We are seriously late in alerting people to this post, but Echa Schneider, who goes by the nom de blog V Smoothe and runs the A Better Oakland blog, has a terrific, entertaining and infuriating account of Councilwoman Nancy Nadel's attempt to steal all of this year's West Oakland block grant money.
Schneider and some civic-minded friends showed up to run for the board overseeing the disbursement of West Oakland's block grant cash, only to discover that, according to Nadel, the elections were just a rubber-stamp for her own pet project. According to Schneider, Nadel stood up at the start of the meeting and proclaimed that all this year's money, every single cent, would be used for the teen center she wants to build. In addition, the block grant committee would merely act as an advisory board for the center, and not make any further decisions about how or where to spend money. Oh, and it'll only meet quarterly from now on, not monthly. Strangely, Nadel was shocked when Schneider and the rest of the crowd objected. As people started challenging her and demanding to know where she gets off making unilateral decisions like that, Nadel said, "I hear that people are unhappy with that. But the decision has been made." Gotta love that passive language, Nancy, as if you're not the one who's misappropriating money that doesn't belong to you.
Well, Nadel was even more surprised when the crowd didn't take that lying down. As people threw more questions at her, and got even angrier when they realized the center wouldn't even have the cash to open after the money was spent, Nadel backed down. Almost at the point of tears, she said, "I've been a Councilmember for 12 years, and I got accused of no leadership over and over in this election, and now, when I assert leadership, people criticize that too." Finally, she let the block grant committee spend the money any way they liked. Which was a pretty smart idea, since she never had the right to take it in the first place. Go read the entire post; it's one of the best accounts of Oakland's dysfunction in action we've read in a while.