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I think having a curfew in Oakland is a good idea and I think Mr. Gammon totally misses the point. No one cares that the curfew won’t reduce crime. The point is hanging out in parts of east and west Oakland late at night is a bad idea for anyone at any age. People who hang out at 98th Ave and Edes, for example, at 3:00AM are at very high risk of being shot at. And if you don’t believe me, just look at the statics of when and where people are shot. A great many are shot late at night and on the street. And who are being shot in huge numbers? Black and brown kids. Why, because they’re hanging out on street corners late at night and someone comes by and words are exchanged and someone pulls out a gun. And the fact that this happens all the time, it should be enough reason to have a curfew. Not because it doesn’t reduce crime or some black or brown kids will get profiled, because we can save some children’s lives if we can keep them off the street late at night. And how many children’s lives can we save? Who knows? I think if we can save one kid’s life then it is worth it.
I dare anyone who is reading this, at 1AM go the Seminary at East 16th Street, or anywhere on lower 98th Ave. or Market at 14th Street, or anywhere along San Pablo from Grand to Emeryville, and just stand on the corner with a few of your friends for an hour or two and wait and see what happens. Then ask yourself, should a child be able to go hang out on one of these street corners?
I remember when I was a kid there was a curfew, many decades ago. Did it stop us from leading a life of crime? No, but we did stay indoors late at night because we didn't want to spend the night in jail.
Max Allstadt is absolutely correct. It doesnt matter what the issue is, this complaint appears to be a tool to get back at the opposition, which brings me back to the reason for the success of the Oakland Builders Alliance(OBA). The OBA, to my knowledge, is the only current group in Oakland that advocates for common sense.
It seems now that virtually any project that is proposed in Oakland is going to have strong, well organized opposition, from the "not in my back yard people", the shake down artist or a small segment of the left who think they have to oppose any building because opposition for the sake of opposition is in the left wing manual somewhere. And anyone of these groups will use any excuse they can to kill a project. If the building is tall, then it should be shorter. If the building is market rate, then it should be low income. If it is low income housing, then it should be market rate. Some proposed buildings have even had the gall to cast a shadow on a sunny day.
Dont get me wrong, there should be debate. Neighbors should have an opportunity to express their opinions and city staff and the planning commission should take their views under serious consideration. But if the only thing we ever hear is from people whose only objective is kill projects, then nothing is ever going to get done in Oakland.
Thus, the desperate need for the OBA to speak on behalf of common sense, and, in some instances, speak on behalf of projects that in any other city would considered a no brainer.
The claim, or perhaps city regulation, that says that any non-profit, no matter on the left or the right, has to register as a lobbyist if they dare meet and talk to a city official about problems in Oakland is absurd, which appears to me to be a back handed way of quashing debate, or in the least screws with my first amendment right.
So thank you Mr. Klein, I believe your complaint will go far in helping people in Oakland understand how screwed up things are and the need for someone with some common sense like the OBA to help speak for them.
Mr. Gammon, I have to take back my apology as I just learned that the City Attorneys office is going to interrupt current lobbyist registration regs to include speaking at city council meetings.
Mr. Klein and Mr. Gammon,
I will concede that you know a lot more about the subject than I, but with all due respect, I dont think we should have any law that says that in order for members of the community to meet with and advocate council members or other city officials they first have to register as lobbyist.
When I read Mr. Gammons article I interpreted any contact to include speaking at meetings. If this was not his intent, then my apologizes to Mr. Gammon.
Earlier this year I was part of the Hispanic Chambers efforts to form an ad hoc committee of all the ethnic chambers in Oakland to find some common ground. This group consisted of members of the African American, China Town, Korean, Vietnamese and Hispanic chambers. I don't think anyone one of us thought of ourselves as a lobbyist. We met with the Mayors chief of staff a few times to get to know each other and discuss city issues. Did this meeting constitute a violation of public ethics laws because we didnt register? Because if it did, then I think there is something needs to be changed. Likewise, regarding the Oakland Builders Alliance bitch fest with Robert Bobb, why should we have to fill out a form to sit down and talk? If Oakland city government wants to miro-manage their officials/employees, thats their business, but who I meet with is no ones business but my own.
This is in response to the Dec 17 article in which John Klein claims that I am a lobbyist. I have been called a lot things in my life, mostly by my ex-wife claiming that I was a lying, cheating, lazy, no good son of a bitch and regretfully almost all true. But never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that someone would accuse me of being a lobbyist. Im not sure if this is a compliment or an insult, as I know nothing about being a lobbyist, as I hammer nails for a living. All kidding aside, the charge is really a sad reality of Oakland politics that there are some people who are so obsessed with preventing anyone in Oakland who speaks in favor of common sense, that they would make almost any kind of claim, including a charge that I am a lobbyist who neglected to file as such with the public ethics commission.
The fact of the matter is that I am an Oakland native, I own a small construction company, I am on the board of directors of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and on the board of directors of the Oakland Builders Alliance(OBA). I have spoken, and written, in support of and in opposition to a number of city issues over the years, as have thousands of other Oakland residents. My politics are left. I am a small business person and believe that being progressive and pro business can and should co-exist.
Mr. Klein claims that if someone who belongs to an organization, and if they attempt to influence an elected official, then they must register as a lobbyist and follow all the various rules related thereto. Mr. Klein claims, and apparently Mr. Gammons expert legal opinion concurs, that influencing an elected official includes speaking at a City Council meeting on behalf of any organization, including a non profit.
Imagine if Mr. Klein and Mr. Gammon are correct in their interpretation of Oakland lobbying laws. Lets say youre on the board of directors of a church, you go to city council or the planning commission and youre speaking about this or that, advocating a position about something. Bam! Holy crap, youre a lobbyist and youre in violation of public ethics law if you dont register. Lets say youre part of the PTA at your kids school and you email your city council person for more police patrols in the area because theres been a recent spike in crime. Bam! You cant do that unless your register first. Lets say youre employed by Just Cause and you go speak at City Council in favor of tenant rights. Bam! Lobbyist. Sew a scarlet L to your breast.
The absurdity of this claim is why so many people in the development and construction related businesses are flocking to become members of the Oakland Builders Alliance ( www.oaklandbuilders.net ) : Simply because Oakland politics at times become so ludicrous that we need someone to just speak some common sense and thats what the OBA does. Hell, apparently there are so many fed up with the crap going on in Oakland that even people who are not in the building trades want to join the OBA.
In closing, let me put my lobbyist hat on and try to influence some public official, either on the Public Ethics Commission, City Attorneys Office or the City Council. If Mr. Klein and Mr. Gammons interpretation is correct, we need someone to step up to the plate and fix this. We dont need to violate the peoples right to free speech on top of all other problems we currently have.
Jay Dodson, Oakland
Whether Mayor Dellums takes too much advise from his wife is irrelevant. The mayor has a right to put together any team he wants to help him with the difficult task of running a city like Oakland. Notwithstanding who has been running the show, the fact of the matter is that his administration thus far has been a comedy of errors that has done nothing to combat an already bad economy and an already high crime rate. This is a shame because he was such a great congressman and if he continues on his current course he may well be one of the most ineffective mayors in Oakland history.
When a politician runs for office he/she has two task: First to get elected to the job, then to actually do the job if they are elected. Obviously the Mayor was successful in getting elected, but he has experienced disaster in actually doing the job. No one does a job of this magnitude on their own, and the team assembled by Mayor Dellums has not served him well.
The city manager scandal has been well published, but what most people dont know is that behind the scenes the mayors administration has been driving away business from Oakland by the truck load. Robert Bobb was recently hired by Dellums as a consultant, the one good thing the Mayor has done thus far. As part of Mr. Bobbs assessment, he has been interviewing community and business groups. I sat in on one bitch-fest conducted by Mr. Bobb and I was just astounded by story after story in which the mayors main man, Dan Linheim, has killed project after project either by design, ineptitude or indifference.
The city of Oakland is a business. Our products are the various community services: police, fire, senior services, youth programs, etc. Less than half of our income comes from taxes, fees, fines, grants and, approx. 60%, comes from money generated by private new and remodel construction projects. Whats that saying, actions speak louder than words. The Dellums administrations words say that they want to encourage business in Oakland, but their actions have consistently had the net effect of killing projects. The administration either needs to find a way of replacing the 60% that comes from construction or they need to stop killing projects.
The mayors office has recently put out the Public Safety Plan. This has got to be the lamest response to crime on the face of the earth. This year my house has been broken into twice and my truck stolen and Im sure most people in Oakland have had similar experiences. I have literally lost count as to how many times my car windows have been broken. The business districts are afraid to stay open after dark. Where in the fuck in the Public Safety Plan does it address that? It doesnt, instead they want to set up a number of touchy- feelie public safety coordinating councils. Just what we need to solve crime, another layer of bureaucracy studying the problem.
When I think of the mayor I am reminded of Michael Jordan at the end of his career when he decided to try out for baseball. Although Jordan is the best basketball player of all time, he was a not very good AA baseball player.
Congressman Ron Dellums was one of the best congressman ever. Mayor Ron Dellums should assemble a new team who knows how to run a city or he is going to be remembered as one of the worst mayors ever. My first choice to run that new team would be Robert Bobb.
Jay Dodson, Oakland
I think the main point to Chip's recent columns has been that he doesn't think that the Mayor's office has what it takes to run a city like Oakland. The mayor's administration does not seem to have a clue as to what to do. The most recent example of this is the mayor's plan for public safety.
I read the office of the Mayors plan for public safety and after hitting myself repeatedly over the head with my laptop, started praying that the Mayor will eventually hire someone who actually knows the problems of the average Oakland resident.
We need a plan that stops the petty criminals who keeps breaking into our houses and stealing our DVD player and then goes through our underwear draw looking for money. We need a plan that will actually arrest the people who breaks our car/truck windows in broad daylight and steals whatever is in there so many times now that we have all literally lost count. We need to be able to go to one of our business districts to shop or eat at a restaurant after dark and not worry about getting robbed at gun point. If the Mayors office could put together a plan that addresses just that, then I would imagine that the approx. 51% of voters who put him in office would stop shaking their heads in disgust at the comedy of errors that we have witnessed thus far.
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