Monday, August 06, 2007

My Ride


I have had more husbands than I have had cars and I got this one used. Come to think of it, the current husband is used too. I’m from Berkeley, we think we invented recycling. Red, my 1992 Corolla was made back before Toyota figured out things like temperature control. Someone once stole my radio and returned it because it was so old.

I walked out of Highland, spilling half my diet Doctor Pepper on my already sweaty T-shirt. I worked Saturday and it had gotten hot, two friends sat at the new bus bench. I paused briefly before offering them ride, I had left one of the kid’s lunches in Red and it probably smelled pretty bad. I offered to get my car and pick them up but they refused. When we got to Red and I had to cram all the kid’s crap into the trunk to make room.

Mary told me they needed to go to 35th Avenue and the BART station. When they saw how bad my car looked she offered me gas money. We drove down 35th to Tahoe Terraces, Mary pointed to her window and the freshly painted sign. “Yeah, they had to repaint the sign; someone had blacked out the “Ta” making it Hoe Terraces.

You know Oakland, in my neighborhood we got a Peet’s and touch of gentrification, so whenever something happens to the yuppies they get all indignant. Then they have to tell you how successful and important they are and how their kids are getting into medical school and how their dog’s GPA is higher than your IQ. They want you to marvel at how something so awful could happen to someone special. The whole time they’re talking, you’re thinking what kind of a dipstick chases someone collecting aluminum and tries to take their cans back? I say stay out of other people's shopping carts.

Now Oakland has tons of these incredibly important gifted people, they live in Montclair, they go to Claremont, their children excel at everything, they sit on Boards, they chair committees, they write memos, and they think they know what’s best for all of us. They never need a ride home, they wouldn’t bed caught dead in Red and they don’t live in Hoe Terraces. Whatever, just so I don’t have to listen to them whine.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Sunday, April 22, 2007


The blood is getting spilled closer and closer to the front door. Four or more shooting victims in the last month dropped off in the Highland lobby. We are the front line of Oakland’s crime wave, Alameda County’s public health melt down and we don’t even have the funding to keep ourselves from getting shot at work.

The county supervisors will let our patients and our staff get killed at work before they will give up a penny of their Measure “A” money. Worst crime wave in years and Highland is giving Scott Haggerty, Nate Miley, Gail Steele, Alice Lai-Bitker and Keith Carson over a million a month. They’re out bragging about their violence prevention successes and we’ve got blood all over the driveway.

The county supervisors need to put people before politics. They need to stop taking millions out of the Medical Center and give us the political and financial support we need to stop the violence and bleeding and make sure we don’t killed in the process.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Health Access

Health Access is a statewide advocacy group for sane healthcare reform. They spent excruciating hours sorting out proposed healthcare reform bills and came up with a rational policy proposal. It's not an easy read, it's like drinking mud through a narrow staw but if you really want to understand healthcare policy it's worth your time.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A Good Read

The East Bay Express started a blog. It has their best writers and real news on local politics.

East Bay Express Blog

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

May 1969 Berkeley (Channing Street)

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May 1969 Berkeley (Channing Street)

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May 1969 My Neighborhood

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Just One White Lady’s Opinion

I had the unique opportunity of trying to explain Martin Luther King Jr. to my children. I had to go buy books; to children it’s a compelling story. That people could be so cruel, that the world could be so unfair and that people actually kill each other over ideas. We kill each other over words. At 148 killings in the Oakland in the last 12 months, they found the assassination of one man shocking, perhaps I have sheltered them too much.

I told them racism was alive and well and that they were fully expected to make this world a better place. They answered, “What’s racism?” That’s the thing with kids, they go quickly to the hard questions. As I struggled to explain hate and how it drives human behavior my children corrected me, “mommy you’re not supposed to say hate.” Actually, you’re not supposed to act on feelings of hate and when you have those feelings you have to examine them.

In another part of Oakland an inaugural took place at the Paramount Theater. According to my Council Member Jean Quan’s email it was her inaugural. The Oakland City Council promptly re-elected Ignacio De La Fuente as council president which drew boos and hisses from the crowd. Then a series of public speakers got up and called for his ousting from the seat.

Now the Oakland Tribune and Jean Quan (remember it was her inaugural) have declared it an incident of racial hate. Poor “potty mouth” De La Fuente, who regularly cusses to the press and is rude to the public when they speak at City Council, has become the object of racial hate. Come on guys, he’s the object of an FBI investigation, there is growing concern about corruption and his sweet developer deals and the Latinos in his own district voted for Dellums. Apparently Ignacio and the Council were so shattered by the verbal attacks that they are mounting a PR war against the black community. Come on “potty mouth” De La Fuente, if you’re gonna pitch you gotta catch.

Meanwhile, Scott Haggerty Alameda County Supervisor for South County became president of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Supervisor Keith Carson is the outgoing president. When Scott Haggerty was asked about assuming the post after Keith Carson, he said, “He (Keith Carson) is like my brother from another mother.” Funny, no one at the Tribune said that this remark might be inappropriate. Nor did they criticize Sheriff Plummer who upon retirement said one of his only regrets was that “I wish I would have hit some people harder during the riots (in the 1960s in Berkeley).”

So I did my best with my kids. Slurs are hurtful but it’s bigoted laws and public figures that target minorities and exploit fear of particular racial groups that must be fought. It’s political campaigns that exploit mistrust and racial stereotypes like “all black men are criminals; even successful ones.” It’s the press, which due to prejudice, laziness or personal relationships with politicians perpetuates the hate. In Oakland it’s the City Council which has crippled free speech and denies access to the data which might reveal institutional hate, like crime reports. It’s public schools that only educate the privileged, it’s plastic flowers on a fence in Monclair and trash left on the streets in East Oakland. My kids have the attention span of rodents but they believe in fairness, kindness and the promise of a better world. After an hour of discussion they have a better grasp on the problem than the Oakland Tribune or the Oakland City Council.