Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 7, 2021

My name is

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

You know those Daily Show Moments of Zen? Well here is yours for this weekend:

May 6, 2021

Such historic, very preserve

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

Tonight the Historic Advisory Board, after inexplicably skipping its April meeting, will take up the issue of whether to remove the Wellness Center buildings from the Historic Study list. As a reminder the Historic Advisory Board kicked the can down the road because they didn’t trust the 2003 letter from the then head of the California Office of Historic Preservation. Because maybe the building magically became more historic after 2003, I dunno the logic. Specifically the HAB was seeking the Page and Turnbull report from 1996 which — it turns out — was an application to the Federal government to add the property in 1996 to the National Register of Historic Places.

Spoiler alert, this didn’t happen in 1996 and, since 1996, a lot of buildings have been demolished and modifications made to the property. I’ll point out that in 2003, using that application, the California Officer of Historic Preservation was like, nah, pass. But our HAB thought that there’d be a magical bullet that would render an “aha” moment to keep the property on the study list.

There’s a ton of public correspondence about how “historic” the property is because either they have never visited and don’t understand the extent of the demolition and modifications or they’re using the kitchen sink technique of trying everything to keep the Wellness Center project from happening. It might be both.

But let Page and Turnbull, you know the company that helped write the 1996 report, explain why the building should be delisted. The entire report is here, but excerpts are below:

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May 5, 2021

Leave the door open

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

There’s a sign that recently went up in the park area across the street from Target. We walk a lot on the weekends and that’s one of our standard routes.

It’s this:

Take a look at it if you can. It’s REALLY LARGE. Like double take, throw your neck out sort of large. It’s actually the sort of thing that my HOA has done in the past. A bunch of sign litter-y “private street” and “private park” and “no trespassing” signs went up like there was a sale on signage and you got points for how many signs you erected in your development.

But given what happened with Mario Gonzalez and the dispute over public/private spaces, these sorts of signs seem to be exactly what we don’t want in our city. It’s these staking out of quasi-public or quasi-private space that seems to embolden folks to make judgment calls on who belongs and who doesn’t belong in these spaces.

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May 4, 2021

“Multiple reasons”

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

Sometimes when I see Trish Spencer in action today as a Councilmember it’s feels surreal to remember that she once was Mayor. Because she doesn’t really act like she has any idea of how City government works or how Council meetings are run. I mean, I know it’s been twoish years since she’s been off of Council but it really hasn’t changed that dramatically. Specifically I’m referring to yet another Council Referral she has on the agenda (there are two) about wanting to schedule the City Manager performance evaluation like now. Here’s the whole narrative for the referral:

Schedule Performance Evaluation of City Manager ASAP, including consider scheduling a Special City Council meeting for this purpose.

As this is a personnel matter, I will not specifically delineate the reasons therefor here, however, there are multiple reasons.

For anyone who has watched or paid attention to City Council meetings you may know that performance evaluations — barring scenarios like not having a City Manager — typically happen around this time through the summer.

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May 3, 2021

I got new rules I count ’em

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

In one bit of positive news the City Council will be considering new rules around Council Referrals because they’ve been monopolized by Trish Spencer and Tony Daysog since the start of the year, many Referrals were of the “this could have been an email” variety. And, true to form, Trish Spencer has two Council Referrals on this agenda even though the City Council didn’t make it through the whole agenda last Council meetings.

The new proposed rules for the night of are:

1) Limit Council Referral presentations to five minutes.

2) Limit Council comments and questions on Council Referrals to three minutes.

3) Limit Councilmember comments during Council Communications to three minutes and allow Councilmembers to comment only once during Council Communications.

This, though, is the biggest change and is essentially the question, “Could this be an email?”

Councilmembers should first consult with the City Manager, City Attorney or City Clerk to determine if requested information concerns a routine matter for which information is readily available.  If so, a Referral is not needed and the information should be shared with the public through an Off Agenda report posted on a portal on the City’s website. 

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April 30, 2021

Nature vs nuture

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

One of the truly bizarre piece of information to be released from the City press releases was the information that a civilian City employee is under investigation along with the three sworn police officers.

The name sounded super familiar from the time that I was reviewing staffing spreadsheets and it turns out that the civilian employee was on again, off again with the City fairly regularly:

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April 29, 2021

Our collective shame

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

I have not watched the video yet. I have read the transcripts auto generated by Youtube of the dispatch calls but that’s about it. I have had people tell me what’s in the video and I have read media reports of what is in the video as well. So that’s sort of where I’m at with all of this which maybe allows me to be more detached than simply enraged about what happened.

I know there’s a lot of focus on getting accountability through punishing the individual police officers but what we’re seeing here in Alameda and elsewhere are institutional problems. If we keep focusing on individuals and classifying police officers into good apples and bad apples we don’t get to the root of the problem: the institution of policing itself.

I was going to wait to write about Alameda’s missed opportunity last year to make immediate changes until after the Special meeting on the 8th but the more I pondered the issue the more frustrated I got and I don’t want the City Council majority to punt again. So I’m going to remind folks that we had the opportunity in July of last year after the Mali Watkins incident and in the wake of all the other national tragedies to pivot to do something more than just the status quo.

In July 2020, then Vice Mayor John Knox White and then Councilmember Jim Oddie placed a referral on the agenda to declare racism a public health emergency. Using that lens they had explicit asks with deadlines to make immediate changes, for example:

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April 28, 2021

911 is not a joke

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

Thanks to the Alamedans who went to the press conference held by Mario Gonzalez’s family for those unable to make it out. The City Council is holding a special meeting on May 8 to talk specifically about police reform issues but expect the May 4 meeting to have non agenda public comments what happened at the press conference and what is seen on the body camera video.

When we saw similarities and shades of the George Floyd tragedy in the initial press releases, the retelling of what was on the video is uncomfortably similar including a reference to a knee on the neck.

I don’t want to hash out what is or is not on the video because we haven’t all collectively had a chance to view it other than using the lens of the family what I did want to address something that speaker Cat Brooks said during the press conference, specifically the weaponization of police for everything that makes some folks feel slightly uncomfortable. She emphasizes, “there needs to be consequence for people who call the police on us for being brown and Black and breathing.”

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April 27, 2021

In-personal

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

Even as AUSD looks to the fall to fully re-open schools to in person learning, some parents are not happy with AUSD dedicating resources to planning out a full re-opening. They also don’t want AUSD to offer a remote school option for families who may need this option due to health issues. I’m not quite sure why these parents are not interested in accommodating families in need other than it might “pull resources” away from the in-person classes but it’s definitely something that is on brand for these parents who misuse the term “equity.”

A few days ago Politico (aka Teen Beat on the Potomac) tore itself away from gossipy blind items and wrote about who isn’t heading back to in person classes and it’s, personally, one of the things that we should keep in mind when we talk about fall schooling and which communities need outreach to feel comfortable sending kids back in the fall. Highlights:

President Joe Biden is on the verge of meeting his 100-day pledge to press the majority of American schools into reopening for five days of weekly in-person instruction. But there’s a problem. Most of the kids returning to classes are white.

….

Eighty percent of public schools were open for at least some in-person learning by the end of February, according to a government survey, but an estimated 78 percent of Asian eighth-graders were learning in a fully remote environment. Nearly 60 percent of Black and Hispanic eighth-graders also learned at home full time.

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April 26, 2021

Counting MACROs

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

On Friday Vice Mayor Malia Vella tweeted this call to action:

While definitely understanding what happened during the encounter between Mario Gonzalez and APD is important, we will need to be able to chew gum and walk at the same time during this critical moment.

Putting aside the need for transparency and the release of footage we need to talk about that last part of VM Malia Vella’s tweet. The “move to the MACRO model of response.”

While it is a tragedy that it took someone’s death for some sort of action to be taken that seems to be the general MO for Alameda generally.

The MACRO model of response is best defined by what Oakland is doing in their own pilot program which will be run through its Fire Department:

City councilmembers voted unanimously Tuesday to place the civilian response program in the Oakland Fire Department and to do it quickly. The program is called MACRO and is an acronym for Mobile Assistance Community Responders of Oakland.

Under MACRO, civilian responders rather than police would also respond to other non-violent crisis calls in addition to mental health calls.

More details of the general program can be found here.

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