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Welcome to the Coalition for a Better Oakland!

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The Coalition for a Better Oakland is the name of a political action group I have co-founded with a few colleagues. Our goals are twofold: to end the blight of homeless encampments that are polluting our parks, underpasses and sidewalks, and to support the Oakland Police Department, which is embattled on all sides, fighting a record surge of crime and at the same time having to deal with the insanity of the “defund the police” crowd.

For the last several years I’ve felt increasingly isolated in my city. Could I be the only one worried about these twin issues of cops and camps, which after all are interrelated? During the pandemic, I turned to social media, especially nextdoor.com, to share my thoughts. I discovered that I was not alone. Many others felt the same way I did. I then found myself being censored and blocked from nextdoor.com. My political views, apparently, were at odds with those of the anonymous censors who can throw someone off the platform with no warning, no explanation, and no right of appeal. I began to see the connections between the censors at nextdoor.com and the various radical groups who seemed to have such an outsized influence at City Hall. Both were not interested in anyone’s views except their own. Both indulged in what we now call “cancel culture.” It was all very discouraging.

I have now abandoned nextdoor.com and will not return. (Their latest salvo into cancel culture was to inform users that the term “Black Lives Matter” is acceptable, but that “White Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter” will be cause for expulsion.) But before I abandoned that dreadful platform I met (in the digital sense) a group of like-minded men and women and it is with them that I have started the Coalition for a Better Oakland. The exciting news is that, after months of delay, we will launch our website this Monday; and I will certainly share it here with you. We hope to become a political force in the city. We want to endorse candidates in future elections, and we want to influence the debate in the City Council, the Police Commission and in the City Manager’s office. For too long the radicals on the extreme left have been the ones to dominate meetings, hold demonstrations and intimidate politicians, including our Mayor, Libby Schaaf, into positions they clearly are uncomfortable with, but feel compelled to accept. We believe that we—the Coalition—represent the thinking of a majority of Oaklanders, most of whom are too busy getting on with their lives to be able to spend time on the computer researching issues or showing up at City Council meetings. We want to inspire that majority, rally them to our side, and tell the current crop of Oakland leaders that their day is done.

One of the things I, in particular, have had to do is protect our young Coalition from being a Trojan horse for rightwing extremists. When you’re supportive of the cops, and when you’re saying that homeless people do not have the right to set up tents wherever they want, you tend to open yourself to the charge of being a white supremacist trumper. I am a lifelong Democrat—everyone who knows my blog knows that since September 2016, I did everything in my power to take Trump and his Republican Party down. I fail to see why a moderately-progressive liberal like me cannot at the same time be a strong cop supporter. How did Democrats allow Republicans to own the issue of crime and policing? I don’t know, but it’s time we reseized the initiative.

And by the way, I’m convinced that the reason Democrats lost so many seats in the Congress during the last election, despite Biden’s victory, is precisely because of the stupid “defund the police” movement. The American people hate it, they’re afraid of it, and they find the people arguing in favor of it distasteful and irrational. My own feeling is that the reaction against the “defund” movement has already set in. Fewer and fewer politicians are using the phrase. As a political slogan, it’s easily the dumbest I’ve heard in my life. Yet here in Oakland, ambitious politicians still insist on 50% cuts to OPD’s budget—even though the local media is telling us that the neighborhoods most impacted by crime want more cops on the beat, not fewer. It strikes me that the people who are most insistent on “defunding” are (a) politicians who don’t give a damn about anything except power and (b) well-off white suburbanites who are appeasing their own guilt.

Well, I wanted to share this news of the Coalition for a Better Oakland with you. On Monday (barring some unexpected glitch) I’ll be able to give you the link, including sign-up information.

Have a great weekend!

  1. Jack Saunders says:

    You’re on the cutting edge of a ground swell — mainstream Democrats fed up with the competitive piety of the ultra woke.

  2. Leslie Landberg says:

    The “woke” folk’s screeching condemnation of any opinion that diverges from their own has increasingly alienated voters from across the spectrum. And deservedly so. Any movement that does not lift all people up together deserves no one’s support.

  3. You took the words right out of my mouth. Everything you said is EXACTLY how I feel.

  4. Welcome aboard!

  5. Michelle says:

    Yes, yes, YES! Your words echo those of so many Oaklanders I have communicated with across several platforms this past year. So many neighbors fleeing our city because they feel our “leaders” do not care about the needs of ALL Oaklanders, and are just listening to those who scream the loudest. Change is in the air!

  6. Timothy Hiler says:

    How does one join the coalition? Does it hold meetings (Zoom or otherwise)? As an Oakland resident who has been here for 27 years I am interested in contributing to the cause.

    Thanks!

  7. Pamela Astarte says:

    How do I sign up? I agree with everything you are saying, Oakland needs to address the issues you speak of so clearly, we need to all have pride in our city, clean up the streets, get rid of criminals, increase a police presences on the beat, stop the madness on the highways, stop people stealing catalytic converters, etc.. stop muggings when we are out walking, I own a home here and do not want to be afraid to walk around my neighborhood!

  8. Charlie Curcija says:

    I share concerns about homelessness and crime surge in Oakland, but this blog claims to be non-partisan and then defends “White Lives Matter” posts on Nextdoor, which is nothing other than white supremacist slogan. Author seems to be deeply partisan, which does not help to bring wider coalition to do something constructive about our city. It REALLY needs to be non-partisan. I don’t want to hear squabbles about Black Lives Matter vs Blue Lives Matter or White Lives Matter. Those who don’t understand why Black Lives Matter is important, needs to learn about horrendous injustice that this country has done to black people. This should NOT be confused with the need to solve homelessness and crime. I hope that CBO can help solve our problems and help people get more involved. We DO need to tackle these problems in our city.

  9. Dear Charlie, thanks for your constructive criticism.

  10. Dear Pamela, you can join us by visiting our website, https://cfabo.org/, and click on the JOIN US button. Thank you.

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