Blogging Bayport Alameda

December 19, 2008

With them came another invader…more cruel and vicious than any they had fought…the Carpetbagger

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: , , — Lauren Do @ 7:00 am

On Wednesday (catch it before it disappears) Alameda Daily News posted a self-congratulatory letter from Action Alameda with an interesting, and yes, ironic closing:

…These are just some of the reasons we insist on a 3rd-party forensic audit of the City of Alameda’s books. And we remind Alameda residents that they would do well to be critical of the party line touted by City Hall and echoed by the online carpetbagging bloggers and pay more attention to their fellow citizen whistle-blowers. Your pocket books will thank you.*

Putting aside the spin that Action Alameda (royal “we” being used since only one person cops to actually being a member of the organization these days) has been trying to put forward about being mocked because they uncovered a pot of money that belonged to AUSD in the coffers of the City (cliff notes for those that are confused, the school district and the city government are two separate entities).    Action Alameda was — because these things are archived — critiqued for going around and asserting that somehow the school district neglected to properly file annual reports regarding the money.   Back then Action Alameda was congratulating  itself for showing that AUSD was a shoddily run organziation that they couldn’t even get their act together to file the necessary reports required.   Now, Action Alameda is patting itself on the back for finally getting the money into the right hands — for the good of the children.  

Notwithstanding the selective memory of Action Alameda as to what they were asserting back then, I do believe their persistence around this issue was one of the motivating factors for the school district to finally request the money from the City.  So a tip of the hat for a job well done. 

However, Action Alameda falls into the same old same old with the excerpt above calling for:

…a 3rd-party forensic audit of the City of Alameda’s books.

Which makes you wonder if anyone really knows what or who they are voting for these days.  Which, conveniently enough, Councilmember Marie Gilmore addressed the issue of independent audits at the last City Council meeting.

If Action Alameda and others feel as though our democratically elected City Auditor is not doing his job properly — managing indepedent audits for the City’s finances — perhaps they should be finding a candidate to run against him in four more years.

And finally, you didn’t think I was going to ignore this one, right?   That’s right Action Alameda has denounced the most cruel and vicious among us, the:

…online carpetbagging bloggers…

First, let’s just pretend that the “online” part isn’t redundant with the term “blogger” since blogging can only be done online.   And that somehow, even though Action Alameda has its own blog, that they are exempt from the category of blogger and rather are one of the good guys, the “fellow citizen whistle-blowers” if you will.  

A brief history of carpetbaggers (from a compartive essay on these roles and Iraq):

…In 1868 a Northerner reported on the “great deal of bitterness” that some Southerners displayed “in regard to the presence, and great prominence of members, of what Louisiana people call ‘carpet-baggers’—men, that is, who are new comers in the country.” A Southerner put the matter more succinctly: “I would sooner trust the Negro than the white scalawag or carpet-bagger.” …In many respects, carpetbagger rhetoric was an extension of antebellum secessionist ideology, which caricatured Northern society as excessively mercenary, lacking the “higher” ideals.

…[T]erm was actually applied with the same (or greater) vehemence to Northerners serving the Freedmen’s Bureau such as the likely thousands of Yankee “schoolmarms” educating the newly freed slaves. Moreover, even profit-driven business interests brought with them one commodity that the war-ravaged South desperately needed—capital. But many white natives hated the racial, social and economic changes these “new comers” represented. Reaction was swift, ranging from non-violent ostracism to the formation of the Ku Klux Klan. In its original usage then, “carpetbagger” was a reactionary’s word, a term of opprobrium most useful to those on the losing side of the Civil War…

 I wonder who gets to determine which newcomers to Alameda get to be placed in the “carpetbagger” category or the “fellow citizen” category, since Action Alameda leaves it vague enough for you, gentle reader, to decide who these carpetbaggers are.   But then again perhaps we should all just take a page out of Rhett Butler’s book:

 

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18 Comments

  1. “I wonder who gets to determine which newcomers to Alameda get to be placed in the “carpetbagger” category or the “fellow citizen” category”

    Oh, I can answer that. It’s the folks who arrive someplace and without taking their hats off or sitting down to have proper tea start teaching the locals what’s good for them…you know, carpetbaggers.

    Comment by AD — December 19, 2008 @ 9:04 am

  2. Sometimes … I just love Lauren :-)

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — December 19, 2008 @ 10:07 am

  3. Ah, I didn’t realize there was a ritual to follow once someone arrived in Alameda, so far I have it at:

    1. Move in
    2. Take your hat off
    3. Sit down for proper tea

    Now is that afternoon tea, high tea, or the Teddy Bear variety?

    Comment by Lauren Do — December 19, 2008 @ 10:38 am

  4. By its own definition, Action Alameda qualifies as a “carpet bagger.” It’s an online “blogger” with a master that has moved to Alameda about 7 years ago. But it’s not technically a blog because people can’t post and have a conversation on Mr. Howard’s site.

    You are right that Action Alameda is the perfect example of redundancy — repeating what is already in place. From the video clip of the CC meeting on your post, the City Council and City Auditor retains an *independent* auditor (Maze & Associates) to comb through the details the financial reports.

    Interestingly, if Mr. Howard had bothered to read the CAFR or the independently audited financial reports more carefully, he would understand why the AUSD waited to request the redevelopment funds from the City. If AUSD got the redevelopment funds before the State finalized their allocation, the State would have reduced funding for AUSD by a commensurate amount. AUSD had nothing to lose now since the State is talking about more cuts to education.

    Ironically, as much as Mr. Howard expresses disdain for redevelopment, the AUSD would NOT have have accrued this funding without this law.

    Comment by AUSD Finance Watcher — December 19, 2008 @ 11:06 am

  5. It has never been at all clear to me why someone who has been somewhere longer (let’s say Alameda) has more right to an opinion then someone who has been here less long. Do we grant those whose families came to the United States in 1806 more authority than those that came in 1910 or 1966? Does living somewhere necessarily make someone an expert in, say, city planning? I am not saying experience and history don’t have value, but, in fact, it is very often a newcomer with a fresh perspective who sees what others may have missed. Let us not continue to value longevity over insight, wisdom or clear thought. As Mayor Johnson recently told a The Island blog,
    “One of the messages I keep sending is, we need to get rid of all the ‘Alameda way’ crap. We need to stop doing things the way they’ve always been done and start doing them the way they should be done,” she said.

    Comment by Eve — December 19, 2008 @ 11:12 am

  6. Action Alameda strikes me as a rather sad little person. I mean group.

    This whole insider-versus-outsider stuff is at best diversionary and tiresome, at worst divisive. What does it take to be an Alamedan with a legitimate voice? Is there a statement of core positions to which one must subscribe?

    Comment by BC — December 19, 2008 @ 11:23 am

  7. Well, on the other hand, if Marie says these audits are archived on the city web site… WHERE are they?

    I looked and could not find them, but that could be that because I don’t know where to look. When I go to the documents page, it really only has agendas filed on it.

    Comment by E T — December 19, 2008 @ 11:32 am

  8. ET: I think Marie Gilmore was wrong about the independent audits being available on-line. I have to say I have never run into one on the City’s website. But they are available for review through the City Clerk’s office.

    They SHOULD be available on-line though, but so should every single board and commission meeting and, unfortunately, they are not.

    Comment by Lauren Do — December 19, 2008 @ 11:51 am

  9. Dear Eve, I agree with you hundred percent. It’s not about how long one has been somewhere, it’s about the attitude towards the place or people. A newcomer can have arrogance and a sense of superiority, or have curiosity and respect. I believe a carpetbagger describes the former.

    Comment by AD — December 19, 2008 @ 11:55 am

  10. And conversely, long-time locals can be open-minded and welcoming or hostile and closed-minded. The Alamedans I know who are native or who’ve been here a long time tend to be the former. Oddly, it’s some opionated blog-commenting newcomers who seem to be the latter.

    Comment by BC — December 19, 2008 @ 12:04 pm

  11. LOL @ #9 … you nailed the “Alameda way” attitude! Act like we want you to act, think like we want you to think or we’ll come up with some derogatory name for you like carpetbagger, bigot, homophobe, or anti-education selfish bastard. Your comment is a hypocritical classic :-)

    Viva the Alameda way!!!

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — December 19, 2008 @ 12:07 pm

  12. I believe the use of the term “carpetbagger” says a lot more about the person using the term (or defending the use of the term or even ascribing definitions to the term that doesn’t exist in the modern or historic usage) than the people the term is supposed to describe.

    Comment by Lauren Do — December 19, 2008 @ 12:07 pm

  13. 11

    You’re only 3 of those things, JRT, don’t sell yourself short.

    Comment by dave — December 19, 2008 @ 12:21 pm

  14. The audited CAFR (Comprensive Annual Financial Reports) are on the City’s Finance section of their website: http://www.ci.alameda.ca.us/finance. It’s under “financial documents.”

    Comment by AUSD Finance Watcher — December 19, 2008 @ 12:27 pm

  15. Thanks AUSD Finance Watcher! I was foolishly doing searches for “audit” and turning up pretty much nothing.

    Comment by Lauren Do — December 19, 2008 @ 12:31 pm

  16. And while we’re weighing in on audits, I actually did ask the mayor when I spoke with her last week about an independent audit, and she said she is “never against something like an audit” (though as she pointed out and some folks have already pointed out, the city does get audited every year by Maze).

    Those audits, by the way, are also available at the public library (though I’m with you guys in wishing they were online too).

    Comment by Michele Ellson — December 19, 2008 @ 1:17 pm

  17. @#13 … YES!!! One more of the intolerant “better than thou” preachers of the “Alameda way.” I love you guys … although, I’ll be sad when your way of life has been desecrated and you are living in a public assistance homeless shelter in Oakland eating government cheese that I paid for :-)

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — December 19, 2008 @ 1:46 pm

  18. 11. feeding the troll always results in being spattered in troll puke.

    10. After thinking on it, I would say both new comers and old timers are both about 50/50 when it comes to the open and closed minded thing. And there are lots of odd and convoluted hybrids, depending on issues and players and how people define their personal interests.

    I think there is a sort of classic stereotype of an entrenched and provincial old time Alamedan who, if not a numerical majority, makes a strong impression and is quickly identified by people who don’t live here, or know the place well.

    Comment by Mark Irons — December 20, 2008 @ 2:43 pm


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