With so many undecided voters, it’s not too late to get involved in the campaigns you care about

26 Oct

It’s a week before the election, and believe it or not, there are still tons of undecided voters in many races. On Saturday I made some calls for Rebecca Kaplan and was astounded by how many regular voters were still undecided – even though many of them claimed to have given some serious thought to the race. Out of the 40-50 people I talked to, only two had voted already and one additional person had decided how to vote (one other refused to talk and I suspect supported someone else for mayor). Less than 10% of the people I talked to had decided!

Despite the deluge of mail from Jean Quan, Don Perata, and independent expenditure groups, plenty of voters still haven’t decided either who they’re voting for or in what order they’re marking their choices. For many, it takes a live discussion with a friend or a stranger to solidify their choice. Through the course of my calls, I was able to convince 5 more people to support Kaplan and several were leaning her way after talking to me.

And there are some issues on the ballot that voters have given even less thought to! I’m consistently amazed how many of my very politically involved friends are unaware of some of the ballot measures, particularly the one that scares me most – Prop 26. This initiative would force a 2/3 vote for fees, which might not sound so bad, except that it would make it incredibly difficult to pass local fees and it would make AB 32 basically unenforceable because 32 is fee based. So even if Prop 23 goes down, if 26 passes, buy buy AB 32, which is why some of us are calling it the Polluter Protection Act.

So I’m making one last plea to readers – go volunteer for a campaign. Find the website for the campaign you care about most, shoot them an email or give them a call. Any campaign would be super grateful to have you. It’s definitely not too late – there are tons of undecided voters out there, and soon campaigns will shift to get out the vote operations and will need help reminding their supporters to vote.

Need help plugging into a campaign? Email me at oaklandbecks at gmail dot com and I’ll help you, unless it’s a campaign that goes against what I believe in (like Meg Whitman or Yes on 23). Even if you have an hour or two to spare, please do so – campaigns appreciate all help, whether you can be there for one or ten hours. And every voter you contact makes a difference.

Another way to help  is to spread the word to people you know. Post an endorsement note on Facebook, email all your friends with endorsements, call people you know vote but who aren’t very engaged, chat with your neighbors when you run into them, or forward campaign emails and videos when you receive them.

Speaking of campaign videos, I can’t help but share two amazing ads that the Prop 19 campaign has recently released. The first is a web ad that my friend Andrew Epstein, who I met in college through Students for Sensible Drug Policy, put together. It was great working with him again!

The next is a TV ad that started running today. It features former San Jose Police Chief Joe McNamara, who’s been an amazing spokesperson for the Yes on 19 campaign.

We did an initial decent sized buy to get it up on TV, but we’ll need contributions to keep in on through election day so if you want to keep it up, contribute at www.yeson19.com/ad. At that link you can also share the ad on Facebook and Twitter with one click.

There’s just one week left, so take some time to turn those undecided voters into decided voters. Whatever happens on November 2nd, it will feel so much better if you know you’ve made a difference.


6 Responses to “With so many undecided voters, it’s not too late to get involved in the campaigns you care about”

  1. A October 26, 2010 at 11:06 am #

    Just today I noticed this video: http://thenewleaf.org/

    • Becks October 26, 2010 at 11:09 am #

      Oh yeah, that’s a great video about Prop 19! Definitely worth watching.

  2. RdwithCypress October 30, 2010 at 9:46 pm #

    My friend who also lives in Rickridge received the email below from someone on his block yahoo group, and I was able to get permission from the writer to re-post.

    Good afternoon everyone,

    I am sorry to send a second political email to the group. But I feel this is an extremely important matter.

    I know that many of us on the block remember the chaos, panic, and anger we experienced when some of us got the false, or in some cases actual but unwarranted, blight citations issued by CEDA and/or Public Works (part of the same umbrella organization) as a result of blank forms being given to a private citizen or a Building Services inspector colluding with a neighbor when the citations were unwarranted.

    As a result of that experience, I’ve become very involved in helping to uncover and expose massive corruption within CEDA. Some of you have been informed about this through choosing to stay on my mailing list. But I am now writing to the block as a whole to inform you that Michael Kilian, candidate for City auditor, has been instrumental in helping with routing out the CEDA corruption. By contrast, our current auditor, Courtney Ruby, has not only missed the corruption but failed to act on it when it was reported to her.

    In fact, CEDA abated one whistleblower’s house a “substandard public nuisance” and scheduled it for demolition – without ever having set foot in it – as a result of her reports to Ruby. All of this went ignored by Ruby, who has an obligation to protect whistleblowers.

    The corruption going on within CEDA – which is detailed on the site linked to below – is in my opinion the worst to occur in our city, or even arguably any city, in a long time. A citizen lawsuit has been filed against the city administrator and other high City and CEDA officials for violation of the state constitution and other state and local laws, alleging that CEDA has inflated its fees and ramped up its lien process in order to balance the Oakland budget on the backs of blameless homeowners, some of whom it has forced into foreclosure. CEDA also now stands accused of damaging nepotism, kickbacks, and more. Its head of Building Services recently resigned in the face of these accusations.

    Michael Kilian, who is not yet our auditor, is doing something about this. Courtney Ruby on the other hand, who holds the office, not only has done nothing but has ignored the information and evidence after being handed it.

    Please vote for Michael Kilian for auditor.

  3. RdwithCypress October 30, 2010 at 9:48 pm #

    Michael Kilian
    xxxxx College Avenue
    Oakland, CA 94618

    City of Oakland
    Public Ethics Commission
    One Frank Ogawa Plaza, 4th Floor
    Oakland, CA 94612

    Dear Mr. Purnell:

    With respect to this complaint and the specific facts of the complaint, it is as follows:

    The City of Oakland is not following its own Oakland Municipal Code, 15.04.025 Appeal. The difference between appeals filed with respect to liens placed by the CEDA, Building Services Department , Inspection Services Unit and the number of hearings held since 2007 reflects a denial of due process.

    Pertinent to a Public Document Request these are the Appeals filed and acknowledged in the Tracking Logs provided;

    2007 – 521
    2008 – 389
    2009 – 520
    2010 – 118 as of March 2010

    The individual who made the request for the Tracking Logs was also provided with digital recordings for 2008 and 2009 and was provided cassette tapes for 2005 through 2007. The individual was able to covert the cassette tapes to a digital format. What was learned was that all the public hearings consisted of these:

    2005 – 7 hearings
    2006 – 3 hearings
    2007 – 3 hearings
    2008 – 8 hearings
    2009 – 10 hearings
    2010 – 2 confirmed

    It is my assertion that the difference between appeals filed and the number of hearings held since 2007 represents a denial of due process. This denial of due process is, in my opinion, not legally defensible.

    October 22, 2010

    City of Oakland
    Public Ethics Commission
    Page 2 of 2

    How did this happen…

    Please find attached an example of the City not following municipal code.

    2607 Seminary
    12/12/08 – Inspector makes field observation regarding *exterior* of building.
    1/14/09 – John Stewart, Principal Inspection Supervisor, denies 1st appeal submitted by property owner
    1/15/09 – Inspector informs property owner that he MUST provide access to interior or City will obtain warrant
    1/29/09 – Inspector declares property substandard
    3/20/09 – Property owner submits 2nd appeal
    4/7/09 – Sandra Smith, Administrative Assistant, denies 2nd appeal
    5/28/09 – Administrative hearing held with SD Rine. http://www.auditoaklandceda.com/web_media/2607%20Seminary%20Ave.WMA. This is really painful to listen to. The property owner is not a native English speaker. The hearing examiner makes no effort to accommodate the interpreter. The inspector’s allegations do not appear to represent real Health and Safety violations. SD Rine tells the property owner that in the US, when people buy a house they are required to bring it up to whatever the new code is.

    6/15/09 – Final Order received from Hearing Officer. *Appeal denied because owner’s contention that the heavy fines are preventing him from making improvements to the property is not an acceptable excuse for not completing the work.* Heavy fines assessed.

    What you have here with respect to liens and the Inspection Services Unit is the exercising of an informal Appeal system that operates outside of the Oakland Municipal Code. What we have here are Inspectors making decisions as to which property owners are allowed to make Appeals. I also have some real issues with a hearing system that does not accommodate non-English speakers.

    To my initial point: the City of Oakland is not following its own Oakland Municipal Code. Yes, I do have an issue with management cascading from the CEDA director to the level of the manager of Inspection Services.


    Michael Kilian

  4. RdwithCypress October 30, 2010 at 9:49 pm #

    Auditor candidate Kilian files nepotism complaint against CEDA top-dog Antoinette Holloway-Renwick
    October 22, 2010
    City auditor candidate filed a nepotism complaint against CEDA with the Oakland Public Ethics Commission, charging that an undisclosed close familiar relationship between the head of Building Inspection Services and CEDA’s prime blight abatement contractor cost the City millions of dollars.
    Kilian’s complaint alleges that this relationship costs the City millions of dollars a year because of the preferential treatment Young receives from Holloway-Renwick. Building Services records, as well as a deposition of Holloway-Renwick in an unrelated lawsuit, reveal that Holloway-Renwick was directly responsible for both contract and invoice approval for Arthur Young Debris Removal Service. The amount of those contracts exceeds $4 million since 2007.

    A 2007 audit of Public Works contract bidding process showed that Arthur Young Debris Removal Service was the number one Public Works contractor at that time.

    Courtney Ruby’s hiring-practices audit, dated October 21, 2009, does not include Holloway-Renwick’s relationship with Arthur Young.

    Holloway-Renwick retired several days after Kilian filed his complaint.

  5. RdwithCypress January 4, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    “Plant Blight” Update: “Well…if you insist…meddling can be such fun!”
    [The following was written by Robert Brokl.]
    A recent posting recounted how the verdant garden Alfred Crofts and I have tended for a decade at a nearby rental property aroused the ire of a neighbor who reported us for “blight”, resulting in steep fines. Since then, we’ve continued research–talking to other victims of the blight ordinance and pursuing an as yet-incomplete Public Records Act search of our file over Community and Economic Development (CEDA) stonewalling. We found a neighbor who had to spend $10,000 replacing shingles because some were “cracked.”

    At the pocketbook level, we’re now out over $1300 in fines and a lien was placed on the property despite the payment. Our appeal dated Dec. 3, reviewed in-house by the CEDA Building Services Dept., was denied without comment or explanation Dec. 9. We were charged an additional $113 for their effort, and expect another charge for the “billing dispute” denial, both of which we were told to file to keep our appeal alive. The only options left to us now are small claims court or other legal action. And under the “two strikes” bite of the blight ordinance, we are vulnerable to the same fees for the next two years!

    We believe the blight ordinance, enacted to the rid the City of seemingly intractable and serious blight, has morphed into a funding mechanism for City coffers, aiding and abetting neighbors’ feuds. This was confirmed by City Hall insiders with access to the raw data from the blight complaint files. We learned over half of the complaints are over untidiness and housekeeping issues, like trash. A small percentage involve unregistered secondary units or unpermitted building. (This lack of emphasis on structures may explain the continuing existence even in upscale environs of high-profile, truly blighted commercial and residential properties.) There is no threshold for separating trivial or spiteful complaints from serious ones, nor any tying of zip codes to complaints that might reveal where the City’s resources are spent fighting “blight”, whether in the hills over plants blocking views or in the flats where presumably more blight exists. And, with the second strike, garbage cans left at the curb too long can break your bank account!

    Do the math: 40 inspectors, 22,000 blight complaints per year, $1239 for the second strike–quite a revenue stream.

    In our case, although neighbors over the years have complemented us on the garden and/or put in similar ones, one who didn’t managed to involve a sidewalk/right of way inspector, Fred Loeser, in Bldg. Services. He worked the system for the neighbor, although anonymous complaints get the same deference. When it turned out the cracked and lifted sidewalk was caused by City-owned street trees (and thus unfixable), the neighbor moved on to complaints about “how it was impossible for me to push my baby stroller down the sidewalk without my baby getting a bunch of leaves in her face” and the garden “continually growing and changing.”

    The trigger for the City to act was apparently when he spotted someone defecating in our garden. Rather than tell the person to stop, he e-mailed Loeser. We think rosebushes are useful deterrents for such antisocial behavior, and plants and trees are good not only for global warming but for aesthetic reasons, too. But even gray cement can’t force a malefactor to do his business on a potty. And, mind you, although the relentless neighbor hounded staff, only once some years back did we or the tenants get a note from him. In that case, the plant he objected to was removed.

    Political pay back?
    The documents we have so far pried lose under the Public Records request reveal how political and high profile our case is. Inspector William Patchen wrote to his supervisor Nov. 18: “The owner has been raising Cain…(and) have taken their case up the chain and I would like to have answers before it blows up.” Ray Derania, Building Services administration and the court of last resort according to a Councilperson Brunner aide, wrote an e-mail to Walter Cohen, CEDA head, on Nov. 16: “For the new administration, would you consider turning over a new leaf and just letting us handle stuff? This is routine. If transgressors are turned back to us, it’s surprising how quickly they see-the-light and get with the program (even though it costs them some money sometimes.” Cohen–who you’d think was busy dreaming up stadii and downtown big box shopping malls–wrote back: “Well…if you insist…meddling can be such fun! But OK.”

    This is the same Ray Derania who we, along with a loose coalition of neighbors, tangled with over the recent demolition of the Courthouse Athletic Club, along with removal of the mature redwoods. Even though it was clear to everyone the developer owner had no intentions of building the market rate condos originally proposed, the City cooperated with the owner to scrape the site to put the empty (therefore more valuable) lot on the market. Derania was called before the City Council to defend the denial of our tree removal appeal and the City Council voted to refund our appeal fees.

    It doesn’t have to be this way: The outrageous fines, fees, and–if unpaid–liens on property shouldn’t be used to generate funds the way street sweeping violations do. (And the City of Albany doesn’t even charge for blocking street sweepers.) According to AuditOaklandCEDA.com, a site created by another blight victim, cities like Detroit have transparent appeal processes and work with citizens to fix blight, with the goal of keeping them in their houses and not forcing them out.

    Mayor Quan’s slogan is “changing Oakland block by block.” To correct the blight ordinance, she need look no further than to Richard Cowan, her Chief of Staff. For years, he headed Conciliation Forums, a group composed mostly of volunteers like our longtime neighbor Janet Keita, who mediated disputes between neighbors and groups. The idea was to bring about peaceful resolutions and compromises, not to exploit vendettas for City budgets. We need to get back to that model and maybe Cowan, in the “new administration,” wears another hat and “meddles” in a better way.

    –Robert Brokl

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