303 thoughts on “
Open Thread

  1. len raphael

    Lg, re salesforce.com considering oakland: not that we can afford to picky, but the ceo straight out says the only reason he even considered oakland was it was cheap, but he likes SF better. we’re still the ugly duckling.

  2. James Robinson

    I prefer working in SF to working in Oakland, too :-)

    Getting large companies should be just part of the plan. Remember that smaller companies do most of the hiring in America. Also, Silicon Valley didn’t start with a lot of large companies, they started with a lot of small companies and then some of them grew large. Our top priority should be bringing in talented people. Big companies are important, too, but not necessarily the top priority.

  3. Livegreen

    James, Totally agreed. I think, however, if Oakland’s crime rate continues to go down, we might land a few big companies. Shorenstein has made a major bet on Oakland, and as the Condo units in Uptown get bought up and more are built there, it will become more attractive.

    Of course crime will have to come down or the employees of any of these companies will howl about the reverse commute or relocating.

    Len, that will never change, even when we are more attractive…

  4. Born in Oakland

    I think Oakland will prosper when more “pretty people” become the norm; but given some of the fashions in this town, I can only wince. I won’t expound on this theme but one could consider girth, attitude, self respect and dress appropriate with some modicum of success and optimism. One doesn’t have to be blond to meet this standard, some of the most beautiful people I have seen in this world have been in Oakland. I’ve been to Berlin, Paris, London, Geneva, Rome, etc. and Oakland is there. It’s just the contrast is so extreme with the downtrodden, the ugly and the hopeless which dominate our streets. You want to do business in Oakland, look at the people you see. Would you rather go to Marin, Mountain View, SF, or even, God forbid, San Jose? Check out the fashions.

  5. David

    Companies relocated from Manhattan to Brooklyn too because it was cheaper.

    Yes, Manhattan is still the ‘it’ place, but Brooklyn is cool too.

    If Oakland could get half as cool as Brooklyn, we’d be doing great.

  6. Max Allstadt

    Oakland is cooler than Brooklyn.

    But the Brooklyn/Oakland analogy has always been fairly weak. Brooklyn has three bridges that you can walk across to get to Manhattan, and they’re all only about a mile long. Brooklyn had at least half a dozen all night subway lines running back and forth to Manhattan. Brooklyn is five times the population and twice the land area of Oakland.

    In short, if we want to be more like Brooklyn, we need public transit that doesn’t suck. We also need to more than double our population density. 10k Plan? We need a Million (hu)Man Plan.

  7. Naomi Schiff

    Funny that my Oakland-grown younger daughter longed to and finally did relocate from Manhattan to Brooklyn. She isn’t close enough to walk to Manhattan: she takes the subway every day.

    There are plenty of unbeautiful people in SF. The “what people look like” comparison seems incoherent to me: it all depends on what neighborhood in SF you are talking about. Many of those stylish people in the business district get their clothes at their local Walnut Creek Nordstrom’s.

    Seems to me we have fewer mattresses in doorways. Whenever an SF mayor decides to “clean up the streets” we get a new influx of street people, so I guess it is easy enough to get between the two cities.

    I think we can lose the inferiority complex vis a vis SF. We are a less-well-known city. Fine. So this means we are less of a tourist attraction (sometimes a plus: a lot of folks seem to appreciate a less self-conscious stance in a city, and have lived good lives with few visits to Pier 39 and the dread Fisherman’s Wharf. )

    I agree that we need to attract business. We probably aren’t going to do it on glamour. We might just be able to sell ourselves as a good place for employees to live near their workplaces, though, our access to transportation, our available areas and re-usable buildings for commercial development.

    Did you all notice that a Toyota dealer is coming in to take over the never-opened Toyota Palace over near the airport? Let’s congratulate whoever put that one together, and welcome this new generator of sales tax!

  8. David

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on Oakland being cooler than Brooklyn. Ain’t no way you could convince me, even if we had miles of subways etc.

    Oakland should, however, maximize its lower expenses compared to SF. Just like a few people are always heading over here from SF to buy a house etc, a few businesses will always relocate when a big enough cost differential. Get rid of red tape, and lower costs.

  9. livegreen

    I have to agree with David about Brooklyn. I think the Brooklyn to Manhattan :
    Oakland to SF is a valid comparison when describing the relationship generally.

    I agree with Max that the transportation here sucks compared to the multiple subway & bus lines in Brooklyn (I’ve never understood why the Bay Area thinks BART and MUNI are so great). And I agree with Max about density here in Oakland.

    By the same token when one thinks of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods one thinks of the areas closer and more easily accessible to Manhattan: Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Fort Green, Park Slope, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, etc. and great areas spread that have spread beyond these. To keep it real, most of the population doesn’t live in these, but spreads beyond them.

    Oakland can do this realistically, esp. by improving safety, bringing in new businesses, and blowing out the art scene (which is too underground).

    Finally, I would LOVE a good Band Shell like Prospect Park has to do regular high-profile music events all summer long (not just one-offs like Art & Soul, which are great, but just 1x a year). The Paramount, FOX, etc. here are great but we need a wonderful outdoor concert venue accessible to the masses…

    Does Oakland have or ever had a Band Shell?

  10. Naomi Schiff

    We have a historic bandstand at Lake Merritt (not so large as Prospect Park, but which hosts band concerts on summer weekends). It is not set up for large rock concerts, but works for medium-sized events.

    We have the terrific Woodminster, which might conceivably be used for events such as this, on dates not occupied by the musical theater group there. It is up the hill, though, with some but not fabulous bus access.

    Years ago there were blues festivals at Estuary Park, but then when they built condos next door, the complaining meant they stopped doing that.

    Quite a number of people advocated for waterfront assembly and performance space at the time of the Oak to Ninth controversy. The city and developer in their wisdom ruled out such uses by planning a sprawling condo development which does not leave a site for such gatherings, dos not furnish either enough parking nor enough transit, and which builds in conflict of uses. A number of us hoped to preserve the area between Fifth Avenue and the Lake Merritt Channel as park, but the current plan puts 20-story buildings there adjacent to the parkland. Hard to imagine that if we can’t do concerts at Estuary Park, we’d be able to do them there, with so many potential residents within earshot.

    The new park at 12th Street will provide a sort of natural amphitheater which is intended to be workable for public events; I can’t tell you exactly what scale, but it will be a couple of acres sloping gently down to an area which might well be usable for occasional performances if not so loud they would bring objections from Lake Chalet or folks living nearby.

    http://www.oaklandnet.com/government/ceda/dcsd_currentprojects_measure_dd_lakemerritt_parkprojects_12thstreet.asp
    You can download pdf 1169

    I think the main problem at Lake Merritt is that it is so much narrower everywhere than something like Prospect Park–or even the bandshell near the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park–so that there are likely to always be conflicts with nearby residents. There isn’t enough of a buffer zone, except possibly at 12th St.

  11. livegreen

    Those are logical explanations. Even if a Bandshell were faced away from apartment buildings over Lake Merritt that would be a problem since sound carries so well over water. The only place it could probably be done is either facing some trees somewhere to insulate the noise, or down by the HJK Convention Center.

    Oakland really needs a centralized Bandshell that has acts from everywhere open to the broader public: local and international musicians (Brooklyn regularly has more musicians from Africa and elsewhere, than does Central Park), as well as outdoor Symphony-in-the-Park…

  12. James Robinson

    Oakland can’t just improve safety, they have to create a PERCEPTION of improving safety. Here’s my favorite example. Atlanta’s crime is almost as bad as Oakland’s crime, but certain groups in the USA treat Atlanta like it is heaven on earth. Why? Because the ATL has hella good PR. The masses don’t care about reality, even if they do spend an inordinate amount of time watching “reality” shows. The masses only care about perception. Oakland has some brand building to do.

  13. David

    That’s cuz Hotlanta’s been the go-to destination for buppies, James, and you know it. Oakland, not since WWII and early post-war.

  14. len raphael

    brooklyn’s almost complete makeover from a combo of various bedroom ethnic communities plus several poor ghetoos, to what it is today, was largely a result of the supercharged allen greenspan driven worldwide financial services economy of Manhattan.

    It created a very large group of people earning incomes over 100k, and often over 250k/year. It also reduced unemployment and raised wages and benefits for many poor people.

    We had a taste of that toward the end of the dot com era. The (funny, when i grew up there I thought the subway system sucked) great subway system and multiple bridges certainly were necessary but not sufficient. High density in Bklyn wasn’t a factor.

    But Oakland has more good restaurants per person.

    -len raphael
    temescal

  15. Livegreen

    Bratton cleaned up NYC. And people had already started moving back to both Manhattan and Brooklyn even before. They did in mass, at the same time as the economy became better and crime went down. As Manhattan filled up and rentals got more expensive people moved to Brooklyn, Queens, etc.

    It was a cycle where several things fell into place. That’s what Oakland needs too.
    We have the base of good places to live and good restaurants, as well as the proximity to SF. But we don’t have the safety and the jobs.

    Some of this is private business, some of it is Police. But to have more of either, and have them done better, we need political leaders with both a plan and an ability to make it happan.

    I haven’t heard from either if our Mayoral candidates about how, or even what, they’re going to do. They better have plans to do something…

  16. Christopher

    Oakland has so much potential for an economic turnaround:

    * cheaper than SF
    * an international airport!
    * a shipping port!
    * short BART commute for (Far) East Bay commuters
    * good restaurants
    * a range of housing from affordable in the plains to very expensive in the hills

    But this is all squandered by our senile mayor, doofus city council, an “innumerate” citizenry, and too much “criminals are victims” mentality.

    I’m almost ready to give up..

  17. len raphael

    Bklyn jobs were not the economic engine for Bklyn’s transformation. Don’t know how revenue sharing works in NYC, but would think that Manhattan’s tax revenues are shared with Bklyn, which eliminated the handicap on Bklyn muni services of being essentialy a high density bedroom community for Manhattan.

  18. James Robinson

    I have to disagree with David. Atlanta was basically not much different than Charlotte, NC or Birmingham Alabama until Atlanta won the 1996 Olympics. That is when the “Hotlanta” hype began. DC, on the other hand, has been the go-to place for the black middle class since WWII because of the white-collar government jobs that integrated far sooner than the private-sector jobs in other cities.

    The point is that, if Oakland wants to really grow, it is going to have to step up its PR game. Having dull Dellums in the mayor’s office doesn’t help. It needs to start with a younger, more dynamic mayor and a staff with actual experience. That mayor needs to work hand in hand with the new chief of police the way Guliani worked with his chief. By the way, Guiliani cleaning up New York is another PR myth, because that city’s crime had already begun declining before he became mayor. Check “Freakonomics” and “Comeback Cities: A Blueprint for Urban Neighborhood Revival.”

    Regarding Brooklyn taxes, people seem to forget that Manhattan and Brooklyn are both boroughs of the same city of New York. Therefore, one can assume that that tax revenue generated by the borough of Manhattan would be distributed to all of the boroughs, including Brooklyn, to some extent. SF and Oakland are different cities in different counties, so Oakland can’t share in any SF goodness unless we are talking about state taxes. That being said, I predict large chunks of Oakland will essentially become bedroom communities for both SF and Berkeley. Hopefully, some of the working-class folks who will be pushed out of the western and northern regions of Oakland will move to my hood so I can stop seeing so much ghetto all around my island. :-)

  19. len raphael

    NYC does not depend on residential real estate tax revenue the way Oakland or SF does. It has a substantial income tax on all residents, as well as a commuter income tax.

    Residential real estate taxes in Bklyn, at least for old residences, were almost as low as Prop 13. Don’t know if that was true when residence ownership changed.

    Before we follow the siren call of becoming a high density bedroom community, someone has to run the numbers and check the reasonableness of underlying assumption comparing the cost of servicing those additional residents vs the incremental tax revenue. My guess is that It takes a whole bunch more than restaurants, starbucks, and nail salons and the city’s general fund tiny share of residential real estate taxes to provide the services that residents expect when they pay high rents and condo prices.

  20. James Robinson

    By the way, last week’s “San Francisco Business Times” has a special section on Oakland. There are some interesting things brewing in the town! I highly recommend it, although I doubt if you can find that issue still on newsstands.

  21. James Robinson

    By the way, Oakland Class A office space had a 13.6% vacancy rate in the 3rd quarter.

    East Bay in general: 19.81%

    San Francisco: 15.1%

    This is according to the “San Francisco Business Times” issue that I mentioned above.

  22. len raphael

    Since we’re probably stuck for next decade at best being an upgraded bedroom community for SF, San Jose, Berkeley with great restaurants and nail salons.

    We’re not allowed to impose an income tax, how about assessing hefty impact fees on all new construction to try to recoup the costs of servicing the new residents. Not clear if that means chasing our muni financial tail, by lowering the profit to developers to the point where they say heck with it. But maybe it would lower the cost of land to offset that effect on developer profit.

    Then how to keep the pols and the electorate from spending the impact fees immediately..

  23. James Robinson

    How about this: let’s NOT impose any new taxes. Let’s find a way to efficiently spend the money we have, starting with cutting back the mayor’s travel budget. Also, let’s audit every non-governmental agency that takes money from the city government. And let’s figure out a way to abolish Measure Y so we can take that parcel tax money in using for hiring more cops ONLY.

    And if you want Oakland to generate more tax revenue, then we need to figure out a way to increase homebuying. Oakland has the highest transfer taxes in the county, so Oakland stands to benefit greatly if some of those renters start buying.

  24. len raphael

    Slash spending, increase efficiency, then raise taxes and fees.

    Cost cutting would have worked at one point, but when a very high percentage of all cities in the country are finding they have to cut core services, there’s no way Oakland could deliver core services without higher fees and taxes. Oakland is special but not that special.

  25. Robert

    Why don’t we figure out what a core service really is? Bedroom communities learned pretty quickly that they needed the tax base from business. Look at all the industrial parks out in what started as suburbs such as Pleasanton.

  26. Ralph

    Oakland could very easily deliver core service if the voters would stop giving money away to non-core services such as Kids First. Everytime I think of Measure OO, I am reminded of an exchange b/w Dr. Weaver and Dr. Romano. The role of Dr. Weaver will be played by the KF Brigade. In the role of Dr. Romano will be city council. Because this is a family publication, I can not print the exchange, but someone said something about owning someone else.

    It is almost criminal that those pinheads and anyone for that matter is allowed to put before the voters a ballot measure that reads in short it will not increase taxes. Any unfunded measure is going to take money away from core services. Since the city can not print money, it must raise taxes. Yet, the nimrods who vote for such measure ignore these small facts. If they think non-profits of questionable merit deserve $$$$ to squander so be it, but do not come back to me for additional tax revenue to support core services. It is not going to happen. Basically, KF made us their and now Oakland and its residents need to learn to make do with less.

  27. len raphael

    Rbt, re KF, I have a special warm place in my heart for the OUSD prez and KF makher David K.

    The board (with what, one exception) actually begged David K to ignore the OUSD lawyer opinion that he had the appearance of a conflict of interest. One of the reasons given for his importance was that he was one of the few board members who understood the OUSD finances.

    The nonprofits and other vendors understand Oakland’s finances better than our officials do.

    And who knows, maybe the under 21 year olds we’ve put on the KF oversight board have figured out the game too.

    A helluva a town.

  28. len raphael

    meant Ralph.
    Maybe, to restate V’s point in the Measure K discussion, for perhaps a majority of residents, many of the services funded by K are core. Which is to say, that they would accept cutbacks in public security staffing, street maintenance, lighting, etc.

    It will come down to voter turnout.

  29. Ralph

    Core functions do not pertain to a segment of the population. Core functions should fall along the line of services that individuals can not provide for themselves. An example of a core service is public safety. If my tax dollars are going to be used for afterschool daycare, which is typically the responsibility of the parent, then I should have a say in how that money is used. My top priorities are sterilization programs and military schools.

  30. David

    Hey, James, did you hear the gunshots from the shooting on 94th & Bancroft? Speaking of ghetto. I heard it as I was trying to catch up on some sleep after putting the kiddies to bed. And people wonder why oakland has a bad rep…

  31. James Robinson

    Were you talking about the shooting Saturday night? If it was at 9:30 then I was watching the new “Star Trek” movie at the time and probably thought it was part of the soundtrack :-)

    That shooting and the one a block down from Bancroft last weekend really has me wondering about my home purchase. . .

    Let’s hope the new police chief can make some changes. Also, I think Measure Y is a crock. All that money should have gone to adding police.

  32. len raphael

    Ralph, core is the largest set of services that the majority of residents believes they can’t live without and can’t provide by themselves? Not sure that definition is going to make this budgeting process any easier.

    I don’t see how our current officials can put this off till next mayor comes aboard, but i’ll bet they’re praying every day for the feds to send a bunch of addtl stimulus money to local governments.

  33. Ralph

    len, not sure what you mean by the largest set of services that the majority of resident believe they can’t live without and can’t provide by themselves? Exactly what do you include and exclude in this definition.

    What is the this our current official can not put off until next year. Our current officials don’t have to put off anything, they need to cut services. heck, I would even cutoff the pimps at kids first.

  34. Almer Mabalot

    There are population estimates for Oakland as of 2009. Those estimates ranges from 600,000+ to 650,000+. I remember that the city’s population was a little under 400,000 (2000).

    What are your guesses on the population in Oakland? Which part of the city is seeing a population increase?

  35. James Robinson

    As far I know, the population is still at around 400,000 with a projected population increase of 20,000 by 2020.

  36. Almer Mabalot

    I thought so, seeing 600k is a surprising estimate. That’s 200k moving in Oakland in the span of 10 years. Something big would had to happen if these estimates are true.

  37. len raphael

    Ralph, i was trying to rephrase your post re what’s core and what’s not. sounds like i didn’t do that too good.

    by “What is the this our current official can not put off until next year.” i meant they will have to lead the howling pack in coming up with consensus on definition of “core” services. it won’t be pretty if the residents apply the Donner Pass method of allocating scarce resources.

  38. Ralph

    Gotcha, I would not necessarily call it the largest set of services that tha majority of residents can not afford. I think those dimwits who believe in Kids First would use your rephrased definition to mean that they are a core service. The city should provide services that individual citizens can not provide for themselves and that allow business to flourish, people to feel safe in their person, and create an environment which allows people to reach their full potential.

    Individuals can not provide public safety, business regulation, permitting, public health concerns. individuals can pay for afterschool care. whether individuals decide either to allocate resources or don’t have the income to allocate resources is not the city’s issue. And if it is my issue, sterilization and military school are my answers.

    Sidebar: I will tell you what is disturbing. Oakland is a multi hundred million dollar business. Yet, they lack a chief accounting officer and a policy manual. Without proper internal financial controls, I expect nothing but waste.

  39. David

    James, yeah, it was Sat. night around 9:30-9:45. About 10 shots or so.

    At least with the money I’m saving on my mortgage, I can 1) afford a gun, 2) afford a pit bull and 3) afford to send my kids to Catholic school (in San Leandro).

    Amen Ralph. Don’t forget the lack of incentives or disincentives (i.e. who the heck ever gets fired for incompetence?) at the muni employee level. Of course the ranks are filled with gold brickers, racketeers, incompetents and the result is what you see.

  40. Eric Fischer

    The Census Bureau thinks the 2008 population of Oakland was 404,155, up from 399,484 in 2000. The California Department of Finance thinks it was 420,183 in 2008.

  41. MarleenLee

    James: My latest proposal to the City is to replace Measure Y with a new measure that does just what you’re proposing. I’ll be interested to see how they respond.

  42. Patrick

    I just spoke with my boss about getting paid for overtime work I can’t document as well as for time I spend every day dressing, undressing, washing myself and transporting myself to and from work. To avoid unnecessary cost, we decided to settle out of court. I got nothing – and he got a big laugh. Only plaintiffs are laughing in Oakland today. Unionized crooks.

  43. John Klein

    Today, I heard the Port of Oakland was awarded $253 million last week from the California Transportation Commission Fund but haven’t heard about it publicly. The Port’s website doesn’t mention it, either. Anyone have any information about this?

  44. Ralph

    JK, is that the grant from Trade Corridor Improvement Fund $$?

    Patrick, be nice. You can not fault OPD for collecting pay which the courts have said is due them. These lawsuits have been making the rounds for years with the employer more often than not on the losing end. Would you feel the same way if it were a big hi-tech corp forced to pay their workers?

  45. Patrick

    Ralph, that a union asked for and received the right to collect pay for the time spent dressing for their job is ridiculous. Whether it’s OPD or a big company, the insanity has to stop. And let’s not forget that much of this back pay is for work that OPD cannot substantiate.

  46. Ralph

    I guess I just think the outrage should be with the courts. From Seattle to Miami, from San Diego to Portland, courts have more or less sided with union and non-union employees on these suit.

  47. len raphael

    if you’re gonna get po’d, how about the retirement package for the ex swat team leader. age 50 something and 187k/year. sorry, i know enough people who risk their lives and manage a bunch of people who don’t get more than a fraction of that.

  48. John Klein

    Ralph, that’s all the information I have – this is why I ask. Seems like the Port would let the public know it just got a quarter of a billion dollars. Or, looking at it from a slightly different perspective, the public has the right to know the Port just got this much money and what the Port intends to do with it.

  49. len raphael

    North Oakland public security meeting tonight, 12/17/09 7PM at Senior Center on 5714 MLK. (old grove street jc etc.). This was initiated by residents mostly below Shattuck, but joined by other residents throughout District One. Intent was that Jane Brunner or staff would also attend, but no confirm of that.

    Trying to break out of the beat specific dog and pony shows where each beat does the squeaky wheel routine, and opd and cc member nod in sympathy, temporarily send some patrols out for a while, and tell everyone the same thing for the past 3 years how no money means “only you can prevent crime”. If nothing else, people can let opd and more importantly JB’s representative what budget priorities should be. Maybe some consensus building on priorities. One can hope.

  50. Livegreen

    The Catch-22 cycle of excuses u describe won’t change until: –We get more Officers; –The OPOA accepts lower salaries for new Officers in a down market; –Investigators get freed up from the NSA (or added to); over the long term Oakland improves it’s middle class tax base & employment for blue collar jobs.

    Of course this is familiar on ABO. But what about the JB, the City Council, and the OPOA?

  51. len raphael

    N Oakland District One crime meeting had at least one good result: active community crime people from rockridge, temescal, convened with counterparts and normal residents from below shattuck.

    we kept pushing opd to figure out a way to notify residents when there was a police action in a neighborhood that affected residents’ safety or needed their cooperation. as one person explained: she wants to know when she had to pull her kid out of the front living room so he wouldn’t get caught in crossfire, whether to look at back windows for the bad guys. opd countered by saying they have had bad guys family members join ncpc’s to get the scoop on opd investigations. they were concerned about tipping off bad guys, and they were concerned about the cost of notification. currently only method they have is the one run by the fire dept for hazmat notifications by phone. cost is 29 cents per call plus labor costs. in any event they don’t have any to spare to train to use it.

    suggestion was made that they only notify one designated person per block by text message. that person could decide whom to contact next.

    which brings us to another opd tech interface problem: the much heralded shot spotter. turns out that costs about 50k/year in license fees plus 50k for equipment rental, plus staff time. there is one in east o but it has not been effective because opd does not have a dedicated staff to quickly follow up on the shot spotting. will probably discontinue.

    In north oakland, “overwhelming % of shootings” and “significant % of robberies” are committed by gangs. not sure how that jives with another statement that in north oakland majority of crime victims are white and not elderly.

    Each year Oakland gets approx 3,700 new parollees an 5,000 probationers. By state law they discharged to the city where they were arrested :)

    For all of Oakland there are 6 burglary investigators, and 6 robbery investigators. (other crime investigator info not mentioned). In addition, the PSO’s and beat cops are slowly being trained to investigate crimes but overall the “solvability” rate in Oakland is much worse than in neighboring cities. It is “very poor”.

    In Area One ( Lake Merrit to North O?) over 2,100 thefts/month and 200 robberies are not investigated because they fail opd’s triage protocol.

    And that Drug Hotline? Don’t bother because opd cannot keep up with all of those tips.

    We heard a very credible resident describe how medical marijuana licensing has brought even more crime to her neighborhood. cops said they’re trying to monitor that too.

    And no virginia, it is not an urban myth that thousands of fingerprints taken by techs are stacked up at opd storage. opd lacks both the budget and the staff to analyse and input the fingerprint data.

    toward the end, Jane B. summarized the earlier cc budget meeting where it was decided they either had to lay off 100 cops next summer or get the unlikely approval of the voters for police parcel tax. Basically she said they would not/could not make any more cuts to the other city services and programs. (she might have also mention changing measure Y, but maybe she was just half acknowledging the cc mishandled that one)

    when i asked her why was the cc waiting till next spring to deal with the impending doom, her reply was something to the effect that no one wants to make painful cuts any sooner than they have to. that some members were hoping for an economic recovery to boost sales and transfer taxes, but at same time most realize the recovery will come to oakland last.

    -len raphael
    temescal

  52. len raphael

    opd staff agreed that there is massive underreporting of certain crimes. they have not done any stat work to estimate how big that underreporting is. example was given of DTO vicinity of bart crime. most commuters do not want to stick aound to fill out crime report.

    in general, it seems that if a crime report is not filed, no statistic is generated. an incident number is not enough. since many incidents are never reported, and most incidents do not result in a crime report, underreporting is possibly huge for certain crimes.

  53. Naomi Schiff

    City Attorney John Russo’s office has issued an opinion (written by Alix Rosenthal) that City Council must now implement IRV voting, under the City Charter.

  54. Ralph

    Underreporting crime is nothing new. I have been underreporting crime for over 20 years. I would love to know what OPD is doing to make reporting a crime easier. I also want to know what they are doing to inform people how to report a crime.

  55. Livegreen

    Why in Hell are Probationers and Parolees returned to the City where they’re arrested?? They should b returned to he City where they Reside! As we’ve already discussed many perps committing crimes at sideshows are from out of town. I bet that’s not unusal for drug dealing, gangs, etc.

    So State Law empties the criminals from smaller, safer cities into the city that already has the most crime? Insane!

  56. Ralph

    I believe parolees are returned to the city where they have family under the assumption there is a built in support network that will keep them clean. Of course, it was probably in this same community where they did the deed; so, I am not sure how well that policy works. I could be mistaken but I believe that CA also takes in more parolees than it exports because parolees are allowed to move to where they have family. Imported parolees committed some of the most heinous crimes in CA.

  57. Mike d'Ocla

    Those who are interested in actually doing something about improving crime investigation in Oakland, rather than simply complaining here, can contact their City Councilmembers and OPD Chief Batts.

    Federal grant funds were received by Oakland in March to hire two civilian investigators to work on complaints filed with the Citizens’ Police Review Board. Currently there are 10 sworn OPD Internal Affairs officers doing this work. Two of the IA officers could be relieved by Batts to do crime-solving police work, letting the civilian investigators work on the civilian complaints.

    Why is this not being done now? The City Administrator won’t release the grant funds. The City Council is not demanding that the grant funds be released and the civilian investigators hired.

    Chief Batts has heard about this proposal and seems supportive. Your email/letters/calls to him could spur him to act quickly.

    In the long run, all 10 OPD Internal Affairs investigators who are doing CPRB work rather than real policing could be replaced with civilian investigators. Funding for the civilians could be sought by the Oakland grant writer. You might mention this to the City Council, too.

  58. Ralph

    Is there someplace where we residents can go to identify open OPD issues we would like OPD and the council to address. It would seem rather pointless for me to ask them to do X if they are already doing X.

    But if they have already identified a list of priorities, which they are slow to address I might have a better ally in council.

    Just for starters they could update the website and provide more recent annual reports. Reading the annual reports that are available it is clear that tangible goals for the people of Oakland is not a high priority. I think in one report, I read that a goal for the year is to send 5 people to training. But how does that help the people of Oakland. I would love to see something about x% increase in arrest rate or x% decrease in crime. A training class should support those goals not be the goal itself.

    Now that was from a 2007 report. For all I know, someone at OPD realized how silly these reports were and institued changes for 2008. But that is a concern I have. We need to implement strong management objectives at OPD, who do I talk – is this a Chief Batts item?

  59. Mike d'Ocla

    Ralph–

    Make Oakland Better Now! (there is a MOBN website; “Oaktalk” is where public safety specifics are addressed) and PUEBLO (website also) are both working on police reform. PUEBLO has been working for some time on “civilianizing” OPD.

    Even if the City Council has approved something, it doesn’t mean that it’s being done. So pestering them is always important. That is the unrewarding work of trying to get this City to actually move forward.

    You probably know that the CC has a Public Safety Committee. Larry Reid is Chair. Pat Kernighan, Nancy Nadel and Jean Quan are also on PSC. PSC meets 2nd and 4th Tuesdays 530 to 7. Requests to schedule items on the PSC agenda (3 weeks in advance) can be filed at http://www.oaklandnet.com/cityclerk/agend-item-instructions.html.

  60. Mike d'Ocla

    Ralph–

    Chief Batts is still going to a lot of public meetings where you can ask him anything. Call Rene Sykes of the Neighborhood Crime Prevention Councils and ask her where the next meeting is. Asking Batts about how to measure police performance/crime reduction or how does/will OPD identify perpetrators of violent crime and how will OPD intervene without causing a riot–any such question–will keep him on his toes and remind him that there is lots of sentiment for change.

    Batts seems (I have met with him) to be talking the talk about “evidence-based” policing which is the latest thinking. He has several highly-qualified consultants helping him with his long-term strategic plan for police change in Oakland.

    “Evidence-based policing” means police active anti-crime interventions are based on actual evidence of the activity of criminals and their social networks. This means police go after specific targets very precisely rather than simply cruise violent neighborhoods looking to bust people who they “profile” as being “criminals.” Profiling doesn’t reduce crime–it just pisses off the community and then the police can’t get the information they need to actually do anything useful because no one will talk to them.

  61. Patrick

    I will support the bond measure being placed on the July ballot to fund police on three conditions:

    1. OPD agrees to a two-tier system: all future new hires will start at a lower base salary, pay will escalate more slowly, have a defined contribution pension (to which they contribute), and do not get paid to dress for work;

    2. The City puts another measure on the same ballot that rolls back funding for Measure OO;

    3. The City admits fault for its misuse of Measure Y funds and works to correct it.

    Unless these 3 conditions are met, they can go suck an egg.

  62. David

    Sorry, ain’t got anymore money to give at the point of a gun to the tax man. Learn to make do like the rest of us in the private sector who’ve had 40% pay cuts, no pensions, no health care and are thankful we don’t have a 100% pay cut. And don’t you dare whine to me about how you went into the public sector and never planned to get rich. Guess how many of your private sector counterparts actually get rich, dimwits.

    Got one word for our public officials: Jack*****. No other way to describe ‘em.

    I’m waiting for the East Bay Express to take a look at Oakland’s government waste like SF Weekly did for SF. It’s disgusting and should point out why you should never support a tax increase.

  63. Patrick

    It really is kind of pathetic. Does anyone on the City Council truly believe that a bond measure or parcel tax will pass in July? Or is this just another “You didn’t give us more money waaaaaaaaah now look what we have to do it’s your fault not ours” scenario?

  64. Ralph

    Patrick,
    I hear you on the bond measure. I would probably require that 1 and 2 be combined. You can always get the measure on the ballot. It is the passing that is tricky.

    I am inclined to believe that city council knows some things about some of our electorate that we tend to forget. The electorate is stupid. Suppose you think the kids (or mgrs at non-profits) need money. Well if you submit to the electorate a ballott measure to allocate money to those dimwits and tell the electorate that it will not require new taxes, then the electorate votes for it.

    Now, you and I would not vote for it because it obviously means something is not going to get money and either the city needs to find that money somewhere or cut programs. But given the frequency with which the electorate votes for such measures, it is fairly safe to say that the electorate will do something stupid.

    Same thing happens with a bond measure, someone will slip in language no new taxes and you and I will sitting around thinking exactly how do they expect to service this debt. My property tax bill tells me otherwise.

    So while I would normally agree with the stmt, “you didn’t give us more money…,” I believe city council is taking advantage of what is obviously a mentally impaired electorate. I am beginning to see the value in having literacy test before we allow people to vote.

    I am also waiting for the EBE news story. A city this size without a Controller – shameful!!!

  65. David

    PS. One thing you forget is that an election in July is going to be extremely low turnout….except for public sector union employees who will be compelled to vote.

    This is standard tactics on any vote involving wasting more taxpayer money in local elections.

    Remember to vote and remind your friends so that you can overpower the muni employee racket.

  66. Patrick

    Yes, and let’s not forget that 60% of Oaklanders are not responsible for the repayment of a bond measure – which is exactly why it IS a bond measure. “Your taxes won’t go up” … until next year and the year after that when they jack up the ad valorem rate to 3% and only assuming you own property in this piece o’ crap city. If this shee-ite passes it will make every piece of property in Oakland WORTHLESS.

  67. len raphael

    question: when we’re told by our officials that city employees have already accepted a 10% cut in pay, are they referring to the unpaid temporary furloughs? so only benefits that accrue based on pay or hours would be reduced also? eg. retirement plan employer contributions, vacation, sick leave, but not medical and dental?

    but the cops and firefighters 10% cut was in the form of forgoing a promised 10% raise? but they still work the same number of hours? (wasn’t there something about OT calculation changing?)

    -len

  68. Born in Oakland

    I wonder if bond measures have a better rate of electorate support than do parcel taxes? Anyone know? Is it easier to “sell” a bond measure? Do bonds and parcel taxes both require a 2/3rds “aye” vote?

  69. Livegreen

    Good point Len. I wonder about the benefits too, maybe V knows.

    Since they’re based on temporary furloughs and not permanent salary cuts, they should b referred to as such.

  70. len raphael

    the muni bond underwriters would never sell a muni bond issue for most cities these days that was not backed by dedicated tax revenue source. but i doubt if they’d even float one then, unless the dedicated tax was enough to cover say a 10% interest rate. ie. muni junk bond rate.

    wasn’t it just a few years that either CA or Alameda county did issue bonds to cover a shortfall in pension contributions?

    the question is whether our officials succeed in defining the issue as choosing between a big parcel tax or laying off cops. if people accept that false choice, it isn’t that much further to convincing enough renters that parcel taxes don’t cost them anything. but then there’s a significant percentage of voters who think it wb a good thing to reduce the size of opd.

    a low turnout off season election would hurt a parcel tax. most likely voters are resident property owners. yes, city union members would work for the parcel tax, but other union members who don’t work for the city would vote like typical property owners.

    nope, the tax has better chance passing in november.

  71. Marleenlee

    Reading jane’s comments in the Oakland north article…what can I say that I haven’t already screamed before? They just don’t get it. Maybe it’s time for my next lawsuit….

  72. len raphael

    Ml, not fair that you can file lawsuits any time, while the rest of us between elections and public hearings can just complain to each other on blogs. But to paraphrase Joe Hill ” don’t complain, organize”.

  73. Marleenlee

    Actually Len there are things you can do. Write emails to councilmembers and let them know how you feel. (I know nancy reads hers because one of my neighbors sent a group email to the cc saying they would be voted out of office unless they did the right thing and she wrote back, “thanks for the threat.”). Also, please go to the next council meeting and speak out!

  74. ronoz

    Bounhom Manyvong left Laos for a better place. He died in Oakland, the 106th homicide this year. How can the violence here be put in a perspective serious enough for action?

    Since the war began in the Afghanistan region in late 2001, there have been 662 Americans killed by hostile action.

    In that same time period, there have been 890 Americans killed by hostile action in Oakland.

    The last “Daily” Crime Analysis posted by OPD [November 23, 2009] indicates that in the current quarter Oakland has suffered the highest average daily violence against its citizens in our recorded history.

    Every Sunday, as a kid in Oakland in the 50′s, our family went to Mosswood Park for a picnic. Every Christmas season we walked the downtown at night to see the store displays and decorations. I rode my bike after school three days a week from North Oakland to 98th and East 14th for a part time job.

    In 1956, when I was in the eighth grade at Claremont Junior High School on College Avenue, Oakland experienced 1,421 Part I Violent Crimes. That was an average of about 3.9 per day. There were about 872% more Part I Property Crimes Reported [including 1,052 bicycle thefts].

    In this current quarter [DCR 11/23] Oakland is suffering an average daily rate of Part I Violent Crimes that is 733% higher than when I was a kid [28.6 vs. 3.9]. The ratio of reported propery crimes to violent crimes has dropped -73% from 8.72 in 1956 to 2.34 today.

    Maybe we can’t go back to 1956, and there are some things about that period we shouldn’t go back to, but why do we have to have the highest violent crime rate in the country today?

    ronoz

  75. Livegreen

    An interesting conundrum is that while many of us state the City should focus on Core Services, JB and others say that over 80% of the General Fund is spent on Safety, a core service. We need to clear up this contradiction or the CC will continue to use this statistic as a reason to either pass another bond or do nothing (including no cuts to the remaining 20% of non-safety General Fund spending, core or not).

    The point is further driven home by reducing the contradiction to it’s most basic: We need more Officers, but we can’t afford them.

    How do we resolve this, without a further tax increase? The only way I can see is further cuts for new hires of all City Employees, if not existing ones (pay & benefits cuts, not temporary furloughs), as well as canceling the automatic pay increases in the Salary Schedules (that duplicate COLA adjustments).

    And a further reduction in non-core functions (at least temporarily), especially cultural organizations that already receive funding from foundations, community block grants, and other organizations whose core missions better align with the beneficiairies.

    But these might b only part answers. However I suggest writing to CC members with these proposals. I will email mine now, as well as my neighborhood association. Any other specific solutions before I do?

  76. Livegreen

    Marleen, Is there anything in the City Charter that requires the City to adequately fund City Services (essential or not)? As opposed to cultural or discretionary spending?

  77. len raphael

    LG, ask the cc members for what the projected annual deficit would be 1, 3, and also 5 years from the year endind June 2010 using optimistic, medium optimistic, and pessimistic assumptions.

    What would our fiscal situation be if current tax revenues did not go up or down except for an additional 200/parcel tax, inflation stayed low, but we set aside money to fund our old public safety retirement obligations, our projected increased retirement obligations to Calpers, and projected obligations for retiree medical benefits. Then ask what happens if interest rates on city borrowings increases by 40%. Don’t bother asking them for projected OUSD deficits because “that’s not our job”.

    I think the honest answer would be, we’ll be running large deficits and need another +300 parcel tax. Which is to say our officials are praying that this recession is just another normal downtown that wb followed by quickly rising tax revenues and slowly increasing interest rates.

    -len raphael

  78. CitizenX

    We need to strike “bond issue” and “bonds” from this discussion. Regardless of what certain clueless Councilmembers might say, the City couldn’t (and shouldn’t) issue bonds to fund police services. Bonds are simply a form of borrowing — investors give the City money and they recieve a bond, which is the City’s pledge to repay that money at some future date with interest. Bonds are normally issued to pay for buildings and long lived public works. Bonds MAY be supported by parcel or other taxes.

    To fund current operating expenditures, there is no need to borrow long term. The voters can approve a parcel tax and the tax revenues are used to fund current spending. This is how Measure Y or the library parcel tax work.

    A parcel tax to repay bonds or a parcel tax to fund current expenditures both require a 2/3 vote to pass. So, next time your elected officials talk about a “bond measure” to fund public safety expenditures, you will know better. Feel free to boo and hiss and tell them to get a clue. Bond measures are for major capital projects — NOT for current operations.

    Of course, as previously mentioned, there are Pension Obligation Bonds, but we’ll save that for another day.

  79. Patrick

    As I’ve oft stated, parcel taxes are so unfair that it is almost criminal. They can legally base the amount on the tax on the size of the property, but of course, this is Oakland where the government can’t figure out the e-mail system.

    @len: I don’t think the City’s unionized employees would skew the election results – after all, most of them can afford to live, and do live, somewhere else.

  80. Critical Chris

    Please help find, and bring to justice, the callous, piece-of-shit motorist that committed a heinous act of hit-and-run vehicular homicide near downtown Oakland. 84 year-old Nong Chen was slaughtered by a multi-thousand pound bullet on the morning of Saturday Dec. 14th, in the 200 block of 6th Street at Jackson. http://www.insidebayarea.com/oaklandtribune/localnews/ci_13995735

    It must be difficult for Nong’s killer motorist to not talk to somebody over even just a ten day period.

    Police and Crime Stoppers of Oakland are offering up to $10,000 in reward money for information leading to a arrest of Chen’s hit-and-run killer. Anyone with information may call police at 510-238-3821 or Crime Stoppers at 510-777-8572 or 510-777-3211.

  81. Ken Ott

    @critChris thanks for posting this. lots of other crimes go unreported according to all the OPD I talk to. city council would be “upset” if OPD started actually reporting more crimes to local news media.

    as a follow up, since we have 50% of a police dept here, I suggest that everyone start “packing heat” like Goldman Sachs execs now do and take care of business on the spot instead of waiting for help that won’t come.

    As one anecdote, I spoke with security at a local bar this week and after a fight broke out and they called OPD, there were no OPD available so dispatch sent firefighters instead. WTF??

    What are FFs gonna do? So 45min later dispatch calls to see if the bar still needs OPD. Turns out the combatants left tens of minutes ago. Yep. Security is the basis for civil society, a stable local economy and stable tax collection.

  82. Ralph

    Can someone explain to me how a camera on a sweeper is more intrusive and a violation of privacy compared to a person with two eyes?

  83. KenO

    ralph – i guess because unlike a person with two eyes, a camera scanning every car on the street can save the info in a hard drive, and supposedly this scales up quite nicely as google maps street view shows you, and perhaps “someone” can scan through all that shit and figure out who’s been where.

    and frankly, a fair number of people prefer privacy over publicity when it comes down to it, FB/twitter notwithstanding. the basic question is, do you trust your government at all levels?

    personally i don’t think it’s a big deal. eventually the city won’t be able to perform its basic functions due to having no money. for those of you with expandable imaginations, try visioning Oakland without police and fire staff.

    I wouldn’t say this will happen next year, or the year after that, but it’s coming in less than ten years and maybe even in eight. (translation: go back to sleep ;)

    Here’s a glowing 2010 forecast for anyone that’s listening:

    http://kunstler.com/blog/2009/12/forecast-2010.html#more

  84. Mike Spencer

    I have noticed this scene the last few weeks on a daily basis at Park Boulevard and Highway 580: At least 3 cops hanging out with the road construction crews. Police are apparently doing nothing other than back-slapping and looking cool. I understand there might be a need for traffic control of sorts. This does not look like a good use of City resources. How about one patrol car and one officer? The area is very well marked with cones, flashing signs, etc.

  85. Ralph

    KenO- don’t they make cameras with delete buttons

    MikeSpencer – I believe the user of these services pay for these services. It would think it is no different than hiring police to manage a race course.

  86. Max Allstadt

    I don’t get why we need sworn officers at construction sites. Even if it is being paid for by someone else, it’s taking away from the number of officers available to do real police work.

    It’s been going on downtown too, on Grand Ave, for a while. Makes no sense.

  87. Ralph

    Actually it makes a lot of sense. Like road race mgrs, construction site mgrs hire the cops for safety reasons. The police presence tends to calm the traffic in the area. My guess is each of you will be singing a different tune if a worker were injured and sued everyone including the city and won a huge settlement.

    From what I recall, these cops are not regularly scheduled for this time. Thus they are not taking away from the normal staff. Why is no one outraged by the CHP officers sitting on the Bridge during construction hours?

  88. John Klein

    The police are there because PG&E requested them; I don’t know if they are paying for them, but I assume they are. You’d have to check with OPD about the specifics. It is possible that the officers are working during their unscheduled hours, ie., moonlighting.

    The situation at each site is extremely dangerous and the liability for PGE and the City of Oakland is very great. One or two injuries to the public could easily wipe out any savings from not having police there.

    The main reason is for general security to the sites. That is, OPD has the power to arrest and remove trespassers – the workers or PGE don’t. The sites are extremely dangerous because of the proximity to traffic and pedestrians. If a pedestrian doesn’t want to leave, the workers can’t force them or arrest them. Any such attempt by a worker could come back on them as an assault or something. Plus, controlling the site without OPD would be a big distraction for the workers. OPD are the only ones who can apply maximum control over the sites. The liability to PGE and the City is huge.

  89. Max Allstadt

    Thanks John, that actually makes a lot more sense.

    I also think, based on seeing familiar officer’s faces, that seniority plays a role in who gets called to stand around these sites. I seriously hope that PG&E is covering all costs, because overtime pay and pay in general escalates rapidly with seniority.

  90. Livegreen

    I think they should give the chief the benefit of his position, and at least try his recommendations. If they work they pat themselves too + save a lot of money. If it doesn’t work they can blame the Chief. What’s to lose?

    & Certainly better than kids watching their parents get shot and killed in front of them…

  91. Born in Oakland

    What’s the deal. Hundreds killed during his term and today the Mayor sends out his first letter decrying the violence? Maybe I just got on a mailing list or something.

  92. Ralph

    “Many cities have imposed youth curfews in recent years. A 1995 survey by The U.S. Conference of Mayors found that 272 cities, 70 percent of those surveyed, had a nighttime curfew. Fifty-seven percent of these cities considered their curfew effective.” A Status Report on Youth Curfews in America’s Cities
    A 347-City Survey

    I hope that Chief Batts and Larry Reid can move forward with a proposal for a youth curfew. The problem I tend to have is Oakland’s white liberal think it is a bad thing because it end up snagging a bunch of brown and black children. So if my alternative if a dead child versus a child that we are able to get off the street and into the needed social help and programs that they need, I am going to take the latter every day of the week and twice on Sunday. There is no good reason for a 15 year old to be on the street at 1am and if any of council members think there is maybe they should forfeit the honor of bearing children. When the street lights come on, your butt had better be on the porch. Find me a black child who hasn’t heard those words and I will show you a black child that needs the very help that Batts and Reid are proposing we offer to kids picked up in the curfew hours. DWLE.

    Survey comment:
    Nine out of 10 of the cities (247) said that enforcing a curfew is a good use of a police officer’s time. Many respondents felt that curfews represented a proactive way to combat youth violence. They saw curfews as a way to involve parents, as a deterrent to future crime, and as a way to keep juveniles from being victimized. In addition, they commented that a curfew gives the police probable cause to stop someone they think is suspicious. Examples of city comments:

  93. len raphael

    Ralph, please post a link. i want to repost on some north oakland sites. someone should do the same for the various hills. otherwise Reid and Batts will get overriden by same NIYBY’s (not in your back yard) without discussion.

    -len

  94. Ralph

    I am listening to Public Safety Committee mtg where Larry Reid’s proposal came forward and it is clear the public and the Mayor do not understand the proposal. It is equally clear that the people who spoke before the committee are their own worst enemy, and they have a difficult time separating BART PD from OPD. Can someone tell me how a youth rec center keeps sexually exploited minors off the street?

  95. Livegreen

    Ralph, Yeah, for single or poor working parents the Rec centers have after-school programs. Also one of the reasons CA Lindheim floated having RCs apply for OFCY funds to cut the RC budgets. (Another service they’re looking to backfill).

  96. Ralph

    a retraction, the problem is not the liberal elite although they were bullied by a bunch of misguided youth.

  97. Ralph

    If OFCY wants to rape the city, then other city programs will get cut. My question was more rhetorical. I still don’t see how an after school rec center helps at a sexually exploited minor at 2am.

  98. len raphael

    i like Lindheim’s idea. As the old New Yorker cartoon went “as long as you’re up, get me a Grant (scotch)” .

    OUSD should apply also for funds to keep music, sports, and foreign language programs. Nothing in OO or D that says it has to be afterschool. Then when the majority of the OFCY board denies OUSD no legislation by election needed, the cc and the mayor just tells their handpicked OFCY board members how to vote.

    -len raphael
    temescal

  99. Livegreen

    Ah, I get you Ralph. Remind me where the City said RC’s are
    supposed to support sexually exploited minors?

  100. Livegreen

    I don’t like Lindheim’s idea at all. It’s totally against the purpose of either P&R or OFCY. It’s also promoting backfill financing, which we’ve already discussed is not the purpose of various Funds, whether you agree wih them or not.

    When this happens the City diverts General Fund money BUT NEVER reduces the overall budget, never cuts City Operating Costs, and never replaces the money when good times come back. It’s another way of reducing services wihout reducing expenses. No matter how you feel about the fund, you shouldn’t support bad government or backfill budgeting.

  101. Ralph

    Supporting OFCY is supporting bad government. it is the poster child for bad government and the clearest evidence yet that some people should never be given the franchise. I don’t care how often you rob Peter to pay Paul with your own income, but when you start doing it with my tax dollar, you are going to hear from me. And given that the morons have said that robbing Peter to pay Paul is okay, then paying Mary should be equally okay. I mean as long as you disbursing stolen funds what difference does it make where they go. Frankly someone should dig a pit and bury each and every one of the the pinheads who voted for M.OO in it.

    As to the rec centers and sexually exploited youth, it came up during the curfew hearings. I think it was in the speakers. I was just annoyed listening to so many idiots. They called the curfew criminalization of brown and black kids, which it isn’t. The blamed Oscar Grant on OPD. I don’t think the actual measure really had an effective method for dealing with S/E/M.

  102. len raphael

    diverting all of Measure O D money to ousd and part to city general funded after school programs run by city employees is bad fiscal policy but it is good for kids and bad for loosey goosey feel good unmonitored contracts with non-profits. that would be a net gain for transparent good government and for kids.

    -len raphael
    temescal

  103. len raphael

    how about people on this site diverting say 10% of the energy they put into attending public hearings and drumming up support for BRT into supporting Batts and Reid on kid curfew. emails to council members, postings on neighborhood yahoo groups etc.

    Ralph, is the curfew proposal coming up again soon?

    -len raphael
    temescal

  104. Ralph

    Len,
    I am not sure if it will be coming up again in the near future. I emailed Reid and Nadel to voice my support for a curfew. But judging from the people’s comment, it is clearly going to be a tough sell and a lot of public education will be required. Interestingly enough our most left member of the council while not in agreement sees the benefit of a curfew.

    I am not a huge advocate of the city serving as a parent, but when you don’t have parents being responsible you have children up to no good. Do I think that there will be a higher number of black and brown people stopped by OPD because of a curfew? Yes. Do I think this is a bad thing? No. Some children have sense enough and parents who care to get their butts home when the street lights come on. Others don’t and we need to find out why. If you 15 and walking the streets every night from 12 – 3am, I need to ask why? Come morning you are going to be to tired to function in school. You aren’t any good to an employer.

    No need for me to preach to the choir. If you want to hear the entire set of comments listen the PSC mtg from Feb 2009. I believe it was the 1st one of the month.

    Honestly, I think the curfew could do more for youth than M OO, and M OO money should be used for this. We have an opportunity to address needs that many of these programs do not. All the afterschool programs designed to get Johnny to grade level aren’t worth a hill of beans if Johnny spends every night walking the streets.

  105. Almer Mabalot

    Are there any websites that covers Oakland’s Mayoral Election with accurate information? I would like to know who is running, and learn about them.

  106. Ralph

    Iit is too late for me to attend Hamlet Blood on the Brain; I will admit that I could not believe my eyes about EFF. Congrats!

  107. Chris Vernon

    So glad you enjoyed the showing of ‘Hamlet, Blood on the Brain’ this past weekend. There will be other showings around town this spring, check the Oakland Tech website or contact Jessa Brie-Berkner, the PHENOMENAL Theatre Director who along with her talented students has resurrected the drama program at Oakland Tech and made it a thing of living beauty.

  108. Mike Spencer

    And now for something completely different….wondering if someone could provide “An Idiot’s Guide to the Port of Oakland.” Curious as to its relationship with the City and who or what makes the most money off it. Who is the governing body, etc. It has to be huge business.

  109. len raphael

    anyone else get the impression that the Port is overseen by appointees clueless about running a huge port with many complex business operations and transactions? maybe two of the commissioners have relevant business backgrounds. the others are basically execs of politically connected non-profits or labor unions.

    appointed by brown and dellums, confirmed by our cc:

    http://www.portofoakland.com/portnyou/portoffi.asp

  110. 94610BizMan

    “the others are basically execs of politically connected non-profits or labor unions…” This should come as no surprise. I am still steamed about PKs comment on the other thread that we need to generate “outrage” to get the CC to do anything.

    The idea that I need to generate some kind of a rent-a-riot “outrage” threat in order to raise Oakland to lower mediocre city government performance is appalling. I wouldn’t even mind the traditional all-American level of municipal corruption (I’m from Chicago) if they delivered the services.

    But as the city (state) slide into bankruptcy (with a recent unprecedented survey showing Californians seeing three straight years of their personal financial situation getting worse) I can’t believe that the CC is still without a clue.

    They are so used to the folks who own the big purple buses and the unaccountable not-for-profits pulling their leash that it is just over the cliff we go.

  111. len raphael

    couldn’t find a list of the backgrounds of prior Port commissioners so i could be all wet, but my biased recollection from the 70′s was that there were still some good ol’ boys serving, with a few into at least the 90′s. basically Oakland business movers and shaker types who seemed oblivious to the appearance of conflict of interest.

    so sometime after Mayor Reading and maybe during Mayor Wilson’s era, (more likely Elihu era) we started going to the other extreme. if anyone knows the history i’d be curious whether the composition of the board away from biz types started more recently.

    btw, the wiki list of our mayor’s is entertaining. good news for our current mayor, is that most of our mayors moved to fancier parts of town or fancier towns after they left office.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mayors_of_Oakland,_California#List_of_mayors

  112. Naomi Schiff

    Some of the “business” appointees on the port commission have been just as incompetent, uncritical, and as likely to simply follow staff directives as any other members. For me, the key questions of a potential appointee ought to be: Are you willing to ask hard questions as a commissioner, can you analyze what you are told by staff, will you scrutinize those large numbers? Are you willing to engage in the occasional uncomfortable conversation? Are you willing to really investigate what is going on? Can you be independent and form clear judgments?

    I have attended port commission meetings where there is almost NO conversation or deliberation among the commissioners. Either they are doing everything in secret (lots of closed committee meetings?), or they are just rubberstamping staff activities. It is amazing how few citizens attend, and even fewer speak. Generally the commissioners do not respond to anything said during a meeting, as far as I can tell. They just vote “yes” as instructed.

    Of course, people who want to sell things to the port hang around there, as do various lobbyists and union reps. But it is astonishing to see how minimal this supposedly public governance appears. By comparison it makes the city council look like a bastion of democracy and a refreshingly open body.

  113. Livegreen

    Len, Im not surprised either. But I still expect better of both the City & the Port. If they want to make money, besides a well run operation (& my layman’s impression is that Omar Benjamin is capable), they’ve GOT to tie-in related distribution industries and jobs.

    Distribution is a really big business, it doesn’t matter where the goods are made, & it can b productive for both labor & technology. With one of the biggest Ports in the country it’s a natural tie-in for Oakland. But what do they do? They promote distribution up in the Valley. What is the Port called? Port of Walnut Creek?

    PS. Your 1st link had a by-line listing former commissioners. Don’t know how far back it goes…

  114. len raphael

    Naomi, that sounds like the gold standard for appointees. I’d settle for silver here.

    I wouldn’t say that a biz background guarrantees sound critical judgement. But reminds me what an elderly member of my synagogue told me once, when he said that in the 40′s thru 70′s the temple’s board of directrors had a majority of small and not so small business people. in the 80′s and later, it was lawyers, teachers, stock brokers, and other professionals. professionals lack some of the real world experience combined with having a real stake in the outcome that competent businesspeople either develop or fail. Some of the Port commissioners might in fact have those skills. But i’m skeptical because those skills weren’t needed to succeed in the organizations they come from.

    LiveG, please elaborate on the distrib angle. This being the whole logistics biz of warehousing parts and supplies for wide range of industries?

    does sanjiv attend the meetings? as much as i want to throttle him sometimes, it would be good to know he was there bird dogging them.
    -len raphael
    temescal

  115. Naomi Schiff

    Sanjiv sometimes attends. However, the board will rarely or never react or comment to anything the public says, in my experience. I am not a great expert on the port. They may be do some things fine; but if their real estate management track record over the last forty years is any example, I’m not too impressed.

  116. Steve Lowe

    What our Port Task Force came up with as a way of getting around the situation that Naomi describes (same as CC: speakers cards lead to no substantive interchange between the Commissioners and the public; and when coupled with massive, indigestible staff reports, closed briefings, etc., the votes invariably come out as per the wishes of department heads…) was to form a Port Advisory Committee that would, in effect, meet with a subcommittee of the Commission to ensure that staff reports might duly include community commonsense, as opposed to insider consensus.

    That’s why Mike Lighty is supported by practically everyone in West Oakland, as was Margaret Gordon before him, as several prior Commissioners couldn’t have cared less about community need (a natural reflection of executive staff concerns). The Port Advisory Committee will occur under this Mayor, just as the appointments he’s made have been in response to the community’s greater need for more understanding from the Port regarding the environmental and economic degradation of its fenceline neighbors.

    Interesting to mull over the reasons for opposing the Mayor’s choices and why it has taken so long for the Port to adopt the Task Force Recommendations that well over 30 people came up with after nearly six months of meeting, debating, examining, etc., all without being lobbied by this or that special interest.

  117. Livegreen

    Len, Distribution: Most goods now being made overseas, they still need to b imported and distributed. All companies, small to large, need distribution hubs (their own or contracted out). Union or non-union, these jobs pay well.

    Oakland being one of the largest ports in the Country could also become a national OR regional distribution hub. Large or medium retailers, or consumer product companies, or other businesses would bring goods in here to be dispersed, if not across the US, then at the very least to points across the West Coast.

    It’s a natural tie-in. However the Port of Oakland apparently has a policy to encourage this in the Valley, NOT here on Oakland. Which is ridiculous as we need both the businesses and the jobs.

    BTW, warehouse costs here are competitive, so that’s not the driver against. I don’t know what is, but it well could b the opposition against industrial jobs and pollution are the driving forces. It is, after-all, better to have people unemployed committing crime, than employed and driving a truck, or having a noisy train going down San Leandro St.

    I’m just surmising these are some of the issues. If anybody has some knowledge about the facts driving the Port to promote distribution jobs & businesses in the Valley instead of here, I’d love to hear it…

  118. Livegreen

    Steve, Oakland’s had so many task forces, could u detail which one u were involved with, and what it came up with? (There were the Mayor’s task forces, the environmental ones to deal with Port pollution, & then the Oakland Partnership–though I guess the latter are called “clusters”…). Thanks.

  119. Livegreen

    Steve, I’m responding on the Open Thread: Thanks very much for this summary. Personally I would not fault the Port for being concerned about it’s future. At the time the RRE market was at it’s height and industrial areas were being given all kinds of variances for Condo developments. At the time LR told me “Oakland is changing & the future is not industrial”. SInce that time the industial & commercial zoning has been reformed to meet the general plan, but variances can still b made. The Port is sitting on HOT RE property so it has to b at the back of their minds. & I’ve heard LR is still trying to get variances or decrease economic activity in industrial areas in his district (including those used by artists).

    I do appreciate both your summary & it’s good to know the Task Force recommendations are making their way through the City. Especially as there has been almost no word about them to he general public. I assumed hey were dead & the Mayor had abandoned them.

    Blending the environmental & operations (health & jobs) of the Port is difficult. The situation with the Truckers is a good example: Getting them to change to cleaner burning diesels is important for the community, but so are jobs. Done with a heavy hand puts the individual truckers out of business & they can’t support their families. Done more gradually but with a definite timeline, grants & Community Bank support (which they have for some but not all) can help everyone.

    Questions:

    –Were the environmental & economic issues of trains, both in the Port & in the industrial areas of Oakland, discussed? (Impact on both jobs & health)

    –What were the determinations on the economic relationship between the Port & the City & was it’s relationship to distribution in the City vs. Valley discussed?

    Thanks!

  120. Livegreen

    Related but seperate, this is how Cities that control costs, & City Employees & Unions who care about their Citizens, deal with Budget problems: “Tracy police officers forgo raises to save jobs”: http://m.insidebayarea.com/iba/db_22810/contentdetail.htmcontentguid=tCR4EwOB&src=cat
    (If the link doesn’t work it’s in today’s Tribune online).

    BTW, aside from furloughs (when they don’t work anyway), have our City Employees agreed to salary freezes, both for COLA’s & their other automatic increases in their salary schdule? Or are those automatic salary increases still in effect?

  121. len raphael

    LG, when i was working on the Pat McCullough city council campaign, Pat’s platform had a line “freeze city wages, but no layoffs”. (he sensibly told me that my suggestion of freeze wages plus 10% layoffs would only encourage the unions to actively campaign against us.)

    when we went to some of the unions looking for a handout, they basically told us that it would be suicidal for a union leader to publicly tell rank and file to take a pay cut, even though in the long run it would be better for the workers. union leaders are not paid to save jobs but to get pay and benefit increases.

    the unions endorsed the incumbent.

  122. Livegreen

    Right, & she wants a tax increase. Go figure. Did Pat have the endorsement of the OPOA? Officers seemed supportive of his self-defense. He should consider running again in the future. If at first u don’t succeed. It takes more than one try to crack the incumbent barrier…

  123. len raphael

    I’m sure Pat will consider running again. If he doesn’t run, I might.

    As a teenager in NYC, I was impressed by the one time neo-con William F Buckley’s response to what he would do if he were elected mayor. (“Demand a recount”).

    Buckley had a platform that included charging vehicles to enter mid Manhattan and adding bike lanes.

  124. John

    A quick diversion because I can’t find any information about this:

    Does anyone know why E. 8th Street near 37th Ave. is “Permanently” closed? Is there a sinkhole there or something? There’s no detour there, and no access to the Home Depot parking lot. There should be a sign a half mile back on E 8th @ Fruitvale warning that the street is a dead end. Google directions identifies 8th as the most direct route to the 880 South from Fruitvale (you get on the freeway at High).

  125. Ralph

    John, my first reaction, given the rains and poor road conditions, would have been sink hole. however, when you mentioned it was near HD, i remember reading someplace that CALTRANS was planning a permanent close in that area. Thus, I think it is a permanent closure. Forgive me, my age, as I recall not the reason. 880 Retrofit

  126. KenO

    I was assaulted on Broadway/Webster yesterday by one of my (angry drunk) pedicab customers. Asian male, early 20s, 5’3″ or so.

    If you have any info about the perpetrator shoot me an email.

    This was in front of Mua Lounge across the street from Gold’s Gym/Shashamane.

    K

  127. KenO

    going to dentist today. can’t feel my left front toooth so think i’ll need a fake tooth soon ,:( lips are still swollen and the side of my head still hurts where it hit pavement and or got stomped/hit…

    i can’t wait to apprehend the guy who assaulted me.

    who assaults someone giving free rides???

  128. Ralph

    This was once a nice place to visit but now it has taken an ugly tone. If you don’t agree with the majority, then you are on the wrong side of the issue. If you are not with us, then you are against us. I prefer civil discourse, but the uber left wing of Oakland politics has adopted a by any means necessary approach to issues. Sadly this approach does not leave room for civil discourse let alone respect. It is the very approach that people criticized when GWB used it; yet, it is somehow attractive now.

  129. Chris Kidd

    Ralph, I’m pretty sure that you, Patrick, David, len, and Marleen Lee have made up a plurality, if not a majority, of comments over the last few months. I list those names because you each have, at one point or another, clearly stated political viewpoints that could be identified as “conservative”. Not to say that each of those people is “conservative” -or however you’d like to brand things- but just to say that opposing viewpoints are amply represented on this blog.

    I’ve hardly seen an “uber left wing … by any means necessary” approach when the topic of parcel or property taxes comes up here. In fact, I’ve felt shouted down in those forums simply for the views I hold. I don’t claim that you’re making this blog toxic for renters when you blame the passage of parcel taxes at their supposedly-irresponsible feet, and it doesn’t lead me to roundly castigate homeowners’ reactionary behavior.

    We’re all big kids here. Playing the victim card is beneath you.

  130. Ralph

    Chris, no one is playing the victim card. The tone of the Hoopes debate went hostile. In fact, there were some points on side issues with which I agreed but were met with odd responses because people were entrenched in a position.

    If taking a position on responsible government is conservative, then I will take that every day of the week and twice on Sundays. I did not say the blog was toxic, I thought the tone was ugly. I use the Naomi test to determine civility. She pretty much drops out of any conversation when it gets ugly. Now it could be that she said all she wanted to say, but her disappearance seems to coincide with the change in tone.

    For the most part, the forum is civil. I am sorry you feel like a victim in the property tax discussion, but that is on you. Using M2O as an example, LG and I are probably 180 on it, but I also respect his position and why he has it. But to paraphrase MH, it is difficult to meet in the middle when someone tells you that you are on the wrong, it is impossible for reasonable minds to have different opinions on a given topic, etc. I’ve never held renters and M2O people to be either wrong or unreasonable in their position. (I can’t speak to why people cite %ages r/o as I doubt that they vote in a bloc any more than black, gay, white, straight, women, other…) All I know is what I am going to do and why.

    And that is all I have to say on the subject.

  131. Chris Kidd

    “If taking a position on responsible government is conservative”

    hehe, ISWYDT. If we’re going to be civil, let’s also not distortionately reframe the question so there is only one positive response.

    I appreciate your input just as much as everyone else here, Ralph. I respect what you have to say because it, if for no other reason, makes me think harder about what I have to say(though that’s not the only reason). I’m just asking for some more … self-awareness? The proclamations on tax-threads of “No new taxes, ever!” (not saying that was necessarily you, btw) that get thrown around are just as ideologically entrenched as what went on in the Paramount thread. The only difference is that one speaks to you ideologically, the other doesn’t.

    I’m not claiming to be any sort of impartial observer. I’m certain that I have my own misconceptions and ideological frameworks that I need to dig myself out from under. But I know that, and accept it.

  132. len raphael

    C K, on this topic it wasn’t my “conservative” political skepticism of urban planning or social programming or wealth redistribution (though I’d be left of center outside of the coastal big cities on even these domestic policy issues). In large part It’s my left wing personal history from the early 70′s of fellow traveling with some extreme leftwing activists including a casual acquaintence , an SLA member who died in that lowpoint of Oakland politics which keeps me off the hanging jury on an elderly rich ldser.

    My experience makes me very more tolerant of people with very different positions than mine in matter religious, sexual, or political. My friends at the time could justify with irrefutable logic why they were on the side of truth and justice as they were trying to do some very cruel, dumb things.

    Over the years I’ve concluded that there’s a low correlation between political or religious beliefs and how the person treats other people in everyday life.

    -len raphael

  133. Chris Kidd

    Len, we should get a drink one of these days. I’d love to hear some these life experiences you’ve accumulated. That sounds like quite a ride.

  134. Max Allstadt

    At the former Expo Design Center. It’s near Best Buy. Most people think that spot is in Emeryville, but it’s technically Oakland, so we get the Tax $$$.

  135. Robert

    It is too bad that Oakland could not get its act together for the Broadway corridor in time, but no sense in looking too closely at a gift horse.

  136. len raphael

    good for north and west oakland, bad for bway. that spot has been the kiss of death for kmart and homexpo, but this time it probably will do fine.

    i was going to say all without any help from the city of oakland, but that’s not completely true. that section of western oakland maybe as far as san pablo ave does get special State income tax incentives for new hire of unemployed, low income employees, credits against sales tax, depreciation deductions etc. that one of the City administrations had to apply for.

    The EZ tax benefits could have helped tip the balance for Target to locate in that corner of Oakland, though was probably more icing on the Emeryville location cake.

    Curious what other parts of Oakland are in the Enterpise Zone. So i went to the City’s dolled up new web site, typed “enterprise zone” and went to http://www.oaklandwib.org/enterprise_zone.htm.

    The map http://oaklandwib.org/Images/oaklandez.gif indicates that it’s a narrow band along the bay that now extends into Berkeley.

    Getting an Enterprise Zone designation is a double edged sword kinda thing: Need to have very high unemployment, very low income stats etc. Normally not the demographics for Target.

    -len raphael
    temescal

  137. Matt

    I agree len. The only Target that I know to have closed is the one in El Cerrito adjacent to the Del Norte BART Station -a marriage that I’m not sure was ever meant to be. The former EXPO location is great because much of the traffic will be Emeryville’s problem :-) It’s also far enough away from East Oakland and, specifically, the Coliseum area to justify another Target location there in the future.

  138. Max Allstadt

    Target ending up in a giant parking lot at the edge of the city is not particularly good for the city. It oughta be in an area where it can catalyze growth.

  139. Naomi Schiff

    Just to be technically correct: Oakland will get part of the sales tax, Emeryville gets part. I think Oakland might get 1/3 but not sure about that.

    (Am I the only person who is troubled by the name “pet club” because it sounds like a tool to be used to clobber one’s pet?)

  140. len raphael

    http://www.tradingmarkets.com/news/stock-alert/tgt_target-to-open-2-new-bay-area-stores-retailer-picks-oakland-and-san-jose-for-new-locations-731829.html

    “Target’s new store is in the Oakland portion of the East Bay Bridge Shopping Center. About two thirds of the retail complex is in Emeryville, and one-third is in Oakland. The two cities share the revenue that the center generates. The big retailer in the center include IKEA, Home Depot and Babies ‘R Us.

    “The new Target store will add to the retail selection available to Emeryville residents,” said Helen Bean, Emeryville’s economic development director.

    Officials from both cities said the future Target store will bolster the sales tax base of the two communities, and fill a long-vacant retail building.

    “It is a winner in a number of ways,” Bean said.

    Target’s Oakland site will involve expansion of an existing 117,000-square-foot building. Target intends to create a 140,000-square-foot building through the expansion, Gallo said.

    In San Jose, Target is planning a 180,000-square-foot store, Kircher said.”

    Naomi, do we get any biz tax from that shopping center? emeryville biz tax is much lower than ours, so don’t think sharing would apply.

  141. Robert

    The development project that the Expo building is part of spanned Emeryville and Oakland, so Oakland and Emeryville have an agreement in pace to share revenues. The good news is that I believe Oakland gets sales tax revenues from some of the sales on the Emeryville side of the line. From a moral standpoint, most of the infrastructure to support the site is in Emeryville, so they should get a share of the revenue.

  142. Brad

    I disagree Max. I think a Target opening at the proposed location is great. It’s well understood that retail does better when it’s near to similar retail, because shoppers are more likely to patronize all the stores. This is why all the makeup kiosks are next to each other in a department store.

    So I think the fact that the proposed location is near Best Buy, Home Depot, Pet Club, Office Max, and that big box appliance store whose name I forget, was probably one of the primary factors for Target Corp in selecting the proposed location for a store opening. They think the store will succeed because it’s nearby similar retail. Target might not have opened a store in Oakland at all if the only option was plunking down a big box store in an area with no other retail because they would have thought the store would fail.

    So the existing retail at this location helps the Target store succeed. In turn, a successful Target store at this location helps the other big box in the area. The Oaklanders who formerly drove to Albany to go to Target will now shift their business to the new Oakland Target. But they will also now shop at the Pet Club, rather than the Pet Smart by the Target in Albany. The other retail in the area of the new Target will likewise benefit. Therefore, this Target generates increased tax revenue for Oakland not only from its own business, but also by increasing the business of the nearby retail.

    Other benefits of this Target include the jobs created, and the energy/environmental savings that will accrue because Oaklanders will drive a shorter distance to get to a Target.

  143. Max Allstadt

    I completely understand that sprawl creates momentum for more sprawl. And I get that filling up an existing Big Box is about the cheapest thing a retailer can do.

    That doesn’t mean that our city hasn’t completely blown it as far as retail attraction goes. Target’s selection of this site is no reason for government representatives to be celebrating, because they had nothing to do with it.

    Forgive me if I’m not super excited about a new opportunity for people to spend their ever-shrinking discretionary incomes on imported crap.

  144. Brad

    Your right of course, that much growth comes to Oakland despite its government, not because of it.

    I was simply civilly disagreeing with your statement that “Target ending up in a giant parking lot at the edge of the city is not particularly good for the city. It oughta be in an area where it can catalyze growth.”

    I was trying to say that the chosen location is good for the city a) because it was probably the only suitable location for Target (implicit in this is a judgment that a Target is a good thing for Oakland, in terms of jobs, tax revenue, and other benefits, and so its better to have a Target anywhere rather than none at all), and b) because a successful Target at this location boosts the nearby retail, which brings even further benefits to Oakland.

    As for your statement, “Forgive me if I’m not super excited about a new opportunity for people to spend their ever-shrinking discretionary incomes on imported crap.” Well, at first you wanted a Target in Oakland, but elsewhere so as to catalyze growth, presumably in an underdeveloped area. Now, you don’t want a Target at all. You’re being a little inconsistent here.

    And anyways, many of the Oaklanders who will patronize this Target were already driving to Albany or San Leandro. So they get to buy the same crap they used to, but have their sales tax dollars go to Oakland rather than elsewhere. And they will drive fewer miles to boot.

  145. Max Allstadt

    It’s an improvement, yes. Is it a big deal? No. Could we have gotten a better deal if we had a competent business attraction plan? Yes.

  146. len raphael

    many of the lower level jobs in the emeryville stores are filled by oakland residents judging by how many of them knew my kids from going to tech together. on the other hand it’s depressing to think they’re stilll working at low wage jobs, but could be much worse.

    ironic that we want to reduce global warming, pollution etc. at the same time improve oakland but get stuck in the same old rut of relying on increased consumption (aka economic growth) occurring over the entire region. i don’t think it’s a zero sum thing where it’s just a matter of retrieving the sales oakland loses to it’s neighboring towns, because those towns will react if their sales drop by either trying to add more retailers, offering incentives etc.

    -len raphael
    temescal

  147. Naomi Schiff

    Thank you, Len for your perception of the contradictions. I am one of those old fashioned buyers who attempts to purchase stuff made in the USA but it can be tough. I turn over in my mind whether it would be good if more retail clerks were unionized, or whether it would mean their workplaces couldn’t compete. I wonder if we should be trying to create low-wage jobs, many of them calibrated to be part-time to avoid paying benefits. I wish health care would pass because it would mean that some of these employers mightn’t try so hard to make their employees ineligible. I avoid the E-ville big box zone most of the time, because it has no sense of place and is so car-dependent, but is this just an aesthetic judgment of a contrary curmudgeon, or is it sensible? Rather than hurrying to get into vituperative arguments, I think maintaining a nuanced and civil stance is key. It could set the blogosphere apart from the ranting of the tubes, and make it more useful, if we could ratchet down the acrimony. Allow doubt.

  148. Brad

    Naomi, thank you for your thoughtful comment. (As an aside, I don’t generally try for vituperative, but if I come across snarky, my apologies. Shake on it, Max?).

    I do want to point out, however, that hordes of people descend on the Emeryville big-boxes via the free Emery-Go-Round connector. Every time I’ve taken this connector it’s been standing room only.

  149. dto510

    Fortunately, Target in Emeryville (technically Oakland) is not necessarily an either-or situation. While Oakland benefits from the sales tax generated by Target in a big-box context, there’s still the opportunity to lure another Target downtown or in a more urban retail environment elsewhere in the city. Target stores tend to be very successful and Target is willing to have multiple locations fairly close to each other, and the company even builds two-story stores in some places (not just Manhattan).

  150. Daniel Schulman

    Can someone fill me in on what I’m missing here. Item 16 on next Tuesday’s Council Meeting is titled Oakland Golf LLC – Rent Relief.

    From the report (http://clerkwebsvr1.oaklandnet.com/attachments/23937.pdf) it appears the resolution would allow the golf course by the airport to pay $94,000 less in rent in FYs 2009 and 2010 (I am unclear if this is a 1 or 2 year reduction).

    How can this be when we are doing all of this belt tightening. It seems like the money lost is to the Port and not the General fund, but my understanding is their fiscal shape isn’t all that great either.

  151. Matt

    The Target in West Hollywood is pretty decent. It’s multi-story with ground floor retail on the street facings. The parking entrance is appropriately placed on the alley side of the development. It’s a stark contrast to the creepy multi-level WalMart up the street (and over a hill and through a valley) in Panorama City.

    Our Sears, I know it very well, is actually a jewel in stucco clothing. It’s got great bones and someday an enlightened developer will shed it of that mundane cladding and make it into something great! Don’t quote me :-)

  152. Ralph

    Dan, unless I missed something, I read the above ref doc as the current fiscal year 7/1/09 – 6/30/10 or for you left coasters 07.01.09 – 06.30.10

  153. Daniel Schulman

    Ralph, that’s how I originally read it, but then I was thrown by the use of “Fiscal Years” with the plural.

    Still, the more important question is why would the city want to give the golf course any break on the rent? Can’t they just raise green fees, other revenue sources, or cut costs. A golf course seems like an inordinate luxury for the few during these tough economic times.

  154. Steve Lowe

    Hi

    Interesting to contemplate the support that the Emery-Go-Round has garnered and why its natural extension down Mandela to the West Oakland BART station is not being pushed by MTC staff – even though the participants in the West Oakland Transit Study four or five years ago emphasized that such a service would do wonders for both community and commerce. Nothing forthcoming from staff ever since, of course, and one is left to wonder what’s really going on at MTC and who they really think they’re serving?

    The transportation justice issues that MTC routinely ignores – as recently underscored by the OAC issue – reveal the darker side of the Commission and its inability to come to terms with what its mission is – or, at least, should be. If transportation is the key to commerce (Target obviously chose the Oakland location because there’s ample parking there just as much as it did because the right mix of other stores is appealing to destination shoppers), why in God’s Green Hell did MTC vote unanimously against the East Bay in selecting the current route for High Speed Rail into the Bay Area? It’s all up the peninsula (despite the growing qualms of lots of folks who at last understand what calamity may now befall their downtowns), and not a drop of economic stimulus for those of us over here, living in what the City of Oakland proudly touts as the “Transportation Hub of the Bay Area.”

    My guess is that the Commissioners are cast from the same mold (or is it mildew?) that so many other appointees are: a friend or favor-owed acquaintance of this or that politician, and rarely anyone with specific expertise – especially when it comes to economic development.

    All other problems with the East Bay’s various commissions aside for the moment, MTC in particular seems so deeply entrenched in its culture of privilege that it may be the only recourse is to approach someone like Tom Bates through Senator Hancock and force the issue. He changed his vote for OAC once the cracks in staff’s defense of the project began to glare, and you can imagine what he might still do, particularly if inflamed over the issue.

    There’s also Oakland’s City Council to consider, if Councilmember Brooks were to vote this time around (assuming the item could be moved onto the agenda), would the tie-breaker be cast by the Mayor or declined? Turning down a half billion in funds for a project that will create jobs is supremely difficult – unless it can be shown that as many or more jobs will ensue under an alternate plan and that the prospects for economic development throughout the area will multiply exponentially. With HSR the way it’s currently configured, there’s zero jobs, zero stimulus and zero economic development for the East Bay: it’s all over there where it deadheads into Frisco.

  155. Brad

    It’s probably not being pushed because MTC has little or no authority over the Emery-Go-Round?

    From the Emery-Go-Round website:

    “The Emery Go Round shuttle is a private transportation service, funded solely by commercial property owners in the citywide transportation business improvement district. “

  156. Ralph

    Ah, I see. The eye can see what it wants to see. I would think that the idea in asking for the rent relief would be for the express purpose of not raising the fees and to keep golf accessible to the public. As for cutting expenses, I don’t know if they cut any but I think they are not interested in cutting more at least based on my read.

    I think the golf course is popular with the older folk. I know where my mom is scores of retired women play the public courses. Also, because of the yards involved, for some a round of golf can also be a good form of exercise.

  157. dto510

    The Emery-Go-Round is a locally-run bus system. This is actually quite normal. Oakland has the Senior Shuttle, and is restarting a Broadway Shuttle. The MTC may be anti-Oakland, but that’s no reason we can’t work with our neighbor cities and AC Transit to create more district-serving circulator buses. The Port also makes hefty investments in transit that could be redirected to newer ventures.

  158. livegreen

    “$630,000 million” for the East Bay (according to the Tribune & Barbara Lee):

    “Almost $630,000 million in federal stimulus money has been directed into the East Bay in the last year, funding public service efforts Rep. Barbara Lee highlighted in a bus tour Monday morning.”

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/news/ci_14313614

    That’s like $630 Billion. & we have a budget problem?

  159. len raphael

    LG, what’s a few extra decimal places among members and ex members of congress.

    but Dellums got it right in that article when he says there’s some scary stuff falling apart under our falling apart streets.

  160. Matt

    Does anyone know what’s going on with CityWalk? It was bought by a new developer months ago and the building is still shedding its white vinyl cover and really looking bad.

  161. KenO

    Dellums is right to say that underground infrastructure would “scare” us.

    Most water and sewer pipes in the US are decades past their end of service life.
    Lots of rebuilding needs doing — or else we need to figure out ways to deal with life without pipes. (onsite rainwater harvesting, sewage filtration, ‘humanure’ composting…)

    Since politically it’s FAR easier NOT to raise water rates (US has lowest water rates in the world) cities and utility districts will run out of money faster and faster and let their systems degrade to the point that city and county water utilities will sell themselves off to a private (for-profit) water utility corporation for a dollar.

    There’s no infinite free lunch in life in human terms except for sunlight.

    Oakland should concentrate on keeping up only certain streets to 1990s LOS too. Just the major arteries. (the ones named on those Oaklandish t-shirts.) Let the rest fall apart.

  162. KenO

    @dto: I had the joy of riding Highland’s “free” shuttle bus roundtrip from Lake Merritt BART station today to the hospital itself.

    I like taking free shuttles, even if I’m really paying for them directly or indirectly somehow. Just seems more efficient not having a bus idle around waiting for people to make change/buy tickets.

    K

  163. livegreen

    Matt, I think it was CityWalk I read was bought cheap by a developer with low but still some expectation of getting contruction loans to finish the project. Apparently they bought at such a basement-bottom price they thought somebody would finance (even though they new it would be difficult).

    I might have the wrong project. Yahoo it just to make sure…The article was in the Tribune or Chronicle.

  164. KenO

    thanks everyone for the on-target analysis. (brad naomi len)

    I’m one of thousands of oaklanders who drive to the albany target.

    so albany will have to stand more on its own two feet to support its wonderful schools, and oakland will get a bit more funding grease toward its corrupt union-laden machinery.

    In 5 years of living in Oakland I’d never been to Eville Best Buy until this week. It’s decent. Having a target there will exacerbate traffic congestion for car drivers on san pablo and 40th streets — mostly people who will be shopping these areas.

    However, while living in both north oakland and downtown oakland, i’ve bicycled to home depot more than a few times to buy supplies. Maybe I’m extreme, but it’s entirely doable if you’re buying a bag’s worth or less.

    Since the US will never have public health insurance, this is better than nothing.

    Target/Walmart over time will be FORCED to source their items closer to their retail stores due to the impact of ever-rising fuel prices. They’re already minimizing packaging and peering over Ikea’s shoulder to see how the 5-cent-bags are catching on.

    Eventually, they and the grocery chains (Trader Joes, Safeway, Whole Foods, PakNSave etc) won’t be able to operate the way they do now with nightly 18-wheeler deliveries, and middlemen and local manufacture will come back.

    Max, don’t worry. =) The future is local, not global. Or as I’ve put it before, re-localized, de-globalized. If only it’d happen sooner.

  165. KenO

    I hope city council will pass concealed carry weapons permitting soon. (per @oaklandbecks tweet from council mtg)

    This has already happened unofficially anyway since OPD is incapable of stopping all crimes in all places at all times.

    I know a 100 year old guy who carries a gun around. he’s more afraid of criminals than the police. So am I!

  166. Steve Lowe

    As you say, dto, “…MTC may be anti-Oakland, but that’s no reason we can’t work with our neighbor cities and AC Transit to create more district-serving circulator buses” …or tie into other systems that prove people will use public transport if the routes are catered to demand and the vehicles are safe and reliable.

    That brings us to the shuttle-versus-bus dilemma, and in this day and age with GPS now in practically every cellphone – or soon to be – why is it that Dial-A-Ride can’t come roaring back as a viable alternative to the Humungous-Bus-That-Runs-Empty-Most-of-the-Time? Ever seen one of those monsters bullying its way around the city after rush hour is over? Three or four riders on board and all that energy wasted on practically nothing. And if you’re old, you have to wait for hours sometimes to be picked up six or seven blocks from your home, a long way to lug a bunch of groceries or other stuff you may have bought.

    With Dial-A-Ride, the shuttle comes right to your front door because the master computer tells the driver that a slight detour from his or her present destination will not significantly alter the average time it takes for any of the other passengers to arrive at wherever different points they wish to be taken. It’s sort of like the way Paratransit works now, except that the GPS element makes it infinitely more accessible – and for everyone, not just seniors and people with disabilities.

    For folks in West Oakland and other poor communities where the Humungous-Bus-That-Runs-Empty-Most-of-the-Time routes are often difficult access, serving the community with D-A-R shuttles means that (a) system capacity can be adjusted according to demand, (b) scheduling is no longer necessary (consequently drivers don’t need to speed up to catch lights, run over kids, etc.), and (c) shuttle maintenance is far cheaper than HBTREMT.

    Think MTC would want to sponsor a pilot project (in fifty years such systems will obviously be standard everywhere) to test it out? Not for Oakland where the need is greatest, that’s for sure…

    I used to have a website around here somewhere; try this:

    http://www.taxibus.org.uk/faq.html

  167. len raphael

    steve, a while back when question posted here why not use smaller vehicles on some routes at night, the response was that the biggest operating expense for ACT was labor, not fuel, not maintence.

    something more flexible and responsive than the standard model w go a long way to attracting people away from cars. until fully automated people movers were widely available, don’t see it happening.

    -len raphael

  168. Born in Oakland

    Well if the City Council doesn’t understand Ranked Choice Voting (watching the meeting tonight) and I thought it was as clear as mud….how in the world will this work. My spouse says he often has to hold his nose to vote for even one candidate and wonders how he will be able to rank a field of candidates without suffocating.

  169. len raphael

    BIC, 500 channels and nothing to watch. That’s why i didn’t understand the high turnout of community organization’s from poor sections of town at the cc meeting on irv. it’s as if many of the participants thought it would affect state or national elections, rather than muni races where there’s only the incumbent and one underdog challenger.

  170. Max Allstadt

    KenO -

    The council can’t pass concealed carry. California law leaves the distribution of concealed carry permits at the discretion of a county’s sheriff. Some counties only issue them very rarely. Alameda County is one of those, and it’s very unlikely to change any time soon.

    There’s a “willy horton problem” with legalizing concealed carry of firearms. While people with permits for concealed carry are statistically unbelievably unlikely to commit gun crimes, if a politician legalizes concealed carry in a liberal area, and there’s a single incidence of someone abusing their permit, that politician is toast.

    That said, concealed carry of a Taser is totally legal, and they cost under $300. They shoot up to 20 ft, and they also fire tiny numbered pieces of confetti so that the police can tell where they’ve been fired. Plus, you don’t have to worry about killing anybody. They will, however, drop a full grown American bison almost instantly Typically, recovery takes in the tens of minutes, and most people report having a hangover like sensation for at least 24 hours afterwards.

    If you’re going to carry something to defend yourself in California, carry something non-lethal. It’s potentially manslaughter if you use a knife on an unarmed assailant, even if you’re getting badly hurt. Batons and most martial arts weapons are illegal to carry, and often even to posess. Tasers, on the other hand, protect you legally, physically, and they also protect you from the potential emotional fallout of killing another human being, even if it is in self defense.

  171. len raphael

    Max, if a bad person uses a taser on you, would heshe be charged with using a weapon but a much lesser charge than a gun or even a knife? hmm, maybe we should gun violence in east o like treatingh heroin additiction with methodone. exchange tasers for handguns..

  172. len raphael

    are there any stats as to how many/% of oakland property owners are under water on their mortgages? would be useful to understand how they’d react to increases in parcel taxes. eg. would a 200 parcel tax push a bunch of property owners into deciding to walk. or maybe they’re already so under water that another 200 expenditure wouldn’t matter.

  173. Max Allstadt

    I think if a DA had a taser using criminal on her hands, she’s also have enough of a media feeding frenzy to throw the book at the crook. I don’t think it’s happened yet. Although two idiot security guards did simultaneously taser each other last year. A wonderful piece of FAIL that was.

  174. Ralph

    len, given that the sale is a private transaction, I suspect it would be hard to get the info you are seeking. that being said, except for those people who either bought at auction or who put 30- 50% down, i suspect a high % of those who bought in last few years are probably underwater. I have no idea of older homes. I doubt that the $200 would factor into the walk decision.

    as to CityWalk, there was an article in some rag back in Jan. Wood Partners is still having issues in the credit market and were expecting to have something in place by Feb. You may want to Google Wood Partners, City Walk, Oakland

  175. KenO

    len/ralph, the equity firms behind many developments such as TheUptown are in the red. as far as private individuals and commercial REITs go, you might check out the methodology of Dr. Housing Bubble. google him, he writes well and pumps out nice analyses.

    max, you are right about less lethal stuff. unless of course, i’m being shot at in which case i wouldn’t care about legalities.

    “nobody gets out of here alive” but i don’t want to leave TOO early ;)

    cheers and thanks

  176. KenO

    steve, taxis are available which are much smaller than busses.

    they usually are parked near bart stations, bars and hotels.
    not trying to be sarcastic at all — they are a solution. let’s not forget the tools we already have. i know this isn’t quite what you meant though.

    i think you want a more-ubiquitous taxi for the price of a bus. i dno’t think that’s likely anytime soon unless gas prices rise again or gas shortages happen.

    there’s less convenient (for some people) zipcar. there is also emerygoround and the reprised broadway shuttle (summer 2010?).

    the bus system will probably run itself into the ground at some point this decade. at that time we’ll be left solely with private transport. boo. ?

    in russia after the USSR disintegrated, most car drivers became taxi drivers. few people had money, gas was scarce, and all you had to do to get a ride was stand by the side of the road. drivers drove right up and you haggled a fare.

    you can read this and other morsels by dmitry orlov in his book “reinventing collapse”

    ko

  177. Brad

    @KenO,

    Ever been to Baltimore? What you describe as having happened in crumbling post-Soviet states is already a daily fact of life in crumbling Bmore. You just stand by the side of the road, holding out your arm until someone stops, then you negotiate a price.

  178. Born in Oakland

    I haven’t walked the “Streets of Baltimore” but have the “Streets of Bakersfield” and many parts of our fair City remind me of the latter. Great swaths of a formerly bustling city ripped up and replaced with government and institutional uses; the sidewalks roll up at night as the worker bees and clipboard jockeys and lawyers flee the core and head for the burbs. A few businesses struggle and await the great renaissance. The few remaining locals and old timers are living the great Buc Owens and Dwight Yokum country chorus;

    “You don’t know me and you don’t like me,
    And you care less how I feel,
    You sit in judgement of me,
    As I walk the streets of Bakersfield.”

  179. Naomi Schiff

    When I first came to the bay area, there were many jitneys running on Mission St., privately-run vans that cost less than taxis. Not terribly well-appointed for safety, in the early 70s they were mostly American vans like Econolines, with around 8 seats, side door. Maybe there are one or two left? They exist in many countries. Like a shared taxi ride, so each person pays less. They would stop anywhere (had to avoid bus stops). The taxi drivers probably didn’t like the competition, but it was a more low-end form of transit. You got less wet than with a bus, on rainy days, if your destination was between bus stops.

  180. Mike d'Ocla

    Regarding tasers, they have been lethal in a number of cases of use by police and others. There are various self-defense pepper (or other chemical) spray devices which are much less expensive and less harmful. One such is the Kimber “Lifeact Guardian Angel” which claims to be effective at a distance of 2 to 13 feet and contains two shots of spray. You can buy it on-line for about $50.

  181. Barry K

    Len & KenO: re stats for homes in Oakland under water:
    Report for the past 12 months ended in September 2009 on homes that were sold for less than the last recorded transaction. I don’t have the total # of homes sold per zip for this period. Zillow only lists percentages of sales.

    Zipcode, %sold for loss , % under water:

    94621 68.1% 36.7%
    94603 69.5% 35.2%
    94612 42.9% 33.8%
    94605 60.5% 30.2%
    94601 61.8% 27.0%
    94607 53.6% 24.0%
    94619 38.2% 23.8%
    94606 56.0% 18.7%
    94609 40.6% 18.3%
    94602 33.0% 16.5%
    94611 20.5% 12.8%

    Source- zillow.com

  182. Max Allstadt

    Mike,

    All true, but pepper spray doesn’t always work, an it can hit the user very easily. If I only had $50, I would consider a Kimber dispenser.

    The lethality of Tasers is very low. Their use has resulted in a marked decline in officer involved deaths. Statistically, they’re less lethal and less injurious than batons or even bare hands. They kill in two relatively rare circumstances: people with heart conditions, and people who fall directly onto the back of their heads.

    The main reason they are controversial is that because they are so unlikely to do bodily harm, police feel less liability about over using them. That, and the fact that the effects are unpleasant to watch on video.

    Of course if Ken had a 3g webcam, he could stop
    most riffraff by pointing to it and saying, “smile, you’re live on the Internet.”

  183. KenO

    BarryK – thanks for pulling that.

    94609 is Temescal
    94612 is Uptown
    94621 (highest % underwater) is Coliseum.
    94603 is just below Coliseum — 98th Ave between 880 and “east 14th” aka “international” — neighborhood named “south stonehurst”

    I’d also dig into Dr. Housing Bubble and see how he looks for % of houses underwater by area in So Cal.

    He doesn’t depend solely on public MLS but digs deeper to find a huge iceberg / overhang of “shadow inventory” aka mortgages that are definitely 6 feet deep.

    Nationally W$J says 25% of homeowners w/ mortgages are underwater — november 2009.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125903489722661849.html

    “Economists from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. said Monday they didn’t expect U.S. home prices to hit bottom until early 2011, citing the prospect of oversupply.”

    So you think it’s a “good time” to jump into real estate now?

    May be, if you know that interest rates to borrow money will go up. I expect they will.

    But I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t buy any real estate unless it’s an all-cash deal. I also wouldn’t buy anywhere less than 180′ above sea level.

    I fully expect 50% of all mortgages to be underwater within two years. The problem isn’t that prices are falling — it’s that they had been so high to begin with. (But this is the point of view of a renter who can’t afford to buy a house.)

  184. KenO

    It is not profitable to slow decline. So decline will accelerate.

    Goodbye city & county government. Services. Police. Fire. Was nice knowing you.

    Hello private government, services and security. Or should we say, hello warlords.

    This may seem overly dramatic to you but on a 20 year timeline (2000-2020) you’d see these dramatic changes for what they are too. A total rending of our social fabric.

    OPD/OPOA was smart to agree to a 10% (15%?) paycut in summer of 2009. They will probably face further cuts in the future. Better paycuts than total layoffs though, like in NYC soon. (NYC about to cut 3,150 police officers.)

    Oakland may be even less pleasant to live in after five years, despite all the best efforts of new OPD Chief Batts. (And I’m rooting for him.)

    Have any of you heard of the Oakland Police Foundation? I haven’t either, though i know they exist. I may have to start OPF2 soon.

  185. KenO

    Copy and paste…

    More bankster douchebaggery info…

    http://money.cnn.com/2010/02/03/news/companies/bank_of_america_compensation/index.htm?hpt=T2

    BofA spends $4.4B on its Wall Street bankers

    “Bank of America spent $4.4 billion last year on its Wall Street bankers , according to a person familiar with the matter.

    The nation’s largest bank used 19% of the $23 billion in revenues it generated in 2009 within its markets and investment banking businesses to pay workers’ salaries benefits as well as year-end bonuses.

    That works out to an average of about $440,000 per employee.”

    Good thing we bailed out BofA! Still have an account with them?

    Join a credit union — get screwed less.

  186. Steve Lowe

    Hmmmm

    KO, the deal is that paratransit works for disabled and elders okay, but now with GPS we can expand on the concept and get people who, for whatever reason, tend to eschew buses onto shuttles that will deliver them door to door, even if it takes a little more time than a full-on taxi. It’s worth it because the cost will be so much less than a taxi: we’re talking $20 for a trip from downtown Oakland to the Berkeley city limit, as opposed to maybe $2 for what Dial-a-Ride would cost. I’m really wonked on this because my ex-neighbor of thirty years ago was part of the team that assembled the DAR plan for San Mateo county – and that was, of course, well before GPS was even thought of (my brother-in-law was one of the early engineers to leave HP for Trimble and hadn’t even begun to work there). The DAR system worked well, but of course, the politicians killed it when they began to be lobbied by the unions, taxi company owners, etal., who feared job losses or incursion of technology into their Luddite-like industries.

    As to labor costs, I think the efficiency of the system offers an offset that may even produce more drivers than we have now but (a) far less stress, and (b) maybe a new category that offers as little less pay and less benefits to compensate for a system that, like so many of our bureaucracies, appears to be collapsing on itself, waiting for some sort of innovation to move it forward.

    Been to the Taxibus website?

    Naomi, jitneys could be lots of fun if all dressed up and made as colorful as, say, the ones in Manila, but they are more like a bus, serving a single route, whereas the DAR shuttles can service the entire city, including hill folk who must otherwise depend on their own vehicles, taxis, etc.

  187. len raphael

    coincidentally, just noticed a young guy walking around my neighbor’s house. asked him if i could help. he explained he was checking out the house because it was listed as coming up for auction by the lender. he showed me his list. zillions of condos and houses in west, east, emeryville, below tele, but very few in rockridge and temescal. described luxury condos in emeryville that dropped 75% from 2002 levels.

    i know several people are going thru the obamba home loan program and each of them is being forced to play chicken with the lender right up to the auction stage.

    -len

  188. David

    KenO. Small correction since you obviously don’t live anywhere near the ’03 ZIP code. It extends east above E. 14th to MacArthur and includes many more ‘hoods than “Stonehurst”–Iveywood, Dutton Manor (my favorite), Las Palmas and Elmhurst.

    There’s a house nearby where the note is >$700K (!!!!!), and has been on a “foreclosure list” for nearly 2 years now. Same people still living there and everything. People who buy those lists and wait for the house to pop up for sale are wasting their time. Get a R.E. agent who truly specializes in them and get your money ready to bid when one actually comes up.

  189. Robert

    Maybe DAR is a good idea, maybe not. All I am sure of is that if we continue to do that same things we always have (throw money at ACTransit), we will continue to get the same result we always have: a mass transit system that does an increasing poor, increasingly expensive, job meeting its goals.

    Taxis are already competitive with buses for short rides if we look at the cost of providing the service. It is only because the buses are massively subsidized that they cost less for the consumer. If we found a way to subsidize taxis to the same extent we might eliminate the need for short haul buses. As noted, DAR provides a lot of flexibility over traditional buses, and modern advances in GPS and computerized routing might make it an effective system.

    Although labor is a large part of the expense of transit systems, this is driven by the inflated salaries and benefits because transit systems are mostly governmental operations. Even with that, driving a van sized shuttle is a much less skilled job than driving an articulated behemoth, and therefore should have a lower salary point.

    While I don’t share KenO’s somewhat dystopic view of the future, I do absolutely agree that we need to look for new and novel ways to do things in order to survive. And I believe that the answer to the problems transit currently suffers from is not more money, it is a better understanding of the goals of transit, and new ideas for meeting those goals.

  190. Matt

    Hi len,

    For 6 months in 2008 I was looking at 40 foreclosures a month in West and North Oakland as well as in Fruitvale. I didn’t even bother with short sales. At the time a first timer could still get a place under $200K. The market was in a free fall. Almost a year later the first timers are up a creek on properties under $200K as they’ve become the territory of cash only buyers. So you have ridiculously low comps under 200k in some places, but buyers using financing (most buyers) can’t touch them. It’s a weird time.

    The loan mods are starting to take off. I’m actually going through one myself. If you prequalify at http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov then there is no reason why you won’t eventually be granted a modification. It’s just a matter of keeping on the bank as they have absolutely no interest in following through with their government mandate to reduce foreclosures.

    Citimortage has lost my paperwork twice now, but it’s only one step back for every two steps forward. Eventually I’ll have an affordable mortgage and if I can do it -most anyone can. So I suspect the housing market with turn around this year as more and more homeowners rush to get loan mods.

    I’m not sure how much longer guys trolling for foreclosures will be hanging around your neighborhood. Remember most media outlets thought our boom times were for good. Now they’re saying we’re in for a decade maybe two of economic pain. It’s all BS.

  191. Barry K

    City Resolution Passed 11/12/2009, Subject: Travel To Beijing China – Council President Brunner From: Council President Brunner Recommendation: Adopt A Resolution Authorizing Council President Jane Brunner To Travel To Beijing, China, To Attend The US-China Mayors Leadership Development For Low Carbon City Program November 17-19, 2009 And The World Expo 2010 Forum For Urban Development And Green Economy In Shanghai, November 21-23, 2009

    Coming up next-

    City Resolution Passed 1/20/2010
    Subject: Quan Travel – Washington DC From: Councilmember Quan Recommendation: Adopt A Resolution Authorizing Council Member Jean Quan To Travel To Washington, DC On March 13-17, 2010 To Attend The National League Of Cities, Congressional City …

    It’s good to see the “travel restrictions” are still in place.
    Dellums just uses his city paid credit card to bypass Council approval on his trips to DC and FL. Too bad they aren’t required to publish the costs of trips or do a report to the public on these tax-payer funded junkets!

  192. David

    Sometimes you can get lucky getting a good deal on a house, just like a stock.

    But what I know is if your payments are << than your rent, buy the darn house (with the usual caveats about stability, if you're going to have to move in a year etc). You're probably not going to lose money on that kind of a deal.

    D (PITI is << rent was)

  193. KenO

    thanks everyone for feedback on various topics.

    i’d suggest that both the national and regional economies will go completely to hell by 2020, and more likely by 2015. that’s 5 years out. housing should continue dropping in price for the next 5 years at least in terms of purchasing power, measured in ounces of gold or barrels of oil.

    ya, dystopic. there’s inertia, but then there’s also the downslope side of peak oil, and the disintegration of our oil powered economy. it’s not all bad, mind you. just that most of us including me are quite well adapted to a well oiled (pun) economy, even if it was and is a sick economy.

    we say basic services (security, fire, water, food, transport) are essential, but have they always been government provided? what is govt anyway but a handful of other people we barely know?

    what difference does it make if more people we actually know and have a direct relationship with provide more “govt” services?

    just makes life more direct, in the moment.

    the tertiary industrial economy is going to die off more and more. linens and things, circuit city, WaMu, are prime examples.

    every organism has a life cycle. we humans do–as someone put it “no one gets out of here alive.”

    cities, societies, countries are just larger organisms.

  194. David

    It’s funny you mention housing priced in gold.

    Right now, a median US house (not Bay Area) costs about 170 oz of gold.

    In 1980, a median US house cost about…65 oz of gold.

    In 1960, a median US house cost about…60 oz of gold.

    In 1875, in Chicago, a new house in Bucktown cost….50 oz of gold.

    Housing has beaten the pants off of gold.

    Peak oil is BS. And even if it weren’t, we have 100-200 years of domestic natural gas and a similar amount of coal, both of which can be turned into oil equivalents.

    Companies (linen n’ things etc) are formed and dissolved every day. There’s, what, 2 companies that are still on the Dow Jones Industrial average that are the same as in 1925 or whatever (GE and JNJ, if I remember right).

    Trust me, I’m pessimistic by nature, but I try to base my pessimism on facts. Lack of oil isn’t going to be our downfall. Inflating away our government debt rather than attacking the gov’t cost structure will be.

  195. KenO

    the inflating away of our govt debt to “pay” for ballooning obligations, as you mentioned, will lead to hyperinflation in the US within 5-6 years. (circa 2015-2016)

    at that point gold will have served its purpose of protecting your wealth/ purchasing power when paper dollars become more useful as toilet paper or tinder.

    a 1 oz gold will always buy you a nice three piece suit or be worth a thousand 2009-era dollars. it’s liquid, unlike a house.

    can you do the same analysis using the price of crude oil?

    peak oil is one of many crises leading to our fall into a lower standard of living. no politician can address it directly (look at jimmy carter), therefore very few do except with the cover story of “climate change”

    we don’t have the natural gas and coal equivalent to run pax americana for the next 100 years since we’ve already picked all the low-hanging fossil fuel fruit first.

    that’s why airlines and retailers are folding, failing. they’re all debt-based. debt-based growth-based economies depend on oodles of cheap fuel and resources. we have neither.

    let me get this straight, you say housing has beat the pants off gold.

    okay, so my dad bought a tract house for $77k in 1978, in 1978 dollars.

    $77k from 1978 is worth $800k+ in 2009 dollars.
    the house is now appraised for $430k on zillow.

    i’d say he’s lost half his purchasing power. he effectively had $840k worth of 2010 dollars in 1978. their notional value back then was $77k. hope you are following this, inflation can get confusing.

    now, instead of buying a house in 1978, you could have bought gold for $200/oz in 1978, in 1978 dollars. gold cost $200/oz back then in 1978 dollars, for which he would have gotten 325 1-oz coins.

    those same 325 1-oz coins are notionally worth $424k today in 2010 dollars.

    you could say, “oh that’s a wash.”

    HOWEVER, the gold price is being actively suppressed AND bubble housing prices will continue falling for years to come. so, the coins will be worth $424k or MORE in coming years, and the house is guaranteed to be worth LESS THAN $430k each year.

    meanwhile, due to the inflation you mentioned, gold’s price in current-year (whichever) US dollars can only rise.

    meanwhile, gold will retain its value as long as we aren’t in a Hobbesian situation.

    only problem with gold is, you can’t eat it, drink it, sleep under it, sleep with it, use it to stay warm, ride it the store, etc…

    how is peak oil “bullshit”? oil is what keeps you and me and 5 billion other extra souls alive today.

  196. Steve Lowe

    I agree with KenO’s comment that “cities, societies, countries are just larger organisms,” and it’s as important to understand how those organisms fail, thrive and everything in between as it is to understand how, say, diseases spread or how nutrition affects our children’s growth. For cities, almost all of which started out as ports or trading posts, preserving and improving the transportation infrastructure upon which the city was founded in the first place is essential, lest decrepitude sets in and trade declines, sapping the commercial vitality of both the city and the surrounding region.

    So when both CalTrans and MTC gang up either to (a) ignore Oakland, or (b) impose creepy projects like OAC on us, or (c) vote unanimously to have High Speed Rail bypass us entirely, it’s easy to see that our already near-stagnant commercial life will take a huge hit once all the improvements are made to the transportation infrastructure of our sister cities all around the Bay Area, most notably San Jose and San Francisco. And, the fun part is: we get to help subsidize it all through our taxes! If anyone believes that their tax dollars to pay for BART improvements aren’t being used to suck business out of Oakland, then they must be sniffing glue – or maybe the bullshit that Lew Wolff & Co. are shoveling down in Fremont where BART access is being touted as the necessity for moving the A’s – even though BART to Warm Springs has yet to be completed.

    Not only are we paying to subsidize one of the most dysfunctional transportation systems in the county, we’re also happily buying off on the phony logic that the Wolff-types strew around, portraying themselves as disadvantaged businesspeople.

    Well, I wanted to get back to Dial-A-Ride, as Robert’s comment about innovation as the key to a less dystopian future is what I believe we need to be focusing on; however, the A’s deal really frosts me off…

    MTC can easily fund a pilot project to jumpstart DAR in a transportation-starved area like West Oakland: there’s legions of grant writers and lobbyists riven like ants all throughout the MetroCenter, and this is exactly what they’re supposed to be doing instead of finding more and more lame excuses for keeping the clunky systems we have – and those, like OAC, that we’re a

  197. David

    Ken

    1) you’re picking bay area housing. I specifically wasn’t.
    2) 1978 gold was around $200/oz. 1980 gold was $800/oz. Then back down to $300/oz a few years later. Overall, over decades, gold has lost purchasing power to real estate. From 1870 to now, from 1920 to now, from 1960 to now, from 1980 to now. At best, if you pick the right timeframe, say 1978 to now, gold matches R.E. And as you point out, you can’t live in a house of gold. Gold is not an inflation hedge, or not a very good one. Gold is a hedge against gov’t uncertainty.
    3) gold prices are being suppressed? Please don’t invoke unproved/unprovable conspiracy theories to support your statements.
    4) there is plenty of oil and oil equivalents to keep the world rolling for at least another century. Have you seen what’s happened with natural gas lately?
    5) Our governmental expansion that far exceeds economic & population growth will lead to significant inflation, as you state, in probably 5-10 years (in 200 historical cases where gov’t debt approaches 80-100% of GDP, around 1/3 experienced hyperinflation, ,2/3 experienced multiple deflationary crises). Again, I doubt though that gold is your best hedge for that. In any case, 5-10 years is a lot sooner than “peak oil” ruining our lives, even if “peak oil” were a fact, rather than speculation.
    6) Debt-based companies don’t go bust due to “peak oil.” I don’t know where you dream up these ideas, but companies with too much debt go bust, not surprisingly, because they can’t service the debt. This can be due to a number of factors, including commodity input prices, but actually, that factor is probably the least common reason, as large corporations can and do actively hedge their commodity exposure.

    I respect your pessimism, but again, it’s sounding like the tinfoil-hat variety rather than well-reasoned arguments.

  198. KenO

    Hey David,

    Here’s head of International Energy Agency Fatih Birol saying we’re basically at peak oil:

    http://www.economist.com/businessfinance/displayStory.cfm?story_id=15065719

    FATIH BIROL, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency (IEA), believes that if no big new discoveries are made, “the output of conventional oil will peak in 2020 if oil demand grows on a business-as-usual basis.” Coming from the band of geologists and former oil-industry hands who believe that the world is facing an imminent shortage of oil, this would be unremarkable. But coming from the IEA, the source of closely watched annual predictions about world energy markets, it is a new and striking claim.

    A few years ago, mainstreamers were saying it would be 2030 or later.

    Have you read Matt Simmon’s book Twilight in the Desert? He is an investment banker and confidante to Bush 2. I suggest a read. You might also read The Party’s Over, which Bill Clinton has read.

    As for coal or gas, Richard Heinberg, Colin Campbell and others have written about these too. If only you were right.

    As far as oil being the lifeblood of industrial civilization and it leading to our economic bust… it may be coincidental.

    But also recall that we were building out tract housing exurbia and pumping out big SUVs at a torrential rate during the 90s and 00s. Then in 2005~2008 gas prices went up as high as $5/gallon in some places. Remember? That’s when Americans rediscovered the century old bicycle.

    While a lot of leveraged debt is what created our bubble and is the main problem — and increases the pain of “peak oil” induced economic contraction, the inability to service that debt (commercial or residential real estate, further car buying, etc) is what has led to commercial collapse.

    A lot of suburban project involved car and truck-based “development.” Without reasonably cheap gas, goodbye 3 hour commute from Tracy to Palo Alto to your startup and goodbye discretionary purchases. And I suppose, no more hordes of people with easy money Option ARMs buying those exurban tracts. What does this do to banks? Everyone was, and still is, levered up to their eyeballs in debt. So future activity was stolen for yesterday, leaving us with very little for today.

    I get that. Just don’t forget energy.

    Money and energy are very inter-related. Money is just a king who directs where energy (direct and indirect) will be used. Debt is money too, which can also be confusing to understand.

    Economic collapse, as you say, is prodded by lack of access to capital. Which is caused by both extreme leverage, reliance on debt-based financing, and the lack of cheap energy economic fuel.

  199. Max Allstadt

    Money and energy are interrelated. But the Peak Oil crowd frequently acts like the end of oil is the end of energy. That’s not the historical trend.

    Over centuries, what we use as our dominant energy sources has changed several times. Wood to Coal. Coal to coal gas. Coal gas to oil. Every time there has been a changes, the dominant source of energy skyrockets in price. Then there’s a boom and a rush as the new dominant source takes over.

    Every time the dominant source has changed, the new source has been more efficient and cleaner than it’s predecessor. Society then begins to ramp up it’s energy consumption due to cheaper cleaner and more powerful energy.

    If the trend repeats itself, oil prices will be erratic and high for a decade or so, oil will be replaced by a new source, and we’ll see both an economic boom and a marked increase in energy consumption, along with environmental benefits.

    I realize that in an era where the Oilpocalypse is a popular meme, this kind of optimism is heresy, but it does match all the historical trends.

  200. KenO

    a planet with creamy nougat core of crude oil at its center isn’t far different from the world’s theoretical “last” glass of Portuguese sherry circa 1864, or a mug of Pharaoh-era Egyptian beer that somehow didn’t evaporate.

    you can enjoy all these liquids.

    you can stick a straw in them.

    your technology can improve (bigger straw, longer straw, multiple horizontal shaft straws) which means you can suck up your nectar faster.

    but that just means you run out that much sooner.

    eventually, you run out.

    well, no. the planet will NEVER run out of oil. it’s just that it’ll take 2 barrels of oil to get the 1 barrel out which is miles down under the ocean floor off brazil, the spratlies, or the arctic pole. in which case there’s no point.

    we’ll just run out of accessible oil.

    Fossil Fuels by definition were created eons ago by millions of years of sunlight: coal, methane, oil. they’re all Old Skool.

    no more new fuels will spring to action in our lifetime. we can’t go back in time to suddenly get a whole world’s worth of fossil fuels (or ancient libations) again.

    you can only burn oil once. look around at the oil burning machines we have.

    Lots of people saw this coming. The Club of Rome authors of “Limits to Growth.” Isaac Asimov. M. King Hubbert. Publicly, Chevron and Shell. And since 2005, me. It would help if more people could get past denial and embrace the future.

  201. KenO

    Kerosene is the most energy-dense form of energy we have. (jet fuel) It’s made from oil.

    There are no new energy sources on the horizon worth mentioning that will maintain or even expand current industrial consumption and consumerism. I think we’re nearly out of whales too so no more whale oil lamps either, jokers.

    Probably very few of us will be flying after 2020. There’s a Saudi Arabian quotation I like:

    “My grandfather rode on a camel, my father rode in a car, I ride in a jet, my children will ride in cars, my grandchildren will ride on camels.”

    – Who said it: Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum (1912 – October 7, 1990) the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates from 1979 to 1990 and Emir (Ruler) of Dubai. He ruled for 32 years, until his death.

    http://www.simmonsco-intl.com/files/YPE%20In%20Energy.pdf

    If you guys know something our Sheikh didn’t, telex me. ;)

  202. Steve Lowe

    To continue with Max’s string:

    …and, as the day of nuclear fusion draws near, and with it, the promise of supercheap, non-polluting energy (sorta), what’s the social equity portion – beyond just the huge (sorta) savings that should accrue to the public? Personally, I like the idea of doing for the power grid what the Eisenhower administration did for the national highway system, inducing (with the ardent help of the auto industry) America’s putative Golden Age.

    So, maybe it’s time to go platinum. But the real question is: how does Oakland benefit from all this? When the Land Use & Transportation element is finally considered, all we can really do here in Oakland is sieze the center. And if we really are, as our official City 0f Oakland blurb would have it, the “Hub of Bay Area Transportation,” that means that we all have to understand what the highest and best layout would look like if the Bay Area were to be truly functional – instead of constantly being dyssed all the time.

    That means that we have to have in mind a picture of an ideal Oakland, with its transit systems supremely coordinated – and MTC, BART, CalTrans, CTC and all the rest, commited partners earnestly resolved to implement the social equity component of what should be their acknowledged mission.

    With all due respect to the sheik, the age of the horse lasted for maybe four or five millennia (?), only to be replaced by something more efficient once the turning point came. The sheik’s children may indeed be rifing camels again in the not-too-distant future, but the progeny of the high tech visionaries will be riding rockets into space, as per Captain Kirk’s dictum: “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride…”

    (Okay, maybe it was Bette Davis, but it doesn’t have half the dramatic effect…)

  203. David

    Yes yes Ken. It’s the end of the world. Just like I remember in the ’70′s when oil was going to last maybe another 20-25 years.

    Heck, just a few years ago people were scrambling to figure out how to put in LNG terminals on the coasts because the US was “running out” of natural gas. Whoops.

    The track record of people predicting the future is pretty poor.

    oh well.

  204. Robert

    KenO, check your chemistry. Diesel and gasoline both have a higher energy content per weight than kerosene, and diesel has a higher energy content per volume than kerosene, although all are close together. LNG (liquefied natural gas has a significantly higher energy content by weight than any of the above. Hydrogen (for fuel cells or combustion) has 3 times the energy content by weight than any of the above petroleum products, and can be derived from non fossil fuel sources.

    And finally the clear winner is nuclear fission, which has an energy by weight of almost one million times more than any of the above.

    So no, kerosene is not the most energy dense form we have. (I excluded fusion since we don’t have a practical way of harvesting the energy yet.)

  205. Max Allstadt

    Ultimately, the best reason not to expect calamity is that a natural resource that is available on a global scale is simply not going to disappear over night, or over a year, or over a decade. Oil production will peak, but nobody will know that it has peaked until much later. And by that time, a slow decline in profitability will have led energy companies to another source.

    Energy companies may be set up to extract oil now, but they’re ultimately large workforces of scientists, transport specialists, and managers. They will adapt to exploit any natural resource they need to exploit.

  206. Mike d'Ocla

    “I realize that in an era where the Oilpocalypse is a popular meme, this kind of optimism is heresy, but it does match all the historical trends.”

    None of the historical trends have ever dealt with a world population of 8 billion, all wanting to live like we do in the USA.

  207. Steve Lowe

    I think most scientists look at fission as a “bridge fuel” to fusion, and therefore tolerable in that the old plants can be phased out over time, particularly as the new facilities will, at least in theory, be lots cheaper and far less dangerous to operate…

    Then there’s biofuel out there with maybe fifteen more years until it, too, can be in production. I saw a presentation last year about this time from a UCB-affiliated physicist who has this monster tank over in E-ville that he throws seaweed into along with a handful of bio-engineered glop that he’s been working on for a couple of years. His claim is that when this formidable brew is ready, it’ll burn clean and have the capability of fueling our entire airplane fleet, leaving maybe a few droplets of water in the contrails.

    So Max’s scenario as to new energy sources is – sorta like extended life, Dial-a-Ride and 5-hour Viagra – dancing tantalizingly out of reach: the I-have-thee-not-yet-see-thee-still freeze frame that futurists are forever grappling with. Accordingly, I don’t think the track record for predicting the future is quite as dismal as David contends, as true SciFi fans know from experience. It’s the lag time that is so disappointing: when I was a kid, Kennedy mandated the Apollo program and we got to the moon in less than ten years – pretty much on schedule for Ray Bradbury fans. But what happened with Mars? We was robbed big time on that one, and I was fully expecting at fifteen or so to be happily defacing the sand dunes with my mini-rover by now…

    Maybe the prediction rate is more like 50 / 50 now that we have computer enhancement as a way of helping us hone timelines, probabilities, costs, etc.

  208. Matt

    David, I agree, past energy assessments have a bad track record, but that also means we have no idea when our supply of oil will run out. That makes oil a high risk energy source.

    Max, in 2008 oil price speculation raised domestic gasoline prices faster than the economy could compensate for. What will happen to prices when it’s not speculation, but actual decreases in supply?

    We don’t know how much oil we have left, but we do know it’s finite and that one day demand will out pace supply. When that happens past experience teaches we won’t have much time to cope. So we have to figure out how to decrease our use of oil now with the goal of making oil a minor component in the global energy portfolio.

  209. KenO

    David, so Jimmy Carter shouldn’t have been to explicit in his timeline, yes I agree.

    A lot of experts say we’ve already passed peak oil production.

    LNG: at room temperature natural gas is not nearly as energy dense as oil. This involves refrigeration and compression. (more energy) Whereas, diesel/gas/kero have high energy density at room temp.

    Re biofuels: Algae biodiesel sounds titillating but it’s not commercial yet. Switchgrass and hydrogen are not the silver bullets we’ve been waiting for. I used to work for a biodiesel startup back in 2005-06 so I have an idea of what that takes, and what amount of food production it east into. (ie, feeding our cars instead of our bodies)

    Oil as Mike O points out is like we won a cosmic lottery, which gave rise to extremely fast growing industrial civilization. Most of the world still doesn’t have the American standard of living and never will. Not that we had the best of everything… ie the largest prison population in the world, worst schools in the OECD, highest obesity rate in the world (from driving everywhere), the most expensive and definitely not best “health care” in the world…

    If nuclear fission is so hot why isn’t ExxonMobile and crew adapting now to exploit it? Maybe it’s not profitable? Or has a low EROEI?

    If hydrogen is so promising why do the busses cost $1M each and why does AC Transit still only havea handful of them, and why do police departments have zero hydrogen/nuclear fission/algae biodiesel/tar sands/oil shale/warp drive-powered squad cars? Why are cities selling their police helis?

    Police cars with warp drive, hm…

  210. livegreen

    I agree with Max. Big oil can buy into it when the cost-benefits are right. Besides they’re already investing in VC’s who are funding alternative fuels. This gives them a way to monitor the pulse of emerging technologies and figure out which one is most proven, most efficient before they jump in…

  211. livegreen

    BTW, What do you all think about Richmond starting to lose it’s Chevron refinery?
    Better to be green and breath cleaner air, or have more unemployed and a bigger hole in Richmond’s budget?

  212. Steve Lowe

    I think BP’s half billion dollar investment in projects that UCB is helping to grow along the East Bay Green Corridor speaks volumes… Maybe not quite a cubic mile for the first production run, but the beginnings of a winding path towards a new day of clean-burning fuels by mid-century.

    The oil companies appear to be focused on liquid fuels – most probably because, with all their refineries and the investment in keeping those behemoths going, that’s where their expertise is. So for nuclear fusion, it would seem that the electric utilities, already heavily invested in fission, hydroelectric, steam, solar, etc., will continue to push research toward that goal – and increased “product” for delivery over their lines, something that the oil companies simply can’t get into much other than by diversifying to buy shares in another quai-related industry.

    Chevron is considering the use of cold ironing at their docks to some degree because of the headway made here in Oakland with respect to the new mandates if BAAQM to have the big container ships cease “hoteling” while in port. Kudos to the West Oakland Toxics Reduction Coalition for bringing that level of consciousness to the forefront of Bay Area policymaking…

  213. David

    We don’t enjoy nice, clean nuke power because dimwits can’t get 3-mile island out of their ossified hippy skulls. Inability to compare the death rate in coal mines and oil fields compared to nuke power. math is hard. Exxon isn’t investing in it for the same reason it’s not drilling in the USA–red tape.

    You want clean energy, look up thorium reactors, pebble-bed reactors etc. China’s gonna be building 50 of them in the next few years while we build…none. Gee, wonder what we could have done for $700B in borrowed money instead of blowing it on bankers, buffoons and bureaucrats (ok, I admit, bankers and bureaucrats are redundant to buffoons).

    Anyway, again, you seem to think every problem is oil-related. Getting rid of police helicopters? Come on, when a police helicopter costs a million bucks and we’re busy blowing $2M equivalent on one police pension, well, guess which one wins. Our problems aren’t energy-related, they’re self-inflicted by a bloated political class whose sole goal is feather-bedding, not the “public good.”

    As to the rest of your litany against America…it’s funny how most of it can be explained by the above sentence.

  214. ken0

    if OPD was able to do its job, we wouldn’t have community benefit districts hiring security squads to “observe and report” to opd. If this country had a generally rising standard of living for most folks, ditto.

    Be safe out there folks.

  215. Ralph

    actually ken, if we could raise the educational attainment levels of OUSD students, we could create opportunity, spur economic development, raise the std of living and be fairly happy with OPD revised focus

  216. Steve Lowe

    If there’s no jobs out there, where would all these well-educated kids go? Out on the street looking for any kind of work at all – even if after awhile it has to be dishonest work. Some may be able to create their own jobs by forming their own internet company if everything goes absolutely wonderfully for them and the breaks come their way, but for that majority percent who just can’t get past the barriers, what’s left?

    And even if OUSD’s lack of commited teachers were the problem (and everyone knows there’s absolutely no lack of dedicated teachers here), how is it that the rest of the Bay Area, with all its super-performing schools out there, or the great University of California doesn’t step in to make up for the plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face lack of parity? Think it might have to do with the absurd rules that direct State funding? Or, on a perhaps more subtle level, where funding for monster projects ends up? How does getting the Bay Bridge affect Oakland, for instance? Or even more wonderous, how about High Speed Rail? Any jobs for Oakland workers coming out of that gig?

    Nope. Tons of schoolkids are going to get dumped out on the sidewalk yet again with no prospect for any kind of a job precisely because the bozos who control the Bay Area economy are bound and determined to keep the status quo precisely quo so that their kids will be assured of getting one of the very few jobs that the bozocracy’s top down policies might create. With a pool of underprepared kids in places like Oakland, Richmond and East Palo Alto to fill the ranks of the unemployed, kids from, say, Piedmont High are assured of having top pick of slim pickings.

    So saying that OPD or OUSD isn’t performing as well as some other, more cushy community doesn’t really address the basic underlying problem of how menaingful economic development gets created right here in River City, especially when huge transportation projects are planned to bypass us and, absurdly, deadend in San Francisco. And every time you see this Commissioner’s hand go up or hear that Councilmember’s explanation as to why they just have no choice but to vote for some pork-laden project, you can just bet that the one person whose best innterests are least likely to be thought of in the thrill of the moment is one of our very own Oakland students.

  217. len raphael

    Had an interesting one way email conversation from a temescal neighbor explaining that she supported full and fast implementation of the BRT regardless of the harm it does to retail merchants because Oakland is fast becoming a third world city like Bogata, Colombia where the huge reduction in car access made for a much more pleasant city for the 85% who couldn’t afford cars. Her point being that there is an increasing underclass of Oakland who can’t afford $8 chicken sandwiches or $4 lattes, so at least give people who will become the majority here a nicer place to live and according to PBS video clip she referred me to, our crime rate will rapidly drop.

    (David would have enjoyed the video narrated by his favorite limosene liberal, Brad Pitt. Just kidding, Brad probably drives one of those Prius’s that take huge amounts of energy in lead smelting for their batteries)

  218. ken0

    another doozy http://www.lastoilshock.com/

    fun comment from over in Britain:

    “Renewables are irrelevant – during the cold snap, our 4,000MW of wind plant was generating about 100MW most of the time, as useful in energy security terms as the proverbial chocolate teapot. All the logic points to building nuclear, but even if we started building tomorrow, we’d see nothing before 2016-17, at best. And even if we built nuclear at the rate that the French did through the 1980s, it’s take until 2025 to replace the generating plant that has to retire before 2017.”

    they’re talking about natural gas, and how britain is one of the world’s top 5 nat gas conumers. UK ued to provide all its own gas but its oil/gas fields peaked (hey david!) in 2000, so now they import gas from norway, russia, qatar, etc… who’ve also peaked
    cheers

  219. ken0

    i support full/immediate BRT too.

    it’ about time we had more social equity here… which means maybe BRT won’t happen. i’ll pray for it.

    nuclear stand on the shoulders of oil,gas,coal anyway. so without those, you don’t have nuclear.

  220. ken0

    does ANYbody besides len here garden?

    you guy hould check out kijijigrows.com – they do neat aquaponics and CGs by west oak bart

  221. ken0

    ralph i’m all for education. but what we’ll all be worrying about soon i basics. food. so if the kids had more agricultural education, hands on, great!

    us schools dont have home ec anymore b/c women are supposed to work. it is equality for sure, but led to no families having adequate time or child-rearing.

    every social situation is now “monetized”
    we’ve become the totalitarian-consumer society

    two working parents
    kids raised by oud babyitters and peers/gangs/tv/net/gaming/dvds/movies
    your child is taken care of by an asian or mexican nanny
    raising your kids/future retirement/family now costs money
    we don’t have time to meet other, so we pay match.com or other sites (vs old time match making or whatnot)

    of course no one has time anymore
    all working to pay off mortgage slavery or other debts

    it seems ultra-rare to see stay-at-home parents these days except for the rich, the internet startup c-suiters and the laid offs

  222. ken0

    this also explain why the enviro ‘movement’ is so white. no one else has time… too busy scratching in the dirt just to stand still

  223. David

    “ossified” means having turned into bone. I should have said “ossified brain” though, not “skull.” Unless you harbor fantasies of killing 5 or so billion people, we’re going to need electricity. The nuclear power industry compares very well to oil, gas and coal mining. I’d rather drink the water coming out of most, if not all nuke plants in the USA than the water coming out of the Tennessee Valley. You receive far more radiation walking outside your own house than you do from drinking “tritium-laced” water downriver of that plant. There are also meltdown/leak proof nuke plants designs right now (again look up thorium and pebble bed plants and others). Quite safe, no leaks, little or no waste. NIMBY hippies and gov’t regs prevent this from being a reasonable investment for power companies.

    Ken, I’d never said individual oil fields don’t peak. The idea that we’re running out of oil imminently is false, and your other assertions that we don’t have enough nat. gas, coal etc, are also false. We have enough “energy” from fossil fuels just in the USA for another 100-200 years. Which, coincidentally, is plenty of time to convert to next-generation nuke power.

  224. Naomi Schiff

    David, I do so love that you are still excoriating hippies. Makes me feel so youthful and vigorous!

    Nuclear power is all about longterm pollution and safety, and of course you are correct that’s true of oil, gas, and coal as well. For all we know, we haven’t yet discovered the downside of some of the so-called clean technologies either (dead raptors, anyone?)

    For all of these things the profit imperative tends to work against environmental safety. If you don’t like government, okay, then what is the better mechanism for guaranteeing your children and grandchildren against oil spills, coal slurry floods, gas explosions and radiation? I am not counting on Exxon, Chevron et al, who have a pretty bad record environmentally, apparently in what they see as a fair exchange for enormous profits.

  225. David

    Exxon and Chevron have a better record than the government (Tennessee Valley Authority). Or the entire Chinese government.

    In any case, nukes are cleaner and safer than all other currently viable electricity sources. Wind and solar, besides not being totally “green,” aren’t viable electricity sources.

    Your choice, if you choose to continue to be able to read this blog, is getting power from dirty and dangerous coal, less dirty oil, less dirty natural gas or pretty clean and safe nukes, especially the newer generation.

    Sorry you’re an old hippy. I wish I could point to some good gov’t or social policy in this country that came about after the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, which was 4 years before the “revolution of 1968,” but I can’t. It must suck to be a part of the generation that ruined America.

  226. Max Allstadt

    It must also really suck to think no good policy has happened in America since 12 years before I was born.

  227. Steve Lowe

    While the nucular industry leaves lots to be desired, it has had some great successes, perhaps most notably in France where some 80% of Froggy energy is drawn from perhaps as many as 50 plants around the country. The contribution to clean air is enormous, and we can all imagine what would happen to the gastronomic productivity of our favorite region if it were to be smothered in coal dust or subjected to 50 or Berryessa-sized super-ponds of coal slurry right next door to your favorite vineyard.

    Meanwhile, all those forty-year old fission plants will keep cranking out power until they’re eventually replaced by fusion generators, maybe ten to twenty years down the road, depending what kind of government support the industry receives in order to achieve that new plateau. Estimates are that one fusion plant could probably replace all 50 fission plant, so there’s a budgetary reward at the end of the rainbow – or the start of it, depending how you look at it. Hippies or no, that’s where we’re all headed, and – largely due to hippie concerns and those of other protesters, watchdogs, movie stars and assorted critics – the concerns of safety first are, though undeniably costly, held to a different standard here than in some countries like Ukraine and soon-to-be online Iran. And why the Chinese haven’t offed that mini-doofus in North Korea yet is anybody’s guess…

    Even if you loathe nukes, the rest of the world is sure as shootin’ gonna take advantage of the technology, and the West simply has to be at the forefront of development, if for no other reason than to export it to other countries that otherwise will be compelled to deal with the thuggish buffoons who run what Bush and Cheney used to call the Axis of Evil. Some thought it was unduly provocative to be swaggering around and throwing out those kinds of statements a Presidency ago, but it didn’t make it any less true that Ahmadinejad and his ilk really are demagogic wolves in sheik’s clothing – just waiting for the chance to do us real dirt or even a dirty bomb.

    Fifty years from now, nuclear plants will likely be buzzing away in just about every corner of the world unless we’ve advanced enough to figure out a way to tap into the magma core of the planet and make use of the Earth’s own inexhaustable heat supply. If that will take pressure off of the calderas at Mammoth and Yellowstone, it’ll be a welcome relief for those vulcanologists who believe a massive eruption is imminent, but that still doesn’t address the proliferation of nuke tech.

    If that’s where we’re we’ll all be (those of us who should live so long and didn’t completely melt their brains being hippies) a half century from now, what advantage can we grab now by being at the forefront of the fight for clean energy? Can we stimulate our local economy by making sure that the objectives of the East Bay Green Corridor become reality? Or do we continue to allow our local passel of oil-infuenced bigwigs to dictate policy?

  228. Ralph

    Steve, love your optimism. You need to focus more on expanding the pie, versus fighting for the table scraps. As you wrote, you educate the kids there is a better chance they could become the founder of an internet start-up or some of value creating business. You don’t educate the kids they just become a drain on my wallet.

    Breaks don’t just come to you, there is a little harwork and luck that comes into play. And if you never put in the hardwork, chances of encountering luck are slim to none and slim just left town.

  229. david vartanoff

    So about safety nuclear and fossil. No question fossil plants, particularly coal (pun intended) but heavy oil also, are dirty on a day to day basis. Nukes OTOH, even assuming better QC than they have EVER demonstrated, leave waste products that require extaordinary precautions for millenia. About the French, I have read that during warm summers they have had to turn down the output because they were “poaching” the fish in the rivers where the “cooling” water was released. The point of solar/wind/conservation is NOT to impoverish everyone; it IS to use what we have far more efficiently. California is consistently in the bottom five states in per capita kwh despite the server farms, massive AC in the warmer parts, etc. We got there because Gov Moonbeam’s bean counters were able to show PG&E et al that they would make more money for stockholders by bribing customers to be efficient than by going into the capita; markets to fund capacity expansion (remember this was when our “friend” Paul Volcker was running the Fed and interest rates were very high. As I type this the tiny PV array on my roof is generating the electricity to pump the water to the DHW panels. Soon the dishwasher will use that hot water. Did I say I was off grid? NO, but cutting my net payments to PG&E by doing low buck improvements pays off. (I do the installation work.)
    A note about QC in the nuclear industry, the notorious left wing tree hugger Wall Street Journal used to run articles about plant construction detailing how the workers intimidated the building inspectors to prevent them from doing thorough inspections. This is bad in ANY context, but nukes are just inherently uglier when corners are cut. Remember these are built by the same champions of quality who bring us the “Big Dig”, the out of spec bridge frame for the BART West Dublin station, faked weld x-rays, and mirror image buildings.
    Let me add I am against mountaintop removal, and I would shut down the tar sands production today based on the water pollution involved in producing the “oil”.

  230. ken0

    I have to laugh at your assertion David. Who besides you says we have fossil fuels to power our country at the same level as today for 100-200 more years?

    Nice fantasy.

  231. ken0

    To everyone in Oakland on the fence about energy depletion-led collapse, here’s more pudding which shows you that we’ll soon be out of oil and gasoline for the masses. That includes most of us lower class folks.

    January 2010 presentation by CEO of Petrobras, Brazil’s top oil company: http://www2.petrobras.com.br/ri/pdf/usp_01-12-09.pdf
    Page 7 shows that WORLD oil production will be HALF (50%) of 2010 production by 2022. (Twelve years.) PDF explains we are losing the equivalent of Saudi Arabia’s annual oil extraction EVERY TWO YEARS. David, please respond to this statement: Once Saudi Arabian oil extraction has peak, world oil extraction has peaked. (And no, water-intensive natural gas, Albertan tar sands and disappearing Appalachian coal will not power our Disney-Walmart-Vegas-interstate nation for too many more decades.)
    US oil production peaked in 1970 and therefore more of our internal supply is imported from foreign countries every year since then. We now import 60-70% of our oil from countries whose own supplies are shrinking, and whose populations are driving more each year and otherwise using more of their OWN oil
    Can you put nuclear power or coal in your gas tank? Are all Americans, employed or not, going to be able to afford a $30,000 Nissan Leaf, $40,000 Chevy Volt or $60,000 Tesla Whitestar to suddenly switch from gas cars? I can tell you what people CAN afford these days: shoes, skateboards and bikes. Welcome to the Banana Republic of America.

    Peak oil symptoms are/were a trigger of our economic collapse, which was largely brought on by extreme amounts of pervasive outright fraud in housing and finance, super leveraged debt and no resources (energy, materials) to “pay off” the debt ponzis as well as normal welfare schemes. As you can see this is a vicious cycle down the toilet from which the US will emerge much weaker, and may even break apart. Authorities have very little legitimacy these days for good reason.

    What’s the fallout? Dropping government revenues due to commercial and financial collapse. These will lead to political and perhaps social collapse. At minimum, extreme downsizing of old and too large institutions by middle of next decade, probably sooner.

    The police department in my hometown just cut a bunch of people last Friday. New York is cutting 3,000+ police officers this year, down to 1985 levels. Vallejo has already laid off police.

    We can expect OPD to start laying off officers any year now… how would you like Oakland with a THIRD or QUARTER of a police department instead of the current HALF? Hello private security.

    Oh, and high speed rail fans: They opened one yesterday in central China.
    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-02/06/content_9439526.htm
    California? Try never.

    Okay, time for some good news. V Smoothe another open thread please! ;)

    I’ll try not to be the local prophet for a while. Few people want to listen to Cassandras who say the future will not be better.

  232. Steve Lowe

    Ralph, David and others who have an ongoing interest in the education and economic development tandem, the point I’m trying to make (I think) is that without a healthy economy, the kids who – with or without a diploma – are being shoved out of our once hallowed, now creaky high school doors and onto the street are going to be staring at a pretty bleak existence if there’s nothing there in the way of a job to greet them.

    Hustle and hard work may be the right ticket for any kid at any given time, but you can do both all day long plus a lot more and still end up with zilch to show for it if investors don’t believe that investing their capital and creating a jobs is going to have a real payback. And in a status quo economy where the decisions on how to deploy big projects are being made by political appointees with no real background in economic development, all that you can expect is more of the same, especially when it comes to the pools if poverty that are created de facto by the enclaves of privilege that overlook those pools from on high: where’s the parity?

    Whether inadvertent or by design, the bottom line with respect to economic development is still the same: OAC QED. So the question is, who’s looking at the big picture out there to make sure we can adjust the economy where it’s most needed, and who can deliver? Meg Whitman? Jerry? Arnold? We’re in mighty big trouble, folks, without that picture adjustment feature, and so far there’s no hope of a midseason trade for any of these guys…

    The other point regarding nuclear power I was trying to make is that when fusion replaces fission, one single plant is projected to take the place of maybe ten or twelve or so of the aging facilities out there (442 worldwide), and in the process, also doing away with spent rods, superheated discharge, meltthroughs to China, godzilla-like lungfish – the whole ball of wax. That kind of development means cheaper power and therefore lower manufacturing costs for junk that we otherwise have to import. But the Chinese are, as KenO points out, about to crank into high gear and clamp down on a vision that embraces not only new fuels but smart transportation choices as well, maybe even wresting the small advantage we used to have in this country as leaders in high tech.

    I think they get it right by watching the blunders we make over in this hemisphere and then making extra sure they don’t do likewise.

  233. David

    Max, I’d like you to name a good gov’t policy that came since 1964 that’s not:
    1) currently bankrupting the country
    2) causing gross market distortions
    3) causing urban decay

    Cuz I’m curious what you think has been done right, since, oh, about the the time of the Civil Rights Act. I’m serious. Think about it a second. I bet when you really think about it, there’s precious few positive policies that come from gov’t actions. The best thing that happens is when gov’t gets out of the way after it guarantees our basic rights, shockingly enough, as the Founders intended. Perhaps there are a few decent local gov’t actions in the past 50 years, but not a whole lot.

  234. Naomi Schiff

    For goodness sake, David! Grumpiness I can understand, but don’t go overboard! Just for starters:

    Civil RIghts Act of 68
    Environmental Protection Act
    Fair Housing Act
    Clean Water Act
    A whole bunch of consumer protection laws
    Reparations to Japanese American internees
    Space Shuttle Program
    Hubble Telescope Program

    There are too many events in that huge span of time for us to discuss all of them. The bigger question is, do you have a better system than our constitution offers?

  235. Steve Lowe

    Me, too! To hell with clean water, fair housing and civil rights; let’s get back to the basics when this country was at its peak and using indentured labor and the free lands of tribes to grow cotton and other stuff. Look away Dixieland!

    Maybe the real reason the founding fathers left the provision for making amendments to the Constitution was to ensure that future interpreters would allow for reasonable expansion on the very new idea of freedom that the FF’s themselves were admittedly experimenting with.

    The Constitution is as great a document in history as Magna Carta, both brought about because of the unbearable injustices that the people were made to suffer because kings and lords and other assorted assholes could get away with it – not so very much different from the big bankers and corrupt politicians of our day whose looting of the economy has worked toward the devolution of our once-vaunted educational system.

    Naomi forgot to mention IRV!

  236. Naomi Schiff

    That reminds me, Steve, of the absolute best free thing you can ever do in London, England. In the British Library is a permanent exhibit of some of the key documents and books of the collection. It includes one of the surviving original copies of the Magna Carta; gave me chills to see it just sitting there for all to see. Definitely worth the air fare.

    (Also other extremely cool things, which include so many fabulous artifacts of civilization that I went twice and made my family visit, too. Napkin scribbled upon by John Lennon, with some lyrics you’d recognize, a scribbled-upon Beethoven score, Gutenberg Bible, Shahnameh, of course quarto editions of Shakespeare, Jane Austen’s writing desk. . .)

    http://www.bl.uk/treasures/magnacarta/index.html

    No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled . nor will we proceed with force against him . except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.

  237. david vartanoff

    @ David, the Constitution CLEARLY authorises the regulation of Interstate Commerce. The fact that coal fired plants in the midwest caused acid rain in the northeast is a clear example of the genius of the founding fathers in authorising Federal oversight. So things like the clean air, clean water acts, are absolutely in line with their thinking even though they could not have imagined the specific needs in detail. If you don’t like having the Feds intervene to protect you from contaminated food, industrial pollution, or other such assaults on the common good, fine. Happily from my perspective you are not in the majority, but you benefit from CDC, FDA, EPA, OSHA despite not wanting to.

  238. livegreen

    Steve, It’s pretty obvious why “the Chinese haven’t offed that mini-doofus in North Korea”. Because it keeps us threatened & thinking about some po-dunk 3rd world country with nukes. We think we need China for diplomacy, and then ignore their protectionist, anti-competitive, illegal trade barriers (currency manipulations, industry subsidies, IP infringements, forced JV’s so they can set up parallel factories, etc. etc.).

    This directly lead to killing blue collar, white collar or green collar jobs here, and the long-term prospects of our future generations.

    The Chinese will continue to do nothing about N. Korea, Iran, Sudan, etc. because propping up f-up 3rd world troublemakers works to distract us and we never call them on it. & each year that goes by as we grow weaker & they grow stronger makes it less likely the U.S. will do anything about it.

  239. David

    Interstate Commerce=buying or selling things across state lines.

    I’m not sure who’s buying or selling air across state lines.

  240. Steve Lowe

    Wow, Naomi, you actually saw the Lennon-writ Nappy Carta!

    You’re right, lg, there’s also a lot of animosity between the Chinese and Koreans that goes back centuries, almost on the same order as the Japanese and Chinese, all of which sounds a lot like every other country in history and their reasons for hating their neighbors. (And just what the hell is Canda up to these days while we’re not even looking?)

    The trouble with becoming the most powerful antioon on Earth, is that you’ve got nobody to sell your junk to after awhile, and it’s lonely at the top – or so I hear…
    Even though Kim Jonh Il serves as a distraction, as you say, my guess is that the Chinese would take him out of the game if they thought it could happen without any chance of triggering some sort of accident.

    There’s also the responsibility that China might have to take for feeding the starving millions in NK were they to bump the weasel off, but surely all the families in SK would rush in, just like what happened with the reunification of East and West Germany, no?

    Meanwhile, back in the good old USA, the issue of whether clean air is a commercial matter is interesting, as the bad air in this country is almost always created by a commercial enterprise somewhere or other, and the deaths and disease caused by all that yuck in our air, food and water supply is directly equivalent to, say, the chemicals in cigarettes that the execs all lied about when denying the existence of same in sworn testimony before Congress.

    Perhaps that was the only mechanism in law to assess damages back in the days before clean air legislation and the (Nixon created!) EPA, and that’s why the whole thing ended up at the Department of Commerce…???

    Main thing is, the government is dealing with it and even becoming a little bit more effective every year. At this rate, we’ll have clean air for everyone to enjoy right around my birthday in 2076.

  241. Ken O

    Mother nature watered my garden (on unused city property) today. Woohoo! No drudgery for me of dragging around a watering can…

    Click on my name for particulars.

    Every day that I bike up and down Telegraph I see CHP pulling over car drivers about 1/4 of the time. Thank you CHP for assisting OPD in policing this menagerie of towns. I see lots of bicyclists too. And it looks like American Apparel is opening up shop by Remedy Cafe next to Koreatown plaza? “You know Temescal’s made it when…”

  242. Livegreen

    Did anybody see the most recent Angela Hill column in the Tribune today:
    “Give ‘Em Hill: When bad news goes good”? Justifying journalists fixation on reporting mostly bad news. Uh. No wonder papers are losing so much money.

  243. Born in Oakland

    Right on bro, I did cancel my subscription to Trib after 30 years for just the the reason you allude to. Where is the meat in the stories written by the poor and barely literate would be journalists in our local paper. What do they really know about Oakland? They write with little depth or context about Oakland. No sense of commitment to their profession or our many communities. They do write as if there is no there there. The spelling is terrible, the headlines are not creative aqnd frequently unintelligible. Believe or not, the Tribune used to be the standard for journalism in the Bay Area, the Chronicle was trash. Now if you rely on either of them for your view of the world, whether political reporting, news or arts or business, you become an idiot.

  244. david vartanoff

    @David, If the dirty coal fired plant sells one damned kilowatt via the grid which crosses a state line they are engaging in IC. Thus they are subject to Fed regulation according to the wording of the Founding Fathers. Worth noting. in 1989 there was an enormous fire along the Chinese – USSR border (see Great Black Dragon Fire by Harrison Salisbury). Soot fell on Portland–it IS a single planet. (and FWIW all of the residents might well be considered equally deserving by a deity)

  245. Livegreen

    After the introduction of the catalitic converter (& the Clean Air Act) LA was getting cleaner until the end of the last decade/early this decade. Then it plateaued. Why? 25% of particulate matter now comes from China. (–as per Steve Westly & he had the photos to show it).

    (Environmentalists should buy American).

  246. livegreen

    re. “Ode to Oakland” link on ABO’s homepage, quite typical about how Oakland treats it’s Middle Class & the results….

  247. Scott Law

    I submitted the link to Ode to Oakland to both Jean Quan and Don Perata’s sites
    on how these issues would be addressed, with no response of course. This essay should be sent to every person on the city council and the managers in the city manager org. It epitomizes the frustration of our nascent middle class and how to convert an idealistic, productive young couple into bitter escapees from our city. Losing talent and optimism to the thugs and our “hip hop” generation.

  248. Born in Oakland

    “Ode”is heartbreaking and should indeed be required reading for all City employees and before every City Council meeting. This sad story has been repeated so many times in my flatland neighborhood that I seriously have lost count. It is one of the reasons my posts tend to have a strong negative and sarcastic tone, especially towards City government .

  249. CitizenX

    Where Oakland once experienced “white flight”, the City is now experiencing rainbow flight. The City has a way of tiring people out — literally out.

    Though I can think of nothing good to say about the current crop of Oakland politicians, those of us who are close to the City governement know that there are lots of employees who do give a damn about this City and its people. Unfortunately, there has been a flight of those who did give a damn out of Oakland City government. Especially at higher levels in the organization, they are being replaced with individuals who are “only in it for the money”.

    When the leadership in City government doesn’t care, the attitude slowly but surely permeates the entire organization. Those who still do care grow increasingly tired and dispirited. Only a wholesale change in political leadership in this city can reverse the decline. I often wonder just how low do things need to go, before the general population rises up and demands that change. Obviously, we are not there yet — a very scary thought.

  250. CitizenX

    …and, this website has been rather static lately — old news, no new posts. V., hope you’re just taking some “me time” and that nothing’s wrong.

  251. Max Allstadt

    Yeah. V’s overdue for a new post. But she’s really really busy lately. I’m tryng to come up with a guest post that’s worthy.

    What do people want to hear about?

  252. David

    Well, duh (re: Ode to Oakland). Despite the “new-Urbanist” fad and other social engineering dreams, something like 90%+ of 20-somethings get married by 30ish, have kids, want an affordable single family house, a safe neighborhood, and maybe, just maybe, a decent public school.

    Oakland provides neither affordable SFR’s (through misguided “planning”), safe neighborhoods, nor decent public schools (outside of a handful ‘hills’ hoods, which again, are unaffordable).

    It really shouldn’t be a surprise that middle-class young families leave the first chance they get.

  253. Ken O

    CitizenX – this blog needs more publicizing.

    The lull shows a danger too — of all of us relying too much on one source. Check the other blogs V links to. Other bloggers are blogging regularly too.

    Not enough Oaklanders know what the problems are. But ultimately, I’m cynical that replacing the whole city council and mayor with newbies would even help — even if we were able to educated people about the city’s problems and dilemmas themselves, which might lead to the extremely optimistic scenario above.

    As one of the FFs said, “the masses are asses.” Or as most of us say from time to time, “people are stupid/animals/etcetc”

    So as Len put it in January, it may be most profitable to allow the city to collapse upon itself. Then we’ll have other issues but they’ll sort themselves out more easily in crisis mode. No institution is forever — just like the US will someday lose its “AAA” credit rating no matter what Timmy Geithner spouts.

    Either city defaults and cuts pensions/unions out of the show, or other cities do it first and we get the same results. Any year now folks!

    Given the city seems to respond very little to “normal/middle class” people who live here, is full of grifters and senior lunch eaters who don’t give two shits about us, let em FAIL like Obama is failing. Wipe the slate clean. I’ve had it with the lazy and vocal majority of overcompensated city workers.

    Hi David,

    Another EnergyBulletin lesson:

    Oil shortages -> economic decline
    Economic decline -> lots of debt defaults
    Lots of debt defaults -> troubled financial system
    Insurance programs set up to protect financial system missed systemic risk (fdic, pbgc, fannie/freddie, insurance…)
    Major debt unwind still ahead

    Economic decline: more money for food/gas meant less money for discretionary purchases, new house/car purchases, led to reduced sales, layoffs — $80 crude oil leads to recession for “infinite growth” oriented economies

    Repaying loans is easy in a growing economy. Is difficult to impossible in a shrinking economy.

  254. Ken O

    David you do hit the family nesting story on the head. Good.

    Max, you could write about what David says. Or see what kind of city corruption you can dig up. More in-depth examples of laziness, nepotism….

    Or is nepotism a kind of trust based system? Loyalty over competence though… hm.

    Oh… here’s an idea. Write about Oakland’s neighborhoods. Which are viable and which are more like “failed states.” When COO hired consultants to conduct retail study they missed a few commercial ‘hoods.

    Or how much it’d cost to put in light rail on bway/international (my fave pipe dream)

  255. Ken O

    OR, depth of maintenance required for oakland’s water and sewer pipes — according to ebmud or whoever, and cost. And how long we have before the system fails.

  256. Ken O

    This would be cool: inventory of ALL MANUFACTURING in Oakland. MFRs create real wealth. 99 cent stores drain our residues of wealth with their cheap imported craps.

    What does Oakland MAKE? (besides food, artwork, t-shirts, babies)

  257. David

    Ken, again, your “energy bulletin” doesn’t follow when the first premise is false.

    The financial troubles have nothing to do with energy and everything to do with unsustainable growth in government spending that began with FDR, got worse with LBJ, and now Barry’s quadrupling down on Bush’s (actually sustainable) deficits.

    We could have all the oil in the world, and unlimited “alternative” resources; it doesn’t matter when you pay out 90% of salaries as pensions for longer than the employee worked. It doesn’t have one bit of relevance to why middle class families leave Oakland, etc.

    The government has spent more than it takes, and has proven to be inefficient. Therefore, it should be shrunk and made more efficient. Or, absent the ability to do the latter, keep to the former as to minimize its damaging impact.

  258. Naomi Schiff

    Really enjoyed the morning newspapers with their BART fail news! Congratulations and thanks to those who worked on this.

  259. Ralph

    lg, heard that same rumor – wonder if thinks enough people are disgusted with DP’s tactics and JQ’s lack of fiscal responsibility, that he can exploit IRV to his advantage. Despite what he says, I think it really is about him. Right about now, I would pick Richard Nixon over any of these candidates. Why is there such a void in Oakland leadership?

  260. david vartanoff

    So the Kagemusha (shadow warrior) will be wheeled out once again to fool the opposing army. Even more than IRV we need the none of the above system (if NOTA gets a plurality, all the others are defeated and new candidates must run)) with the added rule that anyone defeated by NOTA be banned from running for two cycles.

  261. livegreen

    I like the NOTA idea David. I agree Ralph, I think if he runs he’s going for IRV. But there’s no way to tell how that will play out. & if others jump in the race, the debate platforms better be open to them too.

    I do agree with JQ that Russo shouldn’t raise the $ limit for contributions. People are just going to get mailed over with repetitive redundant empty junk mail (it will be bad enough as it is).

  262. len raphael

    LG, if voters were encouraged to give their email addresses in return for getting put on a do not snailmail political mailing list, it would dramatically reduce the lower the entry cost for candidates. there is a field now on the registration form to give that, but many voters for all the usual reasons, see political junk mail as more instrusive than snailmail junk mail.

    (we caught a raft of s_t when I mass emailed for Pat McCullough’s cc campaign)

    if dp found some good state board position(s) for his potential opponents, they might just pull out…

    gotta wonder is dp planning to balance oakland’s deficit by hurting union workers or by raising parcel taxes sky high? or is he so confident that prop 13 will be modified in time to save oakland by raising rates or using split rolls?

    -len

  263. livegreen

    Regarding DP’s plans, I have no idea what he plans for Oakland. I guess this will come out when the election gets started, but I’m negative on both our leading candidates for the same reason. They better show both Vision & their Plan to accomplish that vision. Otherwise it’s a crap-shoot.

  264. Gold Coast 94612

    Mayor Dellums on WED said this about his upcoming State of the City:

    “It’s a once-a-year opportunity to directly communicate with the community in a way that’s unfiltered by the media and I plan to seize that moment.”

    I know that he means that the state of the city is just once a year, but there is nothing keeping him from communicating with Oakland residents the other 364 days. He simply chooses not to.

    http://www.foxreno.com/news/22599974/detail.html