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It doesn't have to be this way. Cities could get their collective acts together and create or procure free or open-source software, which would not be subject to single vendor holdups and would allow cities to collaborate to get the features they want and increase the transparency of operations. Anyone — say, a software-savvy investigative reporter — could examine the algorithms that govern local government.
This is beginning to happen with France, Italy, and India giving priority to free/open source software in government procurement. It's a very long-term strategy that won't fix the immediate scandal. But it's necessary to prevent local government from being utterly overrun by such scandals and operational privatization as more and more operations and services are implemented as software. Oakland should take the lead in the United States. It'd be especially appropriate as free/open source software presents a viable alternative vision for technology that benefits everyone rather than concentrating wealth and control in an elite.
Mike Linksvayer, Oakland
Follow the Money
My question is, on what authority did David McPherson pay PSI? If there were no executed contracts, who authorized the payments? It is called misappropriation of funds and the other parties should be named in the lawsuit, as well as reprimanded for their actions. McPherson didn't pull the funds from his personal account, someone at the city authorized payment.
Darlene Johnson, El Sobrante
"It's Splashtime in Oakland," News, 6/3
It will be a tough, tough, tough, close championship series. Good luck, Oakland!
Tony Daysog, Alameda
"Replenishing with Pride," Kid You Not, 6/3
Self-care is so important for parents. Thanks for the reminder!
Elon Bartlett, Oakland
"West Oakland Gets a Permanent Farm," What the Fork, 6/3
Better Analysis, Please
This subject would have benefited from the analytical approach you took in your coverage of the Oakland minimum wage law's effect on the restaurant industry.
By the numbers on their most recent tax return, City Slicker Farms spent $575,000 that came mostly from grants and contributions and some from $27,000 in food sales. Their total direct food production was 34,340 pounds. At an average of $16 a pound, that is some very expensive organic food.
Obviously the 34,340 doesn't include the food grown by mentored community gardens and residents who learned from the classes, but those numbers can be estimated.
As long as there are people in Oakland who struggle to pay for food, we need to look at how effective grants and contributions spent on urban farming classes are at reducing hunger/improving nutrition compared to giving that money to a few well-run food pantries.
Leonard Raphael, Oakland
"Turning Water Into Wine," Feature 5/27
Truth to Power!
Thanks, Will Parrish, for your truth to power reporting!
Terry d'Selkie, Ukiah
"Jacking Up Rents in Oakland," News, 5/20
I just want to thank Darwin BondGraham for doing this story on our situation. The article is really well balanced, contains a lot of the very convoluted facts, and, as we'd hoped, has sparked a lot of conversation about the issues we raised. Since the article, we've received support and suggestions from Just Cause, the Oakland Tenants Union, and the Santa Fe Community Association of Neighbors. We'll keep readers posted on developments, and our Rent Adjustment Board Hearing date in case you'd like to attend.
Liz Lee, Oakland
"Unlicensed Workers Patrol Fruitvale," News, 5/13
I'm Reserving Judgment
I understand the concerns over unqualified personnel handling security, but I have not personally gotten a great impression of the qualifications of the previous security officers in the plaza. You mention loitering incidents escalating — in fact last summer I witnessed a security guard engage in a pointless screaming contest with a man selling paletas for about ten minutes until a Unity Council representative came by to defuse the situation. I'll give the benefit of the doubt to this neighborhood-based initiative for now.
Rebecca Edwards, Oakland
"The Spark that Spreads the Fire," News, 5/13
Tia Canlas Rocks
This was a great article. I, Linda Boblitt, regret that I did not go to a jury trial. If you Google my case, the last article, "Linda Boblitt Defeats Statutes of Limitations," will give a little more insight to the difficulties that arise from money-ego-driven attorneys. There is no doubt in my mind that Ms. Tia Canlas would have recovered at least a six-figure award for me! The day of trial (her first time), she completely defied all expectations of opposing counsel. Opposing counsel filed several motions that were handled in chambers with the trial judge, but Ms. Canlas prevailed. At that point, opposing counsel did his dog-and-pony show, arriving late into the courtroom, announcing the troops were on their way. The "troops" arrived: a law student carrying legal boxes. LOL!
Ms. Canlas is a powerhouse, and she's just beginning.
Linda Boblitt, Sacramento
Good for Tia Canlas, and good for California for passing that law.
Martin Cohen, Los Angeles
"The High Cost of Driving While Poor," Feature 5/6
How to Avoid Commissioner Taylor Culver
For those who wind up in Oakland Traffic Court and choose to remove the "kick me" sign about to be posted on their gluteal globes by the likes of the jurist whose antics were chronicled here recently, the law has provided a splendid remedy, in the form of California Code of Civil Procedure Section 170.6.