Archive Page 2

24
Feb
12

A Murder In Montclair: Random Or Not?

There’s a little more news related to Joe Robertson’s death yesterday:  his murder may not be random.  Our City Council Rep Libby Schaaf spoke directly with Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan about the crime.  She then shared this update with Montclarions earlier today, and we wanted to make sure you read it:

I just received a updated briefing from Chief Jordan on the apparent homicide of Joseph Robertson on Thackeray.  While I’m not allowed to share most of what he told me, I may share that police have strong reason to believe this was a homicide but that it was not random.  I will continue to stay briefed on the investigation and share with you whatever is allowed.  Anyone with any information should call 510-238-3821.  If you have any trouble getting your information through to this number, don’t hesitate to email or call Dorie or me.  We know how unacceptably disturbing this incident must be.  Please let us know if there is anything we can do at this troubling time.

Your Councilmember,
Libby Schaaf
510-238-7004

Update: As of March 13th, Council Rep Schaaf reports about a person of interest who “remains in custody on an unrelated charge. This person does have a connection to the victim (thus is not a random intruder). I’m hoping there’ll be more to share in about a week. The investigation has been productive, but is not concluded and no charges have been brought yet.”

23
Feb
12

A Murder In Montclair: Joe Robertson

We don’t experience violent crimes around here, right?  Not anymore.  Sometime between last night and this morning, a Piedmont Pines resident was murdered.  Victim Joe Robertson was found dead in his home, early this morning.

While Robertson’s death hasn’t been officially ruled as a homicide by Oakland Police, all signs point to the crime.  The police will make things official, after the autopsy’s performed tomorrow.  In the meantime, we want to share this hearsay from Montclair Safety’s Yahoo board.

Piedmont Pines neighbor, Jane:   A 78-year-old man, Joe Robertson, was found dead and the word is it is a homicide.  He lived at 2339 Thackeray Drive (map) near Girvin Drive in the Piedmont Pines area. His neighbor told us that he was beaten to death.  Evidently he was found at 7:00 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 23 by a friend who was visiting and called the police.  This has really shaken us up in the neighborhood.

Of course, the death is getting well-covered by the press.  Check out this CBS5 report from Thackeray Drive, complete with yellow tape, an Alameda County homicide vehicle and key interviews.  Harry Robertson, the victim’s nephew, said “I’m concerned that he [Joe] could be an innocent victim.  There’s no reason to believe that anybody would want to hurt him.”

The  Tribune provided an early obituary about Joe Robertson, a good guy who loved movies and made regular visits to Fentons Creamery.  Before retiring a decade-plus ago, he had operated the halftone camera at the Montclarion newspaper.  Columnist  Ginny Prior said she spotted and waved to him last night, at their church’s Ash Wednesday service.

“A Murder in Montclair” doesn’t sound quite right.  “Burglary of the Week” is more our speed.  So it’s natural to put two and two together, and assume that Joe was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Let’s try to solve this mystery soon.

P.S.  We do experience violent crimes, albeit infrequently.  Back in 2006, Hans Reiser killed his estranged wife Nina and buried her near Redwood Regional Park.  It took two years to solve this case and sentence Hans.

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.

29
Jan
12

WWLD: What Would Libby Do?

In Oakland, budget cuts seems to be endless.  Over the past couple years, we have gone through nine rounds.  And with the State of California’s decision to cut re-development funds, we have arrived at the tenth round.  It feel like Groundhog’s Day, right?

If you thought decisions required hand-wringing before, then just wait until the next City Council meeting this Tuesday at 5:30pm. This time, Council representatives are forced to approve and eliminate $20.3 million asap.

What would Libby do?

Our District 4 Council Rep, Libby Schaaf, has recently shared her budget recommendations with constituents.  While she’s looking for alternatives, Libby says pickings are slim.  In case you don’t receive her newsletter, here’s what Libby would do:

While I’m still gathering information and input, I’m inclined to approve the following recommendations:

  • Reorganizing departments and flattening the organization to eliminate administrative costs and five agency director positions;
  • Eliminating 44 housing and economic development positions affected by the halt of new redevelopment activities;
  • Cutting KTOP TV station staff (with the assurance that all public meetings will continue to be broadcast & archived);
  • Reducing staff to the Youth Commission, Oaklander’s Assistance Center and Mayor’s office;
  • Cutting 7 Parks & Rec positions by closing some Rec Centers on Mondays (only Allendale & Brookdale might be affected; Montclair and Redwood Heights would not); and
  • Eliminating 27 Public Works positions, including the Saturday illegal dumping crew.

I’m most concerned with the following recommendations:

  • Cutting funding for Council Aides — hard-working problem-solvers like Bruce, Shereda and Dorie;
  • Eliminating our 211 services referral contract that serves our most vulnerable residents;
  • Reducing funds for arts grants and cultural institutions like Fairyland, Peralta Hacienda and the Zoo;
  • Cutting 4 of 9 remaining Neighborhood Services Coordinators who support Crime Prevention Councils.

Before Tuesday, take an opportunity to consider the cuts above.  We suggest reading this take from Make Oakland Better Now!  Or if you have particular fortitude, then download and read Mayor Quan’s 115-page proposal (PDF here) issued last week.

To provide your two cents or more, please reach Libby (lschaaf@oaklandnet.com) or her aide Bruce (bstoffmacher@oaklandnet.com) before the Council meeting.  While it’s possible to address and watch the City Council live on Tuesday, we like watching from home — through KTOP online or Comcast Channel 10.

Update:   Oakland budget cuts were approved on January 31st, which eliminate 105 positions and lay off 80 employees.  The council aides, 211 services, arts grants and neighborhood coordinators were spared.  Learn more from the Tribune and ABC7 news.

15
Jan
12

Make Monarchs Feel At Home

On Martin Luther King Day, there’s a special opportunity to restore monarch butterfly habitat in Montclair. As part of a joint park clean-up, throughout Shepherd Canyon, volunteers can help restore the old dump site before the monarchs return to lay their eggs.

With sufficient milkweeds, monarch caterpillars are able to thrive.  So volunteers will help weed and carefully plant milkweeds, placing protective cardboard collars around them.  Through these efforts, we’ll continue attracting some awesome creatures to the neighborhood.

The Shepherd Canyon area has already made progress, as a registered monarch weigh station. We can only imagine each of the caterpillars lining up and getting ready to beat their competitors (but we digress).

On Monday at 9:00am, volunteers will join forces to work on the butterfly habitat, restore a wildflower meadow or work on drainage problems along the rail trail. Some 25 volunteers are needed for butterflies, 75 for the meadow and another 25 for trail work.

What a great way to give back on MLK Day!  All volunteers, including kids, are encouraged to meet at Escher Gate, 5881 Escher Drive (map).  Be prepared to work from 9:00am through 12:30pm.  While there are several project teams, you may want to secure your monarch spot by reaching Adrienne Bryant at 1swimcat@gmail.com or 510-339-0985.

This community event is organized and run by Friends of Montclair Railroad Trail, Shepherd Canyon Homeowners Association and Service for Peace volunteers.

27
Dec
11

Oakland City Council Meetings Are Forever Changed

Have you ever watched an Oakland City Council meeting, on cable, computer or in person?  Have you managed to watch an entire meeting, often lasting until midnight?

With Sanjiv Handa always present, you expected the meeting to include detailed harangues from this Oakland activist-journalist.  Most citizen speakers would sign up for a single card, address City Council for a minute (or two if a friend donated one), and stick to the topic at hand.  By maximizing allowable speaking opportunities, Mr. Handa managed to corral significantly more microphone time.

Handa, who identified himself as head of the East Bay News Service, would comment on parking, agenda notifications, sunshine laws and all types of procedural break-downs in City Hall.  He was an expert and relished his detailed understanding of protocols.  If you actually listened to the words rather than the style of this messenger, there were always a couple nuggets of learning from each Council meeting.

Over the years, Handa maximized his comments and played by the rules.  Oakland City Council reps found him so irritating that they changed these rules to limit individual speaker times at each meeting.  Handa complied and still seemed to have the pulpit even with limitations.  At the December 20th meeting, he reported about the Port of Oakland’s traffic on December 12th.  He was focused until the end, both uncovering and sharing facts.

Today the messenger died, after decades of voluntary devotion to city happenings and governance.  There was timely coverage from the Oakland Tribune and the Associated Press.  What tickled us the most was Mayor Jean Quan’s reaction, when she declared “there will never be another Sanjiv Handa.”

For those of us who never knew him personally, we knew him anyway.  Handa seemed like the unelected council rep who was reliable, always had something to say — and made you laugh, cry or grit your teeth.  Go ahead and watch an archived KTOP video, and you can’t miss him.  I think Council meetings will be very different indeed.  Mr. Handa, please R.I.P.

10
Dec
11

Back On The Montclair Beat

Earlier today, several Oakland policemen caught three criminals who were trying to escape from our neighborhood.  The police said they would respond to crimes underway, and lived up to their promises — even though the department remains grossly understaffed.

One eyewitness posted this report, on Montclair’s Yahoo board:

Passed by Thornhill and Mountain at 11:45 today and 6 police cars had a car surrounded at the traffic light. On the trunk of one of the police cars was someones nice flat panel TV and the police were taking fingerprints off it.

According to Carolyn Winters, who chairs the Montclair Safety and Community Council (MSIC), three burglars were arrested after breaking into a home on Merriewood Drive as well as one other location.  And there was some drama, as one of these burglars “ran the wrong way” down Highway 13 before getting captured on Fernwood!

While we’re not thrilled about the crime, at least the bad guys were apprehended.  Be thankful.




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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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