A Long Hard Road to Freedom

You can’t say that the Montclarions looking into secession from Oakland are going into the process with their eyes shut.

Montclair About 90 Years Ago (Oakland History Room)

A highly informative presentation (PDF) from one of the movement’s organizers doesn’t try to hide the fact that turning Montclair into its own city will require a miracle. And that miracle will have to follow many, many hours of long (and often tedious) work on the part of volunteers. You know you’ve entered a new realm of civic wonkiness when you stumble onto this acronym: LAFCO. It stands for Local Agency Formation Commission. The Alameda County LAFCO would oversee any changes in Oakland’s boundaries.

Tony Morosini’s detailed analysis of the steps to secession describe a long process that would require map making, environmental research, fundraising, petition gathering (25 percent of the residents in Montclair would have to be behind separating from Oakland before anything could happen). Morosini couldn’t be more clear: “This entire process would take an enormous amount of time, money, energy and effort from a large number of the citizens and businesses of Montclair.”

And then there’s the hard part. A majority of voters in the rest of Oakland would still have to approve secession. Morosini points out that the money the new city of Montclair (or whatever it may be called) would have to pay to Oakland for the transfer of property might be an incentive, particularly when the city is broke. It’s still hard to imagine Oaklanders backing the permanent partition of their city for a one-time payout.

Secession movements are not new in Montclair, or in other parts of Oakland. Frustration with crime and dwindling city services sparked talk of secession in North Oakland a few years back. The movement went nowhere, probably because of the daunting challenges described by Morosini. Whatever the outcome of Montclair’s “independence” drive, Morosini’s presentation will stand as a useful resource when other neighborhoods inevitably begin to wonder if they could do a better job managing their communities without City Hall.

Pick a Card, Any Card

Born to fourth-generation circus performers in Algeria, Jean-Paul Valjean has juggling in his blood. His motto: “Don’t laugh, it kept me out of the army.”

Jean-Paul Valjean at Work

The French army’s loss is our gain. Valjean brings his one-man circus to the Montclair Library Tuesday evening. Expect Valjean to twist himself into unusual shapes, juggle with his feet, tell jokes, and pull the odd rabbit from a hat.  A free, fun, family-friendly event on a summer evening, that’s why we love the Oakland Public Library. Tuesday, July 20, 7 pm, 1687 Mountain Boulevard.

Public Safety Forum Thursday Night

Did we really just lose 80 cops after years of clamoring for a bigger police force? Do we really have to report a burglary online now? Sadly, yes and yes. Unlike San Jose, which at just about the same time talks were collapsing here in Oakland, struck a deal that postponed for a year laying off at least 70 cops in that city, Oakland City Hall and the cops’ union failed to find common ground. Hopes for getting the cashiered cops back in uniform hinge on a parcel tax in November. City Councilwoman Pat Kernighan writes that five separate polls show that such a measure would fail to garner the needed two-thirds to pass.

If this alarming state of affairs is leaving you a bit baffled, then you might want to consider attending a public safety forum for the mayoral candidates at the Lakeshore Baptist Church Thursday evening. You won’t be surprised to learn that all of the candidates are making public safety key planks in their respective platforms. The question is this: If elected, how would they maintain a functioning police department with budget deficits projected to be $48 million next year, $54 million the following, and $60 million the year after that. What else should we be asking the would-be mayors?

One More in the Race

The Oakland mayor race increased by one Wednesday morning, after Trestle Glen resident Joe Tuman announced that he wanted the top job at City Hall.

For those of you that haven’t seen or heard Tuman talking politics on various TV and radio stations, he’s a political and legal communications professor at San Francisco State University. As a candidate, he’ll have an opportunity to apply some of the rhetorical techniques he wrote about in his 2007 book “Political Communications in American Campaigns.”

Tuman is a Cal grad and has lived in Oakland for 25 years. He says he was “pushed off his perch” and into the race by frustration at the lack of leadership in the city for the past eight years. You can read more about his positions here. It has absolutely no bearing on his potential performance as Oakland’s chief executive, but Tuman’s students at SF State give him pretty high marks on the anonymous Rate My Professor website.

We’ll be talking to Tuman and the other candidates in more depth in coming months, meantime you can see Tuman and the other candidates at a public safety forum Thursday night at the Lakeshore Baptist Church

Remember the Oaks

With the Oakland Athletics lingering in the bottom third of the American League, and the ball club’s owners hankering to leave town, it can be difficult to muster much enthusiasm for professional baseball in the East Bay. Allow us to suggest a journey back to a happier era.

You have two weeks left to see The Oakland Oaks: Pro Baseball in Emeryville, 1913-1955 at the History Room in the Oakland Public Library. Many people know that there was once a Pacific Coast League ballpark where Pixar now stands, but the details of the Oakland Oaks’ glory years have been largely forgotten. Casey Stengel, Mel Ott, and Lefty O’Doul all managed the team. The Oaks’ great rival were the San Francisco Seals. General admission was $1.25. The team won pennants in 1948, 1950, and 1954, the year before they moved to Vancouver and became the Mounties.

The exhibit at the library has a great collection of photos and memorabilia. Here’s a Today in Montclair Trivia Question: The Pacific Coast is still going strong as a Triple-A league. What is the current team name and hometown of the old Oakland Oaks?