412 thoughts on “
Open Thread

  1. Tommy Saxondale

    Anyone noticed different police patterns recently? Over in funktown (ok, E 18th between Park and 14th Ave) I’ve seen a lot more cruisers in the evening and night over the past few days, wondering if anyone else has noticed anything. As far as I’m concerned it’s a positive change on the E 18th corridor.


    Howzabout the report that the city auditor released about personnel practices in Oakland? And how the current city manager said that she’s “making it up”?

  3. Vivek B.

    Ok, so push has come to shove. I’ve been asked again to apply for the Public Ethics Commission. Deadline is this Friday.

    Is this just a generally crappy post? Is it volunteer? I’ve asked the head, haven’t heard back yet, but I don’t want a paid position as I don’t want folks thinking it’ll make me biased towards any given PoV. Is this viewed as a crappy job? I have a great full time job, don’t want/need another one. If this is something that’s truly independent and I can’ say/do what I want, i’m happy to do it. But if I have to toe a company line, i’m out.

    Ack. Dunno what to do, i wish I knew 1/20th as much about Oakland Gov’t as VS…

  4. Max Allstadt


    I think it’s a genuinely important post, and yes it is volunteer. I think it’s very independent. The opening they have is for a candidate chosen by the committee, not by the mayor, which makes it even more independent.

    The only line you have to toe is that you can’t be involved in certain political activities while you serve in this post. No campaigning, no endorsing, no fundraising, no precinct walking, etc…

  5. CitizenX

    len, you asked “City employee parking allowances: do they count as compensation for retirement calculations? Is there a list of them somewhere?”

    Not sure if you mean free parking afforded employees in City garages, or car allowances. Regardless, neither would be included. Included in the PERS calculation are base wages/salary, certain premium pays and the value of any employer pickup of the required employee contribution. The City pickups up the 9% employee contribution for Police. This 9% is added on to their pay to calculate their retirement, as PERS considers it additional compensation.

    The subject of free parking for certain employees comes up now and then as does the subject of car allowances. The 11/13/07 Fleet report to the Finance Committee discuss car allowances and the number of employees who receive it. The Professional/Supervisory Employee contract provides a monthly amount, plus mileage, for employees who use their private car at least 50% of the time in their work. It appears that most of the recipients are lawyers in the City Attorney’s Office. I was told that few if any of them actually claim any mileage and that the allowance is a little “gift” from the City Attorney to his staff. So glad that the City is flush with cash for such “gifts”.

  6. John Klein

    Vivek – now is an important time at the PEC. It’s updating laws on lobbyists, contributions, transparency, & restrictions on PEC members related to marriage or domestic partnership. It might be helpful if you familiarize yourself with these.

    You will go through a public vetting process. It’s not like a Supreme Court nominating process, but you’ll get a little scrutiny. Don’t want to scare you off – you should be okay.

    I wish more people were involved right now. The PEC is amending and updating laws that will greatly affect the quality and transparency of Oakland’s local government for many years. People who are interested in a fair and transparent government should be paying attention and participating right now.

  7. Daniel Schulman (das88)

    @Vivek B. I’ve been on the Landmarks Board for about 6 months now. In general, it has been a great experience. I’ve got to learn a lot more about the city. I feel I’ve made contributions that the planners/architects/historians/etc. normally involved with preservation might not have made. I think your business background could in a similar manner offer a fresh perspective to the PEC.

    On the downside, it is a fair time commitment, and I find the filing of the Form 700 to be overly intrusive. You might find the Form 700 even more irritating than me, so you should be comfortable with it before applying.

    @Tommy Saxondale maybe they are going to get some tasty rice ball salad at the Champa Garden.

  8. Izzy Ort

    “mmmm good”

    Or as they say south of the Mae Khong, แซ่บอิหลี

    Champa Garden is our go-to place for Lao/Isaan when Vientian Cafe is closed. ;-)

  9. Robert

    nav, did you see the episode on Discovery on County Jail: Oakland about Santa Rita, which is actually in Dublin?

  10. navigator

    Robert, are you referring to the Discovery Channel series on gangs in Oakland? I didn’t get a chance to see it but heard that it was mostly a sensationalized crime hit piece on Oakland. I did hear that they had 8 Oakland gang unit cops going all around the city looking for one guy. I heard it was rather comical. It was like “is he here? No, OK” and they would leave and repeat the same thing somewhere else in the city. I also understand that they grossly overestimated the number of gang members in Oakland. They mentioned that there were 10,000 gang member in Oakland. That may be true of Alameda County, but not Oakland. OPD estimated about 1,000 gang members in Oakland.

    Anyway, what did they mention about Santa Rita?

  11. Naomi Schiff

    Because the redevelopment folks are eternally messing around seeking retail and dreaming of condos instead of fostering manufacturing, technical, industrial businesses (with their better-paying jobs). And they have been steadily reducing the amount of land zoned for industry.

  12. livegreen

    JR, you might be right. But aside from the CC, Oakland has two affiliates devoted to Business Development, CEDA and OBDC. With their emphasis in Business Development, including recruitment, what are THEY doing to recruit new Green jobs.

    For all the talk in Oakland about Green jobs, I’d like to know when they’re going to have some announcements about some successes. Most businesses recruited seem to be filling the downtown buildings.

    But what about companies that need hybrid offices & production space?
    (This includes Tech companies BTW). Is this because we only have limited Light Industrial space, which can be flexible between Office & Manufacturing that many High Tech, Bio Tech and Green Tech companies like?

  13. James Robinson

    Granted, retail should be a top priority in Oakland, considering how much tax money the town loses to surrounding cities. But perhaps CEDA and OBDC have staff who aren’t very knowledgeable about this whole “green” thing, or science in general. Who are the members of these organizations and what are their backgrounds?

  14. Mike Spencer

    Winner of the return-the-phone call bet goes to….drum roll….Jean Quan’s office! Two days ago, I had left messages with Quan, Brooks and Desmona of Parks and Rec. Today, left message for Ignacio’s assistant. The inquiry was about trying to get a field for my high school rugby club.

    There is a bullshite policy that the City has about not allowing people on grass fields from November through April. The kids I coach don’t weigh more than 180 and we don’t “pack down” or destroy the fields. Apparently, the City thinks that if kids practice on a field at night in the rain, it will damage the field/ WTF??? Like I’m sure in England and New Zealand they don’t allow their teams on grass in the rainy season….Quan’s assistant gave me a mini-lecture about parks and rec staff being laid-off.

    The city has opened a new field-turf place in West Oakland, Raimondi, but really needs new fields. The real issue is that the City and OUSD need to work together to allow youth sports to use school fields during the winter and other months.

    Last time I checked, you cannot simultaneously be breaking into cars and playing a game or running on a field or court. Let’s stop playing lip service to keeping kids occupied in the danger hours from 3 to 8 pm. Open up the school fields, especially the ones with lights, like Oakland High School.

  15. Ralph

    Naomi, what type of manufacturing do you think Oakland can accommodate. I could be wrong but I think as a manufacturing site Oakland is at a competitive disadvantage. I assume that these mfg plants will need some engineers and we lack the engineering smarts found on the peninsula. To attract them we need to upgrade the schools. Businesses won’t relocate here if they can’t get the talent.

    Mr. Spencer that field policy stinks. Doesn’t OUSD have a groundscrew? When I was a student our girls soccer team played an outdoor winter schedule. It wasn’t NE just Mid-Atlantic but it rained and snowed and in the spring the same fields were sometimes used for dressage and lax. Really don’t understand the OUSD problem.

  16. Patrick

    The combination of waterlogged clayey substrate and semi-dormancy exacerbates turfgrass damage and is very costly to repair. Oakland’s policy may be “bullshite”, but it is based upon sound turfgrass management principles and economic reality.

  17. Hayden

    The idea that a person who is less than 180 pounds doesn’t compact the soil in fields and/or cause damage to rain-soaked fields is not correct (or at least, not unless their feet are inhumanly large)–we can see plenty of compaction and field wear from soccer teams made up of young kids (e.g., 4th graders, junior high schoolers, etc.). Perhaps we’d like more money to maintain fields, or more money for field installation to amend or replace native soils below the turf, but that opens up a different can of worms…

  18. Mike Spencer

    I know it might not be visually-pleasing to some but I think the solution is more synthetic turf fields in more centrally-located places. (Over time, the field-turf fake stuff should be cheaper than the natural stuff.) Placement of these fields is the issue as kids in East Oakland without cars can’t easily get to the wilds of west Oakland for practice.) Berkeley built that nice complex down near the freeway but I know it took like 5 or 6 years of planning, etc. I’m just saying that it’s cheaper to spend on the front-end, engaging kids before they go to the streets, gangs, etc. Knowing how this City wastes money but comes after its residents for $ all the time, I just think it’s fair to ask for more access to fields or building a couple new fields.

  19. Robert

    Mike, why don’t you try and get some of the kids first money to do the renovations. It seems like a good use for the money.

  20. Naomi Schiff

    Ralph, I don’t see that we are at a competitive disadvantage as to industry. We do have many educated people who are commuting outward to get to jobs in other towns around the bay. There’s a whole pickup service that carries employees all the way to Google HQ, for example. We are at a great location for access in many directions. We have room for both retail and industrial. The thing about retail is: what kind? Many retail jobs tend to be dependent upon national companies with national financing, and when they pull the plug, they leave a hole. This can happen even when the local store is making money. (A prime example was Capwells/Emporium/Federated Dept. Stores, which made money here and owned its own building, but vacated due to the collapse of the national chain.) CEDA has a tendency to want to think big, chain-owned, and not necessarily locally-owned, and then fall victim to the general economic vicissitudes of national economics. Thus CEDA staffers of various generations have longed for department stores for the entire long decades I have lived here, with no success. It is time to come up with some more innovative models.

  21. Ralph

    Naomi, I am still not sure what industry you are describing. I tend to think of industry and mfg as hard stuff like cars, fabrication, etc. Oakland has an educated population but they lean towards the professions – software, finance, law, medicine etc. From what I have seen in census reports we don’t have the engineering types who build stuff.

    Big chains have not been in Oakland for one plain and simple reason – Oakland is a perceived black town with a crime problem. Local companies are dependent on local financing and customers. When they collapse, they leave a hole in the economy.

    This being Oakland, you can’t go one way or the other. You are going to need a mix. Local stores do not always have the resources to do advertising as a result they rely on word of mouth to get the news out. National stores have the resources to do an ad campaign, which brings feet to the street. Local stores become free riders and benefit from the additional foot traffic.

    In many cases people do comparison shopping. But if there is only one locally owned jean store in the neighborhood why would you travel to that store if you could travel to a location that had multiple jean stores. The local store could benefit by having more similar stores and density, but too many in Oakland rail against the density that would help the local stores.

    I can make some educated guesses about C-E but by the time Federated made the purchase the demise of the downtown shopping district had already been written. And neighborhoods with high percentage of black people were seen as risky investment.

  22. Robert

    The available labor pool in Oakland is neither a plus or minus for the high tech industries. These industries do not look at the applicant pool in the local city when they decide where to locate, they consider their applicant pool to be the entire Bay Area. So they are looking much more at facility costs, tax structures, etc. when making the decision. Now the bad side for Oakland is that there is really little reason to give them tax incentives to locate here either, as the jobs created by these high tech companies are not going to go to Oakland residents. To a somewhat lessor extent, other manufacturing industries are going to be similar.

  23. livegreen

    Robert and Ralph, I disagree with your comments to Naomi. I think there are pools of labor for both Manufacturing (& its cousin Distribution) and Tech/Engineering. We have lots of engineers who live here and commute elsewhere.

    (Robert, I’m confused about your comments since you say as much but then say high tech companies are not going to go to Oakland residents).

  24. Born in Oakland

    The Bay Area is so anti-Republican, anti-defense research, anti-nuke, anti-military……why would any industry having any remote conection to the afore mentioned want to come to Oakland? ‘s. We anti-war refugees from the 60′s and 70′s have reaped what we sowed. We made a mistake by excluding some kinds of research and hammering anyone with a military connection or job as an idiot. Of course some 60,000 military and civilian jobs are gone due to base closures (thanks Ron and the Republicans on this one.) No crying now . At least we are no longer a “target” in the event of a nuclear war. I am dismayed by Bay Area progressives (I used to be one.) So smart, smug and over- educated. No need to compromise on issues, the other side is always morally wrong, corrupt, evil and ignorant.

  25. Ralph

    i have to find the report but Oakland (and SF) relative to the valley lack high number of people in the engineering professions. That is not to say, there are no engineers in Oakland and SF but many use that talent in other professions.

    If I am an employer in addition to the tax incentives, I am going to go where there is a high supply of labor and the peninsula has that in spades. We need to incubate UC Berkeley business, take advantage of the biotech infrastructure provided by UCSF, Emeryville pharma, and UCB. We also have a creat opportunity to take advantage of green tech design but we need to recruit to make that successful. Green manufacturing is a dream.

    livegreen, we are free to disagree so long as we remain civil.

  26. Naomi Schiff

    Examples of some modest but encouragement-worthy businesses we might think about:

    Downtown in grade A and B office spaces we have long housed a great many small to medium design businesses (including my own) who while not highly visible do a national business. These include planning and architecture, engineering of many kinds, landscape design, graphics, publishing, communications, and many web-based enterprises (consider: Pandora). Could we ramp this up a bit and strengthen this community?

    We house many nonprofits, some of substantial size, renown, and power. Okay, we are trying to be a nexus of food-related business. A strong arts community that taken as a whole generates income, jobs, street traffic, image, and tourism needs to be fostered with attention to rents and zoning. We have a lot of services and professionals, attorneys and lawfirms; does CEDA ever look at these types of businesses as possible contributors to our city?

    Just to throw out one idea: While everyone is trying to figure out what kind of bigboxish store they can plop onto Broadway near Pill Hill, why aren’t we pursuing an Alternative Transportation and Green Living Retail Zone? Let’s designate a piece of Broadway to muscle-powered, sustainable, green enterprises: yes, bikes and bike repair and bike accessories; but also sports clothing, small electric or other efficiently powered vehicles to replace the disappearing gas guzzlers; every kind of wheeled item such as great luggage carts, baby buggies, wheelchairs, scooters, little red wagons, wheelbarrows, skates, and strollers. Maybe also green home stuff like water cisterns, grey water systems, gardening gadgets, solar panel installation services for single-family and apartments, and perhaps energy-efficient appliances. Services for people who are upgrading and rehabilitating their homes and historic buildings that are part of Oakland’s fabulous architectural heritage. Reimagine Sears for the re-use oriented green resident. (Also, for you retail-minded folks: a store where one could buy decent quality hosiery and socks could do quite a lot of business.)

    We need to look forward, not back at the just-burst balloon model, but really try to think about what’s next. We should not ignore the industries that are already here; let’s be sure to leave some areas available for light and even heavier industry. We do have plenty of parcels that could be better used, and we should not plan it all for the condos of 2003.

  27. Ralph

    Okay, now I understand what type of businesses you are trying to attract. With regard to design work, architecture, foundations and all the others that you named above I do not disagree those are the very type of businesses that we should be going after to fill that Class A office space.

    With respect to the professional services – medical, law, accountant. CEDA needs to bring those business into the fold. I was at $1 tasting at FSWB earlier tonight and had a very interesting discussion with a woman who works at CSU East Bay. The long and short Oakland is on the right path with bringing more people to the downtown. Many neighborhoods have 3 generations peacefully coexisting but what is missing are the services noted above.

    The condos of 2003 are so yesterday. We need the green LEED condos of 2012. I have long been annoyed that you build to accommodate 10s of thousands of people but you don’t have the stuff to make them happy homeowners. I would be happy with green co-existing with bigbox.

  28. David

    Why aren’t businesses in Oakland? Please. Why aren’t businesses in SF? Because their CIty Councils only see businesses (real business, not retail, but even this applies to big-box retail) something to extort money from.

    The cost (and more importantly, the hassle) of doing business in, say, San Leandro, Fremont or Hayward, or even South City, San Mateo etc are so much less than Oakland, Berkeley or SF, as to make the comparison laughable. No non-masochistic business/manufacturer/warehouser, etc would set up shop in Oakland, Berkeley or SF. Period.

  29. James Robinson

    Why aren’t businesses in SF? Really? What’s in all those tall buildings in downtown SF? Last time I checked, the city/county of San Francisco was the financial center of the west coast. What kind of businesses are supposed to be in San Francisco?

    Meanwhile, Oakland would want to get whatever businesses it can get and stop being picky. Better yet, maybe it can successfully transition from industrial to something else the way South San Francisco and Emeryville did.

  30. livegreen

    Specifically, for my education, please advise how the cost and hassle of doing business in SL, Fr, & Hayward are less than Oakland?

  31. len raphael

    High tech startups prefer the south bay because of the abundance of campus style expandable space and venture capitalists.

    Plus it’s a marketing plus to be in Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Palo Alto etc. It’s a negative to be in Union City or Oakland or Concord. Somewhat positive to be in Berkeley or Alameda. Hayward is neutral and cheap.

    SF now and in the height of dot com era Oakland was ok to be web design outfit, or a soft tech co like Ask
    but not a heavy duty tech company. Same true for Manhattan. So it had little to do with crime, but more with the type and availability of real estate and density of like minded techies and financiers.

    A small part of the decision to stay in Oakland for a growing high tech company would be comparing business tax rates (Oakland is one of the highest around for non manufacturers), but over the years most of the start-ups i’ve worked with simply chose those other locations even if the owners lived here.

    I’d bet high tech incubators are a waste of tax money. Might be worth it for say food industry startups.

    To me Oakland’s best shot at private enterprise are retail, and paper pushers: attorneys, consultants, accountants, and massage therapists, and convalescent facilities. LOL on the green manufacturing because cost of labor and facilities in the entire Bay Area is so high for relatively low margin stuff.

    -len raphael

  32. Naomi Schiff

    David, I think you are glass-half-emptying and need a bracing dose of optimism. For those of us who have been around for a long time, it is easy to fall into a “good old days” mentality. Let’s avoid it! We tend to forget the bad and only remember the things that were better once.

    My own business has been here since the early 80s and is staying, for many reasons: we are functionally closer to downtown SF than people who live in SF, have always been able to get reasonable lease rates, can be in Sacramento in 90 minutes, and have a full range of business services available right here. Our employees are well-educated east bay residents, all but one from Oakland. While housing costs are high, they can afford to live in the east bay a lot more easily than they could in SF. And they can take advantage of public transit or bikes for the commute.

    We do pay a substantial business tax. Therefore, I believe the City of O. is doing the right thing in offering new enterprises a start-up business tax incentive under their new program. We are also the beneficiaries of a large enterprise zone and quite a few small business incentive programs. (Note: “small businesses” can actually be multimillion dollar enterprises.)

  33. livegreen

    Len, Re. Campus-Style offices, there are plenty of small & medium tech companies in Hayward, Fremont, Eastern SJ that are in buildings that are mixed-use. They can be used as offices, warehouses, and often have both (esp. for tech companies that market & warehouse tech products).

    They are side by side with traditional businesses, such as the afore mentioned SF Herb Co. in E-SJ. I note the northern peninsula closer to the airport, like Millbrae, has a similar mix of businesses. When the Dot-Bomb happened the ones left in business were traditional brick-and-mortar next to the D-B survivors & some service industries.

    This is why a mix of business & facilities that are flexible for different businesses are VERY IMPORTANT.

    You say you favor retail and paper-pushers. That’s great for residential neighborhoods and the downtown office spaces, but then what would you do with the light-to-heavy industrial areas in Oakland?

  34. len raphael

    LG, i’d encourage large non profit health care facilities to expand into the former industrial areas. including warehouses for old people. (including me in a couple of decades or less).

    non profits are not my first choice, but i just don’t see light industry or high tech fabication happening here on a big scale. doesn’t hurt to aim for some green and food startups, who then move their mfg facilities to the boonies when they do well. at best, we’ll keep their design staff and back office people.

    i’d say biotech startups, but we’re too densely populated for the risk of that :)


  35. Ralph

    len, aren’t there a host of bio-tech start-ups located in areas more densely populated. heck there is a stem-cell research park in SF.

  36. livegreen

    Len, Large non-profit health care facilities? Please explain. You mean offices like Kaiser’s (that want offices like downtown) or medical facilities like hospitals? Or something else?

    BTW a lot of the “former” industrial areas are CURRENT industrial areas. Oakland already has some of the businesses you mention won’t open here. Besides light manufacturing, Oakland IS bringing in more food companies.

    If there are “former industrial areas” it’s not because of the businesses but because the CC didn’t want them there. That’s not free market, that’s Govt.
    picking winners & losers.

    Re. the tech fabrication, distribution & Green-tech (like Solyndra that I posted the link to) I think it’s both because we don’t have enough mixed-use facilities and because of Oakland’s reputation for crime. Cleaning up & building more mixed-use developments like the ones we’ve been discussing in the SL-Hawyard-Fremont-SJ corridor would bring them here just like it has there (IF crime is also reduced).

    Those are the SAME light industrial areas that you & the CC want to get rid of but all those other cities are having great success using them to recruit businesses with.

  37. Robert

    lg, The skill workers who live in Oakland are not necessarily the ones that any high tech company that locates here will end up hiring. The labor pool for these workers extends out about 50 miles or so in radius. So while Oakland may get high paying jobs, they are no more likely to go to Oakland residents than jobs in SSF, Hayward or Emeryville. The local hires and local support jobs for the high tech (think cafes for the new workers to eat in) are lower skill and lower pay. Bottom line, in terms of labor pool for skill workers, Oakland, SSF, SF, Hayward, Richmod all look the same.

    len, I hope you are kidding about the risk of biotech companies. The manufacturing everybody seems to want, even the green stuff, is far more dangerous to the neighbors and the environment that a biotech research company.

  38. livegreen

    Robert, That’s a good point. However I do think that more businesses here means the chances will overall increase for people living here, and is an increased incentive for people to live closer to work. The closer the jobs are to home, the easier to get to, the more people here will be employed, or the more people will want to live here for convenience.

    Re. the lower skill, lower pay work, that’s what we need for underemployed segments of society. Companies that employ broadly, creating a broad ecosystem of employment, jobs and wages are exactly what Oakland needs.

    Finally businesses here will much improve Oakland’s tax base…

  39. Robert

    lg, my point was more that the available labor pool in Oak does not provide and incentive for companies to locate here, so Oak needs to figure out some other way to get industry/business to come here. Now personally I would prefer to work close to home, and I think that is true for many people. So if Oak were successful in luring companies here, some of those workers would probably end up relocating to Oak, with an overall improvement to the economy. Getting industry here would be a good thing for Oak, I am just not o sure that it is a good thing for industry without some type of incentive.

  40. len raphael

    our cc could easily eradicate much of high tech and light industrial with a few bad zoning rules, but i doubt if anything they could do could greatly encourage those industries.

    most of the economic forces buffeting oakland, affect entire western industrial world. where even five years ago, you could say western countries had an advantage in producing high intellectual content imagination tangible and intangible stuff, becoming much less true. many of those high tech engineering and scientific jobs left and are not coming back to high cost western countries unless there’s an advantage to be located near their customers.

    interesting footnote, some of my high tech customers tell me that the bay area is so attractive to many potential employees, that they don”t have to pay higher wages here than they would in say Colo or Baton Rouge. (talking in the 125k -225k range).

    LG, i didn’t mean back office health care admin offices, but patient care facilities. The vast majority of the staffing requirement for convalescent and assisted living facilities are non technical, high school, communication, and strong back skills. obviously higher skills needed for full care medical.

    Industrial food absolutely suited to oakland. Knew latinos where multi generations worked at local cookie companies. kids had kids and dropped out of high schools to go to work there. never got of poverty. did produce some great local youth soccer players.

    My knowledge of the risks of different types of bio tech activity to neighboring residents is zilch. But me i’d rather live next to a nuclear reactor than a recombinant lab working with animals. i know left wing and right wing techies who do know the science, who agree that bio tech is scary stuff in both social and technical ways that we ain’t prepared to deal with the consequences.

    but i could see that the processes to manufacture some of this green stuff are hazardous. akin to prius drivers congratulating themselves on saving the earth by driving around on lead acid batteries.


  41. navigator

    Oakland is definitely doing great in attracting restaurants, pubs and entertainment venues. Oakland has so much potential. There is so much that passes through Oakland to needlessly go somewhere else. Oakland should be attracting businesses because of its central location and its access to 2.5 million East Bay residents.

    Why do hundreds of thousands of Bay Area residents pass through Oakland to get somewhere else? How about shortening those commutes over dangerous and inconvenient bridges. If only San Francisco developers who dig holes in the middle of downtown Oakland in order to squat on the land, would begin construction of their building, maybe Oakland could convince some of those San Francisco corporations to relocate to an area which is closer to their workforce.

    Oakland is really where SF should be. In San Diego for example, you don’t cross the bridge to Coronado to go to your office. Oakland is not meeting its potential based on its natural geographic advantages. The question is why?

  42. Robert

    len, far more damage has been done to the environment and our health by traditional food science and animal breeding than has been done by anything in the biotech field. The biggest danger in living next to a biotech lab is from the nut jobs bombing the facility.

  43. len raphael

    rbt, that could be, but i’d rather wait for ver 4.0 to know for sure.

    in any event, depending on biotech to employee zillions of people in oakland ain’t gonna happen just because it’s not labor intensive and needs more phd’s than ged’s.


  44. Ralph

    len, what is this version 4.0 you are waiting for? Amgen, Genentech, OSI, CV Therapeutics, Gilead, BioMarin, XOMA….all biotech, all have a bay area presence…but like you say they need PhDs (MBAs, MDs, BS) and not GEDs. But the reality is the peninusla and San Diego are filling that niche.

  45. Ralph

    I would love to keep the A’s in Oakland. I would like nothing more than to have a Camden Yards in Oakland. But what is the value in signing a petition if Oakland doesn’t take some initiative. If it is about more than the ballpark – hotels, arts, and entertainment just build. Back up the words with action.

    As to hotels, yes please bring them to the Uptown. When visiting artists do stay, it would be nice if they could stay in Oakland not SF. When my parents come to town, it would be nice if they could stay in Oakland not SF.

    It would be great if Oakland had a downtown convention center that could be in the running to host annual events such as the National Black MBA Assoc. or the National Hispanic Engineers etc…

  46. SF2OAK

    Doug Boxer,

    I’d like to keep the A’s in OAK but AK government should tell me that they can handle a MLB team. I don’t wan’t to spend one penny of tax $ on keeping them here (OK maybe that’s a bit negotiable but I would wqant to spend alot.) OAK CC just backed a BART boondoggle for $500mm, I know it wasn’t OAK money but the project is ridiculous and OAK CC looks ridiculous for backing it. OAK CC has had a history of getting screwed by major league teams, also a history of misspending funds, high taxes on her citizens, also a recent history of taxing ( parking fees without any thoughtful way of going about it.) I don’t think OAK gov’t can handle a major league team and stadium building project. If a proposal came up that was like SF’s it may be possible to support but the petition has nothing. Sorry can’t sign now.

  47. livegreen

    Marleen, You mentioned a little while ago that the City Charter requires the Mayor to be a full-time position, and as such, this might be motivation for another lawsuit. I would like to request that you seriously consider this right now.

    Timing is everything, esp. in the eyes of the public and the news. When other events are impacting the job of the Mayor, when he has even less time to perform his job (as his dealings with the IRS will obviously have), and when the public is well aware of this situation, the justification and support of such a lawsuit has never been more meaningful or would be more supported.

    There are examples to support this, but in brief, a lawsuit on this subject right now would have a real impact. The Mayor might not even wait for it to go to trial for the results to be felt…

  48. Patrick

    City of Oakland raises ad valorem taxes to cover bond repayments – Mayor of Oakland rides in city-provided chauffeur-driven limousine – Mayor of Oakland owes $239,000 in back taxes dating to 2005. It’s so pathetic you kind of have to laugh. I second livegreen’s motion – I’d be happy to be part of a class action lawsuit to rid our city of this detestable man. Any normal person would have the decency to resign. I guess he’s taking a page from Blagojevich’s playbook.

  49. len raphael

    V, re. Tribune editorial board, who are the other members, what are their roles, is it a compensated position, etc. Do they make you sign a non disclosure agreement?

    -len raphael

  50. OAKLANDathletics

    Help spread the word and join our Facebook group to keep the A’s in Oakland where they belong. We are now at over 13,200 members and counting!!


    As part of a larger plan to build new hotels, restaurants, and cafes, a new destination stadium will attract visitors from all over the region. We hope our ballpark will be a catalyst to bring new investment and jobs to Oakland.

    The final plan to keep the A’s in Oakland will be implemented by the City of Oakland via official communications with Major League Baseball. Let’s Go Oakland’s plan is to demonstrate to the City and MLB that there is substantial and widespread support to keep the A’s in Oakland by building a new destination ball park in Oakland. We must do this by getting thousands of fans to sign our petition. Based on our understanding of MLB’s process, we believe this approach can lead to a new destination ball park in Oakland.

    Please don’t forget to click on the link to sign the petition at either the FB page or the link provided below and remember to PASS IT ON by clicking the “Suggest to Friends” link at left, and invite everyone you know to join us. Help us keep the A’s in Oakland!


    Thank you so much for the support and Go A’s!!!

    OKLND. It wouldn’t be the same without the A’s.

  51. Ralph

    Can someone riddle me this, why is it with every item before council, they state that they can’t look at one-offs but need to complete a comprehensive strategy to tackle x, y and z and the other? There is no try just do.

  52. Mike Spencer

    I had a bad day today, started by patronizing my favorite cafe/small business, Jenny’s Cafe on Grand. Full disclosure: I am a parking scofflaw with 5 unpaid on the books. So, I am at the ATM getting some cash, after paying my $2 into the meter box, when I spot the pseudo-OPD cop car blocking me in. I know why he is there but I point out that I just spent $2 on parking. His partner, Cop 2, is booting someone else and I quickly figure I am in for it. Partner, Cop 1, tells me I am going to get booted (the coincidence is that I am within a week of going to DMV to pay tickets to register my car ). I am with my dog and gradually coming unglued.

    Cop 2 is busy, so I realize that I have to go to the bank to get money to pay to get the boot off. I am about to put my dog into the car, which has all the windows down at 11 am on a cool morning, when Cop 1 says, “You can be arrested if you put your dog in an unattended car.” I say, “What?” He repeats, “You can be arrested if you put your dog in the car.” Cop 2 comes back and sticks the sticker on my car. I am pissed. Cop 1 has more or less threatened to arrest me for putting my dog into the car while I go into the bank 20-feet away. I tell the cops, “You are very full of rules today aren’t you?”

    I call the OPD complaint line where an Officer Steinberg calls me back. I tell him I am A) Yes, pissed off about the boot but that is my fault and B) very ticked off that I have a cop threatening me with arrest for putting my dog in my car. Steinberg procedes to ask, “You are mad about the boot aren’t you?” I admit to it. He offers me the choice of “citizen mediation” or the internal affairs complaint. We keep talking and I make remarks that yes I pay taxes here and that I am get pissed off paying for cops after they beat people up. He tells me, “We don’t beat people up.” We have more words. I tell him that yes, I do want to make an internal affairs complaint for a cop threatening an arrest for the act of putting a dog in the car while I go to the bank to pay the City’s ticket.

    What Sgt. Steinberg said next floored me, “WHAT IS YOUR OCCUPATION?” I wanted to tell him none of your f-ing business and what difference does it make? So I fudged and said legal consultant.

    There, I feel a little better for venting but if the citizen complaint line is in the business of asking people their occupation then why bother complain. And, yes, I want my pound of flesh.

  53. Robert

    Mike, complaints like yours are why Oakland has ended up with more investigators for IA than it has for all other investigations. A totally baseless complaint that started off with your own refusal to obey the law.

  54. Born in Oakland

    Kudos to Robert Gammon for great coverage in the East Bay Express on another interesting view of the soft under belly of Oakland politics in the flats. Poverty funding continues to be an inside job for the chosen few who make the most noise (and threats). Those who suffer most in this tragicomedy are the much maligned and downtrodden poor of Oakland . They are the ones the funds are designed for and who are rarely served by the downtown administrators. For shame! What can be so difficult about distributing funds to those who really qualify? And thanks to Max for standing up to the West Oakland race charade. This stuff does not wash with the majority of the people who live there. West Oakland is a qreat place and so are it’s denizens.

  55. len raphael

    i like the way gammon got in a back handed complement of MA as “challenging the neighborhood’s traditional black and progressive power structure” Anti progressive. That’s fighting words in this town.

    So which cc member proposed the 50k grant and who voted for it. Link to the council meeting?

    -len raphael

  56. Mike Spencer

    It’s an important story about the Max Factor and city government. It shows what someone with instincts and intelligence does to get justice, or at least expose a fraud.The other lesson is that the media and Oakland power structure are sheep/lemmings for celebrating Mr. Jack.

  57. Patrick

    So apparently, by some entity’s measure, we’re the third most crime-ridden city in the US. This honor was bestowed upon us by the same group who gave us a #5 ranking in 2008 vs. a #4 ranking in 2007. At which time Mayor Dellums seized upon this “improvement” as progress. What is his current excuse? Someone needs to shuffle the flashcards.

  58. livegreen

    Barbara Boxer announces she’s trying to get funding for CompStat: “I am pleased to let you know that funding in the amount of $1,325,000 was included in the Senate version of this bill.”

    Let’s hope it makes it through to the final bill. It’s worth fighting for, especially as our “City Leaders” show no signs of finding funds for it instead of their discretionary, especially “cultural”, projects.

  59. SF2OAK

    Just for fun-

    Oakland is confused.

    How about the clothing store Melt on grand Avenue- their slogan “It’s not what you wear but how you wear it.” Hey kids for you it Is what you wear because you’re a clothing store – now out of business. Replaced by Tea shop and foot spa- shouldn’t this be the commercial for what 2 business don’t belong together. How bout a little toe jam with your crumpet.

    On lakeshore they are confused as well you’ve got you high end chocolate store then your upscale fitness center then you Domino’s and Weight watchers…lemee outta here

  60. livegreen

    Chris, Thanks for posting this.

    Funny I was thinking of the same thing today when on Forum they were talking about “What would you pay for to make driving safer? Increased taxes for safer highways, blah blah blah” and I thought: In CA we’ve already paid for $40 billion in bonds for Hwy reconstruction funds, the 4th bore in the C, etc.

    This State is crazy, & I’m not even a conservative. I wonder what bond measures they’ll come up with next year…

  61. David

    AC transit’s fare recovery is, what, 17%? (East Bay Express IIRC).

    Gas taxes pay for 51% (and with an economic recovery some day, maybe), it’ll go back to 60%. Want to raise gas taxes? Fine, but again, a similar “recovery” rate for buses would require a $6 fare (or, heaven forbid, a rational pay & benefit scale for workers). I also don’t think the fare recovery covers capital costs, which again, are paid for by bonds typically.

    Furthermore, that article is talking about federal roads & highways. What’s the rate for California?

    Finally, 15% of federal gas tax dollars are diverted for transit. Well, 94%+ (and the percentage has only increased over decades) of Americans drive to work etc so again, a disproportionate amount of money is spent on transit projects that fewer people use.

  62. jackbdazzle

    There are two articles in Today’s paper that struck me.

    One was on how poorly pets and the shelters that support them are doing during nationwide in this recession. The other is on Oakland Animal Care and control.

    What some people do to animals is just horrible. Oakland ACC has to deal with all of it, and yet they are succeeding. We should really congratulate them on a job well done.

    Thank you Animal Care and Control. You make me proud to be an oaklander, and supporter. This is a very bright spot for OPD (which runs the shelter)



  63. Robert


    User fees (gas taxes, registration, etc) covered 65% of road costs in 2007. ($124.5 billion fees of $192.7 billion road expenditures.) The 5 year average is over 70% covered.

    The expenditures includes federal, state and local expenditures for both highways and local roads. It also includes highway law enforcement, e.g. California Highway Patrol.

    The data is available here, http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2007/
    and you should be able to get enough information to pull out the CA specific data.

    But as you indicate, car drivers pay for the bulk of road costs while transit users only pay a small percentage of transit costs.

  64. dto510

    Robert and David, how do you conclude that drivers are less subsidized than transit riders when your source identifies over fifty billion dollars in car subsidies? And you of course are not counting local sources – even here in supposedly progressive Alameda County, we pay for highways out of sales tax, and the City of Oakland subsidizes car parking out of the General Fund.

    The fact is that the government is spending crazy sums encouraging people to drive, with more-efficient public transit getting only some scraps. What is the point of your argument? That because we subsidize cars more, and people then use cars more, that we should increase distorting subsidies? You guys sound like the Oakland City Council.

  65. Naomi Schiff

    Not to mention, did you notice the news items this week on the highest ranked greenhouse gas emitters in California? Number one is the Richmond Chevron refinery.

    This is nothing new, either. I worked on a comprehensive statistical book about refinery emissions in 1974-5, and it was among the highest-ranked polluters then too, before anyone was worrying about atmospheric warming effects. So when do we get to make this better? Right now we are all sharing a n atmosphere that is declining precipitously in quality, and there isn’t a spare available.

    It’s some form of double-dipping! First they emit greenhouse gases to produce gasoline, then the driver puts the gasoline into the car so they can burn it and emit: pollution and greenhouse gases. That cost isn’t in your calculations anywhere, Robert and David, but the health consequences, air and water pollution consequences, and global warming consequences have a very heavy cost that we all pay. The transit rider is not running up these costs nearly as much.

    AC Transit should be subsidized as much as it takes, and we should rebalance the equation to subsidize automobile driving much much less.

  66. dto510

    Good point, Naomi. And what are the costs to Oakland of being divided by highways built for suburban car commuters? It’s difficult to measure, but certainly costs the city enormous sums in lost property taxes, a poorer economic and neighborhood climate, and the heath consequences of pollution.

  67. Born in Oakland

    I would subsidize AC Transient more if I felt it could offer a viable alternative to the automobile. And with the great Mary King now the General Manager of AC, things will only get worse. Smaller buses running more frequently and getting rid of morbidly obese drivers to reduce fuel and health costs would also help.

    As for Chevron, let’s run them out of the Bay Area along with auto use. The air and views from the Oakland hills will be prettier. I am not sure it will stop the irreparable harm cause by the violence in this city.

    While we are at saving the world, let’s hammer PG&E. 80 percent of electricity in California comes from fossil fuelsl Not very green unless we turn off all the lights. We could have nuclear power, but….arghhh, not in my backyard.

    Subsidize more and punish those who pay taxes and everything will be better.

  68. David

    Sorry, Naomi, the greenhouse hypothesis is a myth. lies by scientists.

    i’m not talking about absolute subsidy dollars, i’m talking about as a percentage of costs, and it’s far greater for mass transit.

  69. dto510

    BIO, AC Transit does provide a viable alternative to the automobile. Oakland has a very high transit mode-share. Smaller buses don’t save money, that’s a popular canard – in fact, it’s quite the opposite, and ACT’s routes with the largest buses (like the 1R) are also the most cost-effective. Mary King is the interim manager, by the way, and the agency is searching nationally for a permanent director – not that I have any problems with Ms. King, a long-time public servant in Oakland, running the agency.

    David, you are conveniently ignoring most car subsidies, from pollution to land-use to debt service on highways (which is what’s dragging California’s budget down). Global warming or no, the costs of manufacturing and using gasoline are immense, and public subsidies for drivers are only encouraging more use of these harmful and limited resources.

  70. David

    Cars are cheap. And gas is cheap.

    And the ‘public subsidies’ again for driving, are smaller (as a percentage of funds) than user fees.

    And AC transit is a viable alternative for the automobile if 1) you don’t value your time and 2) you’re not hauling any groceries/people etc. In terms of time, it’s cheaper to drive, and in terms of money as long as you’re driving yourself and one other person at least, it’s cheaper in terms of cash out the door.

    Seriously, an example. I can ride the 1R to downtown Berkeley from my house. It will take about an hour, at least (I’ve done it, not counting the walk to the stop). I could drive the same distance (about 16 miles on google maps) in 15 minutes (done it repeatedly). Cost in gas: about $1.50-$1.75.

    Bus: Incremental Cost in time (if I pay myself minimum wage): $5, plus fare= $7.

    Even IF you capitalize your car cost etc, I’m paying maybe $3-$4 for a 16 mile trip.

    Round trip bus costs me $14 in incremental time lost and fare, car costs me about half that.

    It’s a no-brainer to drive, and that works for every distance but the Transbay bus (which I do take, plus carpool)

    Modern cars hardly pollute (and I’m talking real pollution–carbon monoxide etc, not carbon dioxide, which doesn’t do anything, as we’ve seen from the scientists’ own emails). The only thing less productive than me sitting on a bus is sitting here typing on a blog:)

  71. Naomi Schiff

    David, I don’t know whether you have children and grandchidren to suffer the consequences of environmental degradation. I worry not only about my own generation, but about those who will follow us, who surely deserve to inherit a habitable planet.

  72. Born in Oakland

    I have children and a grandchild and I worry less about air quality, which has improved since I was young, than I do about the degradation of public safety . I understand death by violence and emotional dysfunction is quite high for young people in this town. This is not Chevron’s fault.

  73. Livegreen

    Robert & David,
    –Gas is cheap I’m part because of massive govt subsidies & tax $ to the gas companies. That should b factored in to your costs;
    –Where in your link is the $40 Billion CA Bond for Hwy and Infrastructure taken into account? (This included both Hwy and Mass Trans, but mostly Hwy);
    –The FHS’ initial cost was $425 BILLION. The cost of cars and highways is lower today only because some of the highest costs have already been spent to make them cheaper today;
    –Remember the reason we have buses is because GM, Firestone & Standard Oil paid to have the Key System ripped out.

    So if we need buses at all it’s because these 3 forced it on us.(It’s more than ironic to then say buses are too expensive so we should stop them all together!).

    And if we then need to re-install rail infrustructure today at high costs it’s for exactly the same reason! Factoring in this history, cars would have to pay even more to make up for this massive dis-investment, then re-investment at taxpayer expense!

    –I don’t know if you think mass trans shouldn’t exist, but u need some way for people who can’t afford to drive to get places…
    –For that matter if you’re arguing that we shouldn’t have mass trans then one has to wonder what kind of conjestion would exist for drivers. You have to admdit there are at least some benefits for cars & drivers too.
    –Cars enabled mass migration to the burbs. Then it costs mass transit a gazzilion $ to follow the masses, and you’re surprised?

    If u think mass transit is too expensive, then the obvious solution is to stop it’s expansion to the suburbs and make it more efficient where it already is. Personally I wouldn’t mind this (or spending my tax $ on teachers, officers and making our businesses more competitive, or my own pocket…)

    I also wouldn’t mind seeing some cost savings in BART salaries. I think the way BART is managed does a dis-service to everyone, including advocates of mass-transit, by making it so expensive to go to so few places. NYC is 10x better, even if dirtier. Then again we’re getting back to legacy costs…

  74. Robert

    I was going to do a long comment with diagrams and circles and arrows and all that stuff, but got busy, and lost the energy for writing something for folks, many of whom are less interested in data than in their own feelings about stuff. So in dto’s words, here are the facts.

    If you ignore sales taxes on cars and related auto services, there is a subsidy for roads and highways. However, drivers pay about 95% of the full costs for operation of their cars and road construction and maintenance. Transit users on the average pay only 20 to 25%, with ACTransit users paying only 17% of operation only costs. So while my trip to San Leandro might go from $5.50 to $5.75 in my car, that trip on ACTransit would go from $2.00 to $12.00. Which do you think has a bigger impact on transportation decisions? So quit whining about the subsidy for cars distorting decisions because if all subsidies for transportation were eliminated it is mass transit that would suffer.

    Now, as Naomi points out, there are good reasons for reducing dependence on gas powered cars, greenhouse warming and social justice being among them. But mass transit in general and bus systems in particular are a remarkably financially inefficient way to accomplish those goals. If you are seriously concerned about global warming you should be putting the money into electric cars, electric rail systems and those nuclear power plants. If you are really concerned about social justice, figure out a system for subsidizing car ownership for the poor, which would be cheaper than subsidizing buses, and provide far more equality for the poor and far better opportunities.

    Rather than focusing on something that likely has marginal impacts on auto usage, highway subsidies, focus on looking for real solutions to the problems such as global warming and social justice. Buses do a poor job on either of those, and a financially inefficient job to boot. But as long a people continue to default to the idea that we should put more money into systems that are not used, we will never focus on looking for innovative solutions to our real problems. the default option should be to look for new solutions that do a good job of accomplishing our real goals.

  75. Robert

    Chris, I really don’t see the need to reconcile with somebody who only looked at part of the picture, federal expenditures, and from the comment did not even do that correctly. My comment was about total expenditures on roads. And as I said, I lost a lot of energy for this compared to 2 days ago, but…

    From the references in your earlier link, the federal highway agency indicates that there are about $122 billion is user fees from vehicles (includes gas taxes, registrations, tolls, etc.), net of collection costs. Same source give $193 billion for all road expenditures, including federal, state and local government on highways and local roads, and including highway law enforcement. This number also includes expenditures from bonds along with bond interest and redemption costs. So the total subsidy is around $70 billion. From DOT numbers, there were about 135 billion gallons of gasoline sold in the US, along with about 40 billion gallons of other fuels, much of which are used by vehicles on roads. But to be generous, considering only the gasoline sales, the subsidy would be accommodated by a $0.50 per gallon additional tax. With 20 miles per gallon average, this would be about 2.5 cents per mile. Now the average cost of car ownership is about $0.55/mile, so the additional cost to eliminate all (quantifiable) road subsidies would be around 5% of the cost of operating the car.

    On the other hand, I fully agree with Ryan’s last comment, that this country needs a rational transportation policy. But when you fully account for all costs, it just might not work out quite the way you expect.

  76. David

    Gas is not cheap because of massive federal subsidies. Gas is heavily taxed. The companies that produce gasoline (and/or crude oil) are heavily taxed.

    Gas is a cheap energy source on a dollar/BTU basis (relative, to, say, solar power) because of simple physics and chemistry. There’s nothing easier than sticking a big straw in the ground and sucking up some seriously concentrated energy. There’s nothing harder than trying to take a huge, diffuse energy blanket and concentrate it in your tank. it’s called entropy.

    Naomi, I have kids. And to second the comment above, I’m way more worried about getting shot around 106th and MacArthur getting off the NX3 at 9 pm than air pollution, which may or may not shorten my 80th decade (and as pointed out above, has only gotten better; I remember just in the 1980′s the smog in San Diego and LA when I’d visit relatives, now it’s clear almost all the time down there).

    Finally, mass transit in nearly all incarnations is not efficient use of funds as pointed out above. It’d be cheaper over all to take those clunkers and hand them out to poor people, or, heck, subsidize cabs. In certain cities, really only NYC, Chicago, and maybe Boston, DC and a handful of others in the USA, is the population density such that mass transit makes sense over all from a congestion point of view etc.

    As for the Key Route, it wouldn’t be any cheaper today if it were in place. First off, it was slow. Second off, it would still need big capital spending. I lived in Chicago, the CTA and the ‘L’ was terribly slow (I could literally bicycle from my house to downtown, 6.5 miles away, faster than taking the train, without coming close to breaking a sweat, in summer), always short of capital funds, and still cost $1.75, now $2 for a fare.

    Finally, city dwellers don’t understand the attraction of the ‘burbs. But once again, throughout human history, people have left the cities to smaller, less dense towns. In the past only the rich could afford it (the landed gentry), now the middle class can. You would prefer to socially engineer out this deep human desire to have a little yard, etc etc. It can’t be done. Period. Sorry. As my econ professor would say regarding socialism, “Great idea. Wrong species.”

  77. James Robinson

    So based on what David said, there should be in emphasis on population density in order to make mass transit practical. I think that is happening in the downtown/uptown/JLS/Lake Merritt parts of Oakland. David also mentioned that a suburban environment appeals to many people. I think Oakland can develop a suburban type of environment in the eastern parts of the city. I think it would be nice to have both environments in one city.

  78. Livegreen

    Dave and Robert, I really don’t mind your POV as I learn from the exchange of ideas. FTM I wouldn’t mind some if the Trans backers to respond to your points. In the meantime:

    –The oil companies DO get subsidies for exploration (even when it’s subcontracted out). I do realize it would probably still b cheapest.
    –Without any public trans you are going to have pubic parking issues in any dense areas. Cars alone simply can’t address that.
    –Interesting point about giving electric cars away for free. Logistically very difficult especially with the rate of car thefts. Maybe subsidized Car Shares would b an intermediate solution? (+private companies could handle this);
    –Key System: The point is not it’s past speeds. The point is it had established infrustructure. That’s what’s most expensive. More modern & efficient transport could easily have been placed on top of it.
    –The history is important because it fundamentally Impacts the costs today. GM and the others tore out public rail in Oakland, LA, and other cities, roads and Hwys got massive infrastrucure subsidies instead, and then u say cars are cheaper? Duh, no surprise there.

    Why shouldn’t newer public Trans receive the same subsidies for infrustructure that cars got? Especially as it solves the parking problems that eveyone having a car will present (and that u have not answered a solution for);

    –I take your point about the cost of buses, and it’s the same with the cost of engines for trains and BART. If more questions were asked about these and other costs then it would probably become more efficient.

    –Then there’s the same for labor costs, which in the Bay Area are holy even when BART employees earn on avg 100K+. Whenever more money is allocated labor points to the money and says they need more of it. This makes BART less efficient, & cost more.

    But public transport and labor are holy, no matter the costs, so nothing is done to make them more efficient. Welcome, once again, to the all or nothing view of American politics. There is no in between anymore. Both the left and the right are responsible for being this IRRESPONSIBLE.

  79. Chris Kidd

    “throughout human history, people have left the cities to smaller, less dense towns”

    This is patently false. Please, I would love to see any evidence to prove this. Throughout history cities were enormous magnets for excess population from the countryside and did not shed population out into the surrounding areas. This constant influx into cities was a necessity because, until the industrial revolution, cities were a net loss for overall population. Public health and the quality of life caused more deaths than births in every city, making it imperative that they attract rural populations in order to even maintain a stable head count, much less grow and prosper.

    The urge to remove yourself from the city to the surrounding areas (whether we want to call them suburbs, garden cities, etc.) is only an invention of when cities reversed their death/birth rates and started becoming a net gain for population. This practice only became available for upper-middle class with the implementation of railroads and, most especially, street-car systems (funny that the street-car, now one of the urbanist’s best friends, was once the original tool of spreading sprawl. Land speculators would build street car systems out to parcels they owned and subdivided). True suburbs, in the sense that we know them today, only became a viable option once cars and highway systems were put in place. San Fernando Valley was still almost all farmland until the 1940s. Even areas like Lakewood(dead center in the LA bowl) were not fully developed until the 1950s.

    So, if by “throughout human history”, you mean “the last 70 years”, then: yes.

  80. David

    This is patently false. Please, I would love to see any evidence to prove this.
    Look up archaeological evidence. There were suburbs of Babylon, Tenochtitlan, Mohenjo Daro, Rome, and other large cities in history. Rich Romans had their country houses etc for centuries.

    ” Archaeologists have uncovered what they say is a prime example of Maya suburbs in the ruins of Caracol in Belize.

    Excavations by Dr. Diane Z. Chase and Dr. Arlen F. Chase, archaeologists at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, have revealed that
    beyond the grand palaces at the core of Caracol, one of the largest Maya cities, lay crowded settlements of workshops and modest dwellings of
    poor construction. They likened this to the poor neighborhoods and industrial zones that surround the centers of modern cities. ”

    Try again. And seriously, if suburbs were so evil, people wouldn’t move there. Given a choice, people fled the cities in droves in the past century.

  81. Chris Kidd

    The magnitude of scale is so completely different that you cannot call them suburbs. That’s like saying the Temescal is a suburb of the DTO.

  82. dto510

    There were no suburbs of Rome, what are you talking about? Being exiled ten miles away was considered a similar punishment to death.

  83. Patrick

    Scale is dependent upon mode of transportation. Cars driving on freeways at 65 mph is quite different from a human walking beside a fully laden donkey over an eroded, muddy surface. At 2 mph, Temescal is an hour away from DTO. In my car, I can drive from my home in Oakland to Napa in less time.

  84. Patrick

    ??? Rome had an extensive network of suburbs; the many enclaves of seaside villas around the Bay of Naples, for example. It is well-documented that our system of urban-suburban-exurban is derived from their early example. Our suburbs, as they have become denser, are just more “urban” in character than ancient Roman suburbs were. Don’t forget – Rome laid out much of the infrastructure around the Mediterranean – roads/highways, towns and cities that are still in use today.

  85. Chris Kidd

    And please, I’d like you to address the population issue. How could people “throughout history” be leaving dense cities for less dense country towns when cities had higher death rates than birth rates? Wouldn’t these cities simply empty out and die?

  86. Chris Kidd

    Patrick, you’re exactly right. Transportation DOES change the scale of what is possible. But transportation also completely alters the way in which we go about living. To that end, what does an area on the other side the city walls have in common with a far-flung exurb? Not much. To put them both under the term “suburb” and call it a day is a mischaracterization.

    What’s more, throughout history, these “suburbs” have never been the preferred or dominant form of living, but rather auxiliary and subordinate to the city. It’s only in our era that this paradigm has shifted. I affix this less to “preference” and more to the FHA and the growth machine that it spawned in the wake of the Great Depression/WWII. People treat trends from the past as some sort of inevitable will of heaven. This is not the case.

  87. Patrick

    His statement doesn’t state that people weren’t also moving to the cities. Population growth has always been upward (except during the black plague). Those people have to live/work somewhere. And as people moved into the cities, others left for the suburbs. Just as now. You can’t just use one city’s death and birth rates and ignore all other neighboring cities and towns. Land is finite. Population is not (at least so far).

    And what city’s death rate exceeded birth rate over a meaningful period of time? If that were the case, all cities would be empty.

  88. Patrick

    They may not have been dominant but they most certainly were preferred (at least during most of the year). Most ancient “suburbs” were the province of the wealthy – just like the suburbs of early 20th century America – the Main Line in Philadelphia, for instance.

    And, yes, until recently, suburbs were subordinate to the city. Because the city was where wealth was generated, while the suburbs were where people lived. That lasted for nearly 2000 years. The Interstate system in the US ended that in our country.

    But I think we need to look outside of the US – in what other country do we see “suburbs” like Walnut Creek planning for a new Neiman Marcus (augmenting their already fabulous array of retail), while the “city”, Oakland, with 7 times the population, has a ragtag Sears and a Wal-Mart? I think the answer is “pretty much nowhere”.

    Again, to compare suburbs of the past with suburbs today is foolishness. That would be like comparing modern-day Oakland with ancient Rome. With the exception of human blood-sport, they have very little in common.

    A suburb is simply a place that is not urban but depends upon a close, larger, urban neighbor for part of its economic viability.

  89. David

    Until recently suburbs were subordinate to the city….exactly….

    Now, however, the hoi polloi can live in the suburbs, not just the rich. Guess what? The hoi polloi like the ‘burbs for the same reasons the rich do–a spot of land for yourself, less congestion, better schools etc. And yes, this is thanks to the automobile. Thank you, automobile, for democratizing the way people can choose to live.

    And now, more than before, the suburbs are where the wealth is generated. Why? Because, at least in America (and actually in more European cities than you’d think), too many cities have become poorly-run, crime-ridden, over-taxed hellholes. The suburbs are cheaper, easier, and provide better services, and now, provide at least as much, if not more employment opportunities (Pleasonton of course has the highest median income in the East Bay).

    If you want to improve cities/attract more people, make the cities more attractive. Improve schools, reduce crime, etc. And as we saw from 1998-2005 or so, we did see modest upticks in city populations around the country.

    But again, you’re not going to socially engineer out the desire of many, if not the majority of people to have a SFR or at least a townhouse, a spot of land, etc.

  90. Chris Kidd

    You can’t say that suburbs were the realm of the wealthy alone and then turn around and say “…the city was where wealth was generated, while the suburbs were where people lived. That lasted nearly 2000 years”. It’s either one or the other. And it wasn’t where the majority of the people lived. They lived in the city. And worked there too.

    “And what city’s death rate exceeded birth rate over a meaningful period of time? If that were the case, all cities would be empty.”
    Practically every major city had a higher death rate than birth rate until the modern era. It’s entirely possible for that to be the case and still have cities survive: the countryside provided the inflow.

  91. Chris Kidd

    The desire for a SFR is not hard-wired into our DNA as humans. It’s simply a social trend that was similarly “socially engineered” for mass consumption in our country back in the 30s.
    I’m not against SFR. I’m not even against suburbs. I’m just against convincing ourselves that a relatively new, dominant social trend is the apogee of human existence.

  92. Chris Kidd

    oops, when I referenced the “majority” of the poeple, I was speaking in terms of urban/suburban. Clearly, the majority of humanity had a rural existence until the late 20th century.

  93. Robert

    Re the Key System. GM and others did conspire to buy up streetcar lines, but this only worked because many lines, such as the Key System, were financially weak, had extensive deferred maintenance, and were poorly perceived by the population. So GM bought up the systems, and then sold buses to the resulting companies. Modern, clean buses were seen as a huge improvement over the decrepit streetcars. GM was in this to sell buses, it had little to do with cars. Although the popularity of cars was the major cause of the financial weakness of the streetcar lines. (Remember, the Key System had tracks on the Bay Bridge, the Transbay Terminal was designed for streetcars from the East Bay, and the Key System still could not compete with cars.) The remnants of the Key System were ultimately acquired by ACTransit in 1958.

    In retrospect, the loss of the right of way was a tragedy, but it was not seen that way at the time.

    History is important in understanding how we got here, but trying to right the wrongs of history is not a particularly good way to plot a path forward. Because you can’t change the past, you can only chnage the future.

  94. Robert

    lg, I appreciate your questions. You are right, transit may do a good job to help alleviate parking problems, and rush hour congestion. But I find it amusing that the these problems are ones that impact the car dirvers themselves. Although it may explain the support for transit issues, the hope that others will take transit to make their own driving easier.

    If you are seriously interested in finding solutions, you have to ask the right questions. When your question, “Why don’t we give more money to transit to make up for past wrongs?”, contains its own answer, you make not end up with the right answers.

  95. livegreen

    Robert, The Key System was private, was not getting the big influx of public funds that established the Hwy system at the time (again $400 billion+), and the “decrepit streetcars” could have been replaced with newer ones.

    The buses you’re complaining about are the ones the car companies gave us.
    Also you’re approving of the buses when they replaced the key system but saying you’re against them today. Which is it?

    Remember: Before the advent of cars all the Public Transport WAS private. The car companies got subsidized costs to build it’s infrastructure & ripped out the competition that wasn’t subsidized. Now you complain that Mass Trans shouldn’t be subsidized. So basically your for subsidizing cars but not Mass Trans.

    If you don’t like the buses blame the car companies you’re lathering with praise. They should be taxed for the higher costs they left the public hanging with (ALL of it: the buses, the roads AND the rails that had to be re-started from scratch).

    Again, I ask, for the umpteenth time: Since some form of Public Transport is needed to relieve auto congestion into the biggest cities (oakland, SJ but even more SF), what is your solution for this? Or are you going to dispute that there would be increased congestion without Mass Trans?

  96. livegreen

    Robert, I think our last posts crossed each other. Re. drivers and Mass Trans riders not being the same, I don’t think that’s at all the case. Many people drive to a BART station. And if they weren’t riding BART they’d certainly be driving (that, or some of the jobs would leave SF, which I’m surprised isn’t happening faster).

    The problems of yesterday are fundamentally the problems of today. It’s not just to “right a wrong” for the sake of it. It’s part of the funding solution!

    It’s such an American thing to say, Oh the past is the past, we shouldn’t even think about it. Well, as Joe Biden said, “The Past is Prologue”. It’s fundamental to why we’re here today, and why mass trans is so expensive. So a solution to the past is also a practical solution for today (maybe not all, but part. I do agree costs of Mass Trans need to come down).

    If you agree Mass Trans needs to have some role, and I agree that the costs of Mass Trans need to come down, and we take into account where we are today, where’s the overlapping solution?

  97. David

    The desire for a SFR might not be hardwired into human DNA, yet I find it interesting that the global trend is for 1) poor rural folks living in their huts, then 2) poor urban folks living in their tenements, then 3) rich folks moving back to SFRs in the countryside/suburbs, then 4) middle class folks moving back to SFRs in the countryside/suburbs. The only thing “new” about this trend is #4. This tells me that as soon as people have the choice and means to get their SFR (that’s nicer than their farm hut), they do. It might not be hardwired, but it’s pretty darn close.

    But you know what, you can have much denser SFRs. My ‘hood in Chicago had SFRs on 3125 sq ft (standard Chicago lot is 25X125 ft) lots, and it worked fine. People in California have yet to discover that you can build a second story on your house. (along with dual pane windows, insulation, underground utilities, waste pipes in the walls, not on the outside of your house, which is fugly etc etc.)

    Oh, and livegreen, yes, the public transit was private, in Chicago for example. The transit companies went bankrupt one by one, and were amalgamated and taken over by the CTA. And Chicago is twice as dense as Oakland, laid out on a grid started in 1837, and fundamentally all laid out by 1900, well before automobiles, so remind me how the general motors conspiracy laid waste to these privately run systems or how massive gov’t automobile subsidies for roads did so. And congestion in Chicago is unreal compared to Oakland. In my former residence, it would take easily 15 minutes to go 2 miles on a divided 4 lane city street (i.e. major thoroughfare). It rarely takes me more than 15 minutes to go from my hood to downtown or even Berkeley, 11-16 miles away. But yet, mass transit requires huge subsidies, and people prefer to drive for most trips etc etc even in Chicago. The only, what I would call “transit majority” city in the USA is NYC, and despite Bay Area protests to the contrary, there ain’t nothing about here that is NYC-like, except the R.E. prices.


  98. David

    Dude. I can’t believe you quoted Biden. One thing we can all agree on, is that man is an idiot.

    I’m not against mass transit, but it is what it is, a subsidy for poor people and yes, costs are ridiculous. Sorry, but it’s true, especially here (again, the couple places where it’s not true is NYC, maybe Chicago and SF). Everybody else who’s employed and makes more than minimum wage drives everywhere, except maybe to work, due to the tolls etc. You won’t change that unless you make gas $10/gallon and/or somehow turn Oakland into Brooklyn. Ain’t gonna happen.

  99. len raphael

    interesting question as to the current relation of temescal, montclair, fruitvale etc. bear to dto. historicially they developed as either suburbs, montclair, or quasis independent villages such as fruitvale or temescal.

    does the General Plan promulgate a view of a city with a very dense core, then dense tendrils leading out of it along transportation routes? or does it just envision the dense transportation corridors without a core?

    -len raphael

  100. livegreen

    David, I agree the Mass Transit here is nothing like NYC. NYC isn’t nearly as nice looking as the BART trains but it goes a lot more places and costs a lot less. In large part because of the established infrastructure costs (& lower wages/benefits).

    There are plenty of rich people living in Oakland but esp. SF. A lot more than in Walnut Creek and PL. Your theory about all the rich & MC moving out to the burbs is just plain wrong, at least today. It’s going in both directions, though because of RE prices just recently there’s been more vacating the entire Bay Area. For years big cities have been receiving a BIG influx of people. It all depends WHEN we’re talking about. Again, the Past is Prologue.

    But then apparently you don’t like to look backwards. Just like the Allies after WW1. Or Sarah Palin. Lessons of history don’t exist. You’re 100% right and everybody else is 100% wrong (Iike all those rich folk living in SF, or Piedmont or the Oakland hills, instead of WC or PL). You’re going Rogue and ain’t nobody going to dissuade you…Dude…

  101. David

    LG, when you insist on quoting Biden, it’s really hard to take you seriously. When you ignore history (all those rich folks in SF buying their summer cottages on the Peninsula or Millsmont 100 years ago), it’s really hard to take you seriously. When you set up your straw woman with Palin, it’s really hard to take you seriously.

    but that’s ok. Nothing’s going to dissuade you that you believe you can socially engineer humans to conform to what you think is the lifestyle they should lead. Your hubris would be amusing if it weren’t filled with the typical totalitarian tendencies inherent with failed socialist ideals from the past. You think I ignore history? Give me a break. Learn to love freedom. It’s not so bad.

    PS. Didn’t we just have a few massive threads on how/why the MIDDLE class left/is leaving Oakland? Just like SF, there’s the bifurcation–rich people who can afford their mansion in the city (and summer homes elsewhere) and poor people who can’t afford to move. Middle class emulate the rich on a small scale by giving up the city and moving to the burbs.

  102. david vartanoff

    Social engineering comes in many forms. The mortgage interest deduction is a fine example. So is fully funding freeway expansion while cutting transit funding. The late Paul Weyrich espoused commuter rail to the suburbs as an aid to keeping the missus home by reducing family expense of a second car. As to freedom, I can only say that when I started spending summers in Chicago at my grandfather’s house, the freedom of being able to go to museums (Science and Industry), libraries etc, by simply taking a bus sure beat the deal back in suburban DC where EVERYTHING was a several mile drive–meaning persuading parents to ferry us.
    As to transit being a giveaway to the poor, the numbers don’t support that. The per rider $$ expended on buses (AC and similar) are a pittance compared to the costs of the commuter rail services for the largely upper middle wage earning riders of Metrolink, Metra, Caltrain, NJT, Metro-North. I should add that the very disdain shown for mass transit is why BART has always tried to portray itself as “commuter rail” with the cushy seats, carpet and ‘attitude’ toward short distance urban riders–who despite BART’s efforts are the backbone of ridership.
    As to SFR, yes, the social engineering of the GI Bill and FHA, gave us suburban sprawl and the degradation of the cities, perhaps you would have preferred the “freedom” of unsubsidized mortgage rates and construction financing?

  103. Robert


    There is absolutely no inconsistency in saying that the buses in the 50s were preferred by the population over streetcars and also saying that buses are cost inefficient compared to cars today. First, 50 years have passed and therefore the situation could have changed. Second, a comparison of buses to streetcars, and a comparison of costs of cars to buses are different types of comparisons, and both could be true simultaneously. And finally, even if they were the same type of comparison, it would be fully logically consistent to say that buses are better than streetcars, and cars are better than buses. That would only lead to the conclusion that cars are better than streetcars, which never actually came up in the comments.

    GM was NOT buying bus transit companies to dismantle them to sell cars, they were buying streetcar companies to dismantle them to sell buses. The car side of GM at the time is irrelevant. The financial troubles of the streetcar lines in the late 40s and 50s had nothing to do with the interstate highway system, if for no other reason that the highway system was not started until after the streetcars were failing, and and also because the highway system mostly does not compete with the urban streetcars. The big loser from the interstate highway system construction was actually the freight railroad systems. Which have largely recovered because in spite of (or because of) being private enterprises they are cost competitive with the trucks on the highway.

    While you keep saying that the interstate highway system cost $400+ billion, which I will accept, that is not all subsidy. The bulk (90%) of initial costs were paid by federal gas taxes, and the remainder was paid by the states, mostly through other fees/taxes on cars. While you, and other transit advocates, have frequently stated that immense subsidies have been give to autos, there is never any documentation provided for that claim. Let alone a comparison to the subsidy for transit over the same period of time since the 50s. As I commented above, the current subsidy to autos seems unlikely to have a major impact on transportation decisions, unlike the subsidy to mass transit.

    Now, about suburbs…

  104. Patrick

    I can’t let this one pass: Chris Kidd: “You can’t say that suburbs were the realm of the wealthy alone and then turn around and say “…the city was where wealth was generated, while the suburbs were where people lived. That lasted nearly 2000 years”. It’s either one or the other. And it wasn’t where the majority of the people lived. They lived in the city. And worked there too.”

    Your response to my statement doesn’t make any sense at all. How many people in Atherton make their wealth in San Francisco, Cupertino, Redwood City, Sunnyvale or San Jose? Probably all of them! Therefore, “the city was where wealth was generated, while the suburbs were where people lived”. Just like the suburbs of ancient Rome encircling the Bay of Naples – they were filled with the villas of the wealthy. Here’s a link to an article in the NY Times entitled (partially) ‘Along the Alban.; The Suburbs of Ancient Rome’. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9803E3D71F3FE73BBC4952DFBF66838D669FDE

    And please stop putting words in my mouth regarding where the majority of people lived. I love a good argument but when the other person resorts to falsehoods it ceases to be fun. Ancient Rome had suburbs, which were the province of the wealthy, and that wealth came from Rome, not the suburb itself. Deal with it.

  105. Livegreen

    David, I never pointed to any socialist tendancies (like when I said the unions were asking for too much money?) You spout the typical right wing BS, the all or nothing, take it or leave it simpleness that makes it so easy to insult your opponents without really saying anything. And when I point out the flaws in your argument, whether it’s the quote from Biden in support of my argument, or all the rich living in SF, Piedmont & the Oakland hills who haven’t moved to the burbs, rather than address my point or counter intelligently with your own, you degenerate into insulting eveyone.

    I think that speaks volumes about u, not me when I stand up to it.

    Were you a bully when you were in school?

  106. Robert

    len, In English usage, Temescal would still be considered a suburb, in American usage, not so much, since it does not have a separate municipal identity.

    Suburbs as we know them in America did not come in to existence until the late 1800s. By this I mean areas where people lived, but commuted in to a city on a daily basis to work. There were towns surrounding cities before this, but they did not have the same functional relationship to the city. This model did not exist until better transportation networks were developed, starting with heavy rail suburbs and horse drawn streetcar suburbs in the East. Although we think today of suburbs as being auto oriented, they were originally oriented around streetcars and rail. The Trestle Glen and Grand Lake areas in Oakland are the ones here that I am most familiar with. After WWII, the availability and popularity of the auto reoriented the next ring of suburbs to be auto oriented, think much of San Leandro developed in the 50s and 60s.

    Given the history in the last 150 years, with people fleeing the city to live in the burbs as soon as they could financially, it is hard to argue that there is not a great desire for the lifestyle that the suburbs provided.

  107. V Smoothe Post author

    The conversation gets more ridiculous by the minute. What planet are you people from? Have any of you ever even been to a suburb? People move there because they can’t afford to live in the city, and constantly talk about how they wish they could afford to live in the city, or how maybe someday when the kids are grown and they don’t need so much space, they’ll be able to move back.

  108. Ralph

    this discussion is mildly entertaining because it seems to be short on facts and long on theory. people fled the city because they did not want to live with brown and black people. period. end of discussion. full stop. post script: the advent of the interstate and freeway system made it possible for people to live further out from the city (work). bigger post wwii families and a desire for land were also a contributing factor. anyone not willing to accept this as gospel truth please feel to treat me to an adult beverage at either FSWB or SOMAR so we can air it out.

  109. Livegreen

    Robert, Not a transit activist, just asking questions to learn.

    –The Key System wasn’t just streetcars, it was also rail.
    –My point was that no matter the street cars or rail at the time, they could have been upgraded instead of scrapping the entire system. Just like BART or NYC Transit today. You have skipped over that point several times now.
    –If upgrades had been done and the system kept in place, perhaps reduced in volume when the demand for cars was increasing, mass trans would b far cheaper than it is today.
    –Now you might say that’s the past, it is what it is today. But it is that because GM and the others paid to make it that way, paid to market the auto as the future, paid to lobby the gov, paid to rip out the tracks, paid to eliminate the competition. Otherwise we’d still have the old rail lines, they’d b less costly than starting new rail from scratch, and with nicer cars on them (like BART or NYC) they’d be more comfortable.

    With the transition from rail to car, it has been a widespread movement, beyond just the car companies. The public and local and national govt all bought into it. But this was, in the manner stated above, created and supported by the auto industry. It was further supported by the tendancy of Americans to not look longterm, to look at one thing at a time, and support wherever the money is today and not tomorrow.

    So we ripped out the old rail, replaced it with cars, and then stuck in new rail. Talk about a waste of money…

    –You mention the original $400 Billion was 90% paid for by the gas tax. I’ll look for that. If there’s a link you can pass along that would b helpful.
    –Personally I’m not happy about the amount of bond money spent on either Mass Trans or Roads. Its not that I don’t think somehing should b spent upgrading and maintaining either, I do. It’s the ridiculously high amounts that are being spent and bleeding this state dry maxing out the amount of bonds CA can issue and the interest we all have to pay.

    All those bonds are paid for, just spent today and left for future generations to pay.

    –I’ve asked a couple times now Robert: How do we do some mass trans? Since (as you’ve admitted) some Mass Trans is needed to help relieve conjestion.
    –I’m intrigued by your earlier comments that it would b cheaper to give cars to the poor. The logistics and support might be difficult but I think it’s worth consideration. For example, is working through Car Share or something similar viable? (I wonder if they’re already trying this?)

  110. Naomi Schiff

    Some might be interested in a fine recent book, “From Yard to Garden” by Chris Grampp, who has researched and thought deeply about the evolution of yards in cities and suburbs. I really enjoyed the book, and it is full of great photos. He addresses a lot of factors and historic developments without making heavy value judgments. While the book takes a more or less national perspective, he has lived and worked in the east bay for a long time, and teaches at Merritt College. (Ever thought about front setbacks as a tool of social engineering?) Here’s a teaser: Have you ever considered that while it seems de rigeur for California yards to be fenced, that is not at all the norm in the northeastern US?

    Our numerous pedestrian stairways and walkways in Oakland were planned to enable people to reach transit lines; Oakland Heritage Alliance and several other groups occasionally present tours of Oakland neighborhoods, and explore how transit, housing, cars, and workplaces arose together. Don’t forget water transit, too! The thing about the Key System was the convenient streetcar-to-ferry link at the Oakland Mole, out in the Bay. My father-in-law’s dad commuted from the Temescal to SF, breakfasted on the ferry, and the whole trip took less time than it does today by car. (At the end of the 1950s his house was removed for construction of Hwy 24, alas.) The truly ridiculous thing about the Jack London Sq Ferry stop is that no transit serves it!

  111. len raphael

    V, yup most suburbanites would prefer to live in the city, if that meant their current house payment got them a 20 year old 2,000 sqft house in Piedmont with a large flat yard. Then there’s a segment who would prefer to live in a 4,000 sft victorian in SF with a full bay view, fully restored.

    The people i know who live in Orinda, Moraga, Pleasant Hill have not the slightest interest in trading their upper middle class abodes and clean quiet hoods for a 1,300 sft house with 80 years of deferred maintenance, and public schools you wouldn’t send your dog to.

    They have heard about the great restaurant scene in Oakland, but they haven’t figured out how to get safely to and from the burbs to the restaurants. They want a bunch of OAC’s just for going to Oakland restaurants. Decent tax service would suffice.

  112. len raphael

    Ralph, doubtless many whites and asians left cities to avoid browns and black skinn, or were forced to leave because they knew their resale values would drop (my father in law was a bigot who did his best to keep his neighborhood white, but when he decied the whole Bay area had too many of those kind of people, he realized he’d get best price selling to a young black family. which he promptly did before moving to Montanna).

    But in the last decade or so, it’s been middle class blacks moving out or not moving to Oakland in the first place unless they could afford real nice places in the hills and private school. Red lining was over but it was whites and asians and latinos who moved into the flats of oakland.


  113. len raphael

    Naomi, just ordered From Yard to Garden” by Chris Grampp, after i read a reader review that Grampp likes backyard lawns. That takes courage for a Bay Area landscape writer.

    Somehow I don’t think Patrick would approve.

    A landscaper who does a lot of Berkeley work was laughing that many of his customers insist on low water usage plantings, but also insist on putting in so me much of it to get a lush look that they don’t save any water.

  114. Robert

    V, be careful speaking about that which you do not know. As an example, my parents lived in a small apartment at 18th and Grove in Oakland until 1950, at which time my father could afford to buy a property in San Leandro where he could raise a family. From what I know from talking to my father’s friends, and the parents of my childhood friends, that was a typical pattern for blue collar workers at the time. So yes, he moved to SL when he could afford to move from an apartment to a house.

    I think len has covered the current situation.

  115. Ralph

    Blacks moving into or out of the flats has nothing to do with redlining. At this point, blacks have options. 40 yrs of opportunity means that blacks don’t have to settle. So, if your options are a gritty bay area hood or a cleaner hood on the outside where you gonna go. Heck in recent years Tracy has been a destination.

  116. Robert

    Naomi, that sounds like an interesting book. I have my own theory about the fences, and it has to do with trees. In the east the forests give a large measure of privacy between the houses, and fences may be a substitute for that. Just my thought on this one.

  117. Robert

    lg, if your point is that transportation might have evolved differently if GM hadn’t ripped out the rails, that is a possibility. But then again, it is also possible that we could be in a very similar situation, with heavy subsidies for the streetcars lines in order to keep them operating.

  118. len raphael

    i’ve followed the threads here about funding of public transit bus/rail and car/truck costs and I’m confused. Operating costs and costs funded by bonds seem to get lost or muddled by how the bonds are repaid.

    My tentative conclusion is that other than maybe the initial big push to build the interstates, and the big alternative value of using local streets and highways for other purposes/modes, user fees seem to pay majority of the costs of fossil fuel private and trucker infrastructure. But purely to reduce personal income inequality, and to deal with envoirmental costs we have to increase the user fees paid by non bus vehicular users.

  119. david vartanoff

    @ Robert, Actually Interstates DO compete with urban rail services. The Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago (I 90) was touted as relieving traffic on the South Shore Drive–but on the first day both were jammed but Rock Island and Illinois Central commuter trains had 5000 fewer riders. In that era both routes had numerous stations/riders within city limits and routes operating within streets.
    The building of the Interstates opened up further suburban sprawl which cut transit ridership of all modes as workers and soon employers moved out of the urban cores.
    While some transit properties were bankrupt in the 40′s others were still making a profit into the mid 50′s.
    As a side note, both SF and Chicago scrapped streetcar lines because of union staffing issues-buses were one man the streetcars two.

  120. livegreen

    Len, Re. the schools, you don’t specify the past or present. Presently all of the hills and most slope elementary schools are very solid. This includes for AfAm (AM) & Latino students even if there’s still a lag.

    Except for Kaiser, the hills schools have less AM & L transfer students precisely because these schools are doing so well. The Slope schools still have sizable AM &L students both because they cross over slightly into the flatlands, because there’s more AM&L living in middle class neighborhoods, and because there’s more room for transfer students (though that’s changing for younger grades, as more neighborhood kids go public &/or local in the slope areas too).

    OFCY has had been positive for many of these schools giving Enrichment Classes for poor kids that would not otherwise be able to pay for them (though that might change soon).

    Although AM &L students grades at these schools are below Asian & Caucasian students (again, Kaiser being the exception), they are still solid and improving. The generalization that Oakland schools are bad is old. It is much more like the the micro-climates of the Bay Area: it depends on which schools.

  121. livegreen

    Robert, Yes, understood. I only pointed to that because in your comment just prior you’d said gas taxes (I just figured I’d clarify, as opposed to the ongoing costs which are both gas and user fees, as you’ve mentioned).

    –Key System, my understanding is they ripped out both the rail lines and the streetcar lines (hell, the train tracks on the Bay Bridge were only used for about 20 years. What a waste of money that was). Re. the capital costs of tracks and trains/cable cars vs. just trains/cable cars: the infrastructure for new tracks, new stations, new routes (including tunnels, acquiring property for the whole system, etc.), changing the bridge back and forth, had to add significant costs.

    Yes, upgrading the trains/cable cars would have cost something, I’m only saying not as much. (Q. asside : I wonder if Muni & the Boston System use any of the existing cable car tracks, or is it all new?)

    –Mass Trans competition from Interstates: They compete right here! All commuters to the Bay Bridge come in on either 880, 80, or 580.

    –I wonder about how the costs were spread around for repaving all the local roads for cars, widening them, etc. after the tracks were torn out. That must have been a massive undertaking for Oakland and other municipalities.

    PS. Re. Hwy 24, on Wikipedia somebody got in this little jab:
    “Due to the traffic jams, commuters get extended views of the scenery.” :)

  122. Robert

    lg, david vartanoff brought up the interesting point that San Francisco and Chicago ditched their streetcar lines for reasons that had nothing to do with GM. So maybe if GM hadn’t interfered in Oakland our transit would look different today, but then again, maybe it would look just the same.

  123. livegreen

    Robert, Understood. But GM did…Still curious about your thoughts about how to relieve some congestion through mass trans (limited?) & also about car-shares?
    Len, I’m confused by your confusion re. the Bonds and how they’re repaid. As I

    understand both Robert’s previous posts and then reading up on ISHS, a smaller but still significant portion of the costs of Interstates are paid for by States. CA voted to pay for a significant investment in it’s infrastructure (not just roads, but mostly) with a $20 billion bond initiative (Prop. 1B of 2006) that costs about $40 billion over 30years. So while I take Robert’s point that this is paid for, I question both whether the total amount was necessary or if we can afford so much of it?

    (This was Perata’s baby, a give-back to his developer friends, so I guess he’ll run on how it stimulated our economy and he knew the recession was coming so he planned for this :) .

    BART & Mass Trans: Same thing. We need it, but how do we make it more efficient & affordable? It’s not all or nothing like the far-left and far-right like it to appear. & the Press rarely covers the in-between or shades of grey. It’s simply to costly and complicated for them to go into detail on complicated issues. They prefer OJ, Paris Hilton, Balloon Boy, Lady Gaga, Tiger Woods sprawled out on the road, and other important things. Or, in this case, are you for or against Public Transportation Bonds?

    So these Highway & Public Trans might be paid for, but at what cost to our children? And to us? (It’s bad enough at $20 Billion at the outset. Imagine if it had been $30 or $40 billion costing $60 to $80 billion…). Oh well, we’ll just cut the schools. After all, kids can’t vote.

  124. Robert

    now that the game is over I can get back to a couple of responses here.

    lg, I tend to agree with many others here, that the highway system has allowed society to make what seem to me to be very bad land uses decisions, with suburban sprawl wiping out farmland, increasing our energy usage, huge houses, vast lots, etc. Totally separate from the highway costs, bonds or otherwise, this is a burden our descendants will have to live with. And I would agree with len, that a partial solution to this is to raise energy taxes, although not just on gas but on all uses of fossil fuels.

    I see several problems that arise from our dependence on cars – note I am not saying there is a problem with cars, but problems that arise from cars, and it is a critical difference. If you frame the problem as too many cars and not enough transit, then the only solution can be more transit. But the actual problems I see are:

    Pollution and energy consumption. Pollution now from cars is mostly from greenhouse gases which is coupled to energy. The other major vehicular pollution these days is particulates, which mostly come from diesel engines, and buses are a significant contributor. If anyone else remembers, back in the 60s and 70s, you could not see across the bay on many days due to the brown haze from auto exhaust. That is mostly gone now due to pollution controls.

    Social justice issues. The poor just can’t afford to own and operate cars, and so are forced into other modes of transportation.

    Congestion. Actually this is a weak one for me. Since the biggest impact of congestion caused by too many cars is on the cars themselves. this in principle is self regulating, as it is negative feedback loop.

    Parking. See congestion. Also, you can easily allow the free market to take care of the parking by allowing more private parking garages to be built.

    When you think about the problems this way, you can envision other possible solutions.

    Pollution – we are going to have to go to electric vehicles at some point, so the sooner the better. Car share might be a way to accomplish this sooner. Small societal changes would also really help. For example, when I was commuting to Fremont, an electric car with a 50 mile range would have worked out well – if society insisted that recharging stations be provided at work places. These shouldn’t be free, just available for use. A fifty mile range for an electric car is readily doable with today’s technology. The hundred mile range without the recharge is much more difficult and expensive, although Tesla has proven you can do it.

    Social justice. No cheap answer, but the current mass transit system only serves to allow the liberals to feel that they have been pure of heart, without providing anything approaching true social justice. As I have mentioned, it would be cheaper, and provide far better social justice, to subsidize cars for the poor.

    Congestion. Actually I think mass transit does a reasonable job of helping with this during rush hour. But as I mentioned, I do find it amusing that the thing that mass transit does well is a benefit to the cars you are trying to get people out of.

    Now I don’t know that any of the suggestions above is the best or most cost effective answer to any individual problem. That is where discussion needs to come in. And it could be that mass transit is the most effective compromise solution because it addresses all of the problems to some extent. But until you frame the problem correctly, you can’t start to have the right discussion.

    Now, for an out of the box idea that addresses all of the issues, better than mass transit, and at potentially zero cost government?

    What about changes to laws and incentives to get people to work close to where they live. If 50% of the population lived within 5 miles of where they worked, gas usage would drop 10 to 20%, social justice would be greatly helped because you would be able to get to work without a car, and congestion would be greatly helped.

    Another possibility is a switch to a 4 day, 10 hour day, work week. this would save 20 % of commute energy costs, and could help congestion if done right. Although not so much on social justice. But since this could be done with zero cost to society, maybe then you could take the transit subsidy and give it to the poor.

  125. len raphael

    lg, yes to be specific, i was thinking of flatland elementary schools, even though flatland middle schools are probably bad too.

    as of last summer, i heard from a couple of temescal residents that there were no openings in k for the slope schools. though local flatland school, emerson, shows definite signs of improvement, unless you have a lot of time and energy and optimism, you wouldn’t send your kid there if you had a choice.

    btw, is it easier to transfer from out of district if your local school is on the failure list? or if your siblings attend ?

    Claremont middle, seems to be holding it’s own, recovering slow but steady. But compared to a private school like Park or St Pauls? or the middle schools in Piedmont, Orinda, or (even) nice sections of WC.

    -len raphael

  126. livegreen

    Robert, I’m all for having people work closer to where they live. I think, however, that Oakland has done a poor job recruiting businesses to Oakland. This is not just white collar, but also blue collar. Until the bubble burst, the Planning Commission was turning all the light-industrial, mixed-use properties into Residential and Live-Work lofts. In turn a lot of warehouse owners let these units stand empty, waiting for a sale to developers.

    They could have converted run down motels & vacant areas (the James example), but no, they wanted to rid the City of blue collar employers. Less blue collar employment base = more poor & more crime…

    Now they’ve changed their policy only slightly: They want to turn all the light-industrial & mixed-use into Retail and/or Auto Retail. Even if it’s in very poor, high-crime areas where a retail store would be crazy to locate, and even while SL-Hayward-Fremont-North SJ recruit mixed-use employers that bring a solid tax base, and both blue & white collar jobs (like Solyndra)…

    Of course crime doesn’t help in business recruitment. Catch-22.

  127. livegreen

    Len, I think the very best Oakland Elementary schools are as good (or almost) as WC or even Piedmont. The next two tiers (mid-hill and slope) are rising steadily. A lot of people haven’t heard, and generalize, and then move without even looking into it.

    Re. St. Paul’s, yeah but it costs $20,000. Head Royce is even more. (BTW, they’re a non-profit. Does tuition = a charity donation, so the rich can write off the whole tuition?)

    Re. the Middle Schools, it would be nice to see Claremont continue to improve. In the meantime Montera and Edna Brewer already have. Last time I checked Edna Brewer was 70th percentile (which is average, but solid average) and 90th percentile in peer-to-peer (inner city schools). And it’s still going up, with more kids from Crocker Highlands, Cleveland, Glenview and Bella Vista going there every year. + they attract out of district from Claremont’s feeder schools…

    That, btw, includes Kaiser’s high-scoring & Glenview’s solid middle scoring (above average) AfAm students.

    Re. transferring from out-of-district, that’s a good question. For example, some of the Slope school parents, like Sequoia and Glenview, would often transfer up to Joaquin Miller, Montclair, Kaiser, etc. But more and more they’re staying put (+ it’s easier to make friends in the neighborhood & be active volunteers). So there’s probably just naturally less people transferring from these work-in-progress but steadily improving schools.

    Siblings is the #1 criteria for preference. If OUSD does make it easier for out-of-district to transfer from “failure list’ schools (as u call it) then they probably keep it hidden. I’ve heard OFCY, however, does use geographic preference.
    (Don’t know if this was written into the original Campaign literature, or the Measure, but they use it).

  128. david vartanoff

    “What about changes to laws and incentives to get people to work close to where they live.”
    hmm, company worker barracks? George Pullman built worker housing adjacent the factory and the Soviets did the same in many locations. Seriously, years ago, a ladyfriend was commuting from Berkeley to the far edge of Palo Alto. The insane Stockton/Lathrop to Sillicon Valley slog of today is no better. This waste of prime agricultural land is just dumb on all counts. As a society, we would be $$ ahead paying these workers to live closer to their jobs, or tele commute.
    As to “giving cars to the poor” this mimics the Southern Pacific’s campaign to destroy what we now call Caltrain. They offered to buy vans for the paltry ridership in return for abolishing the service. The freight business along the route evaporated and SP was overjoyed to sell the ROW to the JPB for badly needed cash. Caltrain nows carries more riders than ever and the few freight cars move during off hours. I hope none of you really think scrapping Caltrain to replace the capacity with extra freeway lanes is a good idea.

  129. Robert

    lg, Oakland has done a poor job in recruiting business, but we still have almost as many jobs in Oakland as there are residents in the labor force. It is not a lack of jobs that is the fundamental problem, it is that workers don’t work where they live.

  130. livegreen

    Robert, Point made. & since that’s the case, how do you propose Oakland gets more employers to hire locally, or get employees to live here?

    I do think part of the solution is more jobs here, but I agree addressing your point is important.

    PS. As noted in a prior discussion, and as an addition to somebody’s list, NYC has an income tax for workers who work but don’t live there…

  131. len raphael

    LG, tuition to private schools isn’t tax deductible, which is why is was always more tax advantageous to buy a house in an expensive area with good schools (eg piedmont or orinda) and deduct the real estate taxes, then to live in a mediocre area and pay big non deductible private school tuition. (i didn’t take my own advice in part because i preferred oakland).

    both affluent public and private schools also expect hefty contributions from parents that are deductible.

    btw, what’s definition of slope school? eg. is peralta slope or flatland? (i’d call it slope) even though same elevation as emerson.

    Wouldn’t expect california to change the rules to allow local income taxes. at best, we’ll raise state taxes of various types and try to boost revenue sharing with localities.

    Wonder if it’s legal to tailor a parcel tax to mimic an income tax, with exemptions based on say state income tax data, and city ok to pass 100% thru to tennants in rent controlled situations. probably depressed rents commercial and residential would keep the burden on property owners disproportionately.

  132. livegreen

    Re. Head Royce, I only asked since they’re a Non-Profit and solicit donations from Foundations. A non-profit that benefits children of the wealthy? (with, of course, a few scholarships thrown in).

    Yes, I’d describe Peralta as a slope school. It’s mostly an in-between description, not hills and not flatlands. They have a good mixture of both. Peralta’s API’s though are up with some of the hills. Wow are those good scores, including for minorities & socio-economically disadvantaged…

    The challenges, again, that Slope schools have is they still have sizeable Minority and Socio-Economically disadvantaged students, and solid local participation too. But because of their geography OUSD & OFCY views them as hills schools. So OFCY is thinking of eliminating funding because of where they’re located, not because of the population they serve…

  133. Ralph

    why are people hating on private schools? if it weren’t for private schools, we would not know how bad our public schools are. tuition is not deductible donations to private schools are deductible. by the way, universities are non-profits, yet no one asks if tuition to a university is tax deductible.

    tuition barely cover 60 odd percent of a student’s education. the balance comes from the endowment.

    unless someone in my family is holding out on me, private schools do not hardly benefit only the children of the wealthy.

  134. Naomi Schiff

    Private schools are not uniformly better than public schools. I experienced both as a parent. I even know some relieved refugees who left Head Royce for public school.

  135. Ralph

    There are two types of private schools established and accredited and others which I describe as fly by night sketch and some religious schools. It is the others category that are questionable schools. In some, if not many, cases the schools are not accredited by recognized authorities and that is a bit troublesome.

    This is probably my biggest pet peeve with giving vouchers for kids to attend private schools. Private schools do not have to educate all of the unwashed masses, just some – there is limited space in any class. Thus not every kid is going to attend an accredited private schools. But ever since this whole voucher charter give a kid a fighting chance stuff started creeping into the national conversation, all sorts of bad private schools have tried to get rich quick. Don’t get me wrong there were unaccredited schools before; there are more now.

  136. Born in Oakland

    I even know some refugees from Oakland Public Schools who would kill to get into Head Royce or CPS. And a lot more relieved refugees from Oakland who left for Alameda or Berkeley to give their kids a better shot at a decent education. I am NOT, REPEAT, NOT saying Oakland schools cannot provide an education. I just beleieve there is a greater chance of children falling through the “cracks” and joining the great dumb down, media child, hipster, whatrever culture so pervasive in our communities. And as pot smoking becomes more legal in our fair City, more stoned kids will go to public school than do know. I don’t think this is as likely to happen at Head Royce or CPS. Take your chances with the kids, save some money, go public and you many loose them.

  137. David

    Having seen the “best” of California and Bay Area public school products at the UC-Berkeley, people around here have no clue as to how terrible even the “best” schools are.

    They are utter crap compared to some no-name public school in bumble-land Wisconsin/Minnesota/Iowa. Seriously. The super-rich private schools here are almost as good as Catholic schools that cost 1/3 to 1/2 as much in “flyover country” in the upper Midwest. People need to experience both, get out of cloud-cuckoo-california land and get a clue.

  138. David

    by the way Ralph, your comment on private schools is a common myth about vouchers. In Milwaukee, for example, Messmer Catholic school pretty much takes everyone. Graduation rate is in the 90′s%, compared to the local public schools hovering in the 50′s%. Also over 90% go on to either 2 or 4 year schools, or the military. Most of Messmer’s students are on vouchers, almost all are from the inner city, and poor (and non-Catholic).

    These schools are doing a much better job with the same student population compared to the local private schools. The difference? Better teachers, better discipline, and motivated parents.

  139. len raphael

    while there is something to the joke that the main difference between private and public schools here, is that at private schools you have to pay for the right to complain, overall my experience with my kids and talking to others over the years is closer to David’s view. we used private thru 7th grade, and public thereafter. made sure to have kids active in local flatland sports activities with wide range (aka the D word) oakland kids.

  140. Ralph

    David, i don’t know milwaukee, but something about your analysis about Messmer seems amiss. from what i understand of milwaukee, you pretty much gotta be dirt poor to participate in the voucher program and if the school doesn’t have a seat available then you don’t go. it does not seem likely for any private school to accept a every voucher child and still be a going concern as generally the tuition is greater than the cost to educate at a public school. Does this mean that more of the endowment supports more of the voucher kids and less to the paying student. sounds like a nasty subsidy.

    As to west coast Independent Schools, I think they are different than the east coast schools Independents for a number of reasons

  141. livegreen

    You guys are, once again, generalizing, and that is simply not at all the practical experience of what is happening on the ground. On the ground, the Elementary schools in the Hills are excellent, and the Slope schools are vastly improving. Two Middle Schools, Montera and Edna Brewer have already vastly improved, are continuing to do so, and still have room to improve even more (for all the reasons you’ve mentioned).

    By the time they get to High School, I will grant you, there are the risks that you say. However I know people who have or are sending their kids to do the AP courses at Skyline and OakTech, and despite the risks, those kids are getting a solid education (as Ralph has mentioned the risks and the success depends not just on the schools but on the parents).

    There is much work to do to improve the HS’s in Oakland to the degree the Elementary and Middle Schools have. But risks and all, the High Schools ARE showing signs of progress…

  142. livegreen

    David, Re. your experience at Berkeley, I don’t know if your a professor there or what, but how do you distinguish between the prepared and unprepared CA PS students? That is, the unprepared ones would be easiest to spot (assuming there’s a way to know they’re from instate or they wouldn’t be there), but how do you know where the prepared ones are from (PubS vs. Private) if their lack of preparation doesn’t make them stand out?

    Do you actually look into the background of each student and form a statistical model? Or is it just a “gut” analysis made from years of experience?

    BTW, all this is said knowing that CA has a ways to go. Both Public & Private…

  143. Chris Vernon

    Don’t forget that the OUSD high schools are trying to educate a wide range of students – some well prepared, others hardly prepared at all, many kids with special needs, recent immigrants with language issues, etc. Those that are well prepared and motivated at the three remaining comprehensive high schools are getting an education equal to that at private schools and have a significant advantage – a much broader social education; they can deal with people from all sorts of backgrounds, not just those closest to their own class. Tech, Oakland High and Skyline send kids every year to the same top-notch universities that the privates brag about in their glossy promotional materials. That’s not to say they are perfect instititutions, but for many parents comfortable with the social scene at these schools (and willing to roll up their sleeves and get involved) they are an extremely attractive option. Many more kids coming from private middle schools are looking long and hard, some are coming (and not just as freshmen, but are transferring from privates after not being very impressed).

  144. Ralph

    i don’t know where any of the schools are so I am unable to distinguish between flat. slope, and hill. Hopefully, the only test is not test score. I am curious how some schools raised test scores did they shift students around. But that takes more analysis and time I don’t have. that being said, lg is right, i do not believe schools need money, students need engaged, i’ll slap you into next week if you don’t do your hmwk, parents.

    LG, high school API backsliding…are more foreign born students entering in the 9th grade. I ask because I have seen some of the textbooks used by OUSD students. The 11th grade history book actually has guidelines on how to write an essay.

    Chris V, this idea that Independent Schools cater to the rich and are not diverse is bull. I get that percentage wise not even a third of the US pop over 25 has a college degree but it just seems to me that OUSD should be sending more than 10% of its graduates to college.

  145. David

    I was a TA in biochemistry, then head TA, then TA for biochem lab. These were wannabe pre-meds (well, a few of them did go and finish med school, and they truly were prepared). Quite a few were from the Bay Area, and the majority actually went to public schools from the informal “get to know you” surveys at the beginning of the semester, and those were often Piedmont, Palo Alto, Lafayette and other ‘top-notch’ public schools. These were the same kids who wrote “hella lot of enzyme activity” on their exams (could you quantify that, please?).


    Messmer gets about 80 percent of its students through vouchers. Students put the name of the college they’re shooting for on their locker, and the daily attendance rate – often higher than 95 percent – is posted by the entrance. Nearly 90 percent of its students go on to a four-year college every year, says principal Jeff Monday.

    Like all schools in the program, it can’t use selective criteria to admit students.

  146. Patrick

    My mother graduated from Messmer! It was a very different school then, though. The nuns used to beat them, for instance.

    You also have to remember that the public school systems in Wisconsin are first rate – not bottom-of-the-barrel like they are in most of California. From grade school on up – Wisconsin students are given a great education. You can’t start with functionally illiterate 14 year olds (which we do) and turn out college ready 18 year olds (and we don’t).

  147. David

    Heck, we start out with functionally literate 14 year olds in Piedmont and Palo Alto, spend a ton of money on them (well, the residents of the P & PA do), and still turn out students that are less prepared than some small town in Wisconsin. Makes ya think a little.

  148. livegreen

    Ralph, Are you saying HS API scores are backsliding? Just clarifying as it wasn’t clear to me who’s saying that and I don’t think I did. My view is the HS’s need to make the most progress, but I could be wrong because that’s the area I’ve paid least attention too. Beyond the limited mentions about HS I’ve made.

    Referring to the detail Chris V. goes more into, one hears more about OakTech and Skyline (including both positive & negative, and the diversity & wide spectrum of students and opportunities at both), and less about O-High. But Chris V. includes this among the other two, and for all the lowly opinions, O-High’s scores are only a tad below the other two. I’m curious why the lack of attention? (positive and negative, both).

  149. livegreen

    Sounds like it’s time for OUSD, OFCY and J.Quan to travle to Wisconsin and see what’s going on. (Read: Junquet. But if they’ll actually study, learn and implement some programs I’m fine with it. That is a big if, but I stand by that condition).

    Maybe we should ask Berkeley and Stanford to study the effects of cheese on childhood development? :)

  150. Ralph

    David, thanks for that 80% number. I am guessing the voucher program probably breathed new life into Messmer. There were a number of Catholic schools in Detroit that eventually closed because of declining attendance (move of traditional attendees to the burbs). One school stayed and remade itself with a non-Catholic more black student body. There are Catholic schools in Baltimore that were originally in downtown Baltimore but as people started moving NW the schools also relocated. My gut tells me that Milwaukee and Messmer were in that same boat.

    Now for your kooky, bay area kids who believe that more money is the solution. The Milwaukee choice program caps the voucher amount at the public school cost of education ($6K+/-). Acceptance is limited to the poorest of poor. You could be a genius or 5 grades below grade level. Only requirement is you must be poor. So tell me why can’t OUSD get 90% of its graduates to college with more money.

    LG, backsliding is probably not the right word, the gains seen in the lower and middle schools seem to be lost at the high school level. I think 25% of the lower schools have APIs above 800 and there are only 2 high schools with numbers above 800.

  151. Patrick

    Personally, I think we should move to an exam-based system of entrance/progression. Why should a student who has zero aptitude or interest in 8th grade be forced to continue to 12th? Not only does this throw money down the proverbial drain, but it also forces schools to focus/expend resources on those who will ultimately benefit the least. Oh, and no diploma? No welfare. We have got to “teach” people that their actions have consequences. Our current system rewards people for failure. And it’s working.

  152. len raphael

    lg, roughly what percentage of total ousd elementary school population attends the schools you would call acceptable. (not a leading question, for all i know it is effectively high because of lower truancy)

    -len raphael

  153. livegreen

    I’m kind of surprised to hear David’s experience with Palo Alto and Piedmont students. You would think they would stand out. Shows how far we have to go.

    Of course we need to take action where we can, and we have even more work to do for Oakland. I recommend people look into how they can help. Montclair Volunteers had a recent event with a lot of great (small) volunteer programs working in OUSD schools. Toni Smith and JQ attended.


    Among those I recommend http://www.brothersontherise.org
    They’re small and have just expanded from Edna Brewer Middle (one of the reasons Edna Brewer has improved so much) to Frick Middle, and maybe a couple others. Ralph volunteers at a program for High School students…

    I recommend pitching in & volunteering (directly or remotely). It’s really needed and in the long-run it’s improving the Schools (combined with employment, safety & expanding the middle class base) that will improve Oakland.

  154. David

    Once my baby’s gone off to school, I can coach chess.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I had some great, really excellent students, at least 3 of them, who I’d actually feel comfortable going to for anything medical. 3 out of 300 or so. I guess I thought it should have been higher for the best public university in the country. But what do I know, I went to the U of Wisconsin. What I do know is that I met a Piedmont High student who didn’t know what 1984 was about, I met a Palo Alto HS student who couldn’t handle basic calculus or even higher order algebra, and I had a student who clearly never received less than an “A” in her life break down in tears when I gave her a B+.

    Anyway, Ralph, you’re right. Without vouchers, I think Messmer probably would have shriveled up and died, although maybe not as quickly as Detroit, as the Catholic school tradition is much stronger on the other side of Lake Michigan. (The joke in Wisconsin being, what religion are you, Lutheran or Catholic?).

    You still realize more money is not the real solution, especially when it all just goes for pensions and retiree health care. My catholic schooling cost all of $2500/year at the most, and while a chunk of it was subsidized (by both a scholarship and the Archdiocese), I also know that the school had no pension plan, paid teachers worse etc.

    Again, what’s different? Accountability, discipline, standards, and yes, parents.

  155. len raphael

    it’s only fitting that our mayoral choice will be between dp who owes his rapid political rise to public sector labor union support; and to jq who is closely tied to oakland’s non-profit orgs. between the unions and the non profits .

    between the unions and the non-profits, “they licked the platter clean”.

    my hunch is that dp is in much better financial shape to say fu to the muni unions, then jq is to disinherit the non-profits. plus jq really believes in the philosophy of the non-profits and social programming.

    dp follows the money. he knows the unions will forgive him after he moves on from oakland. they can’t afford to hold grudges.

    -len raphael

  156. len raphael

    Sounds somewhat teapartyish, but if the NYT can come out with an editorial calling for the resignation of NY’s entire state legislature for “complete fiscal incompetence” surely our local medial editorial writers could do the same for our city elected officials who like the NYS legislatures blame all our problems on forces outside of their control.


    But then Oakland’s officials seem to be holding their own Fairyland teaparty.

  157. Matt

    This is a rant….

    The “local” Oakland Tribune should be renamed the Concord or Walnut Creek or Hayward Tribune, because I can’t seem to find an Oakland thing about it. Out of 20 news headlines 15 are about murder, death or crime. If someone googled “oakland newspaper” and then clicked on My Town: Oakland -this would be there introduction to Oakland. It makes me livid! There are no headlines on local politics/issues or the community. Sorry, there are two stories about the community, but they couldn’t be more depressing or fatalistic.

    Take a look: http://www.insidebayarea.com/oakland

    Eff the “Oakland” Tribune. Why can’t Fremont, Santa Clara or San Jose try and steal that from us -we’d give it to them in a parade!

  158. Born in Oakland

    As usual Max you are technically correct; Harry (the Best) Harris writes about Oakland also but the point is we don’t get nearly the amount of local coverage (or state or national) befitting a city and region with our population. It is, like you know, totally, a stunning neglect. (See, I’ve been reading the Trib once in a while so I can barely express a a complete thought .) Do like your posts, however, keep them coming.

  159. Dave C.

    Starting at the beginning of this year, the Tribune added “An edition of the San Jose Mercury News” in very small print under the big Tribune logo on the front page. Despite that, it’s absurd to say that you can’t find an Oakland thing about the Tribune. In addition to Woodall and Rayburn and Harris, Sean Maher and Cecily Burt usually cover Oakland, and Katy Murphy writes about the Oakland schools, and Tammerlin Drummond’s column is about Oakland, and so on. It may not be the greatest paper in the world, but it is still an Oakland paper in more than name only…

  160. len raphael

    The OBAC Oakland Budget Advisory Committee

    “What We Do:

    The BAC advises the City Council on expenditures and revenues for all general fund municipal services and assists with the development of a five-year financial plan. The BAC must submit quarterly reports to the Finance & Management Committee. From time to time the Chair may request more frequent reports.”

    I didn’t look at those reports because I couldn’t find them on the city web site. http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/CityAdministration/d/BudgetOffice/o/BudgetAdvisoryCommittee/index.htm

    If someone finds those quarterly reports, please report back here whether there was any concern expressed about lack of long term budgeting for unfunded retirement medical benefits and underfunded pension obligations.

    My other concern is that our current city auditor, Courtney Ruby was the vice-chairperson of OBAC during the years that the unfunded medical benefits rose to hundreds of millions, but never once then or since issued a red alert to the voters about them.

    Looking at her site’s bio, it is not obvious whether she even has any extensive auditor experience, let alone muni government audit expertise. She does have some state govt financial experience and lots of non profit accounting experience.


    -len raphael

  161. len raphael

    Ms Ruby lists Certifed Fraud Examiner right after her CPA certification. I believe that is a certificate one earns basically thru the mail from a legitimate organization by submitting proof of professional experience in accounting and auditing or directly in loss/fraud detection, plus education, and pass a long multiple choice online exam.



    Lets put it this way, I do real well on written exams and am sure I could pass that test after prepping for it even though a CPA like me’s only audit experience was the several hundred hours required to get my type of CPA license.

    I assume our City Auditor does not have extensive real world auditor experience or she would have listed that on her bio. Anyone know?

    -len raphael

  162. len raphael

    Assume my impressions about Courtney Ruby’s experience and qualifications for government auditing are all wrong.

    I cannot understand that in a city the size of Oakland, with the lack of sunshine and the extent of voter and media apathy, that she hasn’t come up with more maggots squirming under city rocks.

    Blaming that on her budget doesn’t explain it. She doesn’t have a staff of hundreds to absorb her time. She and one good staff person or a sub contractor should be able to perform quite a few hard hitting audits per year.

  163. livegreen

    Troubling. I know V has previously mentioned the low amounts of auditing Ms. Ruby has done. (Don’t know if that trend has continued or improved since last discussion on the topic). I have heard this critique elsewhere. It would be nice to have additional information…

  164. livegreen

    Yes. I thought I saw you post on Marleen’s blog? Go there for further details. She has a form letter to request tax $ back.

  165. MarleenLee

    The City continued to collect Measure Y taxes for one or more weeks after they adopted the July budget. However, my understanding is that the Alameda County Tax Collector has been informed not to include Measure Y taxes for the November property tax statements. The statements get posted on the internet, but I don’t think they are posted yet. In any event, the claim process I described is for LAST year’s taxes, not this year’s.

  166. len raphael

    Significance, if any, of Oakland telling the County not to collect?

    Is there some verbiage in as you put it, the emasculated MY-II about the collected taxes could be lent?

    -len raphael

  167. ralph

    You have one year from the due date if I recall correctly. But if they appropriate for 739 don’t look for a refund.

  168. MarleenLee

    Ralph – the definition of “appropriate for 739″ is what is at issue in my second lawsuit. If the City doesn’t budget for academies, then they are not appropriating enough to “maintain” 739 non-MY officers. That’s my argument. Claim must be filed one year from date of payment per MY. Nobody is getting a refund unless I win my case, people. But if you want a shot, get your claim in, to be safe.

  169. ralph

    Ah yes, payment date.

    I wish you luck in the lawsuit, but my own gut tells me that the academies are irrelevant to the appropriation language. I would think that the academies would come into play if the city were required to staff the positions to collect the money. But if you the city set aside the money for 739 officers it would seem to me that they have met their obligation.

    I personally like the cleverness of the MY language.

  170. len raphael

    Did Quan publicly urge her supporters to chose Kaplan as their second choice, or just informally?

    The rumor has it that Kaplan wouldn’t reciprocate.

    If so, that was an astute move on RK’s part, and a major blooper from Quan. She probably wasn’t going to win regardless, and if she can steer her suppporters to Perata…

    I was about to say Perata returns favors graciously. But OPOA might have a different opinion.

  171. ralph

    Not familiar with the author of MY, I used a working premise that the author was clever enough to realize that the city would be hard pressed to guarantee 739 officers, but the city could set aside money to fund 739 positions and be good to go.

    But if Danny Wan, a former councilmember, intended to require the city to staff 739 positions before MY tax were collected, then he, more than anyone, should have known the difference between approrpriate for and staff. My experience is the audit side of the house but appropriate for and spending authority have some clear meanings and DW should have known as much.

  172. Livegreen

    OPOA seems to b fine wih the Don’s opposition to the measures, as long as his name isn’t Jean Quan or Rebecca Kaplan:


    So it’s ok for the Don to oppose the tax measures while getting elected but not JQ who supports the same “compromise” the OPOA does.

    So is the OPOA just making a gamble, or is there another obligation the Don must pay the OPOA at a later date? Or does it tie into State politics, ties similar to the Prison Guard Union, and preserving Police comps & benefits?

  173. ralph

    Maybe OPOA is doing us a favor…becasue the laid off officer will have to join a PD where officers contribute they have absolutely no reason not to contribute the full nut now.

    LG, the conspiracy theorist in me likes your thinking. I think OPOA just dislikes the current leadership. IDLF thinks that officers should be paying the full nut and the city should not be getting blood from a stone. So after the tax fails and DP is elected, the officers will hand DP and IDLF the 12% and their first win. Serious election calculus.

  174. Anita

    I think I read somewhere that Perata was against any cut in pay or benefits for police officers and was against any lay offs of police officers. If both the parcel tax and the Measure Y fix fail, where is Perata going to get the money to pay his police? He will have to close down all other general fund programs to fund the police. Anymore cuts to the libraries will prevent the city from collecting Measure Q funds. Measure K requires the city to pay a certain amount to recreation programs. Where else can he cut to pay for the police? Maybe he will station police officers at the libraries and pay them from Measure Q, or say they patrol the hills looking for fires and pay police from the Wildfire Assessment District.

  175. Dax

    I was just reading a interesting story about the brain in today’s Los Angeles Times. Over the past few weeks I’ve been keeping up with a long series of articles they’ve been writing about teacher evaluations in LA and California.
    A really great series.

    Now, reading those and other stories, makes one realize that the people of the Bay Area, and the East Bay in particular, are being deprived of oxygen when it comes to our local governments and local issues.
    The few reporters left, are pedaling as fast as they can to just skim the surface of various meetings and press conferences. I’m not blaming them since they are simply overwhelmed and have little time to spare for expanded or investigative articles.

    Two things happen. The newspaper publishes fewer and fewer stories. Then the readers stop reading the newspaper.
    That creates less and less revenue and thus the need to cut even more journalists.

    The gap left is huge. No blogs or similar sites are going to be producing a series like the LA Times is doing on the teacher evaluation issue.
    OR if one did so, the readership would be perhaps 1% of what it would be in the general newspaper.

    That teacher evaluation story is creating the basis for some real change in Los Angeles by having the issue aired for the general public. It allows politicians and board members the space to do something new with public support being able to override the teachers union and their public employee coalition.

    Oakland no longer has this avenue for change in the public’s perceptions.
    The paper merely prints the basics.

    On occasion, a series of articles, such as those done by Dan Borenstein, on pension spiking and AB 1987, create a mini storm that influences what would otherwise have been a railroaded bill passage totally influenced by the public employee unions.

    The public is ignorant about almost everything done at city hall.
    I’ve recently questioned random people I happen to run into around Lakeshore. Just people I happen to interact with.
    Then I ask them what if anything they understand about a particular Oakland city issue, such as pay, benefits or pensions.
    Bright people, active people, they know almost nothing of the details.

    The public arena is dying as our newspapers fade away. This allows special interest to become ever more powerful as they set the news agenda with orchestrated events and public relations.

    The recent Don Perata piece about how he isn’t supporting the parcel tax.
    Everyone is in on that. The OPOA, Perata, IDLF… A totally planned roll-out trying to make Perata appear independent of the OPOA on that tough fiscal issue.
    Its all a dance with the public being led around by the nose. No one seriously thinks it has a 5% chance of passing.
    Not even Jean Quan. I talked to one of her “very” closest supporters yesterday as they walked the neighborhood house to house. He admitted that they all know it won’t pass. All a face saving ruse to avoid the reality prior to the election.

    Well, I digress. That example aside, Oakland is starving for real news published by a real newspaper, where the reporters are not running around gasping for air to just cover the name and address of the latest homicide victim.

    One or two city-hall reporters are never ever going to uncover anything at a city hall employing over 4,000 people.
    Unless some disgruntled employee just drops it in their lap.
    Unfortunately no one is going to do that when their job depends on staying on the lucrative and safe (gravy) train. through to pension time.

    Grumble, grumble

  176. MarleenLee

    Dax, I couldn’t agree more. And right before a big election, the Tribune loses its City Hall reporter. Not that he was great, but at least he pretty much knew what was going on. Now, the Trib has NO city hall reporters, and they try to cover the news with fill ins from other beats. Tragic.

    Anita – I didn’t hear Perata saying the police shouldn’t take a hit financially. When I posed this question, he said that the City needed to make significant cuts elsewhere first. He didn’t go into detail about where, which bothered me, but he never said the police shouldn’t contribute to their pensions. The Trib needs a good reporter to sit down with the candidates and depose them – I mean Katie Couric style. Don’t let them get away with not answering the questions. I’d love to see that.

  177. len raphael

    Re trib: they should put their education reporter, Katie Murphy full time on it, but then their only consistently in depth coverage of Oakland govt. (education) would collapse.


  178. Naomi Schiff

    I hear they are looking for someone, so if you know any responsible, smart, persevering investigative types with an aptitude for local government reporting, and who want to work for print media, spread the word.

  179. len raphael

    Great planning on Trib’s part. Not that their coverage contributed anything in prior elections other than to elect Ron and council incumbents.

    Clearly the Trib needs our help in the next few months leading to the election. We should write sample endorsements for them to run. Something along the lines of their endorsement editorial for the June 2008 council elections where they noted how bad the incumbents were, but advised us to vote them all back for another term in office.

    How about:

    ” The top three candidates all have serious weaknesses but their rich and diverse histories of selfless public service should be considered.

    We recommend that you should either flip a coin or close your eyes while voting” for P Q K.

  180. ralph

    the Trib had a City Hall reporter?

    From the DP Townhall I attended, DP was clear that he thinks that the OPD should be the best paid because of their work conditions. He also stated that expenses should be reduced in other places.

    On the one hand, he does have a point regarding the conditions. However, if OPD thinks that the loss of 80 resulted in a spike of crime, then it seems that if they gave up some of their pay and hired more officers, then crime should decrease and they can improve their work conditions.

    I have never heard DP speak on the matter of OPD pension contributions. But since he is not going to find material savings in the rest of the budget, I assume that he leans towards officer contributions.

  181. Naomi Schiff

    My guess is he might suggest selling off various city assets to developer cronies, as with the failed effort to unload the school properties. However, given the current real estate market, this could mean offering things at a very low price, and of course once sold, that’s it: one time gains, not the cure for a recurring deficit. If you look at campaign contributions, you will realize that in addition to the prison guards, he is and has long been receiving considerable sums from developers. Keep an eye on your parks and public facilities.

  182. ralph

    Selling city assets is not a bad idea if the sold assets are unproductive and are put to productive use and generate annual rents for the city. Of course, in this environment it will be a few years before the anything is developed.

    I am curious if anyone in the city is assessing the future tax dollars lost from houses sold in foreclosure at rock bottom prices relative to assessed value. Tax dollars the city won’t be seeing again.

  183. len raphael

    My sense is that Alameda County is still way behind on implementing its stated policy of temporarily lowering assessments to current market values.

    That will happen even without the continuing waves of short sales and much more to come.

    I have only heard of a few owners who got a reduction without applying for one.

    Contrast that to Contra Costa where the County Assessor did it promptly.

    Basically, the gentrifiers and bigger commercial owners here figured out to apply, and the lower middle class working people who shoehorned themselves into owning got screwed because not sophisticated enough to file the appeal.

  184. Livegreen

    Oakland would have a much easier time selling property if it were safer. But we can’t do anything about safety until we have increased rvenue, decreased costs or both. We’re in an incredibly difficult, Catch 22 situation.

    San Francisco has withstood the housing decline much better for obvious reasons. The only properties the City might b able to sell at a decent price are in the Hills. Could Oak Noll b sold off in smaller portions now that the prior development plan has fallen through?

    As far as OUSD property I don’t see the relevence to the City. However they are going to have to sell some facilities since they have the same # of schools with 10,000 less students (compared to however many years ago), and massive debt owed to the state.

  185. ralph

    I can honestly say that while I am not impressed with the AC Assessor’s office, I think they did an okay job with assessing this year. Granted, I am only looking at a handful of data points but the properties were assessed at a $/sf rate which equalled that of new homes sold this year.

    What exactly is a gentrifier?

    I don’t think crime is as big of an issue as most people make it out to be. Downtown continues to be attractive to young professional, as do parts of East and West Oakland. While crime may be high it has not deterred investment. This was true in DC and Baltimore as well. It takes a leader with vision.

    I believe the DP OUSD reference is referring to deals past that JB and DP were trying to do.

  186. Livegreen

    Understood about Perata & his developer friends after OUSD property. I don’t know which property it was, but it does make a difference. If it was the OUSD HQ issue, that decrepit building on prime DT property, the problem was OUSD wouldn’t benefit because then they’d have to buy & build somewhere else. OTOH, if the developer took care of that on a cheaper property (some OOTBox thinking) then it might work for everybody.

    About the Tribune, the only thing worse than reading the print is reading the mobile edition. They repeat the headlines multiple times. So today it appears the main story in the bay area is a Six Year Old Catches a Shark on his First Fishing Trip.

    Good 4 him, but repeat 3x? GMABreak.

  187. len raphael

    Ralph, using assessed value/sq feet tends to support what you’re saying, but need that for oakland, then by year of acquisition. without that granuality, i’ll stick with anecdotal evidence that they’re three years behind agressively marking down parcels bought during the last boom unless the owners filed an appeal.

  188. V Smoothe

    I’m not sure where you got that idea, Len. The Alameda County Assessor has been aggressively assessing properties down for the last two years.

  189. len raphael

    v, from North Oakland yahoo groups where as of just a few months ago, people were asking about the appeal process.

    as of 4 months ago, i spoke to someone at the office, and they said at that time they were something like 1 year behind responding to appeals. My appeal from two years ago was processed about 5 months ago, but the refund check took another 3 months.

    what’s the basis for your info?


  190. ralph

    Your anecdotal evidence and my small sample don’t really amount to much in the grand scheme, but I lean towards my small sample as not being too far off base. (call it bias)

    I honestly hate the appeal process. By law the appeals board has 2 years from the date you appealed to hear your case. So it looks like the appeal from 2 years ago was timely processed but that is some bull about check. If owners are required to pay by X date and the appeals board can take up to 2 yrs to hear the appeal than owners should have the refund within 7 days and 21 latest. Reason number 237 to hate government.

    I think the assessor was somewhere between aggressive and on the money. Should my appeal ever see the light of day I will have a better idea.

    And Len, my anecdotal evidence tells me that the informal request / appeals process is not understood by all. That is people who you think might file, don’t!

  191. len raphael

    Ralph, yup i thought it was chickenshit that even after my appeal was approved, I had to pay the pre appeal tax payment instead of applying the to be refunded amount to the installment.

    Explanation “different county departments”.

    Exactly my point that most smaller owners have no idea how to file an appeal. When they figure it out, the rolls will drop further.


  192. Anita

    If I calculate correctly, of the 80 officers that were laid off, only 8 of those officers could have removed from regular patrol duties. 63 of those positions were Measure Y officers, 57 problem solving officers and 6 other Measure Y funded positions and 9 were the PSO sergeants. That is 72 of the 80 positions that were cut. That leaves only 8 officers that could have been assigned to regular patrol duties. I don’t see how any drastic increase in crime could could be caused by elimination of 8 officers assigned to patrol. My understanding is that the PSOs main duties involved quality of life issues and some work on drug houses.

    But the news says as a result of a loss of these officers, only 8 of which responded to 911 calls, the police department no longer responds to calls like burglaries, thefts, vandalism.

    What is Oakland going to be like if we really loose 120 more officers who actually respond to 911 calls?

    I think we need more oficers, but $180,000 each is a little too much.

    Even if they pay their own retirement, that only saves about $8100 each per year, that will make the cost of each officer about $172,000 per year.

    I don’t have the answer, but eliminating all city services in order to save police officers is not the answer. Giving the City Council another $50 mil a year to waste away on pet projects isn’t the answer either.

  193. Livegreen

    Anita, OPD DOES responed to such calls (I assume you mean 911 calls). They just don’t Investigate them afterwards. It’s an issue of Investigations getting cut back (except Internal Affairs), as they and PSO’s were reassigned to Patrol.

    They didn’t have a lot of Investigators doing that anyway before.

  194. Patrick M. Mitchell

    So when do we find out how much our ad valorem rate has been jacked up this year?

  195. len raphael

    V, did the assessor’s office give you stats? eg. number of Oakland parcel assessments lowered and distribution of the reduction? breakdown between commercial multi unit and single fam/single condo unit?

    breakdown between reductions initiated by appeal vs automatically by assessor review?

    without that info, i’d assume their statement is self serving.


  196. len raphael

    V, also what is current backlog of appeals?

    processed number of prop 13 downward temp adjustments, percentage of total parcels:

    by year of acquisition, commercial vs multi unit residential vs single fam vs condo.

    seems like a lot of work, but go in that office some time. Not killing themselves working OT. Ron T. can be seen walking around.

  197. V Smoothe

    Len –

    I saw the figures last year. I no longer have them readily accessible, but I’m sure that you could find out the details easily by inquiring at the Assessor’s office.

  198. Anita

    I have been told that callers are told that police will not respond to take reports on those types of crimes and you have to make the report on the internet or go to a library or police station to make the report on the internet. I have had a friend who tried to make a burglary report and they were told an officer would not respond and the report must be made on the internet.

    I just looked at the OPD web page and here are the crimes that must be reported online:
    * Theft
    o Identity Theft
    o Fraudulent Use of Credit Card
    o Mail Theft
    o Theft of a Dog
    * Vandalism
    * Vehicle Burglary
    * Vehicle Tampering and Attempted Auto Theft
    * Abandoned Vehicles
    * Hit and Run
    * Annoying Phone Calls
    * Residential Burglary

    I wonder if there is any followup on these reports or if the beat officer even knows the crime occurred when someone makes it on the internet??

    Fortunately I have not been the victim of a crime recently and have not seen first hand how this new online reporting system works and what if any investigation is done on these reports.

  199. Dax

    In the next year or two, when Oakland comes around to the decision to revamp its pension plan for new hires, I hope one or more of you will have the following site bookmarked so you can pass it on to your council person.


    I’m afraid otherwise, Oakland will spend $500,000 to hire some new experts to reinvent the wheel instead of borrowing all the work and analysis that has already been done.
    Of course, they could just dust off the old pension plan they had in place 6 years ago, but I’m sure various parties are going to want to change bits and pieces of that.

  200. Livegreen

    Anita, You said calls before, now you’re saying reports. There’s a difference. If a crime for any of these is happening or just happened, call police. If you want to file a report afterwards file online.

    I realize there’s an overlap and I think part of the difference is how busy they are and so how long after they’re able to respond. The point is, if there’s a crime happening, just happened, or any doubt, make the call.

  201. ralph

    I believe this answers your question:

    Upon completion of this report process you will:

    •See the words: “Your online police report has been submitted” showing that your police report is complete.
    •Most cases are not investigated.
    •Be given a police report case number.
    •Be able to print a copy of the police report to keep for your records.

    You can find this by clicking through to the report process. So then why do we have this process: 1) for insurance claims and 2) front end stat juking (if you know the crime is never going to be investigated do you really need to take the time to report it if the insurance recovery is so-so).

  202. len raphael

    Anita, hate to be the first to tell you, but for years OPD consciously decimated it’s investigative staff by chosing to staff Internal Affairs with cops instead of civilians, and simply because we need 1000 cops on the streets instead of the only 600 we have who are mostly doing paperwork.

    ie. cops would come out to take your report but there was no followup.

    hell, there was no followup two years ago when a latino buddy’s neice got sliced up by her ex boyfriend stalker in north oakland.

  203. len raphael

    Oakland demographics have changed much more in the last decade than i realized.

    Drop in percentage of blacks over last decade is startling:


    “From 2000 to 2008, Oakland’s Black population, which excludes persons who self-identify as “multi-racial”, dropped from 35.7% to 31.9% of the total population. In contrast, Oakland’s total White population, in which the U.S. Census Bureau includes Whites of Latino origin, increased from 31.3% to 36.9%.”

    First, how low density it is:

    From the link below: Detroit is 6,727 people/sq mile.

    From Wikipedia Oakland is 399,000/56sq miles ? = 7,125 people/sm

    SF 16,099/sq miles

    Manhattan 66,951/sqm

    Looked up Brooklyn:

    2,486,235/ = 34,920 people /sq miles


    I find myself agreeing with a smartgrowth buddy that Oakland does not have the population density (or income-wealth density) to be sustainable.

    We disagree on how to change that, but if it doesn’t dramatically increase we are scrooged.

  204. ralph

    Oakland’s pop density has always bothered me, which is why I was a huge fan of JBs efforts to bring them by the 1000s. We need more people. I really feel at times that I am living in the burbs.

  205. Daniel Schulman

    I fully agree we need more population and more economic growth.

    While the debt hole the city has built over many decades is pretty intractable, it looks a lot better when spread over more people and economic activity. As Bill Clinton used to say, we need to grow the economy.

    At the same time that we grow, though, I think it is important not to lose the things we like about Oakland in the first place. More population density is no good if we just destroy our scenic beauty, demolish our historic buildings, create traffic jams, and increase noise and other pollution.

    The only way I see to grow that makes any sense is Transit Oriented Development (TOD).

  206. livegreen

    I believe part of the reason many African Americans are leaving Oakland is the same as others: crime. Those who have income & employment face the same challenges as any other race, or more so because for historical reasons many are geographically closer to it.

    I’ve spoken recently with some who’ve expressed the same frustration as others with the City, others whose families moved recently or a while ago. Crime & the poisonous atmosphere have been the consistent reason. & unfortunately for the City many of these families are solid middle class, skilled blue & white collar.

    Of course this is anecdotal, but it is consistent over the 15-20 people I’ve discussed. & it is not the same as traditional gentrification.

  207. livegreen

    Daniel, So density is ONLY around Transit? What defines “around” or close enough to be TOD? There are parts of DT which are quite a walk from BART, but have high rises all around, and space for more. What about those?

    And do high density apartments get built by Rockridge BART, but not by Telegraph or Koreatown/Northgate, because there’s no BART stop there?

    I don’t think Density can only be near TOD. We simply don’t have that many BART stops. & if you’re talking also about near AC Transit bus corridors, those go across the city everywhere.

  208. len raphael

    density smensity.

    we need more residents who pay more in taxes than they need in cost of public services. if you think you can attract them and cram them close together, selling them on the carbon footprint and public transit advantages, run some marketing survey to see how it flys. I don’t mean surveys don’t three years ago.

    at this point in our dire situation, the real estate situation, and the global economic shifts, we’re not in any position to be imposing the same planning principles we could when demand was much higher.

    most likely new affluent residents want more space for the buck or they would live in SF.

    you can do it the Oakland way of not giving services or freezing them and growing your population, but at some point residents figure it out and split for cities that function.

    Daniel, Dax, et al several of us should run the numbers to see how many more residents in what area density configurations we need to:

    pay the retirement obligations over expected retiree lifetimes and have enough left for 1,000 cops, fewer better schools, and infrastructure.

    sure hope someone at Frank Ogawa Plaza has a model for this. But i don’t think so.

  209. Dax

    I would say a primary reason for the change in Oakland’s demographics is job displacement.
    Numerous jobs that were previously held by some people have now become the jobs of other people.

    The city has invited a atmosphere where job substitution has accelerated.

    To walk the streets, the industrial areas, the work sites, and to ignore what you see is a willful blindness.

    Oakland leaders bemoan outsourcing while insourcing is all around them.

    The operative phrase is “You have been replaced”

  210. len raphael

    I wouldn’t count on Doug Boxer and crew on the Planning Commission to lead the charge making a better Oakland.

    In approving a parolee center near Pill Hill on Telgraph:

    “And Commissioner C. Blake Huntsman said the businesses might benefit from the increased foot traffic and potential customers.

    “I truly believe that if this city doesn’t provide for this constituency we will fall into more problems,” Huntsman said. “We’re going to have folks coming home, whether it’s from prison, from war, or from vacation, and we need to (help) them.”


    Same Planning Commission that approved the Nik Nak liquor store.

    A lot of people on this site have expressed need for cops to live in Oakland. How about requiring geographical representation on the Planning Commission so that it’s members can live with the results of their decisions. Too many of them live in the hills and only pass thru the lower 40.

    Better yet, make Planning Commissioner an elected position. hmmm…

    -len raphael

  211. len raphael

    If the City doesn’t have the cajunes or the leverage to force the owners of the 51st/Pleasont Valley and Bway Safeway to put in high density mixed use TOD, in a desirable section of town, how can you expect it to make developers in East and West O to do that?

    Don’t go blaming it on nimbys.

    Every community, no growth, slow growth, smart growth group publicly united with planning staff but owners refused. City backed down.

  212. Barry K

    Dax: “change in Oakland’s demographics is job displacement.

    Deborah Edgerly, Cheryl Thompson (former asst to Edgerly) Elihu Harris, Ron Dellums (not fast enough), Marcie Hodge…

    Barbara Lee and Sandre Swanson come to mind too; since they both appealed to a bankruptcy judge overseeing Your Black Muslim Bakery and asked that Oakland not get paid back the $1.2M in “bad” loans.

    You don’t have to live in Oakland to cash in on those pension checks.

  213. Naomi Schiff

    Len, current Planning Commission is not dominantly hill-dwellers. I sometimes disagree with the commission, but: Gibbs and Truong live in East Oakland, not high up. Zayas Mart lives off Broadway Terrace, medium high altitude. Boxer is in Crocker Highlands. Colbruno and Huntsman live near MacArthur Blvd/Fairmount. Not sure where Galvez lives; works on Grand Ave. I think all this yearning for density and longing for transit-oriented development is fine but it doesn’t reflect current reality, which is a static population count. And as I have said before, fewer and fewer buses.

  214. Naomi Schiff

    Len: Barbara has a condo in Waterfront Warehouse/Jack London area. Re: planning commission. Elected? I’m not sure. On the face of it it sounds good but it might depend on the status of election rules in Oakland. Could make commissioners even more sycophantic toward developers, the most likely contributors to campaigns. Requiring some geographic diversity would be a good idea, probably. At times that has not been the case. But the city council can overrule almost anything the planning commission decides.Making them elected officials might tend to alter the power balance and might change the relationship with the council & mayor quite a lot. Wonder if for better or worse?

  215. len raphael

    thats’ a good sign that a historical preservation advocate would be ambivalent. maybe we can get Carlos P to weigh in.

    are Planning Commissions usually elected positions in SF, LA, NY etc.?

  216. Max Allstadt

    I think electing planning commissioners is a terrible idea. We already have WAY too many down-ballot elected positions.

    Down-ballot elected officials are even less accountable than appointees. Nobody can fire them. Nobody can recall them. Nobody pays attention to their elections.

    If I had my way, I’d eliminate elections for BART Board, AC Transit Board, EBRPD Board, Peralta Community College Board, and EBMUD Board.

    The vast majority of East Bay residents don’t even know that these boards exist, let alone what they do.

    And nobody but huge nerds like me and some of ABO’s finest is going to do research on all of the down-ballot candidates. Actually, I’m not going to do research on all of them.

    And actually, if I remember correctly, last election, even the illustrious VSmoothe herself opted not to opine on some of the ballot options, because she didn’t feel informed enough about them.

    If that’s not an indicator that we’re over-democratized to the point of paralysis, I don’t know what is.

    Executive appointed positions are far better, because the executive who makes the appointments is more visible and is the one who gets the flak if the appointee screws up.

    How many electeds did we count up that serve Oakland, V? Was it 92?

  217. livegreen

    Yeah, the Chinese look at how we function and say “screw that”. They have enough trouble coordinating their own government in a totalitarian system, without a thousand additional moving parts that comes with democracy.

    With Democracy comes both responsibility and citizen involvement. Have a lack of it, and interest groups and money step in to fill the void.

    In Oakland that’s the NGO’s and non-profits vs. the developers, and the City labor unions vs. the taxpayers.

    The Commissioners are in there receiving input from all these groups, combined with their own ideas, staff input, and the politicians. It is a messy process, that has involvement of citizens, and lack of citizens, all these other groups.

    Q: If Planning Commissioners (or other Commissions) have behind the scene meetings with interested parties, is there any requirement to report this?

    Q: What about staff?

    Q: After the Master Plan was approved, is the Planning Commission allowed to approve variances liberally like before?

    If so, are they, and what then was the point of finalizing the Master Plan?

  218. ralph

    I am with the more elected officials is probably not good. As a person who believes in development, I would probably be happy with developers dollarciding who gets elected, but I could see where this may not be good for democracy. Appointments subject to some type of vetting probably makes more sense.

  219. len raphael

    despite some north oakland people who think i’m a neocon (actually i’m a recovering neocon) i have a spouse and friends who are card carrying union members.

    one of them, a Teamster, told me that yesterday he got a letter from the union telling him that unless he opted out, a Perata lawn sign would be delivered to his home in the next few days.

    -len raphael

  220. len raphael

    I’m not a kaplan for mayor fan, but when i found out that the Wellstone endorsed Quan over Kaplan because Quan was “more experienced” I became a temporary Kaplan booster.

    Why V and many other people see public office or even volunteer boards as proof of serious dedication to public service is beyond me.

    To get on the volunteer boards you have to suck up to the politicians in power. They put safe people in those positions who won’t embarrass with criticism.

    As for the need for experience in running a city, i don’t think Hickenlooper had any before running Denver; Guilian and Bloomberg in NYC; and maybe not Corey Booker in Newark.

    How many of the Wellstone members knew anything of Quan’s record

    -len raphael

  221. ralph

    Is that your handiwork lining 51st? I am waiting for the endorsement from the leaders over at Moderate Republican dot com.

    But to your point, there needs to be a way for people who don’t drink from the same fountain to get involved and be heard. Do you sell out your principles to get in and flip the script once you get to where you need to be and let the power of the incumbency keep you entrenched?

  222. Naomi Schiff

    Livegreen, are you speaking of the city’s General Plan, or some other plan? If the General Plan: It is general, and thus does not include the details of implementation. The General Plan is required of each city by the state. What implements it are codes such as the Oakland version of the building code, and the Zoning Regulations, which are currently being updated to match the General Plan (by the way, one of the better things the Dellums admin. has done is to require that the city staff get on with this effort, which is 10 years late). Other implementation measures are ordinances concerning housing, transportation, parks, land uses, and a set of design guidelines that will provide further detail for carrying out the zoning regulations. All this is fairly common to cities in California, although there are some differences in how it is carried out. The goal of the zoning update is supposedly to avoid the granting of so many variances, by aligning the requirements and removing confusion. Because there is lots of litigation about land use, property rights, and neighborhood efforts to protect themselves, there is a huge body of information and precedent. We shall see how things go with variances. One reason I oppose the election of Don P. is that he is likely to push this process around in favor of large developers, who have contributed a lot to him for years.

  223. Naomi Schiff

    The planning commissions I’m aware of are appointed, with various schemes for appointment by mayors and/or by city councils. System differs depending upon the city’s governmental structure. LA is so big it also has area commissions, and area plans that make up its general plan. Generally planning commissions are advisory to city councils, which is why independent election wouldn’t quite make sense. They don’t have independent authority.

  224. Barry K

    Len: “How many of the Wellstone members knew anything of Quan’s record

    Well, by coincidence, Pamela Drake is the Local Politics Coordinator for Wellstone; a PAC.

    The same Pamela Drake that used the Oakland Public Ethics Commission to create a scandal over the OPOA for their endorsement of Don Perata. But she didn’t file a complaint against Quan’s campaign Co-Chair, Nick Vigilante, when he turned the evening into a political event by having Quan address the group as a candidate for Mayor, and, attempted to hand out her literature.

    Naomi- One reason I oppose the election of Jean Q. is that she is likely to push this process around in favor of large developers (and their spouses), who have contributed a lot to her for years. And the benefactors of millions of $ that continue to flow to the MY benefactors that support her and the MY castration on the Nov ballot.

  225. Naomi Schiff

    I guess it is time to take a close look at those contributions. I believe that Don P. has received very large contributions to many and various funds, campaigns, and “legal defense”–based on the secretary of state records– and that Jean hasn’t received anything even close in contributions. But I will do my due diligence and look it up. I seem to remember $20,000 for legal defense” from Signature Properties, for example.

  226. len raphael

    Ralph, mea culpa for planting the Harland for Mayor signs along the public medians in Temescal.

    Though I have heard that the other candidates are doing the same in Montclair, I have pre-emptively contacted the local ACLU for backup. Berkeley allows non obstructive political campaign signage on certain public property but requires prompt removal.

    Oakland forbids it.

  227. len raphael

    My 1 day temporary Kaplan booster status has expired.

    I admire Kaplan’s chutzpah in positioning herself as the youth candidate at the same time sticking them with over 1 Billion in retirement obligations. She is destined for higher office in California. Good fit for Perata’s old job.

    Just like the the other “viable” “serious” mayoral candidates there s’ nothing in her platform or public remarks about the devastating retirement obligations that this and prior city councils and mayors have placed on the younger residents and business’s here.

    oops, am i bad. how could i missed this vague politician talk:

    “Oakland is facing a terrible financial crisis. Much of this is due to the downturn in the economy, but much of it is also the result of decisions that were made in the past with no thought to the future.”

    “Our budget process needs to involve looking at the City’s long-term needs, not just at what will solve immediate problems.

    * In the coming years, a large percentage of the City’s workforce is schedule to retire. This creates a unique opportunity to re-examine our workforce structure to fit more appropriately with the needs of today and tomorrow. We must take this opportunity to redefine job descriptions, consolidate unneeded positions, and hire people with new skills.
    * Much of the City’s organizational structure makes little sense. Things are done one way simply because they always have. For example, taxis are currently regulated by one department, parking by another, street improvements by another, and no single decision-maker is responsible for transportation. This results in poor transportation planning and senseless parking policies. Overhauling outdated organizational structures will allow for more comprehensive and effective policymaking.”

    Can someone explain to me how any of what Kaplan is saying could possibly make a dent on the over 1Bill retirement obligations in our lifetimes?

    Would hope that younger voters would look beyond Kaplan’s youthful foodie, pro hemp, bike riding, mass transit, computerize everything, social justice image and realize she’s just a younger, hipper version Quan and Perata.

    -len raphael

  228. ralph

    I believe you left out an adjective. Kaplan’s head is above the sand when it comes to the pension obligation and she is correct when it comes to this city’s stuck in the ice age structure. The ideal candidate is some amalgamation of the candidates. Unfortunate for us, amalgamations can’t run for office.

  229. len raphael

    Ralph, Kaplan is not JQ or a female Dellums.

    As that famous former Oakland resident would say, I guarantee that Kaplan and Perata completely understand the fiscal disaster.

    The voters should be forcing the candidates to compete on specific proposals and approaches to dealing with the retirement obligations.

    Whether its because all the “viable” candidates are currently indebted to the muni unions or need those unions when they depart Oakland for higher office is irrelevant, much the way at this point the history of how we got in this situation is irrelavent unless like Quan you truly believe that another economic boom is coming that will lift our boat.

    Or maybe Quan and Kaplan believe an increasing tea partied Congress is going to rescue the blue stat cities.

    Perata is a realist in a California la la land way. (btw, he started off as an idealist civics teacher at a Catholic school in Alameda)

    He is under no illusion about a Congressional bailout, but years of operating in Sac have taught him a few things about shifting current fiscal problems into the future.

    -len raphael

  230. Daniel Schulman

    Len, I think you are asking a lot of our younger voters.

    I’ve been around the block a few times, and I can’t get “beyond Kaplan’s youthful foodie, pro hemp, bike riding, mass transit, computerize everything, social justice image.” It’s hard to get past the image when she is reinforcing all of the time with her policies.

    Besides what’s wrong with being hip?

  231. len raphael

    Ralph, who is going to draw that cartoon of Dellums, the city council, and the three “viable” mayoral candidates with their heads in the sand, as the Pension Obligation godzilla approaches.

    Wait, the perfect artist: Mario Chiodo

  232. ralph

    The adjective I was thinking was smarter. While I disagree with the pro hemp policies, it is hard for me to be upset at someone who is not advocating I get killed every time I cross the street or who wants to modernize city hall. But is it too much to ask that while you are modernizing city hall and protecting me while I cross the street that you also advocate for JB’s pro growth development?

  233. len raphael

    Daniel, please rephrase your paraphrase of my comment.

    Hip is fine. It’s Kaplan’s feeding off their global concerns, playing into younger people’s with global warming and ignoring the financial fires that will burn this town down.

    Good to see that all the college degreed young guys with pork pie hats; and woman with tatoes and art history graduate degrees are working minimum wage jobs but eating well.

    when hipsters decide to figure out a way to make more than subsistance living here they’ll be pissed to find this city can’t school their kids, and can’t fix those dedicated bike lanes and maintain open spaces next to high density areas.

    they’ll really have a defining moment when those who bought modest lofts and homes in east and west o get hit with the +1,000/year parcel tax increases to pay for baby boomer AC Transit and all City employees.

  234. len raphael

    Ralph, you think Kaplan is smarter than Perata because she pushes for TOD, bike lanes, and online access to city services, and he doesn’t?

    Perata didn’t beat the 5 year FBI and Justice Dept investigation by dumb luck.His network of PACS etc. would make AL Qaeda look like amateurs. Plus he knows how to pick very competent attorneys.

    Kaplan for all her smarts, degrees from MIT and Stanford, is blinded by her social justice ideology when she and quan tried to stop the cops from protecting DTO.

    She is blinded, like Perata, from forcing all the city employees to take massive cuts in compensation and benefits.

    Unlike Perata, her motivation to protect the employees is more than self-interest: she is typical of many of my North Oakland neighbors who believe it is “progressive” to honor all those Oakland outrageous pension obligations.

    To quote one “we must not balance the City’s budgets off the backs of the working class”

    -len raphael

  235. len raphael

    Naomi, Boornstein basically got it right and filled in some history that my buddy who once sat on the PERS board neglected to mention to me.

    Add a specific question to the list for some of these forums:

    “Do you see any alternative to refi’ng the PERS bonds that come due next year?
    If no alternative, do you have any estimate of how much you would have to increase parcel taxes to fund the shortfall when the refid’ bonds come due or are you planning to refi forever”


  236. ralph

    I think Kaplan is smarter than Quan. At least she has enough sense to know that the parcel tax is not the answer. At the time I posted and even as I write now, I have no idea if she is smarter than Don. I do think he has a little street savvy and real world smarts that serve him well.

    I had the chance to speak with JQ at Oakland Pride and what struck me was her focus on where Oakland is and not what Oakland can be. I got the sense that she is not interested in attracting the professional class but is more interesting in protecting the working class.

    My parents generation spawned the professional class generation of SINKs and DINKs and those who do opt for kids are doing it later meaning there are a number of people who are looking for a vibrant city life. Problem is the prof class incomes which on a dollar look high are on a relative basis equal to or less than a solid middle class income of yesteryear. But our politicians fail to acknowledge and see us as uber rich. So to quote LG, our politicians are trying to protect poor while screwing the middle class. And the diverse city that they are trying deperately to maintain will exactly like the city they were trying to avoid – the true uber rich and the poor.

  237. Naomi Schiff

    To me, smarter isn’t the main issue. I agree it’s important that the mayor not be stupid. But lots of lousy chief executives have been plenty smart. It is critical that the mayor not just say nice things people like, but have courage and some principles. I like many of Kaplan’s sound bites and have advocated for bike lanes and I turn my compost and I walk to work. But she has not shown us much backbone when things get tough. I want principles, honesty, involvement with the citizens, willingness to seek advice from excellent advisors. It won’t hurt to have a decent relationship with the unions, because they are intimately involved in the solutions to our problems, like it or not. No matter how smart a candidate is, it will not help us at all for that person to be beholden in a big way to the prison guards.

  238. len raphael

    Naomi, tell me why the prison guard’s support for Perata is worse on a local level than our own local SEIU support of Quan?

    As I see it, the next Mayor will have to decide whether to issue bonds to pay for SEIU retirement costs vs threatening to break our promise to devote our entire city budget to pay for city employee retirement.

    Which door would you open if much of your campaign “volunteers” were supplied by the SEIU?

    No, OPOA’s support for Perata is a detriment to him. He never needed any help from union with only 700 active members.

  239. len raphael

    Kaplan’s supporters are repeating the same mistake that many of Obama’s supporters did when they only heard him say what they wanted to hear.

    Or even Dellums pre election statements that he didn’t want to be a mayor and “needed your help” to become a “model city”

    They were tone deaf to Obamas clear statements that he wanted to vastly increase our troop levels in Afghanistan.

    Listen, read and watch how important “social justice” is to Kaplan. She’s completely upfront about it.

    At the top of her first web page:

    “..transform City Hall so it becomes an engine of economic growth and social justice…”

    Completely consistent with her background as a civil rights attorney. Didn’t she also intern with one of the local anti-violence ngo’s (Ella Baker?).

    Her interfering with the cops at Grant II wasn’t a misunderstanding. Like most Oakland “progressives” she would believe that the cops are guilty until proven innocent.

    Selectively hear and see what you like in Kaplan’s platform and actions.

    Don’t complain when Mayor Kaplan gives away even more resources to ngo’s than Dellums or Quan ever dreamed possible; and raised parcel taxes to whatever heights to prevent balancing the city’s budget on the backs of the city’s hard working employees.

    She has a vision of vibrant, high density, mass transit using, food and dope growing Oakland. Her supporters will find out whether it’s really the same version as theirs.

    -len raphael

  240. V Smoothe

    Len –

    I think you really need to take a step back and try to look at things without bias. Your comments increasingly appear reflect the viewpoint of someone who has decided what they want to believe about people/issues and will hunt out any shred of evidence they can find to reinforce those views, no matter how small that evidence is or much you need to twist the situation to make it work, while also completely ignoring anything that doesn’t conform to this predetermined idea. It’s time to get some perspective and come back to reality.

  241. len raphael

    Perata looks better and better the more I find out about him.

    His ties to public unions and his role in the Raider’s deal will make me put a clothespin on my nose when i mark him as my clear second choice, but i’ll take him anyday over Quan and Kaplan for many of the same reasons i supported IDLF against Dellums.

    Perata is not an ideologue like Quan and Kaplan, but he is passionate about improving k-12 education. He was once a talented k-12 teacher.

    When fiscal reality hits oakland, Perata will not hesitate to cut off funding the ngo’s (aka the poverty pimps as Charley Pine so crudely puts it).

    if he can do anything to improve Oakland schools, he will.

    When it comes to vibrant city development in a very down market, Perata is under no illusions about the depressing effects of inclusionary housing on attracting developers and attracting upscale residents.

    What is Quan and Kapalan’s position on inclusionary zoning for new rental housing? Before the court decision last year, what was their position on inclusionary zoning for condos?

    Concerned he won’t push TOD or bikelanes?

    a. beggars can’t be chosers

    b. general plan, state and federal laws should be enough to encourage that.

    -len raphael

  242. Naomi Schiff

    Perata was mighty passionate about selling off taxpayer-funded school property to his developer cronies, during the amazing jiu jitsu years in which he first engineered the state takeover, and then, when the property sale fell through (thank goodness we don’t have THOSE unsold condos on the market too!), changed his mind and jumped onto the bandwagon to get it back into local control. Now the school district is worse off financially than before the state regime took over, having squandered huge sums on consultants, and with Mr. Gates’s foundation having changed its mind about school reform, picked up its marbles and took off. Take a look at the whole thing through the lens of real estate speculation and one gets a different picture. It didn’t make me feel DP was particularly worried about the students. Or prescient about the building boom.

  243. len raphael

    Naomi, i don’t blame politicians for assuming the real estate boom would last forever. smarter people than they thought so too.

    I blame politicians like Brown, Dellums, Quan, Brunner for squandering the boom time tax revenues on employee compensation and grants to non profits instead of funding the retirement obligations they created and infrastructure repairs they deferred.

    You didn’t have to be Nostradamus or Warren Buffet to know that you have to fund those long term obligations.

    All of the Measure Y money that dissappeared in the maw of non-violence ngo’s should have gone to well managed results tested K-12 programs.

    More background on Perata’s role in Oakland schools please.

    They don’t call him Teflon Don for nothing.

    -len raphael

  244. Max Allstadt


    Be careful before you believe a word Don Perata says. He’s been going around town saying one thing to one group and the opposite to another.

    In the recent Chip Johnson column, Perata is credited for telling the Council that they shouldn’t raise taxes in order to keep or rehire cops. But at the Oakland Builders’ Alliance candidate meet up, Don Perata’s entire speech was about how were going to have to raise taxes.

    He has also made closed door promises to unions, pledging to eave their bloated pensions untouched. I find that particularly distressing because it’s impossible for him to keep that promise without bankrupting the city.

    As for Jean Quan, Naomi’s comments about backbone are baffling to me. A politician with backbone wouldn’t have spent our reserve fund during an economic boom. Quan doesn’t have backbone. She has factional allies to please. “Standing up to developers” actually means “shaking down developers on behalf of her union and NGO allies”.

  245. len raphael

    Max, none of what i opined about Perata was based on his words. My basic approach is to hold politicians statements, written and oral against them, but never rely on those statements in their favor, for the reason you mention that politicians want to be elected, want to be loved by everyone, so they end up promising all things to all people.

    the key is to extrapolate from their words and past what they’re likely to do in the brief period when they’re between elections.


  246. Max Allstadt

    OK. So you’re saying that you’re voting for Perata based on:

    1. Some sort of intuitive distillation of the meaning of his promises, which is possible somehow even when his promises change depending on his audience.

    2. His performance in the State Senate. Do you really think Don left California better than he found it?

  247. len raphael


    1. no astrology required to predict how DP will behave because he has a 20 track record of taking care of friendly unions and smoothing the way for developers. Nothing he’d like better than to take care of both at once by speeding up approvals and bargain land sales for construction projects.

    The guessing part is his motivation. My guess he really wants to help Oakland by adding more middle and upper class residents and office jobs etc. to raise all boats around here.

    That’s not inconsistent with making your supporters better off.

    On the retirement obligations to the muni unions, he will first try exactly the same things Quan and Kaplan would.

    Because there are very few options.

    So he’ll try to finance and hock/sell assets and revenue streams up the wazoo.

    When that fails he’ll cut the ngo’ and social justice programs. Kapland and Quan would only differ in that they would cut those last.

    Then he’ll start throwing various unions to the wolves. Start with the fire dept, move to the cops, and then start laying off SEIU members. Doubtful he’ll threaten Chapt 9 but he’s nothing if not flexible. eg. kicking the OPOA in the teeth by opposing the parcel tax.

    Eventually he’ll cut the city staffing to tendons, preserving and maybe even adding lower paid cops to protect the new developments. That will give him time to hold on for the Federal tea party bailout.

    That will consist of the Feds overturning State law and knocking all muni and state pensions down to what the PGBC pays. Medical goes byebye.

    Oakland will be hit with a very high but barely manageable surcharge by the Feds that spreads the full cost of that bailout out over 30 years.

    As Quan put it when she avoided going negative on DP in a recent forum “follow the money”

  248. Livegreen

    Len, You mean Don’s job as Prison Guard Union Representative and creator of Funds for State Measures that aren’t even being proposed? & from which he paid IDLF thousands of $ in consulting fees.

    In the one debate I’ve seen so far, the Sierra Club videos on ABO, Kaplan had the best answers. Perata’s weren’t bad but they were highly dependent on State politics, not as many local initiatives, like Kaplan. & while he and Jean often framed the challenges well, they did not offer near as many practical, innovative solutions that seem realistic. Where all three leading candidates are weakest is budget.

    Several of the secondary candidates also framed the problems correctly, minus occasionally not understanding a question,but didn’t propose anything beyond general solutions. On the other hand they framed the budget problem correctly.

    As a result as of now I’m undecided, with an edge to Kaplan.

  249. len raphael

    Max, if we temporarily limit our DP discussion to development, what is your beef with him?

    Is it that you’re sure he favors stupid growth instead of kaplan’s smart growth?

    with all the federal and state air pollution rules affecting development, state rules encouraging density, and oakland’s rezoning to a general plan that favors TOD how much difference would kaplan’s jawboning make over the greeness of the outcome?

    Carlos P and crew made the right choice for small builders and developers.

  250. len raphael

    correction to my post: “Then he’ll start throwing various unions to the wolves. Start start laying off SEIU members, move on the fire dept, then the cops. Quan and Kaplan would do that in reverse order.”

  251. len raphael

    LG, without solving the budget, security, education problems, every other platform promise is blowing smoke up the voters’ bu_ _s.

    How about something novel for Oakland: stop dreaming about how great we should be, and just run this place like a normal fairly poor city for next 8 years, with appropriate planning for future growth.

  252. len raphael

    What is the direct impact on city finances from the Ports money problems?

    What’s the prognosis for the port?

    If shipping volume is expected to continue declining, I can see their desperation to try the OAC, no matter how loopey that is.

  253. ralph

    In political speak, candidates understand the question but give you the answer they want to convey. I do agree with you take on the forum though. Ms. Kaplan, contrary to common practice, seemed to have an answer for the question asked.

    I spoke with Tuman at Oakland Pride, and I was fairly impressed with his approach to the police problem. He and Ms. Kaplan probably attended the same thought school, with Tuman having practical experience implementing. (To be fair, RK could have implemented the early retirement policy elsewhere, I just don’t know.)

    In a city that needs jobs and has hundreds of qualified construction type people what is wrong with a man who has the ability to create need jobs.

  254. len raphael

    Max, re. Perata’s responsibility for the mess in Sacramento: do you and i live in the same town?

    Most Oakland voters hold as an article of faith, that the California budget fiasco is 100% the fault of Republicans and Jarvis Gann.

    You would chuckled out of the forums for suggesting shared blame with Perata and team.

  255. ralph

    Per JT, as in administrator in the education sector, he asked some staff to take early retitement. He stripped people off his books and then was able to hire them back at a fraction of the price. (I do not know the intricacies of this deal with CalPers and who well it worked. I do know it more creative than, “Hey, I have an idea. What do you guys think about a $360 parcel tax. I don’t think it will pass, but you know, we got to try something, and if it fails, we can say, we tried but the voters shot it down.”

    As far a I know, RK favored an early retirement plan. The newer officers with the newer training are significantly more valuable to Oakland.

    I think the smart money would also say that the newer recruits had no incentive to vote against the full pension contribution today. There is not a single PD in the bay area that they can join where they will not pay at least 9%. So, now OPD boots the newbies, who become a newbie somewhere else and pay the 9%; it makes no sense for them to vote against the full boat now.

  256. len raphael

    Sheesh, now we’re down to counting a one off layoff at an educational institution as experience in running and evaluating the costs/benefits of large scale early retirement/golden parachute programs.

    over the years i’ve seen many employees in different large companies take early retirement buyouts.

    usually the employees who took advantage of them were the better employees who could get hired elsewhere.

    the situations where the employer made out very well were those where they made it very clear to the employee that if the employee didn’t take the skimpy retirement package heshe would have a high likelihood of getting laid off with bupkes.

    i don’t think oakland has the latitude under civil service and union seniority rules to pick and choose whom they offer retirement incentives and how they use the stick of layoffs.

    also not clear how much Calpers would increase our premiums if there’s a big spike in retirements. Calpers can’t afford to have a bunch of participants retire early, which could happen if a bunch of member govts try the same thing.

    Early retirement would accelerate the 600Mill medical benefit obligation, unless you drastically cut the medical benefits for new employees.

    Brunner suggested early retirement incentives about a year ago and then dropped it. Ask her staff why would be helpful.


  257. len raphael

    Ralph, if JT’s referring to the UC system, their retirement benefits were phenominal. Add an early retirement incentive and I could see why staff elected to retire.

    Did JT mention is the incredible mess the UC and maybe State U retirement system face as a result of it’s generous retirement benefits. ie. did the early retirement plan solve anything long term?

  258. MarleenLee

    Are you sure JT was an “administrator?” I thought he was straight faculty at SFSU. As a faculty member, he is likely a member of a union. I’d be skeptical of any claims that he was an “administrator” who implemented a layoff. That function is normally carried out at a very high, HR/management negotiator level.

  259. Daniel Schulman

    @MarleenLee I think what he is referring to is here http://joe4mayor.com/blog/?p=79

    “My experience within these entities-and especially in the last 23 years at San Francisco State–has included committee chair positions for hiring and retention, tenure and promotion and curricular development.”

    Later in that piece, he tells us how working at his parent’s restaurants in High School, and working at two other small businesses taught him “how to make a payroll.”

    @Len Raphael given your penchant for backing old dudes, I hope I can count on your support when I run for Mayor in 2026.

  260. Livegreen

    So pro about Tuman is he’s considering implementing Nusom’s threat to fire and rehire. + from the debate he’s pretty realistic about the budget.

    Negative about Tuman is he’s not being truthful about his level of experience.

    Ralph, could you ask him for some clarification on that one? While at it, ask him what he thinks of the Oakland Marathon…

  261. Livegreen

    Thanks for your post Daniel. I would still like to know if a “committee chair” at a U really has that much power, and would a U really fire and rehire? (Or threaten to). Seems pretty strong for a U in CA.

    But for the City, if the unions continue to differentiate themselves from San Francisco by not wanting to compromise here, I say more power to him.

  262. len raphael

    Daniel, i know of at least three people under 35, plus you makes 4, who i would rather see as mayor then Perata, Quan, or Kaplan.

    Problem is they don’t have the money that my friend Hickenlooper had to win his first time in Denver.


  263. ralph

    I did not press JT on the wheres but I think it was at a university. At the time of the conversation, I wasn’t in the position to question the veracity of his role so I left it for what it was. My key takeaway, JT was in favor of offering early retirement.

    JQ also made some stmts to the effect that Oakland was bound by state law to offer the retroactive pension boost and can not take certain actions on the pension until the state takes action first. Oakland has limited flexibility in what they can do. Again, I wasn’t in the position to question her truthiness so I let it go. I wasn’t sure if she understood the question.

    I am not that interested in learning more about JT as he has about a snowball’s chance in satan’s lair. But according to his people, he answers his emails.

  264. ken o

    hickenlooper was a GREAT Denver mayor. is, if he still is. he got his region’s burban mayors together to raise a tax for rail transit, and the tax(es) passed; RTD is going gravy as far as i know.

  265. ralph

    RTD is the bomb diggity. Denver got it going on. Maybe Hickenlooper would be interested in helping out the hometown team

  266. Max Allstadt


    I’m not talking about the logjams in Sacramento. I’m talking about the fact that Perata had control of the State Senate and did nothing to stop the pension bomb. He got termed out just before the bomb went off.

  267. len raphael

    Max, when i referred to the mess in Sac, I consider the logjam only the latest symptom of their failures. of course, the state legislature approved expenditures of all kinds grew much faster than inflation and probably tax revenue. add to that the underfunded and optimistic retirement promises.

    But i stand by my point that most voters in Oakland don’t blame Perata and the democrats for spending and increasing benefits too much too fast.

    The voters here blame Republicans for not raising taxes higher, not repealing Prop 13 on businesses, and somehow for being solely responsible for taking revenue sharing away from local schools and govt.

    Have not seen any of the “viable” candidate go negative on Perata (or each other) and I’m not holding my breath. They’ll leave it up to us their surrogates.

  268. ralph

    I would hope that neither the viable nor the unviable go negative on any of the candidates. (Does follow the money count as going negative?)

    I really don’t need the candidate to tell me what the other guy can’t do or the ugly things that they have done. I need the candidate to tell me what they are going to do.

  269. Livegreen

    After the Pension discussions on the State level, the Voters blame both. The question is, who do they blame the least?

    Oh, and the Democrats compromised plenty on Education. Only they chose to blame the Republicans. And the Dems chose compromising (cutting) education but not State pensions. That shows u which they think is more important.

  270. Livegreen

    Exactly, Ralph and Naomi. I want to hear from the candidates what they’re going to (try to) do. And some specifics proposals are needed, not only general objectives.

  271. V Smoothe Post author

    Max –

    I fail to understand your logic. Perata, who I don’t believe ever even served on the Public Employee and Retirement Committee, should be blamed for the State’s pension problems, which are largely due to a pension boost signed by Governor Gray Davis in 1999, but Rebecca Kaplan bears no responsibility for the outrageous benefit package enjoyed by AC Transit employees that is now bankrupting the District to the point where most Oaklanders won’t even have weekend bus service in a few months? How does that work?

  272. Daniel Schulman

    Hey have people seen this fun app from the Bay Citizen. It shows where City of San Francisco Employees live by Dept, Salary, Job Title, etc.

    It claims “1014 San Francisco city employees live in the city of Oakland. They earn, on average, $86,956.41.” It seems like we’ve got more SF Sheriffs and SFPD living in Oakland than OPD.

    There are loads of neato factoids. All-in-all, though, at first glance Oakland seems to be fairly well in the who pay’s who and where do they live game.

  273. V Smoothe Post author

    Also, you guys, the City already did a golden handshake (early retirement) program a year ago. Such programs are an okay way to reduce the workforce while avoiding layoffs, but they don’t actually save the City any money in the long term. In fact, they cost the City money.

  274. len raphael

    Let’s agree on the definition of “going negative”.

    if someone tells voters, vote for me because of my proven track record in public office, it’s not “going negative” to scrutinize that record and compare it to the candidate’s spin on it.

    eg. Quan’s school board leadership on ebonic’s; or approving pay raises that bankrupted OUSD.

    Kaplan’s tenure as ACT board member approving harmongous benefits for union members.

    Perata’s championing harmongous compensation packages for the prison guards; or the 20Mill/permanent deficit he created for Alameda Cnty and Oakland and got well paid for the honor.

    Crossing the line would me my repeating hearsay that Quan was a maoist during her UC days (full disclosure, I was sds at columbia and we despised maoists).

    Is it abusive/deceptive to remind people that Perata and son were under FBI investigation for 5 years? To many Oakland voters that’s a badge of honor.

    If someone digs up Kaplan’s record as a civil rights attorney, is that irrelavent when Oakland Mayor faces decisions balancing civil rights and civic needs?

    For that matter is Whitman’s criticism of Jerry’s record on policing in Oakland deceptive? I’d say quite accurate.

    Her blaming Jerry for OUSD bankruptcy? Yup, that was unadulterated deceptive.

    Forgetabout “digging up the past”. The candidates haven’t even compared their current platforms to those of the other candidates.

    Are they going to leave that up to the blogs and the Tribune to sort out?

    Or is every voter supposed to listen to ktop?

    The candidates reluctance to criticize each other is pure political marketing. They prefer to compete on the warm cozies on whose face do you trust, do you want a guy or a woman, old or younger, old school or hip.

    The least we should do here is maintain an excel sheet comparing each candidate’s platform. Better we should be checking the facts they use to support their policy recommendations.

    Then we should add line items for the missing platform items: eg. how and when to pay for infrastructure and retirement obligations.

    -len raphael

  275. len raphael

    V, when you say Kaplan is totally absolved of responsibility for the ACT contracts, is that because they were multi year contracts that never came up during her tenure?

    Separate question of sins of ommission vs commission: did Kaplan or Killian or Peeples etc. ever bring this to the voters’ attention during their tenure on the ACT Board? Did they ever mention it when expansion/contraction/acquisition decisions were made based on projected income and expenses?

    Kernighan and Quan can and do claim the same defense about retroactive pension increases, and general compensation levels. “Started before us”. “Not my fault”

    Our three viable candidates are acting consistently with local elected officials here: don’t rock the boat; don’t criticize past actions of your fellow council/boad members because we all have to work together to pull the wool over the voters’ eyes.

    Once you get elected in Oakland, you’re part of the club for life.

    -len raphael

  276. len raphael

    Robin, your company started off providing superior levels of service. Oakland starts off providing mediocre levels.

    Daniel, guess the SF cop union wasn’t lying when they sent that mailer against layoffs here, and claimed their interest was based on many of their members living in Oakland.

  277. len raphael

    We are insolvent not “having a budget problem”

    Candidates put out their verbal solutions to our “budget problem”

    a. omitting the retirement debts and deferred infrastructure
    b. ignoring the certainty that Calpers contributions will dramatically rise
    c. failing to allow for further declines in revenue

    But worse, they don’t put their solutions in quantitative formats we can evaluate.

    The only candidate who put his quantitative details down in writing for us to critique the financial details and implications is Harland and his excel budget projection. It’s based on the city’s draft 5 year projection.

    Yes, that approach comes from his experience as a businessperson and an investor instead of an elected official or an academic dept head.

    And regretably it omits all the items above because he might be gutsy but he thinks its political suicide to tell voters something that the viable candidates pretend doesn’t exist.

    -len raphael

  278. len raphael

    definition of insolvent:
    (websters) Definition of INSOLVENT
    a (1) : unable to pay debts as they fall due in the usual course of business (2) : having liabilities in excess of a reasonable market value of assets held b : insufficient to pay all debts


    (business dictionary on line)

    Person or firm whose liabilities exceed the value of owned assets. It is commonly illegal for the directors of an insolvent firm to continue to trade after becoming aware of their insolvent position. If despite their knowledge of the firm’s insolvent position they do not refrain from receiving goods on credit, they may be charged with fraudulent misrepresentation of facts and may become personally liable for the firm’s debts. If a seller discovers the insolvent status of a buyer after making a sale, the seller can reclaim the goods within a certain period.

  279. Naomi Schiff

    Okay, Len, Got your point(s). I have to earn a living, so no time right now to make a bunch of rebutting posts or comments. But I will say that trying to assign blame for each of the interacting issues in east bay and state government is way beyond my scope. I’m supporting Jean. I’ll likely be supporting Rebecca for 2 or 3. I’m thinking about my votes, not yet entirely decided.

  280. 94610BizMan

    I have been reading this entire thread. Without agreeing with all of Len’s points I strongly agree that the fact that Oakland is insolvent must be front and center for anyone who is serious about being mayor or CC. I’m a one issue concerned citizen on this.

    Everything else is just going to be political tooth fairy stuff.

    Unfortunately this also applies to the state of CA.

  281. len raphael

    another reason to vote for perata: he’ll find a way to build a new sports stadium.

    he has a proven track record matchmaking the fascination for sports in Oakland that somehow doesn’t translates into ticket sales with the city’s fiscally challenged leadership.

    nyt’s article today on NJ abandoned stadium debt:

    “It’s the gift that keeps on taking. The old Giants Stadium, demolished to make way for New Meadowlands Stadium, still carries about $110 million in debt, or nearly $13 for every New Jersey resident, even though it is now a parking lot.”

  282. Naomi Schiff

    Think of a stadium as an investment in male-only sports and you start to see it as a really heavy tax on the female population.

  283. ralph

    Don’t women makeup something like 50% of the NFL’s fanbase, play women’s league football and follow soccer?

    If the above is just wishful thinking isn’t a stadium just a small price to pay to get the hubby out of the house for a few hours. :)

    And doesn’t a new stadium create jobs for a segment of Oakland that is not working?

  284. Naomi Schiff

    A new stadium creates jobs for a lot of construction people who may or may not live in Oakland–most likely not, if we judge by the past. Very few women athletes ever play on the field, although yes, some are happy to be in the stands. My husband is a forty-year As fan who thinks the solution is to somehow get rid of the Raiders, deconstruct the ugly Mount Davis that blocks the view of the hills, and restore the Coliseum to its well-designed mid-century modern grandeur. Of course to do this we’d also have to convince the As to stick around, so probably the idea is a fantasy. The studies I have seen are equivocal to bad on whether these stadii actually help the economy more than they hurt the taxpayer. Not to mention our huge ongoing payments that are sucking the life out of our city budget.

  285. livegreen

    Could somebody explain how Don Perata is connected to the current stadium debacle?

    I know how IDLF’s support is while on both CC and the Coliseum Authority Board, but several ABO posters have previously mentioned Don’s association too.

  286. ralph

    I am somewhat mixed on stadia and indifferent on construction. Once the season is over the stadia pretty much sit vacant, but they do spark other investment, but as noted above I have not seen a compelling financial argument. The benefit may just be that unused land is now being used and that has value.

    I do not think I have attended a football game at the Coliseum, but from a baseball standpoint that place is horrendous. We could use a separate baseball stadium. Furhter it lacks modern amenities. For that reason alone, it is time to tear it down and build new. Same with Oracle. Oakland must be the last big league city in the country that hasn’t taken steps to modernize its ballparks. Boston gets a pass. If you have ever attended a game at Fenway, you will understand.

    I know nothing about whether the construction workers are from here or elsewhere. I just don’t like the way that we treat this as the only way some people will ever get a job. I would prefer we teach people how to learn so that they can add new skills.

    I would also like to the see a the Raiders change their name. I think that the image it creates is a negative one and never puts the city of Oakland in a good light. See Washington Bullets. Step up Al and do the right thing…

    I can’t answer your question, but I use the following if IDLF, then DP must be yes

  287. livegreen

    So why is the MTC pushing so hard on BRT & such an expensive system? Is it an honest disagreement of opinion, or is there some money behind the scenes pulling strings?

    It’s very odd that such a localized project is getting pushed so hard no matter the public opposition. Something stinks in Copenhagen.

  288. ralph

    Just for clarification, my first comment was mostly in jest. I’ve become remarkably ambivalent about a new stadium. I think my only interest now is in a new baseball stadium with all the modern creature comforts on this side of the bay.

    I like attending baseball games at a stadium designed for baseball. It is a remarkably enjoyable experience. To get that now, I must cross the bay. I’d prefer to spend my dollars in Oakland.

    I’d also like a performing arts center, like DC’s Arena Stage, or Baltimore’s Center Stage, or Denver’s Center for Performinf Arts, in Oakland.

  289. Naomi Schiff

    We need to find a way to kill the OAC. It is some kind of cement contractor’s dream, but it is not what we need, and not a responsible use of my taxpayer dollars.

  290. len raphael

    Naomi, you gotta first find a way to convince the Port that the OAC as proposed is not the cure for their financial problems.

    Or fire all the Port commissioners. btw, what are their terms?

    -len raphael

  291. Max Allstadt


    There are at least two Port Commissioners who think that the OAC is stupid. Probably three.

  292. livegreen

    All of the Port Commissioners are there because of their power base or they’re being courted for one reason or another. You’re not going to fire the head of Unity Council. Besides, that’s taking the cart before the horse.

    The question I raise is, does anybody know why the MTC & BART are pushing the OAC so hard? There must be a reason.

  293. Naomi Schiff

    In general it is always sexier to do a huge legacy project than it is to take care of business. And the Assoc. Gen. Contractors crowd and some of the const. unions and various lobbyists and politicos do think it a fine idea, obviously. Big and shiny things instead of plodding along doing the critical small stuff that we need more but doesn’t get you any ribbon cuttings or medals.

  294. len raphael

    re the Port of Oakland Commissioners, why does Oakland government careen from one extreme to another like our sideshows.

    In the bad old days the Commissioners were old and young white businessmen and connected attorneys, with an occassional asian, black, or latino of the same occupation or a politician.

    The current board is a non-profit/union honor roll.

    For a large business entity like the Port there is one private sector member, an attorney.

    The port is not supposed to be run like a government department. It actually has to compete with other West Coast ports, airports, and modes of transportation and shockingly make a profit.

    Long overdue but we now have the air pollution community impact part covered but what good is it if the port goes down the tubes?

    Don’t matter how smart these members are, their is no substitute for broad, deep and large scale business experience for competently fullfilling role of board member of an entity the size and complexity of the Port.

    Unlike private sector, board members of a public for profit entity cannot get sued for mistakes. That’s a bad idea.


    Without relevant business depth of experience, the board will be outgunned by management and the unions.

    Alternatively, they will run it into the ground putting immediate community needs over long term community needs for jobs, trade, and development.

    Or is the plan is to run it into the ground, shrink the port operations to nothing, and convert everything to waterfront residential except for the airport?

    -len raphael

  295. len raphael

    Zac and OF are you still out there?

    Please rephrase the explanation you gave why the OFD often sends two fire engines plus an ambulance to 911 medical calls?

    Was talking with a woman whose husband was an emt in Oakland about 5 years ago. As she described it, there was a change either in state law or Oakland OFD, such that all new OFD hires had to be emt certified. That was something like an addition year of community college classes in life support etc.

    The private sector emts were told they were no longer needed and were replaced by private ambulance drivers paid close to min wage.

    Just as we’ve upgraded cops into social workers, paralegals, negotiators, we’ve professionalized firefighters into being a combo of RN and firefighter.

    No mystery why they say it will be hard to replace them for substantially less money.

    We have to get back to basic policing and firefighting. Privatize emt work, and just make sure a few of the cops we hire each year would make good sgts,lts, and captains.

    -len raphael

  296. livegreen

    Len, Answer: the Port is a jobs program, just like the City & BART. It does not matter to City Leaders how efficient it is, or how much money it brings the City.

  297. len raphael

    LG, how can it be a jobs program when the port is highly automated? Didn’t they lay off something like 1/3 of their 600 Port employees? or do you mean the airport?

  298. livegreen

    At one of the budget meetings the City Council people told us the Port doesn’t earn any money for the City.

    I’m not sure about the layoffs, but when the Port went through inputting the new cranes and the longshoremen went on strike, it was resolved with minimal layoffs and leaned more to future hiring.

    Even if there have been layoffs, longshoremen earn a lot of money. The point being, the City Council advises it’s not earning the City any money.

    One of the key questions, I think, is how many people does it employ? Then an evaluation can be done whether this non-profit is worthwhile or not.

  299. V Smoothe

    This discussion seems to be fueled by a fundamental misunderstanding of the Port. The Port is not a non-profit. It’s a Port. It’s not intended to be a direct revenue generator any more than any other Department of the City. It exists to serve a function, which is to facilitate the movement of goods and people, and therefore to generate economic activity.

  300. len raphael

    V, I isee your point about the goals of a Port but looking over their financials and projections at
    http://www.portofoakland.com/pdf/2010_pbs_03.pdf looks to me like reality is closer to what LG describes: a cush job for a bunch of highly paid employees.

    For gosh sakes why does a business that only 300Mill in revenue need 44 finance people and 14 staff attorneys? They must spend a lot of time at the water fountain planning great things for Oakland.

    Dax would be pleased to see that the Port is continuing the Oakland tradition of 3% COLA’s.

    Never thought I’d say it, but if this is the best we can do as a port, I’m starting to think that doing an Oak to 9th on most of the Port except the airport might be the best return to the residents on our investment.

    I can see how the Port is a big help to the economy of Northern California. I don’t see it as much of a help to Oakland’s economy.

    Where are all those Oakland import/export businesses; intermodal transport companies, freight expediters; international maritime law firms fed by the Port?

    Would hope we get a big chunk of business tax from the shipping companies? (anyone know how much)

    Would assume the Port itself pays nada to the city for biz or prop tax.

    If the rest of Northern CA gets the benefit and we get the pollution and tie up our capital in underutilized real estate, those government grants have to go way up.

    The shame of it is that when the port does get partially decommissioned and sold off, the proceeds will go to pay for the retirement of port and city employees.

    btw, what was the name of the Oakland Mayor who tried to sell off the entire waterfront to his friends in the 19th century?

    -len raphael

  301. len raphael

    Port board and staff picture themselves as an engine of economic growth. Coulda/shoulda. That ship has sailed for deeper channels and better intermodal locales.

  302. len raphael

    Seriously look at the qualifications and backrgounds of the Port’s board and explain how one could expect a bunch of execs of large non profits whose life training is securing grants from govts and foundations; or a top guy from the California nurses union, know the first thing about encouraging economic growth?

    The composition of that Board gets A+++ on racial, gender, sexual, class diversity. F on competency for economic growth of Oakland.

    If we could only sell diversity, this town would be booming.

    (noticed the ceo of the Port serves on the Paramount board. whatever happened to the anti gay geezer on that board?)

  303. CitizenX

    The Port itself pays no property or business taxes to the City, though certain businesses with long-term leases on Port land do pay a Possessory Interest Tax, which walks, talks, looks, smells and acts very much like property tax.

  304. len raphael

    CX, is there an analysis of the economic benefits to the city as cf to the entire region, where the analysis has not been paid for by the Port or potential real estate developers? maybe ABAG?

    Gotta ask whether we can be competitive with the other ports, before asking whether finding better qualified board members could make a difference.

  305. ralph

    In recent yrs. there have been reams written on the port competitiveness. The one big issue which I recall is the dredging to handle the larger ships. I am sure there have been others. I don’t know if there is a complete economic analysis but a thriving port means good work for transportation, logistics, dock, and other people.

  306. len raphael

    Ralph, we all know the theory about and the history of ports from the earliest formation of cities. haven’t quite a few major port cities abandoned ship?

    i’m no traffic engineer, operations research techie, but even if it were geophysically possible tho dredge even deeper without having to blast thru bedrock, aren’t we inherently bottlenecked by clogged freeways and limited rail capacity? or are those not pinch points?

  307. ralph

    As far as I know cities that want to be player in the port game dredge. If you can not accomodate the larger ships you get out of the game. I am familiar with Baltimore, LB, LA, Norfolk, and Seattle and all are still in the game.

    From what I understand, Oakland’s weakness is the intermodal but it also presents its biggest opportunity.

    Someone with a deeper interest who has been following this more closely than my reading of the SF and East Bay Business Times may have more info.

  308. Waltson


    I am also an Oakland FF. I lurk here from time to time, and I think I can answer your question.

    Oakland sends an Advanced Life Support (ALS) apparatus to every medical emergency in Oakland. An ALS apparatus may be an ENGINE or a TRUCK (long one with ladders). As long as there is a licensed paramedic on the apparatus it is an ALS unit.

    Additionally if the medical emergency occurs in a location where the closest available unit is only equipped to supply basic life support then a more distant ALS unit will also be dispatched.

    Alameda County protocols require two paramedics respond to every code 3 medical emergency. Prior to the implementation of Oakland’s Paramedic program AMR and it’s predecessors staffed the Ambulance with two paramedics. Now the requirement is one paramedic and one EMT. With the second Medic being supplied by the Fire Department.

    Paramedic service in Alameda County was most recently authorized in 1996 (Measure C). In 1997 Oakland placed a companion measure (N) on the ballot and it was passed overwhelmingly.

    No EMTs have been displaced in favor of lower trained minimum wage “drivers”.

    That is the extent of my knowledge but I think I answered your question.

  309. Livegreen

    Unlike the City government, the Port can be dismantled.  The Unions should be careful or those cranes will get switched to condos. I’m not saying that because I want it, but as a precaution against the developers who surely want it.

    Oakland is often only thinking about big government projects (as somebody mentioned previously), and not about how government can be a partner (including sometimes a lead partner) with business & private sector jobs. It does not have to be either government or business, it can b both together.

    I support a balance of jobs that includes blue collar work.  But in Oakland it can’t be always at taxpayer & middle class expense.  It should work for both.

  310. V Smoothe Post author

    Look, I don’t have the faintest idea where you guys came up with this notion about the Port being shut down and entirely converted to residential, but believe me, there is exactly 0% chance of that happening. If you guys want to talk about the Port, that’s great – I think the Port should get more attention than it does. But first, take some time to learn a little bit about it.

  311. len raphael

    The Port’s port operations as “an engine of growth” for Oakland is horsepucky.

    Even if the harbor and channels are capable of efficiently handling the latest and greatest super container ships, and even if we didn’t have some of the most crowded freeways in the country and even if we had bullet trains running thru Oakland to the port.

    Could well be an engine of growth for the rest of Northern California and Nevada. If that’s the situation, we should sell the Port to a regional entity and use our capital for something more productive for Oakland.

    Conversely, demand greatly increased state and federal grants.

    regardless, why does the port have 44 finance people and 14 legal staff members? 58 paper pushers for approx 400 Port employees?

    -len raphael

  312. Livegreen

    V, Actually the Port already is being developed for non-port activities, including both residential and non Port related business. First there’s Jack London Square. Then there are multiple proposals like Oak to Ninth and a potential Stadium.

    If the Port is contined to b developed it won’t b all at once. It will b gradual, and each time a chunk is torn off it won’t get much notice. Just like the Port of San Francisco, and just like the other industrial areas of Oakland.

  313. V Smoothe Post author

    Livegreen –

    You’re talking about Port owned property that has not been in use for goods movement in many years. Oak to Ninth lost its usefulness for trade with the invention of container shipping over fifty years ago. It is, I suppose, entirely possible that there will once again be some new breakthrough in technology that completely revolutionizes goods movement and renders container ships useless. But until that happens, I once again suggest that before making wild assertions about the Port based in some crazy fantasy, people take some time to learn a little bit about it.

  314. CitizenX

    One plan to address the crowded highway access to the Port is to increase rail access to the Port. Containers would be moved by rail to a Central Valley location, where shipments would be transferred to trucks in a less congested location.

  315. len raphael

    regardless, shouldn’t the Port be judged like any other valuable asset? in terms of rate of return to it’s owners, the residents? cf to rate of return in alternative uses.

    shouldn’t be that hard to measure the economic benefits to Oakland if you can believe stadium boosters who seem to crank out stats like that to justify new stadiums with great confidence.

    Robert W made a thoughtful point that the new mayor of Oakland should start by budgeting 0 to every existing department, and asking the departments to come up a with a supportable budget. Similar viewpoint should be applied to the port, before dealing w the politics and legal obstacles to changing its course.

  316. Naomi Schiff

    About the Port: The Port and the railroads are major aspects of Oakland’s founding and growth. I’d recommend Waterfront Action as a good resource, a small nonprofit that takes as its bailiwick Oakland’s coastline and watches port actions carefully. They have an excellent website, and more or less monthly meetings early in the morning. I have always found it informative. The Port Commission meetings are interesting too, in another way. Hardly anyone attends them, except for lobbyists. The occasional citizen can relax in lonely splendor. Not too much gets said out in the open; they transact a lot of business in closed meetings and in committees, and the staff appears to control everything. The commissioners don’t discuss much. However, reading their agenda packets is illuminating if you are curious. The port seems to exist in a strange half-independence; theoretically they should be quite controlled by the Mayor and thus the city govt. But in fact, it’s more emancipated than that would indicate. What do we mean when we say The Port? 1) There are the large bulk shipping operations with the huge cranes, and the transfer capacity to rail and truck. This is, as V says, not likely to go anywhere. (As to the regional aspect, there is some kind of official relationship with the Sacto port too.) Oakland handles way way more shipping than SF. 2) The airport is also part of The Port. 3) A swath of oft-hapless real estate endeavors are also The Port. It may be useful to consult the Port’s website and review maps. 4) The Port is the trustee for Tidelands Trustlands, areas which are owned by the people of California and supposedly administered in their behalf. Not always wisely, alas. 5) The Port has control over half the old Army Base land, which remains in an uncertain state, intended to become additional maritime-oriented development, eventually, as money and business pick up.

  317. Naomi Schiff

    Len: Horace Carpentier (one of a bunch of colorful and wicked tycoons in the nineteenth century) was our first mayor, the guy you were thinking of. He also had a lucrative toll gate and a long trestle bridge across the mouth of what is now Lake Merritt, then a wide slough. Our waterfront was stolen several times, including by Southern Pacific, and then cut off by the freeway. Now the Port is busy trying to get rid of tidelands trust areas and transfer stuff around so it can liquidate any acreage not easily usable for port operations (cf oak to ninth). They don’t have to sell off crane space for condos because a) there’s no market for condos and b) they have quite a bit of acreage available that they can’t figure out what to do with. It is state law, though, that they can’t sell off tidelands acreage for residential purposes so there is a lot of finagling, landswaps, careful definitions, and rationalizations for the Tidelands Trust Commission for those lawyers and bureaucrats. There are more than 35 agreements just on Oak to Ninth. A contract lawyer’s dream job. In the meantime there is a heck of a lot of available commercial space at Jack London Sq, including an entire newly built structure opposite the port offices, which appears to be entirely vacant, and occupies what used to be the 4th of July fireworks-watching lawn.

  318. Livegreen

    I would like to see the Port profitable for the taxpayers, and not just the employees, the contractors and the charities it gives money to (same non-profits on it’s board?).

    Yes, these are all indirect benefits of having a Port in Oakland. And the Port has some very good local business and local hire requirements for it’s contractors, though they could b greater.

    However these are a small part of the population. So what’s wrong with asking the Port to make some money for the citizens of Oakland? If it doesn’t the purpose of it’s existence, at least for Oakland, simply diminishes.

  319. V Smoothe Post author

    Livegreen, that just doesn’t make any sense. As I keep saying, to suggest that the purpose of the Port is to generate direct income for the City is to fundamentally misunderstand what the Port is. You might as well say that it’s the job of the Library or Parks & Rec to create revenue. It would make just as much sense.

  320. len raphael

    What lessons could our next mayor, Perata learn from Carpentier? Perhaps selling the revenue stream in perpetuity from all parking kiosks and bike racks? Toll gate at every freeway and bart entrance?

  321. Livegreen

    The Parks, the libraries, the schools directly serve and receive every single member of the Public who wants or needs to use them. The Port does not.

    Also, as you’ve said, the Port serves the entire Bay Area. Yet we have to deal with all the costs as a part of our Budget. Quite different.

    And the support jobs are spread across the Bay Area, businesses we do not receive employment OR revenue from.

    This is an area that I would like to see the Port take more action in–serving the public, and showing how it does so. Why not do a Transport or Port & Rail Museum at or near the Port? There are other ways to make the Port more interactive and supportive of our community.

  322. V Smoothe Post author

    Once again, livegreen, you are wrong. The Port is not part of the City budget, the Port operates on its own budget. I’m serious, both of you. No more comments about the Port until you take the time to learn anything at all about it. This blog is not a place for people to just sit around making up nonsense.

  323. Livegreen

    I agree, I mis-stated about it being IN the City budget. But that doesn’t make me wrong about the differences from other City services u compared it to, or other issues I’ve raised. My other points about both the breadth of impact and that the Port can b dismantled (as has already started ON Port land) stand.

    Ok, I’ll read up more on the issue.

  324. Dax

    Well, I see Deborah Edgerly’s nephew is back in jail.
    Yes THAT William Lovan.

    “William Lovan, 29, was arrested Wednesday at his home on Lipton Street in Antioch after Oakland police found four ounces of powdered cocaine with a street value of $12,000, bullets, $1,000 in cash, marijuana and gang paraphernalia”

    His salary for fixing parking meters is $56,860 before OT, and along with that $4,738 per month (37.5 hour week) he also gets over $3,000 per month in benefits..
    His compensation works out to about $48 per hour.

    So, he has prior felonies, was on 5 years probation, under house arrest, except to go to work (from Antioch to Oakland) and was wearing a ankle bracelet.

    Now, what are Oakland’s rules.
    Does he keep his job again, after this latest set of felonies are adjudicated?

    (yes, I am assuming he will be found guilty)

    Do ya think Oakland really needs to be offering employees $50 per hour in compensation to do similar work?

    Could it be that a good deal of Oakland’s problems are a work force that is overpaid by about 20 to 25 percent in total compensation?

    He has 7 years with the city, so I assume he is vested.

    7 x 2.7% = 18.9% x $56,860 = $10,746 per year once he reaches age 55.

    Or am I wrong? Will he or won’t he get that $10,746 per year from age 55 until age 82 or so. 27 x $10,746 = $290,000.

    So does good old Lovan get $290,000 ?
    Another question, once he gets to 55 will he also get his $425 per month for medical, or is that pro-rated for years with the city or is there a minimum number of years needed to collect that benefit. (San Francisco use to be 5 years for their lifetime medical benefit, since changed)

    Think about $290,000. Divide by 7 years of work. Thats an extra $41,450 per year put in.

    Any thoughts?

    BTW, I wonder if I could get his job.
    No, I suppose some other relative will take it. BTW, what are parking meter repairmen doing now that we no longer seem to have parking meters?

    What do they do now? Are there still lots of parking meters around? I haven’t been paying attention.

  325. Barry K

    Dax- Regarding Willaim “Acorn Gang/Edgerly Nepotism Clan” Lovan, maybe you should check with SEIU on how they’ll protect his job and benefits.
    Or, ask the Quan4Mayor team since she’s got the SEIU endorsement.

    Between Edgerly’s near $200k+ a year pension and benefits, and, all the relatives working for Oakland, they could form their own PAC!

    I see there’s also a David Edgerly working in Oakland’s parking enforcement too; but, only PT.

  326. Dax

    Funny or sad? I decided to call the city to answer some of those questions I asked above.

    Seems the entire city government went home at 4:30 PM “WEDNESDAY” and will not return until Monday morning.

    You see, Thurday was a paid holiday, Admissions Day, and Friday is one of those mandatory days off.

    Gosh, how could I have overlooked Admissions Day? I mean doesn’t everyone get Admissions Day off?

    You know, so you can reflect on that wonderful day California was admitted to the Union.
    Question, how many Oakland employees who got Admissions Day off know what Admission’s day means or the year in which it occurred?

    One can only wonder what William Lovan’s thoughts are about that historic event as he sits in jail yet again.

    At some point, where does the totality of the Oakland city workforce employment and employment contracts just become totally absurd?

    Admissions Day, the beginning of a 4 day weekend.
    Remembering, if Oakland employees were paid a fair wage and benefit package there would be no need for taking Friday off and obviously Admissions Day would not be a paid holiday.

    Thus, but for the absurd Oakland compensations, we’d have a city government working a regular 5 day (40 hour) week.
    But NO, that is not Oakland where the city working man in only getting his/her due for ever and ever, til death do us part.

  327. Barry K

    Dax- au contrair! Admissions Day will have meaning for Lovan. “Admission to Jail Day.”

    Wish it was a family event.

  328. Dax

    “Dax, doya think the state would get to keep any of his retirement pay if he’s sent to the big house long enough?”

    Not a cent!

    However, I do think this time he’ll lose his job. Thus at his age of 29, with his lifestyle, there is a very real chance he won’t make it to 55.

    I mean, he is running around with guns and bullets and clearly he has shown is IQ is below 90, or he wouldn’t be repeatedly caught doing foolish things.

    Was he unaware the police can search his house at any time for any reason? The don’t need a search warrant or anything in his case.
    But still, he sits there with all that stuff right by his side.
    Bullets and drugs. Doh!

    Had he kept his nose clean, he had it made. On track to retire at age 59 with about a 60K pension based on a $60,000 salary and a 100% pension in his case.
    Full medical while working and $425 a month after retirement (although I can see the medical being reduced in the future)

    Now, he will serve time, and when released, he’ll be very lucky to make $10 per hour. Thus I suspect he’ll go right back to crime and stand a good chance of never reaching 55 or 59.

    One suspects that when he was originally hired, he didn’t have to pass a intelligence test.

  329. len raphael

    Port is a good example of what’s wrong here, but not worth more discussion when it is so wrapped in legal shrouds to be untouchable for years. Curious to know if the next mayor/council even can change many of the board members, but that can wait too.

    What can’t wait is forcing the “viable” mayoral candidates break their conspiracy of silence on our current and mid term fiscal situation.

    We get to listen to Perata’s saying a little sales tax increase and eliminating boards, waste or some such; Quan declaring she’s not afraid to make those really hard decisions such as asking the cops for a pension contrib; and Kaplan saying we’ll literally grow our way of our problem with combo of modest wage cuts, early retirement incentives, attrition and computerization.

    This really is the blind leading the blind.

    There is serious possibility that even ignoring the retirement and infrasture urecorded liabilities, we’ll run out of cash in a couple of years.

    we can’t take any of the vague verbiage of any of the candidates at face value.

    This whole campaign is a deja vu of the 2008 council race when Dellums and council announced our first deficit only days after the election.

    If they can’t give us numerical info that can be fact checked they should be called out at every forum until they stop treating voters like children they don’t want to upset talking about money.

    -len raphael

  330. Barry K

    Dax- Willaim “Acorn Gang/Edgerly Nepotism Clan” Lovan has a bright future waiting for him at the City-funded and MY funded, YouthUprising.

    You know the place? It’s where Shorty the Pimp got a job as a guidance counselor.

    Also, it proved to be a viable location for recruiting girls into prostitution by another counselor.

    A 22-year-old dance instructor, Daryell Barker, at the Youth UpRising agency is charged with sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl. Police said Barker is believed to have talked to the 11-year-old about becoming a prostitute.
    (Oakland Tribune, March 13 and 14, 2008)
    http://www.orpn. org/YU2.htm

    Youth UpRising is funded in part by several Measure Y grants.
    http://www.orpn. org/sideshows2. htm

    eastbayexpress Sept 5, 2007
    At YouthUprising, Todd Shaw — aka Too $hort, the most iconic Oakland rapper of all time — announced that he was moving back to “tha town” and joining the two-year-old East Oakland community center as a career counselor.

    He is aka “$ir Too $hort” and “$horty the Pimp”. “But more notoriously, $hort strived to make pimping cool, portraying himself as an inner-city cartoon character whose dirty mouth and clever rhymes made him irresistible to women.
    Shorty the Pimp

    YouthUprising has a staff of 80 people.
    Oakland Police Detectives (home robberies): 1
    Fingerprinting lab tech: 1

  331. Brad

    Do you mean that this parking meter “repairman” gets to keep his vested pension at taxpayer expense, even if he is convicted of these serious felonies and ultimately fired?

  332. Naomi Schiff

    RE: Port directors do have a term of office. The mayor and council have to agree on the appointees.
    Four years:
    The Charter of the City of Oakland vests the Board of Port Commissioners with exclusive control and management of the Port Department. The Board consist of seven members nominated by the Mayor and appointed by the City Council for four year terms. Members must live in Oakland during their term and at least 30 days prior to their appointment. Members of the Board serve without salary or compensation.

  333. Born in Oakland

    I don’t think all of the knowledgable policy wonks were willing to answer Brad’s question regarding Lovan’s benfefit package. Oh well, “Keine Antwort ist auch eine.”

  334. len raphael

    basic rule is that if the crime is not work related, you don’t lose your job if you are able to keep working the min hours; and certainly don’t lose benefits.

    that’s not unique to oakland

  335. Dax

    OK, hier ist eine Antwort

    Once your pension benefits are vested, you can’t lose your pension. Not even if you were found guilty of stealing all the money from the parking meters which was your job to collect.
    (now, the judge might require restitution and a fine, but he could not take away your pension, once vested)

    I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing at a minimum your Oakland PERS pension is vested within 5 years.
    Lovan has 7 years, perhaps minus some time in jail during his prior arrests.
    He may have also been off during his prior court appearances etc.

    I’m still thinking he has from 5 to 7 years on the job and expect he will be eligible for about $10,000 per year from age 55 until death.

    However, this time, I think he will lose his job as he probably will spend over 12 months in jail.

    Speaking of pensions, from what I understand, OJ Simpson, currently in jail, continues to get his $25,000 per month NFL pension.

    Now, if Lovan was a elected official, instead of a city employee, he then might lose some or all of his pension benefits, depending on a very specific criteria in a fairly recent California law.

    See a more complicated case


    But given the specificity of that fairly new law, related to “elected” official, it would certainly seem that a regular employee convicted of a felony, even job related, would not lose their pension benefit.
    In this case Lovan’s possible felony is not job related.
    Thus, even if fired and never rehired, I believe he is in line for as much as $300,000 in the future.

    Regarding Social Security payments, I believe those are different since they are not a defined benefit plan.
    The Social Security regulation on this topic 20 CFR 404.468 states:

    (a) General. No monthly benefits will be paid to any individual for any month any part of which the individual is confined in a jail, prison, or other penal institution or correctional facility for conviction of a felony. This rule applies to disability benefits (§404.315) and child’s benefits based on disability (§404.350) effective with benefits payable for months beginning on or after October 1, 1980. For all other monthly benefits, this rule is effective with benefits payable for months beginning on or after May 1, 1983. However, it applies only to the prisoner; benefit payments to any other person who is entitled on the basis of the prisoner’s wages and self-employment income are payable as though the prisoner were receiving benefits.

    (b) Felonious offenses. An offense will be considered a felony if-
    (1) It is a felony under applicable law: or
    (2) In a jurisdiction which does not classify any crime as a felony, it is an offense punishable by death or imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.

    (c) Confinement. In general, a jail, prison, or other penal institution or correctional facility is a facility which is under the control and jurisdiction of the agency in charge of the penal system or in which convicted criminals can be incarcerated. Confinement in such a facility continues as long as the individual is under a sentence of confinement and has not been released due to parole or pardon. An individual is considered confined even though he or she is temporarily or intermittently outside of that facility (e.g., on work release, attending school, or hospitalized).

    (d) Vocational rehabilitation exception. The nonpayment provision of paragraph (a) of this section does not apply if a prisoner who is entitled to benefits on the basis of disability is actively and satisfactorily participating in a rehabilitation program which has been specifically approved for the individual by court of law. In addition, the Commissioner must determine that the program is expected to result in the individual being able to do substantial gainful activity upon release and within a reasonable time. No benefits will be paid to the prisoner for any month prior to the approval of the program.
    Habe ich Ihre Frage beantwortet?

  336. MarleenLee

    Ich glaube doch. Although there are numerous arbitration decisions that have provided that sometimes, even if an employee gets sent to jail, and can’t do the job for a year or more, that may still not be enough to get him fired if the offense is not job related. This is not an Oakland thing. It’s just how some wacky arbitrators rule, and/or depends on how the contract language for discipline/dismissal reads.

  337. Brad

    This is rediculous. I don’t pay taxes to pay for pensions for felons and gangbangers. Can the city council pass a law that strips pensions if these “employees” get a felony conviction? Can they make it retroactive? Seems like it makes good policy and will save our cash strapped “city” some money too.

  338. Dax

    “Can the city council pass a law that strips pensions if these “employees” get a felony conviction? Can they make it retroactive?”

    No, they cannot, “retroactivity” only is allowed when it benefits the city worker.

    For example, when they raised the pensions from 2.0% to 2.7% (+35%) for each year of service, they at that time made it retroactive for all prior years of service.
    If you worked for 34 years with full understanding and agreement your pension would be at the 2.0% rate, that didn’t matter, you were suddenly and retroactively given all those years at the boosted 2.7% pension rate. No need to even add extra dollars.

    On the other hand, even if we change the pension rate back to 2.0% as De La Fuente has warned we must, we will still have to give current hires, the higher rate until they retire, 10, 20, 30, or even forty years into the future.

    So when it comes to Oakland city pensions the retroactive feature only works in one direction and that direction is not in favor of the taxpaying residents.

    In a fair world, in 2004 they might have raised the pensions from 2.0 to 2.7, but never would have given all prior years of service the higher rate.
    Also, as they realized the error of their ways, and voted to go back to the old rate, all future years of service would be credited at the new “old” rate of 2.0.

    Thus in a fair world, a worker might have 2.0 for 20 years, then get the higher 2.7 for 6 years, and serve the last 4 to 10 years at the new lower 2.0 rate.
    That makes sound and fair fiscal sense.

    In a way, what Oakland has done is akin to a football team, making a change in a players contract, but always being required that the change be for life.
    Thus if a team ever raised a guy’s salary, they needed to pay him that for the rest of his career.

    It is my understanding that one East Bay city did not make their pension increases retroactive.

    Now, after my protracted answer, Oakland is stuck paying Lovan’s pension from age 55 onward even if he burns down city hall and assaults dozens of elderly grandmothers visiting Lake Merritt.

  339. Robert

    “…we will still have to give current hires, the higher rate until they retire, 10, 20, 30, or even forty years into the future.”

    That is probably not true. It is likely that pensions can be reduced from this year forward for all employees, not just new hires. But the city would be sued, and who knows what a sympathetic judge would decide.

  340. Dax


    “That is probably not true. It is likely that pensions can be reduced from this year forward for all employees, not just new hires.”

    What do you mean? A individuals pension that is already being paid?

    Or the employee who will be getting a pension?

    And if so, do you mean the “forward” looking rates (such as 2.0 or 2.7 per year of service) at which they accumulate the rights to a given future pension?

    Spell out what you mean by reduced.

  341. len raphael

    Fax, recently JQ said something to the effect that the retroactive pension raise in 2003 was mandated by the state.

    I think she has also said that was before her time on the cc.

    a. true or false that it was mandated
    b. which cc members voted to approve the raise

    -len raphael

  342. ralph

    Where did you hear those JQ pension comments? I also heard her make those same claims and would like some answers?

  343. CitizenX

    a. true or false that it was mandated

    False — the State passed legislation which ALLOWED for the improved pension benefits. It was up to each CalPERS contractor (and their employee representation units), whether they wanted to negotiate the improved benefits.

    b. which cc members voted to approve the raise

    CM Quan took office on 1/6/2003 and the various civiliam Memoranda of Understanding were approved 1/28/2003 by a vote of 7-0-1 (Brooks was excused). So, though the MOUs were arguably done deals by January 2003, when Ms. Quan took office, she did vote to approve them.

  344. livegreen

    CalPERS Contractor = A city or govt entity that contracted with CalPERS for services? (Not a contractor that CalPERS contracted out to for their own services?)

    In this case wouldn’t a Government entity be a “Contractee”, and CalPERS be the contractor ? Unless I misunderstand.

  345. Dax

    From what I know, the actual pension increases took effect in a certain month in 2004. I think it was June or July.
    I saw that date on one web site comparing various East Bay city’s dates of enactment.
    However as mentioned, the vote to set it in motion took place in 2003.

    Jean Quan was in office when that vote took place.
    When I mentioned the “increased pensions” to her husband as he walked the neighborhood, his first reaction was “she wasn’t in office when that was passed”.

    Upon further discussion, as I narrowed it down to “regular” employees, he was then not so sure, but said she would know if I asked here at the neighborhood meeting.

    I think their instant reaction about her not being in office, refers to the police and fire pensions, which may be the case.
    Anyone know the dates on those?

    About it being mandated to make any pension increased retroactive.

    Back many months ago, when I had that list (can no longer be found on the internet) of all those East Bay cities that had raised their pensions, I called them to ask if they were all made retroactive.

    First of all, NOT all cities jacked up their pensions.
    I believe Alameda left theirs at 2.0%
    Second, one of the cities, I can’t recall which one, said they raised their pensions like the others, but did NOT make the raise retroactive.

    Most cities did make the raises retroactive.

    I wish I could pinpoint the one city, without calling them all again.
    Once I tried to find it thinking it was Alameda or Albany but as I recall it wasn’t either of those.

    I wanted to relocate that one city to double check that the person giving me the original info was a person who was fully knowledgeable.

    So for now, I believe retroactivity is not a legal requirement, but I’m not 100% certain.

    However, were Oakland to change back to 2.0, I am certain, at this point, that no prior years could be returned to 2.0%, even if they were originally at 2.0% before the increase.

    Even more importantly, the retroactive type feature may not be used into the future.
    This is the really outrageous point.
    If we, now realizing the huge mistake, change the future “back” to the old 2.0 percent, apparently you can only do it for new hires.
    All those previously switched up, must be allowed to work the next 10, 20, or 30 years at the jacked up 2.7% rate.

    Thus the worker wins in both directions.
    Gets the retroactive mistake and gets cemented in at the mistake levels for their future years.

    Only brand new hires would get the new (old) 2.0% level.

    This makes the imperative all the greater to implement a new hire 2.0% right away, because anyone hired right now, will be cemented into the 2.7% for their entire career.
    That person costing the city an extra $100,000+ compared to employee hired at the 2.0% rate.

    Imagine if you knew each new hire came with a $100,000 price tag.
    Wouldn’t you change the provision immediately?

    Our city council sleeps and sleeps and sleeps.

  346. CitizenX

    City Council approved the contract for the firefighters in June 2001. The contract called for the increase to 3% @ 50 to be effective 7/1/04 (same as the civilian increase to 2.7% @ 55).

    Police were a year ahead on their contract and their improved benefit (3% @ 50) took place 7/1/03. Not sure when their contract was approved by City Council, but it was well before Quan was in office.

  347. CitizenX

    You may wish to contact CalPERS, Dax. I believe the retroactivity requirement is theirs. Local agencies which have their own retirement plans may well treat this differently.

  348. Dax


    “You may wish to contact CalPERS, Dax. I believe the retroactivity requirement is theirs”

    Yes, I have heard something like that.
    At the very least they highly encourage the retroactivity be included.
    Perhaps only because their computers aren’t set up for a more complicated use of multiple percentages for different years of service.

    Personally I think retroactivity is simply insane. Why should a person with 34 years, 10 months in May of 2004 be allowed to just stay 2 more months, and suddenly collect a 94.5% pension instead of a 70.1% pension.
    A $100,000 employee would collect $24,400 per year extra for about 22 years.
    A sudden, unexpected, and un-contributed or paid for, $536,000 Golden Parachute.

    If the public had ever been told about this they would have gone crazy.
    Like departing employees being given a free house instead of a gold watch.

    The only thing that makes me wonder about it being a requirement for ALL CalPERS increases is that one of the dozen cities I called, told me their change was NOT retroactive.

    Now, that person I spoke with may have been mistaken. Perhaps I’ll have to call all the cities again and find that one. All the others included retroactivity.

    BTW, there is lawsuit in SoCal, Orange County, saying that retroactivity is illegal. I wouldn’t count on it winning.

  349. CitizenX

    …and then there was the “Golden Parachute” that Council recently gave those civilians willing to retire, which gave them another two years of service, or another 5.4% of salary for their retirement.

  350. Dax

    I don’t recall that “two years” of service move. When, and for who did that occur?

    However, given that most of them will probably be collecting pensions for 22 years, that would equal giving them a 1.18 x salary bonus. (5.4% x 22 yrs)

    Say on a $80,000 salary, equal to about $95,000

    Now, how does the $95,000 savings compare with getting the higher cost person off the payroll versus just laying off according to seniority?

    Can’t believe they really saved $95,000.

  351. CitizenX

    See the 5/5/09 council (regular meeting) agenda. The savings could have been realized strictly through layoffs. The only impact was to make older employees hang around and wait for council to approve the program, rather than retire when they had originally planned. There have been subsequent status reports on the Finance and Management Comittee agendas.

  352. Dax


    “The only impact was to make older employees hang around and wait for council to approve the program, rather than retire when they had originally planned.”

    How many times does the staff and council have to get played like fools?

    Don’t they ever sit back and predict how the employees will play their cards?

    I once called the person in charge of department regarding the pension hike (2.7%) asking why anyone in their right mind would not have postponed retirement during the second half of 2003 and the first half of 2004.
    They answered as though they didn’t really think anyone would have delayed retirement (duh, to pick up $400,000).
    They seriously said, they weren’t sure if it had had any impact on retirement dates.

    As I always say, do any of the council members ever take out a $5.00 calculator and run a few ballpark numbers?
    Or are they totally clueless, relying only on staff for the projections?

    I remember the Office of Waste or whatever it is called, offering a free toxic waste drop-off prior to the days of there being a official site and free service.

    The had in their budget, about $25,000 to spread the word. I called and asked why in the world would they spend so much advertising for a service that would have a overwhelming response with a mere “free” mention in the newspaper.
    They said they wanted it to be known by a widespread audience, hence the citywide mailer.

    And the day of the drop-off event.
    Yes they came….not hundreds, but thousands of people, cars and trucks filled with toxics. After hours waiting in line, dumping off the toxics by the side of the road, costing the city many times more than budgeted to cover the expense of the professional company doing the collecting.

    Made all the weekend news shows, showing the huge debacle their excess advertising had created.
    But not to worry, the man in charge of that fiasco, was promoted to the Emergency Preparedness Head, and then onto the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services for all of California.

    That would be Henry Renteria. I called him weeks prior to free toxic pick-up day and told him he would be buried with toxic piles, and that everyone had loads of stuff in their garages..
    He went forward with his advertising anyway, saying he was required to tell everyone.
    BTW, it cost Oakland something like $75,000 extra unbudgeted to pay for the piles of toxics left on the road sides.

    Do these people really think these things through?

  353. Robert


    “f we, now realizing the huge mistake, change the future “back” to the old 2.0 percent, apparently you can only do it for new hires.”

    Please do some research and provide some citation for that statement, rather than just keep citing it as a fact.

    Alameda County has regular free haz mat drop offs for any one who take the trouble to look for them on the web.

  354. Dax


    “Alameda County has regular free haz mat drop offs for any one who take the trouble to look for them on the web”

    Yes Robert, if you read my post I said the following

    “I remember the (Oakland) Office of Waste or whatever it is called, offering a free toxic waste drop-off prior to the days of there being a official site and free service.”

    As stated “prior” to there being a free Alameda Co. haz-mat drop off station(s).
    I was down to the station Ala Co location in Oakland shortly after it opened with a trunk full of wastes. That is why I was so attentive to that Oakland clean up day, and fully realizing how huge the demand would be. As such, after I called Mr. Renteria I didn’t even try to attend Oakland’s special day, knowing it would be overwhelmed. (that day being prior to Ala. Co. opening up their locations)

    Now, as to my statement regarding lowering current Oakland employee’s 2.7% back to the old 2.0% rate for future years of credit.

    “United Firefighters of Los Angeles City vs Los Angeles (1989)210 Cal.App.3D 1095, 1107 [Public employees “have a vested right not only to benefits substantially similar to those in effect when they accepted public employment, but also to additional benefits offered later by the public employer”

    This case actually speaks mostly to retroactive boosts, but as you can see, assumes that any future lowering of such pension benefits would not be allowed.

    I would say this, if anyone really thought the lowering of crediting for future years of service was legal, then they would not be so stuck on always saying it was only for future hires.

    Even the people I see filing law suits regarding the illegality of retroactive pension boosts, don’t seem to be talking about the possibility of lower the rate of future accumulation for current employees.

    I’m open to anyone suggesting such, but I have not seen anything.
    To me, it makes common sense.
    You realize the basis for boosting the rate, then six years later, your financial analysis shows it wasn’t feasible, so you lower everyone back to the old 2.0 rate for the rest of their career years. Just like if times change, you can raise or lower salary.

    However, it appears there are laws prohibiting this from being done.

    I’m open to reading differently.