Wednesday, July 07, 2010

AC Transit: Mary King explains why union asked to take cut

AC Transit Zero Emission Bus 
In Monday's Bay Area News Group websites The San Jose Mercury News and the Tri Valley Herald
in San Jose, California and Southern Alameda County, AC Transit Interim General Manager Mary King explained why the East Bay California public transit service provider is asking the 1,750 member Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) to accept a contract it imposed on them.

King starts by explaining that "Our future — and the future of affordable and environmentally sound transportation for Alameda and Contra Costa counties' riders — is in jeopardy," then tells the reader what this space has been trying to drill into the collective heads of many for some time: revenue froms sales and property taxes has decreased.

But what King does not explain in numbers is that AC Transit's total operating revenues have dropped by $12 million in one year, and all one has to do to understand this is download and read the AC Transit budget here: BUDGET.

Only service cut-backs and labor costs reductions can make up the $56 million deficit this revenue problem has, in part, caused.

Oakland Mayor's Race: Terrance Candell crushes Jean Quan, he says

Terrance Candell
Oaklander and St. Mary's graduate, Director of Candell's College Preparatory Academy, and CNN Roland Martin look-alike Dr. Terrance Candell, smarting from what he views as an apparent slight on the part of The Oakland Tribune, and regarding the Oakland Seen-produced Mayoral Forum of three weeks ago, issued a provocative video entitled "Candell Crushes Quan & Kaplan At Mayoral Forum pt.1."

While this blogger attended the San Francisco Dress for Success event that evening, there was a hired video spy in the building. From the video of the forum, Terrance Candell was the crowd favorite, even as the Oakland Tribune failed to note that fact until down in the depths of the page, and even then giving the appearance that it wasn't real but planted by him.

So, since Candell and company thinks he wasn't well-reported by the Oakland Tribune, they issued this video:

Candell's style is a crowd pleaser if you're looking for spice in the Oakland Mayor's Race. At turns pleading to make a better Oakland in an emotive style that reminds this blogger of one of those YouTube Hitler parodies, and at other times rightly chiding Oakland's current leadership, Candell is the cattle prod Oakland politics needs. Say what you will, Candell's energy and his hands on commitment to Oakland's youth is to be noted and praised, even by the media.

On the Oakland media, it must be said that it's really shameful that some blogs and Oakland news websites try to ignore candidates like Candell, in effect trying to pick who wins the Mayor's race. It's also idiotic, because the organizations that do it don't have enough juice to make their efforts stick. But mostly, it's unfair to Oaklanders, who deserve a place to go to be able to evaluate the candidates in a way that's fair.

Video's the best tool to use, yet the vast majority of media organizations are still totally out to lunch in its use.  Waaaayyy out to lunch.

Oakland Journalists pride themselves on the self-absorbed idea that they "can write," but who the hell cares if few see the finished work?

The Oakland Mayor's Race and the City Council race, too, deserves better, and this space is going to give it to both and to Oakland.

Stay tuned.

Carlos Boozer to Chicago Bulls cloud LeBron James to Knicks leaks

Carlos Boozer
The Chicago Bulls, who looked all but out of the running for LeBron James, have just improved their stock in the arms race to land The Chosen One. While Phoenix Suns Forward Jared Dudley's Twitter tweet sends James to the New York Knicks, much of that idea was supported by the fact that the Knicks got Amare Stoudemire for $100 million over five years.

Moreover, Amare was told the Knicks would work to add the one player he wanted to be with, LeBron James, if he joined the Knicks. He did.

But that was before Carlos Boozer joined the Chicago Bulls for $80 million Wednesday. And the fact the Cleveland Cavaliers let the now-ex Utah Jazz star get away means they're not as into the arms race for their own player as one would think.

Now, it's the Bulls, who reportedly still have enough cap space to sign James, who have the star power. Boozer teams with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah to provide a forward-point guard-center combination that's formidable. Adding James could produce the championship stew the Chicago Bulls have been trying to mix since the Michael Jordan years.

Stay tuned. This is fun.

World Cup Soccer 2010: Spain beats Germany 1-0, World happy

Calming fears of a Germany World Cup Soccer victory and possible rekindled urges toward World domination, Spain beat Germany 1-0 in semi-finals match competition Wednesday.

Now, Spain will play The Netherlands as for the first time, two European countries play for, the Cup outside Europe; in this the 2010 World Cup.

Germany's athletic prowess was no match for the precision passing of Spain. But with that, Germany's smothering defense kept it close until the 73rd minute, when Spain's Carles Puyol hit goal paydirt:

Still, Germany pressed and pressed, but lacking their scoring star Thomas Muller, who was banned from play for penalties in the previous two matches, failed to break the Spain defense.

Some of Germany's players fail to sing anthem

A small controversy started when it was noted that not all of Germany's ethnically-diverse squad sang the German National Anthem.

German and World Cup soccer legend Franz Beckenbauer, who's called "The Emperor" in Germany, or "Der Kaiser", which conjures up visions of Star Wars in this space...

Got drunk with nationalistic pride and said "All of them should sing the anthem. It can't be that the fans in the stands or watching at home sing along but those on the field don't."

It was really cool to witness the obvious ethnic diversity of German fans in watching Germany pley World Cup Soccer. Though, this space did wonder if some of the black Germans not far from Chancellor Angela Merkel during their victory against Argentina were specially, er, planted there not far from Merkel, but the preference is to give Germany's first female leader and Germany itself credit.

After all, you've got to love a country that turned out 200,000 strong in Berlin for then-Senator Barack Obama, as he ran for President of The United States.

Ok. Germany's back. Spain won today. But Germany...the back and better than ever in the way that's most important: harmony with the rest of the World. Let's hope it stays that way.

LeBron James to Knicks: Chad Ochocinco twitter matches Jared Dudley leak

Beating the Jared Dudley Twitter leak by three hours, Cincinnati Bengals Wide Receiver Chad Ochocinco also tweeted that Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Star LeBron James was headed to the New York Knicks. Here's his tweet:

#OCNNBREAKINGNEWS *Empire State of Mind* *wink* *wink*only the smart folk will put this together and figure out what i am talking about #6
about 7 hours ago via web

This space thinks Chad Ochocinco's leak would have more legs if he used "New York State of Mind" and included a link to this Billy Joel song:

At any rate, the Internet's hot with the idea that The Chosen One is headed for The Big Apple. But the one caveat is that LRMR Marketing head and LeBron James' friend Maverick Carter did not have kind words about the New York Knicks, reportedly saying he wanted nothing to do with them. Here's the quote from New York Newsday:

If you ask those close to James ' inner circle, the Knicks need to be aware that they shouldn't spend too much time trying to convince the two-time MVP to leave Cleveland for the big city. One person with close ties to James ' "team" said the person with the most influence on James - his longtime friend and business manager, Maverick Carter - wants nothing to do with the Knicks and views remaining with the Cavs or going to Chicago to join Derrick Rose as the better options.

The Knicks have been desperately working William "Worldwide Wes" Wesley, a well-connected NBA (man) who has close ties to James but doesn't nearly have the influence that Carter does.

Still here's the problem: LRMR Marketing is reportedly financially floundering as LeBron was its only client according to Yahoo! Sports, and just signed NBA 1st Round Pick John Wall. A move to New York City for LeBron could mean a new home for LRMR and a new start at landing high-profile athletic clients in the World's largest media market outside LA.

So, Carter should think twice before dissing the New York Knicks, if the story is true. Personally it seems questionable that Carter would turn away New York.

Stay tuned.

Jared Dudley on Twitter: LeBron James to NY Knicks

LeBron James 
Phoenix Suns Forward Jared Dudley got on Twitter to announce that LeBron James would elect to go to the NY Knicks! That's right. The Chosen One, called "King James" by some and "Queen James" by others is reportedly set to become a New York Knicks player. Here's Jared Dudley on Twitter:

Breaking News!!! My sources tell me Lebron will announce that he will be goin to the NY KNICKS tomorrow on ESPN.. This is serious.. WOW!!!!
about 4 hours ago via Echofon

Then Jared followed that up with this tweet:

That's what I'm hearing.. I don't care where he goes lol.. I personally thought he would stay in Cleveland..
about 4 hours ago via Echofon

That LeBron would pick the Knicks over his current team the Cleveland Cavaliers comes as no surprise since the NY Knicks added Amare Stoudemire Monday. Stoudemire, who signed a five-year, $100 million deal, is a now-former teammate with Jared Dudley and may have been his source for the LeBron to New York news.

But the Knicks having Amare Stoudemire would seem to cancel the need for LeBron. Indeed, according to ESPN, James' representatives were seeking "clarity" on what the Knicks intended to do just before they signed Amare. Last Thursday, the Knicks told LeBron James he could pick the big man he wanted to team with should he come to New York; one of those players was LeBron James.

Whatever the case, LeBron James will make an announcement Thursday.  Stay tuned.

Lindsey Lohan in denial by Suzannah B. Troy

I find myself tuning in to TMZ and Harry Levin's insight and I have to go with him saying she is in denial.

I find myself describing many NY politicos as in denial -- in fact I say something like...denial is the new crack cocaine for corrupt politicians and I include Bloomberg's money manager Steve Rattner who may be banned by the SEC for 3 years.

Lindsey Lohan does according to TMZ have drugs in her system but she says she has been on them always...something like that.

I do write about celebrities and people like to hear what I have to say but I don't find them interesting and I am far more concerned about the oil spill that is killing off innocent sea life and destroying lives and in some ways we yet don't understand our future on this planet.

Back to celebrity train wrecks because I guess they are a vacation from real world problems.

Lindsey Lohan burst in to tears when she was sentenced to jail for 90 days.   I guess the judge did not notice her nails were painted with a message "F" you.  Here is ABC news coverage on Lindsey's FU message.

I do think she has talent but she has bigger problems including denial and an attitude problem.  Her father is a cross between a walking disaster and her stalker.   For more information,  I recommend tooling around TMZ and by the way, when she gets done with jail and rehab she will begin work on the film about Linda Lovelace the porn star who had a hellish life.  She claimed she was beaten and brutalized and made to perform in porn films.

Oakland Mayor's Race: Jean Quan on Oscar Grant, 2010 Oakland Budget, Oakland Police

Oakland District Four Councilmember Jean Quan met with this blogger for a requested redo of an interview conducted with her just after her kickoff event for the Oakland Mayor's Race. The request came from this space simply because the first interview video was so long, 41 minutes long, it was at least 12 minutes beyond the length of the Don Perata Interview of a month ago, and 18 minutes longer than the interviews with mayoral candidates Don Maccley and Greg Harland.

Jean Quan 
The desire was for a more uniform length that showed the candidate in a good light so that you, the viewer, could make a good evaluation. The result is this 29 minute-plus video that's light-years better than the first one.

Rather than meet in a cafe, as before when we met in the upstairs nook at the Lake Merritt Cafe, we met at the Law Offices of Siegel and Lee, the same firm in Oakland City Center where Oakland City Council Vice Mayor Jane Brunner is a partner.

Like many of my visits here and there in Oakland, the person working the front desk was an old friend: Chris Weills, who helped in the Super Bowl: Oakland bid effort. Chris is a kind person and an all around good guy. He made sure Councilmember Quan and I used the conference room for our talk.

Oscar Grant and Unity

Councilmember Quan and I met just three hours after Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums' press conference calling for calm and civic unity on the eve of the Oscar Grant Trial verdict. The Oscar Grant murder of 2009, where now former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle shot Grant in the back on the platform at the Fruitvale BART Station on the morning of New Years Day 2009, has done everything from start riots in Oakland, to arguably provide the idological fuel that led to 80 Oakland Police layoffs by the Oakland City Council.

Now, with the verdict just days, if not now hours, away, Oakland braces for it, and America watches to see if Oakland will erupt again.

Naturally, that was a great place for Quan and I to start our talk. "You know the whole world of media was there today, so, you know, Oakland is watched right now. And it's unfortunate. I think it's being watched because people are expecting or maybe hoping for violence. You know this is a very tough time for Oaklanders. I've been doing a lot of door-to-door walking. Talking to a lot of young people. This incident makes the whole city sad. Not just the African-American community, but particularly the African American community because I think Oscar is a symbol of a young black man who was working, and trying to get his life together. And he was out celebrating New Years, and now he's dead."

Quan says she and her neighbors have worked to support Oscar Grant's family. She says Grant's a "very sweet" person who many, but particularly young people, want justice for. Because the unemployment rate for blacks in Oakland is estimated to be as high as 25 percent, and even higher for young black men, Quan says that at a time when it seems hopeless for some, a "just" verdict to end the Oscar Grant trial is a symbol of hope for them.

Does the media overblow the idea of a riot?

The ideal of a riot after the Oscar Grant trial verdict is something talked about in the media, including here. Is the media making too much of the idea? "You almost get an expectation of excitement around it," Quan says. "I told reporters I was there for both of the demonstrations. And thousands and thousands of Oaklanders were there. Less than a few percentage of people were involved in it (the riots)."

Quan claims that three-quarters of the people arrested were not from Oakland. Quan says "I was there at the second demonstration There were 30 people there by the time my daughter and I decided to go have dinner." And that after she and her daughter left, the police departed to, leaving a set of unwatched outsiders to start another riot in downtown Oakland. To Quan, it gives an image of Oakland that's not true.

On The World Cup and The Oakland Mayor's Race

Quan's World Cup Soccer favorite was the team that got kicked out the day we met: Brazil. Quan says her family watches a lot of soccer, especially South American soccer, and so they had high hopes for Brazil; "Too bad," she said. At least that can't be said for Quan's status in the Oakland Mayor's Race, even though she focused on having been "beaten up" during the last week.

Quan's displeasure came from a mailer and robo-calling effort on the part of the Oakland Police Officers Association that was aimed at Quan and illegally executed, according to The East Bay Express. Why the attack? Because Quan, who's the chair of the City's Finance Committee, was painted as having called for as many as 200 Oakland Police Officers to be let go to cut the budget, which she says she did not do; the actual highest number was 150 officers; eventually, Oakland would lay-off 80 officers.)

The problem with the robocall was that it was done without asking the phone call receipient if they wanted to take the call, a move that's against California campaign law.

Quan also notes that the mailers came from the California Prison Guards Unuon, who she wonders may just be "looking for new customers" in Oakland. "I won't hide the fact that I believe we have to have a fair and balanced budget." She points to Oakland's dramatic reduction in crime not just to the police but to crime prevention programs.

Does Oakland hate its police officers?

The moments leading to the eventual Oakland City Council decision to cut 80 officers at the June 24th special meeting of the Oakland City Council were not fun for Oakland Police Officers. Not just because of the talk of layoffs, but because of the dislike expressed for the Oakland Police. In some cases, it boardered on expressed hate. What did Quan think about that? "I think we have a divided town. The Chief's poll shows that 40 percent of the citizens of Oakland distrust the police," she says, "for good or legitimate reasons? We don't know. Clearly the city is still under court order because of the Riders case. Clearly not enough of the Oakland Police force lives in Oakland; 90 percent of the police force lives outside of Oakland. We don't have enough minority police officers. We don't have enough who live in the City."

On the matter of the Oakland Police Pension Fund, Quan says the current retirement level of 50 years of age is "not sustainable." When pressed to say if she favored San Francisco's two-tiered system (where they also put 9 percent of their salary into their pension fund, versus Oakland cops, which put none into their own) she did not rubber stamp it out-right, but said that Oakland needs a change in that direction.

Jean Quan challenges Don Perata

While this space disagrees, some think of the Mayor's Race as being between former California State Senator Don Perata and Councilmember Quan. I think the race is more wide open because media is so poorly used and done and the traditional forms of Bay Area media, incuding the print version of the San Francisco Chronicle and the Oakland Tribune are all but dead from a perspective of influence. Only television remains. The candidate who knows how to use the Internet has not yet emerged; using YouTube is not enough.

Still, a Perata / Quan fight's as easy to start as one between Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier in their prime, and equally as hard to resist the chance to do. I asked Councilmember Quan about Perata's attacks on how the Oakland City Council came to form its budget and Quan did not mince words: "Don's not come up with any budget. And most of the proposals he's come up with haven't been ones that make a lot of sense to me. If Don wants to present a full city budget, then he should. Last year, when we were trying to balance the budget, he was trying to convince the council that the police didn't have to give 10 percent like everybody else (to their salary reductions). They only had to give 5 percent. We stood our ground, and they gave 10 percent. Now, he's basically saying the police officers don't have to pay more to their pension. You know if he gets to be Mayor of this city, he's going to have to balance the budget too; and I want him to show me how's he's going to balance the budget if the police don't start paying something into their pensions."

Quan's calling you out, Don. She thinks Oakland's police pensions are way out of line.

On Black / Asian violence

I asked Jean Quan for her view of alledged increase in black / Asian violence, because there were four high profile attacks involving blacks and Asians in San Francisco and in Oakland this year, and the deadly beating of Tian Sheng Yu in downtown Oakland. Quan said she from Oakland and has had a lot of African American friends for a long time, and she says, that then half of the Oakland school students were African American, now it's more Latino. She also has been "Taking the lead in helping" Yu's widow, Zhi Rui Wang cope in the wake of the loss of her husband. Quan says that Zhi Rui Wang wants to make sure this does not happen to any other family, and wanted us to reach out to our young people, and to give them more opportunity. "The way we break the cycle of violence is justice," she says, and part of that is giving hope to young people. So with that, Quan and I closed the circle around the desire for justice in the Oscar Grant case.

On being an Asian American running for Mayor in Oakland

Quan said that at the Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco, she was "mobbed" by young Gay Asians who were not from Oakland, but knew who she was. There's a kind of hunger for an Asian candidate not just in Oakland, but in California and it seems Quan's tapped into that.

On being Mayor if she wins

Quan says she would have a small office staff, and not "shadow" the city offices. "I plan to have one or two people who are working on our image and our economic development," she says, as well as more organizers.

On Oakland sports

Quan's supportive of the "efforts the Mayor has made" to retain the Oakland A's and loves the idea of a baseball stadium at Jack London Square. Quan thinks that while the Golden State Warriors possibily leaving for San Francisco is one issue, she's more afraid the Raiders will go over to Santa Clara with the 49ers, costing Oakland millions more in revenue that have been used for the retirement of the Raider bonds going back to 1995.

More on the video

That's a good part of the vidoe interview; you can see the rest of the 30 minute conversation right above.

Stay tuned.