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Re: “Oakland Firefighters Say Their Department Is So Badly Managed, Ghost Ship Warehouse Wasn't Even In Its Inspection Database

Mr. BondGraham,

The police department is authorized to have 779 sworn officers, of which 746 are actually filled -- leaving 33 positions vacant. That is your "apples to apples" comparison. The total number of vacancies is 92 as I stated, which includes civilian employees such as dispatchers, crime analysts, records personnel, etc.

The source of the true data: OPD has prepared a Personnel Distribution Report for many years. It reflects reality.

The administrative report to which you link is flimflam. It says that the total sworn police positions is 685 when the City does have 746 officers. For years public discussion of OPD staffing has revolved around the number 800 officers: is that still too few (yes), will the City get to 800 soon, etc.

Anyone with experience observing Oakland government would find it highly exceptional that the City was almost fully staffed up to its budgeted police officer count. Haven't you read the routine news reports once or twice a year when a police academy graduates? The numbers always reveal that OPD is understaffed. And it has been reported many times that four or five officers on average retire and resign every month. To think that only two of our authorized police positions are vacant at a given moment is unreal.

Mr. BondGraham, consumed by your antagonism to the police department as shown in article after article, you let yourself accept a ridiculous number. Whatever the reason, the case remains that basic facts in your articles are unreliable.

Posted by Charlie Pine on 12/08/2016 at 9:28 AM

Re: “If Oakland Cracks Down On Underground Warehouses, It Will Snuff Out The City’s DIY Soul

JohnNoMoniker's seems fixated on discrediting views on this matter by assigning labels to people. Fortunately, he has graduated from "trolls" and "heartless jackasses" to "conservatives" vs. "progressive and radical."

One would think that someone who truly believes in a progressive and radical agenda would be inclusionary and embrace and honor diversity of opinion rather than hurling slurs against those he disagrees with. But, perhaps there is hope.

With regards to a dozen friends being evicted - perhaps they are now out of danger. If they need a place to stay, I am confident John will care for his friends and take them in.

Unfortunately, the rants from that poster say nothing about the actual subject at hand. Perhaps he means to distract from the issue as a tactic.

John: If you read the article - it not about people living in unsafe places. The article is about people throwing "rent parties, ad-hoc concerts in auto-body garages, and all-night DJ bacchanals." My advocacy is about doing this with safety and holding those that create these events to a higher standard that helps ensure the safety of all.

The points about poorly choosing to live being in unsafe places are separate remarks and I stand by them. Last time I checked, lack of personal accountability is not part and parcel to a progressive agenda.

Can you move away from ad hominem attacks and try to focus on the issues being debated here? I suspect you do not like these debates because it means not everyone agrees with you. But, perhaps you will surprise the readers here.

Posted by Michael Good on 12/08/2016 at 7:56 AM

Re: “Friends Remember Integral Bay Area Artists, Musicians, and Sound Engineers Still Missing after Ghost Ship Fire

You can only assume they perished because they were trying to help people?

That's how we're different. I assume some of them were high as kits and therefore disoriented in a situation that would have been terrifying and disorienting even to somebody who wasn't high on pot, speed, you name it. You assume they were helping. I assume they were high. Hey, maybe we're both right. A couple lucky ducks managed to avoid dying because they left to go buy booze!

When the truth comes out--and it will all come out--we need to know how many of the victims had drugs in their system, and cards for Food Stamps in their wallets and purses. Including Derick Almena. Was he collecting public benefits all this time while claiming he couldn't work (sad, tragic, self-centered bipolar hoarder) and those kids, were they being put up in a hotel by child protection services before the fire? Paid for by the taxpayers? And meanwhile they were flying to Bali and buying big, hand-carved wooden beds?

The irresponsible, drug-using, public benefits sucking, bad and immature lifestyle choices...all this needs to come out in the searing light of truth.

Posted by Charles C. Eroster on 12/08/2016 at 6:39 AM

Re: “An Open Letter to Our Community, From the Former Residents of the Recently Closed LoBot Gallery in West Oakland

There is a whole new level of relevant issues that need to be examined in the wake of this tragedy, and that is how many of these "artists" are working the system, getting food stamps and SSI and having their children taken care of by child protective services while partying and having fun while other, more responsible people have to work for a living.

Derrick Ion Almena and his wife...were they getting food stamps? Was he sucking down 100 percent disability for his rather obvious bipolar condition, claiming he couldn't work while managing this unsafe space, collecting rent, not fixing things...and then they'd fly off to Bali and party.

What were the kids doing in a hotel BEFORE the fire? Who was paying for that? Child protective services? Section 8? The taxpayers in some form or another?

And it's not just Derick. It's so many of these creative rebels who have their straws stuck into the great big chocolate milkshake of the system, sucking the system all day long while claiming to be such rebels...and the whole time, the system supports their bad lifestyle choices with food stamps, and disability payments, and taking care of their children in foster homes whole these irresponsible "adult children" party and smoke pot and, if they can be bothered to show up to vote, vote for an ever-larger welfare state.

When the Manson Family committed helter skelter, when the Hells Angels bashed heads at Altamount, that was the end of the era of the hippies and the free love...that was the death of the prolonged childhood of the hippy era.

Well, the grownups who believe in jobs and tightening borders and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps are taking over in January. And the "thriller love child" of Manson just marked the death of the era of Personal Non-Responsibility and privileged identity politics under Obama. The examination of what happened here, it is bigger than Oakland. The whole nation is finding symbolic meaning in what happened.

Posted by Charles C. Eroster on 12/08/2016 at 6:30 AM

Re: “If Oakland Cracks Down On Underground Warehouses, It Will Snuff Out The City’s DIY Soul

I think people need to look hard at what is DIY and what are its sensible limits.

When it comes to sewing a patch on a jacket, can I do it myself or learn to do it? Sure. When it comes to doing my own electrical work, can I? Should I? If I have NO FREAKING IDEA what I'm doing? Clearly not.

This is the ugly, deadly downside of taking DIY too far...ignoring rules and laws and focusing on fun and creativity instead of mundane, necessary WORK and being a GROWN UP.

How much of this "scene" survives by sucking public benefits out of the "system" they bash with every breath? Were Derick Almena and his wife getting food stamps? SSI for his rather obvious bipoloar condition? Were the child protective services paying for a hotel room right before the fire? Or long before that?

It's time the pendulum swung in the other direction...the direction of regulation and safety and acting like a grownup and following rules.

Posted by Charles C. Eroster on 12/08/2016 at 6:20 AM

Re: “'I'm Going To Get My Gun': Event Organizers at Ghost Ship Accused Derick Almena of Theft, Threats

In regard to who paid for the hotel...another news story in this same edition says NBC paid for that posh hotel. But if the kids were staying at a hotel the night of the fire, as they reportedly were, who paid for THAT hotel? My guess is since there was a child custody case going on, somehow the state was paying. The parents (Derick and his wife) were not considered unfit, but their living space was unsafe. So who was paying for a hotel BEFORE the fire? Probably child services. Somebody needs to dig into that.

In addition to multiple counts of manslaughter, criminal negligence resulting in death, violating multiple building codes, I think there also needs to be an investigation into whether this individual was collecting any public assistance (food stamps, SSI, etc) while partying in Bali and all the other well-documented irresponsible behavior.

But as to why this stuff was never followed you know how many low-level nutcase threat-balls there are in Oakland and California and the world, generally? Law enforcement and the courts are overwhelmed with stuff. Nothing this guy was doing with low-level crime, threats, etcetera was all that notable, unfortunately.

What should have been on the radar of public officials was the death trap party space. It looks like there was an unofficial policy of benign neglect and not cracking down on artists living in these illegal spaces. Like, a building inspector went to the property...but then he just went away?

You know who is really going to pay, here? The landlord. The landlord is the only "deep pocket" in the mix. The government officials have various forms of legal immunity. The landlord is probably going to lose everything.

I would also like to point out that the behavior of Mr. Derick Ion Almena, from his creativity to his unpredictability to his utterly self-centered behavior and especially his cluttering, this all screams bipolar. He's probably been collecting SSI for a long time and using it to support his bad lifestyle choices.

Posted by Charles C. Eroster on 12/08/2016 at 5:42 AM

Re: “NBC Paid for Ghost Ship Operator Derick Almena's Hotel Room During Exclusive Interview

Dig deeper. I think it would be good to know whether Derick and his wife were getting public assistance for years and years while partying in Bali and buying great big hand-carved wooden beds from Bali, and growing pot...this whole time were they getting food stamps? Claiming some disability and sucking off the taxpayers through SSI?

In fact, it would be good to check the "public assistance background" of everybody who died there...except for the 17-year-old, a minor, may he rest in peace.

Thank goodness the GROWN UPS will be taking over this country at the presidential swearing in, and working a job, obeying the law, generally acting like an adult will be the new normal.

Posted by Charles C. Eroster on 12/08/2016 at 5:33 AM

Re: “Oakland Firefighters Say Their Department Is So Badly Managed, Ghost Ship Warehouse Wasn't Even In Its Inspection Database

Somehow people keep ignoring the bottom line problem when it comes to leadership at the City of Oakland. MEASURE X needs to be repealed. Mayor Schaaf is a nice person and tries hard, but at the end of the day, just because you can get 50 % of the 30% of citizens who vote to check the box next to your name does not qualify you to run a city. Running the day to day operation of a city the size of Oakland is complicated and should be done by a trained, educated and experienced City Manager. Being Mayor is political not technical or professional. The problems in Oakland with leadership in many areas are a direct result of weak and inexperienced people in key executive management positions. Trained experienced top level managers in the workforce will never ever be interested in working in a place like Oakland because they recognize dysfunction and are not interested in working for Mayors and administrators who are political and do not know what they are doing. Without the change I am suggesting, this will never get better. Jerry Brown was a unique candidate when Measure X was adopted in 1998. Not one of the Mayors elected since has been even close to being capable of running a City. When Robert Bobb was the City Manager in charge of the day to day operation, qualified and experienced professionals in all areas of the organization were flocking to Oakland. Since X was adopted, Bobb resigned and the City Administrator, with less authority, now works for the Mayor, the quality of managers and level of services to the citizens has gone down each and every year. The structure of the organization mandated by Measure X is set up for this to continue and trust me it will continue to get worse.

Posted by Gary Patton on 12/08/2016 at 5:14 AM

Re: “Stop Blaming Artists and Musicians for the Ghost Ship Fire. Blame People In Power Who Screwed Up.

By the way, Conan Neutron, the proper spelling is "here, here."

Posted by Charles C. Eroster on 12/08/2016 at 4:55 AM

Re: “Stop Blaming Artists and Musicians for the Ghost Ship Fire. Blame People In Power Who Screwed Up.

I keep reading in various editorials about how these artists were "just trying to survive." How is making art "surviving?" Some guy who is living under a bridge, with substance abuse and PTSD issues, that guy is trying to survive in his illegal living space...but this situation wasn't about "survival." This is about never growing up and wanting to keep playing with finger paints while the other kids are doing math, science, and lining up en mass get their participation trophies. Here's a really unpopular question. How many of the dead were getting public assistance checks every month while they were out partying? Including the managers, Derek and his wife, who could barely manage to hang on to their children? And yet there are stories of them going off to Bali, of owning great big beds hand-carved of wood, from Bali, of growing pot...leaving the kids for days at a time with the babysitter while they went off and partied. Most of these participants weren't "just trying to survive." They were partying, and now society pays for the party. Society has, in fact, been paying for their party for a long time. Now the firemen and the coroners and all the GROWN UPS who work for a living have to get up at the ringing of the alarm clock and work, work, work to fix this mess. If there's a crackdown on illegal artist spaces, not just in Oakland but all over the nation....well, it's about time the grownups took charge. For the record, I don't cast any blame on the 17-year-old that died. He was a kid and could be expected to act like a kid. Everybody else...they took a risk, and sometimes when you play, you pay.

Posted by Charles C. Eroster on 12/08/2016 at 4:53 AM

Re: “Stop Blaming Artists and Musicians for the Ghost Ship Fire. Blame People In Power Who Screwed Up.

Where do people get the idea that artists should be given affordable housing ahead of manual laborers, low-level office workers, etc.? They don't seem to realize how elitist this sounds.

Posted by MorganJones on 12/08/2016 at 1:23 AM

Re: “Oakland Firefighters Say Their Department Is So Badly Managed, Ghost Ship Warehouse Wasn't Even In Its Inspection Database

Charlie Pine,

I relied on the city administration's October 24, 2016 Semi-Annual Vacancy Report.

It shows that the Oakland Police Department currently has only 2 vacant sworn police officer positions.

The Fire Department has 63 sworn firefighter positions vacant right now, according to that same report.

Another document I have from the Fire Department shows that they filled one position since then, bringing their sworn staffing vacancy to 62.

I'm comparing apples to apples.

I invite readers to review the document here:…

Posted by Darwin BondGraham on 12/07/2016 at 10:39 PM

Re: “If Oakland Cracks Down On Underground Warehouses, It Will Snuff Out The City’s DIY Soul

Oh, ps. Mr. Good: As you make your declarations about what needs to be done, over a dozen of my friends have been evicted from their already-precarious living situations in the last 24 hours, a result of this witch hunt. More will follow, and all the city is offering is a grant aimed at professional artists who know how to game the system.

Posted by JohnNoMoniker on 12/07/2016 at 9:37 PM

Re: “If Oakland Cracks Down On Underground Warehouses, It Will Snuff Out The City’s DIY Soul

Michael Good: You have a right to your opinions, and I have a right to assert that I (and I suspect many others) find your opinions to be quite conservative, your vote for Clinton (not exactly a progressive though admittedly better than a neo-fascist) notwithstanding. By pointing this out, I am noting that you (and many of the reactionaries commenting on this issue) and your views should be considered as part of a philosophical agenda that is at odds with the city's long progressive and radical tradition, and can't be viewed as some kind of neutral "voice of the people" as comment thread denizens often give an impression of - you are consistently projecting conservative viewpoints, and by doing so in a public forum you are being inherently political and should be judged based on your leanings thereof. Like many conservatives, you seem to imply that your ramblings are "common sense", but that sense is common to your worldview only.

Posted by JohnNoMoniker on 12/07/2016 at 9:06 PM

Re: “Oakland Firefighters Say Their Department Is So Badly Managed, Ghost Ship Warehouse Wasn't Even In Its Inspection Database

This expose is marred by a blatant falsehood that makes one wonder: "The Oakland Police Department has only two vacant positions." The current OPD personnel report, prepared Nov. 28, 2016, details 92 unfilled positions. So much for Mr. BondGraham's crude attempt to set OPD against OFD. What other basic facts did he get wrong?

Posted by Charlie Pine on 12/07/2016 at 8:50 PM

Re: “An Open Letter to Our Community, From the Former Residents of the Recently Closed LoBot Gallery in West Oakland

Here's the deal... Members of the community, all about safe spaces, knew about the conditions at Ghost Ship and the operator (see other articles right here on EBX)... And said nothing/did nothing.

LoBot operated, by their own admission for 13 years, and somehow never bothered to advise/press the existing building owner for needed repairs. After the building changed hands, they self reported to the city to force the new owner to make the long overdue repairs (I read the articles right here on EBX)... And the building was bad enough it was red flagged! The city told them to fix it, and they basically tore it down. While I've never seen a statement from the building owner, I suspect the building was so bad that's what had to be done. Not surprising as it was vacant and decaying in '96 when I moved to West Oakland as was most of the area.

The sad and simple fact is it was advantageous for these people to operate this way... The property owner and the lease holder. They built and sold illusion of safety. Those who didn't go along got subtle and not so subtle enforcement with little or no recourse. Things that are underground seem to always go that way. Bullies thrive in secrecy, in the underground.

Tove has it dead right. Get politically active. Stop throwing temper tantrums and make a difference. I know when I voted this year, I had to swallow the vomit and we still got the horror... But I did it because NOT doing it was NOT standing against it.

The city doesn't have the money it needs. It sure isn't going to get it from the art community, nor will it come from the poor or dwindling middle class; there just isn't enough there. If we keep playing "We're different and you're the other", all we do divide and expose the ever smaller groups the the vicious bullies of the world... And they win. Get in the solution. Marching isn't it.

Posted by Bruce Ferrell on 12/07/2016 at 8:06 PM

Re: “An Open Letter to Our Community, From the Former Residents of the Recently Closed LoBot Gallery in West Oakland

I know a manager at one of the local Bank of America branches who is always looking for young people who want a start in the banking and finance industry. Why not stop in and inquire? It can't hurt to ask. Then you could do your artwork at night and in the evenings. I did the very thing as a young man, carving models of WWII battleships from wood that the local furniture maker saved for me. You know, odds and ends that he couldn't use. Once a year I always presented one of my better pieces, just to say 'thanks'.

Posted by Francesco on 12/07/2016 at 5:33 PM

Re: “Stop Blaming Artists and Musicians for the Ghost Ship Fire. Blame People In Power Who Screwed Up.

I think if the artists and musicians made an outreach to local churches and businesses, they could broaden and diversity their community. I know the church just down the street is always looking for new voices in their choir.

Posted by Francesco on 12/07/2016 at 5:25 PM

Re: “If Oakland Cracks Down On Underground Warehouses, It Will Snuff Out The City’s DIY Soul

Why don't the artists make Christmas ornaments and wreaths that they can sell to make money for rent? You know, things that people want and need, things they can relate to.

Posted by Francesco on 12/07/2016 at 5:20 PM

Re: “Stop Blaming Artists and Musicians for the Ghost Ship Fire. Blame People In Power Who Screwed Up.

Bullshit. This was a cult, like so many others in the SF Bay Area, and the denial surrounding it is so pervasive even the press is in on it. I am neither surprised or saddened, but relieved there's even a small chance some exposure may finally be able to happen. With 36 dead, I think you all ought to be ashamed, and The East Bay Express in particular. Where are the adults in this part of the world? It's sick,...

Posted by The Crack Emcee 1 on 12/07/2016 at 4:24 PM

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