Posted by novometro on July 31, 2006
The six homicides in New Orleans this weekend have earned that stricken city national headlines. A devastated police force has struggled to curb killings in a city where large segments of the population remain without basic services. With an estimated post-hurricane population of around 225,000, there have been 78 murders in New Orleans this year.
Three people were murdered and one 57-year-old bystander is in critical condition after gun-violence in Oakland this weekend. What’s Oakland’s excuse?
Since January 1, 81 people have been killed in Oakland. The majority of the victims have been young, black males. It’s cold comfort to the victims’ families, and to the frightened residents in violent neighborhoods, but Oakland is not alone. Murder is up five percent nationwide.
In Oakland, the dead are largely not casualties of gang wars over turf, or control of the illegal drug trade. It’s the hopeless killing the hopeless. Professor James Alan Fox, who studies homicide at Northeastern University and is the co-author of The Will to Kill: Making Sense of Senseless Murder, puts it this way: “We have a record number of at-risk kids on the street today. Kids who are poorly supervised, poorly monitored, and poorly educated.”
And this demographic trend, says Mr. Fox, comes at a time when the federal government is cutting programs that helped reduce crime between 1993 and 2000. He points to the president’s plan to cut $380 million from the federal Community Oriented Policing Services in 2007. That’s a reduction of almost 80 percent, but that’s a better fate than the White House has in mind for the $400 million-Byrne Justice Assistance Grants program, which Mr. Fox writes, “supports local governments in a broad range of crime prevention and crime control initiatives.” Mr. Bush wants to cancel that program altogether.
It’s sometimes lost in the clamor over a murder rate that is nearly double last year’s, but robberies are on the increase on Oakland’s streets as well. According to Oakland Police Department records, there have been 2,061 robberies so far this year, compared to a total of 2,590 for all of 2005.
Still, Mr. Fox cautions against responding dramatically to a dramatic rise in crime. He says that extreme measures like curfews do little to stop murders, and that sharp increases in crime rates are often followed by declines. Next year, may not be as bloody in Oakland, or New Orleans.
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Posted by novometro on July 25, 2006
Activists sue to stop biggest project in Oakland in 60 years.
State Senate leader calls for conflict resolution counselors to halt homicides.
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Posted by novometro on July 24, 2006
Even the people promoting the plan allow that they face a tough fight. The Oakland Public Library has three months to convince voters that paying $39 a year for every $100,000 of assessed property value to upgrade old libraries and build a new main branch at the Henry J. Kaiser convention center is a good idea. Good luck.
True, Oakland voters did pass a $400 million-plus school bond with more than three-quarters of the vote only last month, and Alameda County backed a proposition for $600 million in new library money that voters statewide rejected in June. But libraries are not schools, and allowing the state to borrow money is not the same as paying an extra $200 a year (on a $500,000 house) in property tax.
The library hasn’t revealed its campaign, but to succeed it will have to accomplish two things. First, it will have to make the case that a library is the best use for the Henry J. Kaiser convention center, which now occupies some of the most valuable real estate in the country. And second, the bond’s backers will need to tell voters why the city should have a showcase main library at all. Both points could be hard sells.
What’s in it for us? If we want books we can go to our local branch. DVDs? Ditto. The same holds for the children’s story times, free legal advice, and the other important services a library offers. There is no question that the main library needs an overhaul, it’s not so clear it needs new digs.
To be sure, the library can close the deal. But it will have to put forward some appealing options that include more than a café.
Posted in Development, Oakland, Politics | 4 Comments »
Posted by novometro on July 18, 2006
It will be busy over at Oakland City Hall Tuesday night. In an effort to take care of business before their rather long summer recess, the Oakland City Council will debate the fates of one of the city’s oldest brothels and one of its oldest public spaces.
The resolution to deny an appeal from a massage parlor owner will not likely be controversial, despite her counsel’s assertion that an undercover officer used one crude term to describe fellatio in his written report and another when presenting to the council. New Beginnings massage parlor on Broadway might be reaching its end after almost three decades of business.
What will spark some controversy, however, are the competing plans for the Henry J. Kaiser convention center. One political camp backs a library proposal that would ask voters to pay for a new main library at the convention center. But another faction, led by Jane Brunner, who represents North Oakland, supports a plan from the Bay Area World Trade Center that seeks to house a permanent international trade show in the building.
The Bay Area World Trade Center, which boasts former mayor, Elihu Harris, and former councilman Dick Spees, as its chair and vice chair, respectively, is advancing the proposal on behalf of the Trade Center Development Corporation. Based in Florida and not yet two years old, the TCDC aims to build six world trade “showcase project destinations” in China and the United States. In addition to Oakland, Charleston, South Carolina, Honolulu, Orlando, and the Chinese cities of Kunshan and Tianjan, have been selected by TCDC as locations. Local developer, Steve Beinke, the president of Blackhawk Development is also on the TCDC board.
It’s not clear how much influence, if any, Mr. Beinke has on the City Council, but the world trade center proposal gained traction fast. The idea was only publicly revealed at the end of June. While the library has been eyeing the convention center for a couple of years, the traded center has an advantage. The library will have to ask the voters to foot the cost of the new library, which could run anywhere from $120 million to $240 million, but the Florida guys are offering to pay $50 to $60 million in renovations plus the cash from a 50-year lease.
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