Archive for the 'Popular Posts' Category

18
Feb
12

Our Beloved Bay Bridge, In The Beginning

In honor of this weekend’s Oakland Bay Bridge closure heading westbound, we decided to remember the 75-year-old in better days.  As a newborn, she was an engineering marvel and the longest cantilever bridge in the world.

Let’s flashback to the four-day long, bridge opening celebration.  Julian Lozos, a San Franciscan, shared this cover art from the ceremony program itself.  The cover, which Lozos discovered and bought on eBay, is a thing of 1936 deco-beauty.  Though I wonder why all the people seem mellow and a bit snobbish.  Show some enthusiasm!

Next, we go to the Bay Bridge parade route.  Another local, Ward Ryan, digitized films about Bay Bridge construction and discovered this lovely parade float.  Who are these goddesses adorning the bridge?  Do they provide a classy touch or something more?  We think they have been replaced by our lucky troll, who currently resides on the bridge itself.

Last but not least, we present an image from the Little Miss Bay Bridge contest.  Pleasanton resident J. Boles shared this snapshot of his mother, who represented Emeryville and won the contest.  She was awarded a nice ribbon by actress Rochelle Hudson, a big deal at the time.  So we have proof there were contests well before the Toddlers & Tiaras era.

The Bay Bridge has done yeoman’s service, without major changes.  Her two decks were revamped over fifty years ago, to remove the trains and accommodate growing vehicle traffic.  And we know about the fixes since the 1989 Loma Prieta collapse, necessary but not sufficient for long-term safety.  The bridge could only last for a lifetime.

On Labor Day 2013, we will marvel at our brand-new, replacement bridge that moves with earthquakes.  She will become another shining beacon, complete with open views towards Oakland and the hills.  And we’ll all be there, this time.

P.S.  Tip of the hat, to contributors and posters on Facebook’s Bay Bridge memories.

24
Jul
11

Safeway Redwood: Impact On Montclair?

Safeway’s been slowly upgrading their Oakland stores.  They did renovate the Montclair location a few years ago, to give Lucky’s a run for their money.

Now the small, old Safeway on Redwood Road, at Lincoln Square, is getting its day in the sun.  Unlike other Oakland spots where potential upgrades would impact traffic and walking flows, this Safeway sits in the back of an existing parking lot.

Thus far, Safeway has asked for online supporters and their inputs.  Over 230 locals have already applauded the renovation news.  And now, let the quibbling over features and amenities begin.

Libby Schaaf, our District 4 Council Rep, is planning a meeting to gauge comments, ideas and concerns on a broader scale.  We think that’s a good move, given the hoopla with other Safeway renovations.

Montclarions probably don’t and won’t frequent this location too much.  Yet some of these new Safeway supporters, who live further East,  have mentioned they will stop heading to Montclair to shop.  We’re wondering if we should start getting concerned about how these improvements might impact our faire village.

06
Apr
11

Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, RIP

The Oak Knoll Naval Hospital’s carcass will be demolished this Friday, sometime between 10:00 am and noon.  There’s been an awful, silent and ignored hulk shadowing the Oakland Hills for 15 years.  Good riddance, we say.

According to the Oak Knoll Coalition, a group of neighbors, the main hospital will be exploded this week.  They reported that developer SunCal will raze all the remaining masonry buildings by year-end.  However Club Knoll, a relic of the country club which preceded the hospital, will be saved for later refurbishment.

Over the past few years, there have been several visitors to this supposedly off-limit place.  Check out the fascinating coverage (part 1, part 2), images and videos which document the derelict hospital compound — and also honor what once took place on the hill.

The hospital base was opened from 1942-1996, which means the East Bay’s filled with former workers, their families, patients and even those born there.  Please visit the Facebook petition underway to create a fitting memorial on the hillside.  It’s a nice idea, we think.

So what’s next?  After the demolitions, we wait for new homes and a little open space.  Presumably housing developers will get capitalized again, whether it’s SunCal or someone else — though nothing is truly known or scheduled at this point.

Update:   Courtesy of The Bay Citizen, here’s a video showing the hospital implosion.

for Oak Knoll Naval Hospital Memorial

02
Apr
11

Curb Appeal Visits Montclair

If you are an aficionado of HGTV’s Curb Appeal: The Block, then you already know that Montclair received its 15 minutes of national media fame tonight.

Here’s the scoop on Juniper Jungle to Modern Masterpiece, aka episode HCRBL-301H:

David and Kerryn La Duc live on a close-knit cul-de-sac in the Montclair neighborhood in Oakland, CA. While they love their neighborhood, their dated modern ranch style home could use some updating. Their front yard is almost completely covered with juniper….

The program began with some quick video of Montclair Village and then traveled to a neighborhood off Joaquin Miller Road.  It showed the neighbors hanging out, followed by the homeowners (and their kids) as work proceeded to kill the junipers.

We’re so proud!  The couple, who are now officially famous, represented our best.  We learned that Kerryn is a teacher, though the show didn’t reveal too much about David.  However it was clear they were Montclarions, and a team of equals.  We also enjoyed how Kerryn was grateful and yet not a pushover about all the changes to their home.  :-)

Today in Montclair could not resist “googling” these neighbors and they are typically interesting.  Kerryn had twittered about teaching ancient Chinese philosophy to her sixth grade class.  Meanwhile David placed third in last year’s Sequoia 50K Trail Run, and has been running long distances for years.

Anyway, we wish that we could show you the amazing transformation to the La Duc home along with the quick upgrades to a few neighbors’ places.  Their mid-modern house looks so cool now, with stone and wood accents and great landscaping.  Living in a place where the foliage grows so quickly, we would like Curb Appeal to make a few more visits to our neighborhoods.

Check back on the HGTV site, since they’ll eventually show repeats online.

29
Jan
11

Got Issues Or Concerns, Reach Jenny

If you have any issues or concerns related to the City of Oakland, then Jenny Feinberg’s your go-to person.

According to District 4 Rep Libby Schaaf, in her recent newsletter (subscribe here), the district staff of three has been divided by location.  Feinberg is fully devoted to Montclarions, as our new community liaison, and may be contacted at (510) 238-7273 or jfeinberg@oaklandnet.com.

Here’s the formal introduction to Council Aide Feinberg:

As Councilmember Schaaf’s recent Campaign Coordinator as well as the former Program Assistant at Emerge California, Jenny has dedicated her professional career to helping women run and win for public office. She first discovered her passion for public service and constituent services when she completed internships with former Senators Joseph Biden and Hillary Clinton in Washington, DC and New York City, respectively.

Jenny has also worked in consulting, strategic planning and organizational management with the Center for Applied Research (CFAR) in Philadelphia. Jenny studied Women’s Studies and Political Science at Brandeis University and earned highest honors for her thesis entitled “Fostering Women’s Political Ambition: Who Runs for Congress, Who Wins, and How to Expand the Pool.”

In addition, Rep Schaaf will meet with Montclarions on a regular basis.  She’s attending the Piedmont Pines’ Annual Meeting — this Monday at 6:30pm, at Chabot Space & Science Center (map).  She’s also holding monthly community office hours during the Montclair Farmer’s Market.  Her next date will be Sunday, February 27th, from 9 am to 12 noon.

February Update:  We seem to have another direct District 4 contact now. For all-things Montclair, Patricia Rose may be reached at 510-238-6822 or prose@oaklandnet.com. Jenny’s still around but taking on additional tasks for Council Rep Schaaf.

March Update:  Thanks, Libby.  Jenny is still our go-to girl for all-things Montclair.

30
Oct
10

Money Politics Comes to City Council Campaign

In an Oakland election season where candidates have attacked mayoral frontrunner Don Perata about the influence of money in city politics, campaign finance debates are now trickling down to the City Council level.

The latest salvos come from three of the seven candidates vying to replace District 4’s Jean Quan, who has represented the Montclair, Laurel and Dimond neighborhoods on City Council since 2003. Quan, who is running for mayor, has made the sharpest criticisms of Perata’s campaign spending. Now, it’s the candidates looking to replace Quan on City Council that are crying foul in the days leading up to the Nov. 2 election.

On Oct. 27, Libby Schaaf’s District 4 campaign sent out a press release singling out approximately $44,000 worth of campaign mailings that the Rental Housing Association of Northern Alameda County PAC sent on behalf of her opponent, Jill Broadhurst. Schaaf described these mailers as an attempt by Joe O’Donohue, a San Francisco developer who wants to build a condominium near Oakland’s Lake Merritt, to sway the election.

“It’s unfortunate that outside interests, and in particular a single San Francisco developer, are trying to influence our elections in Oakland,” Schaaf said.

O’Donohue’s $44,000 independent expenditure endorsing Broadhurst means that District 4 Council candidates no longer have to abide by campaign spending limits set by the Oakland Campaign Reform Law (OCRA). Schaaf, who criticized the mailers, said she intends to abide by the pledge that candidates made to spend less than $116,000 in the campaign. She has raised $102,000 from donors, and will receive $14,000 in matching funding from the city for abiding by OCRA spending limits.

“I look forward to continuing to run a positive, issue-based campaign that focuses on Oaklanders, and the issues that matter to them,” added Schaaf.

Broadhurst will not receive $20,000 in public financing since she has already spent more than $20,000 of her own money in the campaign. But she criticized Schaaf and other candidates for accepting public campaign money at a time when Oakland faces serious budget shortfalls. She characterized her decision to bypass matching city funding and to finance her campaign through private donations, including her own, as a sign of fiscal responsibility.

“I cannot in good conscience take taxpayer-funded money to pay for my campaign while police officers are being laid off, roads are crumbling, and we are reducing hours at our libraries,” Broadhurst explained.

Schaaf disputed Broadhurst’s characterization of public funding, describing it instead as a “clean elections practice” that organizations like the League of Women Voters have supported. Schaaf pointed out that all 440 of her campaign donors have contributed less than $700 each.

Meanwhile, another candidate has criticized Schaaf as the beneficiary of financial support from an outside source. District 4 candidate Ralph Kanz, a former chair of the Oakland Public Ethics Commission, criticized the mailer Alameda County Central Democratic Committee (ACCDC) sent to voters featuring former Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown endorsing Schaaf. According to Kanz, the mailer did not include a notice providing certain information about who has paid for it, a requirement under Oakland law.

“I believe it is imperative for everyone to follow campaign laws,” Kanz declared. “Without this required information, the voters are denied a transparent and ethical election process.”

Kanz said it’s possible that the ACCDC mailer violated state election laws as well. The California Secretary of State has not received a “late filing” from the ACCDC regarding the campaign mailer supporting Schaaf. Kanz said that it’s possible that the ACCDC sent its filings to Oakland’s City Clerk and Secretary of State by fax on Oct. 29, but if not, it would represent another campaign violation.

“It’s ironic that two days after Ms. Schaaf condemned an opponent [Broadhurst] who received the benefit of a legally reported independent expenditure, she has benefited from a mailer that violates OCRA and possibly state law as well,” said Kanz. “I will be filing complaints concerning any and all violations surrounding this mailer.”

Schaaf responded that she had not seen the mailer, but that she was expecting the Democratic Party to communicate its endorsement of her to its members—registered Democrats—something that she says is allowed under campaign finance laws.

“Organizations are allowed to make communications to their members, which are not counted as an independent expenditure,” she said. “ If an organization like the California Nurses Association—which also endorsed me—wanted to communicate that to their union members, they would be allowed to do that.”

City Council elections have an additional wrinkle this year, as Oakland votes for the first time under the ranked-choice voting system. Voters in District 4 will be able to rank their top three choices among the seven candidates, and it’s almost certain no candidate will receive a majority in the first tally of votes. It will likely come down to counting voters’ second or third choices for the District 4 seat, and it could take several days to determine the winner.

08
Sep
10

The PI in Piedmont Pines

Graham Gage lives with his wife in Piedmont Pines, but the nature of his work doesn’t allow him to spend as much time at home as he’d like. Running down arms traffickers isn’t the sort of trade one can ply solely in Oakland. When he’s not in on the trail of a criminal mastermind in a place like Kiev or Geneva, Gage can be found walking in Redwood Park or enjoying a bowl of pho at his favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Little Saigon. In October he’ll prevent a global financial cataclysm and save the United States from falling into the hands of religious extremists.

Steven Gore (Courtesy of stevengore.com)

Graham Gage is the literary invention of Steven Gore, a very real resident of Piedmont Pines who also walks in the Redwoods, likes the pho at Pho Oakland Number One on E. 12th Street, and who worked as a private investigator for 25 years before he sold his first thriller to HarperCollins. That book, Final Target, was Graham Gage’s debut to the thriller-reading public. The next Gage installment, Absolute Risk, comes out at the end of October.

While his private investigator’s office is in San Francisco (Gore’s was on Grand Avenue), Gage is not an heir to Sam Spade. He’s not a womanizer, he doesn’t drink, he’s not particularly brooding or troubled in a noir-ish way. Like his creator, Gage went to grad school at UC Berkeley before becoming a private investigator. Gage was a philosophy student. Gore was in the political science department before he quit. He decided that “the world didn’t need another book about Thomas Hobbes.” The world got another PI instead. He started out investigating for the Alameda County Public Defender. Eventually he opened up his own shop.

Gore didn’t spend much time trailing unfaithful spouses. He worked on several large international cases, untangling the finances of crooked Ukrainian politicians, for example. He tracked a shipment of heroin found in a Fremont warehouse back to its source in the Golden Triangle. Sometimes he worked for the defense, and sometimes he worked for the prosecution. He always saw his job as the clean, unimpeachable business of providing accurate information. “Ninety percent of investigation is getting people to tell you things,” he said.

When Gore decided to stop working full-time as a PI and write, he first tried to write non-fiction accounts of some of the things he saw and heard over the years. He found that fiction came easier. The speed and ease with which he found a major publisher would make anyone with an unpublished manuscript on the hard drive gnash their teeth in envy. In addition to the Gage franchise, Gore sold a series featuring a retired San Francisco cop who lives in Shasta in the lead role.

Gore lives with his wife Liz, who was his PI partner for many years, and who continues to work as an investigator. Gage’s wife is an anthro professor at UC Berkeley. Just as Gore shunned the trappings of the traditional private eye for his character, he said he always recoiled when he saw someone in the profession revel in the mystique of the PI. With a short beard and a baseball cap, Gore looks like the poli sci professor he might have been.




August 2014
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Welcome to Montclair, Oakland

We live in the city yet are invaded by nature - or perhaps it's the other way around. Stop by often, and find out what's interesting to 94611 denizens.


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