A brief break from Oakland politics & blogging

9 Oct

Note: I am no longer working for TransForm, and as always, the thoughts below are my own.

Tuesday night was a bit devastating for me. I’ve been working with so many others since February to defeat the OAC, and I had always hoped that if all else failed, the Oakland City Council would come through for us. Certainly, Oakland’s elected representatives would see that this project would cause more harm than good to our city. But back in February I could have never imagined how seriously the other side would have taken our fight. So seriously that they lobbied the Council for weeks, sent heads of agencies to speak at a meeting and stay there past 1 a.m, and of course, so seriously that they felt the need to distort facts and basically threaten the Council.

Still, the loss was difficult, even knowing that it was a basically impossible fight. So I took the past couple of days to relax and reflect. I didn’t check email or blogs and barely picked up my cell phone.

I decided to face the world again last night, and went to Rebecca Kaplan’s birthday party. It was great to see everyone and commiserate about our loss but also to reflect on the powerful fight we had fought. Rebecca told me she’d do it all over again, even knowing the eventual outcome, and I agreed with her.

This morning I read V Smoothe’s excellent post about why people should stay engaged, despite this disappointing loss:

The entire reason I devote basically all my spare time to this blog is because I want people to understand and become engaged with their local government. If you are unsatisfied with how your City is run, you can and should do more than yell at the TV or the newspaper, or bitch about your frustrations to your neighbors. You can change things. It is not something that is going to get done overnight, or in a week, or in a month. It is hard and it takes persistence and fortitude and the willingness to keep trying in the face of often seemingly overwhelming obstacles and frequent disappointment.

But it is worth it. Oakland is a wonderful city full of amazing, generous people. It also, like everything and everyone, has many flaws. That’s not a reason to throw your hands in the air and give up hope. It’s a reason to work hard to make it better.

I couldn’t agree more – I don’t intend to throw my hands in the air and I hope you won’t either. Instead, I want to shift focus and work on some proactive campaigns in Oakland, instead of reactive. I want to work to get more taxi stands, especially in Uptown, Jack London Square, and Temescal. I want to see more public art, especially art from Burning Man artists. I want to do whatever I can to help with the City’s awesome plans for a shuttle between Uptown and Jack London Square. And of course, I want to help make sure BRT becomes a reality.

But before that, I need a bit of a break from Oakland politics, and this is perfect timing for me. I recently left my full time job, after four and a half wonderful years there, and my contract with TransForm is now over. I also got engaged recently and I need some time to start planning the wedding. And next weekend, my sister’s getting married and I’ll be spending the entire next week in San Diego.

My break from Oakland politics will include a short break from blogging. I’ll still try to put together the weekly events listing, but otherwise, I don’t intend to post next week, and I might not post the following week either. I’ll be back to blogging before the end of October though.

In the meantime, I’d love to share some guest posts here, particularly non-political ones, so email me at OaklandBecks at gmail dot com if you’re interested. And if you’re still feeling down about the OAC and haven’t done so yet, please read V Smoothe’s post and all the comments in response. It made me feel better, and I’m sure it will make you feel better too.


3 Responses to “A brief break from Oakland politics & blogging”

  1. AustinOAK October 9, 2009 at 10:47 am #


    Thanks so much for all your the work you put in on OAC. It meant a lot to me and I know all of us. Truely.

    Two things helped me bounce back (mentally) from this tough week. (1) V Smoothe’s post – it was SOoo what I needed (2) Rebecca’s B-day Party last nite. Very fun to get around fellow Oaklanders with “Progressive Like Mind” for a moment.

    I like the positive focus you are looking forward to the rest of this year. For me I plan to help Richard Lee and TaxCannnabis2010 this next year. This will be a very fun and interesting campaign I believe (from the inside) and can’t wait to help him out. I know this ballot measure can WIN. It will.

    Plus anything you suggest to work on…. also…and always….

  2. John Knox White October 9, 2009 at 12:57 pm #


    Oakland is very lucky to have you! (and others).

    Your tireless, cool-head advocacy was a wonder.

    Tuesday night, the council switched their position from “support” to “support once changes are made.” You can hold your head up high that even in the face of immense political pressure the Oakland City Council removed their support for the project as it is currently planned.

    Will that stop anything? Nope. But BART will push forward without Oakland City Council support, not with it.

    Could there have been a better solution? Absolutely! In fact three of the “yes” votes said that they believed there is. That’s six out of eight council-members pointing to the case you and others made. But in the end, fear of funding losses overrode their all-out support for a better connector.

    This is a long winded way of saying (surprising, I know) that your tireless, mostly unpaid, work on this project resulted in change, if not all-out success. Frustrating? sure, but not meaningless.

  3. Andy K October 12, 2009 at 7:32 am #

    I’ll add my thanks for all you do. Enjoy your well deserved break. Looking forward to your return.

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