District 3 Candidate Forum tonight

Hopefully I will get a chance to post a real blog later today, but for now – if you’re a District 3 resident and missed previous debates, you have another opportunity to grill the candidates tonight at the Scottish Rite Temple (1547 Lakeside Drive) downtown from 6:30 to 8:00 PM. All three candidates have confirmed, and the forum will be moderated by Aimee Allison, Jim Ratliff, and Robert Gammon.

24 thoughts on “District 3 Candidate Forum tonight

  1. Max Allstadt

    Who the heck is Jim Ratliff? I’ve heard the name, and I saw a website where he’s wearing a top hat. Still can’t figure it out.

  2. Max Allstadt

    So the bias in the debate tonight will be as follows?

    Alison: for Nadel, who endorsed Alison against Pat Kernighan.

    Gammon: towards Hodge? maybe just against Nadel? does his slam piece on Killian make any difference in his leanings for district 3?

    Ratliff: you tell me.

    How did the final lineup come about? Did each candidate pick a moderator, or was it arbitrary?

  3. Max Allstadt

    Hmm… I smell a rat.

    If CNN were to organize a debate with John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton…

    And if CNN chose two moderators that were openly supporting Clinton, and another who was a journalist known for editorials rather than hard news…

    Would anybody trust that debate? Would anyone trust CNN to organize a debate ever again?

    For those who don’t get my drift:
    Alison supports Nadel.
    Ratliff (I believe) also supports Nadel.
    Gammon is an editorialist.

    im in yr temple, teachin yr integrity lesson

  4. Ken O.


    Have all 69 market replacement police cars been put on the streets?



  5. Max Allstadt

    I stand corrected. Ratliff says he’s neutral and lives in district 2.

    It was a good debate. I look forward to seeing more of it. The moderators weren’t biased, nor was the time keeper. Note to self:accentuate the positive!

  6. Barry


    I just came back from the forum. Major props go out to the fledgling group who pulled this together at such a great location.

    That said: Just a word to the new comers:

    It’s okay to let the audience stand up and ask their own questions. The audience is well informed and can cut to the heart of issues quicker than tepid moderators,.

    Especially Jim Ratcliff who is personally endebted to Nancy Nadel to the tune of about $300,000. (His personal project, The Cleveland Cascades, managed to nudge itself to the front of the line to drink from the DD Bond Measure food trough. Not a big deal but the Cleveland Cascades wasn’t a DD project until he got Nadel to put it on the list a couple years AFTER the Bond Measure passed. That action that bumped off at least a couple of pre-approved, shopped to-the-voters projects that WERE on the DD list back in 2002. A Nadel-esque way of doing business that she has become known for, unfortunately.)

    So he was an odd choice for a pull-no-punches moderator as his punches perpetually pulled. His Guardian website was pretty much regarded as a shill for Pat Kernighan during the last campaign so he is considered by most folks to be non-elected insider.

    Don’t get me wrong — he is smart, articulate, but compromised.

    And I have never, ever seen Aimee Allison so quiet and almost timid. The evening was a real odd one to witness.

    Anyway, getting back to the format — I thought the Downtown neighborhood group did a great job at pacing and mixing up the forum. That said, the ” lay people” — the neighbors sitting in the audience — could have done a better job of asking their own questions…rather than see their questions set aside by the three moderators who didn’t want the rocking of the boat.

    When three moderators shuffle the questions into “OK” and “Uh-oh….ah shit!” piles, they do no one any favors.

    The difference between the Harrioak forum and this one was the “baby sitters” up on the stage. The Harrioak forum — the one without the babysitters — covered more turf, tackled difficult subject matters …and left the audience with a more solid sense of who the candidates were because there was no one to act as a buffer.

    Just as important, the candidates tonight didn’t hear what was really on our minds.

    They needed to hear the stuff that came from deep in OUR bellies. And they didn’t.

    Ah well.

    Many thanks to the organizers. Good turn-out — great food — the moderators were a bust, but sometimes you just can’t predict what will happen. A good night considering this was the first forum they produced.

  7. Ralph

    yeah max, didn’t you learn anything from the debate.

    if only i could take a third or each of these candidates I would have a fairly decent candidate

    Nadel won some points (in part b/c she actually answered the question asked whereas the other two candidates did not)

    Sullivan has got his opening pitch down, i am willing to bet there isn’t a man in China who doesn’t know that he is running b/c the mother of a homicide victim asked him

    Hodge better than I thought

  8. Barry

    Ralph: Did YOU learn anything new from the debate?

    It was so Casper Milquetoast I don’t think I heard really anything from any of the candidates that was new. Could have read the stuff off the brochures and would have been just as informed.

    The better debates/candidate forums are when the candidates are surprised by frankness.

    A little sweat on the brow and winging it from the heart. THAT’S what I came for.

    Ditch the babysitters!

  9. Max Allstadt

    Jim Ratliff espoused his lack of conflicting interests to me, to my face. Can get third party confirmation of what Barry’s saying about Nadel helping him get that money?

    I do agree that direct questioning is ideal.

    Frankly, I think that if you expect to be a leader of men you should be able to deal with any question from any constituent at any time. It’s even an important gauge of character to watch someone deal with a heckler.

    You know what? Fuck it. I take it back. I was bored out of my skull most of the time. Educational, sure. But boring. I really wanted to ask something inflammatory. Like “Nancy, why are you only endorsed by 2 out of 7 of your peers, when Ignacio managed to get 5 out of 7?” I’m probably not going to make it to any more of these, better things to do. But somebody ask that for me.

    V it’s 2 out of 7 council members for Nadel
    5 out of 7 for Ignacio
    Larry Reid has no campaign site, any idea how many he’s got? Brunner?

  10. Ken O.

    I support Patrick McCullough.
    New magic needed, throw out the old wizards please.
    Thank you.

  11. Ralph

    Barry, the comment to max re: learn anything from the debate was a reference to the last question about saying something nice about candidates.

    To answer your question, I wonder about any candidate who makes as their cornerstone partnering with the philanthropic community to provide basic services. I don’t doubt that they can help but the city should have a means for generating the revenues it needs to provide those services.

    To that end, I did not not hear from any of the candidates a firm commitment about developing destination retail, and improving the Uptown corrider. It makes me wonder if any of them have seen the studies that young and old are both moving back to cities. You see the development in San Jose and San Francisco, but it is a little slow to happen in Oakland.

    I could have done with less about the other side of 980.

    Not one of the candidate has laid out a comprehensive plan of how they would both reduce crime and create real jobs. I am so tired of these candidates selling people short.

    So Barry, to answer your question, what i learned last night is i need to figure which candidate I dislike like the least, is least socialist, and actually has an economic plan that is real.

  12. Barry

    Friends of Oakland Parks and Recreation DD Community Coalition minutes.


    Read from the bottom upwards. I don’t believe any of the minutes append the financial finagling to the minutes but often the changing amounts are reflected in the minutes as they are discussed at the meetings.

    As for the financial charts themselves — from 2003 to present day, do a Freedom of Information Act request and hand deliver it to Kathleen, Catherine — it’s one of those Cathy names — who is the director of Friends of Parks and Recreation and she can provide copies to you. The FOOPR office is housed at the Garden Center, first door to your right after you enter the building.

    Happy hunting.

    Or, if you want to get a verbal summary, track down Anne Woodell who was a former member of the Parks and Recreation Commission. Her service to this community is legion. It was her long sought after project that was bumped by Ratcliff’s.

    She will give you an earful.

  13. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    As always, other plans superceded my ability to go to the forum last night. It doesn’t sound as though I missed much.

    I heard that JLDA is hosting a forum for the candidates – May 19? – although my dear friend Steve Lowe is organizing. I really like Steve Lowe. He has a really good heart and he really, really cares about Oakland. But he’s pro-Nancy, and I just don’t get that. Nancy is taking credit for our parking permit plan and he’s giving it to her, despite the fact that Pat Kernighan has done way more to support our neighborhood and the mixed use permit plan. And at $150/yr per permit, I would think she’d want to avoid that whole conversation. What does Rockridge pay? Oh yeah, 1/3 of that.

    So I hope that the questions that come up May 19 (or whatever date it really is) are hard hitting.

    I did go by the Mandella Foods Coop yesterday and I see now why space at the 99cent store was limited. It is in the same building – somehow I thought that it had moved to a completely different locale. But has a lease been signed? Who looks at the financials to see that they are running legally? Does anyone at City level have the right to do so?

    I also plan to ask about a dog park, the wasted money on the “teen center”, and where all the funds from all the development in our area have gone. What has come back to this area? Uh, yeah, that’s right. Nothing. Because unlike West Oakland, our residents are “rich” and don’t need her help. We need someone more balanced. Hello, Sean? Are you up for this?

  14. Max Allstadt


    Even though I live on the other side of the 980, and even though I’ve seen plenty of awful awful things here, I agree with you that the candidates are all talking about it too much. They all live over here too, by the way.

    It’s really silly, ’cause there are more voters in the rest of the district. Downtown and the lake deserve a lot more time on the podium than they got. dto510 also noted that when candidates list all the neighborhoods in the district, NOBODY lists Auto-Row. And NOBODY lists another neighborhood that I too have forgotten.

    On my way to Mama Buzz to get my coffee this morning, I crossed under the 980 and saw a man sprawled out flat on his back in the sun while a woman sitting above him on a tattered lawn chair injected heroin directly into his neck. So yes. There’s urgency here. I get it. Probably a lot better than most. But all of the district does need to be accounted for and considered. Lift up any one of our neighborhoods and the others will rise a little along with it.

  15. D. Whiting

    As a new resident to Oakland (Feb. ’08), but not new to political campaigns, I found the Lake Merritt Downtown Assn. debate even more ineptly run than one sponsored by the League of Women Voters. At least the old gals new how use a stopwatch. Now am reading correctly that the moderators (who didn’t select my question) have a conflict of interest with the candidates?!

    It appeared that the candidates weren’t provided clear instructions on the timing and order of the question and answer format BEFOREHAND. Shouldn’t the timekeeper have
    been sitting in the line of sight of the candidates who faced the audience? I concur
    with previous comments on that the attendees should have been addressing their questions directly.

    But capping off the amateur nature of the event were the questions themselves. No follow up questions to probe deeper? No questions specific to an individual candidates’ platform? …and asking them to make a “nice comment” along with critiscm of their opponents?

    I arrived a little late, but did the issue of air emissions at the Port and the state’s recent health risk assessment get ignored? …also no mention of the city’s plans to develop their portion of the former army base? Both of which are specifically district 3 issues.

    People, we get the democracy that we deserve, and if the selection process is mediocre well than it’s hard to complain about the results…

  16. V Smoothe Post author

    Ralph -

    Sean Sullivan is the only candidate who has proposed a business attraction strategy (that being a tax holiday) for the Uptown area. He is also committed to business tax reform, unlike any of the other candidates. I would remind you that Nancy Nadel endorsed the zoning plan that would have severely limited new downtown development and retail, while Sean was at the zoning update committee meetings advocating for zoning that would enhance and encourage downtown growth, not kill it. Hodge was, as usual, absent on the issue.

  17. Ralph

    V Smoohe,
    If Sean is for tax reform, it would be nice if he could articulate the reforms he would take. If I heard Sean correctly last night, he spoke of a one day tax holiday for restaurants – that doesn’t sound like a strategy. The problem I have with all the candidates is a clear and unambigous plan to grow Oakland.

    Last night on the question regarding trade-offs for public health and other stuff (the question is a bit hazy) and on the question of the governor’s cut, not one of the candidates spoke about expanding the cities income stream to include more than transfer taxes (was implied at some point that this is our biggest revenue generator). In a perfect world at least one of the candidates would have said we need to expand the revenue sources, the city loses $XXX is sales tax and other taxes because some its basic needs from clothing to furniture can not be purchased within the city limits. With the Auto Dealerships moving to the army base, I propose we do xx on the b-way corridor, this will do x and generate xx in revenue which can be used for x, y, and z. In addition, we need to supplement this with funds from ….

    That one candidate could not articulate a clear plan for future growth and separate themselves from the pack tells me that they have work to do.

    All candidates would do well to learn their audience. I don’t think there is a person in Antarctica shopping at the local Fresh & Easy who doesn’t know that West Oakland lacks a grocery store. But last night they were in the Uptown area. Last night some questions were specific to Uptown and the candidates went on about West Oakland.

    Sean, would also do well to realize when city law conflicts with state law the state is going to win. I can’t recall the specific question but his answer went along the lines we implement the law implying that we can implement as we best see fit even if it conflicts with state law. Life and the law just don’t work that way.

    So far the race is wide open.

  18. V Smoothe Post author

    Ralph –

    Sean has proposed a complete overhaul of the City’s burdensome business tax, small business exemptions to the business tax (real ones, not the joke we have now), and a three year tax holiday to attract business to Broadway and Telegraph. That seems pretty specific to me.

    Since the City just adopted a strategy for Broadway auto row and rezoned the area to correspond to it, what would be the point of talking about it as a campaign issue? To me, that would just make me feel like any candidate who spoke about a new plan for Auto Row was really uninformed about Oakland’s government.

    I’m rewatching the video from last night’s debate and can’t seem to find any examples of Uptown-specific questions where the candidates spoke about West Oakland in response. What particular question are you referring to?

    And I also can’t find anything on the video where Sean says anything about making laws that conflict with state law, or anything even remotely similar.

  19. Chris K.

    Thanks for coming to the 5/7/08 forum at the Scottish Rite Center, sponsored by the Downtown Lake Merritt Neighborhood Group. It was our first time organizing such a forum, and a learning experience at that. Zach asked several local journalists and blog writers to moderate, but had a hard time finding willing parties.

    D. Whiting, Let me convey my apologies for “the amateur nature of the event.” Am I an “amatuer” civic organizer/activist in my neighborhood? Guilty as charged. Go listen to the “professionals,” let them put together your forums and “community meetings” and frame the local policy issues of the day for you.

    In regards to the issue of the army base, air emissions at the Port and the state‚Äôs recent health risk assessment, sorry if these District 3 issues were “ignored” by the candidates (all three of whom I believe are West Oakland residents) …There were a host of issues that didn’t get any airtime, such as the candidates willingness to help fund and implement Oakland’s Bicycle Master Plan. That being said, District 3 has a range of neighborhoods and issues. It’s nice to see all these forums this year, almost one for each neighborhood in the District.

  20. V Smoothe Post author

    I will be posting a recap of this debate soon, as time allows. I want to commend the organizers of the debate for the work they put into to organizing it, and I thought the event came off very well.

    A correction to your comment, though, Chris. I communicated with Zach at length about the moderator selection, and he listed repeatedly the people he had invited to moderate, and he did not list a single local blogger. I know at least one local blogger who offered to moderate, and his offer was turned down. Although I had reservations about some of the moderators beforehand, I thought they ultimately did a very good and professional job.

  21. Max Allstadt

    Chris K.

    Next time please don’t have moderators. They’ve been unnecessary in other forums. We don’t have enough turnout to warrant them. The moderators at your event set aside many of the more “hardball” questions submitted. A forum should be civil, but frankly, the crowd will police itself, and a candidate who can’t cope with one or two obnoxious heckling type questions is unfit to lead.

    I sincerely appreciate your efforts to organize the event in such a beautiful place. I commend you for taking the time to help our city. It is only the format I object to.