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Exciting news & Sierra Club City Council candidate forum

6 Jul Sierra Club candidate forum

Last night my wife was cleaning out some boxes that we hadn’t looked through in years, and she found a box that was full of a bunch of papers from my high school years, including some sweet hand written letters from friends and my sisters. In this box I found several drafts of the personal statement I submitted to get into UC Berkeley, full of hand written notes (no tracked changes) from my mom and dad. Reading my personal statement made me realize that though I have changed quite a bit since my senior year in high school, my values were very similar. (My writing issues apparently haven’t changed much either – my dad’s notes on one draft say “too many commas” and “too many transition words”.)  Here’s one paragraph from a draft of the statement:

Once issue that I have felt strongly about since childhood is ecology. In elementary school, our classes held an annual fund-raiser to buy and preserve several acres of the rain forest. I also participated in my school’s ecology club during eighth and ninth grade. Each year we organized an ecology fair and disseminated information covering issues ranging from vegetarianism to fuel conservation. We also instituted a recycling program, which the school still uses.

Being a longtime environmentalist, I was so excited this week to receive the news that the Sierra Club had endorsed my candidacy for BART Board. The decisions made in the next decade at BART are crucial not just for BART, but also for the Bay Area’s environment for decades to come. I’m just as eager as I was in elementary school to address the environmental challenges we face.

The City of Oakland also faces a myriad of environmental challenges, and next year we will have at least two new city councilmembers to address these issues. The Sierra Club and the Oakland Climate Action Coalition (OCAC) recognize the importance of the open seat races in districts 1 and 3 so they’re holding a forum on Monday featuring nearly all of the candidates running for these seats (a few couldn’t make it). From the Facebook event description: Continue reading

Living in the O’s Fifth Birthday

8 Jun Sunset City Hall Federal Building

Though Living in the O is on hiatus, I couldn’t let my blog’s birthday pass without acknowledging it here. I’ve really wanted to write lately. It’s taken self-restraint to not write about the June election, so many fantastic restaurants and other businesses opening, and most of all, everything I’m learning about BART and the East Bay through my campaign. I haven’t blogged because I’ve needed to focus on campaigning to be elected to the BART Board.

But today I felt compelled to write because writing this blog and building a community around Oakland blogs is part of why I’m running for office.

Five years ago, many things rapidly changed in my life. Over a span of three or four months, my sister (who I’m very close with) and my two best friends moved away from the Bay Area. And right after that, my girlfriend (now wife) was diagnosed with a major health issue. To say it was a tough year would be an understatement.

I needed something positive to focus on outside of work, so I decided to start blogging, but I couldn’t have imagined how much blogging would change my life for the better. Continue reading

Two great Oakland parties for two great causes

13 Jan Emerge Logo

In the next few days there are two fundraising events happening in Uptown for causes that I care deeply about. I hope you’ll consider joining me at one or both of these events.

Emerge California East Bay Reception
Saturday, January 14th from 6:30-8:30pm at Make Westing

I wrote about Emerge California when I graduated from the 2011 class back in June. Emerge California is the premier training program for Democratic women who want to run for office. The goal of Emerge is to increase the number of Democratic women in public office.

I learned so much through the seven month training program and met some amazing women leaders from throughout the Bay Area. I want to do everything I can to make sure women – particularly Oakland women – have the same opportunity as I did, which is why I’m on the host committee for this Saturday’s East Bay reception. Continue reading

Port Shut Down Resolution: (Dis)respect for the City Council

20 Dec Grassless Frank Ogawa Plaza post-Occupy Oakland

The last couple weeks have been super busy for me so I haven’t found much time for blogging. But tonight the City Council will be voting on a resolution that’s created quite a bit of controversy, and it’s made me think a lot about how Oakland citizens feel about and interact with their City representatives.

The resolution, authored by Councilmembers Ignacio De La Fuente and Libby Schaaf, opposes any purposeful upcoming or future Port of Oakland shut downs and calls on the Mayor and City Administrator to use lawful tools to prevent future shut downs.

There are, unsurprisingly, strong opinions on both sides of this resolution. And voicing opinions is incredibly important in a democracy. But much of the opposition to this resolution I’ve heard and read in the past few days has been expressed as personal attacks against the councilmembers who authored the resolution.

Reading comments on Twitter about De La Fuente and Schaaf over the past few days reminded me of a blog post I wrote almost three years ago, which seems just as apt today. So here’s that blog post, in full:

(Dis)respect for the City Council

There’s been something on my mind for the past several months that I was reminded of on Tuesday night, as I watched the Public Safety Committee meeting. I often hear Oakland residents blaming all of Oakland’s problems on one council member (the council member varies based on the person), to the point where they accuse that council member of being corrupt or not really caring about Oakland. I try not to fall into that trap anymore, but I used to harbor such feelings towards one council member, Larry Reid. Continue reading

Joyce Roy: Senate Public Hearing on Regional Governance in SF this Thursday

6 Dec

This guest post was written by Joyce Roy. As a retired architect, Joyce has raised her sights (or sites?) to the whole city of Oakland and so has been active in advocating for better transit, the right development in the right place and the reuse of existing structures.  She is an active member of ULTRA.

This is for those of you who were disturbed by the recent decision of MTC (Metropolitan Transportation Commission) to leave the headquarters they share with ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments) and use Bridge toll funds for real estate speculation by purchasing a too-big warehouse in a transit-challenged location. It was not just in itself an unwise, and possibly, illegal action, but a loud and clear symptom of the Bay Area’s transportation/land-use disconnect due to the difficulty of comprehensive planning without regional governance which would combine the functions of MTC, ABAG, the Air District and BCDC.

Here is your chance to have your concerns heard by our State Senate:

Senate Transportation & Housing Informational Hearing-
SUBJECT: Regional Governance and Bay Area Economic Development

December 8, 2011
10:00 am – 1:00 pm in the Legislative Chamber of San Francisco City Hall, Room 250

You can be assured that your comments will be given serious attention because the Chair of the Senate Transportation & Housing Committee, Mark DeSaulnier, has served on MTC, ABAG, and the Air District so he understands the dysfunctional separation of those regional agencies. Continue reading

Karen Hester: Show Up, Eat Up, Speak Out – Interim Mobile Food Policy Comes Before Council this Tuesday, Dec 6th

3 Dec Bites off Broadway Chefs

This guest post was written by Karen Hester, an events producer who lives in Temescal Creek Cohousing and often cooks dinner for her community of 25 folks. You can subscribe to her event listings by signing up on her website. She is a board member of Destiny Arts Center, a bike enthusiast and loves to eat almost any street food, including fried crickets in Cambodia.

In the scheme of things, I’m a relative newcomer to the food fights in the mobile food landscape. City staff and some local food truck operators have been pushing for a new kinder, gentler mobile food policy for almost 2 1/2 years.

Last spring Ed Manase and staff from Planning got push back from the City committee called Committee for Community Economic Development to reach out more to stakeholders and naysayers. He had tried to push through a comprehensive policy for the whole city, which makes sense, except in Oakland since Desley Brooks and Larry Reid don’t want mobile food in their districts. Which is a shame as the poorest parts of Oakland are the ones that perhaps stand to benefit the most as food trucks are a great incubator for food entrepreneurs who can develop a loyal clientele without investing in a brick and mortar restaurant. I predict that whoever replaces Larry Reid next November will realize the lost opportunity and get onboard.

So now while Ed Manase and staff work on a comprehensive policy to hopefully be adopted by the Council by March, Councilmembers Kaplan and Brunner have worked with some of us in the community to put forward an interim food pod policy that will be good until January 2013. Continue reading

Seeing past the facade of equality: My experience at Friday’s Occupy Oakland General Assembly

21 Nov Grassless Frank Ogawa Plaza post-Occupy Oakland

Over the past few days, I’ve been attempting to process what happened on Friday at the Occupy Oakland General Assembly. In my head I wrote and re-wrote parts of this blog post throughout the weekend. But before I began typing on yesterday’s cold, rainy afternoon, I decided to reread the blog post I wrote just two and a half weeks ago (it’s baffling to me that so little time has elapsed yet so much has happened) about my transformation from an Occupy Oakland spectator to a participant. I ended that blog post with the following paragraphs:

At this point I’m satisfied with participating in ways that make sense to me, like helping with media, donating books to the library, and tweeting as much as I can about what’s happening.

Because that’s the beauty of the Occupy movement. Everyone can participate in their own way, and that might not even involve coming to Frank Ogawa Plaza or taking off work for the general strike.

Up until Friday, I was still satisfied with the way I was participating in Occupy Oakland and thought that my participation and the participation of others like me who supported OO but did not camp was thoroughly appreciated by the folks who were camping. I felt that Occupy Oakland was a very open space, and that anybody could participate at any level they wanted to and that was accepted. Whether you had been to ten General Assemblies or one, you had the same vote. Whether you camped with OO every night or only showed up for the GAs, you still were allowed to speak on any proposal (or even submit a proposal).

On Friday I found out that while all of that still technically is true, in practice many people camping at OO did not see me and other supporters as equals. Even worse, a very small group of occupiers had a huge amount of control over the decision-making process and, at least on Friday night, used this power to attempt to manipulate people.  Continue reading

Occupy Oakland plans to occupy lot and park at 19th & Telegraph… unless the vote is rescinded

18 Nov uptown park 2

UPDATE: The facilitation committee has put this proposal on tonight’s GA agenda as the first item. This proposal has been merged with another proposal – see the new proposal below.

On Wednesday, for the first time in weeks, I decided to take a full afternoon and evening off from Occupy Oakland and Twitter. I had left work early – the cold that had been trying to catch up to me for weeks finally caught me – and I thought I could use some rest. When I finally logged into Twitter later that evening, I found out that the Occupy Oakland General Assembly had voted to occupy the lot at 19th and Telegraph and the adjacent park.

At first I was upset because of all the work I and many others have put into that space, to save it from becoming  a parking lot. (You can read a quick synopsis of that story here or check out the many blog posts about it linked to at the bottom of this post.) But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was the wrong space to occupy for many reasons. And it became clear to me, from the General Assembly minutes and from the proposal text, that the people voting on this proposal might not have understood the full context of the space they voted to occupy.

I tweeted a bunch on Wednesday night and Thursday morning and saw that many people agreed with my perspective. So last night I drafted a proposal to rescind the vote and worked with several other people to refine the proposal. A few of those people signed on and we’ve submitted it to be heard at tonight’s General Assembly. Continue reading

Oakland ballot measures go down in flames, sending $800K in election expenses down the drain

16 Nov Oakland Ballot 2011

In the midst of Occupy Oakland, some Oaklanders might have forgotten about our municipal mail in only election. Whether they forgot or just decided not to vote, a full 75% of eligible voters did not return their ballots so yesterday evening the election was decided by just under 25% of the electorate. And that quarter of Oakland voters rejected all three ballot measures.

Since I opposed two out of the three measures (and in the case of Measure H – which would have changed the city attorney position from being elected to being appointed by the Council – I vehemently opposed it), I’m pretty happy with the outcome. What I’m not happy about is how much money, time and energy was wasted on this useless election.

Mayor Jean Quan of course blamed the failure of Measure I, the parcel tax, on Occupy Oakland: Continue reading

Occupy Oakland: Hours have no reverse motion

9 Nov Finding a Solution Flyer

Last Thursday morning, the day after the general strike, I was overflowing with emotion. I reflected on the general strike and was so proud to see so many people in our city come together for what turned out to be a mostly festive and empowering day. I was incredibly angry at the small group of people who took advantage of the situation at night and vandalized many small businesses. Even more so, I was sad that these businesses had to deal with the damage, which they so clearly did not deserve. And I was confused because I knew a couple of the people who had been arrested, and I was certain that they had not vandalized any businesses nor attacked police officers.

Often at times like this, I look backward and wonder what could have happened differently. Could the vandalism have been prevented if police showed up earlier, when the Traveler’s Aid Society was first taken over? Would the confrontation have been less violent if more peaceful people like me had stuck around until late in the night? Would any of this ever had happened if we had a different mayor or if Jean Quan had made different decisions a few weeks ago? Continue reading

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