible. Given official Oakland’s unilateral surrender in this struggle, to say that we’ve even given punishment a shot is a joke, frankly. Criminals are not fools. They know that the real odds of getting caught, and if caught, doing hard time, are astonishingly small, for anything short of the most heinous and flagrant crimes. To land in prison in California, from Oakland, takes some doing.

    But forget about the research; the criminals’ whole ethos and lifestyle gives the lie to the commonplace outright. That punishment works to control behavior is the criminal code of conduct, for God’s sake. Tell the local dealers that threats don’t work to control underlings! If it didn’t work on them and their cohort, why would they themselves practice it? As I said before, things that are repeated mantras in college humanities classes don’t, dint of that, fare too well in the real world where people are not schooled early and often to be ‘pro-social’ and ‘play nice’. So, I agree with Californio that it’s a mistake to assume that everyone is motivated by the same types of rewards in life, but it’s just as much a mistake to assume without evidence that people aren’t strongly strongly motivated by fear.

  20. FrankVanQueens

    How can anyone be so naive as to believe a degenerate and compulsive liar like Sliwa? Did you know that he has the “members” sign a release form for him? This is so that if one of them is injured or injures someone whilst “patroling”, HE can’t get sued! He knows how to protect the millions that he’s made off of his scam. Yes, millions! He makes over a million dollars a year from his broadcasting, endorsements, commercials, and speaking engagements. This from an ignorant functional illiterate from the gutters of Canarsie Brooklyn who knows how to manipulate the media and the naive. He has a 501C3 tax exemption for his group. Yet he violates it all the time when he uses the name, “the Guardian Angels” in commercials and other monetary endeavors that he gets paid for. The GA is nothing more than a cash cow for him to use to keep the money rolling in. Question: why didn’t he become a cop if he was so interested in “fighting crime”? Ans: because this sure beats working for a living! Most of his “chapters” close down after awhile when the members realize that he is exploiting them. He comes to a city, struts around before the cameras, gets interviewed in the newspapers, and then disapears. The suckers who are left holding the bag realize that he is just using them for his own gain. He is cheap and money hungry, because that is what this is all about, the he even sells them the tee shirts, berets and jackets that they wear, and at a profit! Some “dedication”, huh? He wanted the people of Philadelphia, PA. to PAY the carfare for his “patrols”. This from a man who makes well over a million a year, and owns a million and a half dollar condo on Manhattan’s elite Upper East Side! He has never given and never will donate any of his millions to his own group, instead he asks the public to “help” the GA. He calls himself a “crimefighter” which is a term from comic book characters. And that is surely what he is! A fifty five year old man running around with that stupid tee shirt and beret! He looks like a pot bellied clown! He has no law enforcement training, he learnt his “crimiefighting” from an at home course from the back of a comic book! He uses the GA to keep his publicity addiction satisfied. For example: he sold the name of the GA to a wreslter called the “Big Boss Man”. Then that is what the wreslter became known as. So that is what he really thinks of his organization: just a con to make money any way he can, and no respect for those who were conned into risking their lives for him. In fact, he gives them no health insurance, or life insurance. So in effect if anything happens to them, it’s “your on your own kid!” He didn’t “take on the Mob” as he likes to brag. Instead he cowered behind the microphone and taunted John Gotti Sr. Why didn’t he go down to Little Italy and make his famous “citizen’s arrest” that he talks about? You mean the big “crimefighter” was afraid of some fat linguini eaters? This from a con artist who tells you, “I’m down is the subways with Uzi toting psychopathic coacine sucking killing machines!”? Of course no New Yorker was ever arrested for carrying or using an Uzi in the subways! He was given a building by Guiliani as a reward for backing his mayoral campaign to be used as a “headquarters”. As a tax exempt group, he had no right to back any politican. So not only was this a violation, so was it when he illegally sold the building and made a huge profit! How do you think he got the money to buy his million and half dollar condo? Send this cheap imitation of Slip Mahoney of the Bowery Boys back Brooklyn, Oakland doesn’t need a vampire like this who feeds off of people’s fear of crime!

  21. californio

    Deckin,

    Thanks for responding. My point is that we would do well to find out what deterrent these kids DO respond to. Some may fear incarceration, others may not. If they don’t, what do we do? Another problem that comes to mind is the cost of incarceration. California has, if I recall, something like 165,000 prisoners at any given time, and each costs the state around $45,000 yearly to house, feed, doctor, and entertain. Step back and look at it and the criminal justice system seems seriously out of balance. I’m all for more cops and Measure Y implementation and cameras on street corners, but there is still something very wrong with this picture. How many more people can we really arrest? How much is incarceration itself siphoning off from state and county budgets? This is what leads people like Dellums from thinking there must be a better way. If only he could find it.

  22. len raphael

    reading a bunch of past nyt’s article’s about the ga’s I can see the attraction of them to local merchants who figure there’s no downside to the merchants; and to dellums because the greatest strength of the GA org is putting on a good show of something being done against crime for “expenses only”.

    in the early years the ga’s seems to have attracted a wide range of civic minded young volunteers who the founder and continuing guru showman Sliwa motivated into risking their lives to do for 0 money. Sliwa was and to a much lesser extent now, able to tap into that laudable public service yearing of many people. Was he a sham, mostly. Did he help some people, yes. Did he hurt some, probably.

    many of the volunteer GA’s probably joined for a combo of helping other people and also getting their own troubled lives together a la the peace corp or the marines. didn’t find any reports about gross exploitation but yes reports of injured and killed young GA’s.

    Is there really 0 downside to our mayor inviting the GA’s to patrol? You gotta ask John Burris that question, but my hunch is that if the GA’s mistakenly harrass any resident or if a GA is injured, Burris et al will have an excellent case that the city is liable. A big lawsuit could make using the free GA’s very expensive.

    (you can view the 2006 year end tax return for the Alliance of Guardian Angels at http://www.guidestar.org) It’s clear from their tax return 54k of total insurance expense schedule that they don’t carry insurance to cover claims made against individual GA’s or by individual GA’s. I’ guessing that they insulate themselves from those risks by setting up local independent chapters to recruit and train GA’s.

    Not obvious from their tax return that Sliwa or family members get big bucks directly thru the organization. Not enough detail, but the total revenue only a million bucks. Total payroll 127k, and maybe another 246k possible payouts for services, assuming the tax return is accurate.

    Overall I’d call it sad grasping at straws for the residents; and showmanship by Dellums.

    -len raphael
    temescal

  23. Max Allstadt

    If the city doesn’t fund or openly invite the GAs, how can they be sued? The GAs are private citizens with a right to move freely throughout the city, and right to peaceable assembly. If the city said “no” to them, couldn’t the GAs be the ones filing suit?

    Also, Len, thank you for reminding all of us about http://www.guidestar.org !
    Any non-profit’s form 990 (their tax return) can be viewed here. Form 990 requires, among other things, salary disclosures for top employees, and the names of all board members. Sometimes people are even dumb enough to put home addresses on these documents. Anyway, the point is, there has been much talk about non-profits in Oakland receiving pork barrel spending from the city. This site is a great place to poke around if you want to dig up inappropriate executive salaries and the like.

  24. 94610BizMan

    Max, perhaps you find “corrupt-o-crat” too insulting and flip but the first dictionary.com definition for corruption is “guilty of dishonest practices”.

    Now there are many examples that fit this definition which have been reported on this blog: claiming credit for a park that doesn’t exist, nepotism plus special lowering of standards, transfer of city funds to patronage not-for-profits with no accountability, not to mention colorful phrases like “being in the pocket of the developers”.
    Again, I find it difficult to believe that the regular commenters on this blog don’t believe that many city officials are “guilty of dishonest practices” and not just so incompetent that such an opinion is moot.

    So instead of “corrupt-o-crats” how about “corrupt and incompetent career city officials that use their official positions to maintain and increase their power without regard to the welfare of the citizens of Oakland thereby making it very difficult to dislodge from their positions or hold them to account”

    As for “losers”, yes, in the sense that the aforementioned officials stay in their positions, we and the rest of the general citizenry that are not privileged with patronage are losers.