Tag Archives: economy

Bitter Tea and Tasty Sandwiches: Yesterday’s MTC “You Choose Bay Area” Workshop and “Tea Party” Eruptions

Attended MTC’s second Oakland spring workshop for Bay Area future planning and visioning tonight, May 24th, 2011.  The visioning process is called “You Choose Bay Area” which is part of ABAG and MTC’s “One Bay Area” project.  You can “vote” on the type of sub/urban future you’d like to see at the YCBA site. The workshop was from 5:30-8:30pm with basic box sandwich dinners provided.  Ham, roast beef, tuna and chicken. Tea was also provided…though not by MTC. I’ll dive into that later.

The purpose of this event (like the oversubscribed May 19th workshop I missed) was for residents of Alameda County to tell the MTC what they’d like their future to be like: Business As Usual or new and different.  How to prioritize land use and transportation options, policies and incentives and tax money.  Everyone did that quite well, though some less civilly.

The night’s most memorable negative feature was the sizable and obnoxious contingent of all-white* folks mostly from Livermore, Alamo, Dublin and other 680/580 suburbs. Some people might call these people “Tea Partyers.”  They were variously very dismissive, distrustful, extremely rude/shrill/loud/uncouth, (think Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, Sarah Palin and ten of their dittohead friends in a room), ignorant about fossil fuel realities and were completely “antiMTC, public mass transit, planning, taxes, regulations and density. By re-arranging the letters in WASP, we get SAWP, or Super Angry White People. That’s what they were.

[*5/28/2011: At this point, let’s take a break and discuss race. I couldn’t help but notice that all the people who were loud, or anti-MTC/transit, happened to be white.  Does that mean the tensions in the room were due to race issues? In some people’s minds it very well could play a strong part. In a better read of the situation, it really boiled down to who was from newer  suburbs/exurbs, vs who was from older suburbs and urban cities.  Urban workshop participants were also largely white, but far more racially mixed (Asian, black, etc) given the more mixed demographics of the urban Bay Area.  I’m leaving the text as I wrote it, but keep this in mind. It’s more of a “inland vs coastal” sparring match. In microcosm, the US coasts vs the “heartland.” You can see charts of this I commissioned in 2008 for a city sustainability study.

Inlanders from the 680 valley were defending their car-based single family home way of life against decreased funding for them (which they’ve enjoyed for decades mind you), and increasing funding for less car-based, more “dense and convenient” ways of life.  I also have to note, based on the Bay Citizen story this week, that it is self-serving for Tea Party efforts to be led by a sales commission-based realtor… but still the main tension is over “The Economy, Stupid.” Also, there are no black UN (US) helicopters forcing people out of their SFHs and cars back into cities… economics alone do that. We’re in the “maturity and death” part of our society cycle right now. A new society will be born in the US by 2030. Now back to original post…]

You could say they were the ultimate version of that group of NIMBYs in North Oakland and Berkeley who frown upon any buildings taller than two stories or  Bus Rapid Transit. From talking to other people who tried to engage with them, and seeing their actions and hearing their words, I could see that they were there to get their point across to MTC (fine) but their manner of doing so was extremely rude. “Ghetto” would not be far from accurate. They were a riot. The irony! Continue reading

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Behind Government Budget Problems

Sutro Baths Steps by sirgious
Sutro Baths Steps, a photo by sirgious on Flickr.

This month’s post by Gail the Actuary explains our country’s (and the world’s) economic situation better than I ever could, so here it is.

This obviously speaks for Oakland as well, since we’re one of hundreds of US cities built upon a once lustrous but increasingly potholed and cracked foundation of cheap (and now all burnt up) oil and gasoline.

We’ll need to find other means of social lubrication, and in the meantime, don’t be poor!

The ramifications touch every part of our society, and thus I’ve tagged this with all categories. Put on your systems thinking cap and get reading!

Cows…in Berkeley? Jobs…in Oakland?

Hey, remember when “colored” people were the only ones complaining about jobs? Now it’s “middle class” people too. Except that the latter for now are taking their lumps and paying for their kids’ unpaid internships, stuff-white-people-like style. Nary a complaint, no  [Of course, in the past several years the former have been also complaining about police brutality (Marcel Diallo) or killings within the black community. As the church sign on Telegraph says, “stop black on black violence.” So does that mean start black on  (other) violence?, I had to wonder. Anyway, due to lack of money in the ghetto, it is a bit like watching spiders in a jar. The more you add, the more they start eating each other. It’s genetic. I am ashamed to say I did that once as a kid.]

Big surprise. After 30 years of increasing our debts to “eat the future” and giving away (“offshoring”) our manufacturing base to the world for increased corporate profits, and still with a 70% “consumer spending based” economy, we can’t build/borrow/”innovate” our way out of this mess, much less exit a brown paper bag with arrows pointed toward the opening, or repave Oakland streets properly — that is, to 1940s standards.

Time for triage in Oakland street repaving; time for triage in American job creation. I can tell you one thing. Obama isn’t going to create many long-term jobs. So much for change. Besides repair type jobs, the next big jobs wave will be farming. I feel really certain about this based on all the anecdotal stories about people gardening and beekeeping in Oakland and nationwide more than ever these past few years.

What else do we have really, which could generate enough jobs? Please don’t tell me government. Government and government-run entitities needs to take a severe diet. Car and housing related employment is dead for decades. High tech outsources and centralizes more jobs than creates new ones.

1 in 9 Americans are now on food stamps.

We’re going back to the future, 1849 before Industrialization Part 2 took off in Britain in 1850.

Continue reading

Local Blogger: Robert Reich

Not as hard-hitting as he could or should be, but here are opinions by former Secretary of Labor under Clinton and now UC Berkeley Professor of Public Policy Robert Reich.

By “hard hitting” I mean arguing for GS and JPM executives to be arrested and for the Federal Reserve to be audited, among other things.

I keep an eye on Patrick.net/housing/crash.html for the latest in real estate and wall street casino fraud news when i have a spare moment.

Other good opinion and commentary sites are listed under “World Econ 101” in the right column, below.

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In more upbeat news, yesterday I listened to Hayao Miyazaki speak live too a packed Zellerbach Hall full of anime otaku types. I was twenty feet away and it was nice to hear the man speak about his films, who and what motivates him, what he thinks of the world and what his future plans are. He makes Totoro rumbling noises when he’s considering a difficult question. I’d say he is Totoro. The interviewer and translator left more to be desired though. The one asked mostly his own questions, while the other didn’t translate nuances or the real “dish” of many of HM’s responses.

If there is a next time, need a non-Charisma-Man interviewer who asks brief open-ended questions and doesn’t pontificate in long rhetorical questions based on his own theses, and a Japanese native interpreter who’s lived here a while. It’s easy to complain though.

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.”

A-men!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

“Cars were a bubble” -GM, 3/13/09

This is a money quote, from CNNMoney.com:

“Cars were a bubble just like the housing market was a bubble. That’s going to depress demand in subsequent years.”– Mike DiGiovanni, the head of sales analysis for General Motors.

{a mass of} weapons of mass destruction by Jan the manson {condemns stealing pictures}.

The present. New Honda cars huddled in Europe with nowhere to go, 6/08

Wow! Imagine that. Sanity returns. And will keep returning, including in Oakland with much effort.

Indeed, we can see the Auto bubble’s collapse on our very own Broadway Ave.

  1. Ford dealer-closed
  2. KIA dealer-moved (closed?)
  3. Used car dealer across from Chrysler dealer-closed
  4. Honda dealer-closed?
  5. New Toyota dealer-closed

All we have left are Infiniti, Lexus, Acura, VW, Chrysler, Audi/Porsche, Mercedes, used Mercedes, used Nissan, and used Honda. All foreign owned except one, which will likely disappear this year.

In another turn-about, the CEO and Chairman of GM Rick Wagoner now supports raising gas taxes to support a $4 per gallon floor price. I suppose TipTopBikeShop owners Richard and Charlotte would second the motion.

Read more on the national story at CultureChange.

Old rusty cars and agricultural equipment by dave_7.

The future? Old rusty cars and agricultural equipment in Alberta

Port of Oakland’s Shiny New… $79.5MM Contract

SFChron reports that the Port of Oakland (quasi City of Oakland) has picked up a new global trade shipping handler for $60MM down and $20MM in yearly rent.

Let the good times, “6,000 jobs” and MIC goods roll in and wash over us.

I don’t know when this many longshoreman and logistics jobs will miraculously appear, since every morning when I hop on BART these days to SF, I see endless stacks of rainbow bricks (shipping containers) piling up at the Port on all sides.

Maybe in late 2012-2014?