So in last week’s East Bay Express, Robert Gammon had a story about the redevelopment agency buying some property out in East Oakland for more than they should have (I mentioned the sale last Monday). What could have been an opportunity to highlight some of the ineptness of Oakland’s bureaucracy instead devolves into a bizarre (and unclear) conspiracy theory involving Ignacio De La Fuente. I haven’t looked into the details of the ownership changes on this piece of property or the history of the City’s acquisition plans, nor do I plan to. But when I read the story, one line in particular made my eyebrows jump:
The city’s plans were supposedly a secret at the time he bought the land. In fact, they weren’t made public until Fanelli told Full Disclosure about them last week.
Ugh. Ridiculous! This property purchase was introduced to the City Council in a public meeting at Rules Committee (PDF!) on May 1st! On June 10th, more than a week before Gammon’s article was published, the Council’s Finance & Management Committee discussed the purchase in a public meeting at City Hall where anyone was free to come and speak on it. The City had a report (PDF!) on the sale available to anyone who had an internet connection (or walked into the clerk’s office and asked for it) since May 29th! In what way is this not being “made public”?
Gross errors like this are infuriating. You know, from Gammon’s story, the whole thing really does sound like a waste of money. But when I’m just casually reading the article and I see a major assertion that I happen to know is simply not true at all, it really makes me wonder why should I believe anything else in the whole article. I mean, the entire premise of the story is that the City’s intent to acquire the land was a secret. And according to Gammon, it was still a secret until he uncovered it after it had been discussed in public hearings! If he’s wrong about something fundamental to the premise of the story, why should we assume he’s right about the rest of it? Careless factual errors like this are not acceptable in the media! I’ve complained at length before about how irresponsible it is for Ron Dellums to go out of his way to try and foster distrust of the press among Oakland’s residents. And I still think it’s irresponsible. But when I read things like this, I find it very difficult not to sympathize.