Town Crier: Another taxpayer-funded Oakland outrage


MONTCLARION: October 8, 2010

Talk about adding insult to injury. You come home to find your house has been robbed — and the city of Oakland has charged you $312 for nailing a board across your front door. It’s like being ripped off twice.

“The simple nailing of the board will bill out more expensive than it cost me to completely rebuild the door frame,” writes a furious reader, who wants his name kept private.

The same thing happened to a second hills resident, who says police responded quickly to an attempted burglary call, then told neighbors a crew would be along to board up the door.

“We couldn’t believe the service and chalked it up to ‘finally, our tax dollars at work,’ ” writes the homeowner. Three weeks later they got a bill for $312 for the board-up.

Public Works cites the city’s municipal code which states that board-ups are required for anything deemed to be a public safety hazard. In both cases, the homeowners weren’t home and say no attempt was made to contact them.

Even if the city is justified in boarding up the doors, why does it cost so much? According to complaints, there is no charge for the board, just the labor of three men for a half-hour’s work.

It sounds like a joke. How many Oakland city workers does it take to nail a board to a door? But in this case, no one is laughing.

PAGE TURNER: It hasn’t come out yet, but a book is being written about the 2007 murder of  journalist Chauncey Bailey. The author is hills resident and Tribune reporter Thomas Peele, an investigative journalist on the Chauncey Bailey Project. Look for “Killing the Messenger: A Story of Radical Faith, Racism’s Backlash and a Journalist’s Murder” to come out in late 2011, published by the Broadway Books division of Random House.

 ON STAGE: Mandy Patinkin (“Criminal Minds”) is brilliant in the season opener of “Compulsion” at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. His portrayal of a writer obsessed with his subject, Anne Frank, is inspiring, if not disturbing. It’s been more than a week since I’ve seen it, and the scenes in which Anne “speaks” through a marionette made in her likeness are still haunting me. “She wants to live on after her death,” says Patinkin’s character. “Maybe I can live on, too.” This must-see performance runs through Oct. 31.

TIKI TIME: Trader Vic’s has reopened in Emeryville with a new wall of Tiki masks and a menu full of savory appetizers and drinks for happy hour and beyond. The iconic restaurant was closed for remodeling over the summer and now sports a bigger bar in which to serve its signature Mai Tai and other exotic concoctions. My favorite part of the new restaurant is an intimate dining room called the “office” that seats small private parties in a room with executive furnishings overlooking the ocean. And the best part? There’s no extra charge to use it.

ANIMAL TALES: And finally, under the category of fowl play, reader J.P. Jones is reporting a home invasion — pulled off by a turkey and her chicks. “The suspects,” he says, “were 10 perps (twerps with chirps) and one turkey lurkey who entered this residence looking for easy pickings.” The bandits flew the coop before anyone could make jail birds out of them, but the moral of the story, says Jones, is don’t leave your front door open, even to cool your house down. “There are opportunists lurking.”

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