agenda for 5/19 cultural affairs commission

OK, so I blew it and did not let people know about the Oakland Cultural Affairs Commission meeting this past Monday. It happened to contain a tish-load of action items regarding public art commissions all over town and the approval of the cultural funding program package.

This is what I had to do:

  • recuse myself from the item that approved the review panel for the open proposals program because mocha has a open proposal in front of the open proposal review panel.
  • recuse myself again from the item that approved the cultural funding program recommendations for the cultural funding program because mocha has two recommendations for funding inside of that.

Recusing is fun. Before the item came up I just left my seat and walked out of the room, sitting on the steps in the City Hall rotunda, studying just how Doric the interior is. When I say Doric, I mean Dull. The 70s Disco Ball chandelier is still stunning, however, and I had a magical moment of staring at it while it was turned on for the evening. How Times Square.

Dan Fontes came out on his cell phone attempting to help caller Randolph Belle deal with a flat tire. I think Randy asked Dan where he was, and Dan said: commission meeting. Then in a few seconds he said: No, just the same old shit. That’s when I put my head in my hands.

Here’s the tricky part: When I left the room the Commission momentarily lost its quorum. So it couldn’t vote on the action items I was conflicted about. So I might as well go back in, I thought. But then it would gain a quorum and take up the action item. But I had a conflict with that action item. So I had better stay put and not listen to Dan.

I looked up at the ceiling and squinted: perhaps the answer was hanging there, or I could pretend it was. Many many many moments passed. I can’t tell you exactly how many. It was as if much weed had been smoked, and the simplest decision about the order of events was lost to me forever, due to a dank, bureaucratic overlay. The door to the chamber opened and a big wafting aroma of Kafka bloomed out the portal.

It’s official: I’m Part Of The Problem.

My Day One Was Not The Same As Dusty Crevice’s

I watched the City Council meeting on KTOP from the safety of MZ’s couch, which came equipped with a never-ending bottle of Two Buck Chuck. My appointment to the Cultural Affairs Commission was the Item 31 of 33 items, and not on consent. Would there be objections from For The Record I’m Sanjiv Handa, East Bay News Service? None personal, but he did, and he was right to, point out how sorry Oakland boards and commissions are these days.

I think the assumption is that the Cultural Affairs Commission is irrelevant. To everyone. In every way.

From Dan Fontes:

5 different Directors in the last five years. Nobody wants to acknowledge that the Mayor has lost close to 30 cultural affairs commissioners over that period of time. His pattern of using arts folks is serious when contrasted with his “promise to celebrate the arts”. This business of calling the Arts Department the “Arts and Marketing Department” is particularly galling given Oakland’s constant fumbling of arts marketing. The lack of quorums has been going on now for close to three years! In fact, about the only area they haven’t damaged is the Art & Soul festival.

Not so. I think budget cuts removed the leadership on Art & Soul as well. is currently looping webserver foo from hell. I think it’s a Saturday night thing.

In spite of all this, incidental remarks by Eddie Ytuarte at that same Council meeting made it easy to discount anxiety about the meaning of this civic appointment. I count Eddie among my One Hundred Or More Mentors who continue to inform Oaklandia with their principled action.