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Re: “Letters for the Week of December 14, 2016

I asked Schaaf via FB, if she raised the issue of racist mascots with any NFL owners. No response. I concur, she is a liar and hires worse: Peggy Moore.
Where does the buck stop? (from one who spent 12 years in iffy warehouse spaces in Berkeley and Emeryville for my band. The buck did not stop with Jerry Brown-Ron Dellums and hopefully one-termer Schaaf. Anyone remember when Brown deigned to attend a Council meeting to vote against a 10% low income set aside in buildings seeking height or other zoning variances? At the time, Emeryville and Berkeley had 20% low income set asides. A reason I can afford to live in Arreguin country. We have taken Berkeley back from Bates and his billionaire developer friends. I guess that $$ goes to Skinner and Schaaf now>
Libby Schaaf: Fire the lying, violent, opportunist Peggy Moore before she incorporates you into her game. John Iversen

looks like a great Xpress issue!

Posted by John Tango Iversen on 12/14/2016 at 1:06 PM

Re: “Oakland Tenants Say Eviction Notices on Rise After Ghost Ship, Call on City Hall For Moratorium

Your estimate on those warehouses is WAY HIGH. The one that burned had an assessed value of a mere 43k and it looks like one of the bigger and more valuable buildings.

Assume 100,000 per building times ten. A mere 1 million to divide 36 ways!!! Not including a coupke of injured people.

Your numbers or mine may be off. We need sone actual figures to make this discussion more productive. But I assert 5 million per building is way way high.

Posted by Charles C. Eroster on 12/14/2016 at 8:38 AM

Re: “Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf on President Trump: 'Move Beyond Anger to Action'

The mayor says. "Oaklanders can rest assured that our government will continue to protect all its residents and defend our progressive values." She needs a good long look in the mirror. Scores died in an unsafe warehouse turned into apartments and artists' center, just 500 feet from a firehouse. Why and how? Basic municipal duties for safe building codes was not a priority while clamoring to be among world leaders on climate change. Abject failure in governing.

Posted by Willard Helander on 12/14/2016 at 8:17 AM

Re: “Oakland Tenants Say Eviction Notices on Rise After Ghost Ship, Call on City Hall For Moratorium

let's assume a market value of 5 million per warehouse, open market value, crappy or not. Not an unreasonable figure.

We can now postulate 50 million. Lawyers get paid FIRST, not after the plaintiff. Doesn't leave "much" for the families. No, it doesn't, less than a million per. But lawyers don't really care.

As to protected by the corporate veil, no problem. The corporation get's sued, not Mr Ng. Value is still vested in the corporation and the property still goes. Separate corporation per building is stupid. It increases tax liabilities to the state and city.

But this isn't a discussion about one particular property holder, it's the general concept that one who owns one or more properties can be held liable for the actions of the lessee and unless s/he is a complete idiot had better make sure it's being run correctly in the light of what happened at ghost ship. Same as if you loan you car to someone. You can and WILL be held liable if they do something stupid with your car and they have no assets. This is why you have insurance. Of course, if you didn't assure they had insurance your insurance run's for the hills leaving you naked.

Posted by Bruce Ferrell on 12/14/2016 at 4:23 AM

Re: “Oakland Tenants Say Eviction Notices on Rise After Ghost Ship, Call on City Hall For Moratorium

The property owner--Chor Ng--owns about 10 buildings. Ok, let's assume those assets are vulnerable to lawsuit...not parceled into separate corporations behind unpiercable corporate veils. Let's assume.

Take the value of 10 somewhat crappy buildings divided among 36 victims minus 30 or 40 percent to the lawyers.

Guess what? It isn't much money. A lawyer might even hesitate to take the case, wondering if he will actually get paid. One need hardly add...but I will...many of the victims had little earning capacity so that reduces damages for the loss of life...though that is more than offset by enormous pain and suffering so it's a wash.

The pressing question that could change this equation of NOT ENOUGH VALUE IN CHOR NG'S ASSETS...

What insurance policies, if any, covered those buildings?

Posted by Charles C. Eroster on 12/13/2016 at 10:59 PM

Re: “Oakland Tenants Say Eviction Notices on Rise After Ghost Ship, Call on City Hall For Moratorium

Unfortunately lawyers look at the fire as a bonanza too. The operator *may* be what is known as judgment proof... But property owner isn't and CAN ultimately be held liable at tremendous costs.

Calling for the property owner to NOT assure the property is being operated correctly is just not real or reasonable. The inspections should proceed. Evictions are a whole different issue and have to be addressed differently.

Those are probably being done by the operators or the property owner may be vacating the lease issued to the operator. For all intents and purposes the landlord is the lease holder. If the lease holder is operating the property under condition other than the ones s/he stated in the contract... Now we come to the insurance company... Which then vacates any liability insurance the owner holds.

Unicorns and elf pee are wonderful, but just because we don't like these things, doesn't mean they go away. In the wild, I can plug my ears, shout LA LA LA LA LA YOU don't exist, but the lion will still eat me.

Posted by Bruce Ferrell on 12/13/2016 at 10:26 PM

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

Francesco writes: "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?.... Then you could do your artwork at night."

That means assuming that what B of A does is more worthwhile than what artists do, and must be assigned higher priority -- with creativity relegated to whatever time's left over. However, such values can also be seen as those of a warped corporate system that's increasingly totalitarian as it crowds out other options (and demands more and more of our time and attention).

Under the circumstances, it's no wonder that people start looking for workarounds -- some more viable than others. I might suggest driving for Lyft or Uber rather than working at B of A, but there are problems with that as well. Unfortunately, all the alternatives are makeshift.

Posted by Mitchell Halberstadt on 12/13/2016 at 12:38 AM

Re: “The Art of Canvassing

JLEV, I definitely see your point. However, like all employees, we canvassers bring in more money than it costs to pay us, making us beneficial assets to our organizations. Being in oceans saving whales is true activism no doubt, but funds need to be raised to send that boat out there. The reason our organizations pay us to be put there is because people don't donate online. They just don't. However they do give on the street when "harassed" as you put it. We give people the push to part ways with some cash and help an issue they feel passionate about but aren't motivated enough to become a part of in their free time. If no one "harassed" people on the streets people would cling to their money and these organizations would have no budget and the Japanese whalers would be killing whales. We ask for monthly donations so we can budget out campaigns. Just like people who get jobs need a guaranteed monthly income to budget their expenses. Also you seem to have a problem with giving a canvasser your credit card but ok with giving it to the orgs website, where the same people get hijack it. I'm unclear how giving me your card on the street is different to giving it to they barista in Starbucks 25 ft away from me under a roof.

Posted by ckelley72 on 12/12/2016 at 7:39 PM

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

Here. Everybody can read her resume here.

Yes, she was a captain at one point, but she rose beyond that. But please note the three awards listed, as follows:
Chief Reed has received many awards during her professional career, including the NAACP Henry Gage Senior Excellence in Leadership Award, the IABPFF Black Chief Officers Committee Metro Lifetime Achievement Award and the Martin Luther King Associations Public Safety and Service Award.

Each of the three awards listed is a "diversity" award. It's not an award for brilliance or competence, but an award for being "diverse" and rising to a prominent position. Also, note her education, as follows:


She holds an Associate in General Education Degree from Evergreen Valley College, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Organizational Leadership from Mountain State University and holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration from National University.


Evergreen Valley College? Are you serious? Mountain State University? And the so-called "National University?" Does that last one even have actual bricks and mortar?

More "diversity" achievements listed here:
Chief Reed serves on the Black Chief Officers Committee of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters on the California Fire Chiefs Cultural Diversity Committee and is an active member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

More emphasis on "diversity."

Is there a damn Let's Make Sure Every Building Is Actually In The Fire Department Database And Gets Inspected More Often Than Once Every Thirty Years Committee?

I guess not.

Posted by Charles C. Eroster on 12/12/2016 at 7:08 PM

Re: “Richmond Mayor Calls Out Legendary Punk House Burnt Ramen As City's 'Own Ghost Ship,' Residents Fear Eviction

Regarding homelessness...why homeless people choose to be in a particular area is much more complicated than saying anybody homeless in Oakland got evicted from housing in Oakland. That is balony.

And hell yes...homeless congregate near some places where there are resources. Some cities quietly buy them a bus ticket out of is called "Greyhound therapy."

A place like Fargo, North Dakota actually sees seasonal homeless people...more homeless people in summer but they go someplace warmer in winter...not like they are taking a vacation but for pure survival.

You go to any hip and artsy business section near a large campus and homeless are always there scoring meals and change. How? Were they all evicted from places around campus? No. They congregated near resources.

There is no housing crisis in the Bay Area or anywhere in the US. Can't afford housing in the Bay Area? I can't afford to live in Beverly Hills, though i would like I have a "housing crisis"?

You know what i call gentrification in Oakland?


Posted by Charles C. Eroster on 12/12/2016 at 3:29 PM

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

Bea Burg, Fire Chief Reed was an Assistant Fire Chief when she retired from San Jose. There is NO WAY a city the size of Oakland would hire a Captain to be it's Fire Chief. That's just ridiculous. Get your facts strait before throwing someone under the bus.

Posted by Kaytux on 12/12/2016 at 12:22 PM

Re: “Richmond Mayor Calls Out Legendary Punk House Burnt Ramen As City's 'Own Ghost Ship,' Residents Fear Eviction

Hey CHARLES C. EROSTER, maybe we should give these spaces more positive names, like, "Winning Lottery Ticket" or "Free Hamburgers Forever" or "Nothing Bad Ever Happens."

Posted by Sam Smith on 12/12/2016 at 10:37 AM

Re: “Richmond Mayor Calls Out Legendary Punk House Burnt Ramen As City's 'Own Ghost Ship,' Residents Fear Eviction

Charles, Charles, act like everyone living in a tent on the street simply gets to *choose* where to be homeless. I worked at a homeless shelter in Maine, long lines of people around the block waiting for food in January, February, waiting in blizzards to get a chance to eat and not freeze to death. But wait, they were there because it was a 'great place to be homeless', correct? They simply just buy a plane ticket, fly to wherever's hip, and set up shop, no hardship or misfortune involved, right? Your lack of compassion and empathy reflects a sociopathic disregard for the lives of those less fortunate than you.

Posted by JakobIan on 12/12/2016 at 9:09 AM

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

The video posted by Che Pressnall is the song "Dirty Laundry."

Here is a more informative video. A walk-through tour of the Ghost Ship taken by a former resident.

This video of the interior and people jamming to music, etc. is also very informative.

Check out a portion of that video at about 26:09 where somebody who is jamming on a musical instrument takes his cigarette and jams into into a crevice of a statute of a Hindu God and leaves it there burning.

Posted by Charles C. Eroster on 12/12/2016 at 8:12 AM

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

First black female fire chief of a major city.

Was she hired for her qualifications or so the Mayor could put another politically correct feather in her cap of diversity? Are we even allowed to QUESTION such a thing?

Posted by Charles C. Eroster on 12/12/2016 at 7:21 AM

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

"Harm reduction."

Like handing out free needles because people are going to do heroin one way or another, so give them clean needles.

Actually enforcing laws against fire traps and against illegal, unsafe housing situations remains the best "harm reduction" of all in this instance.

Posted by Charles C. Eroster on 12/12/2016 at 6:31 AM

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

Some of the victims had jobs. But if you analyze each one, and their so-called jobs, you see a pattern where in a number of instances these jobs weren't really, well, adult jobs where you make a living and have a responsible grown up life.

For example, a couple of the victims worked at a campus radio station. Well, that's not a real job. That's like a student job. It's a couple weeks before FINALS all over the country...and these two were at a rave party. Your tax dollars at work for Pell Grants and federally subsidized student loans. I assert my policy tweak again. The government should stop subsidizing "useless college majors" like arts and communications. Only subsidize English majors if they agree to get a teaching certificate so they at least have THAT much to fall back upon. No subsidizing of Spanish majors, ever. We have a sufficient number of people who can speak Spanish.

But back to the victims and how they afforded their rock and roll lifestyle choices.

Let's consider the lawyer. Well, he'd just accepted a job as a lawyer. So he'd probably just gotten ready to take a bar exam in January and there was an assumption he would pass the bar...or he'd taken his bar back in June and he was just now getting a job as a lawyer. In any case, articles say he'd JUST BEEN HIRED at a prestigious law firm.

This guy is actually an economic worse-case scenario. He has just finished with 12 years of free public education, 4 years of undergraduate education, and 3 years of law school and a couple months studying for the bar exam. He was just about to start a real career and start being a productive citizen and begin paying taxes, having a career, etc. This guy likely died with SIX FIGURES of outstanding student loans.

And it gets worse, where the lawyer is concerned, because with his finely-trained legal mind, and all the emphasis in law school on reasoning and prudence and having good judgment, this guy should have turned around inside the front door, thinking, "No prudent person would be at this fire death trap rave party." But there he was.

Lawsuits will come out of this situation, obviously. Responsibility will be parceled out in "joint and several liability." So percentages of responsibility will be assigned. I'm guessing it will go something like this:

The landlord Chor Ng. 40 percent responsible.

Derick Almena and his wife. 40 percent responsible.

Each of the victims: 20 percent responsible for their own deaths.

But there will be two exceptions. The minor who died, God rest his soul, will not have any percentage of responsibility. And this lawyer who died...will have a higher percentage of responsibility for his own death than the other victims. Perhaps as high as 60 percent.

Ultimately it won't matter because the deepest pocket will pay. That's the landlord, Chor, who owns ten buildings. And any insurance company who insured that warehouse. I have yet to see any media asking what is surely the most grown-up and pressing of questions: Was that warehouse insured? What was insured under the policy? How big was the policy? WHO WAS THE INSURER?

Posted by Charles C. Eroster on 12/12/2016 at 6:25 AM

Re: “Richmond Mayor Calls Out Legendary Punk House Burnt Ramen As City's 'Own Ghost Ship,' Residents Fear Eviction

The homeless congregate for different reasons but it's not a case of housing prices go up, homeless people increase in that particular area. For example, there are a lot of homeless in Seattle. That is partly because of the nice weather and the fact Seattle is a cool place to live, but Seattle has also had, for quite a while, tolerance for homeless camping out in outdoor camps. (The policy is complicated...sometimes they crack down, other times they allow the camps) Generally, there tends to be a lot of homeless where people are "cool" and naive young people give out change and food. Go to any campus and you will find homeless people congregating near the campus.

Why are there so many homeless in that part of Oakland? Because it's a good place to be homeless. Not because all those homeless were kicked out of housing in Oakland! Homeless congregate where it's a "good place to be homeless."

Lots of homeless in Las Vegas, too. Because panhandling is especially good in Vegas.

Posted by Charles C. Eroster on 12/12/2016 at 6:06 AM

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

Posting some days later: seemed like most of the victims had responsible jobs; not one was described as living on ssi. One was a lawyer, another worked at Pandora. Several worked in the music or arts sectors, but did so quite seriously and earned a living. Some of the above comments leapt to conclusions based on no facts or made rash assumptions. For better public discourse we could try to eschew polemics that just seek to legitimate ideas we already hold, without considering the actual events or info in an article.

Posted by Naomi_Schiff on 12/11/2016 at 9:52 PM

Re: “Richmond Mayor Calls Out Legendary Punk House Burnt Ramen As City's 'Own Ghost Ship,' Residents Fear Eviction

Charles Eroster If there's no housing crisis, why are East Bay streets becoming filled with the tents of homeless? Funny we never had that until east bay rents went through unprecedented increases. Just because you are housed and comfortable doesn't mean people are just whining, it means you are completely out of touch.

Posted by Adam 1 on 12/11/2016 at 7:16 PM

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