Friday, March 12, 2010

What do you get out of SXSW other than Mark Cuban?

Related searches: Mark Cuban, SXSW, tech conference, austin, texas, sxsw panel

SXSW is the giant music, film, and "interactive" conference going on now in Austin, Texas. This blogger is not there, and has a question: What do you get out of SXSW?

In general, the high tech conferences all sport the same format and are becoming just one, big, plain bore. Pick the event, the format is the same: some panel or person talking to an audience, as of that person is the lone expert on a something. And at Web 2.0, they're all placed on a pedestal. The main problem with these sleep-fests is that someone in the audience at times has a better grasp of what the presenter's talking about than the presenter does.

Is this what Mark Cuban gets out of SXSW?
At SXSW, regardless of the session, the "panel / audience" format's the same. Instead of the "Mark Cuban is God at the stage" approach, why not something that involves the people in the room? SWSX-goers could be asked to bring their laptops and go to a specific webpage to do something, to feedback. How about taking it a step beyond that and asking them to post their video comments and questions on a page for display to the group?

Note that the idea is open-ended. You can pour any subject into it and create an "interaction forum" that is more rewarding than sitting on your butt listening to someone drone on and on, or for that matter, watching Mark Cuban get into a snarky argument with Aver Ronen at SXSW.

Why do you go, or don't go, to SXSW. Take the poll:

More surveys on

Oakland Teachers | East Bay Express wrong about teacher pay issue

As the news that the Oakland, California teacher's union's planned one-day walkout was moved to April 22nd from March 24th, this blogger ran across a paragraph in the East Bay Express that has information that was incorrect. In "Some Hard Truths About Oakland Teachers", Robert Gammon wrote:

...the City of Oakland has nothing to do with teacher salaries. Teachers are employees of the Oakland Unified School District, which is a completely separate legal entity that gets its funding from the state, not the city. So the city has no say in how much teachers make. And thus comparing teacher salaries to cops' salaries, as some commenters want to do, is ridiculous, because they're paid by different entities.

Gammon's wrong and he should look at Section 33678 Subdivision (B) of the California Health and Safety Code. The common misconception about California Redevelopment Law and Tax Increment Revenue, is that redevelopment revenue can't be used to provide services in city like Oakland. Redevelopment revenue can be used to augment teacher's salaries for schools within a redevelopment area if the redevelopment plan for that area was amended to do so.

So, the Oakland Redevelopment Agency could provide a grant to the Oakland Unified School District to be used for targeted schools within the 6,000-acre Coliseum Redevelopment Area, the largest project area in the state of California.

And a recent Court of Appeals decision could result in more money being passed through from redevelopment agencies to school districts, but the main point here is that, should it elect to do so, the Oakland Redevelopment Agency could work with the Oakland Unified School District to have higher teacher salaries in East Oakland, if only to reflect the additional problems teachers face in of working in a high-crime area.

Has Oakland used this provision in California Redevelopment Law before? Yes. In fact, former Oakland City Manager Henry Gardner informed me that the City of Oakland's redevelopment agency used it to form a program with the Oakland Police to remove crack houses in East Oakland.

Gardner and I had that conversation in 1997 when I was the Economic Advisor to then-Mayor Elihu Harris. During that time I was lobbying for the adoption of an idea I created called "Redevelopment Project Area Phasing."

Stay tuned.

Pac-10 Tournament - Cal vs. UCLA, Washington v. Stanford

The University of California Men's Basketball Team advances to play the hated UCLA Bruins tonight at 6:30 PM. Yesterday, Cal made easy work of Oregon, 90 to 76, as Senior guard and Pac-10 player of the year Jerome Randle scored 22 points in the first half. UCLA beat Arizona 75-69.

In the video below, UCLA coach Ben Howland and senior guard Michael Roll talk after the Arizona win about playing Cal tonight. Michael Roll says "We're going to do everything we can to win."

Everything? Like what? Throw elbows? Knee someone?

All this blogger can say is "GO BEARS" Meanwhile, Washington plays Stanford at 8:40 PM PST. Washington beat Oregon State 59 to 52 Wednesday. Stanford shocked second-seeded Arizona State 70 to 61. Arizona State swept the Cardinal during the regular season.

Stay tuned.

Lebron James to return Friday; is Shaquille O'Neal making a difference?

Lebron James is set to return to The Cleveland Caveliers today, Friday. The NBA star some call Superman was out with an ankle injury for two games and was relegated to cheering his team on from the bench.

If Lebron James's is on steroids, they sure didn't help him from an injury. Personally, the talk that James is on steriods, is really awful. The real conversation should be about Shaquille O'Neal.

is Shaq making a difference?

When Shaquille O'Neal was traded to the Cleveland Caveliers, the move was hailed in this space as the one that could bring a ring to Lebron James and Cleveland.

Now, Shaq's out for almost two months because he had surgery on his injured right thumb Monday. It was hit when The Boston Celtics Glen Davis blocked Shaq's shot on February 25th.

But before that point, Shaq averaged 12 points and 6.7 rebounds in 53 games according to ESPN. It's not far off, really just a small amount, below his career averages. For a person who's played for 17 years, Shaquille O'Neal's size and shot techniques still make him a formidable player. He gives Cavs coach Mike Brown the ability to work in a big lineup, and provides a much needed enforcer...when he's healthy. The Cavs record is 50 and 15 as of this writing.

Shaquille O'Neal told Cavs GM Danny Ferry that he would be back in time for the playoffs. If he's ready, Mike Brown should have Shaq play longer than his 23 minute average. Coach Brown's not getting enough out of a Shaq who's fully into the tempo of the game.