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It was somewhat heartening to learn that the AC General Manager has moved on. Before he has completely left the scene, however, I think there should be an investigation of his activities and behavior as General Manager. It's a little strange that he abruptly resigns as a result of the Board's decision to end AC's relationship with the Belgian bus maker. By the way, those buses are absolutely horrible; uncomfortable, a hazard to seniors and the disabled, and susceptible to frequent breakdowns.
Now that the Board has been relieved of an increasingly incompetent manager, it needs to take time for a little introspection about it's own role as a body that is charged with the fiduciary responsibility of a major transit system - that seems to be barely functioning.
We are constantly bombarded by various levels of government and advocates about going "green", CO2 emissions and giving up the dreaded "car", yet we have a transportation entity, governed by a board that creates more frustration and anger than it does an effective transportation system. It's current method of operating and it's business model actually forces people to consider other forms of transportation - mainly private vehicles.
This is supposedly an era of change. So, if one is to believe in the necessity for change in the way we live, then government entities and advocates need to vigorously press for change in ACs' business model, their systemic operating ineffectiveness and constant need for revenue.
A CHOICE FOR COUNCIL
I don't know a lot about Mr. Killian, but his supporter, Mr. Dodson, has raised the hair on the back of my neck. His comments: "Over 50 percent of the money to pay for city services comes from the building industry", and "we need someone who really understands how to get the most out of building projects in Oakland to pay for all those cops, firefighters, and all the other public services", is reflective of the mantra spewed constantly by a number of people in this city, including some city officials..
First, nothing in Mr. Dodson's articulation of Mr. Killians resume provides evidence that he has any experience in negotiating and getting the most out of development projects. Second, part of the reason were in the fiscal mess that burdens every citizen of Oakland is because of the reliance on, primarily residential development, and therefore the property transfer taxes that are derived there from.
Third, it seems to me that this city should be trying to robustly diversify its revenue base so that were not caught in the headlights by downturns in the building industry. We need to quit raping whats left of our industrial land, preserve it so that we can attract business and create jobs in Oakland. We need to bring more commercial interests to our central business district, and again create jobs. We need to promulgate policies that lead to a reasonable level of affordable housing, especially for those first responders alluded to in Mr. Dodsons piece. It defies logic to have the majority of our first responders living elsewhere, and who would be either prevented or delayed in responding to a disaster should we be unfortunate enough to experience one. We dont need 10,000 new residents, we need 10,000 new businesses.
Mr. Killians past personal issues aside, what Im concerned about is his or other candidates' ability to address the real issues confronting our community and a commitment to earnestly work with the Mayor of this city to truly move Oakland into the 21st century.
It seems to me that if Mr. Hart is outraged by a suggestion that his testimonial would have been tainted, imagine the outrage of the group of citizens who attended the meeting to discuss what should have been included in an environmental review of the project, only to find that the developer, along with his lobbyist who's reputation suffers from a deficit of trust, had lured people to the meeting to deliberately focus on something entirely different selling his dubious project.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss apples, but the developer's crowd decided to intentionally talk about oranges.
Their superficial and rather amateurish tactic was not lost on several of the planning commissioners. In fact, the developers crowd was admonished, several times, to stick to the purpose of the meeting.
To add insult to injury, the developers lobbyist then stated that commissioners should just let people say whatever they wanted to say, suggesting that people were too ignorant to understand the purpose of the meeting.
If Mr. Hart thinks that this superficial approach to development approval is a paradigm to follow, then hes guaranteed to encounter resistance and opposition to his own project. Oakland has no intention of becoming San Francisco.
I sincerely wonder where these "many" in the Gold Coast neighborhood - who welcome a 42 story, luxury high-rise (which "many" will never see the inside of) - are lurking. Not one person I have spoken with in the Gold Coast neighborhood is against development, however, they want that development to respect and reflect the character and style of the area, and have some affordability. - Not one unit of this development is slated to be in the affordability range of most Oaklanders.
They also want the city to make serious efforts to preserve what remains of our historic culture and green spaces. A place's character is, in large measure, defined by its' history. Lose it and we move closer to becoming a faceless and souless society.
If Mr. R had done his homework, he would have realized that the "city", unequivocally, stated that they blew the donation offer of the Schilling Gardens. Their economic evaluation, was essentially no evaluation.
As a last comment, I'm wondering why anyone would be willing to potentially sacrifice a park, a historically designated and unique urban lake, the oldest bird sanctuary in the nation and a historic garden for a 42 story luxury high-rise, which could be sited on one of the several, asphalt covered parking lots located within 1 to 3 blocks of the Schilling Gardens site. There are many ways to realize economic benefit from development. You don't need to build a 42 story high-rise that negatively affects a neighborhood and destroys a historic garden to do so.
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