Barely a month after it opened, the organic produce stand at Swan’s Market in Old Oakland is closing.
At first the news surprised me. I can’t remember how many times I begged for a market within walking distance of my old place on Ninth Street. I would be cursing the lack of stores as I drove several miles out of the way for some milk at night or something on Sunday. So why wouldn’t the stand be successful?
Well, for one, Read the rest of this entry »
Competitors will have a chance to state their case for why they should manage the Oakland Coliseum instead of SMG, which has run operations there for 13 years. Coliseum Authority commissioners voted during a board meeting this morning to issue an RFP after Trustee Desley Brooks pointed out that the coliseum, being a publicly owned facility, operates under the same contracting requirements as the City of Oakland. That means a request for proposals is mandatory unless the situation meets four exceptions. And none of those appear to come into play.
The interesting thing about that is whether the board and SMG have followed the contracting requirements for the past decade. I’ll update the story later but so far the opposition is Comcast subsidiary Global Spectrum and AEG.
This belongs to the “better late than never category.” Tomorrow morning the Coliseum board will start the ball rolling on whether to extend the contract of SMG, the company that manages the complex – home to the Warriors, A’s and Raiders — or whether to open the job up to another company. AEG, which operates STAPLES Center is one of the companies interested in taking over. Here’s the agenda. The contract with SMG expires June 2012. I’m not going to go into all the details about how the A’s tenancy is different from the Raiders’. This story describes the basics of how the coliseum is organized. It’s helpful to figuring out who’s who and cutting through the jargon.
What you need to know at a minimum tomorrow is that SMG is offering the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority $1.5 million to extend its contract. There’s going to be a sweetener no matter who gets the contract. And there might not have been any discussion at all since the county is not required to put out a bid for professional contracts, according to Chairman Ignacio De La Fuente. (I had thought any kind of contract required a request for proposals.) So tomorrow the board will either send coliseum staff to the negotiating table to come up with a contract extension for SMG, which will be voted on at a future meeting. Or, the board can ask staff to prepare a request for proposals and circulate it to companies who might want to take over. One of them, like I said is AEG, who recently sent a letter of interest to the board, AEG spokesman Michael Roth said. He said he didn’t have details on what AEG offered.
Either way, the board won’t vote on the extension tomorrow.
A second-hand email landed on my desk about the plan by Highland Hospital to cut down about three dozen trees on 14th Ave as part of the construction on the campus. There’s a meeting tonight 7 p.m. in the Highland cafeteria. The trees are not endangered and do not house any endangered species. But you can judge for yourself how much of a “wooded transition” they offer. “Wooded transition” are words the Oakland Heritage Alliance used to describe their value. I just wanted to at least put out notice of the meeting, albeit late.
So it took a little digging, but I finally got the scoop on the Oakland wineries that provided bottles of wine for Oakland Mayor Jean Quan to take along on her trade mission to China.
She’s been handing out some bottles as gifts to dignitaries and business people, but the majority of the Oakland bottles will be uncorked for tasting Thursday at new California Vintage wine bar on Wyndham Street in Hong Kong. California Vintage is a business launched by a group of California wineries, including a couple from Alameda, but none from Oakland.
Quan is hoping that will change when she and Port of Oakland officials visit the business on the last day of the three-city trade mission to promote trade and business with China.
China is the largest client for U.S. agriculture, and the Port of Oakland handles about 90 percent of the California wine exports to China, which is a growing market for red wines. Quan said her group has been able to order California red wines in restaurants in Beijing, but there is fierce competition from Australia, Chile and France.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan was finally feeling the jet lag midday Monday after arriving Saturday in Beijing and embarking on a flurry of meetings with the Hainan Group and the American Chamber. But that didn’t stop her from finishing and posting her newsletter in the few hours of “down time” she will likely enjoy on the jam-packed trade mission to China with City Council President Larry Reid, Port of Oakland Executive Director Omar Benjamin and other port officials.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and City Council President Larry Reid in Beijing, China. Photo courtesy of Jean Quan.
Quan is there to promote Oakland’s Port and city as a good place to do business. She’s talking to the Hainan Group about using Oakland as a hub to capitalize on the growing foreign tourism to Northern California.
Hainan Airlines is the Southwest of China, and the only five-star rated airline in the country. The parent company also owns hotels.
It’s clear that Chinese people are investing in the United States, Quan said, but she is “struck by the variety of investments” they are interested in.
As far as how people are responding to her as an elected representative of a major American city, she said it seems to have a special significance for older Chinese, who tell her how proud they are of her, Quan said in a call from Beijing Monday (late Sunday night, my time).
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan wasted no time reaching out to Chinese officials in Beijing when she landed there Saturday to embark on a three-city trade mission with Oakland City Council President Larry Reid, Port of Oakland Executive Director Omar Benjamin and other of the Port’s seaport and airport officials.
Quan met with the chairman of the HNA Group, which owns Hainan Airlines, hotels and other businesses. She wants to try and bring the airline to Oakland, and perhaps convince the company to build hotels and use Oakland as its hub for for foreign tourism to Northern California.
While Mayor Quan is on her way to China, we back in Oakland are celebrating another first: Oakland’s Battle of the Taco Trucks. Saturday night from 7 p.m. until midnight at the Oakland Convention Center downtown. Tickets are $15 in advance/$25 at the door. But I think the price only buys you access to “great cheap tacos.” The key word is access. The actual tacos — and tequila — are extra. But you can call 510-466-6415 or email email@example.com. Let the battle begin!
So Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Council president Larry Reid jetted off to Beijing this a.m. on a whirlwind trade mission to China with Port of Oakland officials. They hope to drum up new business and expand partnerships with Chinese companies in Beijing, Shenzhen and Hong Kong.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Council President Larry Reid
The 12-member group includes Port executive director Omar Benjamin and other port maritime and airport officials. They’ll spend four days making stops in three cities: Beijing, Shenzhen and Hong Kong.
They’re saving the fun for last, when they visit a California wine bar and restaurant in Hong Kong to promote Oakland wineries.
A case of Oakland wine has been shipped ahead and will be served when the mayor and her entourage visit on Thursday.
Bar 355 is named for its address: 355 19th Street. The new owners are busy removing layers of history from the lounge. Not the storied decades as Mr. B’s Restaurant & Lounge or Softnotes or other incarnations. The original signs from two of those incarnations still stand on the roof, high above the facade made from rocks.
They have been scraping away at the residue left behind by food, bourbon, whiskey, beer and smoke. They have a way to go but already the walls are new — royal blue with a gold fleur-de-lys stencil. The bar is long, stretching nearly to the end of the rectangular room.
I happened by yesterday on my way back from a run around Lake Merritt. (I was thinking that the lake has developed an even more serious problem with waste: aviary. To be blunt, the bird s— is layers thick in some spots, including near the Lake Chalet.) The door was open so I peeked inside.
I can tell already that it’s a new era at 355 19th Street.