Larry Reid v. Clifford Gilmore: LWV Forum Recap

Since I know next to nothing about Clifford Gilmore (other than that he’s the son of longtime Councilman Carter Gilmore), I was really looking forward to this forum. Not being particularly invested in this race, or particularly knowledgeable about specific District 7 controversies, I figured I might learn something new, and sat down to watch with no real expectations, thinking that I really had no idea who I thought would or should win.

Opening Remarks

Larry Reid went first, saying that when he first ran for Oakland City Council, he did it to give residents in his district a sense of hope that it was possible to make changes in long-neglected areas, and that he’s proud of the “tremendous changes” that have come to District 7. He predicted that the growth and change Oakland, particularly East Oakland, witnesses in the next five to ten years will be among the most spectacular in the US.

Clifford Gilmore started out strong, complaining that crime is out of control, the schools are a mess, and people have to leave the District to shop for basic necessities. He said he’d served as the executive director of a local nonprofit for 10 years, but bizarrely didn’t say its name. He said that he’s worked with residents to create NCPCs, worked with the business community to create partnerships, and led the campaign to create the first school report card in Oakland.

V: Winner: Larry Reid! As soon as he opened his mouth, I realized that I was kidding myself to think I didn’t have an opinion on this race. Opening statements reminded me exactly why Larry Reid is my hands-down favorite Councilmember, and the whole contest was just over for me right here. I’m thrilled he’s running for re-election, even though he did say four years ago that “12 years is enough.” Reid is the Councilmember who most consistently sells me on his passion and commitment to his job – this is not to say that others don’t care, but that it shows so much more with him. When everyone else is tired and trying to blow through an agenda as quickly as possible, Reid never passes up a chance to share how excited he is about things happening in his district. There are some positions we don’t share, but I agree with his votes more than anyone else’s. Sure, he has a tendency to pout and generally act like a spoiled child sometimes when he doesn’t get his way, but I can forgive that because I’m always convinced that he’s doing what he truly believes is right for Oakland. He and Desley Brooks are also the only Councilmembers who consistently seem to consider whether proposed legislation will actually accomplish anything, rather than just sound nice. Gilmore didn’t say anything wrong, but he had a rough job convincing voters that he can deliver for the District better than Reid does, and I just don’t think he met that bar.

Q: Do you support and would you carry to the Council a proposal for a citywide records management program, to be run by a certified records manager?

A: Clifford Gilmore said yes, because we need oversight in the budget process, Oakland’s government has a lot of waste, and that residents want to know where our money is going. Larry Reid said that he would be willing to look at the issue and have an “open, public discussion,” then make a decision with his colleagues about it, and that off the top of his head, it sounded like something he’d support.

V: Draw. I love that Larry Reid so obviously found the question completely out of left field, and kudos to him for not committing to do something he didn’t really understand. Gilmore’s response was strange – we eliminate waste in our budget through audits and better budget deliberations, not records management. While we’re talking about it – the City really does need better records management. I’m constantly looking for old agendas and reports on legistar only to discover that they’re just completely missing. The City has been commendably quick to fix the problem when I point out missing agendas and minutes, but it’s a real failure of our records program that the files aren’t available in the first place.

Q: For a healthy community, it is recommended to have 10 acres of open space…something else about open space

A: Larry Reid brought up the proposed Chabot-Dunmsuir Estates development (PDF!), saying that he went on record publicly opposing the project, and ultimately the developer backed away from the plan. He’s now working with the East Bay Regional Park district to get the acquisition of those 66 acres in East Oakland included in the Measure AA extension, so that the area will remain open space forever. Clifford Gilmore said that District 7 has many beautiful open space areas, and that they should be preserved for future generations.

V: Winner: Larry Reid. Okay, I don’t know enough about the Chabot-Dunsmir Estates to have an opinion on the project. I know that neighbors were concerned about loss of hiking trails and trail access. Since Larry Reid is generally pro-development, I’m assuming he had a good reason for opposing it. Memo to Nancy Nadel: if you care about prioritizing open space and parkland over development, this is how you do it. The Chabot-Dunsmir Estates, now cancelled, according to Reid (I couldn’t verify if this was true), conformed to both the existing zoning and the General Plan. The developer didn’t need variances or amendments. But not only did Reid get the development halted, he’s also in the process of identifying funding to purchase and protect the land. Compare this to Nancy Nadel’s treatment of the Emerald Views project. Nadel has opposed the project from the outset, complaining that tall buildings are inappropriate near the lake, but hasn’t done anything to slow or stop the project. She talked about a land swap, but produced no land. She held meetings about height limits on the lake, but admitted in Friday’s forum that any zoning changes wouldn’t apply to Emerald Views. And this is why even anti-development types shouldn’t vote for Nancy Nadel. So what if she shares their views about growth and density more than another candidate – she won’t do anything about it. It doesn’t matter if your Councilmember votes against a project you don’t like if it gets approved anyway.

Q: Improving public safety is about more than just increasing the police force. What will you do for violence prevention?

A: Clifford Gilmore said that as the director of a non-profit, he’s done a lot of work on violence prevention, and that he would expand the number of outreach workers, engage the faith community, strengthen community policing, add more NCPCs and problem solving officers. Larry Reid talked about Youth Uprising and the East Oakland Youth Development Center, saying that the save young peoples’ lives and that he’s funded both of them through his pay-go account and he has independently raised money for them, as well as for the schools.

V: Winner: Larry Reid. It was driving me crazy the Clifford Gilmore still wouldn’t say what he does. Finally, I just looked it up. He’s executive director of the Oakland Coalition of Congregations. I don’t get why he didn’t just say that. Do people not like OCC? Strange. Anyway, his answer was fine, but Larry Reid really impressed me talking about how he works to fundraise for worthy organizations in his District. Every Councilmember should be doing this.

Q: What would you do to increase public participation in Oakland government?

A: Larry Reid said that his door is always open, and that he’s encouraged constituents to be involved in the political process. He talked about his quarterly leadership breakfasts, where he invites representatives of every homeowner, neighborhood, and merchants association in his district to come together and talk about their issues, and how to access the bureaucracy. Clifford Gilmore said that the community feels disconnected with their government, and that he would open an office in the district because residents should not have to drive downtown to see their elected officials.

V: Winner: Larry Reid. I don’t think having a district office for Councilmembers to base constituent services out of is a bad idea, but I would not support that unless the Council got more staff. Our elected officials are limited in what they can accomplish do by their inadequate support, and beholden to city staff, who often have other priorities and certainly have other responsibilities, to get things done.

Q: Is Oakland adequately prepared for our next disaster?

Clifford Gilmore said that we are not prepared, and that our fire department’s equipment is outdated. He said that we need to create incentives to get residents prepared, and that he’s worked with the community to try to get them prepared and CORE trained. Larry Reid said that we’re more prepared than we were, but that we can do better, and need to educate residents more. He said that the CORE program has been hosting trainings throughout his district, and that if you look at his garage, you will see that he’s prepared for the disaster.

V: Draw. They pretty much said the same thing, although I was happy to see that Larry Reid was talking about how they’re doing CORE trainings in his district, instead of telling people to call up if they want one.

Q: District 7 is an area where residential and industrial land collide. How would you balance the needs of both?

A: Larry Reid said that we’ve been doing a great job with that in District 7, and said that we would hopefully be breaking ground on the Coliseum Transit Village within two years, calling it “the most incredible project in the City,” which will be on formerly industrial land. Clifford Gilmore said that we can do better, and that he wants to preserve some of the existing industrial parcels for emerging industries, and complained that District 7 has traditionally had high unemployment.

V: Winner: Larry Reid. Clifford Gilmore had the same problem throughout the debate. His positions are so similar to Reid’s that he needed to make a strong case that he will be better able to deliver than Reid is, and I just didn’t get that from him. They both want to save some industrial land, but not all of it. Larry Reid was able to identify specific formerly underutilized parcels that benefitted from conversion.

Q: Oak Knoll Development Project is a reality. What are the pros and cons in your view for District 7 and for Oakland?

A: Clifford Gilmore said that, on the positive side, it will bring new homes and amenities to the community, and might increase property values, while negatives include increased traffic and density, the fact that the project is on contaminated land, and that it might intrude onto wildlife habitats. Larry Reid called the Oak Knoll project “an incredible opportunity to do something real special.” He said that the 960 housing units and 80,000 square feet of retail will transform East Oakland and the benefits will spin over to the MacArthur corridor.

V: Winner: Larry Reid. Have I mentioned how great he is yet? Reid strongly backed the controversial Oak Knoll development, and when asked about it, he stands behind it with unequivocal and enthusiastic support. Good for him.

Q: Why is the significant amount of the affordable rental housing inventory concentrated in District 7?

A: Larry Reid said that District 7 does get a lot of affordable housing, and that it will continue to get it, so he’s trying to encourage affordable home ownership housing that will help stabilize the community, and that the mixture of market rate and affordable home ownership housing along MacArthur and International will be an incredible transformation. Clifford Gilmore said that low income housing has historically been located in East Oakland, and that the city needs a balanced approach, and that East Oakland needs mixed income developments to bring business to the district.

V: Winner, Larry Reid, because Clifford Gilmore was so vague. Saying that we need to find a balance is hardly a bold statement! Although I am not a fan of below market rate ownership housing, at least Reid is pushing a different approach that he believes will benefit the community. I understand the idea that increasing home ownership rates will improve stability in the neighborhood, but I would rather see the funds spent on facilitating ownership of market rate units, so that those receiving the subsidy can actually realize the benefits of home ownership.

Q: What have you done, or what will you do, about youth violence prevention and intervention?

A: Clifford Gilmore said that he’s been working with local clergy to target 4th and 5th graders, who are posed to become the next generation tangled in the criminal justice system, and that this is a way to get ahead of the problem. Larry Reid again referenced Youth Uprising and the East Oakland Youth Development Center, as well as the programs at Allen Temple and Acts Full Gospel churches. He said that he’s tried to make a difference in the schools by independently fundraising for them, and that he was able to raise over half a million dollars last year for schools in his district.

V: Winner: Larry Reid. This question was nearly identical one asked earlier, and unsurprisingly, the answers were similar. I’m pleased to hear about Gilmore’s work with local clergy on the problem, but once again, he failed to make the case that Reid wasn’t doing enough, or that he could do more.

Q: What do you see as a process to harmonize economic development in downtown Oakland with environmental sustainability:

A: Larry Reid said that the issue isn’t specific to downtown, and that sustainability needs to be considered throughout the City. He bragged about the green and state of the art Xion dealership opening later this year, and said that we are expected to break ground on a 400 room LEED certified hotel with conference facilities this year as well. Clifford Gilmore said that he wants to bring more economic development to District 7, and that we need to create thriving neighborhood corridors to put people to work. He said that most of the progress is at the margins of the district, but that nothing is going on in the neighborhoods.

V: Winner, hmm. Draw, I guess. Good for both of them for ignoring downtown and focusing on the district. Good for Larry Reid that he can point to green projects coming to District 7, but there’s more to sustainability than LEED certified buildings. Like I said before, I don’t know a ton about what goes on in District 7, so if it’s true that people feel neighborhoods are not seeing the benefits of economic investment in the area, Gilmore should have criticized Reid for this more forcefully and frequently.

Q: In what ways would you partner with other local, county, state, and federal officials around issues that impact Oakland?

A: Clifford Gilmore said that other cities are not producing their fair share of affordable housing, and that we need to work with them to ensure that they do. Larry Reid said that he’s served on the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency board for 10 years, including 2 years as chair, and that they’ve been able to bring over $200 million to the community because of his ability to work well with his colleagues and the respect they have for him.

V: Winner: Larry Reid. Being able to point to something you’ve done is always better than saying what you would do. I’m sure Gilmore must have done some partnering at some point in his work at OCC – not bringing it up as an example was a mistake. Regular readers know how much I care about transportation issues, so Reid’s commitment to regional planning around them makes me happy. Interestingly, Reid appears to be the only board member without an alternate.

Q: Oakland has limited park space and many of the existing parks are not properly maintained. Funding is a major problem. What is your strategy for securing funds for maintaing our parks and purchasing new ones?

A: Larry Reid once again brought up the attempt to acquire those 66 acres near Dunsmuir through the Measure AA extension. He said that he’s used his pay-go money to fund park improvements, and that he’s trying to acquire land to build pocket parks in neighborhoods that don’t have any. Clifford Gilmore siad that we don’t have enough parks, and that we can’t maintain our parks because a third of Oakland’s population is on some sort of aid. He said that we need to attract new businesses to Oakland so we can have more parks.

V: Winner: Larry Reid. Same thing as last question. The two agree on this, Larry Reid was able to provide specific examples of how he delivered, and Gilmore failed to make a case that he could do more.

Q: How do you balance the need for half-way houses and programs for at-risk or violent kids with the real fears of those who live next to them?

A: Clifford Gilmore said that there needs to be a process for the two parties (program and neighbors) to come together and talk about how to make it work. Larry Reid said that this sort of facility should not be concentrated in East Oakland, and needs to be distributed throughout the city. He said that residents need to have some input into the functions of facilities before they move in.

V: Draw. They both said basically the same thing, and I wasn’t terribly impressed with either answer. I wish they had asked this question during the District 3 forum, particularly in light of the new CBD draft zoning chapter, which severely restricts transitional and supportive housing downtown.

Q: The rental housing stock in the area is deteriorating. What specifically would you do to require landlords, often absentee, and the Housing Authority to keep property up?

A: Larry Reid said that the City is suing the Housing Authority over unmaintained property, but that some of their property is nice. He brought up the Lion Creek Crossing development on 66th and San Leandro, saying that he would be willing to move into it himself. He said that the 192 units of new rental and homeownership housing being built at Tassaforanga will reshape the community. Clifford Gilmore said that problems come from concentrating poor residents in a given area, and that we need to look at the impacts of development.

V: Winner: Larry Reid. Just like in the Nadel and Sullivan debate, I wasn’t thrilled with either answer. Our housing stock is outdated and how we’re going to address rehabilition is a very real issue that nobody seems to be talking about. Reid wins by default, because Gilmore pretty much bombed the question and said virtually nothing of substance. Reid, by the way, also voted to appoint a teenager to the Housing Authority Board. I know some people who live in Lion Creek Crossing, and they love it.

Q: Is it important to maintain current industrial parcels and why?

A: Clifford Gilmore said that it is, and that we need to maintain our industrial parcels so we can market Oakland as a welcoming place for new, emerging industries. He said that we rely too heavily on the real estate transfer tax and that we need to diversify our economy. Larry Reid said that we do not need to maintain 100% of the industrial land, because the industry that occupied it is never going to return. He said that some places, like the Army Base, are appropriate for industry, but that many parts of District 7 aren’t. He said that the 400 units of housing, 30,000 sf of retail, and office space that will be built next to the Coliseum BART station will be an improvement over the vacant industrial space its replacing.

V: Winner: Larry Reid. Again, we already got this question, and the answers were the same then. Gilmore kept talking about emerging industries, yet failed to provide any examples of them. I was not convinced he had a good grasp of the issue.

Q: How do you balance open space versus development?

A: Larry Reid said that we have acquired the old Glen Fields King Estate to ensure it is maintained as open space, and that we’re trying to do that with the 66 acres near Dunsmuir. Clifford Gilmore said that we need to make sure all the stakeholders are at the table negotiating something fair when it comes to open space versus development, and that the character of our neighborhoods should be preserved.

V: Winner: Larry Reid. This is like, the third time they asked this question.

Closing Statements:

Clifford Gilmore said that if we want real change, we can’t keep traveling on the same path, and that he’ll bring new leadership to the City Council and would be an independent voice. Watch it yourself:

Transcript here.

Larry Reid rattled off investment in East Oakland during his tenure – a 48,000 sf grocery store in the East Oakland flatlands, the first full service bank, 250 units of new housing at Durant Square, 250,000 sf of new retail on Hegenberger, jobs creation, etc. Watch it. No really, you have to watch it. He’s awesome:

Winner: OMG, Larry Reid. Watching his closing statement reminds me so much of why Nadel Nadel needs to go. They both said roughly the same thing in their closing remarks – that they’ve come a long way, and that many changes have occurred, and they want to continue serving. Both represent Districts with some of the worst problems in the city – they have exceptionally high rates of crime, poverty, underhousing, and unemployment. Both districts had these problems in 1996 and they both have them now. So why did Larry Reid make me want to move to District 7 just so I could vote for him, while Nancy Nadel made me resolve to work extra hard for Sean Sullivan? Because you can see his passion. The level of energy and excitement, and the detailed knowledge that he displays make me confident that he really cares, that he’s been working to bring real change, and that he will continue doing so. He told us what improvements he’s proud of, rather than just vaguely insisting on “amazing changes.” Four more years for Larry Reid!

Clifford Gilmore’s election website is here, and I can’t find one for Larry Reid (e-mail me if you know of one), so I have nothing to link to for him. As much as I adore Larry Reid, I don’t think anyone would deny that District 7 has some serious problems. Gilmore should have used his time to hammer Reid on the areas where progress has not been made, and explain what he would do differently. He didn’t.

18 thoughts on “Larry Reid v. Clifford Gilmore: LWV Forum Recap

  1. Christy H.

    Yeah, I’m with you – I’ve always been impressed with Larry Reid. He’s clearly committed and in interviews he really seems to cut through the crap, which is always, always a great quality in a politician, local or otherwise.

  2. V Smoothe Post author

    Thanks for reminding me, Rebecca.

    The KTOP debates will be re-airing regularly during the weeks leading up to the election, and I encourage interested voters to watch them. I think KTOP is channel 10 on Oakland cable, and it broadcasts streaming over the web as well. I will be recapping all five City Council forums. If I can find the time, I’ll do other races as well, but no promises.

    Here is this week’s schedule for candidate forums on KTOP:

    Monday, April 7: Forum #1 (City Council District 3, School Board District 3, City Council District 7, School Board District 7): 3:30 to 6:30
    Wednesday, April 9: Forum #2: 3:30 to 6:00 (Assembly District 14, City Council At-Large, City Council District 5)
    Thursday, April 10: Forum #1: 3:30-6:30
    Thursday, April 10: Forum #3: 7:00 – 10:00 (County Board of Education Area 2, County Board of Supervisors District 4, County Board of Ed District 3, Superior Court Seat 9)
    Friday, April 11: Forum #2: 3:30 to 6:00
    Friday, April 11: Forum #4 (live): 7:00 to 10:00 (State Senate District 9, City Council District 1, School Board District 1)
    Saturday, April 12: Forum #3: 5:00 to 8:00

    You can check the KTOP schedule every week here.

  3. James H. Robinson

    Thank you for posting this information. I recently moved into Larry Reid’s district and I am originally from the Washington, DC suburbs. Councilman Reid’s development efforts are starting to pay off. I reside in one of the new market-rate townhouses on MacArthur (Covington Manor) and I look forward to seeing new home-ownership opportunities for this part of Oakland.

  4. OP

    I don’t know much about Clifford Gilmore, but as a D7 voter I wanted to offer this assessment of Councilmenber Larry Reid:
    1. He truly cares about the district and is not doing this for personal ambition (although he will probably run for Mayor in 2 years). More so than the other Council Members, you can tell his heart is in this job.
    2. He is both a progressive and a pragmatist in his voting record, which helps to balance out the Council’s more liberal members.
    3. He has got great temperament for the job — he is generally calm and respectful in disagreement and does not hold grudges against those who disagree with him.

    1. His office has terrible constituent service and cannot be counted on to return calls or address issues. Contact the Oaklanders Assistance Center instead.
    2.He does not engage with the community very much, especially in comparison to other Council Members (e.g. Councilwoman Jane Brunner holds bi-monthly town halls, has a newsletter, and will show up at NCPCs and community events).
    3. I see Larry Reid as a reliable and sensible vote on the Council but I do not see him taking a leadership role on any major city initiatives.

    In summary, Larry Reid strikes me as having many of the attributes of a great leader but has become complacent. Hopefully the campaign will fire him up.

  5. Moschops

    It’s good to hear Reid is passionate about something. In the all the council meetings I went to regarding District 3 development I never hear him contribute anything of significance to the discussion. Is that typical or did he just zone out for district 3 matters? Just when I had given up on him entirely as been anything other than a “bring home the District 7 pork” member I heard him chime in at great length – it was an issue regarding cellphone tower placement in District 3 and Reid had also had a similar problem in 7. It was one of those crazy meeting that went on past midnight and unlike others he stuck around and he really laid into a bunch of corporate flunkies and lawyers to boot and I was pretty impressed with his gusto. It hadn’t occurred to me that this was a more than a one off event so I guess you are right that if there is something that impassions him then he’s all over it, if not then YMMV I suppose.

  6. C Brown

    Larry has passion? Yes he does but if you’ve lived out here in East Oakland long enough, you’ll hear the same two or three speeches over and over again, year after year. After you’ve heard the speech more than once and wonder what happened since his last speech, you begin to wonder his sincerity and/or effectiveness.

    East Oakland is moving forward but I’m not sure how much is attributable to Larry Reid’s leadership and how much would have happened without him. This is especially true since he’s got the worst staff imaginable who never answers calls.

    I don’t know anything about Clifford Gilmore so can’t comment on whether he’d be better or worse than Larry Reid. I’m just tickled though that Larry’s got an oponent to open up some topics for discussion.

  7. ConcernedOakFF

    Umm…I can’t believe you defend Desley Brooks. She has misappropriated funds more than any other city council member, and she just skated by without getting indited.

  8. V Smoothe Post author

    ConcernedOakFF –

    When did I “defend” Desley Brooks? I said she and Larry Reid are the only Councilmembers who routinely talk about the realities of implementation and what the results of legislation will be, which is true. The fact that I like her voting record (on most, not all, issues) has nothing to do with my views on her financial improprieties.

  9. Kent Lewandowski

    Larry Reid’s assertion that he “halted” the Dunsmuir Estates development is COMPLETELY WRONG. The neighbors halted it. I was at the town hall meeting last fall at the Snow Building at the Oakland Zoo where it went down. The developer was trying to sell his idea and about 200 of Larry’s constituents were not having any of it. Larry had no choice but to halt that project. If he says he “halted” it, then that is pure political posturing. On other projects, he’s been terrible. Did you hear about sewage spouting out of Chimes creek as a result of lack of environmental safeguards at Leona Quarry? Check That was in Desley and Larry’s Backyard, and they did nothing when contacted by the neighbors about it. And what about Oakland Zoo? Again, Larry is ignoring his constituents, unless they are vocal and loud enough that he can’t anymore. Clifford for Council!

  10. V Smoothe Post author

    Kent –

    You say “Larry Reid’s assertion that he “halted” the Dunsmuir Estates development is COMPLETELY WRONG,” then later “Larry had no choice but to halt the project,” implying that he did, in fact, do so. Which is it?

  11. Kent Lewandowski

    V., I don’t know the processes in the City well enough to say who “halted” the development. Basically Larry would have had to go against most of his East Oakland Hills contituents, if he had wanted to try to get it permitted. He’s a politician, and he’s not dumb. So he did what his contituents wanted. I don’t give him any credit for it, and I sure don’t support him for it.

  12. V Smoothe Post author

    Kent –

    Are you saying that Reid stopping a proposed development in response to constituent objections is a bad thing? I just don’t follow that logic at all.

  13. Max Allstadt

    Depends on which constituents, doesn’t it? If Jane Brunner listened to STAND, that would be pretty silly.

  14. V Smoothe Post author

    I don’t think that complaints from constituents should be the only factor in evaluating development proposals. One obviously has to consider whether or not those complaints are reasonable. A complaint that a five story building will block views of the sky, for example, is not. Like I said before, I never followed the Chabot Dunsmuir Estates project closely enough to have an opinion on it. But Kent seems to be condemning Reid for stopping a project he wanted stopped because Reid wouldn’t have stopped it if the community hadn’t opposed it. I just don’t understand the complaint.

  15. Steve Lowe

    Why should the Oakland Commerce Corporation (OCC) be punished by the Community & Economic Development Committee (CED) for defending the Zoning Update Committee (ZUC, a long-time subcommittee of the Oakland Planning Commission), decision to support the Mayor’s Land Use Policy? The business community (comprised of mostly small businesses) has confidence in OCC and many businesses have elected to stay here, despite the crime and violence, because OCC was there help.

    Yet CED has called OCC’s contract into question, not because the organization is ineffective, but because it, gasp, helped challenge the idea that Oakland’s Council fiefdoms might be looked upon as less than sacrosanct. Not quite Chicago, to be sure, but the hardball paradigm prevails, nevertheless, even though a more cooperative model would get us where we need to go a lot faster.

    So I know Kent and V, and both are good hearted most of the time: Kent shows up at many of the meetings in West Oakland to do something about clean air policy and other Toxiics Reduction Collaborative issues. V doesn’t because her organization, such as it is, doesn’t quite understand where we need to go as a community: that’s why she’ll always support Ignacio and/or Larry whose first concern is maintaining the power bloc they believe is fundamental to politics-as-usual, as opposed to those who, like Kent, will always support an Oakland-of-the-future, where parity, environmentalism and community consensus is the goal.

    In the end, who has incorporated into their idealism the ideas of the great urbanologists? Where is the expertise in terms of community planning and support for true greatness for Oakland? To say that Forest City – and all those who backed it – is a wonderful solution for Uptown is to affirm that we are njothing but a second rate city. A better Council would would never have voted for that $60M gift to a developer, and only change in that continuum will begin to bring us into the 21st century.


    – S

  16. V Smoothe Post author

    Steve –

    I’m not really sure what the OCC has to do with this post, but I think it’s a completely inaccurate assessment of the situation to say that they were “punished” by CED for defending a ZUC decision. Their contract was called into question because they are either not fulfilling their obligations to the City under said contract, or, if they are, as they claim, they are refusing to provide information that justifies that claim. Perhaps if the OCC were willing to provide said information, they would not have found their taxpayer funded contract in jeopardy.

    I’m not sure what you’re referring to when you say “[my] organization” – you know I have no “organization” to speak of. But the reason I don’t go to West Oakland meetings about toxics reduction is not because I don’t understand where we need to go as a community, or that I don’t value parity, community consensus, or environmentalism. It’s because that isn’t the issue I choose to spend my time advocating for and volunteering for. We all have a limited numbers of hours in our day, and therefore are forced to pick and choose our issues to some extent, and mine are (and have been for as long as I can remember) libraries, access to information (which is why I spend so much time writing and researching this blog, which is entirely a labor of love) and food security. I don’t condemn you or Kent as short-sighted for spending your time working on clean air policy instead of sorting food at the County Food Bank or passing out groceries at Project Open Hand, and I don’t think it’s fair at all for you to do the reverse.

    I also think your characterization of who I’ll “always support” is unfair and unjustified. I have said repeatedly on this blog that I would be open to a replacement for anyone on the City Council, and I know we’ve had that discussion in person at least twice – the unfortunate fact is that De La Fuente and Reid’s challengers in this race have not demonstrated that they are anywhere near prepared for the task, or could deliver for their districts, or the city as a whole, better than the incumbents. Also, as I understand it, you’re currently supporting an incumbent who supported the Forest City “gift” as well, and who boasts about it at every campaign appearance I’ve witnessed, so it appears there’s a double standard here.