Tag Archives: Libby Schaaf

Ratna Amin: Open Data is SO Oakland

27 Apr

This guest post was written by Ratna Amin  (@ratnaamin), an urban planner, former Oakland City Council staffer, and Government 2.0 explorer. She is organizing OakX (@Oak_X) – a collaborative effort to grow civic innovation (email: oakXinfo [at] gmail.com).

Should the City’s data be free? The Oakland City Council will decide this Monday night on an Open Data Resolution, which would liberate City data from paper and PDF and make it readable by civic web sites and smartphone apps. The resolution, first proposed by Council Member Libby Schaaf, has been watered down and delayed – yet Open Data is the key to unlocking incredible assets.

What is Open Data? It is government sharing data with the outside world, in a format that computers can read. Anyone can use that data to inform citizens, engage communities, and help government do its work. Open data is typically used on web sites or smartphone apps. What kinds of government data? All kinds: public facility locations, job listings, crime data, meeting schedules, street sweeping schedules, test scores, transit schedules, wastewater data, anything.

Earlier this month, at the 55-country Open Government Partnership meeting in Brazil, Hillary Clinton stated that she and President Obama “believe that countries with open governments, open economies, and open societies will increasingly flourish. They will become more prosperous, healthier, more secure, and more peaceful.” Oakland should comprehensively embrace open data, a City with a legacy of supporting citizen participation and openness. A few other reasons open data should thrive here:

Continue reading

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

20 Dec

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

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

16 Nov

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

Nathan Stalnaker: Moving Oakland Forward

27 Oct

This guest post was written by Nathan Stalnaker, who spends the day organizing in West Oakland and serves on the Board of Make Oakland Better Now! and is an elected at-large member of the East Bay Young Democrats.

The City of Oakland suffers from gridlock and a fiscal crisis that just won’t quit.  Even so, again and again, the same characters are repeatedly elected to the same positions.  Our system is broken.  Our local races are anti-competitive.  New people enter the races and win only when an incumbent steps down.  It begins to seem that to become an elected official in Oakland, you already have to be or have been an elected official or spend your time currying favor with those already in office.

A Catch-22?   Sure.  Could an initiative calling for term limits for City Council stir things up sufficiently enough to get fresh policy thinking in City Hall?   Absolutely.  Read the petition yourself.  To balance experience and fresh ideas, the petition was crafted with a three-term (12 year) lifetime limit. Continue reading

Parking meters not just “cash cows”: City Council discusses parking demand management

7 Mar

As I mentioned in a previous post about last week’s City Council meeting, the meeting was full of important discussions and decisions. Though most attention has been paid to the zoning update and Energy and Climate Action Plan – and rightfully so considering how long the City and the Council has been working on those items – the discussion I found most interesting was the one on parking at the very end of the meeting. Continue reading

Another reason to celebrate at Thursday’s Blogoaksphere Party

4 Jan

Yesterday I went to the inauguration of Jean Quan and the swearing in ceremony for Councilmembers Libby Schaaf, Pat Kernighan, and Desley Brooks. Overall, I really enjoyed the event and the speeches and hopefully will have time soon to write about some of what happened (particularly on Jean Quan, and the election of Larry Reid as the new Council President and Desley Brooks as the new Vice-Mayor). But for now I just want to mention one comment made by our newest councilmember, Libby Schaaf.

From left to right, Pat Kernighan, Libby Schaaf & Desley Brooks being sworn in. (And no, they're not ghosts or angels, just victims of bad lighting.)

In the middle of her speech, she talked about all the reasons Oakland is so great and how involved its citizens are. As one example of this, she called attention to the Oakland bloggers who volunteer our time to covering the city. Though I’ve heard her praise bloggers many times to individuals, it meant so much to hear her say it to the thousands of Oaklanders congregated at the Fox Theater.

Libby may have been the first to thank Oakland bloggers at an inauguration, but I know first hand that many councilmembers and council staffers appreciate what we do and read local blogs religiously. And they’re not the only ones – community advocates, business owners, new residents looking to get involved, and so many more depend on our blogs.

So let’s celebrate this incredible network and community we’ve built this Thursday at the 2011 Blogoaksphere Party. I hope you’ve already put the event on your calendar, but if not, here’s the info:

When: Thursday, January 6th from 6-9pm

Where: Disco Volante, 347 14th Street in downtown Oakland

Why: To meet and hang out with the Oakland blogging community, have some drinks, eat delicious food, celebrate Oakland, and to reflect on the past year.

If you plant to attend and have a Facebook account, please RSVP via the Facebook event. See you on Thursday!

Mayoral inauguration & City Council swearing in tomorrow

2 Jan

Happy New Year!

I wanted to drop a quick note to let readers know that tomorrow is Jean Quan’s mayoral inauguration and the swearing in of new Councilmember Libby Schaaf and returning members Desley Brooks and Pat Kernighan, as well as City Auditor Courtney Ruby and the Oakland School Board.

The inauguration and swearing in ceremony takes place at 11am at the Fox Theater, but doors open at 10am and the free tickets are on a first come, first served basis so early arrival is recommended.

If you’re not working (or can sneak a way for a bit), this is a great opportunity not only to witness the change in Oakland leadership but also to check out the Fox if you haven’t already. I’ve still yet to see a show there but finally got to sit in a seat and take in the beauty of the architecture at Jerry Brown’s election night party. It was incredible.

If you are working, Jean Quan’s hosting several other events to celebrate her inauguration, including a party tonight at Chabot Space & Science Center, a history walk tomorrow morning, and an open house tomorrow night. Check out her blog for details.