Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 23, 2018

Good and bad, black and white

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

And more on that bad look for the Rec and Park Commission, this set of videos comes from the the May 10 Rec and Park Commission meeting.  As a side note there was a very abrupt announcement at the beginning of the meeting that one member of the commission resigned but there was no reason why.  So local Alameda historian Rasheed Shabazz speaks during open comment about the Jackson Park renaming thing again.  The full video is here:

It’s about seven minutes long, he has time ceded to him, but it’s worth a listen considering the meeting prior to this one where this happened.   After Rasheed Shabazz’s comments Commissioner Ruben Tilos then tries to attempt to style his comments at the Trail of Tears meeting as something other than what he actually said.   Then he goes into this weirdo word salad world of saying everything but in the end saying nothing of value.

Seriously, just listen to it, it’s just a bunch of disconnected thoughts and words thrown together:

He then tries to backtrack and then says that he didn’t question the sourcing from Rasheed Shabazz even though he literally said this:

Someone gave us a letter, puts in facts in the letter but how do we figure out are these facts correct. You know the history books I read as a schoolchild are different from the history books now. And there’s a lot of, you know, opinionated history that goes out there now so, it’s like, maybe we figure out, okay who is the historian or what is correct in history and we find out who is that author.

He then goes off into the strange convoluted reasoning where he discusses how the commission has to decide the “gray” “good and bad” part which is opinion but requires staff to validate the “black and white” “facts” prior to the commission deciding the “gray” opinion part.

Here’s a really choice transcription from his comments:

We have to do the grey part.  We have to make the decision of what is good and bad and that is not fact.  That is opinion.  The opinions 200 years ago for slaveholders was probably good.  Now it’s bad.  We’re going to have to make that decision so I’d like to isolate everything in the black and white so if staff said all of the criteria that you’ve named are true and it’s coming from the source the City of Alameda takes as being the truth I’d like to make my decision in that regard.  So I’m not questioning your facts but I’d like staff to tell us this is it.


How to unpack that.  First, I think it’s important to point out that later on Rasheed Shabazz does an excellent job pointing to a book which addresses who is authorized to be considered a historian.  While some members of the commission fall all over themselves to declare themselves as not questioning of the facts and historical references he has provided (see Ruben Tilos above), they do just that by pivoting to suggest that the Alameda Museum should be the reference point for all things historic or that city staff must vet references provided by the public, even though commissioners could easily verify on their own what is sourced material and what is not.  Given the vast amounts of research that Rasheed Shabazz has done about Alameda’s past, particularly the past that has not been touched by any of the lauded Alameda historians, he deserves the title of historian as much as any of those other people.  Specifically, as Rasheed Shabazz phrases it:

I do understand the concern about the validity of something done by particular sources, if it is done by someone associated with the Alameda Museum is seen as more legitimate; more valid.  Versus just Rasheed, I’m from Buena Vista, it may not be seen as — I don’t think ya’ll think that —  but it may not have that same sense of  validity. So I just want to question that idea of having to rely on the “authority” around the subject.

Keep watching after Rasheed Shabazz finishes, it’s like Ruben Tilos literally doesn’t listen to anything said by the commenter and suggests the exact opposite that Rasheed Shabazz highlighted.  Also, keep watching for the moonwalk away from the podium.

Secondly, what the hell.

The opinions 200 years ago for slaveholders was probably good.  Now it’s bad.

Fairly sure that 200 years ago a lot of people realized how bad slaveowning was.  See Abolitionists (Ruben Tilos can even go to Wikipedia for a quick and dirty refresher) for a reference to how long (even more than 200 years ago) folks realized how bad slaveowning was and were speaking out against it.  I don’t think that slaveowners ever thought they were good and righteous for owning slaves aka “opinions…probably good” but that it was a necessary economic evil.  The fact that a sitting Commission member is trying to justify not having to make a difficult decision to RECOMMEND TO THE CITY COUNCIL TO START THE PROCESS TO RENAME JACKSON PARK by opining that back 200 years ago “opinions…for slaveholders was probably good” is really very problematic.

And let me just point out that “opinions” about slaveowning are not just “bad” today, it’s probably agreed upon by just about everyone who is not a piece of crap that it’s completely unethical and a human rights violation.  But maybe that’s just me.

Finally Ruben Tilos warning that this process is going to take a long time is absurd.  If an elementary school is Salt Lake City , Utah can get through the process of renaming in less than a year a city in the progressive San Francisco Bay Area should be able to duplicate the same process in half that time.  It’s really not that hard.  We already know that Jackson Park was named Jackson Park because the leaders at that time just wanted all the parks to have matchy matchy president names, that isn’t the most compelling reason to keep it.  Throw out a survey of how many people want to change it and done.

That’s literally how Salt Lake City did it.  We should be able to do better.  If certain commissioners don’t have the desire to pick off what is really low hanging fruit perhaps they need to reconsider if they should be sitting on this commission if they are a obstacle to moving issues forward as opposed to making positive progress.  Also, reminder, the City Council majority does not need to rubber stamp the Mayor’s nominees.  The Rec and Park Commission deserves better than someone who petulantly attempted to get his fellow dais mate booted from the chambers and who is trying to put into place some nonsensical process in order to not have to make a difficult decision to rename a public park.  This is not leadership.


  1. I thought you would be posting something about this event today:

    The City of Alameda and Alameda Point Partners are pleased to invite you to the groundbreaking for the first mixed-use residential development at the former Naval Air Base at Alameda Point! This event is free and open to the public.

    Please RSVP to the groundbreaking ceremony here:

    To read more about Site A, please read our press release:

    The future of Site A is very exciting and we look forward to celebrating with you!

    Comment by Mike McMahon — May 23, 2018 @ 8:15 am

  2. I propose we rename it Parky McParkface!

    Comment by Rod — May 23, 2018 @ 10:38 am

  3. I recall watching this hoping Ruben would just stop talking. Sounded like he was attempting to straddle the left/right divide. Instead he revealed how unprepared he is for public service. Words matter, more than ever.

    Comment by Stormy Mueller — May 23, 2018 @ 2:22 pm

  4. well now to throw gas on the fire, I see a big problem here, its a Black guy with dreds and a flowing robe speaking at the lectern. Right here in “River City” and he’s from the “B.V.s” . How could he have any input into this issue. keep up the good work Rasheed.

    Comment by JohnP.TrumpisnotmyPresident. — May 23, 2018 @ 3:32 pm

    • I didn’t see/hear racial animus against Shabazz. I just saw/heard that Tilos is a fucking idiot.

      Comment by dave — May 23, 2018 @ 6:58 pm

  5. you have every right to see whatever you want to see and hear whatever you want to hear, as do I.

    Comment by JohnP.TrumpisnotmyPresident. — May 23, 2018 @ 7:15 pm

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