I know this probably makes me a blog-poseur, but my favorite city in the east bay is Piedmont. Few urban areas in the country boast the sort of exclave relationship shared by Oakland and Piedmont.
Piedmont is great because it puts the lie to pretty much every Leftist preconceptions that people like to throw around. Combine Piedmont and Montclair, and you have the perfect case-in-point.
Let's look at some of the facts. Piedmont schools boast one of the lowest suspension rates in the area. Oakland claims its is 7 percent, which seems relatively low until you look at some of the individual schools. One Oakland charter school suspended 150% of its students this year (however you do that).
And, I have it on good authority from a couple teacher friends that Oakland purposely keeps its suspension rate low by discouraging school administrators from handing out suspensions. They're willing to "live with" a moderate hum of violence, so long as it doesn't get too bad.
Leftists will give you all kinds of justifications for this disparity. Geography obviously isn't to blame, nor are pollution and all the other ills that go along with a person's physical location.
The next target is usually racism. After all, Piedmont is largely white and Asian. Unfortunately for this argument, if you take a look at the state API reports for Thornhill elementary in Oakland, you'll find that the black kids there do very, very well. Their average test scores aren't much lower than those in Piedmont.
That's odd. How can a black student do well in a society riddled by institutional racism?
But I digress. One look at the latest homicide map will tell you there is a great divide running through our area. It goes down along the 580 freeway, and east along the 24 to the county line.
Everyone knows this line exists, but no one likes to talk about it. When I bring it up, people recoil in shock. When I ask why Oakland has no quality high schools while Piedmont High sends laundry lists of students to top colleges each year, they usually dub me evil and move on.
Another possible explanation for this boundary is a wealth gap. One certainly exists, but a look at census data and Zillow will tell you that poverty extends far further to the north and south than do Oakland's killing fields. Berkeley and San Leandro in particular are far safer cities.
This is the mystery of Oakland, brought to light by the shining success story at its center. Why is Oakland so terrible?
I don't pretend to have the solutions. But I suspect the problem is fundamental and systemic. It is probably not a problem that can be solved by adding a few more police to the force.
In my opinion, the fundamental problem in Oakland is it has been overrun with Leftists who view it as a perfect testbed for their theories. Rather than making the city an uncomfortable place for those antisocial people around us, Leftists view them as a constant.
In so doing, they create for themselves the opportunity (they would say "obligation") to save these people. If I'm right about this, this approach has made Oakland a magnet for such people. As such, literally nothing our government does will help.
And, while I appreciate the kudos being bestowed on our leaders for the recent moves toward a fully staffed police department, I suspect it's just more action in the wrong direction.
I'd be interested in others' thoughts on this. It's a serious discussion, and one which is next-to-impossible to have with Leftists. This type of talk is grounds for immediate ostracism.
In the meantime, I remain glad I live in Oakland's "safe zone." Not in Piedmont, but close enough to know what we're missing.