Weird ‘Hit Piece’ for Oakland Mayoral Election

HitPieceToday I got a mailer from Citizens for Oakland, a group I had never heard of. I thought it might explain ranked choice voting, but it didn’t. It contained the most unflattering photos possible of candidates Quan and Kaplan, and very slick photos of candidates Schaaf, Parker and Tuman. Since Schaaf has been promoting transparency, it struck me as curious that she was part of this essentially anonymous mailing. I could find no information at all about Citizens for Oakland, and have seen a report that this organization is not listed in the directory for the address given on the mailing. Hmmmm.

Poem

O Israel – what have you done
Destroyed all hope
Replaced it with burning hate
Go – build your pure state
No one will want to touch you
You will have the security
Of a pariah

La Penca Azul on Park – Alameda

This is a place we’ve been to many times and have tried a wide variety of dishes. Overall we think the food is above average at average prices and there are enough gems on the menu that put it as a go-to place. The service is good, the cocktails are done well and the place is large enough that you aren’t stranded in a line for very long.

It is a family restaurant so it can be chaotic and noisy. There is a smaller side piece in the back, with a separate entrance which is an alternative to the chaos. The patio is really an after thought and not very pleasant.

The gems we think are worth mentioning are:

  • The beer battered fish tacos – very complex and tasty
  • The Pescado – a whole fried fish that is perfectly crisp and not greasy and
  • The mole, guacamole, burritos, carnitas – are all well executed.

The only dish we ever had that was not one to recommend was their “bowls”. We tried them when they first introduced them. The rice and the chicken were very dry and overall the dish was flavorless. That may have improved but we haven’t tried any since.

La Penca Azul, 1440 Park St., Alameda, CA.

Burma Superstar – Alameda

 

We try to hit this when there is a lull because it’s so popular. The food is very good, at decent prices. But it’s too small to accommodate the flow of people so it can be noisy, have a long line and the service sometimes suffers. The fact that it doesn’t take reservations adds to the problem and as a result, we haven’t had been here as often as we ordinarily would. We can recommend the coconut rice, the pork curry, mango chicken, and every salad we’ve had has been great.

What ever misses there are, we haven’t gotten any yet but catching this place when it’s accessible has become an issue for us personally.

Burma Superstar, 1345 Park St., Alameda CA

Unintended Consequences – Campaign Finance Disclosure

The Open Oakland Brigade, in cooperation with the City of Oakland’s Public Ethics Commission have created an excellent web facility, Open Disclosure Oakland which allows anyone to see campaign contributions (right now, just for the Oakland Mayor’s race).

The motivation for such a facility is clear – unless you are really acquainted with a candidate, finding out who his/her supporters are gives strong hints and insights into the candidate’s likely positions in issues you value, since you will recognize the interests of the ‘well known’ supporters. A candidate receiving support from a Vegan advocacy group will most likely have a different view than one reciving support from a livestock cooperative.

BUT, you can invert this relationship. You may already know a candidate’s postion on an issue, and by looking through the list of contributers, infer that the views of these contributers align with the candiate’s. Now, suppose that you are an EMPLOYER, and have strong views on some policy issue. Checkout the contribution list to see if any of your employees have supported candidates in line with, or opposed to your position! If you, as an employer, even do this search you most likley will let the results influence your employer-employee relaionship.

So, given this critical privacy issue, how can one protect one’s private participation in government beyond the secret ballot? Corporations have many ways to hide or obfuscate their activities; what is available to citizens? If I cannot donate money anonymously, can I create an alias? Do I need to create a super PAC just to get privacy? After all, it used to require dedication to comb through records to see what your employees, or your neighbors, were doing. It is all available now with the flick of a mouseclick.

1400 Bar and Grill – Alameda

We’ve eaten at 1400 since they opened and have witnessed it’s growing pains in service and food consistency. At this time, although their table wait staff changes frequently, the overall service is attentive. The food is pretty consistent now, although on a few dishes it is clear when a different kitchen staff is handling the prep. Not all menu items would be things we could recommend but all are reasonably priced, with good portions. Their weekend brunch is also well done (with endless mimosas) and as a result, can be really crowded.

Their Ruben sandwich, in our view, is the absolute best. But you may need to ask that they go light on the sauce because this is the part that seems to change, depending on who is in the kitchen. Sometimes it’s right on the spot, sometimes it’s really laid on thick. Their lamb shank is perfect; flavorful, tender and nestled on top of mashed potatoes, it absolutely embodies comfort food. Their Greek Chicken is also done well, with a subtle touch on the herbs and spices. Their fried fish is great both crisp without being greasy and in nice portions. The clam chowder is fabulous; it doesn’t scrimp on the clams or over power with potatoes and has a smokey bacon that really finishes it. The poblano burger is also great; moist and tasty. Their sliders are also very good and make for a perfect light lunch. Split, along with a salad, it’s perfect for us both. They also offer to throw in an extra one to make the three slider dish into a four slider for two people

The Irish stew, although tasty, is not Irish stew. It has a creamy tomato base, instead of the rich tones of a beef sauce which makes Irish stews. The pasta bolognese is also tasty but not pasta bolognese. It has spices and flavorings not at all connected to a true bolognese. This makes us wonder if they have ever eaten either dish done authentically or if they couldn’t come up with a better name. The dishes are nice but totally not represented by name. Their meatballs are great but the sauce is weak in comparison, which is a shame. The meatloaf is made from the same mix and is great but the sandwich is overpowered by a huge pile of crisp fried string onions. Maybe the kitchen thinks it makes for a showier presentation but you can scrape it off or you can ask for it without the onion in order to actually taste the meatloaf, which is really very good.

Their prices are really reasonable, they have a good drink selection and the two owners are very personable, attending quickly to your requests. The weekends and game times make this place too crowded. Weekday lunches are relatively quiet and it also has a good sized outside eating area, which is a nice alternative.

1400 Bar & Grill, 1400 Webster St, Alameda, CA