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Re: “Yelp and the Business of Extortion 2.0

They helped to REALLY hurt my 20 year old successful business. All great reviews, 2 bad from idiots I do not know. All of a sudden, it's ONLY the bad that show. This happened AFTER I did not return Yelps sales calls. In one call they actually said they could help with the negative reviews if I paid for their advertising. This is a REALLY BAD COMPANY to associate any business with. CLOSE DOWN YELP AND BRING THEM IN FRONT OF A JUDGE !!!!

8 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Joe Mathy on 01/08/2015 at 8:02 AM

Re: “The Fixation that Gripped Local Musicians in 2014

This comment was deleted because it violates our website's Terms Of Use. People who repeatedly violate our policies will lose their right to post comments. You can read our entire Terms Of Use here.

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Editor on 01/08/2015 at 6:44 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of January 7, 2015

How does one put a price, on the name Ahwahnee? So if they lose the contract, will it be called the Marriott hotel ? It's something that needs to be resolved before a new contract is signed. No sense in kicking the can down the road.

Posted by Phillip Moya on 01/08/2015 at 1:29 AM

Re: “Oakland Council Thumbs Its Nose At Voters

Gibson McElhaney long ago proved she's a Chamber of Commerce ally and supporter of the most retrograde elements in OPD. In other words, she's just another in a long line of cookie cutter, fake 'progressive' politicos who've been running our town for a while now. She and Kalb were supposed to be breathes of fresh air when they joined the Council; instead, they've fallen right in line with the status quo and refuse to rock the boat. Now it seems that Washington and Guillen have also decided to take the path of least resistance. Can we please have Nancy Nadel back?

8 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by John Seal on 01/07/2015 at 11:38 PM

Re: “Oakland Council Thumbs Its Nose At Voters

"In fact, all the council votes in favor of Gibson McElhaney completely ignored the stated desire of Oakland residents for tougher ethical standards in politics."

uh, is that an actual fact, or is it a conclusion based on a speculative assumption?

Measure CC empowered the Public Ethics Commission to have broader "enforcement authority, powers and responsibility." The City Council, obviously, is not the PEC. I don't believe the voters ever approved any amendment requiring the Council to follow Robert Gammon's dictates and whims.

Any ethical trangression by a public official needs to go through the PEC's due process; Council should not be put in a position of having to police its own members, which is one of the reasons the measure was proposed in the first place. And certainly they shouldn't feel pressured by media outlets to vote based on sensationalist reportage without the benefit of a thorough independent investigation.

Ironically, what Gammon is complaining about is the failure of the Council to do exactly what Measure CC was supposed to provide an alternative to: handing out political punishments, instead of working together to build consensus on important civic issues -- a skill LGM is particularly good at.

Let's give LGM the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps her increased responsibility will spur her to be more on top of her financial paperwork and avoid any more perceived conflicts of interest. Perhaps the PEC will further investigate her and impose sanctions, if indeed there are more serious violations than allegations of "house-flipping for profit."

In any event, it certainly doesn't feel like the New Year has been "dampened" by LGM's election to Council presidency. I, for one, am looking forward to what this new Council can accomplish for a city which is clearly on the rise.

7 likes, 13 dislikes
Posted by Eric Arnold on 01/07/2015 at 11:24 PM

Re: “Accused of Stealing Teen's Design, MLB and Oakland A's Stop Selling 'Stoaked' T-Shirts

As posted on reddit:

...which was for Southwest's 20 Year Anniversary of OAK service (Oakland International Airport). That anniversary was May 15th, 2009:

You can see the entire conversation here:

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Chris Selman on 01/07/2015 at 11:13 PM

Re: “Oakland Council Thumbs Its Nose At Voters

I think the biggest problem about what the council did is the message it sends to young people, that you can blow off your homework, skip the final exam and then still get an "A" in the class, and even be asked to be the teacher's assistant.

The council shouldn't have rewarded someone who obviously doesn't care about following the rules or living up to her words.

23 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Margaret Jones on 01/07/2015 at 8:21 PM

Re: “Oakland Council Thumbs Its Nose At Voters

it appears you really like the phrase "house-flipping for profit." and kudos for sticking to your talking points, even after they've been disassembled as not-quite-exactly-accurate. i don't believe there was a racist agenda behind the stories on LGM, but i'm not sure that the house-flipping allegations on their own were strong enough to warrant a cover story. Which is where we start to run into problems with the article's editorial direction, as has been pointed out by myself and several other commenters.

What i find curious in your latest response is, first you say the cover story was done with no political agenda, then you turn around and say you timed the subsequent stories to potentially impact the Council vote. And that's what is probably the most problematic thing here, a for-profit media outlet deliberately trying to influence the decisions of elected officials -- and then angrily chiding them when it is unable to do so.

Even if Allen-Taylor was way off base in his speculation about the paper's political agenda--and it appears he was only two weeks off, according to your timeline--he was still spot-on in pointing out that only one of the flipped houses was in a moderate-income neighborhood, and that house was purchased BMR, extensive repairs were done, and then it was sold at a price relative to others in the neighborhood. In other words, there was no clear violation of affordable housing non-profit ethics, which is what the phrase "house-flipping for profit" brings to mind.

10 likes, 11 dislikes
Posted by Eric Arnold on 01/07/2015 at 7:47 PM

Re: “Marijuana Cuts Suicides By 5 Percent, Says New Study

When will toe powers-that-be going to wake up to the proof? Cannot believe they are still so blind.

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Sandy Mcdeane on 01/07/2015 at 7:15 PM

Re: “California Legalization Activists Announce First Public Meetings of 2015

Don't believe the Hype these "activist" are pushing. The ASA/DPA/MPP model is flawed and unworthy of California's consideration. I feel sorry for WA and CO giving up the right to use Cannabis to it's full potential with the over-regulate and over-tax model these "legalizers" spew. "Legal" Cannabis without fair access is just another layer of prohibition and will expand criminal activity, endanger users and will set a dangerious precedent worldwide. Luckily the Jack Herer Initiative has been funded recently and will blow these fakers out of the water. Hemp Hemp Hooray, Hemp can save the day, but only if we're all allowed to grow it, not if it's some corporate monopoly product making fat cats fatter.

6 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Patrick Moore on 01/07/2015 at 5:36 PM

Re: “Fatal System Error

I agree that "hospitals of last resort" should be state-of-the-art and well funded by the taxpayers. I do not agree that because the taxpayers of Contra Costa County seemingly disagree with this and don't want to keep pouring money into Doctors' Hospital, the burden should fall on Kaiser members whose premiums get jacked up to pay for nonmember care. I don't know if single payer is the fix for this, but putting the burden on people who ARE paying for their insurance is the worst of all possible worlds.

6 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Mary Eisenhart on 01/07/2015 at 3:52 PM

Re: “The Sexism of the Theater World

thanks Marisela for the shout out to the Counting Actors project, and Anna for this article, and the link to the WWSF website/blog. To find the latest Counting Actors news on the WWSF site, use this link!

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Valerie Weak on 01/07/2015 at 3:44 PM

Re: “The Strike Force That Never Struck

Can anyone beat my story? $77,000 total paid after closing. $17,000 in upgrades with two years of labor turning trash into a home. I was defrauded by my mortgage broker by an Option Arm while altering my loan documents. The crisis hits and the lender flat out ignores me, you know the story. I got took by three different foreclosure fraudsters, a loan audit, a fake modification co. , and a fake lawyer group.

Out of all the departments in this state, I have to give credit to the AG who at least contacted me investigating the fake lawyer group and they sued the lender for a tiny settlement while all the others when it came to the mortgage fraud or fake consultants did NOTHING. Even lawyers had no interest and legal aid doesn't know where to start.

In the end, the DA in my county who repeatedly refused to investigate my loan ended up getting promoted to head of the Real Estate Fraud. FOR DOING WHAT? I ran into my mortgage broker in public, years latter who got the last laugh calling me a loser for trying to do the right thing. This article is the truth. I can go on forever with this but... NEVER AGAIN!

Posted by Steve Herbelin on 01/07/2015 at 2:52 PM

Re: “Oakland Council Thumbs Its Nose At Voters

Again, Mr. Gammon says LGM "engaged" in house-flipping for profit. That is not quite true. She was paid a salary - which is not the same as profiting from a sale. Which is why Gammon was probably very careful not to say "LGM profited from flipping houses" He just hopes readers dont pick up on that subtlety.

If EBX wants to go after LGM for making too high a salary for running a non-profit, then go ahead. Of course, that would fly in the face of everything EBX has ever written about BART workers right to make a decent "middle-class" wage in the high $100ks.

Now, if you meant to say that she engaged in house-flipping for someone else's profit, then again, that is very weak case. What does "engage" mean? It implies that she was actively flipping homes so someone else could profit, which is just not the case.

The words like "engage", "involved' (Tavares over at East Bay Citizen is saying "participated") - all these words are meant to draw LGM closer to the house flipping than she actually is. She runs a non-profit that made a loan to someone who rehabbed and sold a house. End of story.

7 likes, 14 dislikes
Posted by Clarence C. Johnson on 01/07/2015 at 2:46 PM

Re: “Oakland Council Thumbs Its Nose At Voters


As I've said before, prior to investigating and publishing the stories about Ms. Gibson McElhaney, the Express had no political agenda in regards to her.

In fact, the Express endorsed her for council in 2012. And until we learned of her many ethical and legal transgressions in recent months, we thought she was a good, solid public official.

It's also worth noting that Darwin had been working on the Gibson McElhaney piece since last June (based on a tip we received about her financial dealings), well before she even considered being council president. For various reasons, partially having to do with the fact that Gibson McElhaney's nonprofit was less than cooperative, the story didn't come together until early December. And when we went to press on December 16, we had no idea that she was seeking the council presidency or that she was already a shoo-in for the job.

We didn't learn that until after the Dec. 17 cover story came out. So Jesse Douglas Allen-Taylor's assertion that the story was politically motivated and aimed at derailing her presidency was inaccurate.

As for the other two stories, we published them on Dec. 31 so that both readers and councilmembers could have the facts before the council's January 5 vote.

It's also worth noting that neither Ms. Gibson McElhaney nor her nonprofit has asked for any corrections or clarifications to our stories. Instead, she has fully acknowledged that she didn't pay her taxes, didn't file her campaign finance reports, and had engaged in house-flipping for profit in Oakland.

18 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Robert Gammon on 01/07/2015 at 1:20 PM

Re: “Oakland Council Thumbs Its Nose At Voters

Wow, Bob, this is getting weird. Gibson McElhaney was elected by voters to her district, and the council doesn't choose its president by who came in next in the mayoral election. Now, you're accusing Kalb of being disinterested in ethics cause he doesn't buy this story or think that folks who have had financial troubles should be kicked out of office?
What's even weirder is that a story on her votes and how often she has hewed to the Chamber would be more useful and perhaps disturbing to progressives but now she has earned our sympathy for these hit pieces. The EBX is now being accused of racism which I know is not true (especially of you, Darwin, and Ali) but we've gotten so far from the original concerns that few folks can understand where this is coming from any longer.
Please take a moment. We need this paper, but you're now out on a limb which you are presently sawing off behind yourself.

7 likes, 15 dislikes
Posted by Pamela Drake on 01/07/2015 at 1:20 PM

Re: “Oakland Council Poised to Dampen the New Year

at a certain point, one has to concede that the running of three stories announcing a "scandal" constitutes use of a bully pulpit. And from a perception standpoint, it does appear that the Express has given favorable coverage to politicians it likes, and unfavorable coverage to those it doesn't.

I also have to agree with Mr. Johnson--not on the allegation of racism, but that the thrust of the cover story (an affordable housing advocate involved in house-flipping) was sensationalist in how it was reported, especially since whether each of those three transactions actually fits the criteria for gentrification is questionable. The story seemed like a bait-and-switch move: allege a house-flipping scheme which doesn't prove wrongdoing, then dig up dirt on a completely seperate issue with no connecting link other than LGM's involvement.

I will also disagree with you that failing to file income taxes is as much of an ethical violation as skirting campaign finance rules. The newly-elected Council President isn't exactly Al Capone; her failure to file tax returns doesn't mean she is a criminal mastermind, just someone who needs to go to H&R Block and straighten out her paperwork.

In your own words, Bob, you called Kaplan's ballot measure committee "shady" and said she "appears to have violated campaign finance laws." (…) . However, in your comment below, you downplay the seriousness of this transgression. In actuality, Kaplan closed her independent campaign fund after the allegations became public, yet there was no EBX cover story on that.

1 like, 2 dislikes
Posted by Eric Arnold on 01/07/2015 at 12:43 PM

Re: “Oakland Council Thumbs Its Nose At Voters

"Oakland Council Thumbs Its Nose At Voters"? To read this story, one would think that McElhaney had been recalled!

Meanwhile, I live in LGM's district, and though I've never had any political affiliation with her, I've been impressed with initiatives she's taken to improve the neighborhood (e.g., conditions under the Broadway/880 overpass). She might well be re-elected if a vote were held today. So much for Mr. Gammon's overwrought attacks (and for any agendas that might lie hidden behind this peculiar vendetta).

I endorse Clarence Johnson's assessment above: the council didn't thumb its nose at the voters; it merely thumbed its nose at the East Bay Express.

5 likes, 14 dislikes
Posted by Mitchell Halberstadt on 01/07/2015 at 12:31 PM

Re: “Oakland Council Thumbs Its Nose At Voters

i have to agree with much of Jesse Douglas Allen-Taylor's analysis of the three recent articles critical of LGM (…). Allen-Taylor found the articles consistant with criteria associated with what he termed "hit pieces" and also pointed out "discrepancies" in the intended narrative--that LGM's non-profit contributed to gentrification-- and the actual facts of the situation.

He writes:

"The original purchase prices of the three houses by the realtor, for example, were already out of the range of low or moderate income families, even before the realtor bumped up the sale price, and at least two of the houses were in neighborhoods (one close to Claremont Avenue, the other in the East Oakland hills near 98th Avenue between MacArthur Boulevard and 580) that that no-one would describe as either low or moderate income. You can’t gentrify a neighborhood that is already made up of gentry. As for the third house, it sits in North Oakland’s Idora Park neighborhood, a moderate income community between Telegraph Avenue and Shattuck that might, conceivably be the target of gentrification. However, even the Express article admitted that the realtor bought the house below value and then made major repairs—including repairing the sewer and putting on a new roof—and then selling the house at roughly the same prices other houses in the neighborhood were selling for. Those are not actions we normally associate with gentrification of a neighborhood.

There were some other even less credible charges in the first Express article, such as Ms. McElhaney was guilty of “conflict of interest” because her sister also loaned money to the realtor in question to help him buy the three houses, and that Ms. McElhaney is suffering from some financial problems and is seriously behind on paying her taxes. But even if all of the alleged facts in the Express article were true, it did not appear to me that the newspaper had proved a case that the Councilmember was guilty of wrongdoing, and I considered it a case of overenthusiastic journalism."

It's quite possible that the Council reached the same conclusion as Allen-Taylor. It's also possible that the Council decided it is qualified to make its own decisions and doesn't look to the press to tell it what to do.

One has to wonder how the EBX could on one hand, go on a mini-crusade about ethics in government by targeting LGM, and on the other hand, recommend Kaplan for the Council President position, despite her well-documented campaign fund snafus. It's also ironic that the paper would recommend two Council members (Kaplan and Kalb) who weren't running for this position, which gives the impression that its political analysis may be out of touch with reality.

Ethics in government? Sure, we need that. But we also need ethics in journalism. Just because a sensationalist headline announces a "scandal" doesn't mean there actually is one. In the future, let's hope that the efforts of the EBX's reporters will be motivated by objectivity, and not by a political agenda.

6 likes, 13 dislikes
Posted by Eric Arnold on 01/07/2015 at 12:08 PM

Re: “The Challenge of 2015: Affordable Housing

It's time other cities in the Bay Area do their share to provide affordable housing.

Oakland provides by far the most affordable housing of any city in the Bay Area. You can't cluster poor residents together in certain areas of Oakland and expect these areas to thrive economically. Oakland needs more market rate housing in order to take the pressure off the existing housing stock and in order to grow the general fund with a greater percentage of wealthier people with more disposable income.

Let's face it, Oakland exists in a very desirable location in the geographic center of the Bay Area. Real Estate has always been about location. Oakland's real estate prices have been kept well below market rate considering Oakland's great location. There is no legitimate reason why prices in Oakland should be half of what they are in SF other than because of the negative perceptions created by the media and because of the elitist and racist attitudes many wealthy people have about living in areas with a large percentage of Black or Brown residents.

Ultimately, the market will decide what type of housing is built in Oakland. The city can not continue on its present path with a tiny 462 million dollar General Fund and with 196 million of those dollars going to OPD. Oakland needs to invest in repairing its roads, cleaning up blight and graffiti, fixing up and maintaining its parks, increasing safety and bringing in new businesses. The only way to increase the General Fund is to bring in new residents with more disposable income. Oakland needs a bigger more robust economy in order to build up its puny General Fund so that it can address its needs as a municipality.

More than 50% of Oakland residents are considered low income. Oakland needs a diversified economy. It's time for cities like SF, San Leandro, Pleasanton, Walnut Creek, Orinda, and Lafayette, to do their share and create more affordable housing for Bay Area residents.

21 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by E. Gonsalves on 01/07/2015 at 9:04 AM

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