A Progressive Alamedan

Various writings from a resident of Alameda regarding the political scene. The local perspective of local, state and national politics and a few other odds and ends of local concern. May not be particularly interesting to people outside of the Alameda area.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Government: The Noise! The Noise!

I'm unable to get much done today because the city of Alameda has decided that my street's sewer system needed an overhaul this month. The street is full of workers digging holes with radial saws and jackhammers and backhoes. Earlier this morning they were pounding a huge pipe into the ground with a seemingly unending rat-tat-tat-tat. The noise is unbearable.

Nevertheless, I'm glad they're doing it. This is what having a government is all about, or what it should be. The conservatives, really the neo-cons, are putting us into a huge debt with the war, lowering taxes especially for their rich cronies, and cutting programs everywhere you look. Cities all over the country are feeling the pinch.

So I ask you, hypothetical Republican reader, what will you do when your sewer system backs up because your city, financially strangled by your government-weakening philosophies, can no longer afford to maintain basic services? Or when your street is so full of potholes that you can't drive your hummer to the country club? Or when your child's asthma is so bad from the pollution that she can't go play when she gets home from prep school? Is this really what you wanted?

The noise outside is hideous. But it's there because, for now at least, our government is able to use our tax dollars and invest in our infrastructure. So it's a joyful noise.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

How we can help in our neighboring congressional district

Here in the Alameda area, we are safely represented in congress by Pete Stark. But just east of us, in eastern Alameda County (Pleasanton) over through to Stockton/Tracy, is the 11th congressional district currently represented by the corrupt, anti-environmentalist Richard Pombo..

One of the biggest impacts we can have on the 2006 election is to support Jerry McNerney, the grasroots-powered Democrat running against Pombo I have been volunteering for Jerry since the 2004 election, and I can vouch for him personally   he's intelligent, honest, and a real mensch. He can beat Pombo if he can raise enough funds (locally and from around the country) and keep getting volunteer power from the grasroots.

Here is a way to help right now: Vote for Jerry McNerney on two web sites that are holding competitions among various candidates to garner them some national exposure.

http://tools.democracyforamerica.com/housevote/ (Deadline: this friday June 23, 2 PM PST)

http://www.forwardtogetherpac.com/mapchangers (Deadline: June 29)

Then, keep an eye on Jerry's website and his weblog (the latter of which I volunteer to help with) and get involved in the campaign. We can take congress back from these thieves!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Above the Fold in the Chronicle

Somehow this blog caught the attention of somebody at the SF Chronicle, so they did a story about my political activism. They even had a tiny picture of me above the fold in today's printed paper. Cool!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Alameda Fourth of July Parade

I discussed the idea of a progressive infrastructure in my last post. Related to that is the idea that a number of progressive groups will be marching together in Alameda's upcoming Fourth of July parade, under the umbrella name of "Progressive Alameda."

Anybody who is intereted in participating, there will be a meeting on Saturday, June 24th, at 11 a.m. Go to Alameda Peace Network's website and use 'Contact Us' link for details and to RSVP.

Friday, June 16, 2006

A Progressive Infrastructure in Alameda

A couple of weekends ago, my neighbor Carl was telling me how Alameda needs a progressive infrastructure.

It took a while to figure out just what he meant. Essentially the idea is to have some way that the various active Alamedans (who are involved in a myriad of causes: election reform, peace, envirornment, land use/transportation, etc.) could have a common community, a way to get their message out, a pool of involved people to help support each other on related causes, and a way to back progressive candidates running for local offices

This is similar to an effort that Herb Behrstock had initiated over a year ago. Out of that, we got a yahoo announcement group going, but it has only 41 members as of this writing.

Perhaps a better approach to take is is to try to build a website along the lines of Don Roberts's website, but with a progressive bent. It would have to be multi-author, unless there is somebody who is willing to make this their full-time volunteer job. But multi-author would also make it more compelling, I think.

Fortunately, multi-author weblogs are really easy to make and maintain these days; this system (blogger.com) allows for multiple authors, each posting from a web browser.

Of course, the trick would be to get people to read such a website regularly, or subscribe to it - though few people still understand about RSS and subscriptions, alas.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

10 Simple Blue Switches - the Local Angle

BuyBlue has put up a list 10 Simple Switches You Can Make Right Now. I wanted to pass this on, adding a local angle where I can.

  • From Wal-Mart to Costco. (Costco is just off of Davis Street, though I hear the merchandise at the Richmod Costco is better quality.)

  • From Amazon.com to Powell's (no local version of that, but it's a great store to go to if you're ever in Portland. Of course, you could always go to Books, Inc. on Park street.

  • From Budweiser to Fat Tire (pretty easy to find around town)

  • From McDonald's to Subway (N.B. the South Shore Towne Centre one is gone)

  • From Marriott to Hyatt

  • From Dell to Apple or Gateway (Could I add "from PC to Mac here?) :-)

  • From Blockbuster to Netflix (or a local business like Video Maniacs)

  • From Guess? to J.Crew

  • From Curves to Bally Total Fitness (Alas, closest Bally is in San Leandro. I don't want to send anybody driving to San Leandro — you could bike there, and then you wouldn't need to go in because the bike ride would be your workout!)

  • From Hershey's to Lindt's (Good. I can eat twice as much chocolate with half the guilt!)

Friday, June 09, 2006

Pete Stark Town Hall Coming 6/17

Pete Stark will be having another set of town hall meetings in a week or so. I'm hoping I'll make it. I want to ask him about his endorsement of John Conyer's wimpy letter about why he wasn't going to support impeachment because of how it would just be a waste of time considering how the Clinton impeachment went.

This is Bullshivit! These are like night and day!

Why not come and tell Stark that he needs to do the right thing....

11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Alameda City Hall
Council Chambers
2263 Santa Clara Avenue

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Not a bad election!

It's been just over 24 hours since the polls closed yesterday, and finally blogger seems to be working again. Perhaps their system was overwhelmed with people posting about yesterday's results, either because it was 6/6/06 or because it was election day!

Before talking about yesterday, I wanted to recount the day before.... I took the kids to an Angelides Rally in Oakland. We sat right up in the front so the kids could see. Barbara Lee gave a little introduction. It was nice to hear his stump speech; I think that when more people get a chance to hear him speak, they'll see he has some real substance to take on Arnold in November.

I went over to Dublin in the afternoon to help with some Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts for the Jerry McNerney campaign; I've been volunteering from time to time in this neighboring district since our district is safely occupied by Pete Stark. This was only my third time out to campaign HQ; I try to do my volunteering without having to get in my car! Anyhow, I and another volunteer, Jason, were assigned to round up voters in the precinct that Jerry actually lives in, so we went right past his house, and successfully reminded a neighbor just down the street to get to the polls. It was enjoyable to speak to people who knew Jerry (many had kids who went to school with his kids) or had met him recently (Jerry had been doing some GOTV himself earlier that day).

We got back to HQ at 8, and already AJ the campaign manager was getting early results over the web. Volunteeers and staffers crowded around AJ to see the latest results. Very soon afterwards, we started getting encouraging results. After idling for a bit, and trying to eat some snack food since I had not had dinner yet, people started migrating to the Main Street Brewery in Pleasanton, where the victory party was scheduled; it was decked out with a podium and curtain in the corner for Jerry to address the crowd. By the time we got there, it was clear that it was indeed a victory party. The results were coming in, and they were looking good for McNerney. And I was pleased as punch to see the other results, especially that Debra Bowen was absolutely dominating, in spite of the previous polls that had said it was going to be a dead heat or a win for Ortiz. I'm guessing that last-minute push from the grassroots, myself included, might have had at least some contribution to that. A bunch of famliar faces from the campaign and from local groups I've been involved with were there, so it was easy to mill around and chat. Plenty of cheers (especially when the latest results would flash by on the ticker on the TV monitor), high-fives, and hugs all around.

Jerry was introduced by his son Mike, who recounted the story of his first write-in vote for his dad in the 2004 election, and the phone call to his dad which kicked off Jerry's 2004 candidacy. Jerry gave a warm, wonderful off-the-cuff thank you speech ("I brought this prepared speech. Should I read it? Nah..." as he crumped up the papers in his hand and throw it out to the audience).

All in all, a day of good results. Now the real fight begins!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Election Homestretch

Just a quick note to all three of you reading this blog. :-)

On the State Controller's Race, I've firmly decided to vote for, and endorse, John Chiang. I've always thought that both Joe Dunn and John Chiang were good candidates, but I decided to support Chiang for one main reason: he seems like he's more qualified for the Job. I looked at the description of the position, and he seems better poised to fill that job. Dunn, on the other hand, woulud have made a great Attorney General, but is probably not as suited for Controller. (He actually was running for AG but dropped out when Jerry Brown threw his hat in the ring.) I've also been receiving a number of emails from progressive groups that I respect, all endorsing Chiang, so I feel like I've made a solid decision.

Another note: I sent out emails to a large number of people I know in California expressing my plea to vote for Debra Bowen for Secretary of State. Judging by the responses I got, my message was quite welcome, and stood out from the avalanche of voter materials people have received in the mail. Even people who aren't able to vote, or who are in another party (e.g. Green) appreciated the message, and wound up spreading the word on to their friends. I truly hope that this last-minute push by myself and a number of like-minded folks will help put Bowen over the top. I just can't understand how Bowen's opponent could be doing so well in the polls!

Tomorrow is election day: Don't forget to vote. But better yet, make sure your friends vote, and are informed about the candidates!