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And now, a rant! (Sorry…)

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I hope you won’t mind if I do a little venting. It’s about the Mayor of my city, Oakland, and the City Council. The Mayor is Libby Schaaf. She’s thinking of the next vacant U.S. Senator’s seat from California. Everybody knows Dianne Feinstein won’t be there much longer, and Libby has Senatorial stars in her eyes.

I have assured Mayor Schaaf that she stands about as much chance of being the next Senator as I do, which is to say: None. (Memo to Gov. Newsom: Don’t even think about appointing her!) This is because of the track record she’s piled up since getting elected in 2014. (She was re-elected in 2018. Oakland Mayors are limited to two terms in office.) That track record includes soaring homelessness (there are at least 4,200 homeless people in Oakland, most of them in the flatlands where I live). Encampments fill the public parks. Entire blocks are lined with tents, forcing pedestrians (including the elderly) to walk in the street, where they have to dodge cars. Discarded needles are everywhere, and so are piles of human feces. Mentally ill people flood the streets, ranting, threatening passersby, sometimes exposing themselves. To make matters worse, there seems to be a competition among tent dwellers concerning who can pile up the biggest, ugliest, dirtiest pile of garbage and junk. This photo

is from the Oakland Senior / Veteran’s Affairs Center, a block from my home. The little park is the gateway to Oakland’s thriving Uptown neighborhood (well, it was thriving before COVID and hopefully will again be, soon). The children from St. James (Episcopal) Elementary School play there (or will again someday when schools are open). The intersection, at Harrison Street and Grand Avenue, is one of the most important in Oakland. To allow this mess to fester there (it seems to metastasize all the time, like a cancer) is absolutely unforgivable. Not only that, but the campers have ignited at least four fires in the last 2 years, destroying the few trees that grow there.

The people of the neighborhood have begged Mayor Schaaf to clean up the mess for years. She is consistent in not doing so. Why not? To understand it, you have to grasp the political realities in Oakland. This is a very liberal city. People running for Oakland City Council outdo themselves with promises to build free permanent (!!) housing for the homeless (with healthcare, of course), to defund the police, and to pay reparations to Black residents. (These are the same people who, some years ago, wanted to teach Ebonics in the public schools.) Never mind that none of these things will ever happen. The people who vote for them don’t care about reality, they want to hear feel-good messages. Meanwhile, the politicians, prompted by homeless “advocates” and knowing a good thing when they see it, promise ever more. You might think that, in between the promises and fundraisers, they’d manage to earn their paychecks by doing stuff that can actually be done now—such as cleaning up the Senior/V.A. Center. But no. That, apparently, is too hard. It’s much easier to make middle class white people feel guilty because we’re “privileged and entitled.”

The BLM types throw around that word “entitled” a lot, so it was fun the other day to come across a post on social media that reclaimed the word and tossed it back at the ultra-liberals. The phrase was “the entitlement of lawlessness.” It was specifically in regard to the street party that happens almost every day when the weather is decent on the other side of Lake Merritt from where I live. You get thousands of partygoers and vendors selling food without a license, and nobody seems to have much use for trashcans. They leave behind enormous piles of beer bottles, plastic utensils, cardboard, and so on. Somebody has to clean that up! They also create a massive amount of noise, with boom boxes and car stereos blasting from morning until midnight. I feel really sorry for the people who live on that side of the Lake. (I’m glad I don’t!) They’ve asked the city for years to please, please help them by enforcing the laws, but Schaaf and Co. again refuse to. They’re too indebted to the extreme liberals, who call anyone who wants to enforce the laws “racist” and “entitled.” So the phrase “entitlement of lawlessness” is a fine one, as it re-appropriates the term “entitlement” and applies it to people who really do feel entitled: to litter and to disturb an entire neighborhood and not suffer any consequences.

It’s gotten to the point where, to quote Bob Dylan, “The cops don’t need you. And man they expect the same.” The Oakland Police Department has let it be known they’re not going to respond to anything much less than murder or rape. You’re mugged? Home broken into? Assaulted? Car broken into? Forget about it. I don’t blame the cops. They’ve seen what can happen when they intercede in local crime. The bad guys resist arrest, or come at them with a weapon—the cops shoot to protect themselves, and next thing you know, an ambulance chaser like the lawyer John Burris is suing them. The police know they don’t stand a chance with Oakland juries, so settlements are routinely made—and Mr. Burris gets richer. Meanwhile, the City Council amps up their cries to defund the police. And Oakland’s crime rate soars.

So this is my rant—against Schaaf and her enablers on the City Council. Oakland could be such a great town: great weather, physically beautiful, so diverse and interesting. But the extreme liberals just run it into the ground, year after year, making insane promises to people who don’t understand reality, and ignoring the very real problems the citizens of Oakland have to deal with. I’ve lived here 35 years, and things are worse now than they’ve ever been—and it’s not COVID’s fault, it’s Libby Schaaf’s and the City Council’s!

End of venting! Thank you for listening.

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