Friday, April 4, 2014

A night at the mayors debate

A day at the races. 

That is the mayor's race.  2014 run.  Oakland City.  

After having done this myself in 2010 and then having run for council in 2012 it sure felt different to sit in the balcony and be part of the crowd.  It was fun.  I waived at a few people I knew, noticed others further away and watched the show.  Only the popcorn was missing. 

The day belonged to Libby Schaaf.  She spoke well.  She answered the questions well and basically carried herself as if she could credibly be the next mayor.  That she has to credit herself for.  The day belonged to her too because of the way the good questions kept coming to her.  Credit the press panel for that.  I had the feeling that the panel was treating her as the front runner. 

The candidates as speakers 

Worst of them all was our current mayor, Jean Quan. Every time she spoke she was running out her breath and running down the clock.  It was hard to understand her points.  She also had some real trouble hearing some pointed questions which the audience repeated to her.  Jean has always sounded like that and got elected mayor sounding like that.  Maybe speaking skills are not so important for getting elected in Oakland.  

My friend Joe Tuman, who taught me a lot of the public speaking skills I have, did not follow his own advice.  It took him a while to answer the questions to the audience instead of to the journalist on the panal.  This is the man who hammered home into my head at San Francisco State that AUDIENCE DRIVES THE MESSAGE.  He also broke the rule about shape.  His speaking sounded a bit like Quan's with breath and diction, but still a single buzz until the clock ran out.  Worst of all, at one point he was speaking about management measuring tools in a jargon so academic that I was glad that I also speak French.  

My friend Shake Anderson, along with Parker, Ruby, Schaaf and Sidebotham all did good jobs of answering the questions directly without waffling, and speaking with breath and pause to make clear when they were passing from one idea to another.  Nancy Sidebotham was particularly well spoken, even when the questions were pointed and personal.  At one point Shake was asked if he would use Occupy consensus decision making as mayor to which he toned a clear NO that got the laugh from the crowd.  Nancy was hounded for not supporting much of any taxes and she came back clear on why she does not trust those who spend those tax dollars.  Anderson, Parker, Ruby and Schaaf knew the skill of answering head on before heading in the direction that they wanted. 

Patrick McCullough and Dan Siegel fell somewhere in between.  Both have good clear voices.  Siegel tended to sound good even when he was speaking without much structure or any clear answer.  At other times he was really clear on message, albeit without much memorable punch.  McCullough speaks very clearly, but let the journalists decide what he was going to talk about.  

The audience 

There was a lot of it.  Temple Sinai was PACKED, all seats taken on both levels with people sitting on floors, stairs and standing.  The audience was also much more mixed in age, race, and gender that many of the forums I have seen.  It was pleasing to see such a great turn out.  We need more people in Oakland to take the time to see, hear, understand and give a damn in our elections.  

The place 

Shone brightly.  The Temple Sinai sanctuary is a splendid building.  Early 1900's stone and an ironwork supported dome does it for me.  So did the very 21st century sound system and Wi-Fi.  We should all thank Temple for hosting us so well in such a classy venue.  (full disclosure, I know the building well and have something to do with that Wi-Fi)  

The panel 

It was a well-chosen group.  We had the notorious Chip Johnson, who was gracious and fair.  Matt Artz of the Tribune was as well informed as always, which he used to put a sharp edge on a lot of his questions.  Bob Gammon showed in his questions that he is probably the most informed and longest serving member of the local press since the death of Sanjiv Handa.  His tone was very respectful and his questions, although hard, were put fairly.  I was very impressed by Bianca Brooks of Youth Radio who really zoomed in on some hot issues and pushed those buttons when needed.  

The show 

I am not a fan of this format.  It runs long, the answers are too short and the discussion ends up being superficial.  I also thought that some of the questions were unfair.  McCullough was first cast in the light of his past self-defense use of a firearm to wound a miscreant, years ago.  Then the weapons issue was harped upon again in discussion of armed private security patrols.  Then he was asked flat out what qualifications he might have to be mayor.  No such questions were asked of the others.  They were asked about relevant events, issues or character of governance.  

Chip Johnson asked Shake Anderson how he would get along with the police after having gone head to head with them when he was an Occupy protestor.  I found that question fair and Shake started his answer with a clear message that he wants a different chief of police.  
The mayor was put on the defensive comparing crime stats during her first 3 years to the last year of the Dellums administration.  She did not answer clearly (see description of her mumbling above) but she was right to say that short term numbers like that mean little.  I agree.  I say the same thing when her supporters in Block by Block talk about how crime is way down this year compared to last year, especially murders.  That is true, but both last year and this year fall within the normal fluctuations, but who wants to listen to analytical statistics when you can score sound bite points? 

Not all that much was said in 90 second sound bites; you can't even string them as you would on Twitter.  There was some meaningless talk of police staffing numbers.  In this Joe Tuman clearly stated that he was willing to pay what it takes to have 900 police.  Libby ducked some clear questions on police costs overall and avoided answering if she would like to get union seniority out of how police brass make assignments.  

There were some good small points made by all, many a good statement made, but in 90 seconds how much can anyone say?  A couple people, especially Shake, Ruby and Libby, made it clear that they would expect a police chief to do their job, not have the mayor do it for them.  WHO those three would like as mayor may not be a point of consensus. If there was a consensus it was that they all wanted more beat cops who actually live in the city.  There was some talk about how young men of color are supposed to act or what they are supposed to want... There was some more snippets about chronic poverty and chronic crime... Some words on economic development ... 

Every candidate got some time, but certain candidates got a lot more time.  As I said, Libby was sitting in the middle of the stage standing out in a bright red dress.  All the other candidates were dressed more conservatively, including Shake.  And she got the center of attention if not the numeric majority of the questions.  The Mayor got fewer questions than one would guess.  She got the most questions when it was the turn of the candidates to ask another candidate a question.  It was pretty easy to see that the focus and attention was on the candidates considered most likely to win.  

Some questions were not asked.  "Do you have the support of the Oakland Police Officers Association or are you seeking their support?" would have been a question.  "Who do you think you can work with on City Council to support your agenda?" would be another.  I could add to this "Should we have a police commission?" and "What happened to civilian intake of complaints against police officers?"  (Now back in the hands of Internal Affairs despite direct votes of council and the city budget) I would have liked some questions about failed policies and rapidly changing policies instead of hounding the mayor for how many people quit on her.  Of course even if they had asked better questions, with 90 second answers, what would we have really learned? 

I was a little disappointed with some of the numbers thrown around. We had the normal questions about pensions as if it were a single without mentioning cash flow and rate of payout.  We also had some unexplained numbers on cost per cop.  The candidates were sticking to $180,000 per cop, per year.  There was no numbered distinction made about overtime, yet we were asking if police salaries should be lower.  I was half expecting Dan Siegel to clarify, and he sort of did on another question.  Basic police salary is a lot less than 180K, overtime is a real lot and total cost per cop is between 200 and 250K unless you want them out there on foot in their underwear.  (Source, former City Administrator Lindheim) 

By and large the whole thing was good natured and there were even a few laughs.  One when the Mayor thanked Chip for a column and he gave a good hearted you're welcome.  Shake got a good laugh for his flat NO and another when he said that he could end up good friends with the police.  McCullough got a couple good laughs and there were a few light moments.  If there was any serious value in the evening, it was to get a good look at all the candidates mannerisms.  

By and large, the feeling of the whole evening was friendly.  

The politics

For our 2014 election, we have a few of those likely winners. The measure of such things in our nation is dollars and press.  So who has the dollars and the connections?  Tuman, who is a TV personality and has been running for a year already, Ruby, our city auditor, who is well liked at the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, Libby Schaaf, sitting council member and lifelong Oakland insider, and the incumbent, Jean Quan, who has a strong core base after 20 years as an elected official, working hard to get her reelected.  

The politics of what is at stake is mostly personalities.  Only Green candidate Anderson and independent McCullough would be any real break from the status quo.  Even ultra-radical Dan Siegel has been part of the inside crowd in Oakland for a long time.  At one point he reminded us that he wrote a part of our current community policing laws. How Dan is different from Jean is not as clear as it needs to be and he did not make it any more clear tonight.  

As this is a blog, not some kind of journalism, I can now pass to the candidate that I support: 

Jason Kane "Shake" Anderson.  I think he did well, especially for his first round of this circus.  He obviously was well prepared and obviously has the relevant experience to do the public speaking, public debate part of running for office.  As the standard bearer for the Green Party he made the points that needed to be made within the limits of this sound bite boxing match.  

I liked how he explained the new relationship he proposes with the police along the lines of needing South African style Truth and Reconciliation.  He followed that later with a clear message to the nonprofits who do not get the services out to the residents.  In case anyone was wondering, Anderson, like all Greens, does not take big money and owes big money no quid-pro-quo.  I liked how he spoke of his grandparents moving to Oakland during the great migration.  

I think he should hone his message on his opposition to the war on drugs because he will be asked that again and again.  He got the words PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX out there and followed with Nonprofit Industrial Complex later. That is a damn good start considering that they did not call on him much.  He talked about his leadership style when answering the Occupy-Consensus question and included what he had personally learned from Occupy.  What I like about his style is that he speaks as a whole person from the heart, personal and political.  Yet he did not sell himself as the others did.  Overall he gave clear ideas for a real transition in our relationships around public safety and crime based on who we are here and now.  As the campaign moves on his reform agenda will make itself heard.

This election is not even started.  The petition period is in JUNE.  Others could file and some could drop out.  In July we sign ballot petitions and only once those are turned in, we will know who will actually be on the ballot in November.   Right now nothing is fixed.  

There is much more to be said about public safety in Oakland than was said tonight.  

We have until November to say it.  

See the debate for yourself:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

It is getting ugly at KPFA Dan

If Dan Siegel is going to show himself to be a leader of the progressives of Oakland he will need to show it at KPFA.  KPFA is our local community radio station in the Pacifica Network, in case you did not know.

And in case you did not know, as most don’t, there is a civil war going on at our community radio station.  The faction fight for control of the station and the network has reached a new shrill peak this week.  Unless he stands up and does something, Dan Siegel will be counted as one of the un-civil warriors.   He is very identified as a leader of one of the two groups, “Save” KPFA,  wanting to run the show. 

The other group is here  
Both websites will give you each side of this recent dispute and then some. 

This infighting disturbs me and makes me angry two ways.  First is because the station could go under. 

KPFA, our Pacifica Station, is one of the few media outlets in the whole country that belongs to the people.  It is precious, rare and needs a lot of support to survive in the recession economy. 

Right now the war drums are pounding out an Iraq invasion kind of beat with a one sided, distorted view of what is happening in the Ukraine.  Pacifica is one of the very few outlets in the US that is letting us know other parts of the news, not being told to us by the corporate press.  Where else will the public get alternative reporting on our economy, the environment, race relations, our legal system, and our foreign affairs in these days of Clear Channel?  

If KPFA went under, we would lose a lot.  We have depended on this radio station for generations now.   With the corporate giants controlling most of the airwaves and dissent so blacked out, it is time for Pacifica and KPFA to grow larger, grow more heard and grow better at what we do.  It is also time for us to reach more young people and listen to more young people.

The other part that disturbs me is the way this faction fight gets so extreme.  The tactics of the fight have become more of an issue than whatever opposing views each group has for the management of the station.  I am not sure I know what each side wants to do, mostly I hear about what the other has done wrong.  I do know people on both sides of some value.  One of them is Dan Siegel, who I have known for years.  I have seen some of the economic arguments and tend to agree more with the other group.  I also think that the other group has not been anywhere so cut throat about things. 

The image we are giving of community radio to the public with these kinds of antics is about as damaging as any the right wing would wish upon us.  Right now Fox news execs can uncork the champagne and laugh as we do ourselves in. All sides have done some of it, one side had done most of it. I think everyone who is so viciously fighting for power inside of KPFA and Pacifica needs to be held accountable for their viciousness.    Late night meetings, dubious votes, padlocking the offices, legal actions, calling the police (and the fire department?), trying to take over the bank account in some kind of lightning power grab all does not look good because it is not good.  It is recklessly irresponsible. 

Responsible would be to listen to all sides.  Seems that some sides want some financial audits, so let’s have all the audits people ask for, and let’s have them done by a neutral, professional, third party. 

Responsible would be to follow procedures and law.  If a vote is to be held to remove the executive director, then hold it with some time for everyone to hear the case that is being made. Hold the vote where it can be counted normally.  Follow protocol and law dealing with the director’s contract. 

Responsible would be to hold back.  If one only has a thin majority, one should not act like a G W Bush Republican and make deep changes that disrespect the significant minority.  The vote to remove an executive director and change course for the network needs a super majority.  The vote to sell a station license should require a consensus.

Responsible would be for everyone to act like adults and work on what the station needs to grow because the station urgently needs to grow adding more listeners and members. 

Responsible would be to treat each other with respect. 

If we want Unity, then we need to offer respect and some sense of restraint.  Dan, I do not think you should back down on the views you express in support of “Save” KPFA.  If that is the direction you advocate for the station, then advocate it openly and honestly, as we all should advocate our views.  

But could you help us control this kind of behavior?  As a leader of one of the two groups could you now offer some leadership to the whole community?   If you stood up for some restraint and mutual respect right now, we could back away from this abyss. 

Right now this LA Weekly article is correct; we are falling over the edge. 
I consider it suggested reading. 


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Time to "Shake" it up in Oakland

Shake brings us some fresh air and some fresh leadership to this election. 
Shake is Jason Kane "Shake" Anderson,
Green Party candidate for Mayor of Oakland in 2014.  .
The Quan / Siegel camps are status quo, or one could say, Status Quan.  There is no reason to believe that either of them will provide the kind of progressive leadership that Shake offers us.  They do not even provide the kind of progressive leadership that those two claim to have already. 
During Occupy we learned a lot about who is who in our city. While Siegel is to be commended for quitting the Quan camp and providing legal aid to protestors, let's remember that Shake was on the lines, keeping his cool, leading the protests.  He (and others of course)  did our country a favor as they clearly put economic justice back onto the front pages of US politics after having poverty and fairness be a dead issue for so long. 

During those Occupy protests, and in his community work since then Shake has been helping put peoples concerns first in our minds.  He brings up issues in this race that NO OTHER candidate will bring.  You will hear some echo of supporting what the Green/Progressive city of Richmond has done.  Shake is ready to bring those ideas to this town, not just applaud them elsewhere. 

Truth is that communities of color in Oakland do not participate in our elections with the sense of entitlement that they deserve.  Their low voter turn out puts working people's concerns on the back burner.  Black and brown youth are second and third generations looking at bad schools, few opportunities, high unemployment, criminalization, and broken promises by politicians.  Oakland residents of all races and backgrounds need new leadership.  

From Jason Kane "Shake" Anderson we are looking for the kind of leadership that will get the disenfranchised to occupy politics.  Politics in the US belongs to the 1%, except for candidates like Shake who reject money based vote marketing and think of politics as a movement of the people. 
Shake is also offering an alternative vision to the more-cops-now candidates Tuman and Schaaf.  His policies are for better policing that includes leadership FOR the police.  Shake has put our policies that understand the difficulty of the Oakland Police officer's job and offers a better way. 

We have 15 people on the list for Oakland Mayor this year so far.  Two are status quo.  Two are going the wrong way fast.  Many are single issue. 
Shake comes from the communities all the other only talk about, and he comes with a vision and a movement behind it.  Shake exemplifies the Green Party 10 core values of ethics and practice. 

 He also is part of a new movement in city politics that includes Mayor Gayle in Richmond. Shake is not just a leader for Oakland, he is part of the leadership of a movement that has much to offer our whole country. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

a people’s agenda for Oakland

Proposed elements of a people’s agenda for Oakland
Presented by Don Macleay of the Oakland Greens for public comment and feedback.
Structural Reforms to city government, probably requiring charter changes by popular vote
Proportional representation.  
Public funding of elections.  
Build an oversight structure for city government such as a comptroller’s office with authority to review and discipline city departments and perform effectiveness reviews as well as financial audits and conflict-of-interest investigations.  Immediately launch inquiries into:  
The handling of Occupy Oakland and the contractors employed to counter it including the mayor’s collaboration with 20 other cities to coordinate the crackdown on the campsites.  
Abuse of the blight enforcement powers that led to the grand jury report.  
Abuse in parking, auto impoundments and “sobriety checks” targeted at undocumented workers.  This includes the city government and city police relationships with the towing yards.  
Abuse and incompetence in code enforcement and building permitting.  
All “No bid” contracts the city currently is working with.  
Any regulation that requires the public to hire city-determined vendors.  
Create real neighborhood committees, elected, funded and empowered to run community policing, oversee local emergency planning, participate in the permitting and licensing process, have input on decisions relating to local parks, libraries and other public property.  
Have a standing Civil Rights Commission with working groups on the status of women, the status of youth, the status of racial and socio-economic disparities.  
Budget Reform / Tax Reform
Apply a business tax formula to the Port of Oakland.  
Apply a scaled tax increase for rental properties with offsets for county property taxes and mortgage servicing (exact opposite of Prop 13).  
Adopt a good times / bad times budget system.  Move all transfer taxes to a “rainy day fund.”
Bring the current business tax system into line with normal Bay Area levels with no special deals or incentives.
Stop all welfare for the rich, especially in redevelopment deals.  
Reduce the proportion of our budget that goes to police and fire.  Stop the overtime and the inflation of pensions.  Bring police costs per officer in line with California norms.  
Stop the privatization.  Stop contracting out services instead of building up city government’s ability to provide services and do our own contracting.  
Review all city contracts and check for the contractor’s compliance.  
Review and audit all transactions stemming from the Redevelopment Commission and the “successor agency.”  
Law Enforcement Reform
Setup an independent, civilian, police commission with the full hire / fire and discipline power.  
Review all cases BEFORE referring them to the Alameda DA for prosecuting for possible diversion to restorative justice solutions.  
Receive all persons leaving Parole or Probation and offer them housing and attention to their basic needs of clothing, food, identification, and bank account while helping them to fit in and seek work.  The city should contact every person slated for release and help find them a place in our community.  
Fully fund and empower community policing practices.  Keep officers assigned to these tasks.  
Overhaul the current hiring and training system in favor of more local hires.  
Overhaul assignment and support practices to avoid burnout and stress.  
A popular government of Oakland needs to declare a state of emergency in education.  New and MANY MORE resources need to be brought to the schools.  Better management needs to be brought to the district.  The city should be a full-time partner with the schools and make good on the Civic Center concept already adopted by Council and School Board.   Artists-in-residence, sport clubs-in-residence, public libraries and other such cooperative sharing of the space can bring more life into the schools.  More than anything, we need to reach out NOW and help the 50% of students who will not graduate every year.   City government is separate from the school district but city government needs to offer our schools all the support it can including critical evaluation.
Support for the employers we now have, most of whom are small employers.
Better employment conditions, higher minimum wages, better benefits.  
Support for self-sufficiency jobs from community gardens to local manufacturing.
A local bank and a local currency to enhance local economic growth.  All Oaklanders should have a bank account.
Consumer protection at the city level.  
Rent Control expansion, provide a system to register leases and have alternative dispute resolution.  
Vacancy Control, take away the incentives not to lower the rent, punish abandonment and neglect.  
Foreclosure abatement through fees and eminent domain (probably akin to the Richmond model.
Community gardens code, health certificates and resale licensing.
Grey Water code and permitting along with central rainwater and grey water capture.
Urban forestry (plant a lot of trees) on all of our residential streets and
Living sound barriers
Port and freeway pollution abatement
Convert landscaping over to pesticide-, herbicide- and fertilizer-free use of native plants.  
Building code modification to allow for more solar energy and skylights.  
Code modifications to require for more energy-efficient, healthier buildings, new and retrofit.  
Participate in Community Choice Aggregation, purchasing city power for alternative sources.
Participate in alternative energy vehicle programs for city vehicles, offer incentives to the public.  
City advocacy to other levels of government:
Bail out the 99%, end the housing-bank-securities recession for employees, homeowners and small business.  
Demand a federal jobs program.  
Demand a stop to the foreign wars.  
Convert the US off of fossil fuels.  
Demand an end to the war on drugs, including mandatory sentencing.  
State, (with the state, we need to be demanding)  
Demand state rehabilitation and job training in prison.  
Demand an integration plan for every person released onto parole, with funding.  
Demand an end to the state war on drugs, three strikes and state mandatory sentences.  
Demand a further reform to the school funding formula.  Our schools need higher per student, per site, support and our school district needs a less burdensome way to calculate enrollment.  
County and Regional
Stop the prosecution mill at the District Attorney’s office.  Stop the practices of trying to obtain the larger sentences, the higher charges, trying minors as adults, and high conviction rates.  In its place we need real reformative processes, restorative justice and diversions programs.
We need funding to deal with the restorative justice cases we take care of ourselves and the funding to provide to our residents on parole and probation when the county is not providing services.  
We need better and more social services generally, women’s shelters, homeless, public health, etc.  
Transit.  We need to be investing in mass transit.  Put an end to the overlapping and competing agencies.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Open letter to the supporters of our 2012 campaign

I just sent this as an email to our mailing list:



I have not written to this list since the 2012 election because I know how we are all getting buried in unsolicited email.  So I have waited until we now have some news and activity to report before coming to you with it. 


This email is a THANK YOU, a message about the upcoming Oakland Elections and an appeal for signatures to get Green Party candidates onto the next California statewide ballot.


In the 2012 we were honored with 7% of the first choice votes for each of our candidates presenting in 3 different local elections.  We have the support of many of the people on this list to thank for it. 


So thank you, on behalf of myself as City Council Candidate in District 1, and Candidates Randy Menjivar for Peralta School Trustee and Theresa Anderson for City Council at Large.  And of course you have the thanks of the Oakland Greens and the Alameda Greens. 


In this next election we are watching developments in the mayor’s race and the city council and school board races.  We hope to have at least two Green Party Candidates running locally.  (not me)


Oakland has the opportunity to do some of the things that Richmond, San Francisco and San Jose have done. Especially Richmond where they have a Green Party mayor and a Richmond Progressive Alliance. 

They have made some nationally recognized progress on foreclosure abatement, community policing and getting Chevron to pay some taxes.  Crime is down in Richmond at a rate much higher than the national trend.  Crime is down in Oakland too, but only inside the normal fluctuations. 


The current Oakland status quo moves at a snail’s pace at best.  When it comes to things like restorative justice, community policing and police oversight we are moving backwards.  When it comes to helping people with the recession, we basically do nothing that benefits Oakland Residents. 


Here in Oakland we need some new kind of political will and independence to take the kind of initiatives Richmond and San Francisco have.


To do this, the Oakland Greens are reaching out to other groups and other campaigns to see what kind of unity and collaborations we can participate in locally.


We continue to propose an Oakland Progressive Alliance to the community. 


To learn more about that, please contact us at our website.  Our next meeting will be this Thursday and it is open to all. 


State wide the Greens are bringing up some interesting new candidates. 

We are working to make the next election about issues that matter and not just vote marketing with empty advertizing slogans.

As you may or may not know, the new "reform" of our California electoral laws called "top two" shuts out the smaller parties more than ever.
The official Democrats and Republicans get a free pass and the rights to move their primaries to the final in non competitive (gerrymandered) districts. 
The others, including us Greens, need to cough up either a lot of money, or get a lot of signatures.
So we are holding signing open house evenings.  The one at my home will be this Wednesday. 
Your signatures can help get good Green Party alternative candidates on the state ballot this year. 

to meet our candidates this year see:

So please come by 

Wednesday, Jan. 15, 5:30 to 8:30 pm --
Don Macleay's house, 4004 Opal St., Oakland 
(3 blocks northwest of Kaiser/MacArthur-Broadway, 4 blocks east of MacArthur BART).  

The door will be unlocked, please just come in.  I will leave a note on the door. 



Don Macleay

510 290-1200



PPS.  If you have any suggestions for how we should handle our on line newsletters, please let me know. We are in the process of transferring information from my campaign and deciding how to set stuff up.  I am thinking we should get an list server service. 


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Private patrols in the Temescal

They are coming.  The people involved made it very clear that they plan to recruit enough subscribers to start private patrols no matter what the rest of us think about it.  They considered the other concerns a "different meeting".  

This Thursday night a meeting was called in the the same church where we hold our Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) on the subject of private security patrols.  

The room had over 100 people in it and only 4 of us were African American.  A couple of us were Asians, including the woman who led the meeting, and a couple of us South Asians.  

As you might suspect, the meeting started with an intro from the private patrol proponent and a presentation from our 2nd police district police lieutenant that both focused on getting the bad guys.  

As the  conversation opened up we learned a lot of things including that a lot of the people in the room had serious misgivings against private police patrolling our streets.  

Those in favor of the patrols kept talking about "criminals" and crime abatement.  The word "youth" was never used, nor was the word "black".  Neither group spoke to the fact that most of those arrested for burglary and robbery in Oakland are black and brown youth.  Seemed sort of like talking about sex without discussing gender or genitals.  

The first thing I learned was about the services themselves.  Bay Alarm offers a service that does not cost much, and offers at least one patrol to pass by your home each day.  Others cost more and offer more.  Some services are armed and some are not.  

Hiring private patrols is a private affair.  The subscribers do it and then their homes are patrolled.  This requires no approval from anyone.  

That includes hiring armed private patrol officers.  If you get enough subscribers together, you can put an armed guard on our Oakland streets patrolling from subscriber home to subscriber home.  Somebody out there certifies and regulates these private security companies, not our city.

As people spoke some other things came out.  

First and foremost, that there is no evidence that private patrols reduce crime.  I thought of this as a very important point.  Does it even reduce crime for the subscribers?  Sounds like something I would like to know before shelling out a monthly subscriber fee.  But we did not get to discus that much.  This meeting was to talk about doing it, not to talk about if it should be done.  

In discussion circles I made the point that we would not even be holding this meeting if the Oakland Police and Oakland programs were not such an obvious failure.  People pro and con  agreed with that.  

A few people made the point that we are inviting the conditions that lead to racial profiling.  Some questions were asked about what happens when someone gets hurt or killed.  On my post-it I wrote "ANOTHER TRAYVON MARTIN" and placed it on one of the comment boards under "concerns".  I was not the only one with that concern.  

I really doubt that some private home patrols of unarmed security will matter much one way or another.  The top crimes in our area are muggings and breaking into cars.  I have a Bay Alarm account for my business, and I know how little that can do.  

I think that the bigger picture is the disintegration of another part of government.  We have this in the schools with the rush to private schools and charter schools.  The public schools will get left behind.  

Are we headed this way for our police and social services?  If they fail at crime will the rush to private security take away interest in fixing our police and their relationship to the community?  How long before homeowners start to ask for security vouchers?  

At the very best, it will mean better security for those that pay for it and less for those who can not or will not buy in.  Don't we already have a system by which we all pitch in and hire people to keep us all safe?  

Finally the meeting broke down to some hard words between those who would like to do something about our social problems versus those who want to do something about crime RIGHT NOW.  The concerns about profiling were sharp and sharply played down by others.  

The organizer then declared that they have 50 people so far, and as soon as they have 100 subscribers they will move forward.  This meeting for her was mostly to take in community concerns with the aim of choosing a private security firm.  

The four African Americans in the room, (other than the two in uniform carrying guns) were middle aged women.  They never spoke.    

On my way out I chatted with an OPD officer who declared that he only had one more year to go and planned to retire.  He was younger than I am, and I am 55. Besides letting us know that he lives outside of Oakland, he told us how he plans to get out of California after he retires.  His idea of a good place to go was Idaho because there one is allowed to have all the weapons one would wish.  

I left the meeting stunned again by how much is wrong here in Oakland around how we deal with our at risk youth and our community as a whole.  

P.S. Many of the people who spoke at the meeting about their fear of being singled out and treated like they do not belong by these private security guards were telling us that they are trans gender.  Normally I tend to think about black and brown youth when I think of who gets profiled, but these folk spoke to another truth.  From what I understand, the numbers back up what they say. 


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Why am I not listening to the radio station I support?

Because they are never out of pledge drive mode and they are quite ugly at it.  I tried to listen this morning to the radio station that I support twice a year only to be told “come on people, it is time to cough up what this station is worth” and something about how much I might spend on coffee.  The tone that they take is something between petulant and accusatory and the discourse sounded like a berating for not having given enough.  There is also a pitch language that seems to treat the public as if we were all in the same place together listening to them.  A few people call in, and it is a “rally” and nobody calls and we are not getting “with it”. 

Now Denis Bernstien can be all of that any time he does a pitch and I have no idea how many listeners he has personally and permanently lost to the station, but the others don’t pitch much better.  Somehow being told how exceptional the news will be whenever we stop this fund drive by Amy Goodman, who will have dinner with me for a cool thousand dollars does not sound like a radio station reaching out to its community.

Speaking of that community, where is KPFA?  Are we doing anything to increase listenership?  Are we doing anything to bring in new voices?  Seems like I only hear from Pacifica when they want us to donate or when they are infighting.  For anyone who is paying attention the infighting is vicious and destructive.  On the one hand we here endless and misleading vitriol from the “Save KPFA” group and on the other, we have groups of people who seem to be holding on to some kind of turf.  I do not watch it close enough to know who is entrenched and how but the shows do not change much and I have no idea who some of them are reaching out to.  Serious HR practices are not being dealt with and programing seems more like a confederation of non-profits than a coherent radio station.  It seems to me that as our national government is shut down and paralyzed by two similar groups fighting for turf something not so different happens throughout US culture. 

So I switch off the radio station that I support and listen to the biased, high class version of the corporate news on KQED, which I tell people not to send money to.  Is there any wonder why my son and girlfriend both have KQED membership gifts?