Friday, June 26, 2009

Send In Your Ballots: No No YES No

My vote is largely informed by recognizing that Oakland is a) in a big hole and b) shouldn't drive away revenue-generators that will get it out.

No on C: No on new hotel taxes. People and organizations shop hotels on price, and they don't need another reason not to come to Oakland. I've increasingly come to think that the way to grow Oakland is, as Zennie has suggested, to develop retail and entertainment. Measure C damages this effort. Don't delude ourselves into think we're going to be another tech or biotech hub in the next decade(s).

No on D: How much money are we already obligated to spend on youth services? Of course, if you don't have kids or don't plan to live in Oakland when you do, this is also rationally self-interested vote.

Yes on F: Finally, a consumption tax! Finally, a good idea! This is the marijuana one, and at least some of the marijuana club operators are on board. I'm enthusiastic that this is on the ballot for multiple reasons, not only because it can help (some) with Oakland's deficit but because the more such measures are on ballots, the more that cities and states will see marijuana as a legitimate product (and source of revenue).

No on H: If we tax the transfer of corporate properties (hotels, chain restaurants) they'll start avoiding Oakland for our neighbors. This will get us a few dollars for one year.

Barbara Lee's Email Contact Info?

I was just trying to email Rep. Lee about something, and found that the links on her homepage to email her run in circles. Am I missing it?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pro-Iranian People Rally in Union Square San Francis Tuesday June 16

I have no other information than what I just heard on a call-in show on 810 AM. I'll be there. Let's show our support for the people of Iran and their right to free speech and free elections.

Power Outage Last Night

I haven't seen any other reports of this. About 2:30am this morning (Monday 15 June) I woke up to find my power in Rockridge was out, and had been for some time since the entire of my refrigerator was warm. Based in what I could see, the outage extended as far as Broadway at College and (what looked like) Telegraph. Emeryville was still "on". The power came back on around 3:20am. Am I the only one who noticed the extent?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ah, So Bart CAN Run Twenty-Four Hours

The Bay Bridge will be closing Labor Day weekend, and BART will be running 24 hours. Here is the official info so far on the bridge closure, although it doesn't mention the 24-hour BART schedule - I got that from a story on KCBS radio today.

I mentioned before (among other possible improvements) that BART could be made to run for twenty-four hours, which would make it much more useable for off-shift workers, people who work late at the office, and people who'd rather go out for a drink without having to worry about driving (and watching the clock all night). So here's yet more evidence that BART can run all night, like New York's system. Why can't we make it happen all the time?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Save the Salmon - Salmon Aid June 20-21 Jack London Square

Free music and food! Plus, the event supports the dwindling salmon populations along California's coasts, which need your help. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

While this didn't happen in Oakland (which has its own success-punishing policies) this account is a perfect example of the anti-success bigotry that defeats efforts to improve our cities. Inspiring long story short: homeless guy gets off the bottle, cleans himself up, and starts a successful sidewalk shoeshine enterprise. Someone writes about it. City employee reads it, confronts him, demands he get a permit that eats up most of what he'd saved for a deposit on a room.

I don't take issue with the need for a permit. What I take issue with isthe selective enforcement of the policy, which has the effect of directly discouraging people from improving themselves and the economy. Most people in this man's position wouldn't have his fortitude and would say "You know what? The hell with trying to work. I'm going back to depending on soup kitchens and wandering around drunk at 11am." The kicker is that the city employee that told him he needed a permit couldn't tell him where to go, just that he needed one to continue.

We have to decide whether we want our cities to be places where people who try to better themselves are punished, or rewarded. It shouldn't be a hard choice.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Oakland ID Card Is a Really Terrible Idea

Oakland City Council is discussing issuing ID cards. They would be available to anyone who can prove s/he is a resident of Oakland; really, they're targeted at undocumented people (i.e., illegals).

This is a horrible idea.

First, let's get out of the way the arguments for an ID card: increased crime reporting by marginalized undocumented residents, and increased community participation. Good intention. Wrong approach.

I understand that illegals are just trying to make a living but a) if you haven't noticed, we're in a recession, and native-born Americans (including native Oaklanders) are struggling to find work too, and b) governments aren't charities. They're by the people for the people, funded by the people for the people - of the locality in question. It is therefore mind-boggling and unconscionable that this ID card program is being proposed at a time when Oakland's budget deficit is about to swallow the city. It is also unconscionable that any self-identifying patriotic and involved Oaklander does not find the whole thing an affront.

And as what seems to me a final insult, Oakland will be generating this information but refusing to share it with other agencies, including Federal ones. Is the whole (stated) rationale for the ID program not public safety? Doesn't restricting the use of card information to Oakland city government directly undermine this mission? If this initiative goes through, you bet your ass I want this information available to the Feds (including my own, if I get a card). Compared with Europe, the American ID system is famously fragmented. I could understand de la Fuente and Quan's sudden conversion to this anti-Federal States Rights position if they had conceived the program on a ranch in Wyoming, cleaning their rifles and muttering about the ATF and Ruby Ridge. But this is a major city, and if the city has the information, the Feds should be able to see it too. End of story.

Public safety is Job 1 for Oakland, but this initiative is incredibly misguided. You don't improve safety in the long- or near-term by legitimizing (and incentivizing) illegal residents in any way. As a loyal Oaklander, I want to see this city's limited resources used to help this city's legal residents, and I suspect that there are many out there who feel the same but are uncomfortable speaking as bluntly as I have here.

I also suspect that some readers will find my strident tone offensive, particularly because I strongly advocate smoothing the road for immigrants with earning power, who have no choice but to jump through the hoops because of the kinds of jobs they take - versus making life easier for illegals, who cannot contribute nearly as much to Oakland's economy. We have hard-fought labor and immigration laws to protect our workers. Let's not ignore those protections of a misinformed attempt to lower crime and act on ill-formed humanitarian impulses. The de facto implication of the pro-ID-card camp is that a day laborer should have an easier time making it in Oakland than someone with high-priced skills that will contribute to Oakland's economy (if both of them don't bother coming here legally). I challenge you to explain in your comment exactly why this should be.