"Meet Oakland's New Go-To Lobbyist," Full Disclosure, 1/9
It's a Shakedown
In the past I have read Mr. Gammon's articles and not given them much thought, but admit it is kind of fun to read dirt about people once in a while. However, his recent article concerning Carlos Plazola hit home with me because I know Carlos and Laura Blair and I have researched the Emerald Views and Gateway projects. The negative image projected by Mr. Gammon of Carlos Plazola, Laura Blair, Emerald Views, and Gateway is shameful and unwarranted.
I have been a progressive all of my life. I believe in most issues that many other progressives believe in: We're opposed to the death penalty, we believe in pro-choice, we believe in gay rights, in fact all civil rights, we believe in gun control and we are anti-war. Yet, I can't remember when being progressive somehow became the same thing as being automatically opposed to constructing a building. I am a small construction contractor and I can think of no better service than to building a structure for people to live and work in. But whenever I read an article from the Express on any private development, the stereotype that they present is that they ALL must be these sleazy, corrupt developers.
The reason someone like Carlos Plazola is hired is because whenever a builder is crazy enough to try and do something in Oakland, every kind of group imaginable comes out of the woodwork and a builder needs help wading through all the B.S. Some people have legitimate concerns regarding a development in their city and should be heard. But it is also true that some just want to shake down the developer, knowing that if they scream loud enough and long enough, that eventually they will get something out of the deal.
Compare two Oakland projects right next to each other: The Gateway Community Development, which includes a section that is across the street from an elementary school, and the St. Joseph's Senior & Family Housing project which is right next to the same elementary school. On the Gateway project a small but well organized group came out opposed to the project complaining about dust, traffic, height, noise, its close proximity to the school as being reasons that they are opposed to it. Yet the St Joseph's Development, which is actually closer to the same school and being constructed by Bridge Housing, got a free pass. Why? Because one is perceived as having deep pockets, someone who is ripe for a shakedown, and the other is a nonprofit and you can't squeeze much out of a nonprofit.
If I were to invest my life savings in constructing a building in Oakland, I would be crazy not to hire someone like the very capable Carlos Palzola and Laura Blair to help wade through all the crap that one has to go through to get anything done in this city.
The Express seems to have this fantasy image of lobbyist and developers. Where they all must meet up in back rooms and then twist the arms of some elected official to vote for their project. They also seem to think that one city councilperson can amass enough power to strong-arm another city councilperson into voting his way. Does anyone at the Express have any idea of the egos that elected officials have? Do you really think that someone who broke their back to get elected is going to just roll over and play dead because another elected official asked them to? They also seem to think that friendship is going to get all this special treatment. Hell, I got a lot of friends, but am I going to jeopardize my job because a friend asked for a favor that's probably going to get splashed all over the newspaper? No, sorry I'm not. And neither is Pat Kernighan or Ignacio De La Fuente.
But you can believe what you want. If this newspaper is willing to pay their rent by selling ads to prostitutes, then it's not much of a stretch to have Mr. Gammon fantasize about how things get done in Oakland. Its just a shame that hardworking people like Carlos Plazola and Laura Blair have to have their names slandered in the process.
Jay Dodson, Oakland
If you haven't noticed, Mr. Plazola gets very prickly when it comes to unflattering comments directed his way — this is obvious from reviewing his numerous retorts to similar feedback on other web sites and blogs — he definitely comes out swinging when it happens. It is unbecoming of him, really, as Mr. Plazola is "likable enough," to borrow a phrase used by someone else recently when debating public issues.
John Klein, Oakland
"At the Core of It All," Feature, 1/16
Beware the Exercise Ball
Thanks very much to R. Eric Clarke for the entertaining and inspiring "At the Core of it All." I do have one correction to his facts though. Romana began studying with Joseph Pilates in the early 1940s. She has been teaching what he taught her for over sixty years.
Teaching Pilates in its original form and communicating that mission to the public is a daily challenge that I have taken on as the foundation for my work as a Pilates instructor. I am in a constant position of explaining what Pilates is and then clarifying what it isn't because almost every person who inquires is misinformed. For example, the photo chosen to accompany the article: an exercise ball. Joseph Pilates never used a ball, and neither do I or any of my teachers. Joseph Pilates developed many apparatuses small and large, simple and complex, all designed to help us bring balance to our bodies taxed by our modern lifestyle. A word to the readers, if you see a ball in a studio or class, be aware: you know there's something other than the original Pilates Method being taught.
Wishing good health and happiness to all!
Faye Stevenson, Alameda
"The Cost of Purification," Feature, 1/16
Shining a Light Down There
It's unfortunate that the author of this article takes a cynical perspective on the importance of cleansing as well as Dr. Cory's unique approach to it. In this time, when so many people are engaging in too-drastic cleanses like the Master Cleanse (with little knowledge either of the effects of toxicity on their bodies or the ways in which they can begin to restore their health), Dr. Cory's essential cleanse shines a sorely needed light on the practice and immense benefits of an appropriate cleansing program.
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