Monday, August 25, 2008

Dullums Says "Step Up"; I Say "Step Off"

My favorite Oakland conman is a gentleman who plies his trade in the afternoons by the West Oakland Bart station.

Nattily dressed in a suit and loafers, he approaches commuters as they hurry to their cars. To those who will listen, he weaves a tale of woe, ending with an explanation as to why he needs a few dollars to get his car back home from work.

I miss this man, and not only because of our most recent encounter which ended with a knowing grin and the words, "Wait a minute! I've done you before, haven't I?"

Recently I've made the choice to abandon West Oakland in favor of a safer Bart station closer to my home. Sadly, this has reduced my exposure to petty tricksters and my ability to report on the Mandela Foods debacle.

A man must make such sacrifices to ensure his safety. Certain parts of Oakland have become downright deadly of late, and I'd rather not end up part of Mayor Oswald Bates' next set of talking points.

So it has also become with Oakland eateries. It's very nice that Dullums thinks we should "step up" and help put a stop to those committing takeover robberies on a daily basis throughout the city.

The problem is, I'd rather avoid being pistol whipped while enjoying my dinner. So, while Dullums and his ilk try to encourage bravery -- or perhaps I should call it foolhardiness -- among the citizenry, I plan to take my dollars elsewhere.

Though, I have to admit, Whole Foods' decision to staff its Lake Merritt store with armed guards does intrigue me.

Already, I've taken some extra time to sample the foodstuffs in San Francisco and North Berkeley, and I expect that to continue. I'll avoid eating out in Oakland until the situation improves -- if it ever does.

When I moved to Oakland nearly 10 years ago, I had reasonably high hopes for the city. Given its proximity to San Francisco and its gentrifying population base, it seemed like a sure bet to become a compelling urban area.

While I continue to believe demographic trends will eventually make the difference for Oakland, I am surprised and disappointed by how tightly the city holds on to its ghettoized past and present.

It's tempting to say that this situation is the product of a "few bad apples" who terrorize the rest of us and decrease economic activity by scaring dollars away from the downtown area. Though it is true that these criminals represent a small percentage of the population, their success is a direct result of policy choices made by the city's liberal regime.

The only solution to Oakland's near-term malaise is a significant police crackdown on crime at all levels. But I do not see this happening anytime soon. Too many forces stand in the way: consent decrees related to the Riders scandal, our leaders' opposition to strong policing and the constant siphoning of money toward bloated pay packages and welfare schemes.

No, I think the reality is we all have to sit around and wait for time, gas prices, house prices and whatever other economic forces are out there to move the gentrification process to the next level.

In the meantime, the only thing to do is to keep ourselves safe. If this means avoiding Oakland for eating and shopping, so be it. I realize this may contribute to the problem's worsening in the short term, but we are faced with little choice.


  1. And aren't we tired of the portrayal of these takeover gangsters as ghetto Robin Hoods acting in economic desperation? How does robbing minimum-wage nail salon employees reduce income disparity?

  2. How 'bout Rudy Giulliani for mayor of Oakland? The problem is conspicuous lawlessness. I see underworld wannabees deliberately running red lights, driving on the left of major streets to avoid cars waiting for the light to change, etc. On Foothill, during lunch at Fremont High, there are cops in the area... but the the darling lads just flood the zone. See you all at Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek.

  3. I agree with your assessment and am glad to know at least one other thinks like me. Actually I know there are more because if you read responses to Chip Johnson's articles it proves there are a few more "conservatives." I don't believe there is a small criminal element though. It has been said (but not verified by me) that there are 50,000 parolees in OAK and how many criminals that haven't been caught 10-15,000- that puts the number at 60-65,000 criminals in a city of only 400,000 (and a police force of less than 1,000) that puts the criminals at roughly 15% of the total population. You also say your are surprised, "... how tightly the city holds on to its ghettoized past and present." me too. The afro marxism exists and yet nobody speaks of it. A very racist place. Mark Ross comments on voting in Mayor Guiliani- instead we got a furry little where's Waldo as mayor and Oaklanders voted in the same entire city council incumbents that brought you to where we are today. I too believe that OAK could turn around but it will take large powerful forces to move gentrification forces forward. Right now we have a scared public, and one that does not trust in city government at all- so Dellums' move of getting a parcel tax passed for more police officers has little chance of passing. And yes his sloution of citizens "stepping up is pathetic.

  4. [...] City / Oakland,” Brooklyn Avenue sees safety in pedestrian activity, and The Boss decides to avoid Oakland restaurants while waiting for long-term demographic change. Even Oliveto’s Tomato Dinners, East Bay [...]

  5. [...] the comments section of East Bay Conservative, Mark Ross recommends Rudy Giuliani as mayor for Oakland. I think this may be the scariest mayoral suggestion I’ve heard yet. On [...]

  6. Wait, we've got Dellums as mayor and you're scared of Guiliani? Oaklanders begged to have Dellums be mayor and they are so wrong in their choice, and Dellums laid out his whole scenario and he's stuck to it, and it is pathetic. I was contemplating voting for Hillary just so Dellums would get a cabinet post and we'd have foisted our problem on the entire US instead of having him here in OAK. I don't think it's possible to have a owrse mayor. In fact the choices the next time around are going to be so low because Dellums has set the bar so low. Name 3 things Dellums has done right. I would vote for Guiliani in a heartbeat, I only wish I would be given the chance.

  7. [...] / Oakland,” Brooklyn Avenue sees safety in pedestrian activity, and East Bay Conservative decides to avoid Oakland restaurants while waiting for long-term demographic change. Even Oliveto’s Tomato Dinners, [...]