Sunday, July 18, 2010

Oakland Mayor's Race 2010 - Dr. Terrance Candell interview

In many ways, Dr. Terrance Candell is a lot like fellow Oaklander Urban Farmer Novella Carpenter, the author of Farm City. Both are energetic, intelligent, engaging, passionate, caring, and committed to Oakland. Both also have facilities they started from scratch: Novella her urban farm and for Dr. Candell, Candell's College Preparatory Academy. The main difference, other than he being black and male, and she being white and female, is that Dr. Candell's running for Mayor of Oakland.

Dr. Terrance Candell PhD
This blogger visited Dr. Candell at Candell's College Preparatory Academy in East Oakland, right across the street from Eastmont Mall and at 2544 73rd Street. What was great about the talk, as evidenced by the video, was to what high degree Dr. Candell cares about his students and already is the Mayor of East Oakland. In our talk, he hugs his students and even got all over one who dared to jaywalk across 73rd street. He wants to transfer that level of caring to the job of Mayor of Oakland.

Dr. Candell started the Academy because he "got tired of seeing students from Oakland not going to college." So, in 2000, he sold his Trans Am that was black "with louvers" and started the Academy. Dr. Candell understands Oakland's education problem perhaps more than the other mayoral candidates because he worked in the Oakland Unified School District for 15 years, in addition to running his Academy. "When I was in the District, my students got the highest scores every year," Dr. Candell said.

There's no question that Dr. Candell is an excellent educator, but can that translate to Mayor? Dr. Candell not only thinks so, but asserts that he's the most qualified candidate for Mayor of Oakland, having "ran multi-million dollar budgets for companies and have my own companies."

Dr. Candell's focus is on solving Oakland's lack of focus on it's children, and he points to his concern by explaining how his school is set up as a kind of alternative approach. "You give them one-to-one attention and not set up small schools that do the same (wrong) thing...Children are supposed to be engaged," he charges.

Dr. Candell talks about what he calls, "The Candell Method": a way of direct student / teacher exchange. In our talk, my impression was that his approach to being Mayor would come directly out of how he runs Candell's College Preparatory Academy, and that's not a bad thing.

Fortress Oakland

One of Dr. Terrance Candell's main points is that Oakland is constantly disrespected by outsiders, and also by itself. Rather than tax or charge Oaklanders, Dr. Candell wants to set up a network of toll booths at the Oakland borders, where possible, to collect a tax for entering Oakland. He also wants a payroll tax: "If they turn around and take our money outside our community, it's basically like rapping our community. You're sucking the lifeblood out of our, and turn around and say "Uh..You...Uh" in dissing Oakland. He wants "one percent per paycheck into our General Fund."

In that, Dr. Candell reminds this blogger of New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg. At TechCrunch Distrupt, I asked Mayor Bloomberg why he wasn't offering tax incentives for the very tech companies he was trying to attract. Bloomberg's response was classic: "This is New York, you pay for services," he said. In other words, to maintain a high quality of municipal service, someone has to pay for it. Dr. Candell thinks that someone should be people who come to Oakland, and not Oaklanders. Moreover, he says that he's talked to 60,000 Oaklanders and "they all feel the same way."

Dr. Candell wants to save the Oakland Police Budget

Terrance says he doesn't want to cut the Oakland Police budget, unlike many of his competitors in the Oakland Mayor's Race. He accuses the Oakland City Council of "a lack of imagination" in not finding a solution that would save the 80 police positions eventually cut.

Oakland: Better Customer Service

Dr. Candell also spent time talking about Oakland's morale problem and pledging to have a "nicer" city geared toward customer service. In short, the impression that's hard not to come away with is of a hands-on Mayor who will walk and talk to the city's employees and passionately get behind them. That's not at this point, an endorsement, but an explanation. That message does not come through in the Oakland Mayoral Forums. There, Dr. Candell's more excitable delivery masks his real message of change and renders him something of an entertainer. Still, it's early in the campaign.

On Oakland Sports: The Oakland Warriors

It may comes as no surprise that Dr. Candell wants, and this space agrees totally with, the idea that the Golden State Warriors should be called The Oakland Warriors. "The Warriors don't seem to be very proud to be from Oakland, and I am." But with that, he thinks it's important to make "concessions to keep the Warriors." Frankly, the one act to do so isn't a concession, but a lawsuit to prevent them from moving.

Dr. Candell's website

Dr. Candell's website for his run for Mayor of Oakland is at He also has an active YouTube channel, currently the best one of the candidates at He also has a Facebook page called "Oakland Mayor Terrance Candell". But where he falls short is that he's not on Twitter, nor does he have a blog.

But stay tuned.

Urban Farming in Oakland: City Slickers Fundraiser features Novella Carpenter

Urban farming is fast catching on as an alternative to shopping in overpriced food stores and worrying about how to feed a family on a challenged budget in a bad economy. Oakland, California has become the San Francisco East Bay Area's center of the urban farming movement. All of this was evident at the City Slickers June fundraiser held at St. Paul's Church near Lake Merritt.

Why wait this long to blog about the event? Because everything about the Oakland urban farming effort, from City Slickers and the people involved in it, to the work of Oaklander Novella Carpenter, City Slickers Founder Willow Rosenthal and her friend Laura Pivas and, it's board members including Kelli Saturno, Barbara Lafeete - Olawale and Interim Executive Director Barbara Finnin .

And others not in the West Oakland food organization, but an influence on the movement, like UC Berkeley Professor and Activist Michael Pollan (who Rosenthal and Carpenter describe as a "hero" and a "great guy"), and others, all in Oakland and the East Bay, form, in the urban farming movement, a World unto itself. It deserves more than the short, keyword-friendly blog post.

Moreover, the people I met at the City Slickers fundraiser are some of the most interesting, energetic, and fascinating I've ever met in my life, and that's saying a lot.

City Slickers' Mission

City Slickers describes its mission as "to empower West Oakland community members to meet the basic need for healthy organic food for themselves and their families." In this, it combines seven farms to provide "affordable fresh produce" to the people of West Oakland. That's something long overdue in West Oakland, a part of Oakland historically blighted with supermarkets featuring overpriced, canned goods, and little in the way of fresh produce, all because supermarket execs said they "couldn't afford" to do better without a subsidy by the City of Oakland.

How do I know this? Because solving that problem was one of my tasks when I worked as the Economic Advisor to Elihu Harris when he was Oakland's Mayor and from 1995 to 1998. It was sad to see so many supermarket chains out to extort the City of Oakland just to be convinced to provide the proper kind of food product for West Oaklanders.

What Is Urban Farming

Urban Farming is nothing more or less than establishing a plot to grow vegetables and raise animals for food in your backyard, but it's in an urban area. According to Willow Rosenthal and Novella Carpenter, the habit goes back 100 years, but the reason its become "hot" now, in the 21st Century, is a combination of awareness of the unhealthy results of fast food consumption, and the economy itself. It's cheaper to grow, make, and cook food, than to spend a $100 per grocery store visit.

Urban farming is, from this perspective, the apparent manifestation of Michael Pollan's idea that industrial eating disconnects us from nature; the best way to reconnect with nature and eat with the environment instead of against it, is to establish, or at least eat from, an urban farm. That's what Novella Carpenter's done.

The Crazy Genius of Novella Carpenter

Novella Carpenter is, and I write this lovingly, a brilliant, nutty, funny-as-hell genius. You've heard of women who run with the wolves? Well, Novella's more likely to get them knocked up. The guest at the City Slickers event and Der Kaiser of Ghost Town Farms is someone you know is there, even if you don't know who she is. That was certainly the case at the fundraiser.

Carpenter's given to speaking frankly and hilariously, as certain to refer to drunken encounters as she is the proper way to establish an urban farm, or for that matter, mate animals.

Of all kinds.

Carpenter's established her West Oakland farm into what reads as something out of Charlotte's Web, with flies that go unswatted, and two turkeys named Harold and Maude. Carpenter's book Farm City: The Education of An Urban Farmer, describes how she came to be Oakland's most famous urban farmer.

But as much of a hoot as Novella is to talk with, get her paired with Willow Rosenthal and it's all over. The two really draw energy from each other as the video shows; it's no wonder they're at the center of the urban farming movement in Oakland.

Novella's a "genius" because she's found a way to channel her amazingly powerful creative sprit into something that touches everyone directly or indirectly, changing the culture around the production of the food we eat. She's not a TV star – but should be – yet, she's having a massive impact on how people think about how their food is gotten just by telling her story in Farm City.  One reviewer wrote "At the end of the memoir, I felt as though I had been tending the farm right alongside Carpenter—and emerged satiated and renewed." Moreover, Novella's giving an image of a West Oakland that can be - separated from drugs, crime, and The Riders case - and at the heart of the Bay Area's urban farming movement.

Why Oakland?

Novella's West Oakland farm is successful mostly because in Oakland, people"let you do your thing;" a massive contrast to Berkeley, where that city's famously neurotic residents remind you of the permits you need for urban farming.  Oakland's combination of weather, acceptance, and diversity was the perfect stew for Novella's work.

Get involved with City Slicker Farms

If we're to make Oakland that "better place" Oaklanders talk about, helping City Slicker Farms by volunteering or donating is a great start. City Slicker Farms is looking for a Program Assistant and a Development Manager as of this writing and someone who's serious about what they do, which is developing a needed alternative to access to food that should become the norm. Visit the website at .

And stay tuned.

True Blood campy fun by Suzannah B. Troy

I can't stand the blood and gore but this season is so much better than last season, at least for me.  This season is so much more campy and humorous despite the gore which I could live with out.   The new extended cast is terrific.  Tonight was episode 29 and I can't wait for next week to find out what happens.

Sookie is on the cusp of tapping in to her own inner power or is it a super power?  Eric looks back to his roots and revenging his family being murdered which suddenly seems suddenly very fresh.  Will Eric get revenge and if so will it be this season?  You know I want the answer to be yes and this season!

Lafayette has a super hottie male nurse pursuing him.    This actor playing the male nurse makes me want to go gay as in become a gay man.  He is hot.   There are so many subplots with romantic or scary storylines I can't wait to find out what happens as long as True Blood doesn't turn in to what it did least season which for me became unpleasant to watch but I tuned in just because I had to find out how the HBO series ended, not because I was enjoying it.

Of course the HBO series is very, very sexy and most people getting naked look like they spend enormous hours every day working out.  Very hot bodies, lots of entertaining drama and good story telling in the Alan Ball style with some terrific acting.  One of the best shows on television right now...

I had started reading the books and found Alan Ball's HBO series far superior than the books.  I put the books down but this new season just rocks the house.

Stay tuned....

Beatles Norwegian Wood played on San Francisco BART train

YouTube, Metacafe, and Viddler

A group of wandering musicians playing The Beatles Norwegian Wood on a San Francisco BART train bound for Oakland last week, Thursday.

The musicians, who appeared to be a family consisting of a man and three boys, one an older teenager of about 16, and the other two between the ages of 12 and 14, went from car to car singing The Beatles Norwegian Wood, and really not badly, all things considered - for whatever money the BART riders would give.

I gave two bucks.

It's sad that taking on such activities as singing The Beatles Norwegian Wood on a Bay Area Rapid Transit Train at rush hour is what some have to do to make money. While BART has a "no-panhadling" policy, groups like this one should be given some leeway as they provide entertainment after a long day and a little levity in a San Francisco Bay Area than can take itself a little too seriously.

The Future of Commentary: print vs web by:Nikky Raney

When newspapers and magazines were more popular than web pages the way that the readers were able to comment and give feedback was through "letters to the editor." The editors of each were able to choose and edit which comments made its way into the paper.

With news being delivered online commentary is received instantaneously. Bangor Daily News' Jeff Tuttle is in charge of the newspaper's web site, and he came to my class and spoke about various topics involving moving the news from print to web; he also spoke about the commenting feature.

He told the students in the "Intro to News Reporting" class that makes it so that commenting is only allowed through signing up on the site. Even when signing up for the site anyone is able to make a quick account and e-mail address and post things. The example that Tuttle gave was a comment that would say something along the lines of "so and so is sleeping with so and so's wife."

Of course magazines and newspapers still have their "letters to the editors," but by adding the commenting feature to the web sites commenters that know the negative comments given would never appear in the print edition are able to rant and rave as they please. The unfortunate part is when spam accounts are made, or the self-promoters use the commenting feature to get recognition.

There are certain sites where the comments may not even relate to the entry that the comment is about. Some commenters just comment about random things that have no relevance to the posts whatsoever.

With the online commentary enabling users to interact and give feedback the good and the bad are able to be shown, but sometimes the hateful and disrespectful comments are also present.

Sometimes articles that are known to be overly controversial will have commenting disabled, and in those rare scenarios the "censorship" of the readers is enacted. Commenting and giving feedback is good when the comments and feedback is constructive; whether negative or not there is a way to leave a comment of disagreement without being disrespectful and rude. The downside is that some commenters will use the opportunity to spread negativity and add absolutely nothing constructive to the "conversation."

The print edition will always have the most thought-provoking comments that stick out, but for all other commentary the web site will be able to include the comments that were unable to fit to print- as well as the comments that the print edition would never think to publish.

Tea Party Movement and Mark Williams hurt GOP chances in November

A big problem for the GOP 
The current controversy over Tea Party Express blogger Mark Williams' racist Letter to Abe Lincoln" and his expulsion from The National Tea Party Federation have created such negative attention for Republicans that it threatens GOP chances to gain seats in the House or the Senate in November.

What Mark Williams and some members of The National Tea Party Federation forget, if they even knew, is that America's population has changed so dramatically that minorities who were mere bit players in elections in some states and counties, are now significant influencers in those same regions.

The Center For American Progress Action Fund report on voter demographics explains that while the Democratic Party will become dominated by "the emerging constituencies that gave Barack Obama his historic 2008 victory," the Republican Party will be smaller in its support base, and forced "to move toward the center to compete for these constituencies."

Heavily Democratic minority voters (80 percent for Obama) increased their share of votes in U.S. presidential elections by 11 percentage points between 1988 and 2008, while the share of increasingly Democratic white college graduate voters rose 4 points. But the share of white working-class (not college-educated) voters, who have remained conservative in their orientation, has plummeted by 15 points.

From The Center For American Progress Action Fund Report

The Republican Party is anything but "near the center" in the wake of the Tea Party Movement and Mark Williams. It's no wonder why GOP elected officials aren't talking about Mark Williams or his actions. They're trying to kill the issue with silence, but Mark Williams appearing on CNN's not helping their cause.

Between Mark Williams and Arizona's racist approach to illegal immigration, GOP hopes for gains after the November election are silly to maintain. The only way forward for the GOP is to dump any association with The Tea Party Movement.

Racist Tea Party Express blogger Mark Williams expelled from Tea Party

Mark Williams, the Tea Party Express leader who CNN seems in love with having on their shows, and who's racism seems to know no bounds - first saying that Muslims worship "the terrorists' monkey god," and then writing a racist "Letter to Abe Lincoln" - has been kicked out of the National Tea Party Federation, which represents the Tea Party movement around the country.

Mark William's letter from his blog MarkTalk (where he's taken down the post and replaced it with a note) is here:

Dear Mr. Lincoln,

We Coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don’t cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!
In fact we held a big meeting and took a vote in Kansas City this week. We voted to condemn a political revival of that old abolitionist spirit called the ‘tea party movement’.
The tea party position to “end the bailouts” for example is just silly. Bailouts are just big money welfare and isn’t that what we want all Coloreds to strive for? What kind of racist would want to end big money welfare? What they need to do is start handing the bail outs directly to us coloreds! Of course, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the only responsible party that should be granted the right to disperse the funds.
And the ridiculous idea of “reduce[ing] the size and intrusiveness of government.” What kind of massa would ever not want to control my life? As Coloreds we must have somebody care for us otherwise we would be on our own, have to think for ourselves and make decisions!

The racist tea parties also demand that the government “stop the out of control spending.” Again, they directly target coloreds. That means we Coloreds would have to compete for jobs like everybody else and that is just not right.
Perhaps the most racist point of all in the tea parties is their demand that government “stop raising our taxes.” That is outrageous! How will we coloreds ever get a wide screen TV in every room if non-coloreds get to keep what they earn? Totally racist! The tea party expects coloreds to be productive members of society?
Mr. Lincoln, you were the greatest racist ever. We had a great gig. Three squares, room and board, all our decisions made by the massa in the house. Please repeal the 13th and 14th Amendments and let us get back to where we belong.


Precious Ben Jealous, Tom’s Nephew NAACP Head Colored Person

The main, troubling issue, is what kind of mind thinks of even writing something like that? While other Americans are living diverse lifestyles and getting on with the business of teaching, working, and enjoying life, Mark Williams has to prove that racism is a mental illness just by first thinking of that letter, then writing it.

Mark Williams comes off as one of those white guys that would say something stupid to a black / white interracial couple as they walked by, in part because he's angry over his own sexual frustrations

The question is, how many members of The National Tea Party Federation actually think like Mark Williams? While we may never know that answer, it's more than gracious for NAACP head Ben Jealous to want to meet with Mark Williams. Frankly, why bother?

Mark Williams needs to get with the American program and understand history, and not repeat it. Williams claims he's not racist, but tosses out an obviously racist letter. That's unfortunately typical with racists today, who say "I'm not racist" while doing everything they can to prove they are.

If Mark Williams is a good person, he'd apologize for the letter and for his screwed-up attitude. It's totally un-American, as has been his views on American minorities.

Stay tuned.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner Lands at Farnborough Airshow

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner does a flyby and then lands at the Farnborough Airshow in the Flightglobal video above.

The revolutionary new jumbo jet, declared so by the fact that 50 percent of its airframe is made from composite fiber material, the use of modular manufacturing techniques involving as many as 90 countries, and futuristic avionics, made its first landing for the public at the famed airshow and aircraft trade show in England.

Boeing Chief Test Pilot Mike Carriker told Flightglobal's Jon Ostrower that the Boeing 787 flight started a nine-hour flight from in Seattle and came north over Greenland, while pilots made "about 20 tests" during the flight.

Now, potential customers are touring the airplane to get a feel for what the Boeing 787 is like. Airlines like United Airlines and Northwest Airlines have already placed substantial orders for the Boeing 787.

According to the Wall Street Journal, there are five Boeing 787's already in the air conducting test flights.

Zsa Zsa Gabor, Eva Gabor's sister, rushed to hospital

Gabor and Prince Frederic 
Famed actress and socialite 93-year-old Zsa Zsa Gabor, the sister of Green Acres Eva Gabor, was rushed to the UCLA Medical Center late Saturday night and is in serious condition, according to her publicist John Blanchette via The Associated Press.

Zsa Zsa Gabor suffered broken bones after falling out of her bed while watching television at her home in Bel Air, in Los Angeles, California.

Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband Prince Frederic von Anhalt called the ambulance after the accident. Gabor is also referred to as Sari Prinz von Anhalt, since her marriage to Prince Frederic von Anhalt.

Gabor is partially paralyzed from a car accident in 2002, and confined to a wheelchair. The AP reports Gabor had a stroke in 2005.

Gabor married nine times

A Hollywood legend, Zsa Zsa Gabor has been married nine times. So much, that she once joked she was a good housekeeper, because everytime she married, she kept the house.

Gabor's starred in television shows like The Milton Berle Show (1956), and served as a special guest on Gilligan's Island (1965), and The Late Show with David Letterman (1994). She's played in numerous movies, and best known for The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear.

Social Network: the Facebook movie by Nikky Raney

The movie "Social Network" directed by David Finch has just come out with its trailer. Nikky Raney's input on the movie which comes out October 1, 2010.

note: I have always called him David Finch ever since Seven came out, because it was a joking nickname. I probably should have mentioned that. His name is David Fincher, for anyone who was confused.

News site charges for free study that says people will not pay for online news

NewMediaAge thought it was pulling a fast one by offering a study that reads "Almost two-thirds of people are happy to pay for quality journalism but not online, according to a YouGov survey," for a fee behind a paywall, when the same study results are actually available online without charge.

Thus, NewMediaAge proved why paywalls don't work, even as it was using one: all you have to do is search around to get the same content for free.

And where you can get the study results summary is the very YouGov site that produced the study, here: media paywalls don't work.

 That reports:

A vast majority (83 percent) replied that they would refuse to pay, with only two percent of respondents willing to shell out for online content in the current format. Only four percent would pay for online even when the content in question was not available anywhere else.

NewMediaAge must think the online consumer is stupid.

The study claims:

The Daily Mail is read online at least once a week by 8 percent of respondents, with the Guardian and the Telegraph trailing with 7 percent and 6 percent respectively.
The Independent on Sunday is the Sunday paper least likely to be read online with 96% of respondents saying they do not read the paper online.
Restaurant reviews are more likely to be read by people in the ABC1 social grade than by their C2DE counterparts.
59 percent of the public agree that it is worth paying for a good newspaper.
39 percent agree that newspapers are too expensive now.
17 percent of the public believe that there is no point paying for a paper when you can get it for free. This statistic is the same across the ABC1 and the C2DE social grades.
1 in 5 men admit to watching 'adult content' online.

The idea that paywalls work for news sites is borne of the same arrogance that prevents traditional media sites from fully adopting new approaches to the delivery of news. The bottom line is that the emergence of the personal media network of cell phones, blogs, camcorders-in-PDAs, and so on, has rendered it impossible for Old Media organizations like The New York Times and The Associated Press to enjoy the revenue levels of the past.

Today, anyone can produce media and get paid for it by affiliate marketing or ad sales. The free access blogs win the battle, with their more nimble, and free, news production culture.

Paywalls don't stand a chance, and neither do the companies, like NewMediaAge, that have them.

Stay tuned.