Wow. I can’t believe how fast summer went by! It feels like recess just started a week ago.
Alas, in reality, it’s been quite a bit more than one week. Recess is over, and starting today, the Oakland City Council is back to their normal business of infuriating any resident misguided enough to watch them in action.
So I hope everybody had lots of fun this summer! I had a great time. I rode the BRT in Cleveland, hiked beautiful mountains in Colorado, and relaxed along the shore of Lake Champlain in Vermont. I was actually kind of sad last week to have to come back to Oakland. It didn’t help that my regular weekend morning coffee-and-a-good-book park has been ruined by a horrifying monument to the inflated egos over at the Chamber of Commerce.
I did try visiting the other morning, hoping I’d be able to tune out the statue and just concentrate on my book. No dice. My poor neighborhood park is just totally ruined. But hey, it’s going to bring us tourism, right?
There were a handful other people in the park with me the other morning. A couple of the faces were familiar. As smokers living in non-smoking buildings, they’re in the park a lot. I noticed they were all sitting kind of towards the far edge of the park, whereas normally people tend to be pretty evenly distributed. I rarely talk to them, since they’re obviously not going to the park for socializing, and well, neither am I.
But I couldn’t help but wonder how they felt about the “largest cast bronze representational sculpture West of the Mississippi” (hint: if you need that many modifiers to make something sound special, that means it isn’t that special). So I asked. I was met with grimaces and exaggerated eye rolls. I suppose that’s to be expected, though, since the monument isn’t there for residents.
I haven’t seen any droves of tourists around the monument yet, although there were a few visitors when I was there the other morning. Two older gentlemen spent a long time standing in front of the monument and talking about it. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but they seemed enthusiastic, so I’m guessing they didn’t find it anywhere near as off-putting as I do.
And then there was a couple with two small children. It was one of those moments, like riding on an airplane with a screaming child, that makes you never want kids. This poor couple was clearly trying to impress their children with the monument, maybe use it as an education opportunity, which I think is sweet, even if I personally do not like the sculpture. But the kids of course were having none of it.
The little boy had somehow procured a handful of small rocks and kept throwing them at the statues every time his parents took their eyes off him for even a moment. This happened quite a few times, since the little girl kept crying and wailing hysterically. I couldn’t help but think she was crying because she was terrified of the sculptures (I think they’re scary), but of course maybe she was upset because her parents had refused to buy her ice cream for breakfast or whatever it is that kids flip out about it. Who knows. In any case, it didn’t seem like a particularly successful outing.
It’s not all bad news in my neighborhood, though. At least we have the long awaited sculpture garden at 19th and Telegraph to look forward to!
Just think. It could have been a parking lot!
Council Committee Meetings
I had actually been planning on using my return from summer post to write a little roundup of the items coming up at today’s Committee meetings. Unfortunately, the agendas are kind of a snoozefest.
The issues of selling golf courses (PDF) and municipal IDs (PDF) are back at Finance & Management Committee (which starts at noon), for what seems like the five thousandth time in the past three years. I’m sure the actual number is probably in the single digits, but these discussions always just seem to be a repeat of what happened the last time around, and never go anywhere. If it turns out it’s more interesting this time, I’ll write about it later in the week.
The big item at the Community and Economic Development Committee (2pm) is a report on the City’s follow-up to the Grand Jury report (PDF) blasting Oakland’s Building Services division, which was released back in June. That one isn’t actually boring, but frankly, I am reluctant to write about it in spite of its importance because of the bad behavior the subject seems to prompt in the comments. Still, I’m sure that’s going to be an interesting discussion. So if you’re interested, you can either head over to City Hall this afternoon or catch it on KTOP — Comcast Channel 10, Uverse Channel 99 (I think, someone correct me if that’s wrong), or of course, streaming online.