59 thoughts on “
Open Thread

  1. David

    How timely, with Paul Newman’s recent passing. I think he’s at his best in that great movie, although he was at his best in a lot of movies. And any movie is more fun when you see it at the Paramount…

  2. Chris Kidd

    Awesome!! I loved going to old movies at the Paramount when I was growing up. The organ, the prize wheel, the lovely Miss Oblivia in her evening gown and elbow length gloves, the newsreels, the cartoons… I could go on for quite a while reminiscing. One of my favorite moments was when everyone in the audience booed Mickey Rooney’s extremely racist japanese landlord character in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’.

  3. Navigator

    The Paramount Theater is an Oakland treasure and one of the greatest theaters in the Country. Unfortunately, like many other Oakland attractions, it under performs. Why does Oakland sit by and watch the San Francisco tourist industry rake in billions without making any king of effort to get in on some of that action?

    Folks, Oakland is blessed to be located in one of the most beautiful urban settings in the Country, next to the no1 tourist city in the Country, and yet Oakland has ONE first class high rise hotel. What an outrage it is to let an opportunity to generate tourist income go by the way side. Oakland is a ten minute BART ride from San Francisco. Oakland should be full of hotels.

    Also, considering all the interesting neighborhood commercial areas, a better climate than SF, historic architecture, incredible religious architecture, great restaurants, a great zoo, the Oakland Museum, Chabot Space & Science Center, Lake Merritt, Jack London Square, Chinatown, Old Oakland, 19 miles of waterfront, wonderful hiking, walkable neighborhoods, great public transportation, and THE central location in the Bay Area, Oakland’s tourist industry is an insignificant and minuscule part of the tax base.

    It’s absolutely mind boggling considering Oakland’s proximity to SF, and its own unique attributes, that this city of 400,000 residents has only about 4,000 hotel rooms. Even New Jersey manges to capitalize on its proximity to Manhattan much better than Oakland does to downtown SF. Also, Virginia does well capitalizing on DC. Why does Oakland sit by and watch billions being spent across the Bay without establishing a campaign to draw visitors to the city? Old Oakland has the best collection of mid to late 1800s architecture on the West Coast outside of the Gas Lamp District in San Diego. Oakland has a large and incredibly vibrant Chinatown. Oakland has a great collection of Victorian architecture at Preservation Park. Oakland has three of the greatest theaters anywhere in the Country, with the Paramount, Fox, and Grand Lake theaters. Oakland has incredible religious architecture with the Mormon Temple, the Greek Orthodox Church, and Christ the Light Cathedral. Oakland has interesting neighborhoods like Rockridge, Montclair, Piedmont Ave, Temescal, Lake Shore/Grand, Dimond, Laurel, Fruitvale etc. Oakland has a symphony, a ballet company, many art galleries, and three major sports franchises with the Oakland Raiders, Oakland A’s, and Oakland Warriors(sorry it SHOULD be Oakland.)

    All of these attributes, and Oakland manages 4,000 hotel rooms and one major high rise hotel downtown? Tell me what’s wrong with this picture.

  4. Navigator

    V Smoothe, I’m speaking of that 20 story wedge structure at 11th & Broadway. I know it’s not a five star hotel, but unfortunately that’s the best downtown Oakland has to offer. The lack of major hotels in Oakland is outrages considering the city’s proximity to downtown SF along with its own unique attributes.

    There is no reason why Oakland shouldn’t be able to capitalize on the incredible tourist industry in the Bay Area. I realize that the SF media has done a wonderful job tainting Oakland to the outside world via slanted reporting, but never-the-less it should be the responsibility of Oakland city government to promote the city as a tourist lodging destination as a way to enhance the local tax coffers. Just sitting by and watching billions being spent 8 miles away without getting some benefit is beyond criminal.

  5. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    Sorry to change the subject, but I was at West Oakland BART yesterday and noticed that Mandela Foods Coop STILL isn’t open! Didn’t they have their grand opening ceremony???? And I saw on one comment on another thread that they might ask for more money???

    If they ask for more money, will someone let me know? I’d like to be at that public meeting and bring as many friends that I can to put an end to the madness. Either they open, or go away. But they definitely shouldn’t get more money from the City. IMHO, of course. ;)

  6. Brian

    Along the lines of missed tourism $ from SF, I always wondered why West Oakland is the way it is. Being an eight minute ride from SF the neighborhood around the BART station should be a model for transit oriented development. With it’s history there’s so much promise there.

  7. len raphael

    Approx how much has the city spent settling lawsuits of various kinds over the past 5 years and how does that compare to other similar sized cities?

    speaking of budget cuts, how much does OPD spend per year on court mandated monitoring under the Riders settlement? Does that monitoring contract go out annually for bid? They’re doing such a great job…

    -len raphael

  8. len raphael

    funny cbs opinion poll ratings on dellums. he does much better among “conservatives” than moderates or liberals. maybe we got a case of voter regret going.

  9. MoonSinger

    V Smoothe,
    Given the current budget crisis, I find myself wondering, “How much is THIS going to cost?”

    Police departments across the United States are beefing up plans to prepare for possible Election Day unrest after the historic presidential contest.
    Oakland, Calif., police plan to deploy extra traffic officers and riot-control units, as well as have SWAT teams on standby, the Washington political publication said Wednesday.

    Police Preparing For Election Day Unrest

    Originally I wondered, “Why Oakland?” but it seems to be code for “city with lots of scary black people.”
    The entire article is nicely parsed and explained by Theresa Nielsen Hayden over on Making Light:
    What kind of “Election Day unrest” are we talking about?

  10. Navigator

    TonyKoo, now you’re showing your ignorance when you compare Oakland to Compton.

    Are you implying that it’s a crime issue that keeps people from visiting Oakland? If that’s the case, you’ll be interested to know that Orlando Florida, home to Disney World and the most popular tourist destination in the Country, has virtually the same violent crime rate as does Oakland. Oakland was 5th Nationally in the violent crime rate for 2007, according to the latest FBI statistics. Orlando was 6th with 190.4 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, compared to Oakland’s 191 crimes per 100,000 residents.

    Also, just to emphasize how silly and arbitrary these “studies” are, Oakland and Orlando were deemed more “dangerous,” than Baltimore, Atlanta, Washington DC, and New Orleans. So, you see Tony, Oakland is in good company with the no.1 tourist destination in the Country.

    Tony, tourists don’t come in great numbers to Oakland because they’ve long been told by San Francisco interests that “there’s no there there.” San Francisco took Gertrude Stein’s comment about her home no longer being at the site in Oakland where she grew up, when she came back from France, out of context, to disparage Oakland, and along with creating the anti-Oakland crime hysteria with selective reporting, it has done wonders keeping people on their side of the Bay patronizing THEIR hotels, and eating at THEIR restaurants, while Oakland’s many attributes go unappreciated and unnoticed by the vast majority of the tourist industry.

    Until, the City of Oakland fights back against this SF media created perception with some advertising to let people know about all the wonderful things to do and see in Oakland, the city will continue to lose out on millions of dollars in possible tourism revenue. Oakland needs a massive PR campaign to negate the effects of the constant anti-Oakland spin coming from the SF centric media. We can deal with the crime issue all we want, but as you see from the Orlando Florida rankings it’s about perception. That’s why many people step over bodies, urine, and feces, to go to the theater and shopping in crime plagued downtown SF, but wouldn’t ever think of stepping foot in a much safer downtown Oakland.

  11. TonyWKoo

    Ah yes, and so the insults continue…ignorance you say? Well, I’m pretty sure that the average tourist would agree with me over you any day.

    Think about it, just what is Oakland known for in America? Oakland A’s, Oakland Raiders (with a notorious unruly blue collar fan base), Oak-town (constantly mentioned in Tupac, Dr. Dre, and other “hard” rappers out there as being a tough neighborhood with “street creds”…and what else? Just what in the world does Oakland have to attract with?

    Port of Oakland, Lake Merrit, a Chinatown….the “other” Chinatown…seriously, if you were a tourist, what in the world would you be able to attract others with?

    As for Orlando, I’m sure that if tourists started getting killed, it would make big headlines (which as I recall, did happen many years ago).

    Oakland’s got a bad rap…very true. But you’ve got to admit that at least some of that is true. Face it, people associate Oakland with crime, and not much else. Until it shows that it can control it (and it WILL take a LONG LONG TIME to change a reputation like that), Oakland isn’t going to attract anyone.

    And please, let’s be civilized here. These insults only make you look like an ass.

  12. Patrick

    The Oakland Museum of California, the Oakland Zoo, Chabot Space & Science, Jack London Square, Joaquin Miller Park, Morcom Amphitheatre of Roses, Children’s Fairyland, Telegraph Ave., Rockridge, Grand Lake, the UNBELIEVABLE Fox Theater, the Mormon Temple, an enviable array of (less expensive) dining options, $10 steak dinner at the Alley Cafe, Colonial Doughnuts (just because), a FAR SUPERIOR arts scene…Oakland offers plenty for a visitor (and with a better climate)…but more importantly, for its citizens. And with BRT, an easy way to get around :)

    It is apparent that one need not hurl insults to look like an ass.

  13. David Oertel

    Oakland will never have the spectacular views and geography of SF.

    BTW, when I lived in SF, it was some of the high crime areas that drew the tourists like flies, namely North Beach and the Tenderloin. In the fifties and sixties, Los Vegas was run by the mafia and used vice to create a major tourist Mecca. Tourists are often looking for excitement and maybe a little danger to escape their ordinary realities.

  14. BT

    To add to the worthwhile in Oakland list:

    Fruitvale’s Dia De Los Muertos and Cinco De Mayo Celebrations, First Friday Art Murmur, Art & Soul, Mountain View Cemetery, Bakesale Betty, Lukas, De Lauers

  15. Navigator

    David, have you ever been to Broadway Terrace and Skyline? Have you ever been to Grizzly Peak? Certain areas of Oakland have rugged canyons very similar to the most spectacular scenery you would find in Marin County. You can see the Golden Gate Bridge from Oakland, and on a clear day, certain areas have a five bridge view. Also, the view from the 12th Street Dam looking back at the Oakland skyline and the cascading green hillside neighborhoods is pretty spectacular.

    Oakland has a far better Zoo than San Francisco. Oakland has three of the top historic theaters in the Country, in the Paramount, Fox, and Grand Lake. Oakland has tremendous religious architecture with the Mormon Temple, Greek Orthodox Church, and the brand new Christ the Light Cathedral. Oakland has a 160 acre lake in the middle of downtown which surpasses even the reservoir in Central Park in New York, and is something San Francisco has no answer to. Oakland has charming neighborhoods with amazing architecture like Crocker Highlands, Rockridge, Piedmont Ave, Maxwell Park, etc. In Oakland, you can hike in a redwood forest and be within ten minutes from the waterfront.

    Tony, there are plenty of things to do and see in Oakland. The problem is that the folks across the Bay have done a great job defining Oakland to the outside world.

  16. David Oertel


    Don’t be so rational. I love this place too, far better than SF where I used to live. However, from a marketing standpoint, most people have heard the words “San Francisco” or “Frisco”, orders of magnitude more than the word “Oakland”. And the associations with SF are positive: cable cars, golden gate bridge, chinatown, etc., but many of the associations with Oakland are negative. Unfortunately, marketing trumps reasoning. Karl Rove has proven that over-and-over.

  17. Navigator


    I agree completely with you when you say “marketing trumps reasoning.” Therefore, it’s time Oakland capitalizes on its unique attributes, along with its proximity to San Francisco tourist attractions, and start marketing itself as an alternative for tourist lodging in the Bay Area. Why not start promoting Jack London Square, Chinatown, Old Oakland, City Center, Uptown, and Lake Merritt, with some sort of historic walking tour marker like Boston does with the Freedom Trail? Oakland has walkable compact downtown neighborhoods which can easily be traversed on foot similarly to Boston’s walkable downtown neighborhoods.

    Oakland has this incredible “can’t do” attitude, and inferiority complex. Oakland sits by and shows absolutely no creativity in creating new opportunities to alleviate its budget shortfall. Oakland needs to show a little gumption and a little self-confidence and fight for a little bit of that huge tourist trade pie in the Bay Area. Oakland sells itself way too short. Many many cities in the Country capitalize on much less, in order to enhance and promote their tourist trade. Why should Oakland sit back considering its position in the Bay Area, and not capitalize on its attributes and its fantastic central location in the Bay Area.

    The fact that Oakland plays such a minor part in a major Bay Area industry such as tourism, along with having only 4,000 hotel rooms, just goes to show the lack of leadership, and the level of dysfunction in city government. This makes my blood boil. It’s absolutely appalling!

  18. len raphael

    myth or fact that the Claremont got Oakland’s borders moved around it so that it could get out of the prohibition on serving alcohol within Berkeley City limits within a certain distance of UCB?

    Never understood how the top of Panoramic Hill in Berkeley is also part of Oakland.

  19. David Oertel


    Oakland should push its ethnic art and culture, which is world class. People could go to SF to see an opera, but the hipper ones will cross the bridge to see a blues, reggae, or rap show in Oakland. Oakland is brimming with extremely talented people who have been pushed to the margin. We need a police force which is sophisticated towards ethnic culture and not like a small town police force which sees ethnic culture as a form of crime or moral degeneracy.

  20. V Smoothe Post author

    Oakland also has an opera. But aside from that, there really isn’t much in the way of live music performance in Oakland of any genre, mostly due to the total lack of venues.

    All the things people here have noted make Oakland a great place to live, but I really don’t see them as reasons for anyone to take a vacation here. I think that pursuing tourism in Oakland is kind of a lost cause and a waste of money/energy. Convention business, on the other hand, seems like real a source of untapped potential.

  21. Max Allstadt

    With any luck, we’ll be able to set the stage for the growth of many new low impact music venues with a mini-cabaret ordinance. I believe the same people who got behind preventing arts cuts may be willing to push for this, and other common sense legislation that will make entertainment and arts ventures more feasible in Oakland.

  22. Navigator

    V Smoothe, I think you’re being a little hard on Oakland’s potential to attract tourists. Why do you feel it’s hopeless? One thing that Oakland has is historic architecture. Old Oakland, Preservation Park, along with many buildings in the Uptown/Broadway area like the Cathedral Building at 15th & Broadway, and the Flat Iron Building at 14th & Broadway, give Oakland interesting historic architecture. Also, what city on the West Coast has three theaters which rival the Paramount, Fox, and Grand Lake?

    Oakland is in the exact geographic center of the Bay Area and only 8 miles from downtown San Francisco. Why are there only 4,000 hotels rooms in Oakland? Why is there only one major hotel in downtown Oakland?

    San Antonio TX, has a man made river walk going through its downtown. The river is no more than sixty feet wide at any point. San Antonio is mostly flat prairie land without views, and, without the trendy charming neighborhoods that we have here in Oakland. San Antonio is a huge tourist destination with tens of thousands of hotel rooms. I’ll bet you even forsaken El Paso TX has more hotel rooms than Oakland does. It’s a disgrace considering Oakland’s location, Oakland’s climate, and Oakland’s own unique attributes, that Oakland watches billions being spent across the Bay without even attempting to get in the game. This just shows Oakland’s small minded complex.

  23. Patrick

    Although I agree that Oakland has a lot to offer (see above post), we do have one thing that San Antonio and even El Paso DON’T have – which is San Francisco 8 miles away. A curse wrapped in a blessing.

  24. David Oertel

    V Smoothe

    Oakland had plenty of venues but they were either shut down or driven to the margin by the party police. Some of the venues were: Black Box, Cafe Ace, Sweet Jimmy’s, @17, Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, Ely’s Mile High Club, Kiser Center, Ivey’s, Mingle’s, Alice Arts, and 21 Grand. There are probably more but the point is that there has been a clear policy over the last ten years of destroying or crippling venues.

  25. Robert

    David, sad to say, I have lived in Oakland for 10 years now and the only one of those clubs I have heard of is Mingles, and that is only because of the problems it had. I think there might be a different problem than oppression going on here. If they can’t get local notice, how to you expect to get tourists to come.

  26. Max Allstadt


    Mingles isn’t exactly the right example to bring up. That place got a little too thugtastic for it’s own good. Still, the rest of it is a damn travesty. Part of the problem is that in order to satisfy fire codes that get stricter every year, an investor has to be very well bankrolled to open a venue of any scale. Plus, arbitrary rules that have been designed for giant nightclubs are being applied to anybody who wants to have a performance.

    We need exceptions and amendments to our current cabaret rules. They should accommodate occasional performances with beer and wine sales at art galleries. They should also accommodate any restaurant that wishes to have performances for seated patrons. If we allow our current system to continue, the best performances by independent artists will continue to be at private parties. That’s what’s happening now. If you’re an independent touring musician and you want to play in Oakland, you do it at a private party. It’s a pathetic situation. No tax revenue, no tourist attraction, no public access, no cultural interchange between cliques.

    If we made rules that encouraged venues and bars to self police, and which had a carefully graduated system of fines that were appropriate to minor abuses up to major ones, we could have nightlife that would help get this city out of the red.

  27. Navigator

    Unfortunately many the venues which closed in Oakland were afflicted by the same violent crime problems which have afflicted many clubs in San Francisco. Even North Beach has seen a wave of violent behavior recently. Having said that, I think Oakland has more night life now than it did just five years ago, with many restaurants in Old Oakland, Uptown, Chinatown, Jack London Square, Rockridge, Lake Shore/Grand, Piedmont Ave. etc. Also, new bars and nightclubs have opened recently around downtown. http://www.meetdowntownoak.com/index.php

    I think with recent developments in Oakland like the new Christ the Light Cathedral, the improvements at Lake Merritt due to Measure DD, (this will include a brand new four acre park where the 12th Street Dam and many lanes of traffic currently stand) the renovation of the FOX theater and the surrounding new housing and restaurants, the new 400 million dollar expansion of Jack London Square,( which will include a food oriented pavilion similar to Pike Place Market in Seattle) Oakland will soon be poised to attract tourist related enterprises.

    How about a rental bike shop at Jack London Square to take advantage of the Bay Trail. They rent kayaks at the Square, why not bikes. How about a Duck Tours operation like they have in Boston and many other cities? You could catch the Duck Boats at the foot of Broadway, take a tour of the estuary, come back to solid ground on Broadway, take a left on 9th street and head to Old Oakland, take a right on Jefferson all the way to the Fox, Paramount and Uptown, take a right on Grand Ave. all the way past Christ the Light Cathedral, take a dip into Lake Merritt and watch the Necklace of Lights and the downtown skyline sparkle, go by the refurbished Boat House and the new in house restaurant, head for 12th street passed the Oakland Museum, turn left on Harrison pass Chinatown, turn right on 9th Street and make a left on Broadway all the way back to Miss Pearls at 1 Broadway.

    Come on Oakland , let’s show some creativity. Let’s grab a few bucks from the Bay Area tourism industry.

  28. Rebecca Kaplan

    Everett & Jones BBQ — Thurs Oct 30th 5:30pm – 7:30pm.

    You are invited by…

    John George Democratic Club,
    Black Women Organized for Political Action,
    East Bay Lesbian Gay Democratic Club, and
    Oakland East Bay Democratic Club.

    To a “meet and greet” — reception with endorsed candidate Rebecca Kaplan.
    Great food! (included), cash bar.

    For more info visit:

  29. len raphael

    Tucker’s Oakland pension. had an interest chat w an alameda county deputy

    the deputy was telling me how it was standard practice for retiring sheriff management to trade places at muni police depts long enough so that they qualify for pensions from both depts. So besides paying a pension to Nancy, Jane et al for the rest of their lives, we’ll have the pleasure of paying Chief Tucker also.

    ( btw the deputy defended Tucker’s performance as the best in difficult circumstances. and said that alameda county deputy’s get a whole bunch of urban policing experience in unicorporated parts of Richmond, Castro Valley, parts of Hayward. how oakland has a reputation of eating up police chiefs and ejecting them w/o cause, so we were lucky to get Tucker… )

  30. Ken O

    Can someone arrest/fire OPD det. Longmire already? He interfered in a felony/murder investigation to cover for his “friends” the Bey family at black muslim bakery, a local mafia getup.

    Throw the bums out!


  31. Ken O

    Navi: I’m starting a pedicab service soon – free rides for all. Google “oakland pedicab”

    Len: I think the future holds smaller retirement funds. The whole concept of retirement is pretty new i think, from the last 100 years due to all this fossil fuel abundance (oops)

  32. Navigator

    Way to go Ken. Once the Jack London Market is completed and all of the restaurants are in place, that would be a great place to set up shop. Speaking of Jack London Square, it’s great to finally hear that they have a restaurant signed up for the recently renovated 66 Franklin Building. Also, they already have two restaurants signed for the still under construction Jack London Market building. Also, the new 1100 space parking garage will include retail on the ground floor. Things are looking good for the future at Jack London Square. The next phase will include a 252 room first class hotel in the former “Jack London Village” foot print next to the green open space near the waterfront. Oakland’s fledging tourist industry finally has a chance to grow with the recent new developments in various downtown neighborhoods.

  33. len raphael

    just looked thru my pile of election mailers. The Yes on OO was really well produced. That picture of a clean cut little guy with big sad eyes because “they” are going to take away his after-school program was more effective than those Oakland Children’s Hospital TV ads from the June election of the bald chemo therapy kids, because this mailer kept to a very simple message and used one big lie which couldn’t be refuted late in the game.

    The No on OO flyer was mediocre, way too much verbiage. And the endorsee list was in small print, no pictures.

    other excellent mailer was the AC Transit one which again few words, and took your mind off the thought that the tax was going to poor people of color, but highlighting this elderly white couple that looked like they would prefer to drive their Cadillac, but because of health problems rode the bus to the store and doctor appts. No use of the big lie like the No on OO, but a subtle defusing of class and racial sentiments.

  34. Chuck

    Anybody know what the hell was going on in Rockridge last night? I saw probably a dozen cops on College and thought there was maybe a loudspeaker in use? It was surreal.

  35. VivekB

    Chuck: It was the Tip-A-Cop fundraiser @Pasta Pomodoro. They were raising $$ for Special Olympics by being co-servers.

    My fam & I went there for dinner to support & contribute, was a good time. Should have been better advertised, though.

  36. Navigator

    Chuck, a dozen cop cars in Rockridge, is usually the quota for the entire year. I hardly ever see cops patrolling College Ave. We have an invisible police force.

  37. VivekB

    The Rockridge Beat Officers are typically more foot patrol. Occasionally in cars. I see them regularly. Not daily, but regularly.

    I see the private security guards that the Rockridge District Association hired every dang day, though. Only 2 of them, but that’s at least of some comfort.

  38. len raphael

    Since OUSD Board’s pres, David K is OO’s main author, and he apparently didn’t know or care about the proposition’s effect on the city’s non kid related operations; it’s appropriate the rest of us non educators turn some of our attention to OUSD educational operations.

    Normally the various unions, administrators, and parents of currently attending students, plus the school board members (who frequently springboard on to bigger ponds such as Jean Quan) seem to be the most consistently involved.

    But as OO proponents correctly point out, if you can improve the outcomes for Oakland’s kids, you can greatly improve Oakland.

    Was having a discussion with my sisters in NYC about the educational reforms that Klein under Bloomberg has implemented there. In effect, Klein has implemented Compstat for the schools by vastly increasing the amount of testing done. eg. for high school seniors in NYC (other than Stuyvestant, and other select schools) for this school year to date, each senior will have had 2 three day bouts of citywide testing, plus normal SATS, plus several days of State wide Regents Exams.

    A few years ago school principals voted to give up tenure in return for large salary increases contingent on year to year test performance increases. Teachers still get tenure and can only be fired with great difficulty.

    The subjective portions of the citywide tests are graded at each school. Rumors swirl about schools fudging the results or lowering the criteria on subjective portions, eg. essays, to show year to year progress.

    NYT’s lauds Klien’s policies as a great success. Read somewhere that Klein was on the list to be new Secretary of Ed.

    Teachers say the main achievement has been that they spend a huge amount of time teaching to and practicing for the tests. eg. PSAT’s are now given to all students starting sophomore year, then again in junior year. Less time spent teaching basic skills.

    Administrators and Klein point to improved test scores and claim success.

  39. Ralph

    I thought every one took PSATs in the 10th grade? It is a shame that teachers are teaching to the test. When I was a student, teachers taught us to think and reason. They had this funny idea that those skills might be useful. Don’t get me wrong, we took test, but the teachers never spent entire class periods teaching to the test.

  40. len raphael

    in oakland public high schools 10 years ago, psat’s could be taken in 10th grade, but normally taken in 11th grade. by “normally” was that every student or only students who so elected, i don’t know. my impression is that taking psat in 10th and 11th grades is mandatory for all students in nyc high schools.

    a 2nd grade teacher i know in east o says she spends a significant amount of time teaching to the test. she has good and bad things to say about the effects.

    any teachers or parents on this blog who have stats on number of days dedicated to test taking, dollars spent directly on purchasing tests etc.?

  41. Max Allstadt


    The first thing Bloomberg did was to have a city wide referendum in which the citizens of NYC voted to take control of the schools away from the NYC School Board, and give direct control to the Mayor. Regretably, the citizens of Oakland have a mayor who could not succeed either in winning such a referendum, nor in achieving positive results even if he did win. I don’t know if it’s even legal in CA to have such a referendum.

    It worked in NYC for a number of reasons. First, Bloomberg is a masterful executive. Second, he commands so much personal wealth and so much personal philanthropic output that powerful non-profits are afraid to cross him for fear of losing grant money. Bloomberg’s power is sort of a perfect storm. The great fortune of it all is that he’s actually competent. I am wary of allowing that level of power to be exercised by any one person, because if they weren’t Michael Bloomberg, it could be a disaster.

  42. len raphael

    MA, yup, wb scary to have dellums and the cc control the schools also. i don’t much about David K. but he couldn’t be worse than that crew. zoning, financing, and public security issues are easier to analyze and proscribe than public education. as far as i can tell successes in public education for urban areas with high percentages of poor kids are universally abysmal, with a scattering of successes that seem to be non duplicable in other locales/situations.

    Klien in NYC will say his test scores prove that NYC has made changes that work on a large scale, but there are questions about the test stats and “common sense” questions about the results: eg. if many of the kids can’t read well, how could devoting more class time practicing for tests help unless the practice reading material somehow motivates/improves reading skills.

  43. VivekB

    Max, I got a non-sequitir question for you about your view on Prop 13, as i’m trying to decide how I feel given the conversations (on both sides) on this blog.

    You’ve previously said you’re in favor of abolishing prop 13 as it artificially keeps taxes low, but how would you address the current situation where Rockridge is one of only a few zipcodes in the bay area that show growth (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/11/09/MNHQ13TF13.DTL). If we abolish prop 13, then Rockridge homeowners would be paying more $$ in taxes next year, but the overall economy sucks and they may not have jobs (or good paying jobs) to pay for them.

  44. Ralph

    thanks len – truly a shame that psat is not manadatory for 10th graders. i too wish a teacher could offer some perspective.

  45. Max Allstadt

    Vivek -

    I think prop 13 is too extreme, but I don’t oppose it being replaced with a progressive tax structure that keeps poorer homeowners from being displaced or hurt by excessive property taxes.

    If the intent of prop 13 is to allow homeowners to benefit from a fixed tax bill that effectively drops every year in real $ due to inflation of everything else, then the solution would be to rewrite it so that it only has this effect. How? Limit it to one home per adult, nondependent taxpayer, or one home per corporation. Add in exemptions or relief for people on fixed incomes or people below a certain income threshold.

    I’m not a taxman, this not my area of expertise. All I can say is that prop 13 clearly goes too far, but I’m not for eliminating it without creating a progressive, pro-middle class regime to replace it. I’m curious what Len thinks about this cause he’s probably the most vocal financial expert on this blog.

  46. V Smoothe Post author

    I will be speaking tonight at Mix it Up East Bay, a monthly networking event for progressive activists at Arismona in downtown Oakland (561 11th St.). The event lasts from 6 to 9, and ABC’s Cecilia Vega and I will talk briefly about the role of various forms of media play in politics. I think we’re supposed to speak around 7:30.

    Thanks for reminding people and promoting the event, Becks.

  47. len raphael

    1 hour vigil at 5 pm today
    (Nov 26) re 80 year old woman attacked in Fruitvale. 27th St. and Grande Vista.

    repost from OPD yahoo:

    “On Thurs. Nov. 21 a little before 6 pm, an elderly small Asian woman
    who was familiar to the neighborhood because she collected cans for
    recycling, was attacked by three males who beat her brutally and then
    stood over her and laughed. She is in the hospital in critical
    condition with brain swelling and many bruises on her body.

    The attack took place at 27th St. and Grande Vista.

    Residents of the area outraged and sickened by the brutality and
    viciousness of the attack have announced a 1 hour vigil at 5 pm today
    (Nov 26) at the location of the attack. They ask that people bring a
    candle and participate in this community statement that this type of
    behavior will not be accepted or tolerated by the city.

    This seems to me to be an appropriate way to start the Thanksgiving
    Holiday. I intend to be there and to join with fellow citizens in
    this endorsement of civilized behavior and support for the innocent
    and entirely harmless victim of the unprovoked attack.

    Don Link, PSA 2″