Patrick McCullough v. Jane Brunner: LWV District 1 Oakland City Council Candidate Forum recap

Finally, last one of these! So here we go – Jane Brunner has represented District 1 for nearly 12 years. She was elected in 1996 to fill a seat vacated by Sheila Jordan, now County Superintendent of Schools after a tough campaign against then-Planning Commissioner Peter Smith. At the time, Smith warned that Brunner was part of Ignacio De La Fuente’s anti-development political machine. My, how things change.

Although the North Oakland flats undoubtedly have their share of poverty and crime, much of District 1 is relatively wealthy and therefore well-maintained. Brunner has managed to mightily piss off both pro-development and anti-development types, and has been absent on rising crime, but she nonetheless ran for re-election unopposed in 2000 and 2004. While we have plenty of experienced and qualified candidates living in District 1 (two of them are currently running for At-large Council), nobody will step up to oppose Brunner because she’s perceived as unbeatable, since she has lots of money plus most voters live in the hills and are totally uninformed, but like her because she’s a woman and plants trees. So Patrick McCullough, a guy people in the Bushrod neighborhood know for his work cleaning up his street, and everybody else in Oakland knows as the guy who shot a teenager in his yard, stepped up. I’m not going to get into the shooting issue – you can read his story about it on his website, and I’m going to say now that I would prefer that discussion of the shooting not dominate the comments on this post. There are plenty of other forums available to do that, and I’d like to see the discussion here limited to questions stemming from the debate or either candidate’s platform.

So let’s dive in.

Opening Statements

Jane Brunner said that she’d been on the City Council for 11 years, and that crime is the top issue in Oakland. She said that some things, like the new geographic policing, are working well, and noted that the police contract issue has been solved. She said they gave $7.7 million to recruit new officers, but there’s a lot more to do, and that we need more police officers as well as a strategy from the Chief for fighting crime. She said we need businesses because we need jobs, and that we had the 10k plan, now we need 10,000 jobs, and that we need opportunity sites and job training, and that we also need to keep working on affordable housing.

Pat McCullough said that crime is flourishing in Oakland, and that Brunner has sat on the Council for 12 years while we lost control of the schools, the budget, and the streets. He said he’s a repairman with 30 years of experience, that he’s fixed problems most of my life and led the improvement of 59th Street, which had been an open drug market. He said that he’s independent of the power brokers, and that he won’t be corrupted, and will restore optimism in Oakland, rebuild the economy, balance the budget, and make the streets safe.

V: Winner: Patrick McCullough! This forum happened like a month ago and I only just now watched the video. That was partly because I lost my DVD for a while, and partly because I’ve been so busy, but also partly because I was really nervous Pat was going to get clobbered and I was really not looking forward to writing about it. But take note Mario Juarez and Clifford Gilmore – this is how it’s done. Pat, not having much experience of his own to point to, made a strong case for the failure of the current leadership. He was engaging and persuasive. I loved it. Also, his line about being a repairman has made me laugh. Jane Brunner was really weak, and I wish people would stop talking about the geographic policing like it’s the most amazing thing since sliced bread, and stop acting like it’s making some huge dent in crime. Crime in Oakland is up 12% in 2008 over 2007! (I’m not saying that this is the geographic reorganization’s fault at all, obviously it’s way too early to draw any conclusions, but it clearly isn’t the magic bullet the Mayor, the Chief, and the entire City Council keep acting like it is.) Have I mentioned lately how much this 10,000 jobs thing annoys me? Anyway, aside from me just not liking what she said, she simply did not inspire confidence or make any argument about how things have gotten better under her tenure. That means she loses.

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

A: Jane Brunner said that it’s the Councilmember’s role to put out information so people can get it, and that you empower the community by giving them information, and that she holds meetings every couple of months on controversial issues. Patrick McCullough said he would increase the City Council meetings, and complained about the long summer and winter recesses. He said he will do things to bring back trust in government and show people that we can have progress.

V: Winner: Patrick McCullough. Okay, I got a little too excited with the introduction. Pat wasn’t nearly as strong here, and they seemed much more evenly matched this time around. And aside from the thing about increasing public meetings, he didn’t really say anything of substance. I agree we should have more meetings, but the recesses don’t bother me. I would like to see a return to weekly Council meetings, as much as it makes me want to cry thinking about covering that. Jane Brunner’s answer was pathetic. You can’t answer a question about how to increase participation by saying you already provide information. Weak, weak, weak.

Q: Oakland’s budget relies heavily on the real estate transfer tax, unlike most other jurisdictions. What ideas do you have to diversify Oakland’s revenue streams?

A: Patrick McCullough said we need to make the streets safer, and that the reason we can’t have a thriving entertainment district to diversify the economy is because people are afraid to get out of their cars and go to restaurants. Jane Brunner said that we will lose revenue from the transfer tax with the housing downturn, but that it’s okay because we haven’t been using the transfer tax revenue in ongoing programs, and that we should diversify the economy with retail. She talked about the rezoning of Broadway that requires the first level of new buildings be retail.

V: Draw? I don’t know, they both said pretty similar things. Are people really afraid to go to restaurants? That depresses the hell out of me. It’s news to me that we haven’t been relying on the transfer tax for anything important. Brunner’s reference to the rezoning of Broadway irritated me. She says she supports the Conley Group’s plan, but the entire point of the retail attraction strategy is that we’re supposed to be preparing for the phasing out of auto uses along the corridor and attract destination retail instead. When the time came to do the zoning to accommodate that, Brunner asked to amend the new zoning code to permit new auto uses! Talk about missing the point.

Q: Is Oakland adequately prepared for the next disaster, whether natural or man-made? How would you rate our preparedness and what would you do to improve this?

Jane Brunner said that we’re much better than we used to be, and that we have an excellent fire department with a state of the art emergency center. She said our next disaster will probably be an earthquake, and we need to expand the CORE program. Patrick McCullough said that the fire department equipment is very old, and that many trucks need to be replaced. He said the police radio system and equipment needs to be updated. He said that neighbors aren’t coordinated and there is no emergency communication system in place that will allow people to communicate with one another or with emergency systems, and that the government has failed.

V: Winner: Patrick McCullough. Okay, I’ll admit to being shamefully uninformed about the fire department. But from what I hear, state-of-the-art is not the term one should be using to describe equipment and preparedness. Perhaps one of my readers can fill us in a little bit in the comments.

Q: What is your vision for Oakland?

Patrick McCullough said that he had two visions – one if he was elected and one if he wasn’t. He said that if he is, he will pull people together and bring all our resources together to make this City a beautiful place, it will be like Dellums’s “model city”, except it will be real and not a dream. He said that if he isn’t elected, his vision is pretty dismal. Jane Brunner said that Oakland is a wonderful city, but that there’s a lot to improve, and that we need jobs. She said we need to continue job training programs, encourage businesses to come, and that we need to improve our schools because they’re critical, and that housing is critical and we need to build infill and affordable housing, and that crime is critical.

V: Winner: Patrick McCullough. Again, he made me laugh, which always wins points. Jane Brunner really likes the word “critical.” Also, she has nothing to say! Seriously. Pat doesn’t have much to say either, so for any qualified sitting Councilmember, creaming him should be a cakewalk. But he somehow keeps managing to outperform Brunner. That’s sad.

Q: How do we continue to support artists living in industrial areas?

A: Jane Brunner said that the issue was recently before the Council, and that artists revitalize neighborhoods, and that when developers want to change neighborhoods, we need to make sure the artists aren’t kicked out. She said that with the industrial land use policy, they decided to set aside an area where work/live artists can stay. Patrick McCullough said we need to help artists come to Oakland, because many people stay out of Oakland due to crime. He said we have a lot of underutilized and empty space, and we need to identify those spaces, and find a way for people without much money to come in and talk to landowners to explain to them the benefits of having people in the building who aren’t paying market rents.

V: Winner: Jane Brunner. McCullough thinks simply asking people to lease their space below market is an answer? That’s not going to happen. Brunner’s answer disturbed me, though. At CED and Council, I thought she handled the issue of amending the proposed industrial zoning code to permit existing artists to remain and directing the planning staff to create new codes for hybrid space well, so I was extremely surprised with her response to this question, in which she boasted that they made buffer zones for work/live, when that’s exactly what they didn’t do. Why doesn’t she know what she did? Infuriating!

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

A: Patrick McCullough said the City should run its own records program, and he doesn’t want to outsource work. He said we need to improve the records management program, because it is currently extremely frustrating to try to get records, and that all the departments should be working from one database. Jane Brunner said she would support a records management system, and that we’ve had a lot of trouble with records management, and that we couldn’t find some development agreements. She said we should have records going back years and years and years, and that records often get lost. She said the records you need should be run by the City, not by an outside company.

V: Draw. They both said basically the same thing, and also both seemed to think that a “certified records manager” meant outsourcing the work. No! It means the City would hire someone who is certified in records management. Since I used to work in records management, I know I have a greater depth of knowledge on the subject than the average person, so I would be hesitant to pick on them over this, except that Nancy Nadel, Sean Sullivan, Larry Reid, and Clifford Gilmore all answered the exact same question and none of them made the same mistake. In any case, making information available to the public is of paramount importance, and I really hope that whatever Council we end up with next year will make improving the system a priority.

Q: What will you do to increase safety in District 1?

A: Jane Brunner said that we need more police, but that police are very expensive. She said she supports 200 more police, but that we need to pay for them, and that we should put that on the ballot. She also said that we need to be running the police department with statistics, and that she’s going to LA next month to look at how they use CompSTAT. Patrick McCullough said that adding 200 more police officers would cost $50 million, not $60 million as Brunner had said, and that we have a lot of waste in government. He said he would pay for the police by using civilians in government, and that we need to mentor and guide our youth, which we’re not doing well.

V: Winner: Patrick McCullough. I’m happy Brunner now wants us to use CompSTAT, but she knows perfectly well that after the disaster of Measure Y, nobody in Oakland is voting to tax themselves for more police. They did that once, and the City took their money and didn’t deliver. It isn’t going to be anywhere remotely near as easy as McCullough seems to think it will to find a spare $50 million in the budget, but if we are going to add to the force, we are going to have to find ways to pay for them other than going to the ballot. People will say no, and Brunner should know this as well as anyone.

Q: What type of condo conversion policy is right for the city?

A: Patrick McCullough said we need a condo conversion policy that doesn’t force people in apartments out of Oakland, and that he’s lost neighbors to condo conversions. He said the City should make it easy to stay in affordable housing, and that there are plenty of homes for people to buy, and that it isn’t necessary to convert existing apartments. Jane Brunner said that condo conversion is part of three tiers, condo conversions being the top tier, inclusionary zoning being the second tier, so when you build developments, some units are set aside as affordable, and the bottom tier is that we should give our redevelopment money to lower incomes. She said condo conversion needs to be done very carefully, and that we shouldn’t turn affordable housing into condos, but maybe it would be okay to turn luxury units into condos, and that if the tenants buy their own apartments, that would be good.

V: Winnner: Jane Brunner, although I personally hated both answers. I have written over and over again about how inclusionary zoning doesn’t work and how if we passed it, we would reduce the number of affordable units we build. Condo conversion is another area where Brunner really irritates me. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what condo conversion policy I think is right for Oakland – the current one absolutely needs reform – there is currently no restriction or limit on conversions of buildings four units or less, and there are no currently protections for tenants. So when Ignaacio De La Fuente and Desley Brooks introduced a proposal that would address those issues (as well as introduce a relatively high cap on conversions), you’d think Brunner would have jumped at the chance to work with them on it if she really cared. I was not in favor of the original Brooks/De La Fuente proposal (you can read a discussion Johnny Z and I had about the issue here – although I have to say, Z edited it together from our e-mail exchange, and I think in a way that was somewhat unfavorable to me), and I wasn’t entirely sold on the final proposal they presented to the Council. Anyway, Brunner was not helpful on the issue, and although she is now saying that she supports conversions if tenants want to own their apartments, she actually had to ask a speaker at a CED meeting this winter what a TIC is. Now I don’t expect the average person on the street to be an expert on tenants in common, but there’s absolutely no excuse for the Chair of our Community and Economic Development Committee and alleged affordable housing advocate to not know.

Q: Do you support the increase in the landscaping and lighting tax and why?

A: Jane Brunner said that you need parks in an urban center, and that it was a problem with the old LLAD that it didn’t have a CPI increase, and that the new one will do that. She said that if doesn’t pass, then we’ll find the money elsewhere. Patrick McCullough said that we should examine the LLAD, and that it’s a hidden fee that bothers people. He said that the money isn’t used only for landscaping and lighting, and that we should be honest with the taxpayers and not try to trick the voters.

V: Winner, Patrick McCullough, but once again, I wasn’t thrilled with either answer and Pat gets the win only because Brunner was so incredibly weak. We do need more transparency with the LLAD, as with the use of all City funds, but I think the way Charles Pine presents his argument against it is misleading – he says the money will be going to the General Fund, not landscape and lighting, but the fact is that the General Fund is currently covering a LLAD shortfall, so the money that will be allegedly going into the General Fund is actually money that should have been there all along. In any case, if I got to vote, I would vote against the LLAD increase only because I think the Council needs to start proving they’ll use our money the way they promise before we give them any more. But as a sitting Councilmember, Brunner knows just how desperately we need the extra funds, and she should have made a strong case for people to vote for it. Instead she basically shrugged at the idea of it not passing. So bad!

Q: Should there be term limits for Oakland City Councilmembers?

A: Patrick McCullough said we need term limits, because right now, the only way to remove an incumbent from office is to get them into a higher office. He said people shouldn’t feel like being on the Council is their job, and that anything more than three terms is too much. Jane Brunner said that she used to like the idea of term limits, but she sees that it doesn’t work at the State level. She said that people are too green, and don’t know what they’re doing, and that lobbyists are running Sacramento, and she doesn’t want to see that in Oakland. She said that if the voters are unhappy, they should vote out the incumbent, which happened in North Oakland two Councilmembers ago.

V: Patrick McCullough, I guess, even though I strongly disagree with term limits for Councilmembers. Note to Jane Brunner – see Ignacio De La Fuente for a good response to this question. How is it possible that the substance of both their comments was pretty much the same, yet Brunner completely failed to sell me on it? She simply does not inspire confidence, and pointing to an incumbent that lost a seat 20 plus years ago certainly does not make the case that doing so is feasible.

Q: How do you balance jobs, affordable housing, and open space with development in Oakland?

A: Jane Brunner said that those are some of the most important things in Oakland, and that we need jobs and housing near one another instead of having people who work here live in Stockton. She said we need housing people can afford near jobs and open space. She said we need to put more of our redevelopment funds into affordable housing, and that we need inclusionary zoning. Patrick McCullough said that the Council just gave away industrial land for other purposes, and that we need to preserve it for future industry. He said that if we turn industrial land into housing, there won’t be anything left for when industries want to come back, and that people need to live near where they work because of global warming.

V: Winner: Patrick McCullough, although, again I disagree with what he said. But at least he had an answer – throughout this debate, I continued to be amazed at how little Jane Brunner has things to say. Maybe Brunner’s answer would have been better if she had gotten to go second on this, because I do appreciate that she’s been a strong advocate of opening up the waterfront so that it will be accessible to Oaklanders, the decision that McCullough was criticizing.

Q: Mayor Dellums has called for 10,000 new jobs in Oakland. What will you do to produce job growth in Oakland?

A: Patrick McCullough said that we need to make Oakland attractive to investors and businesses, and we do that by dealing with the crime problem. He said that we need to have good job training programs, and that he isn’t aware of any union training programs helping people get into jobs, and that he’d work with unions and trade councils to prepare people for jobs. Jane Brunner said we need to do four things, the first being opportunity sites, so that when people call the City looking to move their businesses, we can help them find a spot. She said we need a one stop center where someone can get a business license and learn about tax credits available through enterprise zones. She also said we need specialized consultants helping us attract specific industries and telling us what we need to do. She said we do a lot of union job organizing and training programs.

V: Winner: Jane Brunner. Her answer was much more detailed and thorough than Pat’s was, and she called him out on not knowing about existing job training programs. Still, Brunner’s support of the opportunity sites plan reaffirmed for me how out to lunch she is on business attraction.

Q: Would you do to promote community policing?

A: Jane Brunner said community policing was the only answer, and that when she was a kid, the police officers would tell her parents if she did something wrong. She said that when we do get to 803, we’ll have enough officers so that each officer will have a beat they can walk and bicycle and get to know the residents. Patrick McCullough said we don’t have enough police to do community policing, and that most officers spend 85% of their time responding to 911 calls. He said that when we have enough officers, they’ll be able to do community policing.

V: Winner: Patrick McCullough. McCullough is absolutely right that even at 803 we will not have enough officers to have walking officers in every beat, and Jane Brunner should know it. On a side note – was I the only person in the world who grew up without a neighborhood police officer who knew me and my parents and would tell them if I got in trouble? I never in my life personally knew a single police officer until I moved to Oakland. Seriously, politicians are constantly telling that same story, and it sounds like something out of a 1950s TV show. Is this a normal experience that I just missed out on?

Q: What will you do to expedite the implementation of Oakland’s bicycle master plan? Since funding is an issue, what creative ideas do you have to engage Oakland’s residents to help implement the plan, create more bike parking and more bike lanes?

A: Patrick McCullough said that we need to find lanes and roads where people can bicycle, and that we need to make it safe for bicycles, and make it possible for people to leave their bikes safely, and that we need to work with BART and AC Transit to make it easier for people to bring their bikes across the Bay. Jane Brunner said that the bike plan is excellent, and that she’s been a leader on bike lanes. She said Cuba has the best bike lanes she’s even seen, which have some kind of division that keeps cars away. She said that she wanted to put bike lanes in North Oakland, but that merchants and residents didn’t want to lose their left turn lanes, and the City was sued, and that we’re now doing a new EIR. She said we need to go to the State and Federal government to get more money for bikes.

V: Draw. Maybe someone can leave a comment about the problem with Bicycle Master Plan implementation and the lack of a bicycle engineer. I’m planning on writing a post about this soon, but I’m too tired to do it right now.

Q: Who are the major endorsers of your campaign?

A: Jane Brunner listed Jerry Brown, Sandre Swanson, Keith Carson, the Alameda County Central Labor Council, Sierra Club, National Women’s Political Caucus, and “many merchants and residents”, but that she didn’t have her list with her. Patrick McCullough said that the people of Oakland are his endorsers, and that he doesn’t mind that people who don’t live in Oakland haven’t endorsed him, and that he doesn’t want to be part of the power broker system, and that being free of major endorsers allows him to only care about the constituents.

V: Winner: Patrick McCullough. Big minus points to Brunner for not being able to name any more endorsements than that. She’s got to have more, right? Her website only lists two additional endorsements and she doesn’t have a SmartVoter page, so I can’t check, but Nancy Nadel said on TagamiVision that she’d endorsed Brunner, so that’s at least one that she’s failed to list. Anyway, it’s sad. A three term Councilmember should be able to point to a lot more support than that if she were doing a good job.

Q: How serious a threat do you think global warming is and what can we do about it here in Oakland?

A: Patrick McCullough said that we need to make it easier for people to bicycle and increase the use of mass transit, but do it in a way that doesn’t harm the environment like, for example, shrinking traffic lanes which will increase congestion. He said we need to encourage the use of insulation and encourage people to stop wasting energy. Jane Brunner said that global warming is critical, and that Oakland is the fifth most sustainable city, and that she’s taken a leadership role on the issue, and that we have solar panels on the ice rink and the buildings near the airport. She said she brought a cap and trade climate exchange program, and been a leader in tree planting.

V: Winner: Oh, I don’t know. Draw, I guess. Brunner really just has nothing to say. I can’t believe I’m supporting someone who opposes BRT.

Q: What specific tools would you use in the coming years to increase accountability in this city?

A: Jane Brunner said we need to evaluate contracts after completed, so we know whether we should do that contract again. She said that audits are critical, and that if projects need to be audited, they need to be audited, and that the budget should be more open. Patrick McCullough said the City Attorney needs to enforce warrantees on our equipment, and that departments need to be more accountable, and the City Administrator needs to be more accountable to the City Council. He said we need oversight and follow-through.

V: Draw. Neither answer was that good.

Q: What is your general philosophy about development?

A: Patrick McCullough started to answer, then stopped, then the camera jumped back and there was some kind of ruckus with two women holding up a big banner and another woman, I’m guessing one of the League members, yelling that they had to get it out of the room and grabbing at it. I tried freezing the DVD and zooming in, but I couldn’t see what the banner said. I’m guessing that it was the Uhuru people, who have been following Pat around passing out flyers calling him an “attempted child murderer“. Brunner didn’t say anything about this, and as far as I’m aware (please someone correct me if I’m wrong on this), she has to this date still failed to publicly condemn their behavior. I find this unconscionable! Anyway, then the women left, Pat made a joke about how he’ll sue them later, and the debate resumed.

Patrick McCullough said we need development to fund programs for youth and for the City, and that we won’t be able to do that without adequate business development, and that we need more industry, residential, and retail. He said that many people are concerned with buildings being too large, and that can be worked out by working with the developers through better communication and letting the neighborhood have more input on development. Jane Brunner said she supports smart growth, and that people need to be able to live and work together, and that we need to do infill development. She said that smart growth needs to involve working with the neighborhood and make sure it works with the neighborhood. She said she holds a meeting on every project four units or more.

V: Draw. Does Jane Brunner really hold meetings on every project in District 1? Brunner’s irritating habit of coddling anti-development types and knocking arbitrary numbers of units and feet of buildings is not reflective of someone who really does support smart growth and infill development. McCullough has slyly avoided taking a position on development, although I suspect his views are more closely aligned with STAND’s than with ULTRA’s.

Closing Statements

Patrick McCullough asked people to visit his website, and said that if you think Oakland is doing fine, you should vote for Jane Brunner, but he believes we can’t take four more years of this type of performance. He promised a balanced budget, a thriving economy, and real improvement rather than just talk, and said that if you wanted that, then you should vote for him and for a better Oakland.

Jane Brunner said that crime is the top issue, and that she’s working hard on it, because we need a safe city, and need to welcome businesses and help them hire locally. She said we need to train people and ensure housing is affordable, and make sure Oakland is a lovely place to be and continue greening Oakland.

V: Winner: Patrick McCullough. Brunner just can’t seem to manage to make a case for herself or for progress she’s made.

Okay, I struggled with my decision about this race. I do not like Jane Brunner at all. Her relentless support for inclusionary zoning is enough to make me want her off the Council. Anyone who truly cares about producing affordable housing would not advocate for a policy that will reduce the tax increment, and by extension, the amount of affordable housing we produce. I do not appreciate that she often seems absent and unprepared at meetings. And I do not appreciate at all the way she interferes with development in North Oakland, chopping bits and pieces off proposed buildings at her whim and failing to appease either side – STAND remains unsatisfied and projects end up getting cancelled. She claims to support smart growth but her actions encourage sprawl.

But is that reason enough to vote for a no-name who doesn’t seem particularly involved with City government, who doesn’t support BRT, and who hasn’t taken a firm position on development, but who includes Bob Brokl on his list of endorsers, even if I do greatly admire the work he’s put into improving the Bushrod neighborhood? Well, no. But then I met Pat a few weeks ago and I found him to be intelligent, charming, engaging, and genuinely concerned with making Oakland a better place to live. Pat strikes you as someone who doesn’t want to be involved in government at all, and would rather just go home at the end of the day and spend his evening drinking a beer or two and cooking dinner for his family, never even thinking of city politics. But he’s been drawn into civic activity due to the absolute failure of our current leadership, and is stepping up because nobody else will. He knows as well as anyone how frustrated many Oaklanders feel with their government and how their input and effort is ignored by our leaders. I came away from the encounter still undecided, but inclined to support him.

Then Jane Brunner really seemed to step up her game. I’m as frustrated as the next person with the way elected officials start being attentive and responsive when election time rolls around, and I’ve been paying attention long enough to be suspicious. Still, Brunner’s improved performance has not simply been limited to a sudden call for more cops or an op-ed in the Chronicle – her trademark cluelessness at Council meetings is gone, and all of a sudden, she’s making good, reasoned arguments and asking the right questions. Since most voters don’t watch Council meetings, I doubted this was only for show. So I was back to being undecided.

Then I watched this debate. Three times. Jane Brunner floored me. She should have creamed him. Seriously – she’s been on the City Council for nearly twelve years now, there is no reason in the world for her to appear less informed, less eager, less prepared, and less productive that Pat. Does she not have any accomplishments she can point to? Does she really not have any plans or advocacy for improving Oakland beyond inclusionary zoning? Her performance was shameful. Pat simply came off as a stronger candidate and more prepared for the office. I can’t say enough times how unbelievable I found this. So while I don’t live in the district and don’t get to vote in this race, Patrick McCullough has my support and my endorsement (along with those of Charles Pine, Ishmael Reed, and Bob Brokl – what an odd combination!). I would love to have some incredibly well-prepared dream candidate opposing Brunner (and am so incredibly thankful that District 3 was lucky enough to get one in the form of Sean Sullivan), but that didn’t happen. On the issues I disagree with Pat on – BRT, and, I suspect, infill development, Brunner isn’t any better. But unlike Brunner, Pat is absolutely dedicated to using the office to serve the people of Oakland – he won’t be working another job, he is committed to listening to his constituents and is truly committed to improving public safety. I found him to be very smart, reasonable, and willing to approach things with an open mind. He, like me, is concerned not with whether policies sound nice, but whether they will actually work. So if he’s elected, I believe that he will throw himself wholeheartedly into studying the issues that come before him and listen to people with an open mind. When someone isn’t an ideologue, which Pat certainly isn’t, an initial position that I don’t agree with doesn’t worry me. The time to persuade him is after the election, and I’m confident in my ability to make a good argument.

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44 thoughts on “Patrick McCullough v. Jane Brunner: LWV District 1 Oakland City Council Candidate Forum recap

  1. dto510

    Thanks for this great recap. I’ll try to add some more insight later. But this is why A Better Oakland is such a great resource – Happy Birthday!

  2. V Smoothe Post author

    Thanks, dto510! It’s crazy to think it’s been a whole year. Also crazy to realize I’ve written 242 posts and gotten 1411 comments in that time!

  3. oakie

    Thank you Mr. V Smoothe. This is a tour de force analysis, and for a district you don’t even live in! That’s dedication to making a better Oakland. Full disclosure: I AM a partisan. But I have to say from having the opportunity to spend some time with Patrick, I totally agree with your conclusion about who this man is. The man is smart, honest, straightforward, and with integrity. What we don’t agree with, we can both start working on him, after he is elected. And, by the way, if I still lived in District 3, I’d fully support and volunteer for Sean Sullivan. If we can just get Brunner and Nadel off the council, I’m ready to start gathering signatures to RECALL DELLUMS (if someone would please put together the initiative and get it through the City Attorney). Then, we’d be on our way to making A Better Oakland. Yes We Can!

  4. oaklandhappenings

    A belated-happy birthday for ABO, from me too, V! I only found out about this blog back in November, but your strong opinions, exceptional writing skills and occasional dose of humor have kept me attached! Just promise that when Sean and Pat become winners of d3 and d1 respectively, that you will start the victory post off with a big, all-caps, cheer!
    Just kidding–I know that you will do this anyway, right?? ;-)

  5. Surfways

    Jane Brunner isn’t overly concerned about crime. A few years ago, when the city was pondering on whether a state of emergency should be declared (so federal funding can be qualified), Jane voiced her disagreement. Her argument? That it would hurt the values of homes in her district. Is that the reasoning of someone who has crime as priority number one? I dont understand this. Once you fix crime, property values will go up.

    Unless some of the council members are in the take…

  6. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    V – so why is McCullough against BRT? When you met with him, did you talk about it?

    Sidetrack alert – And on the note of transportation, do you know much about CyberTran? I was asking Sean the other day if something new was going on because they have a big window display in the empty retail space at Jack London Square… I love, love, love the idea of CyberTran, but the pols seem to shrug their shoulders and give the “no money” answer. It seems better (imho) than this aerial tram idea that made the front cover of this month’s _Jack London District Call_. ( – oops, just checked and April is the most recent issue as of writing so I’ll bug them to update it to the May issue)

    “Opportunity sites” – hmmm, couldn’t that have been an idea for the Army Base? Oh yeah, we were too distracted on a proposal by the Wayans Brothers for way too long. Just one idea. Why are we waiting until now to come up with opportunity sites? Why wasn’t this done 10 years ago during the dot com boom?

    If I lived in District 1, I’d vote for McCullough, mostly because we need a serious overhaul of Council. He is a reluctant public figure, but it takes problems to bring people together in a community. I’ve read a dozen community building books in the last five years and unfortunately most people get into politics by accident. He’s still green enough that it could go really well, or not…

    On the issue of holding public meetings for developments, we did this through our neighborhood organization ( and not through our council member. The last two projects – one in litigation with their tenant, Mingles & the other is The Ellington – have improved their design with involvement from the community – partly because the community understands what is selling and what isn’t. Another factor is that we know what we need. For example, making sure a building is built with proper ventilation for a restaurant would be helpful, because none of the buildings built in 2000 to present have hoods, so no new restaurants. We get a cafe or a deli, but not a full on restaurant.

    We also started a monthly construction coordination meeting during our firestorm of construction in 2005-2006 that helped immensely with communication issues. We also let the developers and their architects tour existing buildings to see what had and hadn’t worked and to better understand the actual neighborhood. That definately created better projects. 288 Third got a GREAT rooftop garden, while other improvements included trash room design, bike storage, and even little things like adding a bulletin board for the sharing of information. Whether Jane Brunner actually hosts these types of meetings or not, I don’t know. I do hope that NN doesn’t take credit for those in our area.

  7. OP

    Overall a good review, but one objection – there is no way Brunner loses on the increasing public participation question. I live in E. Oakland and have spent time in other districts, and I was floored at the frequency Brunner puts on community meetings and the high-profile people she gets to attend. Add in her newsletter, and I just don’t think there is any Councilmember that comes close in terms of providing info and access to their constituency.

  8. V Smoothe Post author

    I don’t think Brunner’s newsletter is very good at all. Jean Quan has the best newsletter hands down. In any case, the question was about increasing public participation, not maintaining currents levels, and she didn’t even attempt to promise doing anything more than she already does. Therefore, she loses. Many very engaged and caring citizens in North Oakland feel extremely shut out from government, and Brunner doesn’t appear to be interested in encouraging their involvement.

  9. V Smoothe Post author

    Joanna -

    I didn’t talk to Pat about BRT when we met, just realized he didn’t support it when he complained about how taking a lane of traffic away for the bus will be bad for global warming at the forum. Like most people opposed to BRT, he’s probably just uninformed about the issue and misunderstands the proposal and afraid about congestion increasing – the time to talk to him about that will come if he’s elected.

    <>CyberTran…I’ll write about this at some point, but yeah, it’s not going to happen in Oakland. I fear that Jack London Square is going to be stuck with poor transit access for years to come.

  10. Ken O.

    I’m a volunteer campaign coordinator for Pat McCullough and appreciate you taking time out of your life to analyze the good bad and ugly of the DVD forum which I haven’t seen.

    I am an ULTRA supporter and don’t know much about STAND except that I’ve read that some of their tactics are downright mean, malicious and uncalled for. I am sure that some of their concerns are valid, but not to the extent of cancelling BRT (which would counter-intuitively *relieve* congestion) and being against SMART density.

    There are ways to have more density (dirty word!) without it seeming like you have tons of Bauhaus Soviet ugly public housing style buildings. And if STAND is so against building further up, then they better be okay with Not Eating, since suburban buildout paves over farmland, AND they better advocate a One-Child-Policy for themselves as well, so their children don’t need to move to suburbs further and further away from city centers (such as Oakland, suburb of San Francisco).

    So that’s my commentary.

    I support Pat McCullough, volunteer for the campaign and wholeheartedly take ULTRA-like goals to heart.

  11. Ken O.

    By the way, the Campaign for Patrick McCullough needs a few good Oaklanders to help volunteer with our campaign!

    Email me at k150 at yahoo dot com to jump on board–we are grassroots and don’t have a large honey pot like Brunner’s campaign does, and need all the help we can get.

    Election is in three (3) weeks!! (Last day to register: May 19th I believe)


  12. Max Allstadt

    Ken, the more I see of McCullough, the more I like. You need more youtube video of him. And he needs to do more precinct walking. I think if folks meet him he’ll do a lot better.

    Oh, and I’ve been commenting in opposition every time I see Uhuru propaganda online. Those people are whack jobs. Make sure you find a chance to get Brunner to comment on them on record. She’s been quietly letting them act as her hitmen even though it’s well nigh impossible for any sane person to openly support their agenda.

  13. scottpark

    Always keep in mind that if Brunner does 10% more than other Councilmembers, V is going to complain that it’s not 11. She doesn’t even live in North Oakland, so I suspect that her somewhat comprehensive authoritative tone may be underinformed. Also remember, V believes different voters have different levels of awareness based on the degree to which they agree with her (note her comment about hills voters above).

    Look, Brunner is far from perfect, but the incessant criticism here from you, V, is verging on obsessive. There are plenty of other Councilmembers (Igancio, for instance) who have always had opponents, no matter how weak. The fact that Brunner has run unopposed in two out of the last three elections can be just as much about general indifference/apathy/satisfaction (note, not frustration) as it is about folks being unwilling to go up against her. If folks like you believe she’s so terrible, and her constituents are so dissatisfied, then how could she possibly be so strong electorally.

    It’s great that Brunner has to run a campaign. All Councilmembers need to get off their butts and get back to knocking on doors. But your constant efforts to find any and everything wrong with Brunner (based largely, apparently, on her support for a proposal that has not passed in almost a decade) is jeopardizing your credibility in my eyes.

    One need not be delluded to think that someone with no political experience, like McCullough, is not ready for the responsibility of representing North Oakland. and you can say whatever you want, but I will not vote for anyone who has shot a teenager. I don’t freakin care what you say. I’ve had the whole panoply of crimes happen where I’ve lived here in Oakland and I am proud to say that I am not armed and will not shoot anyone. If everyone acted like Patrick McCullough, you couldn;t go out on the streets at night anywhere. No thanks!

  14. Max Allstadt


    1. do you have any affiliation with Brunner?
    2. The. Teenager. Had. A. Gun. – would you shoot someone who pulled a gun on you?

  15. Ken O.

    Fact is, only the criminals, plus a few critical thinking honest citizens and a severely understaffed OPD have guns right now. And the latter is no thanks to Brunner and colleagues freezing the police academy. Insanity.

    At this point, our liberal Berkeley moral values are not going to keep us safe, no matter how much we want them to. (love, peace, etc.)

    If everyone acted as McCullough did (overall community activism, not just “that day”), we’d have far less violent crime, and everyone could walk just about anywhere at night. Life would be far better.

    Read Patrick McCullough’s story about “that day” here-


  16. Max Allstadt

    It is absolutely possible to have liberal values and a gun. Here’s how I do it:

    I have a pragmatic rationale for being armed. There are 9 guns for every 10 Americans, and I don’t want to be guy number 10. State and local gun restrictions are moot when we have open borders with the rest of the country. (Liberals understand banning drugs is futile, why don’t they understand the same about guns?) I abide by the strictest standards of safety and preparedness in how I keep my gun. I fully understand the legal issues surrounding self defense.

    That’s the practical side. On a philosophical level, I still have to explain owning an instrument of death. My explanation is that I think about that a lot. At the range. Whenever I handle a weapon. A lot. I don’t plan to stop reflecting on this, ever. And that’s the way it should be. I’d also gladly vote for stronger training and testing requirements for gun permits, particularly if incremental degrees of permit would put an end to the ridiculous “Assault Weapons” ban.

    I am simply baffled as to how this is not a liberal stance. We have impractical restrictions on Guns, Drugs, Strip Clubs, Prostitution, Street Performing, Street Vending, Dog Walking, Public Drinking, Smoking… This isn’t liberal, it’s authoritarian. Did you know that it’s illegal to sell somebody a pet bunny in Oakland? Liberal Berkeley moral values = letting Kyle’s mom from South Park run our lives.

  17. V Smoothe Post author

    scottpark –

    How does Brunner do 10% more than other Councilmembers? Can I see some evidence for that? A comparative list? Because Brunner was certainly unable to articulate that in the debate. The fact that she uses her her pay-go funds in visible and productive ways is hardly enough of a reason to keep her on the City Council. Anyone (except Nancy Nadel, apparently), can use a slush fund to buy street furniture.

    Incessant criticism? Obsessive? Jeopardizing my credibility? scottpark, do you read this blog? Because your comment suggests otherwise. In over a year of blogging, I’ve tagged only 11 posts total with Brunner’s name, including this summary of her debate! Before this, the last time I even mentioned Brunner was actually complimentary.

    As I said in the conclusion of this post, I remained torn in this race until watching the debate. Do you want to know what really sealed my support for McCullough? It was her answer on the question about work/live. Only three days previously, Brunner, at CED, amended the industrial zoning code to make allowances that would permit work/live artists to remain throughout industrial areas, and to allow future conversions of industrial space to work/live with a CUP and a business license. (This was later amended by the Council, at the request of Nancy Nadel, to not permit any future conversions until a new work/live code was developed.) It shocked me, then, to see her answer the question about work/live by saying that they had reserved a space on the borders of industrial areas where work/live would be allowed. This was exactly the part of the code that she, herself got rid of, based on the input of a large number of artists. The fact that she couldn’t even correctly report something she had done earlier in the week, and that she reported that they did the opposite of what happened, floored me. It made me seriously question how she makes decisions, frankly, if she can’t even remember them only a few days later. Does her staff just tell her what to do and she does it without considering it herself? Or does she just do whatever the last person to get to her asked her?

    Brunner, like Nadel, and like most other incumbents, has high positives because the vast majority of voters pay very little to no attention to local politics, and know very little about what the Council actually does. You should know that as well as anyone. To suggest that Brunner’s, or anyone else’s, constituents repeatedly vote for incumbents because they’re well informed and still approve of performance is highly disingenuous.

    I don’t judge someone’s level of awareness based on the degree they agree with me, I judge based on the degree they know what’s going on in the City and the degree by which their opinions are supported by evidence. My statement above comes from surveying District 1 hills residents over the last two months, and while all of them told me that they like Jane Brunner, not a single one could give me a reason why, when pressed gently. When pressed further, every single one of them cited her being a woman, and about half were able to add, when pressed further, that she plants trees.

    People who disagree with me have lately taken to responding to my writing by saying that I’m simply assuming everyone who doesn’t share my views is uninformed, but that this isn’t the case. Why is it that none of these people offer substantive arguments against my theses? I encourage comments, and I welcome vigorous debate. I love being challenged. If nothing else, it helps me hone my arguments for future debate. Simply saying I’m wrong doesn’t qualify – I need to see justification and an explanation for where I erred before I can take such criticisms seriously.

  18. scottpark


    I did not know that one needed to be affiliated with a candidate to speak relatively civilly about them. I will tell you that I support Brunner in this election, have a lawn sign out for her, but have not volunteered for her or given her a dime. Also, like most district 1 voters, I will vote for her on June 3rd and be happy as she continues to be our Councilmember. Is she the greatest politician and policymaker ever? No, but the choices I have are limited.

    I. Don’t. Care. If. The. Kid. Had. A. Gun. I’m a proud third generation gunless American. I have been a victim of crime and seen crime. I even have the proverbial toddler that is supposed to turn me into some macho vigilante. Yet I still believe that firing a gun at someone is wrong, even if they have a gun themselves, and I will just go absolutely crazy and suggest that most people around here feel the same way. As a District 1 voter, I believe choosing to use a firearm (and, yes, against a minor) is an example of terrible, terrible judgment–it’s even worse than supporting inclusionary zoning. And we all know that McCullough would be even less than he currently is without the notoriety he received as a result of the “episode,” so we can reasonably infer that he is proud of what he did and would recommend it to others (as his supporters repeatedly do). Again, no thanks.

    I check the blog every day, but only read what I want, so I can’t say I read it every day. I read it enough to know that, in fact, you are far worse on Nancy than on the rest of the Council put together, but as I focus most on my neighborhood and district, I’m evaluating your tone in relation to everything you write about Brunner, not everything you write about Oakland. You do a fantastic job of covering Oakland’s political scene. However, the fact that my last comment about you was complimentary does not change the overall tone of my part of this exchange. I do agree that “obbsessive” is wholly inaccurate, given the relative treatment of Brunner vs other topics. That I will grant and apologize for.

    Nonetheless, I would suggest that a reader does not need to prove their impression of your writing to you, they merely need to have it. Your knowledge of it is a piece of information for your further writing, not something subject to debate. Indeed, I cannot convince you to like carrot cake if you do not no matter how strongly I feel about it or how consistent in my treatment of it I have been. I also realize that “well, piss off then” is a completely valid response to my comments.

    I’m curious to know the extent of your “survey” of Oakland residents. That Oaklanders are clueless is no surprise and is certainly not Brunner’s fault. Indeed, given whatever mailing or phonecall, teamed with a few lawnsigns, will constitute the McCullough campaign, I venture he would be just as happy to win without any necessary decrease in the ignorance of Oaklanders. If folks’ lack of determined familiarity with candidates excludes them from voting, then there’s just the ten of us here on the blog to choose Oakland’s leadership (perhaps not a bad idea…). I will also go out on a limb and say that constituents in the districts of politicians you support (such as Larry Reid) are no more knowledgeable about him than their counterparts in other districts and may have no more than two sentences about him to say. Given District 1′s stellar demographics, I think you will find far more familiarity here with candidates than in District 7, the District, I may add, Mr Reid can’t manage to get out of nothingness despite a over decade on the Council. I guess there’s some virtue if McCulough has 17 extremely informed supporters, but in this system it means nother. However hard it is to face, there’s also no way to require it to, either.

    I actually expect McCullough could get as much as 40% of the vote. Brunner has probably pissed off more people in 12 years than McCullough will reach and convince in 4 months. I would be curious as to how much of McCullough’s support is made up of true believers and how much is made up of people who didn’t get a call back from Brunner’s office or are sick of waiting 6 months to get their sidewalk repaired because they paid $850,000 for their house (please note, I believe all votes in all cases are fairly earned).

    There are things Brunner has done right on the Council that are pretty much universally appreciated (finally kicking in the first $2.5 or whatever million to get the new OPD recruitment drive going; the handling of the community process for the Kaiser expansion; running the Measure DD campaign (Pat and Wan did not co-anything on that by any stretch) and others she can be credited for if you happen to agree with her politically (leadership on affordable housing; defending rent control and tenants’ rights; leadership on living wage). There are other things she has consistently done which may surprise some, such as nearly always (along with Igancio) voting against settlements of alleged police brutality lawsuits, preferring the City Attorney actually step up and defend the city on these things and never, at least according to her, voting against a development project.

    Sure, it would be opportunistic to suggest that Brunner should be held responsible for the fact that North Oakland is, if you judge it only be property values and not by what everyone actually thinks, the most desirable place to live in Oakland, but that is also true. North Oakland is filled with thousands of happy people who just get home from work and want to chill with their friends and family, not wanting to have to justify to anyone why they’re satisfied with their lives.

    What I really want to see on the Council is someone committed to making Oakland more fun. But that, I think, is going to be way on the back burner

  19. Max Allstadt


    you don’t need to be affiliated. I was just looking for clarity. Your support is obvious, I just wanted to know if you were on her payroll or anybody else’s in city politics, or if you ever have been.

    For the record, I can’t vote in district 1, but if I could, I’d be undecided. Brunner did me a solid on work/live, and I felt like the conversation I had with her and Elanor about the subject was engaging and thoughtful. At the same time, I keep hearing other people (who have agendas, I know) rant about her until they’re blue in the face. I’m too new to really have perspective on it. I will say that it appears both candidates intend to work outside city hall, which is not at all OK with me.

    Also, my biggest reservation about McCullough is the fact that his notoriety comes from the shooting. It’s a huge liability and barrier to civil discourse with many of the people he hopes to represent, and it’s a distraction. I’m just fucking sick of people who deliberately omit the fact that the kid he shot was armed. You did it. Gammon did it (and repeated Uhuru’s lie that the kid was shot in the back.) Heredia did it. The Guardian staff did it. The fact is that whether or not you agree with McCullough’s choice of action, the kid’s gun is a HUGELY relevant part of the story, and omitting that is nothing short of wanton deceit.

    As far as the fact that you “believe that firing a gun at someone is wrong, even if they have a gun themselves”, fair enough. If someone threatens you with deadly force, I support your right to choose to try to talk them out of it.

    If someone threatens me with imminent use of deadly force and I happen to be armed at the time, I will exercise my legal right to perform the following procedure:

  20. V Smoothe Post author

    Time doesn’t permit me to give scottpark’s comment the response it deserves right now, but hopefully I’ll get to it tonight.

    Max –

    To clarify, McCullough told me that he does not intend to work outside City Hall, and that he would be a full-time Councilmember.

  21. josh abrams

    scottpark – its a good thing you live in the nice part of North Oakland. Deciding you will never defend yourself against a criminal who wants to kill you (the only sane way to view a gun being pointed at you is as a deadly threat) is really not an option for a lot of Oaklanders (including Pat).

    Did you know the Oakland Police told him to carry? they told him to carry illegally before he got his permit in order to defend his life from the young criminals who were intent on causing him harm. A friend of mine who lives in a state that allows open carry (having an unconcealed gun on your belt) always responds when he is asked why he is carrying a gun on his belt “because I can’t fit a police officer on there.”

    and for the record – a vigilante is someone who goes about trying to enforce the laws. Doing what Pat did and defending your life against a threat of deadly force – that is called being a human being.

  22. Max Allstadt

    V – that’s done it. A pledge to work full time tips my opinion. I’m for Pat until Jane pledges the same.

    I’d vote for a ballot measure that sets council salaries at 100k and bans outside employment on pain of removal from office. We have incumbents who repeatedly say how much the city needs them and yet they’re moonlighting or even two timing us. Very very not OK.

    Does Reid have another job? De La Fuente? V, if you have a chance I’d like to see a list of incumbents with and without second jobs.

    josh abrams (autobot) and not-actually-named-scott:
    Take a surf around the web for statistics about crime in places that have adopted concealed carry laws. josh, it’ll bolster your position to read them. scott, it will force you to find a new way of rationalizing defeatism, or perhaps change your mind.

  23. josh abrams

    Max – I am very well versed in the benefits of CCW (of course the contrary argument is that most places that enact these laws are already low crime) but I enjoy slinging mud at people with the protection of the internets much more than I enjoy reasonable debate.

    That said, if a concealed pistol is good enough for Don Perata it should be good enough for me.

  24. Max Allstadt

    joshimus prime:

    the contrary argument doesn’t hold water if there’s a decrease in a low crime area, does it?
    I wonder how shooting deaths in poor, high-crime areas of Dallas and Houston compare with those in Oakland or Chicago…

  25. Becks

    scottpark -

    I hope you’re being sarcastic with this comment but fear that you’re not: “North Oakland is filled with thousands of happy people who just get home from work and want to chill with their friends and family, not wanting to have to justify to anyone why they’re satisfied with their lives.”

    Being someone who lives in the district, this is an offensive comment. Yes, I’m satisfied with my life, but I don’t just want to “chill.” Many of us in North Oakland are actively involved in our communities and in local politics – we’re working to make Oakland a better place just like many other commenters on this blog are.

    Sure, I live in an affluent neighborhood (and am really lucky to since I couldn’t afford the rent on my apartment if there was no rent control), but there are plenty of problems here. My friends got robbed at gun point a year ago a few blocks from my house, in Rockridge. Even though I’m just a 10 minute walk from BART, I’m too scared to walk through the neighborhoods at night so I take BART to MacArthur and take the 1 bus down Telegraph home.

    There are plenty of problems in North Oakland, just like there are in every other part of Oakland, and the residents of North Oakland want these problems fixed. To think otherwise is naive.

  26. scottpark

    Neither Ignacio nor Brunner work exclusively at being on City Council. I don’t know if there is any relationship between full timedness and effectiveness. If this were so, since we have a Council now that is 3/4 full-time, we should be fine. Sadly, we’re not

    I always knew that the kid McCullough shot had a gun, as had been reported when the event actually occurred. As stated above, it makes no difference to me.

    I’m sorry if I insulted anyone with the outrageous assertion that most people in Oakland are satisfied with their lives. I’m also sorry if that fact somehow insults the 400 or so Oaklanders who really do all the civic and community engagement in this town. That wasn’t my intention. I think the real feeling behind the point is that the overwhelming majority of all community activity is focused on crime and violence, and one need only monitor yahoo groups for a week to see the extremely emotional reactions people have on this issue. I, for one, am not all that concerned about crime, despite the many episodes I’ve experienced and been subject to. I do not think I am alone in insisting to look at Oakland through lenses other than those of crime, and I am getting a bit tired of the insinuation that people who aren’t into crime as an issue, or who don’t live in crimey neighborhoods, are somehow not Oaklanders. It’s sad. I’m beginning to think we’re our own worst enemy when it comes to this stuff.

    And this directly addresses this race because, like it or not, Patrick McCullough has people’s support because he is “tough” on crime, meaning he used a firearm against an armed minor. His crime policy positions are indistinguishable from everyone else’s in every single race, but he’s more legit because he had the guts to shoot someone. That, as well, is sad.

  27. Ralph

    “I did not know that one needed to be affiliated with a candidate to speak relatively civilly about them. I will tell you that I support Brunner in this election, have a lawn sign out for her, but have not volunteered for her or given her a dime.”

    hmm, according to some of the artist around art murmur your failure to give a dime does not constitute support.

    v – thnx 4 the recap, tell us how you really feel about iz and all this time i thought you were another eb socialist :)
    be nice if city council paid more – $60K is not nearly enough to make it a full time gig

  28. V Smoothe Post author

    Ralph –

    I’m extremely amused to see myself described that way. Usually critics call me a “developer tool.” In any case, feel free to browse the inclusionary zoning archives on the blog for some further thoughts on that subject.

    And the Council makes something like $67K plus a $600/month “car allowance.” No time to look up exact figures at the moment, but those are close.

  29. Max Allstadt


    McCullough is “more legit because he had the guts” to confront thugs repeatedly,
    leading said thugs to attack him viciously,
    leading him to continue to confront them upon recovering,
    leading the thugs to escalate to the threat of deadly force,
    leading him to respond with a totally legal and justifiable use of deadly force.

    The guy pays close attention to the mechanics of crime at the street level, and that understanding is valuable. I’m still unsure of whether or not that makes him a better candidate than Brunner.

    Every time I give details, you come back and oversimplify. I’ll keep coming back with details every time you do, and they’ll get more honed and concise each time I come back. Your language is plainly deceptive, and the readers know it.

  30. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    The best description I’ve heard for V is “angry, bitter young woman” – GO V!

    As for “Developer’s Tool”, that’s a farce. V just happens to believe in more development or more dense development – I shouldn’t go saying what she thinks about development, that’s her statement to make. Some of us are referred to as anti-development because we don’t always speak in favor of specific projects. I don’t see myself as anti-developer or anti-development, just PRO smart development. Sort of like being pro choice or pro life. Just because I’m pro choice doesn’t mean I’m anti life.

    That said, it’s nice to get intelligent conversation about what’s going on in Oakland and one person’s viewpoint (and all the subsequent comments) on what could/should make for A Better Oakland. I find it refreshing to have more facts here than I get from talking to certain politicians. It’s good to discuss (in a civil manner) the pro’s and con’s of the issues Oakland faces today. I wish more people would read about Oakland and get more involved. It takes a huge personal committment to get as involved as V has gotten and I know all too well what getting involved gets you… a saying sums it up perfectly: No good deed goes unpunished. ;)

  31. josh abrams

    Max – I don’t think anyone doubts that Oakland is more dangerous than the other places you mentioned, all I was saying is that as someone who is often highly skeptical of statistics, especially when they are used to argue for a policy position, I would really like to see a rigorous parsing of CCW stats when it comes to reducing crime. My feeling is that they do reduce crime, but I’d like a statistically significant link, not just a corollary one.

    I believe very strongly in free markets, and I think what Oakland is suffering from is that it is a very attractive market for crime. You get your car stolen in Richmond or Concord and the cops show up promptly and make an effort to recover it, even taking fingerprints if they think it will help. In Oakland they tell you to mail a report in after you fill it out yourself. Which city would you choose to commit a crime in?

    Crime will always occur (unless we give Tom Cruze the command of an elite crime fighting unit that can see into the future) and what Oakland needs to do is make itself a less attractive target.

    The police always say that anything that deters a car thief and sends them to an easier target is good (the club, alarm system, giant dog in the back seat) so we just need to slap a big club on Oakland. If folks knew that there was a chance the person they tried to mug would be armed, that would probably do a lot to send those folks out of Oakland.

    Not that lots of people in our city don’t carry guns already… it would just be nice if some of them weren’t criminals.

  32. Max Allstadt


    About your first paragraph: EXACTLY. Unfortunately we have a situation where credible academics or statisticians won’t touch something that controversial. The ideal statistics to consider in my mind, in terms of causality, would be in high crime urban areas in red states, before and after CCW was implemented, or before and after CCW or open carry was banned. We already have crime stats before and after UK and Australian gun bans. Those stats show crime going up up up.

    If people could look at this with a hardcore rationalist, scientific mindset we’d be better off. I’m tired of seeing it as a debate between the NRA and Quakers.

  33. scottpark

    I would say if McCullough has a better understanding of the dynamics of street crime, what he should do is become a police officer–we sure need ‘em! Councilmembers do not, and cannot, direct or manage City staff, so it’s not like he’ll be deploying anyone; in fact, he will be legally prohibited from doing so. Public safety policy is extremely broad at the Council level, consisting mostly of deciding on budgets. I don’t think knowing the in’s and out’s of everything that’s gone on at 59th and Shattuck over the last 15 years really helps with that. But at the very least I am sure he could show some real empathy for folks fighting crime, since he’s been there. Relating is not a Brunner strong suit.

    Max, I don’t think McCullough’s “you bring a knife, I’ll bring a gun” story, as you outline, is really a success. It seems like a failure to me: McCullough gets messed with, he messes back, they mess back even more, and he messes back even more. If the 59th and Shattuck troubles were over, I’d perhaps give you something here, but it’s my understanding that things are still messed up, no?

  34. Max Allstadt

    I tend to agree with you about the escalation argument you just made, actually. Except for one thing: McCullough’s first act of “messing with” those thugs was calling the cops, no? Perhaps his mistake was that he should have kept a low profile and not publicly confronted the thugs. Maybe a better strategy would have been cowering in his house and waiting on hold for a dispatcher, and then waiting for the cops to show up long after the thugs were gone.

    Maybe he should have moved?

    What would you do if you had thugs selling dope on your block every day and the cops weren’t showing up fast enough, or couldn’t act when they did show up? I can’t really think of an option to McCullough’s actions other than capitulation.

  35. Surfways


    Pat has the people’s support not because he actually had the guts to shoot someone but because he has been talking about the issue of crime for a long time and will definitely put his energy, time, and focus in crime, unlike some of the other city council members.
    The others simply talk about it when election time comes along. Pat has been talking about it all along, he is more inline with our current concerns.

  36. scottpark


    Fair enough. I would say if I lived in some crappy neighborhood with thugs all around and an unresponsive police department, I would make my priority moving and not arming myself. I tend to think there is less harm done in my moving than there is my shooting someone, no matter how terrible that person may be. I understand the feeling that one’s home should be sacrosanct, and I know many people believe that much can be justified in rising to the defense of One’s Castle. I just don’t think where I live is all that important to my personal pride (certainly not enough to insist on living in an unpleasant place!) Not only because of the safety of me and my family, but because life is too darn short, faced with violent thugs I’d just get the heck out of dodge ASAP.

    I guess I just don’t think there is anything particularly admirable about staying in a crappy neighborhood. I appreciate folks who work hard in their community, but I really hope they are doing it for themselves first and foremost, because, ultimately, nobody cares where you live or why you live there. Most people who live in nice neighborhoods will profess admiration for folks who “manage” to stay in bad neighborhoods, but they are really not anyone’s personal heroes and most folks would not move into bad neighborhoods to be like them. That’s one reason why I think McCullough’s appeal is limited.

    Surfways, I don’t doubt McCullough has people’s support, but I think it remains to be seen if he has “the people’s” support. And I certainly hope I am not to vote for McCullough because he TALKS about crime more than anyone else…:)

  37. Max Allstadt

    Moving isn’t always an option, for people like you, me and McCullough it is. I find myself squarely between you and Pat on crime fighting philosophy. I’m not leaving Ghosttown. I all the cops. I’ve gotten to know them. My block is doing alright. It’s a relatively recent phenomenon and I hope it sticks.

    As for the whole McCullough vs. Brunner thing, you sure do know a lot about that race for someone who doesn’t live in the district… why so much attention? why a lawn sign for someone you can’t vote for?

  38. scottpark


    I live in the District, in Rockridge. Indeed, I would hope I would have more to do in my life if I didn;t!

  39. josh abrams

    I live in District 1, right on the D1/D3 border, I know a lot about both races… I can understand why scottpark would be aware of the race. I have to admit I always find it odd when someone out of a district has a lawn sign for somewhere else – but thats his business not mine.

    For me it comes down to knowing that Pat has crime as his highest priority – I don’t think he’ll let it slip through the cracks while he plays footsie with developers (i like developers a lot!) or piddles around building street furniture that nobody wanted.

    Most Oaklanders don’t keep track of what their councilmembers do and hold their feet to the fire – we hear from them around election time or when they decide to send out a newsletter bragging about how they’ve wasted our money on some pointless project — I feel that if Pat were elected he would keep working on Oakland’s crime problems without having to have citizens constantly nag at him.

  40. len raphael

    Pat McCullough and the v word:

    The irony in JB calling Pat the V word in her recent mailer, is that JB is criticizing him for following her oft repeated advice given at her town halls: “call the police whenever you see suspicious” persons/behavior/activity. (and those town hall meetings were frequent but 99% dog and pony shows with Brunner trotting out half a dozen cops to sit on their butts for an hour during prime crime time)

    Once upon a time in Rockridge, most of the time, if you called 911 the cops would come fairly quickly and arrest the bad guys. Now that probably takes anywhere from minutes to the half hour it took for police to respond to my false panic alarm on Desmond Street one day last year.

    Hopefully not a life or death matter, so maybe the suspicious character moves away to case the house down the block, mug your neigbor instead of you, etc. End of story.

    But where Pat lives on 59th between Tele and Shattuck, taking JB’s advice to call the cops can result in the bad guys taking your life. In Rockridge and Temescal it’s just “calling the cops”, in many parts of Oakland including Pat’s it’s called “snitching”.

    JB’s freeze on cop hiring in 2002 made it difficult to quickly respond to 911 calls, and impossible for the OPD to conduct survelliance operations so that neighbors like Pat didn’t have to risk their families’ lives by following JB’s advice to call the police to report drug dealing.

    -len raphael
    volunteer treasurer, McCullough for City Council

  41. len raphael

    Oakland Police Lt. Lawrence Green said about McCullough’s efforts to defend himself after a gang of teenage thugs entered his property and threatened his life (McCullough was never charged with any crime):

    “The reason that Patrick was assaulted by these suspects is that he stands up to drug dealers in a way that normal citizens do not.” (Berkeley Daily Planet, Dec. 9, 2005)

    And hear community activist and Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council leader Don Link:

    ‘First and foremost, the incident that took place at Pat McCullough’s residence was not a “vigilante shooting” but an act of self-defense by a man rushed on his own property by five or six young men, one of whom attacked him, aided by others who were throwing objects at and cornering him between his car and his house, 20 feet up his driveway’. (Berkeley Daily Planet commentary, Mar. 11, 2005)

  42. Stacey Jones


    I just spoke with Jean Quan who offered to assist me many years ago with my nonprofit. She informed me that I should speak to you because you are the Council person for the area where my nonprofit will be moving to. My name is Stacey jones and I am the founder and Executive Director for Family Life Improvement, ( FLI).
    I am going to Harvard for a two week program, for which I leave this weekend. This program is designed to equip community and economic development professionals for better mission conceptualization, information management, strategic planning, program performance, and partnership building with business, government, and industry. The underdstanding is that today’s community and economic development professionals must address complex issues related to jobs, housing, education, health, criminal justice, and social services and therefore a super structure is neccessary.
    With this training FLI will receive a well structured plan designed specifically for Oakland CA, and a certificate that the plan was created at Harvard. I would like to meet wit you to discuss this plan when I come back. Whether you are or are not interested please reply to FLI’s phone #510-569-4FLI(4354).

    I look forward to hearing from you or someone in your office.


    Stacey Jones

  43. TachaddenuenT


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    skoede pantebfev
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    Is this forum created on Nexys BBS ?