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The Parkway Theater, Community, Politicians, and Passive Aggression

I attended the Sunday Community meeting held at Rooz Cafe on Park Avenue by the "I Love The Parkway Theater" group of concerned citizens and by all accounts it was successful. Even Oakland Councilmember and mayoral candidate Jean Quan, who's in District One, not District Two, which is Pat Kernighan's and where the Parkway Theater is located, was there and talking (she didn't mention she was running for mayor to her credit). But there's a little weirdness going on I've got to address.

I'm editing the video from the event so I'm not going to spill the beans on the event here in its entirety, but I'm taking time this night - as movie mogul Peter Gurber in a conversation with Cameron Diaz on his cool talk-show "Storymakers" with Variety's Peter Bart says "privacy is gone" to her regarding the Internet and celebrity - to write that there are no secrets in community issues, so why do some people act like there are in the case of the Parkway? I write this to "get after" the passive-agressive culture that has developed around the matter of reviving this beloved theater.

There are three main factions in this wild drama-fest that should not exist: the parkway staff and employees, the "I Love The Parkway" Group, and Oakland Politicians. None of them are in perfect communication with the other, and by my conversations they don't seem to want to be.

First, I'm opening my criticism with a few words of request for Councilmember Pat Kernighan: if you have an issue with a blog post I've written, just call me directly. Please. I know real estate deals in Oakland all too well, and contacting one blogger to try to get that person to essentially discredit my blog post on what is a real estate deal was not your finest hour.

Moreover, the blogger just asked you to simply contact me. Plus my blog was based on information presented in a San Francisco Chronicle article about the Parkway last Thursday. But you never pointed to that work which contained the same take (that the Parkway was going to be sold to this new investor group), just mine.

Why?

And that came after I wrote a blog post that praised you! What's up with that?

Stating that the potential owners of the Parkway will be just that is harmless; it's not a CIA issue. In fact, if your concern was not to draw attention to the deal itself, you made a mistake by pointing to my blog in the first place!

I miss the old days of Oakland Politicians, when folks like Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente would call to make a statement or an interview. Now, there's this weird idea that by avoiding media Oakland Politicians maintain power.

That's a laugh. A real howler!

And its the problem, but not for me. I know too many people and value every relationship. Politics is about getting things done for people, not working to control the media because in a new media world its impossible to do. Somewhere along the way a number of Oakland Politicians have forgot that nature abhors a void and will fill it with something, in this case information. Not talking does not solve the problem because someone else is always talking about you. Thank God you're not in Chicago; the media would eat you alive.

Now I turn to the "I Love The Parkway" group to say "great job" but be careful to be less "zealous" in your work. Your energy may have upset a few of the former Parkway Employees, who have their own cilque. I'm not saying I agree with such social divisions, I hate them, but you have to respect them. Also, be careful not to demonize anyone involved in this effort. Period.

To the former Parkway Employees, the I Love The Parkway folks are just trying to help. That's it. No hidden agenda. Just good people working for what they feel is a cause for the community. Also remember as many of you are seeking employment, you can never have too many friends and relationships are the best money there is. Period.

You must open yourself to people, especially when you least want to. Too many people in Oakland walk around closed off to the World with their iPods in this bubble that they only lower to talk to certain people. Folks, it makes our society less safe when you do that; work to know everyone. What you're doing is making our city dangerous. It's got to stop. Take your iPods out of your ears and get to know your society person to person.

The bottom line is open, honest, communication and love of people. Practice it and everyone will benefit, especially the community around the Parkway Theater we call Oakland.
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