Port of Oakland struggles as Ports of America abandons terminal

Recent reports in newspapers and on television tell about the multi-billion dollar stevedore firm Ports of America closing down their Oakland operation in the next month.

Even though their facility is so crowded that drivers trying to pick-up and deliver ocean freight containers can wait up to 4 hours in line, they are saying good bye to Oakland.  At the same time the Port of Oakland’s public relations arm is postering this is no big deal and other opportunities for use of the property are imminent.

The bottom line is that this whole line of thinking is B.S.  Ports of America are pulling out because the slowdown by disgruntled workers from the International Longshoreman’s and Wharehouseman’s Union ILWU has  adversely affected operations at the port for over a year.

While a tentative agreement was reached in February of 2015 it was not ratified until May of last year. Since that time congestion at the Port of Oakland continued to cause delays for vessels calling the port loading and unloading vessels.

While members of the ILWU continued to draw their paychecks, Stevedores and ship owners have been left holding the bag so to speak.  Even though traffic going through the port decreased about 7% last December, the place is still a mess.

Port’s of America which is in business to make a profit, simply has had enough.  They are headed to greener pastures.

As an example last week part of the terminal was closed by the ILWU in a sympathy strike for an action of the radical Occupy Oakland political group.  Ports of America is  pulling out because their Oakland operation was losing money with no improvement on the labor front in sight.

Meanwhile the Port of Oakland is spinning a fantasy tale of new business opportunities in the abandoned terminal. With the constant flow of trucks along the Maritime Street corridor,  what companies would want to invest in this area adjacent to the Bay Bridge?  Their best chance for using the closed Outer Terminal  facility is to entice another stevedore to fill the space.

As for other non-maritime businesses to lease the port area,  the only entity to likely do this is the Oakland A’s.  Were they to use port land for a new baseball park, it probably would have a location in close proximity to Jack London Square. In the past Howard Terminal has been suggested for this.

Even then it might take at least 10 years to deal with environmental impact reports and lawsuits from every imaginable local group before the site could be shovel ready.

In the meantime the port should concern itself with the real cause of Ports of America’s departure and deal with the hostile labor conditions that threaten long term growth and vitality of maritime business in Oakland.  Given the critical situation, it is unfathomable the politically sensitive port is acting like they have a P.R. crisis rather than dealing with business conditions that threaten their survival.

While planned Saturday Gates will reduce congestion, they will also bring additional expenses for terminal operators having to pay time and a half to workers.

With mega vessels carrying up to 15,000  containers being the wave of the future, it is imperative that wherever they call does not have labor slowdowns, sympathy strikes, and low worker morale.

Outside of stevedore’s, shipping companies such as Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd, MSC, will not tolerate their vessels standing around idol at  $250,000 a day while unions complain about how poorly they are being treated.

There are not only other West Coast ports such as Long Beach, Los Angeles, Tacoma, and Seattle ready to handle business currently transiting  through Oakland but East Coast facilities as well that will be glad to take on additional tonnage.

In addition the Port of Oakland needs to make improvements in their rail connections between terminals and where the containers are unloaded off stack trains.  This is not an easy task as the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern as virtual monopolies have little incentive to invest in modernizing their facilities. To do so will take a great deal of effort from the Port , State of California, and  the railroads themselves.

It would seem there would be a public outcry to increase rail traffic and reduce trucks coming in and out of the port because of pollution caused because of this movement.  In recent years outside of new EPA regulations cutting greenhouse gases from diesel trucks, the port of Oakland at the same time has reduced the number of warehouses near to where the ships unload.  As a result more trucks clog the highways going in and out of the terminals than ever before.

With this being said the Port of Oakland is an important economic resource the entire Bay Area depends on because billions of dollars of freight imported and exported each month from this hub.  Because of this it is important that labor strife be settled and improvements made for the port to reach its needed economical potential.

The future economic vitality of the entire region rests with the outcome.

Editors note- Rich Eber and his late father have worked in the International Transportation business their whole lives

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Concord City Council contravenes staff recommendation of Catellus Development as Master Developer of Naval Weapons Station Reuse Project

All but the final draft made public for the September 29th City Council meeting consistently declared the Catellus offering was superior to the Term Sheet extended by Lennar

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

catellus-rendering*1200xx6002-3376-328-0The Concord City Staff recommended Catellus Development as Master Developer of the Concord Naval Weapons Station Reuse Project, the Contra Costa Bee has learned from documents it requested under the Public Records Act. All but the final draft that was eventually released and made public for the September 29th City Council meeting consistently declared the Catellus offering was superior to the Term Sheet extended by Lennar Concord, a  wholly owned subsidiary of Lennar California, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lennar (NYSE:LEN).

Yet the final document submitted September 29 had been edited to simply recommend that the Concord City Council choose between the two competing proposals from Catellus and Lennar. The severe redaction, according to markup notes in the margin by Concord City Manager Valeri Barone instructs staff to remove its recommendation of Catellus from the headline of the final document and recommendation portion of the Staff report presented to Concord City Council at the end referring to “the desire of Council to own its decision,” whatever that means.

  Concord Master Developer Recommendation Drafts

In the early drafts the City Staff based its selection of Catellus on, among other matters, that the Catellus proposal was more collaborative and the fact that the City of Concord would receive far more money from the Catellus proposal than Lennar’s.

cnws draft summary txt
In Doc # PGR_000398 the draft summary text states that the Catellus deal is more collaborative and would bring more net money to Concord than Lennar deal.

The decision to quash the City Staff recommendation overlooks the agreed upon process that up front determined that City Staff would release its recommendation and that City Council would vote that recommendation up or down. Now, pressure from City Council on staff has unilaterally scuttled that process to which all parties had initially agreed upon.

This suspicious rewrite of the final document comes after demands by Catellus Development for an investigation into whether Lennar had, in breach of contract, attempted to suborn members of City Council, chiefly Mayor Tim Grayson, with campaign contributions and other perks including but not limited to expensive off the books “campaign” strategy council from former San Francisco Mayor and close associate of Lennar, hizzoner Willie Brown Jr. These charges combined with revelations of Lennar’s alleged unsavory business practices, call the Master Development process further into question and darken the fairness and possible legality of the entire selection process.

valerie_barone_concord_unfunded_liabilitiesAccording to Lisa White of the Contra Costa Times, “City Manager Valerie Barone said she decided to leave a recommendation out of the staff report.” But the record shows some sort of request or demand to own the selection had been communicated to her by members of Council. If Barone had actually held this belief, why did she not edit out the original recommendation until the penultimate or final draft submitted to Council?

Concord City Council could still “own” the Master Developer selection by voting to accept or reject the City Staff recommendation. But the last minute deletion of the recommendation of Catellus Development as Master Developer clearly points to pressure from members of City Council to give wiggle room for members pushing for the selection of Lennar, instead.

Obviously, the implications of this critical redaction are enormous.

The files in the Public Records Act dump from the City’s third-party attorney contains over 1300 pages in about 127 PDF files. We believe the City of Concord will post these records (and those from two other PRAs) on its own or some other download site. We could be mistaken on this.

However, You are welcome to download the compressed folder (315MB) here. If you and something interesting please share it the comments or create your own post to submit for possible publication on the Bee.

Unfortunately, the files selected and sent to the Bee could not contain, according to j, Leah Castella of Burke Williams & Sorensoen LLP, documents City of Concord has chosen to withhold documents that:

  • would reveal the deliberative process of the City Council related to the Concord Naval Weapons Station
  • some documents contain confidential attorney/client communications
  • the release of some documents  would violate personal privacy of third-parties
  • and finally, the “public’s interest in nondisclosure of the record clearly outweighs the public’s interest in disclosure of the record.”

 

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Carmageddon: Warriors Arena at Mission Bay will create dangerous gridlock

The Carrmageddon clip shows how traffic gridlock created by the Warriors Arena at Mission Bay will have life-threatening impacts on emergency services at UCSF Medical Center.

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Opponents of the proposed Golden State Warriors Arena in Mission Bay today released an animated video that demonstrates how the project will create a virtual carmgeddon in San Francisco.

The video shows the traffic gridlock San Francisco residents might expect should the arena be built – and the life-threatening impact the traffic would have on emergency services at nearby UCSF Medical Center.

The two-and-a-half minute video, available here,  gives a birds-eye view of the proximity of the proposed arena to the Giants stadium – less than a mile – and the resulting impact the arena crowds will have on traffic in the neighborhood.

By the City’s own estimates, 9,000 to 10,000 people will drive to Warriors games at the arena, which has designated parking for just 200 cars. The video makes clear that combining those Warriors fans with 20,000 to 22,000 people who drive to the 81 yearly home Giants games will result in “Carmageddon” – complete gridlock on neighborhood streets.

The video shows clearly the arena’s proximity to the newly opened USCF hospital complex – just 1000 feet away. The hospital’s pediatric emergency room receives 11,000 emergency visits a year, but access to those services would be extremely difficult if not impossible during arena events, jeopardizing the lives of emergency patients.

The video was released by the Mission Bay Alliance, a coalition of arena opponents, UCSF stakeholders and residents. Earlier this week, the Alliance released a poll of 540 registered voters in the City that showed dwindling support for building the arena in Mission Bay, particularly after voters learn the facts surrounding traffic and other issues.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote today, Dec. 8 on an appeal by the Mission Bay Alliance of the project’s 5,000-page EIR and on the $60 million, taxpayer-funded transportation plan to help mitigate the project’s impacts on traffic and public transportation serving Mission Bay.

The Supervisors’ vote follows a record-fast, rubber stamp approval process that has allowed the ill-conceived project to sail through regulatory approvals without scrutiny. The Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure (OCII) certified the project’s EIR on Nov. 3 – only 10 days after releasing the 5,000-page document to the public.

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Cheese Zombie Apocalypse in Concord

The wildly popular Cheese Zombie served for years to students at Mt Diablo Unified School District cafeterias has become the subject of a tasty trademark scandal.

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

The wildly popular Cheese Zombie served for years to students at Mt Diablo Unified School District cafeterias has become the subject of a tasty trademark scandal.

pattys original cheese zombieFor many Mt. Diablo School District students and graduates, those wonderful puffs of pastry wrapped around a nice gooey cheese center were the best part of the school day. Invented by MDUSD bakers Helen Ballock and Decla Phillips as a way to use government cheese giveaways, they quickly became a staple part of the student’s diet.

However, there is a trademark battle cooking over the name “Cheese Zombies.”

Eric Giacobazzi, a year 2000 graduate of Northgate High School and a resident of Fairfield, applied for and obtained a trademark on the phrase “Cheese Zombies” in 2009.

According to Giacobazzi, CHEESE ZOMBIES is the only federally registered trademark he owns. He applied for the trademark in 2009. “My intent from the beginning was to do the right thing, to protect my new business by obtaining a trademark as countless other businesses do. I am currently selling our Cheese Zombies at several locations, waiting impatiently for this litigation to be complete so I can focus on my business.

On the other side of the zombie war is Patty May, owner of Patty’s Original Cheese Zombies in Dana Plaza. Healthier lunch menus forced a change on the way MDUSD prepares cheese zombies today with the required oats and whole grain wheat, so Patty opened her own bakery in March 2013, because of the demand for the original recipe cheese zombies. After receiving a letter from Eric, she is challenging the trademark registration.

Patty worked at MDUSD as a Bakers Trainer for six years, mostly at Clayton Valley High School.

Patty Original Cheese Zombie
Patty’s Original Cheese Zombies is open 6:00am to 7:00pm, and is located at 4115 Concord Blvd #62, at the Dana Estates Plaza, in Concord CA

The issue, explains Pete Tormey, who is representing Patty’s Original Cheese Zombies, is whether or not the name cheese zombie is generic. In other words, “is there another name for a cheese zombie? If there isn’t, then the name is generic and can’t be trademarked.” Like trying to trademark the word hamburger or taco, there is just no other way to say it, so the law won’t give you exclusive rights to the name.

Giacobazzi argues the litigation filed by Patty May in 2014 is off base, that the MARK is generic, but CHEESE ZOMBIES is not generic. “Words like “pizza” or “bagel” are generic words to describe bread products. The phrase CHEESE ZOMBIES is not generic for filled bakery products,” as May contends. Giacobazzi asserts that CHEESE ZOMBIES is valuable intellectual property, and he used legitimate trademark law and process to legally obtain the trademark.

Tormey estimates that MDUSD has sold over a million cheese zombies since Helen and Decla came up with their recipe. Decla explained that they would pass along the recipe to other school districts at conferences, so cheese zombies can now be found on school lunch menus as far north as Spokane and as far east as Missouri.

“The fact is,” says Giacobazzi, May wants to use the trademark to promote her own business further validating our point—the MARK is not generic.

So is Cheese Burgers eligible for a trademark? Or Cheese and Crackers? Hot Dog? Will Giacobazzi sue MDUSD for its continued use of Cheese Zombies on its school cafeteria menus?

Giacobazzi did not send the Bee  retail locations for his Cheese Zombies.

Patty’s Original Cheese Zombies is open 6:00am to 7:00pm, and is located at 4115 Concord Blvd #62, at the Dana Estates Plaza, in Concord CA

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Democratic State Senator Steve Glazer votes for business

California State Senator Steve Glazer votes for business like a Republican, according to the California Chamber of Commerce pro business legislator ratings.

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

California State Senator Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) has, according to the California Chamber of Commerce, the best pro-business voting record of any Democrat in the State Senate.

State Senate candidate Steve Glazer sings his winning song to the judges of the 7th State Senate District
State Senate candidate Steve Glazer sings his winning song to the judges of the 7th State Senate District
The Chamber’s weekly publication, The Alert (November 6 issue), showed that Glazer voted 10 times to three — during 2015 — in accord with Chamber positions.

No other Democrat in the State Senate had such a favorable pro-Chamber rating.

The Alert reported that Glazer voted 60 percent to 79 percent in accord with Chamber positions.

Glazer represents State Senate District Seven, which includes such cities as Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Walnut Creek, Danville, San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore, Concord, Pittsburg, and Antioch.

Glazer-Bonilla courtesy capitolweekly.netOn May 19, Glazer faced Susan Bonilla (D-Concord) for District Seven’s Senate seat. Glazer received 54.5 percent of the vote; Bonilla obtained 45.5 percent.

In the State Senate, 14 Republican Senators voted 80 percent or more times in accord with the Chamber’s positions. Of these 14 Republicans, seven voted 13 to zero in favor of Chamber positions, two voted 12 to zero, and five voted 12 to one.

Right below the 14 Republicans was Glazer with his 10 to three pro-Chamber voting record.

There are 40 senators in the State Senate. Twenty-six are Democrats; fourteen are Republicans.

Besides Glazer, only two other Democrats in the State Senate cast a majority of respective votes in favor of Chamber positions. Thus, three Democratic State Senators, in all, took pro-Chamber stances a majority of the time.

Of the remaining 23 Democrats, all — on a majority of their respective votes — took anti-Chamber positions.

In the California State Assembly, Bonilla voted two times in accord with the Chamber. She cast 10 votes against Chamber positions. Only one other State Assembly member, Lorena Gonzales (D-San Diego), had a two to 10 voting record.

Bonilla and Gonzales had the lowest pro-business voting records in the entire Assembly.

Attempts to reach Glazer and Bonilla at press time were unsuccessful.

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Travis Credit Union awarded CDFI certification

Travis Credit Union announced it is now certified by the U.S. Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund.

travis Credit Union
Travis Credit Union announces 20 Scholarships for students seeking higher education
CDFI certification allows Travis Credit Union to better serve low- and moderate-income consumers and promote financial inclusion in the counties the credit union serves.

The benefits of certification include access to financial grants from the CDFI Fund, partnership opportunities with financial institutions that are seeking Bank Enterprise Awards, access to New Market Tax Credits and the enhanced ability to raise funds from foundations, corporations and state and local governments.

With more than 177,000 members and over $2.4 billion in assets, Travis Credit Union is one of the leading financial institutions in Solano, Contra Costa, Yolo, Napa, and Merced Counties,

Only 808 organizations in the United States are certified CDFIs, including loan funds, credit unions and community banks. To receive this certification, financing organizations must have a primary mission of promoting community development and must provide development services in conjunction with their financing activities.

“CDFI certification is a valuable credential that helps credit unions increase their capacity to meet the needs of low-income consumers and to develop strategic partnerships to better connect with the community,” says Barry Nelson, president and CEO of Travis Credit Union. “In addition to the wide range of products and services we offer all our members, CDFI certification allows us to expand what we can provide to the low- and moderate-income members we serve.”

Travis Credit Union offers products and services at substantial savings that consumers of modest means need and use.These products and services include traditional deposit and loan accounts and special programs such as small balance savings and investment products.

They also include loans so members can borrow smaller amounts at favorable rates and break the cycle of high-interest payday loans. Specialized money management programs help members manage their personal finances and provide additional flexibility and options for military

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •