Monthly Archives: March 2009

New Cave of Debauchery’s Grand Opening Tonight

The Den Grand OpeningFOX Oakland’s attached bar, “The Den,” opens its doors at 5pm tonight for freely flowing libations.

No entrance or “sitting fee” as in Japan, where I once paid $5 (500yen) merely to sit in an izakaya lounge.

See FOX’s calendar for more info.

See you there around 8pm!

See “yelps” here.

Media Coverage: Funeral for Murdered OPD Officers

AC Transit provided 12 busses to transport OPD officers to Oracle Arena.

Sorrowful Journey by Studio H (Chris).

SJ Mercury is live blogging from Oracle Arena

Live coverage on TV channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 11

Coverage from




Mayor Dellums asked NOT to speak by at least one of the officers’ families. Completely understandable since he’s not doing his job to make the city safe.

And here’s a quote from a church pastor near where Mixon shot the officers, saying the SAME THING:

“Jason Hodge, a spokesman for Prayer Mission Christ Holy Church, located a block away from the spot where two of the officers were shot, said “there’s just a real sense of concern about the number of young people we’re producing with such harsh feelings toward police.”

Hodge said members of the church generally feel that Mixon’s personal problems, such as a lack of a solid family life, led to the shootings, rather than a problem with law enforcement.

“There’s a real sense among members that things are getting out of control,” Hodge said. “There’s a total breakdown of family values being taught, and that’s really what we think we see with this young man.”

“We’re hopeful that our city leadership will help get people unified and come up with solutions, because there seems to be a general lack of direction in Oakland right now,” he said. “There’s not enough support for the police, and we’re the ones paying the cost.””


Uhuru Rears its Ugly Head Again

[3/29 Update: See and donate to a story pitch on this.]

And this time, instead of smearing D1 city council candidate Patrick McCullough on behalf of Councilwoman Jane Brunner’s campaign in D1, Uhuru praises cop-killer Mixon.

Sick. Do not donate furniture to, or purchase furniture from, these haters.

On a positive note, read Ten Things You Can Do to Save Oakland over at CityHomestead. All good suggestions to which I’d add…

I attended last night’s vigil. The energy felt mixed, with excitement and joy of a community gathering and youth drum corps, mixed with trepidation at the previous days’ events and a worn tension seems to pass for normal in East O near the mall. I knew my place, and it wasn’t mine. EO feels like a different world, with its own flavors of pros and cons. I can verify this: Based on the number of attendees, most Oaklanders still want, respect and expect the rule of law. East O has much potential and there are good pockets even there.

A Waste of Five Lives

3/24 updates:

Trust funds have been set up. Get details at CBS5.

I plan to attend the 6pm vigil tonight at 74th and MacArthur.

Spot.US covers post-incident news as does blog ABO.


Today’s shootings were terrible and sad. It’s already been covered over at ORPN and ABO. This may also explain the seeming no-BS stance of OPD tonight that I observed around downtown.

I don’t think anyone, even the hard core anti-“pig” set including fans of Oscar Grant and the other young man who was gunned down on MLK at 54th, would condone today’s activities. Nevermind: obviously some privileged people will cheer, as well as the ignorant. We are collectively not angels, and we need “Watchmen” aka police. Including at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

We are reminded to take a critical look at our broken criminal “justice” system in which the rich can buy their way out of jail (OJ, Michael Milken), or at least relax in their Manhattan penthouse (Made-off). The US is undoubtedly one of the world’s top jailers, if not the pre-eminent one, with an increasing jail population in private, corporate jails. (For-profit jails–do you see a problem here?) We are increasingly a mirror to South Africa, Israel or the Soviet Union in this sense.

I am not saying to let even one killer or violent felon out of jail. People who murder intentionally or whatnot, deserve to be kept out of society. However, there are many  thousands of people in jail because of our Orwellian “War on Drugs” from the 1990s from the Bush I era. We must deal with people differently based on violent crimes against people, vs crimes of theft or simply, vice. If there weren’t so many frivolous “offenders” behind bars, we could keep chronic problem cases like Mr. Mixon on a tighter leash, or at least have more money to spend on social services helping these people get on their feet and stay clean.

If and when the state or federal governments were ever to run out of their budgets, thousands of prisoners would necessarily be released immediately en masse — instead of gradually as in a parole-based system. And these wouldn’t all be mere pot-smokers and such. Imagine daily life then. No wonder gun sales are up nationally. People have low confidence in the future of state and local governance to maintain social order.

I am sure that our national justice system is broken, when only a roomful of AIG execs and Bernie Madoff are publicly outed, while thousands of others remain comfortable, tax-free money safely ensconced in offshore pirate havens of the British crown or in the Swiss Alps. We wouldn’t have over $100 billion in taxpayers’ income taxes stolen through bailouts and the Madoff/Enron scandals if basic rules were being enforced. Meanwhile, we have thousands of people in $30-80,000 per year corporate for-profit prison beds. (And this is all before getting into the international drug trade and false “war on drugs.” Remember Iran-Contra? And now after the election, after we stop hearing “Bush out of Iraq” we hear only silence about Obama’s Afghanistan moves. At least part of that game is opium. Hello reporters?)

You can be sure that our country will look quite different in our lifetimes when these unnatural trends revert to, or beyond historical norms. It will at the least be a time to start over.

Learn More/Resources:

For more of this line of thinking, read Dmitry Orlov’s Reinventing Collapse. Dmitry also keeps a blog.

Elaine Supkis, Mark Dettinger and the Market Oracle also write about our corrupt financial “leadership.” Bloomberg provides solid journalism, including suing the Treasury/Fed via FOIA requests for the names of TARP bailout bankster piggies.

Ella Baker Center, an Oakland nonprofit, runs “Books Not Bars” and “Silence the Violence” among other programs including the national Green4All campaign.

When I walked around DTO tonight I counted four homeless people. Three sleeping at the door of the church by Giant Burger, and a guy posted up at Taco Hell. I bought them burritos. And Taco Hell has an inane, environmentally and lower-class unfriendly policy of requiring that you drive a car thru the drivethru to receive service.

Since I live so close, I walked, and had to co-order with the not-so-well-to-do folks in the car behind me. (Their car was missing doorlocks and paint. And they asked me for gas money. It’s hard to feel sorry for people who waste money on gas/car/cigs but they were doing me a favor.) Owning a car is over-rated and as Orlov the author points out, the lowest common denominator of claiming to be “middle class” in America — our version of official Soviet egalitarianism.

I hope that real criminals don’t start using rifles extensively–no body armor can stop rifles and this just sounds bad all around.

Learn more about organized crime at the federal level – that is, HUD fraud and private prison creation in the early 90s from someone who was in the thick of it:

Dillon Read & the Aristocracy of Stock Profits

My feedback on AP’s “Economic Woes, Police Problems in Oakland” article

It’s Friday and I’m going out on a limb. Here’s my deconstruction of yesterday’s mostly accurate AP socio-economic snapshot of our fair city. Let me know if I’m missing or misconstruing anything.

“In other problems, the city struggles with an unemployment rate that reached 14 percent in January. Because of the recession, Oakland is also looking at a projected budget deficit of nearly $114 million over the next two years.”

AP article, 3/19/09

Overall, the AP  article paints a fair picture of our city’s dire financial and political leadership situation. I want to praise the writers for getting at least this piece of truth:

“”This city needs some clear leadership, and it starts up top with the mayor,” said Dom Arotzarena, president of the Oakland Police Officers Association.”


On the other hand, the writers take without a grain of salt the Mayor’s proposed solutions. They also make no note of his shortcomings  – such as his famously low work hours. They also make no mention of the continued allegations of nepotismo that Mayor Dellums seems to enable at City Hall, that I have read about time and again at A Better Oakland. I’ll discuss what the AP guys missed or got half-right, below.


About Our Mayor

Some of Oakland’s Alleged City Hall Nepotisms: The Mayor spent $100k of our tax money to conduct a national manhunt for a new City Administrator after the Deborah Edgerly slow-firing bowel movement.

In the end he signed up his long-time FRIEND Dan Lindheim who has no relevant work experience (PDF!). Allegedly, the qualified candidate Robert Bobb, per opinions stated at ABO, RockridgeResidents and elsewhere, didn’t want to deal with INTERFERENCE from Dellum’s “shadow mayor” wife Cynthia.

Sorry about the All-Caps, but I’ve written to my councilmembers asking that they request the results of this $100k candidate search and gotten nothing. No published results. No answers. Who got the dough and what did it produce?

To be fair, Dellums campaigned on a platform in which said he didn’t really want the job in the first place, and wouldn’t be spending the same amount of time that other candidates would. So this is the fault of Oakland’s MEDIA for not calling this out at the time, and Oakland VOTERS’ fault for not making a better choice. (According to the general  sentiments of Oakland’s bloggerati, De La Fuente – for all his faults – seems to get things done.)

The AP writers also write without hesitation that

“The city has proposed about $3 billion in new projects, including creating thousands of green jobs, establishing community policing programs and improving streets.”

Nitpick – it was $2.6 billion. Excuse me for being quaint. I forget that Trillion is the new Billion.

“Thousands of green jobs” – Sorry. I just reviewed the Mayor’s stimulus funding request through US Conference of Mayors, and there aren’t “thousands” of green jobs. The total jobs created number is 3,400.

At most, there are 1,449 “green jobs” and some are double-counted. Streetscape improvement projects of various streets don’t require  a unique crew for each street – not to mention the one-time nature of these jobs. Construction jobs are very short-term, less than a year gigs. Cutting out the construction jobs, we are down to under 1,000 ongoing “green jobs.”

There are plenty of non-green jobs: dredging the Port’s harbor to be 50 feet deep, spending $2.5MM on a new helicopter (creates “30 jobs” how?), installing surveillance cameras at Eastmont PD and laying out cash for more gas-powered Crown Vics.


Oakland’s Unemployment Rate

The  AP tagteam writes that Oakland’s unemployment rate is 14%. This is according to the State of California. I don’t know if they do their math better than the feds — I would hope so. If not, well then, read below for why our rate may be even higher. This may be a bit of a stretch.

If you know anything about federal statistics, you know that BLS in the 1990s changed the way it calculates unemployment such that a minimum of 7% of people  unemployed are no longer counted. Thank you, Former President Bill Clinton. Read a full explanation of how/why over at John Williams’ “Shadow Government Statistics” website.

Here’s what the current national unmployment rate is, according to SGS:

Current National Unemployment Rate: 19%

With this in mind, we should add 7-10% to Oakland’s unemployment rate for a true assessment. If accurate, this would mean that Oakland’s real unemployment rate is between 21% and 24% — nearly the First Great Depression amount of 25%. Time to start picking apples!

Dellums’ late 90s military base closings account for some of the long-term job losses; the rest can be equated with the long national march of offshored jobs in manufacturing (China now has the world’s largest “Middle Class”), the end of WWII shipbuilding (Kaiser shipyards), and general “white flight” to the Suburbs due to Oakland’s perceived and actual crime problems.

With white flight in reverse now, there are more entrepreneurial options for those with money and creative visions. New bars, resaturants, galleries and other entertainment venues are opening all over North Oak and Downtown. (Two more bars are opening in the Uptown District this spring – as if we needed more!)

I’ve seen one black family selling hot dogs out of a cart in front off the Uptown Night Club which they bring in on a pickup truck. Smart move, and reminds me of all the hotdog and khebab carts in NYC. There are also two new pedicab (bike taxi) services in DTO.


Police & Local Economy

It will be interesting to see if Oakland’s crime problems recede with a new Police Chief, police management strategy, and any wrap-up of alleged corruption and collusion with criminals. Some of this relates to the Black Muslim Bakery-Chauncey Bailey case; the rest deals with “geographic policing” and the low morale of 12-hour days, chronic understaffing, and other problems outlined elsewhere.

Increased public safety would create a welcoming atmosphere for more Higher-Income Residents, Redevelopment, Tourism and New Businesses to flourish, thus adding more local jobs and reducing our unemployment rate. That is my theory anyway, and probably the theory of most Oaklanders and city politicians.

It doesn’t help our economy that many businesses are on hold, closing or have closed (Parkway, car dealers, restaurants, housing and commercial development projects) but in the long view, many of these were unsustainable anyway.

I’m not going to discuss the city budget here because V Smoothe does a better job of it. Soothe to say, like thousands of other US cities, Oakland will be cutting its staff and programs. It’s inevitable.

Cleveland did its round of firing and freezes in 2006 as soon as the housing bubble peaked, and is now sitting pretty. In a macro sense, I’m still amazed at the people who predicted that President Obama would be little more than an economic janitor. No wonder the Army’s ending its Stop-Loss program – they don’t need it anymore.

Time to get to work!

FOX Oakland Trivia Time


Learn the history of the renovated FOX theater, here.

One tidbit about our printer jam political circus back then:


There was serious talk of tearing the Fox down to create a parking lot. The City’s Public Works Department and the Off-Street Parking Commission, with support from local retailers, presented a plan for the City to purchase the property, demolish the building, and provide parking for 218 vehicles. Sheldon Milenbach of Milens Jewelry was quoted in the Montclarion saying that the Fox Oakland building is “the largest outdoor urinal in the world” and Planning Commissioner Clyde Gibbs said “The City should acquire and demolish this blighted building. It’s been a blight for years.” Fortunately the proposal foundered, and once again, the theater with nine-lives somehow averted disaster.

Give Bicyclists an Inch…

So I am happy to report that construction workers in orange jumpsuits finally installed U-shaped bike racks along Telegraph and 19th street in the Uptown district yesterday morning.

U-rack bike parking, installed Wed 3.18.09 by Foxy, Flora's, Sears and Uptown

U-rack bike parking, installed Wed 3.18.09 by Foxy, Flora's, Sears and Uptown

And what do you know, with eight racks installed on the west side of Telegraph alone, imagine my reaction when a bicyclist went and USED one of these U-shaped bike racks. The audacity! Probably an indie rock fan visiting the Uptown Night Club.

No really, I’m glad these are in and look forward to seeing San Francisco put in actual efforts after they pass their court-ordered “stop date” – a look at shows “1002 days without any new bike lanes.” There are additional bike racks alongside the revamped FOX Oakland theater.

The FOX incidentally is slammin’ inside–very beautiful, lots of fun historical work, comfortable seats, reminds me of the old 3,000 capacity movie theater in SF that starts with a letter “C” that I believe is now closed. I saw a fun music show there called “video games live” a few weeks back. Lots of nice touches for this venue, thank you Developer Phil!

There are also now “sharrow” symbols painted on the now-properly-painted 20th St./Thomas L. Berkeley St. pavement along the north side of ForestCity’s “The Uptown” – a LEED Silver apartment compound/green zone.

Please excuse Google for their slightly out of date satellite map of the area in question.