"Robert Bobb Was Worried About Cynthia Dellums," Full Disclosure, 2/4
What's So Great about Bobb?
Chris Thompson and others seem to be following on the notion that Robert Bobb is somehow a great administrator and would have been best for Oakland even though his first try brought us nothing memorable except yet another reorganization of CEDA. Some folks around town are breathing a sigh of relief, knowing that Dan Lindheim offers more in the way of dedication to Oakland (and, yes, Oakland's mayor) and not likely to flee in search of something else to do.
Robert Bobb is a personable guy and okay to talk with, but he was often inflexible when here during the Jerry years, and instead of moving the Army Base process along, the East Bay came away with basically zip for the community. Ballparks and casinos were all the rage back then, and community commonsense had to stand in line.
Maybe that was because Bobb was less interested in what staff, small businesses, and fence-line residents wanted on the base, as opposed to what he personally thought should be there; however, Oakland citizens need to be able to communicate their concerns to city staff freely, and, in turn, city employees need to be working in an environment that allows for creativity and teamwork, not some kind of fear-laden situation where they are constantly forced to think more about job security and staying alive in an oppressive, top-down administration.
If he comes back here to run for mayor, I wouldn't vote for him, especially when we have so many Washington-related problems to contend with: for that we need a statesman and someone who truly believes in the people of Oakland — and is willing to shed his ego to get things done in the most democratic means possible.
And what's the point of slighting Cynthia Dellums on the way out the door? Not the most gentlemanly thing to do, even for a disgruntled ex-city manager. When Maria Shriver comes to town, everyone's ecstatic that her relationship with the Gov is such that he's trying his darnedest to keep California at the very forefront of the green economy. And if Michelle Obama were to waltz into town, there wouldn't be a soul nervy enough to criticize her obviously wonderful partnership with her hubby.
Frankly, I'm glad the mayor has someone to help take the pressure off in a town where there's no money, jobs are scarce, resources are dwindling, political intrigue is deadly, and everyone demands that he or she come to this or that opening, rally, event, or pothole filling. If she can help out by filling in here and there to satisfy some of those demands, that's great! If she can help steer clear of some of the traps that are constantly being set by those who wish him ill, even better! If she wants to take on a special project à la Maria or Michelle, fantastic!
Meanwhile, let's look forward to the channel that Team Dellums has cleared from here to Sacramento and from there to Washington — real funding for serious projects, brought here to the heart of the Bay Area.
Steve Lowe, Oakland
Berkeley Parking Fiascos
U-Haul may have a point about discrimination. Just one block away the Small Car Repair on Hearst Street routinely uses neighborhood streets to park both its repair cars and its stock of used cars for sale.
The Indus Foods market just south is equally oblivious to neighborhood concerns, refusing to use a truck loading zone specially prepared for them by a clueless Transportation Department in favor of double-parking in the traffic lane on Hearst, completely blocking one lane and sometimes driveways as well.
Complaints are ignored, meanwhile impatient drivers hoping to avoid the excruciating back-up at University and San Pablo take a fast right turn at Hearst and meet traffic displaced by the big rigs unloading to Indus Food head-on, an obvious traffic hazard that happens several times a week.
Quite aside from this, some of us love that ours might be the last neighborhood with actually useful, functioning businesses, some of the oldest in Berkeley. When people get tired of the $300 T-shirts on 4th Street, they'll find what they actually need up on San Pablo Avenue, including a U-Haul truck.
Carol Denney, Berkeley
"New Toxics Ban Hurts Small Businesses," Eco Watch, 1/28
Don't Punish Stay-at-Home Moms
Thank you for bringing this well-meaning-but-misapplied law to the public's attention. As an owner of a local children's shop selling many locally made designs, I hate that this law is forcing some of my smaller designers to close! These are mostly stay-at-home moms trying to earn a little extra income while raising small kids, and all are extremely conscientious about what materials they use in their products. I don't need a government-approved lab to tell me that.
Mae Chan Frey, Oakland
"The Case of the Murdered Dog," News, 1/28
Killed for Nothing
The swat team barged in my house and shot my dog because of false information they had got for an informant. After shooting my dog and destroying everything in my house, they made the dog suffer while they filled out paper work, instead of releasing her to me or taking her to the vet themselves. They didn't find what they were looking for in my house, didn't have a search warrant, and had the nerve to tell me they didn't shoot her. They won't release a copy of the police report to me because I wasn't involved in the incident.
Sonja Davison, Oakland
Don't Let 'Em In
Just another reason to never let cops in your house without a damn warrant. Trigger happy clowns.
Tess Martinez, Tuscon, AZ
"La Vida Taco," Feature, 2/4
Tongue in Taco
Since when is lengua never peeled? You can't chop it without peeling it. Every taco truck chef here in Sacramento, and every one I've been to in the Bay Area, boils/slow cooks, then peels the tongue. In fact, after reading this, I asked the local lunch truck driver, and he looked at me like I was crazy when I asked if he left the skin on the tongue.
Moe Hong, Davis
"Leopold and His Fiction: Ain't No Surprise," Local Licks, 2/4
Living the Part
Nate — you nailed it on these guys in a few short words. You may want to take the "extra step" and get to know Daniel James as he not only "sounds the part" of vintage rockers like Morrison, Pop, and others: he looks the part as well. He is the real deal. They/he blend vintage rock with garage/indie better than any band in the West Coast.
Michael J. Rastigue III, West Hills, CA
"Badminton Is Not for Sissies," Feature, 1/28
Badminton Gets a Bad Rap
It's a shame that sports like badminton and table tennis don't get the recognition they should in the United States. These sports are very fast-paced and require a lot of endurance, as well as quick reflexes and strategy.
Peter Sahaidachny, Emeryville
Green the Uptown
Months ago, there was a proposal for a condo tower at 19th and Telegraph. Awaiting a redesign, we heard that the project was postponed.
Now it seems a surface parking lot might be in the offing. Think carefully before proceeding!
This prominent corner adjoins a shiny new park and apartments, across from the fabulously refurbished Fox, and faces the Floral Depot building, a nationally known art deco masterpiece.
Years ago, citizens advocated for landscaping a debris-strewn lot in the City Center project. It was good that it did get planted, because it took more than a decade until the next construction. It was the same situation: a redevelopment lot in that nasty stage between demolition and eventual new construction.
Even though a parking lot may be called temporary, it could last for years. For example, where the new cathedral stands was a "temporary" parking lot for forty years or more. That bare and windy corner would have been greatly improved by a good buffer zone and some sizable street trees.
A surface parking lot is a terrible eyesore, and contradicts the idea of a walkable, friendly, engaging, arts-focused area. It sends a message about cars having priority over people.
Let's use this opportunity to create a landscaped temporary public space, or at least a very generous planted buffer zone between parked cars and the sidewalk! Make an inviting planted link between Telegraph Avenue and the new park to draw people into the new Uptown neighborhood.
Optimism may be tough to muster just now, but we must not let that stop us, when we have just completed these big successes. Let's get creative! We can work together to enhance Oakland's new Uptown.
Naomi Schiff, president, Seventeenth Street Studios, Inc., Oakland