Sean Sullivan: Help support A Better Oakland. Give today.

For the last two years, a growing cast of thousands have flocked to this site, aptly named A Better Oakland. Here we have found an amazing advocate and Oakland devotee in V Smoothe, who dedicates a staggering amount of time to educating us about the detailed dysfunction of our city and the possible pathways towards a city that lives up to its promise. Indeed, the blog often reads like a love letter to a a betrothed who just won’t get up, shower, put on a tie and go get that job.

We come here to his site to find everything we need to know about what is going on in our fair city by the bay. We love Oakland and we love the advocacy for sound planning and policy-making that is so often displayed in its writing. To the constant surprise and astonishment of her readers, V Smoothe turns up, posting after posting, so much data and so much research to validate her points. And if you are inclined to disagree, there are the links for you to get to the same data and draw your own conclusion. Then you can comment, have at it, all on her dime, all after she has done the hard work and heavy lifting.

And that isn’t the only reason why you come to this site. It’s also because the writing is so smart, punchy and fluid. I won’t say it makes up for the depressing and dry coverage that Oakland gets from much of the local media, but it really does captivate you. If you have the time and are clever enough to keep abreast of other national blogs and pop culture you can find sly, topical references throughout her posts. From her National review/Rich Lowry-esque send up of the Rebecca Kaplan-Kerry Hamill debate, to her Gossip Girl take on a simple Community Development Block Grant committee election (which is my favorite post ever and I admit to reading it once a week since last October), you can see the pure genius and dedication she has to keeping us all aware, involved, and entertained.

I know this blog has great reach, and not simply because V Smoothe’s numbers are trackable and range from 3,000-6,000 unique visitors per week. I know because last year when I was walking around the 3rd district I found myself on Mead street, a street I had usually avoided. Drugs and violence are rampant on that particular block, and were on this day. But when one twentysomething pregnant woman came to the door, I started to go into my pitch and she stopped me “Oh, I know who you are. I read A Better Oakland every day.” Even in our most battered neighborhoods, this blog is having an effect, educating and inspiring.

So after two years of ever expanding and well written coverage, I ask, how much is this all worth to you? Yes, the economy is challenged and that the city of Oakland is in duress but there are always reasons to limit you. It’s just like Oakland, you can sit and talk about its potential like so many do or you can step up and do something about it.

Join me in making a $100 contribution to A Better Oakland, or $500, $50, $10, or whatever you can afford. As the future of journalism is debated in other media, do your part to preserve a real investigative treasure right here in Oakland. Give today.

32 thoughts on “Sean Sullivan: Help support A Better Oakland. Give today.

  1. V Smoothe

    Today is marks two years since my first post on this blog. In that time, I’ve had a fair number of people ask me to put up a donate button, and I’ve resisted doing so for a variety of reasons. But writing this blog really takes an enormous amount of time, and if some people want to show their appreciation for that effort, well, who am I to stop them? So I’m finally giving in.

    And of course, thanks to Sean for making the pitch for me.

  2. OnTheGoJo/Joanna

    Sean – great post! I know just how hard it is to do this, so kudos to V for lasting more than two years. :)

    V – I’ve been telling you that you need to get paid for the hard work that you do. Cheers to finally letting people donate so that you can spend even more time telling us how we can make for A Better Oakland.

  3. Sierra

    Done! I moved to Oakland last July and have been lurking here for quite some time. I’ve come to rely on this blog to break it all down for me. Thank you so much for your work and for giving us a chance to donate.

  4. AC

    Thanks, V. I’m glad I get to donate a little to your efforts.
    And thanks, Sean, for writing such a great post.

  5. dto510

    Happy anniversary V! You’ve been doing an incredible job informing and educating. Without you, I don’t think anyone would have any idea what’s going on with the budget, for example; with the MSM fabricating an anti-police budget, there would be no way for citizens to engage in this important budget process without reading your blog. You do a great service and we’re all very appreciative.

  6. greg mcconnell

    Of course I will donate and I am more than happy to do so. V, you are doing a fantastic amount of good for the City of Oakland. Even on those occasions where we may not see eye to eye, I appreciate your candor and personal integrity. I certainly hope you did not delay taking donations for fear that anyone would think they could compromise you. Only a lunatic would try to compromise you with a donation

    Keep up the good work this city needs you.

  7. Jim T

    I held out for that matching challenge. =) Thank you, to you V, and to Becks for the matching, and to this entire community which really is helping to make…a better oakland.

  8. Gene

    Donated, and happily so. Oakland is a better place because of V’s work on A Better Oakland. The name fits :-)

  9. Cat

    Glad to have the opportunity to support your painstaking efforts, V! You make our community better and help me be a more informed citizen– thank you.

  10. VivekB

    Becks, hope you don’t mind, but I just blatantly plagiarized your matching grant idea (and approach) on the forums. Not to worry, I gave you full credit for the idea.

    Ok folks, go crazy, there’s now two matching grants for donations. Go, ABO, go!

  11. VivekB

    oh, happy anniversary btw. outstanding job, much better reporting than most professional reporters. No idea how you find the time…

  12. Patrick

    I agree with everyone. I don’t know how you find the time, but I am eternally grateful. Because of this site, I feel so much more involved with the city in which I live. Truly inspiring.

  13. Joe DeCredico

    I am pleased to support the incredible time and energy you spend stimulating important conversations about Oakland.

  14. ann

    Dear V,

    Great budget analysis! I learned so much, as soon as I have some cash I’ll send some your way. Educating adults is difficult, educating politicians is nearly impossible thank you so much.

  15. Becks

    That’s great Vivek, and anyone else should feel free to copy me. Though I need to correct one thing – I’m not sure why so many people in the blogoaksphere seem to think otherwise, but I’m female.

  16. VivekB

    eh, ooops, sorry about that. When I hear Becks, two things come to mind:
    1) The male singer
    2) The beer

    Disculpe, Senorita :-)

  17. VivekB

    So what was the 48 hour total? You can email me if you don’t want to publish publicly, I need to click that link myself with an amount.

  18. SF2OAK

    Sean what’s your analysis of why you lost to the Noodle and what are you doing now?

  19. Sean Sullivan


    Thank you for questions.
    I think your first one was about why we were not victorious when I ran for Council last year. My analysis is twofold: beating an incumbent is very difficult and we started too late. I think the latter made the first point more prevalent. While I always had interest in public service, I had no plan to run at all even a year out. Though Ralph and others like to chide me about this story it’s true. I had not considered throwing my hat into the ring for the 2008 election until asked by a neighbor who happened to be a longstanding friend whom I met through the loss of her son. Following her suggestion, I thought about it for a few weeks, and one morning in October 2007 turned to my boyfriend and said “I think I should run for Oakland City Council” The rest, including his incredible devotion, door walking and campaign coordination, is history. I immediately began doing what I do best. I raised money and raised over $62,000. We came out of nowhere and came within 137 votes of forcing a runoff. I am proud of what we did and what we were able to accomplish. A whole new generation is involved and taking action.

    The very next day after the election Equality California offered me a job as the Director of Development. Since then, I have been crisscrossing the state. First for raising money against Prop 8 and we raised $14 million towards No on 8. Since Prop 8′s passing, I have been crisscrossing the state working to build infrastructure for the future. Saturday I was in Palm Springs, in an hour its off to Sacramento. It’s been demanding and led some to wonder if I am still involved in daily life in Oakland.

    The election really inspired me to deepen that involvement and so to that end, I was elected with an ethnically and culturally diverse slate of twenty-forty-somethings, homeowners & renters alike to District 3′s CDBG board. That body elected me to serve on the Oakland Community Action Partnership-you know the agency with all the billboards up about foreclosure prevention and free tax help. (I Think Billboards are very effective medium for getting the word out, in case you haven’t guessed.) I serve on the board of the Khadafy Foundation, am helping the Attitudunal Healing Connection with planning for their annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration, am helping fulfill a campaign promise to bring a dog park to the edge of Lake Merritt and expect to advise the organizations that our CDBG committee recommended for funding once that commences on July 1st. Additionally, I am in the 2nd year of my presidency of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Golden Gate Chapter. When that ends in January I expect to be even more involved and present in our great city. Until then, I like many others keep abreast of everything in Oakland through this site. Your continued support is still needed and appreciated. Give today.

  20. dogtownguy

    I’d urge anyone interested in “supporting” Sean Sullivan to pay close attention to what he has tried to do in his short residency in West Oakland. He us supported by Dogtown Development interests, and is a strong supporter of ALliance Metals. AS far as most of the residents of Sean’s newly chosen neighborhood are concerned, he is toxic to the wellbeing of our community.

  21. Ralph

    Sean Sullivan, toxic? I can’t say that I have ever seen those 2 words thrown together in the same sentence.

  22. Andrew Watkins


    That punk Jay, who runs Alliance Metals, came to City Council with a bunch of homeless addicts that he bribed with fast food to support him. Nadel voted for what Alliance wanted even though it was bad for the neighborhood. Who’s toxic?