Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 12, 2009

It’s not media, it’s alamedia!

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

It’s rather appropriate that we all had a long protracted discussion on media and what we can or cannot expect from our local media sources.  I still have more thoughts about media and journalism in general which I will leave for another time and another post.   However I did want to draw your attention to some serious OMG moments I have had lately in regards to the various Alameda media.

The first is good.  Michele E. (award winning, degree in journalism, field tested, new blogsite make sure you update your RSS feeds or bookmarks: wrote an amazing — some might call it, investigative — piece on the comparison between the Alameda budget and a city of comparable size, Redwood City.    The differences are rather startling when you see where the priorities are — budget wise — in comparison.  Worth a read or several reads, although as she disclaims within the text, it’s not meant to be conclusive, after all there are many variables not account for.   Still it’s a pretty good snapshot at what the priorities are in Alameda as opposed to Redwood City.   Some other interesting pieces of data that would help round out the ability to compare and contrast would be median income, median age, population of children…some basic census data, which I suppose I could go and research, but it’s so much more Alameda to ask someone else to do it.   [insert winkie emoticon here]   

By the way, if you like the service that Michele E. is providing, there are ad spaces you can buy to help her continue the work that she is doing.  

The next, not so good, is last week’s Alameda Sun piece on the remains of a Native American girl uncovered in a sinkhole.   The title of the piece,  Uncovered: Prehistoric Alameda

Now I’m not a scientist or even a historian, but this title made my head spin, and not in a good way.  To be fair, maybe the author was using the colloquial definition which simply defines “prehistoric” as “old,” and not the other definition which defines prehistoric as, you know, when dinosaurs roamed the earth or even — closer to when this Native American girl died — before we could record our own history.   Given Edmundo Delmundo’s interest in this, I thought he would have been all over this one.

And finally, this was the one that had me stunned for a good few minutes, Action Alameda and their “interview” with David Howard.  Let’s remember that no one,  no one has claimed to be a member of Action Alameda since who even knows when.  For all we know David Howard is the only member of Action Alameda, or at least the only one that is actively doing any work for it, but we wouldn’t know definitively because Action Alameda is not the most transparent organization in the city.  I guess it would be sort of strange to say “I sat down with myself and asked myself these questions,  here are my answers.”   However that is the beauty of a blog, you don’t need to pretend that someone else is interested in what you have to say because the proof is in the proverbial pudding.   You either have readers or you don’t.   You either have people participating on your blog or you don’t.   People will believe what you say or they won’t.    But the notion that Action Alameda even attempts a pretense at an “interview” is laughable.     It’s full of conveniently posed questions such as:

  • What are the concerns about traffic related to housing development at Alameda Point?
  • What do you expect will be on the ballot from SunCal in November?
  • How did you arrive at the $700 million figure for the SunCal subsidy for Alameda Point?
  • Speaking of tax-increment financing (redevelopment), what’s wrong with it?

The only questions it is missing is:

  • How does Save Our City! Alameda manage to be so great at what it does and provide such a service to our City?
  • Why do you think it is that the Council continue to ignore the terrific information that you provide to it?
  • Why are you so fabulous?

Barring the absence of those hard hitting questions the “interview” was something that even [insert your favorite journalist here] could be proud of.   Again these antics just harken back to that Murrow quote:

To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful.

How can anyone believe what you have to say when the context is contrived in the first place?   But, it’s not media, it’s “alamedia.”


  1. For the record I am opposed to the stimulus package, but just as I opposed Alameda Power going into cable tv but then became a subscriber- once the government has decided to waste, you had better line up at the trough – so I encourage all of us to go and examine Alameda’s pending requests for stimulus cash. In light of Bev Johnson’s remarks about prioritizing city money, let’s all take a look at these proposals. Randy Shandobil (of KTVU) did last night on the news, and held up Alameda as a poster child for ludicrous non-essential requests. As we consider big-picture state and federal subsidy for local development (think state assessment for per-pupil expenditures, Navy money to clean up PCBs) – this stimulus package will be held up over the next decade as an excuse to do nothing.

    Comment by Matt Reid — February 12, 2009 @ 8:07 am

  2. Hi Matt:

    This topic came up a bit ago under this post.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 12, 2009 @ 9:40 am

  3. Lauren – thanks – though it wasn’t until last night that our fair burg became (in)famous on account of “absurd” requests, and it wasn’t until yesterday that this colossal mistake of a stimulus package was passed.

    Comment by Matt Reid — February 12, 2009 @ 10:28 am

  4. That’s a neat site though, thanks for linking to it.

    Comment by Lauren Do — February 12, 2009 @ 10:38 am

  5. #!. Bulbouts? Lighted crosswalks? More streetscraping Park Street? Fernside, for god’s sake?! — Not my priorities!

    What about cleaning Alameda Point? Or undergrounding those ugly wires everywhere? Those two alone could use up the millions and do more good than everything on the list combined.

    Who created the list anyway? Looking at the votes, it looks like most people agree the projects (most) are completely non-essential. It’s a pet project list—whose pet?

    Comment by AD — February 12, 2009 @ 11:09 am

  6. Yeah. I would have to say, Shandobil’s segment does make the city look a bit on the “pet list” side of things. Why replace perfectly good fences at Washington? I have to laugh about the tennis court resurfacing… I mean when kids and teachers (I even saw Kirsten Vitale trip in one!) are tripping in huge playground cracks because of the deferred maintenance on the school yards for more than a few years now… many parks and schools share city land, you know. The liabilty waters are really muddy, I would bet, because of that…

    Comment by E T — February 12, 2009 @ 11:17 am

  7. There was a guy on Bart the other morning conducting a very animated interview with himself, so it is possible.

    Comment by BC — February 12, 2009 @ 11:24 am

  8. Say what you want about the stimulus bill but I’ll bet Pelosi’s mouse is happy.

    Comment by JR — February 12, 2009 @ 12:24 pm

  9. The stimulus package scares me. In a way, I wish things would get much, much worse, so the beast too would starve. Here’s food for thought-all too soon after the Obamaphoria.

    “The basic systems are going to stay in place; they are too powerful to be challenged,” Wolin told me when I asked him about the new Obama administration. “This is shown by the financial bailout. It does not bother with the structure at all.”

    Comment by alamedalorax — February 12, 2009 @ 12:45 pm

  10. Also from the stimulus wish-list:
    “Plant approximately 500 new trees and remove and replace approximately 150 trees throughout the City.” Cost, approximately $300,000. I say, remove the dead and dying trees and let people plant more trees in their yards. Do we really want to live in a nanny-gardener state?

    At least bulbouts help make bus transit more efficient and safer for riders, and lighted crosswalks improve safety for pedestrians.

    Comment by Linda Hudson — February 12, 2009 @ 1:50 pm

  11. Ai Linda! What’s a nanny-gardener state?

    The city’s tree consultants counted 3,500 “shovel-ready” spots for new trees. Even that’s an underestimate in my opinion. The 350 (net) is a drop in the bucket compared to the actual need.

    Bulbouts are not proposed for bus stops necessarily—not on Grand anyway. On Grand, they are a feel-good pedestrians knick-knack, not a life-saving necessity. Grand is not a 3-lane speedway people are afraid to cross. Besides, you can get run over as you step from the bulbout just as easily as anywhere else if you’re not careful. The key is to keep your eyes open.

    Also, what do you mean by “let people”? Are people not allowed to plant more trees in their yards now?

    Comment by alamedalorax — February 12, 2009 @ 2:15 pm

  12. Bulb-outs do not make transit more effective – they are a silly concept which prevents buses from pulling out of the traffic lanes to load or unload riders, which makes our over-all transportation network less effective at actually transporting people and goods.

    If our city had it’s act together we would have a plan to get Fed $ to develop the Point with including “experimental” GHG-free housing/building. It would be a desirable project, not just to spend $ for temp jobs, but to actually improve our county’s “construction methods”

    Comment by David Kirwin — February 12, 2009 @ 2:21 pm

  13. A lot of the so called pedestrian improvement projects are driven by availability of funding, not necessity. This was even acknowledged by staff.

    Lighted crosswalks are more likely to create complacency than improve safety (sometimes they are indeed safer but not the way they’ve croped up everywhere in Alameda). Accessible signals are controversial too. Blind people are confused by them as they can’t hear actual traffic. Bottom line: a lot of money is wasted on unnecessary projects to keep people busy or grow their resumes, and sometimes the projects merely create more problems to solve later. I’d much rather spend the stimulus package on unemployment benefits or send folks on vacation than using it to tinker with things. Just “keepin’ busy” is not a worthy goal.

    Comment by alamedalorax — February 12, 2009 @ 2:33 pm

  14. # 9
    You’ve got, in your Hedges’ clip, some world class leftists. I wonder just what is the nature of the “beast” you wish to starve? And, just what “structure” was Wolin talking about when you asked him about the new administration?

    I know, Wolin, Chomski, Klein, et al would relish being in Obama’s circle in order to provide much needed advice on carrying out their revolution, but give me a break, these guys couldn’t find there way out of their ivory towers without a teacher’s aide.

    Comment by JR — February 12, 2009 @ 4:47 pm

  15. #12
    “Bulb-outs do not make transit more effective – they are a silly concept which prevents buses from pulling out of the traffic lanes to load or unload riders”

    It makes perfect sense to me. The extended platform saves time picking up passengers. The bus doesn’t have to pull out of traffic and then back into traffic. That speeds up service and saves money.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — February 12, 2009 @ 4:59 pm

  16. what’s the nature of the beast? The impetus to grow and grow and grow, as if growth is a goal in and of itself. The credit system. The imperative to consume. Advertising. When Obama said the other day we need to get the credit flowing again so some guy in forget where can buy an RV, I was aghast. If the guy can’t get an RV without borrowing, then he can’t afford an RV. Chances are, he doesn’t really need an RV, he just thinks he does. We know that we don’t need to indulge everyone’s imagined/ad-created “needs.” To hear Obama say this, after all this talk about change, is such a letdown.

    Someone (Bertrand Russel?) had said that if we only worked to satisfy our real necessities, we’d only need to work 4 hours a day. The rest of the time we could devote to creativity and leisure. Think, what are then things you really need, that are not made necessities because of someone else’s greed, if not your own? Food, clean water, shelter, a doctor when you break your leg, what else? Do you really need a quadrupal pass surgery for your dog, or a bulbout to help you board the bus? But the economy will collapse without, people will lose their jobs? Let them. Just forgive their debt. Let the banks collapse. It would be the end of the system, not the end of the world. We’ll think of something better. It won’t happen of course, but fun to think about.

    Obama’s capital projects plan scares me. What kind of capital projects? Like the damming projects that caused the overpopulation of one of the driest regions in the world? Are we going to create windfarms the size of Manhattan in the plains of Texas? Screw the environment, ignore the stupidity of the scale, it’s exciting, it’s new, it’s SOMETHING! Most importantly, it gives people jobs! And when people have jobs they can buy things. Didn’t think you needed a thneed? Well, you do now. No thneeds, no jobs, no food, no house. Your basic necessities are completely intertwined with your expendables, It’s a tragedy. You starve the beast, you die too. This is what I think the article is about.

    I agree about the ivory tower aspect but I’m not sure about your point. The ivory tower is the one place where these things can be talked about. Better somewhere then nowhere.

    Comment by AD — February 12, 2009 @ 6:48 pm

  17. AD: I think it was (rather ironically given we’re discussing the stimulus-package) Keynes who discussed this–at least he did write an essay on this; others may have too. Keynes also had a practical economist’s mind, hence his recommendation of deficit-spending in recessions. He was able to separate his musings on the nature of a better world from the realization that in a predominantly free-market economy you need to maintain demand for goods to keep workers in jobs. Building bulb-outs, like them or not, achieves that goal–bulb-out builders get paid and by the multiplier effect this has a positive effect on the economy. I think it’s bourgeois self-indulgence to wish for the whole system to topple when you’re not the one it’s going to fall on.

    Comment by BC — February 12, 2009 @ 8:38 pm

  18. Hey! For the most part, nice posts everyone! I definitely don’t agree with some of the comments, but a reasonably civilized debate. Wahoo!

    I hate to bring him up, but since he was the focus of Lauren’s post I’ll do the dirty work. Did you notice that once folks focused on debating an issue that David Howard became completely irrelevant!?!

    Maybe if we all just focused on REAL issues and not on the irrelevant conflation of disjointed statistics, then maybe DH would just fade into obscurity.

    The issues facing us, in Alameda, as a state, and as a nation are deadly serious. We need to focus on having a rational,civilized debate about things and then come to a consensus around action. We need to ignore, or censure, those who create straw man arguments for GOD KNOWS WHAT PURPOSE and get down to real, serious discussions.

    Let’s get to work!

    Comment by david burton — February 12, 2009 @ 10:37 pm

  19. Keynes essay:

    It’s years since I read this and I’m struck by how relevant it is now.

    Comment by BC — February 13, 2009 @ 8:58 am

  20. # 16
    So, is “AD” the same commenter as “alamedalorax”? If so, I doubt that “Bertrand Russel” {sic} worked one hour a day, let alone four. But setting him aside, you name a nation, culture tribe or clan that didn’t have the impetus to grow. It’s the nature of the organism to expand and grow. The tools humans use to achieve growth (which you deride so flippantly) make humans able to achieve their dreams.

    Granted, ivory towers are where things are talked about but someone had to build those ivory towers and you can bet it wasn’t the talkers.

    Comment by JR — February 13, 2009 @ 9:06 am

  21. # 19
    I suggest you put Keynes aside and pick up Friedrich Hayek (“The Road to Serfdom) to learn the true relevancy of what’s occurring today.

    Comment by JR — February 13, 2009 @ 9:12 am

  22. JR: Ah, I knew you’d be a Hayek guy. Your homespun wisdom about horny-handed sons of toil building the ivory towers made me think of something else Keynes wrote: “Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”

    Comment by BC — February 13, 2009 @ 9:15 am

  23. Sorry for alternating names, yes, AD is the same is alamedalorax.

    There are many tribes that were less interested in growth or wealth accumulation and more in living in balance with nature or within the tribe. The one that comes to mind right now are the native americans and potlatch customs where wealth was re-distributed among members of the tribe once a year and the excess was burned. On the other hand, all societies that have grown without limits have eventually collapsed, or divided themselves into smaller units. Growth for growth’s sake is dangerous–you must have a goal or a moral framework to hold you together. What is our moral framework? Is it the perfection of the individual? We are some of the most unhappy, insecure people in the world. Is it respect for the environment? Clearly not, as the way we achieve our wealth is extremely destructive. What is it? Some doomsday goal of using up the world so we can get to the next one? Brrrr….I am not in opposition to improving our lives, being productively engaged and having a government to make it easier for us all to get what we need—food, shelter, education, healthcare. I’m opposed to an expectation that every day we should be better, richer, more beautiful than before. There’s got to be a level where we would say, I’m happy, I’m satisfied, I’ve got what I need, let me see what I can do for someone else to bring balance to the picture. This society frowns on such limit and on such balance. Institutions exist to prevent you from ever wanting to stop wanting. I happen to think corporate advertising is one of the biggest evils ever invented. It’s helps us acquire our religion of consumption that’s leading us to ruin. But advertising is just a helper, the idea of endless capital is the root, and what that’s based in I don’t know. Plain old greed?

    I see that I’m all over the place because this subject calls not for a blog but for a beer, but to bring this back to Alameda level—the stimulus wish-list the city has put out is based on what actual needs? What is the frame we are trying to attach that to? What bigger priorities are hidden in it? I don’t see any. All I see is a haphazard collection of individual’s pet projects, things that don’t crucially address what the glaring needs are, Alameda Point being a very big sticking point (yea, pun!). Richard Bangert has an excellent opinion piece in the Journal today. Instead of allowing various people and departments to pull in various directions to get their projects a priority, the city could say, Government, we need you to help us clean that land, fix the infrastructure on it for free, we’ll take it from there. The bulbouts, blipping signals and other froofles can all wait, if we ever really need them at all.

    Anyway, nice talking, I have a lot to do today so I can’t spend any more time here. Happy weekend.

    Comment by AD — February 13, 2009 @ 11:13 am

  24. “Institutions exist to prevent you from ever wanting to stop wanting.”

    If these institutions exist to make you “want”, then either they have failed or you have been corrupted. Is not Government an institution? Yet you want it to clean the land, fix the infrastructure and pull us all together.

    Anyway, have fun with your twenty hours of leisure.

    Comment by JR — February 13, 2009 @ 12:28 pm

  25. gets it wrong on one count.

    Alameda is not anywhere close to 22.7 square miles. That figure includes water boundaries; which if you did that for Redwood City puts it at closer to 34 square miles. Alameda island is about 10 square miles, or less I believe, and far less than that when you subtract much of the uninhabited and restricted space of the naval air station.

    Comment by Mosha — February 13, 2009 @ 2:40 pm

  26. Wikipedia to the rescue (again) 😉

    Alameda: 23 sq miles (incl NAS Alameda)
    Land 10.8 sq mi
    Water 12.2 sq mi

    NAS Alameda: 2527 acres (3.95 sq miles)

    Redwood City: 34.6 sq mi
    Land 19.5 sq mi
    Water 15.1 sq mi

    Comment by alameda — February 13, 2009 @ 4:26 pm

  27. Here’s another comparison.

    The biggest difference I noticed is that Alameda has a much higher population density than Redwood City. That should make it less expensive for the city to provide services.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — February 13, 2009 @ 5:08 pm

  28. #18 — While I absolutely appreciate your sentiments about the irrelevancy of David Howard, I have to confess I was a wee bit startled myself when I saw the interview with him on the Action Alameda site.

    In fact, I was so startled, I had to sit myself down and ask myself a couple questions.

    “Self,” I said, “isn’t David Howard pretty much the same thing as Action Alameda?”

    “Why yes,” my Self replied, “you’re right about that. Aren’t you clever!”

    “You’re sure, Self?” I responded (to my Self). “You’re not having a senior moment and getting people mixed up? Sometimes that happens to me.”

    “No, no,” my Self said (to me). “They’re one and the same. And like you, I’m always right.”

    Now I generally do trust myself, but I’d like to thank Lauren for confirming my general impression that DH is talking to himself most of the time.

    Comment by talkin' to my self — February 13, 2009 @ 5:38 pm

  29. Decline in newspapers renews idea of nonprofits

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — March 1, 2009 @ 10:56 am

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