Gary Patton 
Member since Nov 13, 2013


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Re: “How Serious is the Wild Fire Threat in the Oakland Hills?

What seems obvious is that we have two sides to a public safety issue. The problem is that both sides are wrong. The City has not had any competent leadership in the Fire department for a decade or more. As a result, the staff is poorly trained and there is no long term focus or establishment of priorities from the top in how the work is accomplished. Most firefighters see their jobs as fighting fires and EMT work. The ancillary duties that require additional technical training, like hazardous waste control, plan check, building and hillside fire inspections are viewed as nuisance duties, instead of a part of the core mission. The history and lack of performance in these areas have demonstrated that to be true. At the same time. for the people who live in high fire hazard areas like Ms Piper to think that they should be given the same level of protection as the people who live in the developed city is unreasonable. People who love the wild land ambiance and expensive views from the Oakland hills have to realize that there is a risk associated with their choice of neighborhoods. Most of the streets and lots in the north hills were mapped almost two centuries ago. The streets are not and never will be adequate to safely accommodate the level of growth that has occurred. The homeowners choose to take on that risk by the choices they make. It is like people who live in the hills of Lake Tahoe complaining that the bears are a nuisance. It is not the bears that are the problem. With that being said, somewhere in the middle is where both sides need to be. The City needs to do a better job in their mission and the neighbors need to take personal responsibility for creating defensible spaces around their homes whether the city inspects the neighborhood or not. If these folks want extra attention because of their own choices not to live where fire service is readily available, they need to pay for it.

Posted by Gary Patton on 06/23/2017 at 1:42 PM

Re: “Plans for a 'New' Oakland Are Taking Shape, but Existing Residents Are Demanding More Equitable Development

There is no history in Oakland, or in America for that matter, that views existing diverse urban neighborhoods as having intrinsic value. Instead, they have always been seen as economic opportunities for the development community whose baseline approach was to destroy those neighborhoods and totally displace existing residents who, because of race and lower economic status, don't deserve a place at the table in the planning process. In the late 50's, Black residents of the Filmore District of SF had to sue the City in order to be included in the committee required to formulate the new plan under the Model Cities program. In Oakland, since the 60's, for the most part, the top levels of the Planning Department have been occupied by UC Berkeley planning school graduates whose inflated views of their own intelligence defined the City by floor area ratios and height requirements. Moreover, having no exposure, interest or connection to the broader Oakland flatland communities, concentrated the planning focus on downtown, Montclair, Rockridge and Jack London neighborhoods. Not surprisingly, almost all of the Planning Commissioners during those years also resided in those areas and many, if not most, were professionals at some level in land development. The blatant disregard at the top levels for the value of diverse neighborhoods and their populations has never been better illustrated than former Planning Director Rachael Flynn's statement that there was no housing crisis in Oakland. More concerning is that there was no response at all from the Mayor or City Council for that obvious disconnection with reality. In the recent E12 st housing debacle, it was only when the Eastlake neighborhood became involved that the community benefits conversations with the developer began to develop. There has to be sensitivity to these cultural diversity issues by City leadership in order for any plan to reflect those values in the process and the ultimate result. Currently, I see the Mayor and City Council members continuing to make backroom deals with developers and doing their best to bypass the neighbors.That is not a good sign for the immediate future.

Posted by Gary Patton on 06/23/2017 at 6:34 AM

Re: “Oakland Police Commanders Who Buried Sex-Crime Scandal Investigation Were Later Promoted

No surprise here. Mayor Schaaf and the City Administrator are on many levels over their heads in leading this city. It was obvious that Schaaf was more focused on the photo op of feigned outrage at the cops boys club out of control than she was about actually finding out what happened. When the warehouse fire came along, it was easy to pivot her attention because that was the story on the front pages. Her inexperience was evident because she did not understand that when you are at the top of the food chain as Mayor, you have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. The City Administrator has yet to demonstrate anything other than her ability to walk in a straight line behind Schaaf to the podium at news conferences. Even after this case, the ghost ship fire, the other warehouse fire on San Pablo and chaos in leadership in the Fire dept, Landreth's silence is deafening. Now there is a new Police Chief and so far she has shown the public absolutely nothing to demonstrate her competence or leadership. It looks like leadership in City Hall is now a girls club, which would be fine if they were qualified and competent. That does not seem to be the case.

Posted by Gary Patton on 06/22/2017 at 8:34 AM

Re: “Grand Jury: Oakland’s ‘Backroom Dealing’ to Sell City-Owned Land Is Systemic Problem ‘Vulnerable to Undue Influence’

The problem is that the Public Ethics Commission has no hammer, other than public disclosure of misdeeds by public officials. There are no fines, no censures or any other punitive actions resulting from a continuous trend of back room deals. The politicians who do this know the law, they just don't care. They feel much like the orange idiot in Washington, "the rules don't apply to me". This pattern is not new and seems to only be getting worse despite recent battles with neighborhoods over disclosure and process. As shown in the E12th st debacle, even after the City Attorney advises the City Council of the law, they routinely ignore it and break the law anyway. There has to be consequences to these actions. Either personal, by way of fines or suspension. More importantly, the community should hold their feet to the fire by way of the ballot box.

Posted by Gary Patton on 06/20/2017 at 6:45 AM

Re: “Alameda Sheriff Deputy's Arrest of Street Fruit Vendor Goes Viral and Draws Criticism

Once again, if you are poor, brown or black, you are an easy target for the system to remind you that you need to stay in your place. I remember when "taco trucks" were viewed like this guy, nothing more than health, zoning and business license violators who should be cited and harassed. Then, young white chef's, who could not afford to lease commercial spaces, copied the food truck concept. The response of the system was that it was a new exciting culinary alternative sweeping the nation. Cities quickly wrote ordinances allowing them and renamed them "food trucks". Every day in America, young brown and black men are given lengthy jail terms for marijuana related offenses. At the same time, white "venture capitalists" are making so much money growing and selling marijuana that they have no place to put all the cash. The same federal laws apply to both. For the last 50 years, heroin was viewed as an urban problem in America that mainly affected "those" people and the only possible solution was incarceration. Now, white kids are becoming addicted to cheap heroin and the response of the system is that it is a public health crisis. All of a sudden, jail is not the solution, we need more counseling and programs to help these sick, not criminal white kids. It's the same old story in America. If you are brown, black or even white and poor you have no money and no power. You continue to be an easy target for a system that intends to do everything possible to put you in jail. This man is no threat to anybody and certainly a sheriff in Alameda County has way more important things to do.

Posted by Gary Patton on 05/12/2017 at 5:25 PM

Re: “Town Business: Oakland's Proposed $2.6 Billion Budget

Robert, let me clear. What I advocate is the importance of programs like Head Start, pre and after school care and early child development. Those are not funds loosely distributed to dysfunctional families, but programs targeted directly to the kids. Just because you are born into a dysfunctional and disadvantaged family and neighborhood does not mean that your life has to end up that way. These are the kids who need public investment of time and money because they need the help the most. I believe that this approach over time would have greater societal benefit than writing these kids off at birth, hiring more cops and building more jails. That's where America is now and it ain't working!

Posted by Gary Patton on 05/03/2017 at 2:15 PM

Re: “Supporter of Controversial Israeli Settlements Would Benefit from Exclusive Oakland Public Land Deal

I guess the City of Oakland learned nothing from the E 12th street housing development debacle several years ago. Here we go again with exclusive deals and ignoring state laws that outline a specific process for disposing of public land. The E 12th street project turned out okay, but only after a major expenditure of time, energy and money by the developer, the city and the neighborhood. Why can't the City just do it right the first time? There are mixed opinions about Israels intrusion into the west bank. Given Oakland's proclivity to take positions on national and international policy issues, it is ok for the city council to have that discussion. However, there should be no mixed opinions about the need to follow the correct and legal process. If you don't, it will never turn out right.

Posted by Gary Patton on 05/02/2017 at 7:48 PM

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