Citizens Unite to Fight Oakland Crime

     MONTCLARION: September 17, 2010

     There’s a lot of talk about crime, these days, and quite frankly it’s making me mad. When you live in a city that doesn’t spend wisely and you’re told there’s no money for police – you get a little anxious.

     What can we do as citizens – to protect our loved ones and property? The answers are out there, we just need to pick the one that’s the best fit.

     On some streets, it means organized patrols. The Masonic Neighbors Group now has a volunteer patrol of folks walking and driving the street. The idea is not to confront, they say, but to take photos and notes of anything unusual.

     Not far away, the Moraga/Harbord Neighborhood Group is urging its residents to get a city assessment of what they can do to prevent break-ins. There are things, they point out, that can make your home safer – like increasing lighting and cutting back shrubs.

     Here are some other ideas being floated out there: Buy an alarm, buy a dog (a BIG dog), buy a gun. Close your windows. Lock your doors. Go together with neighbors on a private patrol.

Become an activist. Become a minimalist.    

     So you see, we’re not really helpless after all. We have lots of options.

     I don’t know about you, but I’ll be thinking of my options all the way to the ballot box this November.

     Grass talk: Joel Stewart has the greenest lawn in town – without watering. He painted it green with a new spray-on product that looks just like grass. He says his water bill was so high (teenage daughters taking long showers) that he could no longer justify watering the yard, so he went out and bought the kind of product that golf courses use to “paint” rough patches on fairways. The neighbors are reportedly “green” with envy.

     E-mail bag: Reader Betty Henry is waxing nostalgic over the big, juicy burgers she had in the 60’s at Kwik Way drive-in near Lakeshore. Now that the burger joint is being restored, she couldn’t be happier. “Thank you, Mr. Rizzo (the owner), for respecting Oakland history,” she writes.

     Bottoms up: Sean Cahill is back behind the bar pouring pints and telling tall tales. The longtime owner of McNally’s Irish Pub on College Avenue is working weekends at Monaghan’s in Woodminster. He calls himself a rover – an Irish word for part-timer, I guess, but he says it feels good to be back after selling his own bar and taking time off. Drop by and he’ll pour you a Guinness and turn on the football game.

     Animal Tales: It may be autumn but it feels like Easter at the Hawkey’s house in the hills. Mother Andy says chickens are laying eggs in the garden and there’s a new batch of bunnies to boot. The family’s prize Mini Satin is not only a good mother rabbit (she made her nesting box comfy with straw and tufts of her own fur) but she’s beautiful. “Her hair has a lustrous sheen,” says Hawkey, “which looks just like sparkling snow.”

     Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by phone at 510-273-9418, by email at or on the web at


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