Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Oakland Mayor's Race: Don Perata, Then Tuman, Kaplan For Mayor

Today marks the end of a long and exciting Oakland Mayor's Race. This blogger has talked extensively on and off camera with all 10 of the candidates, created over 300 minutes of video interviews, and read a lot of information on all of them. Former State Senator Don Perata who will be the best choice for Mayor. The simple reason is, for all of the issues lobbed at him, Perata is a leader who gets things done.

That written, political newcomer Joe Tuman is the second choice, followed by At-Large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan. This was tough, because for a long time, Perata's run for Mayor was a surprise in that a higher office seemed the more logical direction - like Senator. But Perata, for some years now, has expressed desire to be Mayor of Oakland, got an early start, kept his focus, and never looked away. Perata followed the advise then-Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris gave to me more than once: make sure they're always talking about you. And everyone has. Meanwhile, Perata has been above the fray, talking about the need to support Oakland's police and bring leadership back to the Mayor's Office.

In Oakland, Perata has a lot of chits to cash in. When I left the City of Oakland after The Super Bowl, it was Perata who's support for me never wavered. Perata, from the time I was a columnist for The Montclarion to my work for Oakland, has never once turned his back on me. And that's true for a lot of people.

What swayed my vote to Perata was that others like some at the Welstone Democratic Club, were talking about Perata helping "big developers like Phil Tagami" as if that's a bad thing. First, Phil, who's a friend, is not a "big developer" but a hard worker. Second, I knew Phil when he was working in real estate and struggling to make it. Phil's an Oaklander who worked his way up, while some of the same people who are now in the Welstone Club were working for Oakland City Council people, and in some cases sleeping with them.

I'm sick and tired of Oaklanders pulling other Oaklanders who've made it down. It was the comments from those who were doing this, that was the final issue for me. Before that point, I'd considered Rebecca for a long time, and still feel she would do a good job as Mayor. But Rebecca doesn't have quite the gravitas that Perata has. Indeed, Joe Tuman has more. Moreover, Joe really get that people are upset with the Oakland Parking Problem. He will work to stop predatory parking, and I don't think Rebecca will do that.

Tuman is a surprise. A 29-year Oaklander who really has groomed himself into "Citizen Joe," a man who can lead Oakland. I've had hours of conversations with Joe and continue to be impressed with his grasp, not just of the issues, but of the structure and culture of Oakland leadership - that's rare.

Finally, I give a special tip of the hat to Green Party Candidate Don Macleay. As I wrote last week, Don's campaign effort has grown and matured and he's developed a "man of the people" brand, that had he started a year ago, could have pushed him into the Mayor's Office. Don's a good man who's an Oakland treasure.

Rand Paul Wins: Kentucky Elects Man Called "Wacky, Kook" As Senator

Rand Paul, the ophthalmologist son of Rep. Ron Paul, is projected to win the Kentucky Senate seat, beating Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway in today's election race.

In picking Paul over Conway, Kentucky selected a person considered too racist and extremist to represent them, and called "wacky" and a "kook" by others.

A person, Rand Paul, who said that the 1964 Civil Rights Amendment should not apply to the private sector. A person who, more than once, has made statements indicating his outright misunderstanding and at times incredible stupidity with America.

Kentucky, Rand Paul is now your wacky Senator:

This would not have happened were it not for the terrible shape of an economy that's growing, but not producing enough jobs to make a difference for middle America. The unemployment rate is 10 percent in Kentucky. That problem has brought out a terrible element. The Rand Paul supporter who seems to advocate violence against women:

While that is not the fault of Rand Paul, it is the fault of Rand Paul supporters, who probably feel their actions were justified in the end because their candidate won.


Oakland Mayor's Race: Arnie Fields Hates Jerry Brown

Arnie Fields is, from this bloggers view, the unofficial Mayor of Oakland. The block of 7th Street that runs next to the BART tracks and contains the BART West Oakland Station, is marked by "Fields For Mayor" signs, all over the place. Only a billboard for "Marcie Fields For Mayor" provides a momentary break from the "Fields For Mayor" images. That, and Fields owns the popular Revolutionary Cafe that's in the middle of the block at 1612 7th Street, which also has his signs.

Arnie Field may not win the race for Mayor of Oakland, but Fields is certainly a force in Oakland. Arnie Fields is an energetic, friendly, and knowledgeable Oaklander who's primary reason for running for Mayor is his anger with former Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, who he describes as a "kook." This blogger reminded Fields that that "kook" was about to become Governor of California - or so it looked - and Fields said "I hope not." Arnie Fields blames Jerry Brown for making Oakland into what he says is "Gotham City."

That gives you some idea of the kind of conversation Fields and I had and is in the video above.

Arnie Fields Real Estate Guy

There are people who don't take Arnie seriously, but in meeting and talking with him at length, especially off-camera, that's a mistake. This effort has been as much for the objective of eliminating the stereotypes people in Oakland have about the candidates, and in Fields, I've succeeded. Arnie Fields is a married father of three children between the ages of 13 and 21 (two boys and one girl to "even out the testosterone in the house" as he said), who specializes in rehabilitating properties in Oakland. Arnie grew up in Oakland and eats, sleeps, and drinks the culture of our city.

He says that prior to 2000, there was "a house for everyone in Oakland," but Jerry Brown's 10K program - which caused the construction of market rate high density housing in downtown Oakland - took out that era of reasonably priced homes and made Oakland a place where such inexpensive single family home ownership is not longer possible.

Talking With Arnie

Arnie Fields talks started with a kind of introduction to the block of West Oakland he built. Pointing to a neighboring clothing business, he said "People come all over to buy her clothes, she's the best in the Bay. Come and visit her." Arnie says they brought in a bike shop and "the Berkeley Liberation Radio, which is right around the corner, on Peralta" as well as the Revolution Cafe.

Fields says the City of Oakland was trying to demolish the entire block; they saved it, he says, when he and his wife created a historic district. He blames Jerry Brown for getting rid of the old Lincoln Theater, and essentially trying to erase the culture and infrastructure of West Oakland. Arnie says it's wrong for the City to try and destroy its historic structures. Fields forcefully says Oakland has "the largest stock of historic buildings in the country."   Fields says the housing stock in Oakland is "almost 80 years old."

As you can see, Fields has so much to say and has done so much in Oakland, it's hard to keep him on the basic topic of running for Mayor of Oakland, but I did succeed. But it's also why Fields does not perform well in forums: his mind is all over the place, and forums can't pin him down by the way they're ran.

Arnie Fields Is Fighting Corruption

Arnie Fields says his run for Mayor is to root out corruption. In our talk, he pointed directly to the Community and Economic Development Agency and repeated what's become a common theme: that CEDA is corrupt and using fees on building owners to help the City of Oakland pay for services outside of its department responsibilities in areas like building permits and enforcement. If elected, Fields would kick out much of the CEDA management.

Fields also says he will "get rid of the blight ordinance" which he says causes buildings to be slated for demolition and have gotten rid of the inexpensive housing in Oakland. He says that Oakland's population has decreased because of these actions by about 10 percent. (Now, in 2010, Oakland's population is at 399,484, in 2005 it was at 395,274, which is a net increase. Sorry Arnie.)

Arnie Wants To Cut The Fat

Fields asserts that as Mayor he's going to cut 500 CEDA code enforcement officers that he will reduce to 250 positions. Arnie's more interested in shifting money from CEDA to public service, but overall he doesn't have a plan for reducing the deficit. "I want. We're going to become pro-business...cut the red tape," he says, "and eliminate the tax liability" Oakland has at present.

Fields wants to restore Oakland's old buildings to pass on affordability to Oaklanders.  "Before Jerry Brown showed up, you were able to rent a house in Oakland for $600 to $700 a month," he says, "the whole house."  

Fields As Mayor

Fields says his Mayor's office is going to be "a beacon of love and hope" for all.  He will thin down the Mayor's staff and be at all of the council meetings.   "We are going to have a zero-tolerance for litter" in Oakland.

Fields Supports BB

Arnie Fields supports Measure BB because he says "We need more education."   He also says he will push for a 100 percent high school graduation rate.

Fields Will Not Sue The A's

Fields does not want to sue the Oakland A's.   He wants to work with the A's to make them see the benefits of being in Oakland.

You can learn more about Arnie by visiting his website Fields4Change.com and watching the video.

Stay tuned.

American Liberty in Jeopardy? You decide

Is our Liberty in jeopardy here in America? You decide for yourselves, or perhaps you have already decided with your vote.

A government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich is far more likely to continue with Republicans back in power. We should know for sure very shortly.

But what you may not know, is that the Democrats are not much better. How can the rich (and there are no poor folks in Congress) ever really understand the struggles and despair of the impoverished? Look at their priorities and it is easy to see how disconnected every member of Congress is from “main street America.”

Since early this year, Washington has left millions of unemployed workers without the money, in the form of jobless benefits, to pay their rent or mortgage and feed themselves and their families. These most unfortunate souls are known as the 99ers. Had the Democrats not been so arrogant as to assume the 99ers would vote for them no matter what, and instead passed the Tier 5 bill before they recessed (yet again) they (the Dems) would not be sweating bullets worrying about their jobs. Hey Ms. Pelosi - I’ll bet you are not laughing at the 99ers now.

This Summer, the Democrats refused to budge on funding Unemployment extensions using money from TARP or the Stimulus Package.

But, Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers, saw a proposed $19 billion tax shifted from their assets onto working people. While the toothless financial reform bill passed by Congress earlier this year was initially to be paid for by taxing the institutions most responsible for the financial meltdown of 2008, the Democratic leadership caved to Republican objections, agreeing to fund it instead with money left over from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)—funds that otherwise would have gone to decrease the US deficit. Instead, those billions in deficit reduction will be gouged out of programs that benefit the working class and the poor.

So Democrats refused to compromise to get badly needed UI benefits passed for hurting Americans, but they did compromise with Republicans to fund the so called Financial Reform Bill via those TARP funds. What is more important? Saving Americans from homelessness and starvation, or passing a weak Financial Reform Bill that barely makes a difference to Wall Street moguls, crooks and thieves?

Also let us not forget, while slashing funds for the jobless and the working population generally, Congress approved $33 billion to pay for the escalation of the nine-year-old war and occupation in Afghanistan, bestowing billions of dollars on a corrupt Afghanistan regime. Although there may not be oil in Afghanistan - there is reportedly over $1 trillion in untapped minerals in the earth there.

Taken together, these actions provide an unmistakable portrait of a government that is of the rich, by the rich and for the rich—one that is utterly unresponsive to the needs and wishes of the vast majority of the American people. The actions of the US Senate (the “millionaires club”), the House (where the average net worth is $650,000) and to some extent the Obama White House are determined by the interests of the banks, the corporations and the wealthiest one percent of the population, while the majority of the country, the working people, are abandoned to the mercies of the capitalist “free market.”

The Democratic House and Senate leadership have blamed Republican obstinacy for the defeat of these meager relief measures. The reality, however, is that both big business parties accept the doctrine of deficit reduction and agree that social spending—including the pittance offered to the unemployed—must be curtailed to that end. As for the Obama White House, it declined to make an issue of millions of workers being left destitute.

What is to account for the chasm that divides the interests of the working class majority from the policies of the two big business parties? According to the latest data released by the Congressional Budget Office 4 months ago, the income gap between the top 1 percent, America’s millionaires, and the rest of the population more than tripled between 1979 and 2007. During that period, the top one percent saw its after-tax income increase 281 percent, compared to just 25 percent for the middle fifth of the population.

No wonder the Democrats stand to lose the House and maybe the Senate as well. If and when that happens, the Democrats will have no one to blame but themselves. Had they passed Tier 5 they would be sitting pretty, confident of winning enough seats to safeguard their majorities in both the House and Senate.

No matter what happens as a result of today’s voting, Congress should NOT wait another 2 weeks to get back to Washington - as is scheduled. They should return immediately and get that Tier 5 Bill passed and extend the UI filing dates as well.

There is wide speculation that the lame-duck Congress will not be addressing the unemployment issues of Tier 5 or extending filing deadlines at all. If that proves to be the case, then there is little doubt that America will erupt into violent protests in towns across the nation - likely by Christmas.

Perhaps the Government is already aware of what is sure to come, as they seem to be preparing for civil unrest here on our own shores. They are already spending millions to arm the guards patrolling our unemployment offices.

According to RTTV News:
Twenty thousand additional U.S. uniformed troops, set to be trained by 2011, are to help as a response to the threat of a possible mass terror attack or civil unrest following an economic collapse. But despite assurances from the Pentagon, many Americans are worried by the prospect of seeing the military guard in the streets.

Oakland Mayor's Race: Larry Lionel Young Interview

Larry Lionel Young, Jr. is running for Mayor of Oakland to "make change," and if he were elected, at 30, he would be the youngest Mayor in Oakland's history.

Young, who's worked as a real estate broker for five years, said that his reason for running is to give a positive message to black and brown people who are struggling and incarcerated in jail. He also points to the economic problems faced by Oaklanders "facing foreclosure" as another reason he elected to run for Mayor of Oakland.

Oakland Can't Police It's Way

Young says that Oakland can't "police its way" out of crime problems. The graduate of Westlake and of Claremont Middle School, Berkeley High School, and after Laney and Diablo Valley Colleges, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, favors programs rather than jails to help Oakland's youth in particular. He wants to reallocate money from public safety to parks and recreation programs. "Currently 75 to 80 percent of our budget goes to public safety. That's a lot of pie."

Young also wants to improve the facades of Oakland's buildings, pointing to large parts of International Boulevard that have dilapidated structures that he wants upgraded. Part of the reallocated funds would be used for that purpose.

Oakland Police Salaries Too High

Larry Lionel Young feels the best way to reduce the money spent on public safety is via lowering Oakland police salaries - "From $72,000 to $49,000 is the best way for us to accomplish our vision," he says. Young thinks Oakland officers he's talk to agree with him - not all of them, but the majority of the officers Young has talked to.

On the matter of City of Oakland employees, Young wants to have Oakland workers live in Oakland, in fact he wants that as a requirement of maintaining employment.

No On Measure BB

LL Young, Jr. does not favor any of the tax-based proposals on the ballot, particularly Measure BB. In fact, the only ballot measure he favors is Measure L.

Racism in The Campaign?

Larry feels that some of the reason he's not well known is due to, in some cases, racism. "I tell you this. There's a lot more glamorizing for the news to portray a young black man being shot on BART than there is one who's running for Mayor." In that way, he's correct. If the media were not so lazy, not so much racist, Young's story would have been told over and over again in the newspapers and TV channels covering the race.

The Mayor's Office Under Larry Young

Larry says his Mayor's Office will be ran by a person who's a good listener and is "more hands on and involved." His agenda is for Oakland to be the best place to work, best place to live, and best place to visit.

Oakland Sports And Larry Young

On the matter of maintaining the A's in Oakland, Larry's not well-versed on how that can be done - I had to explain it. He feels its important to keep them here, but if they decide to leave, he feels Oakland has "plenty of options" to replace them. He doesn't favor spending public money on sports stadiums.

The Young Campaign

Larry Lionel Young says his campaign has been endorsed by "The People," and has not worked to raise money. He claims that he has no campaign expenses and that everything in terms of communication has been by word of mouth. Indeed, he has and does not see the need for, a website. I've got on him about this, but that's his way. What's head-scratching is that Young refers to YouTube videos, but does not see the need for a website.

With this, can Young even gain visibility and votes?  We shall see.

JaMarcus Russell Avoids Indictment

Former Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell was not indicted by a grand jury in Alabama. Russell was charged with a felony of possession of a controlled substance, which turned out to be a drink that contained cough syrup ingredient codeine, according to The New York Times.

Zennie Loves Sotto Mare In North Beach, San Francisco

Sotto Mare is San Francisco's North Beach District, is this bloggers new most favorite San Francisco eatery. Look, don't expect some restaurant review here, this is my take.

Eating at Sotto Mare was the idea of my best friend Beth Schnitzer and her brother Steven, and friends Ragu and Shuri. At first, I didn't know what to make of this narrow space called "Gigi Fiorucci's Oysteria and Seafood Restaurant located at 552 Green Street" until we sat down.

The waitress, who was wearing a "Roxy" hat, had a personality that makes the room seem bigger than it is, and you know, that quality is not limited to her, it's part of the Sotto Mare culture. The staff really seems like it's family having a great time. Just a bunch of good, down to earth people, who make great food.

What was that food? The Sotto Mare Cioppino. Wow. If you don't like it, there's something massively wrong with you. I'm just saying. The cioppino and the sand dabs, which we had and are in the video, are to die for.

I could go on and on about this place. The people who work there are so friendly, their energy rubs off on the customers. So everyone' nice to each other, even in that little space. A slice of heaven.

Oakland Mayor's Race: Marcy Hodge Interview

Peralta Community College District Board Member Marcy Hodge has labored as one of the lesser known candidates, who's activity in the Oakland Mayor's Race was punctuated by having her sister Nicole Hodge file a defamation lawsuit against The East Bay Express. In the video interview, Hodge talks about why she decided to run for Mayor and her approach.

Hodge says she decided to run for mayor because she didn't think any of the candidates were talking about the issues Oaklanders were dealing with. "I didn't really feel really excited about the candidates."

She's ran a campaign that features billboards and lawn signs all over Oakland.  What's interesting is as this day approached, more and more "Marcie Hodge" lawn signs have appeared around Oakland.  A signal that some Oaklanders had not decided on a candidate and were swayed toward Hodge.

The East Bay Express and Hodge

Robert Gammon has, for some reason, consistently and dangerously attacked Hodge for running for Mayor of Oakland. Gammon has written that, for all practical purposes, Hodge is a "tool" of Oakland Mayor's Race competitor Don Perata, and asserted that overall her campaign is "illegal." What's interesting is that Gammon didn't make a matrix of what the other Oakland Mayor's Race candidates have done in filling reports, he just focused on Marcie.

While the charge was not supported by any Oakland legal official, just Gammon, and he caused the lawsuit with a series of sloppy blog posts, to his credit, Gammon came back with a very good and through follow-up last week.

The video was created before Gammon's latest work. In that one, Robert's done his homework and raises a good point Marcie should address. Marcie told this blogger she was going to file her financial reports last week. But with that, it doesn't explain why Gammon focused on Hodge in the way he did.

Improving Oakland

Hodge says the best way to reduce the Oakland budget deficit is to attract more businesses to Oakland and grow the tax base; she does not favor bankruptcy as an option. "We have to find creative ways of reducing the deficit...We need to look the way China does it (budgets). They plan (the budget) for 100 years."

On Oakland Sports

Hodge, like many of the candidates, does not favor using "public money" to retain the Oakland A's.  While she wants to retain them, she does not offer an alternative solution but wants to see "creative ways" to keep them.  Hodge doesn't favor suing the Oakland A's or the City of San Jose, favoring the approach of fostering a "cordial relationship" with both parties.

City And Mayor's Office Under Hodge

On the subject of City of Oakland morale, Hodge says that when there's no vision from the city's elected officials, there's no reason for workers to get behind the city and that impacts morale.  She's not willing to point at Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums by name, but does so by comments in our conversation.

On the matter of the Oakland Police, Hodge doesn't favor reducing police salaries and feels that they "take a beating" in the public eye.

The Hodge Candidacy

Marcie Hodge is a good person who's campaign, while marked by a single-person media attack, has been largely successful.  Why?  She's visible and attractive, which may be the reason she's getting attention from undecided Oaklanders.  Will all of that be enough to gain a substantial number of votes is the question of the day.

Can Tommy Wiseau Have Your Number?

With all the stress surrounding Election Day it might be nice to watch a video that is a spoof off of the MADTv skit "Can I Have Your Number?" This one features Tommy Wiseau instead - and it is sure to bring some laughs. So, take a break from worrying about election day and watch a nice video.

Demi Lovato In Rehab

The innocent and adorable Disney star Demi Lovato has checked into rehab according to People magazine online.

People reports that the 18-year-old decided to seek medical help after getting in a fight with a dancer while on tour and Lovato has also been struggling with her body image.

The article title on the menu bar says "Demi Lovato in Rehab for Cutting," but the title on the page says "A Fight Sent Demi Lovato to Rehab." The article itself makes it seem as though the main reason for going to rehab is her weight issues - hopefully the teen star can get the help she needs, and it's good that she has taken this step now before it escalated.

Oakland Mayor's Race: Video Interviews With All 10 Candidates

If you haven't made up your mind on who to vote for in the Oakland Mayor's Race on election day, today, this series of Zennie62 on YouTube videos should help a little.

They comprise over 300 minutes of conversations and 15 videos that in total make up the most ambitious video blog effort I've ever done.   The idea was to give you a view of all of the candidates, not just some of them.  (That effort's the biggest example of local print and television media prejudice and attempt to control information I've ever seen.  And if someone calls them by a name that brings up Nazi Germany, they'll start whining and crying, but at this stage, given their antics, I don't care what they think.)

So in honor of The San Francisco Giants as World Champions and Tim Lincecum, this blogger says FUCK YEAH! (OK. Lots of San Francisco street party hoping and killer videos in celebration last night, but I digress.)

The videos represents all of the candidates: Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, Joe Tuman, Don Macleay, Don Perata, Councilmember Jean Quan, Larry Lionel Young, Arnie Fields, Marcie Hodge, Terrance Candell, and Greg Harland.  Plus, there' are two forum overview videos and one commentary on the Sierra Club forum when it was messed up, trying to segregate candidates from attending.  (Thank God that was corrected.)

The video playlist below has all of the candidates video interviews. The order does not indicate who this blogger endorses for Mayor of Oakland:

I will also post summaries of interviews conducted last week, and my recommendations, before 12 noon PDT.

Stay tuned.