Another Montclair Genius

Montclair is officially home to a genius.  Writer and Montclair resident Yiyun Li was one 23 MacArthur Fellows announced Tuesday morning.

According to the Chron, “Li ignored the persistent caller with the unknown phone number for one week. But a few days ago, [Li] finally answered and learned she was a recipient of a “genius award” – a $500,000, no-strings-attached grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.”

Li, who also teaches at UC Davis, said the award will give her more time to write. Look for her books, “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers,” and “The Vagrants” at A Great Good Place for Books, or the Montclair branch of the Oakland Public Library.
Earlier this month, writer Pia Chatterjee interviewed Li about the craft of writing.

Poll shows Quan Leads in 94611

A robo-poll conducted by a San Francisco startup aimed at showing off its new Internet phone system has revealed an interesting picture of Oakland’s mayoral race.

A Still from "DREAM A Better Oakland"

While Don Perata leads in most zip codes, Jean Quan’s 94611 base picks her over the competition by a couple of percentage points. Also, the robo-poll called 30,000 likely voters across Oakland, and received 1,435 responses. The machine got the highest number of responses (223) in 94611.

In other campaign news, what do you think of Quan’s new campaign video? This is what the communications director for the Perata campaign had to say: “You would have expected that, given her previous advice on seat-belt safety, she would have insisted the young gentlemen in the back of her car wear their seat-belts. It’s not the first time Jean Quan has been exposed for, “do as I say, not what I do”. Demanding that public employees make pension contributions, for example…

Creek to Bay Day

Head out to your favorite creek this Saturday to rip up that Himalayan Blackberry and Algerian Ivy.

Many of the local events for Creek to Bay Day involve removing the invasive species that choke the natives growing on the banks of the area’s creeks: douglas iris, yellow-eyed grass, and monkey flower to name but a few.  Here’s where you can find a Creek to Bay Day event near you. Kimra McAfee of Friends of Sausal Creek reminds volunteers to bring gloves, water, and plenty o’ sunscreen.

Candidate Forum Video

Did you miss last week’s District 4 candidate forum?

The seven candidates attended and spoke to the crowd, including Jill Broadhurst, Jason Gillen, Ralph Kanz, Clinton Killian, Libby Schaaf, Melanie Shelby and Daniel Swafford.

V Smoothe at A Better Oakland has a video of the event (link here), along with a round-up of more upcoming forums.

Piedmont 911

Oakland North, a project by students from UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, has an interesting article about people in Rockridge and Montclair calling the Piedmont Police Department for help. Piedmont Police Captain John Hunt told Oakland North that calls from Oaklanders have increased by 20 to 30 percent over the past two months.

While the article notes that Piedmont PD has been receiving emails and baked good from grateful Oaklanders, it doesn’t mention if that increase represents two to three more calls or 20 to 30 more requests for Piedmont cops. That would be interesting to know. Meantime, Emeryville and Berkeley PDs have not observed a rise in calls from Oakland residents, according to Oakland North.

“Substantive and Heartfelt”

Jay Ward, the moderator of Tuesday night’s District 4 candidate forum at Joaquin Miller school, reports that more than 80 people turned out for the event, which was sponsored by the Piedmont Pines Neighborhood Association.

“The consensus was that we were very fortunate to have seven well-prepared and informed candidates running for District 4, “ said Ward. In addition to the questions given to the candidates before the forum, three impromptu questions came from the audience: What would you do to reduce crime in the hills? What would you do to bring jobs to Oakland? What specific experience do you have involving complex public policy issues?

If you missed last night’s forum, not to worry. There’s another one Thursday evening at the Fruitvale Presbyterian Church sponsored by the League of Women Voters, the Laurel Village Association, the Dimond Improvement Association, Melrose High Hopes NCPC, and the MacArthur Metro.

Dist. 4 Candidate Forum Tuesday Night

The Piedmont Pines Neighborhood Association is bringing together all seven candidates for the District 4 race tomorrow evening.

The organizers provided the candidates the questions from PPNA members in advance. Here’s what the candidates will be asked:

1) What have you done already to improve the lives of residents of District 4?

2) What would you do to address Oakland’s crumbling streets and roads, and how would you prioritize resources in order to keep them in better shape than they are now? Specific examples of problems that have gone unaddressed for years are Mountain Boulevard by the Highway 13 freeway entrance, Skyline between Snake and Shepherd Canyon Roads, and Ascot Drive around Mastlands where EBMUD tore up the road a few years ago and never put it back in its original condition.

3) How will you contribute to making City Council more effective and less dysfunctional?

4) How do you plan to make any changes in how the City balances its budget and what you are prepared to do to help cut any unnecessary spending?

5) What will you do to keep undergrounding for Piedmont Pines on track?  We know that Councilperson Desley Brooks has tried to derail our project in the past.  What steps will you take to stop her if she tries to delay our Phase 2 and 3 in the future?

6) What are the three most urgent needs for change in our district?  What are the three most important elements to preserve in our district?

7) We are told that very little of Oakland’s budget involves discretionary spending.  Much of Oakland’s revenue is restricted by previous propositions.  Do you believe these restricted funds should be made visible to the public and revisited to see if they match the priorities of today’s economic challenges?  How would you do this?

It’s a good list that goes right to the heart of some of the most serious issues in the district and the city. What would you like to ask the candidates? You can pose your questions Thursday at a forum at the Fruitvale Presbyterian Church.

If Oakland’s campaign season has got you down (or underwhelmed), V Smoothe at A Better Oakland has the lowdown on politics in a far more interesting universe.

What: PPNA District 4 Candidate Forum

When: Tuesday, September 14, 7pm

Where: Joaquin Miller School, 5525 Ascot Drive