Thursday, September 24, 2009

Susan Boyle | Susan Boyle's album "I Dreamed A Dream" releases November

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Wow, Susan Boyle has, as they say, "blown up" and doesn't show any signs of stopping with her first album "I Dreamed A Dream" to be released in November. And a new look, courtesy of Harper's Bazaar.

This is what I said about Boyle when I first heard her music and her story:

It was just April of this year that the World was shocked to attention by Boyle's amazing voice and the Internet turbo charged her into stardom, taking what in the past I estimate would have been two years to occur and shortening it to just a few months. The first YouTube videos of Susan Boyle's performance on Britain's Got Talent were seen over 150 million times!

With all of her attention, it's hard to believe she didn't win that competition, and I still maintain Boyle should have quit BGT. But that all seems a distant memory now. 

Oakland City Council meeting parking video - city staff clowns around

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Yesterday I blogged on how the Oakland City Council got its ass chewed out by angry Oakland business owners and residents Tuesday night over the new parking enforcement process, especially the $55 tickets and the 8 PM daily end time. I promised a video; here is the first of a set of them:

It features Grand Lake Theater owner Alan Michaan explaining that he wants the Oakland City Council to "rescind (the parking plan) or (be) recall(ed)" and Chinatown Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Carl Chan explaining that his well-organized group (which will be more of the focus of my second video), has no such intentions.

The video at nine minutes long also features the angry rant of Oakland retailer Steve Salazar, who accuses the City of Oakland of "predatory parking ticket" practices. But I want you to notice the African American gentleman in the background as Steve is talking to the council.

For some reason that man decided to clown and show the inside of his coat. Why and who he is I do not know, as I didn't pay attention to him at the time. But I can tell you that he's an Oakland City staffer and his antics demonstrate how little the City's staff cares about the feelings of the City's people.

It's also a lesson in what not to do before the cameras. He was better off being still and just listening.

But I digress.

After Steve's rant I also talked to Oakland commercial real estate broker Barbara Kami, who explained that she wished the Oakland Businesses were as well organized as the Oakland Chinatown businesses, a direct slap at the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, which had only one staff representative there and no - I repeat zero - organized membership effort.

Given how active Alan Michaan has been in this effort, perhaps the Oakland Chamber of Commerce should give him a leadership role in the organization.

Barbara's right. The Oakland business community, which is being negatively impacted by the plan, was all but invisible, and we have to ask just what the Chamber's up to. But that's a question for another blog post. The other problem is that City of Oakland's staff in the city finance and administration offices has to identify $900,000 in money that in reality doesn't exist.

The motion presented Tuesday night by Councilmembers Pat Kernighan (District Two - Elmhurst / Glen View) , Jane Brunner (District One - North Oakland), and Jean Quan (District Four - Montclair), was for the roll back of parking enforcement hours from 8 PM to 6 PM and for the following actions to be implemented:

1) Add 250 metered stalls citywide to bring in $200,000
2) Create a new program to enforce against illegal use of handicap parking placards, to bring in $150,000
3) Open the Pacific Renaissance Garage for nighttime use to earn $80,000
4) Redirect a portion of revenue from parking garage augmentation to the general fund at $100,000
5) Sell ad space at the back of parking payment receipts at $30,000

I have to say the last idea is totally morbid. How would you like a parking payment receipt with an add for a massage on the back of it? I mean that could happen under this idea, you know?

Councilmember Desley Brooks (District 6 Central East Oakland) made an excellent point when she asked about the cost of implementing these mesures, which was not known, but one guess a City staffer offered was that the 250 metered stalls alone cost $8,000 each to purchase.


So, the City of Oakland would spend $2 million to collect just $200,000 from those meters.

That's just plain stupid.

Overall, the motion is - and I don't mean this personally - not a good idea. Folks, the bottom line is there's not $900,000 out there to get. And as much as I may think Oakland City Administrator Dan Lindheim's not at the level of a Robert Bobb, he at least had the guts to say so Tuesday night, but he hedged and said "maybe $200,000".

I'll go a step further than that, and say the Oakland City Council should just cut $900,000 in services to offset the revenue loss. What does gall me is this:

The Oakland City Council doesn't listen

The Oakland City Council doesn't listen to the market even as its talking to the group. Councilmember Brooks wants to have a parking needs study done to determine how we should address this problem of enforcement and parking need.

Look, the people of Oakland have emailed, called, and talked to the City Council - they are the market. They're telling the Council they want free parking in commercial areas on certain days, affordable tickets, and enforcement hours that stop at 6 PM. That's it.

They're also telling the Council that they don't want the city's budget problems balanced on their backs. So I say, cut the budget. Oh, and what about Councilmember Jean Quan's little attempt to dig at Oakland Auditor Courtney Ruby's budget? That was a funny one.

Tuesday night, Councilmember Quan blurted out an idea where the City should take the $410,000 of whistle-blower money that was allocated to Ruby's office and has remained unused, and also said that since its a two-year allocation adding up to just over $800,000, it should be used.

I laughed, and Councilmember Brunner, who was in the Presidents chair leading the Council at the time, quickly changed the subject thus basically saving Quan from looking real, real bad.

Now, it's a rumor that Ruby's considering running for Mayor of Oakland, and we know Quan's had a series of exploratory meetings - just a way of getting her face out there - on what Oaklanders want from their mayor, so I think Quan's shooting across Ruby's bow here. It came off to many in the room as if she was picking on Ruby.

But messing with whistle-blower money or even thinking of it, was a bad move on Quan's part. The money's untouched as of this writing; in two weeks, we'll see what Oakland's City staff comes up with, and let's hope that they can avoid clowning before the cameras.

Humana Medicare misleading elderly members about Heath Care Reform

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According to Dawn Teo, a blogger over at the Huffington Post, Humana Medicare has deliberately sent misleading mailers about President Obama's health care reform proposal.

Humana's Michael Graves designed headquarters

The mailers falsely report that the reform plan will cut "important services and benefits" from Medicare. Teo explains that Health and Human Services's (HHS) Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) wrote Humana asking them to stop sending such false and misleading information.

Humana's political advocacy actions are outrageous. Read Teo's article and inform her if you've received such mailers from your heath insurance provider.

Mackenzie Phillips poll: what do you think of her "sharing?"

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Mackenzie Phillips, the child star of the 70s hit "One Day at A Time", appeared on Oprah Wednesday and will again on Friday of this week to share the news that she had a 10 year sexual relationship with her dad, John Phillips, lead singer of "The Mamas and The Papas."

The media blitz or "wave" started by her Oprah appearance is timed with the release of her book called "High on Arrival" in bookstores today.

What do you think of Mackenzie Phillips' actions? Take my poll, below:

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Mackenzie Phillips had sex with dad, John Phillips - talks to Oprah

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Mackenzie Phillips took "TMI" to a new level.

I saw the news and had to tune in, if only for 16 minutes, but to see Mackenzie Phillips just pour herself out to Oprah and say that she had sex and drugs (and well, rock and roll) with her father John Phillips was just, well, it made my skin crawl.

I didn't see the entire segment; Valerie Bertinelli made a surprise appearance on the show to share her concern for her friend. Real sad. Really is.

("Rape" is how it was described by one website but she had relations with him repeatedly until he, according to her statements on Oprah, wanted her to be the mother of the other kids.)

It seems like it's in this new "tell-all" pattern we're establishing where Megan Fox talked to Rolling Stone in a similar way:

And we have Michelle Wie blogging her talents and her bod:

But Mackenzie Phillips, who I watched religiously on "One Day at A Time" just took my breath away and made me wonder how much we should bear as public figures.

I mean, ok, Mac went through an abusive teenage phase to be sure, but to bring it out as she did?

Here's Celeb TV's video summary:

I go back and forth on this and admit to some confusion in the whole deal. See, part of me understands that she obviously from her tears on Oprah needed the release but yes it was timed to the release of her book, which has her account with her father in it.

She's certainly going to make money from bearing her soul and "sharing" but now anyone with kids who happened to hear this has some explaining to do I would think. Which brings me to this poll question: should MacKenzie Phillips have spilled the beans the way she did, so publicly?

How much is too much?

Here's the poll:

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