THE SUNDAY COLUMN | When the effervescent former mayor of New York, Ed Koch, passed this week, a flood of testimony to his civic pride and accomplishments rushed through. However, none was better than the current Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who wrote in Time:
“Ed was a savior for a city in desperate need of one. Through his determined leadership and responsible fiscal stewardship, he helped lift the city out of its darkest days and set it on a course for an incredible comeback…When we were down, he picked us up. When we were worried he gave us confidence. When someone needed a good kick in the rear, he gave it to them.”
In many ways Oakland’s current state is much like New York during the late 70s and early 80s, disheveled by crime and crumbling under mismanagement. Yet, after last week’s City Council meeting, it became crystal clear that many of our leaders have no capacity for picking up the city’s confidence, but merely to stomp on it when it’s down. Oakland does not have an Ed Koch, it has too many Ed Bundy’s
Following another homicide this year, this time during the city’s newest organic and vibrant, monthly street fair, called Art Murmur, two council members, in particular, favored shutting down and downsizing the festival for fear of losing more people to violence, while also shifting police resources away from other parts of the city.
Councilmembers Larry Reid and Desley Brooks said what amounts to capitulation to the dark forces wreaking havoc in Oakland. The young adults in the streets are the same who march during the occupy movement, they are not fearful and, unlike some council members, they see a very tangible and exciting future in their city, despite the guns flashing and bullet whizzing by.
As I listened last week, I was struck by how so few of our local leaders actually take the time to say something nice about their respective cities. Say something touching and romantic about the town you represent. Be whimsical in your memories of certain locales in your city. Raise up the constituency with your words. The current president of the United States won his first term in office based solely on his ability to lead through the creativity of his language.
With people dying in the streets of Oakland, we cannot have our leaders telling us to ostensible stick our heads in the sand and cower until the coast is clear like Mr. Reid did last week, we want them to grab that banner of positivity and lead us to a better place the majority of dream about in our hearts.
Tweet of the Week
"One thing Dorner & LAPD have in common-Is they have all shot innocent people in the past week & none of those shooters have been punished." - @mrdaveyd, Feb. 9.
The Week That Was
The FBI last week says it averted a terrorist attack at the Bank of America on Hegenberger Road. Are they heroes? The alleged bomber was led by undercover FBI agents with an inert explosive device and arrested the man after parking his van near the BofA branch.
Oakland is still reeling from the shooting Feb. 1 at the Art Murmur walking street fair. Last Tuesday, Councilmembers Larry Reid and Desley Brooks said the city should be using its police resources in problem areas and not for festivals.
In San Leandro, its Board of Zoning and Adjustments approved a height variance allowing a green tech wind turbine company to erect a 100-foot wind mill on the shoreline. Nearby residents expressed anger with the plan and vow to appeal the decision to the City Council.
Alameda County Supervisor donned an Oaksterdam t-shirt during last Tuesday’s meeting in honor of two commendations to the city’s noted medical cannabis dispensaries. He joked about giving out free samples.
In Hayward, the state attorney general gave the go-ahead for a new operator to take over the struggling St. Rose Hospital. The approval will keep the hospital’s emergency room open and maintain the facility as a safety net hospital for south county poor. However, the new owner has a sketchy background.
“This has nothing to do with being green. This is a 100-foot billboard you’re allowing and not a research and development project.” - A. Alan Berger, attorney for San Leandro's Heron Bay Homeowners Association, Feb. 7, over an application for a commercial wind turbine to be erected near the shoreline.
>>Although fracking is far more prevalent on the East Coast, its future may include California, particularly a large formation of natural gas on the Central Coast. While more natural gas may bring energy self-sufficiency, it will also make you sick. (East Bay Express, Feb. 6)
>>As medical cannabis dispensaries try to expand, labor unions are playing a huge role. For instance, in San Leandro, where discussion over allowing two such clubs into their city begins this week, the hidden hand of labor is definitely behind its change of heart over pot recently. (Reuters, Feb. 9)
>>Also this week comes discussion in Alameda County over whether to approve the use of unmanned aircraft for use by the sheriff's department. This cover story details some of the inherent problems that come with opening this Pandora's Box on the domestic front. (Time, Feb. 11)