Oakland Unseen

Oakland, California's unreal news source.

VTA unveils world’s slowest commuter rail for 49ers game

VTA train going slower than 5 MPH to Levi’s Stadium (image credit: VTA)

49ers fans are leaving San Francisco 10 hours before kickoff to make it from San Francisco to Levi’s® Stadium, 40 miles south in Santa Clara, California. And some aren’t expecting to make it before the 5:30pm kickoff.

James Jones, a San Francisco resident, told Oakland Unseen that he can’t wait to take MUNI to Caltrain to VTA’s light rail. “I’ve heard so much about the nation’s slowest commuter train. I downloaded the Levi’s® Stadium app, and I really can’t wait to get to the stadium so I can order an $11 beer or $6 bottle of water right from my seat! Despite what people are saying, this is not just a stadium for the rich. $641.50 to take my family to a game is totally worth it!”

When Oakland Unseen spoke with Sonia Martínez, a longtime Mission District resident, she said “It’s not the commute down I’m worried about, but that Caltrain’s last stop in Santa Clara is 9:05pm. I thought BART closed early, but jeez, 9pm for Caltrain?! I guess that’s how things are on the Peninsula.”

When Oakland Unseen reached out to VTA to confirm whether or not it takes 10 hours to get from San Francisco to Santa Clara, a VTA spokesperson replied “It’s not our problem—talk with Caltrain, MUNI, or BART.”

Oakland residents overwhelmingly welcome Urban Shield to Downtown

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A friendly Urban Shield exercise on the streets of Oakland. (Photo by Joe Sciarrillo, Bay Area Underground)

Oakland residents were thrilled to host Urban Shield, one of America’s largest police militarization conferences in Downtown Oakland the weekend of September 6, 2014. Mayor Jean Quan said, “We look forward to welcoming them back next year, and to not stay just for a weekend, but to conduct exercises in Oakland throughout the year. Oakland should not fall behind in advancements in weaponized drone technology and the militarization of our police force. Urban Shield is a great opportunity not only for our officers, but for brave officers from throughout the world to take to Oakland’s streets to demonstrate how to best restore order.”

When asked for a comment, an Oakland Police Department spokesperson told Oakland Unseen: “Further militarization and military-grade weapons will allow fewer officers to enforce wider areas of the city. It’s a cost-saving measure. By putting drones in our skies 24/7, we no longer need Shotspotter because we have infrared cameras with face-scanning capabilities built into our specialized drones. These devices will help bring the OPD into the 21st century and save staffing costs. It’s totally a win-win.”

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Officers in a live demo on Oakland’s streets show how to use minimal force to subdue a single peaceful protestor. (Photo by Joe Sciarrillo, Bay Area Underground)

You’ve heard about SF invading Oakland. But is Oakland now invading SF? Beast Oakland poster was spotted by photographer Joe Sciarrillo in San Francisco’s Noe Valley.

"Gentrify" poster spotted by photographer Joe Sciarrillo in West Oakland near 28th Street and MLK.

"Gentrify" poster spotted by photographer Joe Sciarrillo in West Oakland near 28th Street and MLK.

Oakland Unseen endorses Einstein the dog for Mayor

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Oakland Unseen's editorial staff officially endorses Einstein the dog for Mayor of Oakland in the November 4, 2014 election. We thoroughly evaluated all 20+ candidates, read their Tinder profiles and platforms, researched which special interests are funding their campaigns, and we found that Einstein the dog surprisingly had a more complete platform than most candidates.

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Einstein’s 30-point platform shows that he will bring reform to Oakland’s police force, work for economic justice, and bring transparency to how city funds are spent. Einstein is a candidate of action who’s not afraid to go the extra mile for Oakland, and that’s why Oakland Unseen is proud to award him with our much-coveted endorsement.

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(Image credits: http://einsteinforoakland.org)

UC Berkeley running out of parking spaces for Nobel Laureates

Nobel Laureate Parking at Berkeley

Nobel Laureates are taking over all of the campus parking at UC Berkeley (photo credit: Daniel Gries)

Berkeley is a notoriously difficult city to park in. But historically, it’s been easier if you’ve won a Nobel Prize, as UC Berkeley gives its Nobel Laureates free parking in the best locations on campus. However, Oakland Unseen has recently discovered that campus parking is running out due to the rapidly growing number of Nobel Prize winners at Cal.

UC Berkeley’s latest Nobel winner Randy Schekman told Oakland Unseen, “I was going to park in my typical spot, but George Smoot had already parked his Telsa there. So, I went over to my backup spot, but Charles Townes’s Ferrari was already there. In desperation, I went around the backside of the Chemistry building, but Yuan Lee had his winnebago parked there. At this rate, in another year or two, all the available parking on campus will require NL permits, and if I arrive after 10am—I may have to park in the—[gasp]—Telegraph-Channing Garage!”

Oakland Unseen reached out to UC Berkeley’s Department of Parking and Transportation for further comment. An official replied that they’re researching replacing Evans Hall with an underground parking structure similar in size as the Underhill lot specifically for Nobel Laureates. The estimated completion date is 2025.

Stanford Admits First Middle Class Student

(Image credit: Stanford University)

In an effort to change its status as the snobbiest city in America, the Palo-Alto-based Stanford University has admitted its first middle class student. With tuition at a staggering $42,000 per year, plus room and board and country club fees, Stanford officials said that they don’t typically admit students whose families make under $200K per year, but made an exception for this fall’s freshman class.

"Guess I’ll move to Oakland!" stencil spotted by photographer Joe Sciarrillo in front of City College of San Francisco, 22nd Street and Bartlett, San Francisco.

"Guess I’ll move to Oakland!" stencil spotted by photographer Joe Sciarrillo in front of City College of San Francisco, 22nd Street and Bartlett, San Francisco.

Oakland mayoral candidates court voters via Tinder dating app

Nine frontrunners for Oakland’s 2014 Mayor’s race are on Tinder, Oakland Unseen recently discovered through an anonymous source in City Hall. These candidates are using Tinder to connect with Millennial voters in Oakland who will likely decide who will become Oakland’s next mayor in the November 4 election. Tinder is a smartphone-based dating app that’s exploded in popularity because of its ease of use—requiring the user just to swipe left for people they don’t like, and swipe right for people they do.

Since receiving this scoop, Oakland Unseen’s investigative reporting unit has conducted a months-long investigation alongside our nonprofit reporting partners, funded by several public-interest journalism grants.

Jason Overman, Rebecca Kaplan’s spokesman, said of the Tinder revelation, “Tons of people nowadays are using Tinder to hookup with singles in Oakland. Why not use the app to court the young adult vote? We’ve got to stay one foot in front of the competition.”

However, Kaplan could be falling behind. Records obtained from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests show that soon after Kaplan joined Tinder to ‘connect’ with prospective Oakland voters, several other candidates joined Tinder, including Mayor Jean Quan, Councilmember Libby Schaaf, City Auditor Courtney Ruby, Port Commissioner Bryan Parker, civil-rights attorney Dan Siegel, community activist Jason “Shake” Anderson, neighborhood watch leader Patrick McCullough, and overly optimistic professor Joe Tuman.

An unnamed source at City Hall told Oakland Unseen: “Nowadays, voters are expecting a candidate to go the extra mile. They don’t want just leaflets at their door, but sometimes they want to know their candidate intimately. And how far they will go on the issues that matter most to them,” our source said, removing their glasses and pausing dramatically. “Yes, it’s a viral marketing campaign (hopefully just in one way), but that’s what you have to do nowdays to get elected,” our source said before disappearing behind a curtain.

When Oakland Unseen reached out to Tinder about whether or not this violates Tinder’s user agreement, Tinder’s CMO Justin Mateen replied, “I’m not sure, can I get back to you? I have some other things I need to take care of right now.”

Oakland Unseen has obtained each of the Oakland mayoral candidate’s Tinder profiles, and they’re below.

Keep up with the latest developments in this groundbreaking, Pulitzer-eligible story by following Oakland Unseen on Tumblr and Twitter.

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Tinder illustrations by Krusty Wheatfield, http://www.krustywheatfield.com.

Click here for full-sized versions.

EXCLUSIVE: Proposed changes to Oakland Coliseum lease

Oakland Athletics Stay t-shirt by Oaklandish

(STAY t-shirt by Oaklandish)

Oakland’s City Council met Wednesday night at a special session to add changes to the Coliseum’s 10-year lease agreement with the A’s. The A’s spent the last 14 months negotiating their contract, only to have additional conditions added at the last minute by the City Council. Oakland Unseen recently obtained a copy of the proposed amendments to the 10-year lease agreement, and they’re listed below:

  • Bernie Lean must be played between every inning.
  • Proposed statue of Lew Wolff must face south towards Fremont/San Jose.
  • Must have séance with the ghost of Al Davis before making any major changes to Coliseum.
  • City Council required to consult with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee/ former mayor Gavin Newsom for help on how to keep a pro sports team in your city.
  • No signage allowed in stadium, including advertising, section markers, and retired jerseys.
  • To preserve the Coliseum’s delicate plumbing, must hold handle extra long to flush.
  • Tear down Coliseum BART bridge to preserve the habitat of burrowing owls who nest between BART tracks and stadium parking lot.
  • Mark up beer another $10 a cup.
  • Garlic fries can only be sold at the top of Mount Davis, to make fans exercise before eating fatty foods.
  • Allow a sitting City Council member to throw out first pitch/sing national anthem no fewer than 3 times a season.
  • Sonny Gray must personally deliver any amendments to agreement to mayor, shirtless.
  • Any changes to scoreboard must be approved by 2/3rds of California voters.

Billy Beane to use Sabermetrics to recruit undiscovered Oakland city council candidates

Billy Beane, the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics. (Image credit: The Greatest Sign Maker).

Billy Beane, the Oakland A’s General Manager who became famous for recruiting overlooked players in the book and film Moneyball, is at it again in Oakland. This time, he’s using his statistical modeling and skill profiling to find and recruit rising politicians overlooked in other cities who would be a good fit for Oakland’s City Council. Time will tell whether or not his latest efforts will pay off, and whether or not Brad Pitt will play him in Moneyball II: The Rise of Quan.