Tag Archives: Kerry Hamill

BART staff coordinate Oakland Airport Connector astroturf campaign

13 May

Yesterday, the Airport Area Business Association (AABA) sent an email to its membership asking them to write to the BART Board in support of the Oakland Airport Connector and to speak at tomorrow’s meeting. My first thought was that this is incredibly short-sighted (or naive) of them because the OAC is going to do nothing for businesses surrounding the airport, since there are no intermediary stops. A free rapid bus, in comparison, would do a lot for the area businesses by making transit cheaper and by adding an intermediary stop.

But once I stopped banging my head against the wall trying to figure out what reasoning AABA could possibly have for supporting the OAC, I quickly found my answer by reading some of the contents of the email:

GO GREEN – The Oakland Airport Connector is a critical GREEN project. Currently, less than 10% of the people who travel to the Oakland Airport each year use the bus that connects the Colisium BART Station to Oakland Airport. BART Studies show that the public is eager for a plane to train connection and will use it. The alternative – a bus rapid transit project – could be fueled with dirty diesel gasoline, attract the same low number of riders as the current bus system, be less reliable and some advocates are talking about purchasing the busses from Belgium!

JOBS – The Oakland Airport Connector Project (OAC) has been embraced in the region as a premier economic development project as a part of the President Obama Stimulus Package. The Oakland Airport Connector will create 200-300 local construction jobs over the next several years, and create 30 permanent jobs operating and maintaining the system.  The project is poised to break ground in early 2010…

ATTRACT – The Oakland Airport Connector will attract millions of additional transit riders to the BART System each year. How do we know? Because the SFO train to plane connection is doing exactly that – attracting thousands of daily non-transit riders who hop on board for the convenience and reliability. The SFO connection, opened in 2003, carried almost 4 million riders last year (more than 10,000 average daily riders) and the future looks bright. Even in a tough economy, ridership on the system has expanded at an astounding rate of 20% each year.

What’s so odd about this email is not just the multiple spelling errors, exaggerations, and blatant lies throughout, but that it’s essentially a replication of an email that Kerry Hamill sent to the Oakland City Council last week.  You probably know Kerry Hamill from her race against Rebecca Kaplan for the at large Oakland City Council seat, but she’s also the Manager of Local Government and Community Relations for BART. My guess is that Kerry called up AABA and asked them to send out this email, without bothering to tell them that there was another option on the table and they just went along.

It gets even better. Attached to the email that AABA sent out is a sample letter to sent to BART directors. If I was an AABA member, I’d probably assume that someone at AABA had drafted this letter in the interests of the group. Well, I would be wrong. Because this is what the properties of the document show:

BART Letter of Support with Attribution

This is a clear case of BART staff indirectly lobbying BART directors via advocacy groups. Some might call this astroturf, but whatever it is, it’s not right. Taxpayers and BART riders pay Kerry Hamill’s salary (and the salaries of other staffers that might have been involved in this), and it looks like they’re using their staff time to lobby BART.

Pissed off yet? Well, it gets even better. Today someone left a comment on one of my blog posts about the OAC from “Mark from Oakland”, saying that buses would be slower, blah, blah, blah. When I looked into it, I saw that it came from a BART IP address, during work hours. So BART staff members are reading the blogs and posting as if they’re community members. Fun stuff.

Well, transit advocates don’t need to use astroturf tactics to turn out our base. Let’s show Kerry Hamill and the rest of BART staff that reason can win out over internal lobbying. Please join me tomorrow in asking the BART Board to move forward with a rapid bus project instead of this wasteful OAC project:

What: BART Board Meeting on the Oakland Airport Connector

When: Thursday, May 14th @ 9am (TransForm recommends showing up by 8:30 if you’d like to get a seat in the Board room; if not, there is an overflow room.)

Where: Kaiser Center – Third Floor, 344 20th Street in Oakland

If you cannot make it to the meeting, but want to tell the BART directors how you feel, please send an email via TransForm’s action page. You can find a pre-written message there, but I encourage you to take the time to personalize the email, as non-form letters are always more effective.

Previous posts on the Oakland Airport Connector:

Where is Kerry Hamill?

23 Oct

So for the past few months, along with dozens of other volunteers, I’ve been working my ass off to get Rebecca Kaplan elected to the Oakland City Council. I’ve done this mostly because I think Rebecca’s an incredible candidate and will be a huge asset to our city.

But I’ve also worked so hard because I’ve been scared. Everyone around me was freaking out that Kerry Hamill was going to run some huge, well coordinated campaign, and the only way we were going to beat that was by a huge grassroots mobilization. We all had heard about Perata raising tons of money through PACs for Kerry’s campaign, and we assumed this would manifest itself in slick mailers, robocalls, or some other campaign outreach.

Right now though, I’m left wondering, where is Kerry Hamill? Where are those PACs, and where is her campaign? I’m not asking this to poke fun at her or her supporters. I’m 100% serious. Nobody I know has received a mailer, phone call, or door knock from her. I don’t hear about her much in the news or the blogosphere. I don’t see her volunteers at farmers markets or other events.

The only evidence I have of the existence of her campaign are the PAC funded signs that are still up all over Oakland, and her campaign office, where apparently phoning happens. Also, last night a friend of mine saw a campaign ad of hers on TV, which ended with the slogan, “Kerry Hamill: For the Change We Need,” which seems a bit strange.

So I wanted to ask my readers, have you seen Kerry or her campaign? Does it really exist?

And don’t worry, whatever the answer is, I’m still going to keep volunteering for Rebecca. I’ll be phoning for her tonight and most of next week because no matter how good I feel about this campaign right now, I’m a worrier by nature and don’t like leaving anything to chance. If you’re a worrier too, join me at Rebecca’s headquarters at 1915 Broadway in downtown Oakland, any night from 5-8:30pm.

I’m voting FOR Rebecca Kaplan, not AGAINST Kerry Hamill or Don Perata

16 Oct

I’m getting fed up with the Bay Area mainstream media. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but all of them have completely missed the boat on what the Rebecca Kaplan vs. Kerry Hamill race is really about.

Over the past week, the Chronicle, East Bay Express, and Bay Guardian have all depicted this race in essentially the same way, as the progressive outsider vs. the Perata-machine backed candidate. I understand that this makes a nice, simple story that fits into a few hundred or thousand words and doesn’t require the reporter to do much investigative work, but that’s not what the race is about.

So I wanted to make something clear – I am voting FOR Rebecca Kaplan, and not against Kerry Hamill or for that matter, against Don Perata or his political machine. I actually have no problem with Kerry Hamill. I think she cares a lot about Oakland and would make a fine city council member – I don’t think the city would crumble (anymore than it already has) under her watch.

But unfortunately for Kerry, she’s not just running against a decent opponent. She’s running against one of the most intelligent, committed and creative people I’ve ever known.

As Max mentioned over at Future Oakland, Rebecca Kaplan is the type of person that literally carries the Oakland budget around with her. Rebecca’s the type of person that remembers everything – don’t be surprised if you hear her cite a traffic study from 2002 while discussing transit issues. Rebecca’s the type of person who is eager to not only do her job as a council member but also who looks forward to sitting on various regional transportation boards, where Oakland theoretically holds much power, but where our current representatives have been uninterested in wielding this power.

Rebecca Kaplan is exactly the type of person I want to serve me and the rest of Oakland on the city council.

And I’m not the only one. I would be surprised if any Oakland candidate has ever received support from such a wide variety of groups and individuals. Rebecca is endorsed by the Central Labor Council and several unions, but she is also endorsed by business groups, including OakPAC, the Oakland Builders Alliance, and the East Bay Small Business Council PAC. She’s endorsed by the Democratic Party, Sierra Club, California Nurses Association, and several local reverends, AC Transit and BART Board directors. She’s even endorsed by the only Republican member of the Alameda County of Supervisors as well as the two most liberal supervisors.

So when Robert Gammon argued that somehow Rebecca Kaplan would be owned by the groups that have endorsed her, I honestly just laughed. Please, tell me how all of these groups, that often vehemently disagree with each other on key issues, will own her?

They won’t.

But the reason I’m not voting for Kerry Hamill is not because I’m worried that she’ll do whatever Perata tells her to do. So I was frustrated that the SF Bay Guardian spent the first half of their endorsement of Rebecca raising the specter of the Perata machine. Honestly, there’s no need to do this. Rebecca Kaplan holds her own, and I have a hard time imagining a candidate I would choose over her.

So don’t believe what the mainstream media tells you. Do your own research, or even better, stop by the Kaplan headquarters at 1915 Broadway and take a look at the diverse and enthusiastic group of volunteers phoning for Rebecca.

And on November 4th, go out and vote for Rebecca Kaplan, and not against Kerry Hamill.

Finding Living in the O

15 Oct

So one of the fun parts about writing a blog is you get to see how people stumbled onto your blog. There are a lot of predictable search terms that lead people to my blog – Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland, medical marijuana, people searching for a comparison of San Francisco and Oakland, etc. But then there are those few searches that stand out. Here are a few of my favorites from this week:

  • taking down campaign signs in oakland,ca: I can’t help but assume this person was so frustrated with the creepy Kerry Hamill signs, that s/he wanted to find out how to take them down.
  • why doesn’t bart run all night: I asked this same question last year (though now I’m less interested in this and more interested in making all night bus service more frequent and extensive).
  • free marijuana oakland: This just made me laugh. Does someone really think free marijuana can be found anywhere? Sorry, you’re not going to find that information here.
  • finds love while waiting for the bus: This may be my favorite search ever. Though I’m not looking for love, if I was, I think it would be incredibly romantic to find it while waiting for a bus.

Friday Links and Thoughts

26 Sep

There’s been some excellent writing in the blogoaksphere this week, so I thought I’d share some of it with you:

  • Chip Johnson really went after Mayor Dellums this week. First, he called for a recall. Then, he spent an entire column sharing opinions from his readers about Dellums, and, well, they weren’t too flattering. Here’s a choice, depressing quote:

“I’m looking for a new home outside Oakland because I am so fed up with how the city is run,” Smith wrote in an e-mail.

  • Eric at Transbay Blog, who I finally got to meet last night at CBS’s blogger party, shares the depressing news of transit funding being slashed from the state budget, which will directly effect AC Transit and other local transit agencies.
  • That reminds me, I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned CBS 5’s Eye on Blogs blog, written by Britney Gilbert, who I also had the pleasure of meeting last night. Brittney regularly sifts through hundreds of Bay Area blogs and posts links to some of the most interesting stories. And apparently, she’s the only blogger in the country doing this type of work for a news station. If you’re looking to stumble onto some new blogs, it’s a great resource. Thanks to Brittney and CBS for the awesome party last night!
  • I really had planned to go to the zoning update meeting last night, but when I heard V Smoothe was going to be there, I knew she’d report back with any interesting information so I was free to party instead (thanks V!). I saw her last night and she couldn’t stop talking about how everyone who cares about this city really should go to the next zoning update meeting because though most of the information presented was boring to her (she already knows pretty much everything about zoning in Oakland), it’s really useful information for Oaklanders to learn. Check out her full report on the meeting, including info on next Saturday’s meeting.
  • Critical Resistance, a group that advocates for reform of the prison sytem, is holding it’s 10th anniversary conference here in Oakland. If you have some time, I highly recommend stopping by, especially since it’s free.

Thoughts while waiting for the bus

12 Sep

I waited for the 1 bus at West Grand and Telegraph for a looong time Wednesday night, after the Obama fundraiser, and this is what was going through my head:

  • 20 minute headways my ass. If I had waited for the bus, it would have been a 35 minute wait (luckily I got bored after a while, called my girlfriend, and when she saw I’d still be waiting 20 more minutes, she hopped in her car and picked me up). At least BART changed their headways to 15 minutes this year – I could handle that. 35 minutes is too long to wait for a bus!
  • It’s a bit creepy in Uptown at night (unless the Art Murmur’s happening). It’s well lit at the bus stop, but there are very few people around. And Kerry Hamill looking down at me really doesn’t help. Her SAFE NEIGHBORHOODS NOW tagline just reminds me that right now, our neighborhoods aren’t safe. Thanks Kerry.
  • Surprisingly, I was under-dressed at the Obama fundraiser I just attended. And I wasn’t wearing jeans and a t-shirt – I had heels, slacks, and a sweater on! How come no one promoted this event’s dress code as suits, cocktail dresses, and stillettos?
  • For the intersection of two very busy streets in an up and coming neighborhood, this area needs help! V Smoothe wrote the other day about the need to develop the 20th Street corridor, but Grand needs work two. I really hate waiting here and staring at two gas stations and a bunch of parking lots. Maybe we should apply dto510’s suggestions for development here. I’m all for more interesting buildings, encouragement of public space, and more continuity between the downtown districts. (And V, I’d prefer the PDA of besos on the street to what we have now.)
  • I wonder if the friends I just ate with at Luka’s thought they were boring me because I kept staring past them at the beautiful Oakland tree paintings. Anyone know who the artist is?
  • Kamala Harris gave a rousing speech at the Obama fundraiser – she’s a very inspiring and articulate speaker. It made me wonder though, for a fundraiser in dowtown Oakland, could the organizers of the event not find any Oakland politicians that could inspire the crowd?
  • I love the Franklin Square Wine Bar and am shocked at how many of my friends who work in the area don’t even know it exists. If you haven’t been, go there, tonight!
  • I really need to get an iPhone so I can check NextBus before leaving the bar. Though I guess if I did this, I’d lose some of my best thinking time and this post would never have been written.

The Beautiful and the Hideous at A Better Oakland

9 Sep

As usual, V Smoothe’s been stirring up debate about Oakland, this week centering mostly around asthetics. She beat me to the punch at complaining about the hideous Kerry Hamill signs that were put up all over Oakland this weekend. Some people seem to like them. I can’t stand them, and I’m not sure it has much to do with my support of Rebecca Kaplan’s campaign. The signs are just ugly and I’m not sure how much they’ll do to help Hamill’s campaign. I’m sure you’ve seen the ubiquitous signs by now so head over and join in the discussion.

On the brighter side, V today unveiled images of the tallest proposed building in Oakland. The Encinal Tower’s 715 foot height is not the only thing to marvel at though – the design is innovative, and I think sleek and beautiful. Here’s one photo snagged from A Better Oakland:

Not everyone over ABO agrees that it’s what Oakland needs right now. What do you think?

The real reason I wrote this blog post was to say how much I love the redesign of A Better Oakland. I generally read ABO through an RSS feed so I hadn’t been over to the site in a while, but the simplified design is gorgeous! Really V, are you trying to show up the rest of us Oakland bloggers? Because that’s what you’ve done. If you haven’t checked out her new design, do it, now. It’s even prettier than Encinal Tower.

OakPAC Endorses Rebecca Kaplan for Oakland City Council

21 Jul

So I’m a bit late on this one, but last week OakPAC endorsed Rebecca Kaplan for the the at-large city council seat. For the June election, OakPAC had endorsed Clinton Killian, who came in third so it was unclear whether they would endorse Kaplan or Hamill for November.

It’s exciting to see so many different groups endorsing Kaplan – from OakPAC, which represents the business community, to various labor unions, the Oakland community is coalescing behind Kaplan’s campaign.

Unfortunately, the election’s not until November and Kaplan wouldn’t take up the council seat until 2009, but we really could use some new energy and leadership right about now in Oakland. From our lying mayor, to the budget crisis, to the screwed up fiscal priorities of our council members, it’s clear that we’re ready for some change in elected officials and city management.

I’m glad that OakPAC agrees.

BART & AC Transit Nightmares

1 Jul

Last night, I had a strange and somewhat humorous dream. I was at some kind of meeting or event for Kerry Hamill, who’s running against Rebecca Kaplan for the at large seat on the City Council. Why I’d be at a Hamill event, I couldn’t tell you, but I was there. She was on stage talking and after giving some introductory comments she said she wanted everyone in the audience to spend the next 20 minutes discussing why BART was better than AC Transit.

Of course, I couldn’t argue this because if I had to pick only one transit service, I’d pick AC Transit over BART any day. So me and a few others stood up in protest and started arguing why AC Transit was better. Kerry pointed at us and said, “You must be Kaplan supporters!” A reporter ran over to us to get comments from us and that’s where the dream gets fuzzy.

When I initially thought about this dream, I thought about what a dork I am, dreaming about a council race and transit, but I got passed that quickly. My dream was pretty interesting when I looked a bit deeper. In case you haven’t been following the at large race closely, Kerry Hamill is a manager at BART and Rebecca Kaplan serves on the AC Transit Board of Directors. So it wasn’t all that bizarre that in my dream event, Hamill was encouraging us to talk about why BART is better than AC Transit, or really, why Hamill is better than Kaplan.

But I don’t think my dream was really all about Hamil v. Kaplan. Lately, I’ve been realizing how adverse or oblivious my peer group feels towards AC Transit. Many of them don’t have cars or use their cars rarely. They all take BART and walk a lot. So to me it seems like it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to hop on the bus once in a while, but it really is.

Take some examples. One of my co-workers volunteers once a week at a place that’s nowhere near BART. She has no car so every week she finds a ride. Once she even took a cab! When I heard this yesterday, I was shocked so I checked out Google Transit and found out that the place she volunteers is only a 10 minute walk from the 1 line. She hadn’t even considered AC Transit as an option but was grateful when I shared the route with her.

Another friend of mine lives on Claremont just a couple blocks from Telegraph. He’s two blocks from the 1 stop and three blocks from the 1R. Yet most days he drives his car towards BART (there’s no spaces left at Rockridge by the time he leaves), park, and walks several blocks. Since BART only runs every 15 minutes, if he misses it, he’s waiting around for a while. When I asked him why he doesn’t just take the bus, he said he had never really thought about it.

I’ve become increasingly frustrated by how unaware many people are about the convenience of AC Transit. People don’t know the bus lines, and they don’t know about the extra tools that make riding the bus much easier – NextBus, Google Transit, and Translink. So instead of getting around easily by bus, they walk out of their way to go to BART, they find a ride, or they just don’t make trips far away from their homes and work places.

I think it’s time for a huge public education campaign. People are ready to get out of their cars, but this increase in transit ridership is disproportionately effecting BART. Until tonight, I hadn’t ridden BART during commute hours in several months. It was so packed that I vowed not to do that again unless I had to. Even if BART is sometimes a bit quicker than a rapid bus, It’s not worth being squished up against people and barely able to breathe.

As dto510 mentioned to me last night at a fundraiser for Rebecca Kaplan, BART can’t add much more capacity, but AC Transit can. So it’s clearly time to drum up some more interest in riding the bus. Beyond continuing to harass all the people I know, any thoughts on how to do this effectively?