2017 at the Movies, the Oscars and the Others

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All the critics agree, it was a great year for film, but I’m not sure I buy that. Nor can I buy that it was a good year for women and minorities unless the Academy Awards nominating one movie by a Black writer/director and one by a woman are significant improvements, sigh. And, there’s no nail biter for best picture for me as I didn’t see many films that stayed with me for long. Realistically, a best picture award should be given for an extraordinary film and that would not happen every year. Nominate away but the flick selected should be exceptional.

That said, I’m still fascinated by the event and even more so by what the movies say about us and our moment in time so let’s talk about some of the nominees–and some that weren’t nominated but worked for me.

Since many movies ostensibly released in December are not available for viewing until January, February or March of the next awards year-and there are some you’ll never see on your local marquee unless you live next door to an arthouse-I’m going by the films I had an opportunity to view this year.

One of my favorite little movies of this year which actually opened in 2016 was Kedi. It’s Turkish for Cats and is a travelogue-documentary movie about the felines who live in every nook and ancient cranny of Istanbul, seemingly feral but lovingly attended to by the shopkeepers, waiters, and apartment dwellers of that cat friendly and vibrant metropolis. If you like people, cats or views of ancient architecture set along the MV5BOGQzNWM0NmQtZTQ3My00MGMzLTk4NDItNjQ1MGY5MjNhZjhmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTkwNzI3NDY@._V1_UY100_CR39,0,100,100_AL_Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Aegean, this film is a little R & R. BTW, better to visit but for now, since the Turkish government recently reacted to the American government’s visitation restrictions by refusing visas to US residents, you’ll have to wait.

I couldn’t wait to see Get Out and caught it the first weekend. I wasn’t surprised that Jordan Peele made a horror movie because on his show Key and Peele with partner Keegan-Michael Key, the duo produced many skits in the horror genre. Here’s just one of their zombie sketches.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xyhVO-SWfM

It’s an iconic film,  I believe, mostly because it’s one of the few films ever to openly poke fun at American racism from a Black auteur. The catch phrase, the sunken place, and the title itself , something audiences like to shout at the screen when the monster is about to burst through the door, are now part of our film (and social) lexicon. The_Sunken_Place

But there are some small disappointments in this genre busting movie–is it horror, is it comedy, is it satire or all of the above? For instance, the fright scenes were frequently less scary than the build up to them, much of the movie was tongue-firmly-in-cheek, but at other times the tongue was more loosely-in-cheek and the payoffs were sometimes more academic than immediate. It is almost as if Peele wanted to tell us about our racism and confront us with our stereotypes without offending us too much. But it’s thought provoking and entertaining and ultimately one of the movies of this year that will stay with us, or at least until Peele’s next eagerly awaited project.

The Zookeeper’s Wife came out in March and made an impression on me at the time but the reviews were decidedly mixed–many were offended by Jessica Chastain’s Polish accent. Maybe that’s why she was nominated for an Oscar in Molly’s Game rather than this otherwise wonderful performance.

Here are 3 things I know about the problems with the Zookeeper’s Wife 1) it’s a little too glossy for a film set in war torn Warsaw, could’ve been a bit grittier given the subject, 2) the hero of the movie is a soft spoken seemingly naive woman, not the type of hero we want these days, see Frances McDormand, 3) most people including the critics couldn’t stomach the early long scene where the zoo’s tame animals are being slaughtered one by one by the soldiers. But it’s a true story of a couple that were honored by Israel as Righteous Among the Nations, and it’s inspiring without being smug. See it if you can.

Here are three more movies I also liked but only one of them got any Oscar nominations. They were: The Big Sick, made in indy style with an awkwardly slow beginning but its touching true story wins you over soon after–Holly Hunter’s acerbic mother has much to do with that and even though The Indy Spirit Awards and others nominated her for best supporting actor, Oscar ignored her. However, the clever husband/wife screenplay was nominated.

The Glass Castle which passed by unnoticed, a young woman’s memoir of a childhood spent with her extremely dysfunctional but fascinating parents. The critics apparently dispute that the main character was able to cull some good memories from her childhood and seemingly panned it for that reason. I was moved by its complex portrayal of family life or maybe it just made me feel better about my own.

And Marshall, which actually lost money, perhaps because so few people can recognize the last name of one of our most important Supreme Court Justices Thurgood Marshall, more’s the pity. It’s a very interesting slice of his early life as an attorney traveling the country defending Black suspects and alternately commanding and alienating allies to the cause. It stars the very charismatic Chadwick Boseman whose next film has been sold out in theaters for weeks, the Black Panther. Maybe his star power can resurrect this movie so more people can see itdownload (3).jpg

There was Beatriz at Dinner starring Salma Hayek in a satire which hammered you with its message including an ugly peek at the lives of the rich and powerful entertaining each other in the decadent canyons of southern California. It might also be titled, “Everyone was Sad Today,” dunno, left me as cold as it was designed to do.

Should we talk about Wonder Woman, nah, let’s not. How about Wind River, yeah, beautifully filmed, touchingly acted, a modern-day cowboy flick [centered around the brutalization of young attractive women, what else is new and guaranteed money making?] also deeply sad, hmmm, is that a theme? I left the theater and then I realized, oh shit, once again, I was led down the garden path where the white people were the saviors and the Indians were the noble victims or the hapless criminals, substitute any other despised ethnicity and voila, the same old same old but with a touch of cultural sensitivity thrown in. images

Locally, those of us who’ve been fighting for years to reform OPD, went to see The Force because the film’s producer also made the award winning The Waiting Room but instead we got the local version of  mainstream media embedded with the troops in some foreign place. Here’s my longer review, https://draketalkoakland.com/2017/10/01/the-force-the-oakland-police-accountability-coalition-a-story-untold/.

And what about the phenomenon of 3 films revolving around the same WWII episode, Dunkirk, the story of the almost unbelievable rescue of 300,000 British and French troops from the coast of France right as the German army overran continental Europe and was poised to invade Britain.

In The Darkest Hour--it was so dark in those conference rooms and tunnels, I could barely see Gary Oldman’s Churchill giving the famous “we will fight them on the beaches” speech–would not have made much sense without having first seen Nolan’s Dunkirk, unless you’re a WWII  history buff. Then finally there was the British tragicomedy Their Finest which I found as entertaining and moving as the other two.

Does this confluence mean that Winston Churchill, the conservative leader of the British Parliament who hated socialized medicine among other proletarian benefits, is the leader we long for? Perhaps, but I doubt it. To me it means we know we have just entered one of the scariest periods in modern history and we’re not sure how or if we will survive it. F. Y. C. Knox

In Dunkirk, the flick which shows the terror in real time as the powerful Luftwaffe bombs and strafes the retreating soldiers, we also see close up the human face of courage and compassion. In the Darkest Hour we get the one-person-stands-alone-in-the-face-of-confusion-and-cowardice [in truth much of the British aristocracy sympathized with the Nazis before they opposed them.]

In Their Finest, a film within a film which depicts the making of a British propaganda piece about the Allied troop rescue, we find the beating heart of humanity under the seemingly cynical manipulations of the media. The story within a story also illustrates the struggle of women’s changing roles during times when the men were sent to die by the hundreds of thousands, women were reluctantly allowed to take over some of their roles, including screenwriting (and we still struggle with women’s roles in that industry.)

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The lesson for our time lies in how this heroic rescue took place-it worked because average British fishermen and their families took it upon themselves to become a navy of brave individuals with little coordination or top down command, and saved most of their army for the fight to come. Whichever angle you prefer to view that period from, people are drawn to these movies and they are all worth seeing.

I admit I didn’t see all the films nominated for best picture but I did see a few more that are worthy of your weekly latte money. Let’s talk about Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri which was filmed in and around Asheville, North Carolina. It was an obvious Oscar nominee. The writing was sharp to the point of painful, the characters were all played by outsized actors and the theme of (white) female rage hit hard and on target.

I admit I was in disbelief that the character Sam Rockwell played so well seemed to morph too easily into a human being from an idiotic and vicious racist cop. Of course, Frances McDormand’s badass grief-stricken mom was not so much believable as symbolic. McDormand served as the anti-hero that women have been craving, that is if you feel like tossing Molotov cocktails at buildings or people–and maybe you do.

The controversy-and there really could be many–is this your vision of feminism, who deserves redemption-centers around the ultimate acceptance of a cop who is known to have tortured Black suspects as a character who is capable of earning the sympathy of the viewer, depending on whether he in fact did earn it? Did indeed anyone and was anyone really redeemed? The movie doesn’t make that clear. Anyway, here is one critique if you wanna know more, Alison Wilmore in 171113_r30902.jpgBuzzfeed,  https://www.buzzfeed.com/alisonwillmore/three-billboards-outside-ebbing-missouri?utm_term=.wsZLVOyoDM#.mhaJv4gqX” “He [filmmaker Martin McDonough who is Irish] has a solid grasp of how a woman can be dismissed as crazy, as a bitch. But when it comes to American racism, he’s playing tourist.”

As to working class white women who can’t seem to fit the mold, there’s I, Tonya which takes the anti-hero and then flips it sideways. Its perfect sardonic tone takes aim at the audience because the film knows that we were as easily manipulated as Tonya, an abused girl who came close to achieving the American dream but became the punchline to a bad joke instead. It doesn’t answer any of the ultimate moral questions or explain away all the ugliness plus Margot Robbie is way too pretty to be the pinched face protagonist, much less playing her as a young teen. But the movie works, it’s entertaining and thought provoking, what more could you ask? download (5)

The Post came out in December and I saw it with a group of friends that first weekend. Sitting with a crowd at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland, CA, watching a movie about what the press can do to an out-of-control-president is heartening enough to make it worth the price of the ticket. That the movie had an outstanding cast and an important message was even better.  MV5BYmQ1MGM4ZjAtODlkOC00MThmLTg5MWYtMGVlNjgxYmQwYmNlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzQ4MDUzNzI@._V1_UY100_CR23,0,100,100_AL_

There’s lots more to the story of Ben Bradlee’s cozy relationship with presidents and CEOs https://www.hbo.com/documentaries/the-newspaperman-the-life-and-times-of-ben-bradlee and to Katharine Graham’s ultimate betrayal of many of the workers who made her paper great that was barely hinted at by the film, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/wash-post-busted-pressmens-union-in-1975-strike-why_us_599eed71e4b0cb7715bfd3b2.

The only real fault I had with the set-up was Spielberg himself. Sometimes he just had to tell us how to feel by pumping up the John Williams score when silence would have sufficed. And what was that bit with the bewigged hippie spouting Mario Savio’s words in  DC at a 1970 demo, “There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop!”

Sorry, that was a different time and place, 1964, Sproul Hall, Berkeley at the height of the Free Speech Movement. For many in the media these days, the movement of the 60’s and 70’s from the Civil Rights era and the anti-HUAC struggles to Anti-Vietnam War movement and the Counterculture was one decade long period of foment but it was more complicated than that and those complications have consequences that still mean something today.

And now to the great Shape of Water divide. It leads the race with 13 Oscar nominations. I nominate it for silliest-and-darkest-version-of a-Fred Astaire-minus-Ginger-musical-fairy-tale, replete with stereotypes you haven’t seen since Stepin Fetchit, slack jawed dramatics, wince-inducing-preciousness-over-the-top–hit-you-on-the-head message movie of the year.

For instance, while Sally Hawkins was able to fill her bathroom with water almost to the ceiling by stuffing towels under the door (for you know, a romantic midnight swim) in her dreary apartment lit only by nostalgic movie theater marquees all the while with the same dumbimages (2)founded expression on her kisser, Octavia Spencer’s sidekick existed as a stereotype of a Black woman who chatters endlessly about her no-good husband and Michael Shannon reprises his trademark role as the vicious Trumpian villain. Ah well, gotta love the nostalgia and simplistic symbolism.

The headache inducing winner of the eye-roll contest was the Last of the Jedi, here’s hoping it’s the last of the Star Wars resurrections. Let’s remember the originals with fondness like you do old friends before they revealed they liked The Shape of Whatever That Was.

Here’s to not nominating any more beautiful films like Call Me By Your Name except of course for the cinematography, each frame a picture to behold, that is until you begin to worry this movie might never end and you have to use the restroom sometime. It was sort of s backlash to last year’s winner, no, not LaLa Land but Moonlight, that beautiful coming-of-age film set in Florida about a young man who had nothing and was loved download (4)by almost no one but which was able to maintain that quality of wonder that Call Me sought to depict.

Even as a middle class, reasonably well-traveled white woman, I could identify with very little about this wealthy, multi-lingual family vacationing at their summer villa in Italy while their young son develops a hot romance with a beautiful older man. I got the scenes of sweltering summer sexuality-when the search for romance and sex were all that counted. I just couldn’t relate to long scenes of cigarettes being inhaled while gently ordering the housekeeper to prepare dinner a little earlier this evening, thank you. a422c8840d719bae599ef170f27a6c4dd6491b1091fc20e9ae7c7e22b093ff99-195x195.jpg

Since filmmakers so often replay the same stories, why not suggest some that haven’t been told. Here’s one of mine: The Warmth of Other Suns, the Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, tells three in depth and true tales out of the millions of Black people who found their way north and west during the period between the two World Wars and beyond. The stories are as heartbreaking as they are inspiring and  worth telling. Just one would make an epic film about the struggle for the American Dream. It would be hard not to make it entertaining and thought provoking and what else could a movie goer want?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join the Friday Vigil at the Federal Building-We Refuse to Tolerate Ethnic Cleansing

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Press Advisory

Federal Building Vigil this Friday–We Refuse to Tolerate Ethnic Cleansing

Oakland, CA: On Friday, January 19th at noon the California Sanctuary Campaign, the Alameda County Immigration Legal & Education Partnership, Mujeres Activas Y Unidas, the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, CAIR-SF Bay Area, Haiti Action Committee, the Qal’bu Maryam Women’s Mosque, Haiti Emergency Relief Fund, the Oakland Justice Coalition, Latino Task Force, Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, the East Bay Young Dems, and the Coalition for Police Accountability will come together in front of the Oakland Federal Building to stand vigil against current White House policies which directly threaten the lives of people of color in this country and abroad.

According to Rev J Alfred Smith Jr of Allen Temple Baptist Church, “the president’s stated policies and actions will promote the ethnic cleansing of whole swaths of Black and Brown people whether native born, immigrant or refugee, seeking opportunity and the ability to raise their families in dignity. The president repeatedly makes racist and misogynistic statements which result in directives from his DOJ and the Congress while families are separated by federal authorities, children are left without healthcare, jails fill with our youth, and refugees are refused asylum.  We must take a moral stand against the president and his party before these destructive attitudes and actions do any more damage.”

The vigil is being held the day prior to the historic Women’s March which will take place in cities and towns across the country to assert that women’s rights are human rights. The vigil calls attention to the special jeopardy that women of color face as a result of current policies which threaten not only their economic well-being but their safety in the streets, at their workplaces, and in their homes.

We call on other cities to protest outside local federal buildings at noon on Friday, January 19th. If we cannot look to our president or the Congress to uphold the moral authority of our country’s stated values, then we must do it ourselves.

Contact: Pamela Drake, pamelaadrake@gmail.com, 510-593-3721

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Oprah & My Endorsement for the 15th AD Primary

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There are nine candidates running to replace Tony Thurmond, current Assemblyman of the North Oakland/Berkeley/Richmond District in the state assembly since he has decided to run for State Superintendent of Schools rather than continue in the Assembly.

Most of these candidates are not household names, although it may be argued that most assembly reps are fairly unknown even to their constituents. Go on–ask the next 4 people you meet who their state rep is, either assembly or state senate. I’ll bet if 1 in 4 can name them, your friends can be classified as political activists.

#Oprah2020

Most folks can tell you that Oprah may (or may not) be considering a run against Trump or Pence or Ryan or Hatch or Tillerson or the monster from the Upside Down… Liberal women and many men are excited at the prospect of an actual self-made billionaire who is also a Black woman that white women might actually switch racist allegiances for while my lefty friends are freaking out over another celebrity presidency. Lighten up folks, it was just one speech, one heart melting, tear inducing vision of justice and compassion and a way forward out of despair…sigh. Anyway, I only brought it up to trick you into reading this blog.

The Nameless Faceless Masses…

For the 15th AD are in no particular order, really, none:

 

Among these I’d give Buffy, Dan, Jovanka and Judy top mentions as the candidates most likely to succeed– and I bet you never heard of Buffy but that’s how big time endorsements and piles of cash work. Two of these hopefuls have to get through the June primary after which they will run against each other in November for the spot in Sacramento.

I have my faves but I still need to see a little more from these folks to make my decision, as much as my decision matters, unless it can help  you make yours. But first you have to know my criteria. Here some of them are—

Costa Hawkins Repeal or will you support cities being able to protect renters?

That’s the gist of a 1995 law that outlawed local municipalities being able to enact renter protections on single family homes and units built since at least 1995 which also allows vacancy decontrol-where the landlord pushes you out so they can raise the rent. A huge percentage of renters in Oakland are threatened with displacement daily based on this law.

Assembly Members Bonta [hint:many of my readers may live in his district https://a18.asmdc.org/district-map] and Chiu are sponsoring the repeal of this regressive law. It doesn’t mean protections will then be enacted but it no longer prevents them from becoming law.

Hearing in Sac on Thursday

So if you want my undying love and maybe even my endorsement-which translates to a vote in the local Democratic Party-show up for the hearing, this Thursday, January 11th, 9 am at the State Capitol, maybe even speak in favor but the least you can do is endorse it, AB 1506.

Beyond renter protections what additional ways/revenues will you propose to increase all levels of affordable housing? This is an issue of desperate importance to most Bay Area folks and probably to most Californians. so be prepared with solutions.

Make it Fair California/ Close the Corporate Loophole, etc

These have been the names/branding of the movement to reform Prop 13 which ended up benefiting corporations more than homeowners and shrinking the budget for schools and roads, etc, permanently.

“Make It Fair closes the $9 billion commercial property tax loophole by assessing under-valued commercial properties at their actual value. This creates a level playing field among businesses and ends the unfair advantage given to big corporations. Make It Fair guarantees Prop 13 remains in effect with no changes for homeowners, residential renters and farmers. This is only about changing the commercial property tax loophole.”

http://makeitfairca.com

You gotta support it and tell me how you’re going to help it pass-requiring  a ballot measure-since it could result in at least $9 billion added to the state treasury. Given the new GOP tax law that will really hurt California, this is more important than ever.

Criminal Justice Reform-Who’s watching the “Protect & Serve” Crowd

It’s time to repeal the Copley Decision in which “the court ruled that police disciplinary hearings are closed — and the public has no right to learn about allegations of police misconduct, even when they are aired in a civil service commission.” Rather than lead as we have done in other policy areas, California has lagged behind most other states since 2006 in our ability to police the police.

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/politics/sdut-sweeping-impact-copley-decision-significance-2015may30-story.html

The Copley Decision has not even gotten a fair hearing by legislators as they are afraid to challenge police unions on the basic rights of the policed, especially the overpoliced. Will you stand up to this special interest group?

Ferguson Report & California

I have seen a willingness of the current legislature to reform the kind of punitive measures that the DOJ’s Ferguson Report documents, “The city’s practices are shaped by revenue rather than by public safety needs.” 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2015/03/04/the-12-key-highlights-from-the-dojs-scathing-ferguson-report/?utm_term=.6cba763c5086

But we still use revenue enhancement to guide criminal justice laws in our state and local governments rather than making the criminal code less punitive to poor people where the infraction is less a public safety threat than a bureaucratic means to filling government coffers. And that reminds me, will you vote to end money bail as proposed in SB 10, https://www.aclunc.org/article/california-money-bail-reform-act-2017. It didn’t make it through the last legislative session so may come back with a new number designation but please tell me you can vote for it or campaign for it right now?

Healthcare for All is more than voting for SB 562

If you’ve read the controversy on the stalled California healthcare overhaul, you might agree that it’s a multi step process and may have to be carried out in increments rather than one fell swoop. Our system is a hodgepodge, some of which works for a segment of the population, much of which leaves large swaths out. But we know from the first years of Obamacare that confusion breeds fear and we need as smooth a transition to full coverage as we can get.

So tell me how you will attack that need and what steps might see us through to our ultimate goal of healthcare for all? I really don’t want to hear simplistic notions of an easy answer to please the crowd. I wanna know you understand some of the complexities of switching out of private, federal and state coverage without leaving folks behind. It is doable so how will you do it?

https://www.thenation.com/article/medicare-for-all-isnt-the-solution-for-universal-health-care/

https://draketalkoakland.com/2017/07/04/has-sb-562-actually-moved-universal-healthcare-forward/

You may be tired of reading cause you are running a campaign, dialing for dollars, hiring consultants, filling out lengthy questionnaires, and finding someone to go out for your dry cleaning so I’ll list some of my other “demands” just in case you care:

Full support for SB 100 and a return to local control in regulating air pollution from refineries, transparency for charter schools with a goal of ending the privatization of our public school system, a return to the Higher Ed Master Plan, a way to end any kind of support for private prisons, a bill of rights for immigration detainees, sigh, so much more. Now tell me your priorities…

Yours,

Pamela A Drake, local Democrat  download (9)

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This is Recy Taylor, if you don’t know who she was, google her.

 

This Week in Resistance from Oakland to Sacramento

Starting with Friday, January 5th, we have a very busy activist week coming up–important stuff from sanctuary to rent control, coal to electoral organizing, it’s all happening from the Bay Area to Sacramento. Get your walking shoes on, hop on BART or Amtrak, you are needed.  images

Friday, the 5th [from the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant]3 pm at the San Francisco Federal Building, 90 – 7th Street

Rally to Save Temporary Protected Status for Immigrants

“The Trump administration is threatening to remove Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from Salvadorans, Hondurans, Nicaraguans, Syrians, and Haitians and send them back to situations of life-threatening violence.  Many came to the United States because of former wars and natural disasters and have been here for years, and for some, even decades. Removing Temporary Protected Status will put hundreds of thousands of people at risk of deportation. Sending them back to countries where there are ongoing conflicts or economic instability is a human rights disaster.” haitians

Bay Area Coalition to Save TPS-
For further information, contact CISPES at 415-503-0789 or bayarea@cispes.org   

Saturday, January 6th, OJC, 10 am, at the ACCE Office, 2501 International Blvd, Oakland Electoral Organizing for 2018-

The Oakland Justice Coalition is calling progressives together to strategize for the upcoming elections this fall when the mayor’s office in addition to city council and school board seats in Districts 2, 4 and 6 will be up and some challengers are already running. “Our elected officials do not deserve a free ride in 2018. Who is ready to step up?”    25594003_10159734810420150_3593693008047131124_n

 

Tuesday, January 9th, Oakland City Hall, Council Chambers, 6 to 9 pm

Deport Ice– The Public Safety Committee of the Oakland City Council will consider a Resolution by CMs Kaplan and Brooks to prevent OPD from assisting ICE in deportation raids such as happened on August 16th 2017.  images (8)

The resolution had been postponed during the December Workers’ Strike and after the City Council prevented the Public Safety Committee from hearing the issue in November.

https://www.facebook.com/events/758631214332796/

Wednesday, January 10, SF Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate, 8:30 am

“Join No Coal in Oakland on January 10 at a crucial hearing that could put an end to developer Phil Tagami’s lawsuit against the City of Oakland. NCIO-150x150

Rally outside the courtroom at 8:30 am (but come even earlier to make sure you can get a seat inside the courtroom if you want to attend).”

Wednesday evening, 6:30 pm in City Council Chambers, 3rd meeting of the Oakland Police Commission

The new police commission is still getting its sea legs and is not yet staffed. Members of the Coalition for Police Accountability have been present at each meeting and the commissioners claim to have learned more about their mission and its implementation from them, audience members, than the city administration. We’re all beginning to wonder if the current administration is up to working with citizen groups like this and others like the Soda Tax Advisory Board.

 https://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/oakland-has-yet-to-spend-soda-tax-funds/Content?oid=11372565

Check https://www.coallitionforpoliceaccountability.com for more info on police commision meetings.

Thursday, January 11th, Rally Against Costa Hawkins, in Sacramento [from Tenants Together] http://wellstoneclub.org/rent-control-for-all-repeal-costa-hawkins/

“A first vote on the bill to to repeal the state restriction on rent control – the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act – AB1506 – is scheduled! This was hard fought. Housing justice groups across the state have been pressuring Housing committee chair Assemblymember Chiu, lead author Assemblymember Bloom, and Assembly Speaker Rendon to bring this to a vote.

Meet us in Sacramento at the state capitol on Wednesday January 11th at 8:30am in State Capitol, Room 4202 at the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee meeting. It’s important to get their before early so we can get seats in the hearing room. Stay tuned for lobby days prior to the vote!”

https://www.facebook.com/events/161315931153430/

Women’s March Redux, , Saturday, January 20th in Oakland and other cities around the country-

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https://www.facebook.com/womensmarchoak/

Stop circling the Firing Squad!  

All this great stuff, progressive change and signs of resistance should energize us but we have more enemies than Trump and the GOP or the moderate Dems, we have ourselves as Pogo once said, and we’re a tough audience.  images

We are losing KPFA–the only listener sponsored radio, no Kochs, no commercials a la NPR–founded in 1949, then developed into a network called Pacifica which now has 5 stations including our successful one in Berkeley. But the wolf is at the door of WBAI in New York due to their own incompetence masquerading as ultra left purity, and because they are clueless and see conspiracies where there is actual failure, they have led the wolf directly to the door of KPFA too. It is probably too late for us to rectify this situation and because so many listeners have heard the cry of the wolf too many times, they may no longer care but this is a grave loss. And it is ours to own, not the Right’s, more’s the horror and the pity.

Then on a smaller scale, a brilliant and witty progressive senator has been taken down by our own Democratic women andd many of us are left wondering which of the charges brought against former Senator Al Franken were actually valid and how serious were they anyway?? His name is now mentioned in the same sentence as accused pedophile Roy Moore and serial abuser Harvey Weinstein!

How did we let that happen without any type of investigation of the incidents or analysis of how to handle them? And BTW, let’s retire the term zero tolerance or let’s admit that it also means zero nuance, zero thought and no tolerance at all for mistakes.

Ok, enough criticism-self-criticism, onto the fights at hand but don’t forget how easily we become our own enemies, no more nose spiting or cutting off or whatever, we can’t spare the blood-we no longer have the bandages. We’ve got a civilization to save and hopefully improve.

Let us know what you are willing to help, drive a carpool, sign up to speak at a meeting, make a phone call, carry a sign in the next march or all of the above?

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Media Advisory: Oakland Holds 1st Police Commission Meeting since passage of Measure LL

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City of Oakland Holds Inaugural Police Commission Meeting

Oakland, CA.-On Wednesday, December 13 at 6:30 pm in the City Council Chambers, the Oakland Police Commission will hold its inaugural meeting and the Commissioners, picked by an innovative process, a Selection Committee drawn from the community, who in turn nominated four of the Commissioners with three chosen by the Mayor directly, will elect a chair and vice chair and begin setting procedures and time tables including developing unique procedures toward implementing police oversight and reform.

Members of the Coalition for Police Accountability, consisting of almost thirty organizations, will be on hand to celebrate the electoral victory and to ensure that the new board is able to provide the oversight that the voters demanded when they said yes to Measure LL by an astounding 83%.

The Reverend George Cummings of the Imani Community Church in East Oakland and Executive Director of Oakland Community Organizations said this about today’s momentous event, “The establishment of a Police Commission in the city of Oakland, after so many years, sends a powerful message to the Oakland Police Department, that its residents are prepared to act to ensure that fair and just procedures are followed by those who have been tasked with providing for the safety of our city.

In addition, the Coalition for Police Accountability has demonstrated that the people can be agents of change, and ultimately, must define what ” law enforcement ” means for us. Oakland Community Organizations is honored to be a part of a coalition that was successful in creating a pathway for residents to participate in the oversight of law enforcement services in Oakland.”

file:///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/Police%20Commission%20Meeting%20Agenda%2012.13.17.pdf

Contact Rashidah Grinage, 510-306-0253 or Pamela Drake, 510-593-3721

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Tell the Oakland City Council-Time for a Fair Contract!

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Oakland City workers are headed into a 5th day of a strike for a fair contract; a contract that includes wages that keep up with the cost of living and working conditions that don’t threaten their health. The city acknowledges its revenues have gone up and that these workers gave back and lost considerable ground during the Great Recession but claims it can only afford small wage increases at this time. Where did the increased revenues go?

How did the Police Department Budget Grow so Fast?

Beyond three new departments with well paid directors under this mayor plus a plumped up staff in her office, last December the council voted, with the exception of Brooks and Kaplan, to accept a grant from the Obama led DOJ for a little less than $2 million which in turn required the city to commit more than $10 million in taxpayer funds-outside of the 2 year budget process. Add that to OPD’s unauthorized overtime costs and we can see how easily increased revenues disappear before the average city worker’s needs are even considered.

But there are more issues being discussed than just pay and in fact, the city and the unions had agreed to wage increases in the first year of the contract. However, the city made second year wages dependent on revenues, which may seem reasonable until you account for the administration’s, like all administrations, ability to hide revenues or to slide them under the table to the police department.

Beyond Wages

The unions have been in negotiations for 8 months without a serious contract offer, there’s been a spike since the Great Recession in maintaining employees permanently as temporary part time workers, and that working conditions have deteriorated in understaffed departments with massive new demands such as attending to homeless encampments and the health and safety risks involved. These all add up.

But the biggie is the attitude of this administration despite the face that Oakland “cheer leaders” show outside the negotiating room. When the mayor declares that your walkout is illegal, “She said the city would file a labor complaint if workers walk off the job. But leaders for Service Employees International Union Local 1021 dismissed Schaaf’s concerns.

“The mayor is incorrect,” said Rob Szykowny, Local 1021’s chief negotiator. “It’s an unfair labor practices strike, which is lawful, protected activity.”   http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Labor-negotiations-end-Oakland-workers-prepare-12404995.php

When the poorest workers like Head Start employees, many of whom have had to move out of Oakland to afford rent, were moved to strike weeks before Christmas in hopes of pushing the city to see the seriousness of the their situation, should the city response be to increase the distrust?

Negotiation in Good Faith?

Last Wednesday when the city council met in closed session to consider the union’s proposal, it was hoped that a settlement would be reached that day but the council was split and the strike entered a 3rd day.  When on Thursday afternoon the mayor offered her “last best final offer” which included a “slight tweak” from the previous offer, the unions had expected that negotiations would continue into the night as so often happens in these dire situations-but that’s not what happened.

According to Kimberly Veklerov at the Chronicle, “Union leaders said they were working on crafting a counteroffer late Thursday. They asked the city’s negotiators to stay on call through the evening.

“We actually thought they were going to come in and we were going to talk all night if necessary to reach a compromise, and they just gave us the end,” Szykowny said. “It seems the city has just decided to be intransigent and try to beat the union down, and that is not going to happen.”

Mayor Libby Schaaf seemed to dismiss the union’s counteroffer, saying just before 10 p.m. the city would accept nothing less than a yes.” http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Negotiations-in-Oakland-worker-strike-end-without-12414230.php

As of today, Sunday, December 10th, ” City leaders said they expect the strike to continue Sunday, Monday and “until further notice.” http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2017/12/09/city-of-oakland-unions-agree-to-mediation-but-strike-continues/

The mayor declared an impasse on Friday morning and threw the city into a deeper divide and long term disaffection between the city and its workers. Although the strike may end sometime next week and a contract will eventually be signed, the attitude of city leadership, the mayor and the city council, shows an inability to bargain well and little interest in what the lowest level employees need to continue to live in and work for the city many grew up in.  20171206_172445

Some council members have been admittedly more interested in coming to agreement, In statements Rebecca Kaplan, Noel Gallo and Desley Brooks have made it clear they are willing to work on solving this fairly. All the other council members have been what one union rep called “squishy.” If you are represented by one of these other council members, call or email them today!

And here I have to get personal. I was one of the committee members who worked with the city council to put a proposal on last year’s ballot establishing a police commission, a body which, ironically, is set to meet for the first time [it was approved by 83% of the voters]on December 13th [if the strike is settled.]

Three of us sat in meeting after meeting with Council Members Dan Kalb and Noel Gallo thrashing out the details of what we all knew was going to be ground breaking legislation. We had almost reached agreement on most of the important items when we got word from the 2 CMs that Mayor Schaaf wanted to change the innovative structure the coalition designed of using a selection committee, picked from the community, to search out commissioners who would then be another step removed from political influence.

We had been warned that she would not agree to putting it on the ballot unless she had one or two direct appointments to the commission which will have the power to implement discipline over our officers. We argued and fought for a less political process and then we got the word, she would accept no less than 3 appointments out of 7 and it was non-negotiable. As you may know, ultimately we had to agree to this change but it left such a sour taste in my mouth, I could barely speak in favor of it at the time.

[Though our coalition victory was huge, we are setting up a committee to “oversee the oversight board” and make sure that the voters who demanded change get what they fought for.] Now, of course, the mayor doesn’t get to write legislation, that’s up to the council but we knew we wouldn’t have the votes we needed if she had objected and she was clear, her point of view was non-negotiable.

A mayor who does not understand that compromise is the essence of the political process is not only not a good politician, she is not really engaged in politics but in dictating terms which she believes are best for the rest of us.  Her demand that “yes,” is the only answer she’ll accept after which the administration discontinues talks is setting up for Armageddon.

We are in for tough times as it is when our federal government is opposed to the well-being of most Californians (and most Americans) but it seems under this administration our city has taken the same tack to its own workers and dirtied, possibly poisoned the waters we have to navigate in for many years to come. 20171206_172337

Oh and by the way, for all those who read this and say, city services are horrible so who cares, prove it to me! I have worked with our public union members as a council aide and as director of a retail district and almost always found them willing to help when presented with a reasonable request. I honor them as sister and brother Oaklanders who care about our city and do what they can to make it better despite being understaffed and disrespected.

Call Your Council Member, Call the Mayor!

Oaklanders, in the spirit of the season, demand that Mayor Schaaf and your council members-you have 2, a district rep and the at-large member-get this settled fairly and do it now! www2.oaklandnet.com

 

 

Progressive Women and the Franken Divide

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Senator Al Franken has resigned – and it could be argued that he had lost his powerful voice anyway after so many allegations of groping had come out. But another argument could be made that by admitting he had made mistakes [although he denied the latest allegations] and submitting himself to criticism and formal investigation, he gave his power away in order to keep the high moral ground that Democrats are now claiming.

It’s a Wonderful Life, Ted Kennedy Version-

Reflecting on Franken, undisputably a (former) rising star in the progressive wing of the party, brought to mind another progressive political leader, one much more flawed than Franken.

What if Ted Kennedy had never lived or been removed early in his career due to his serious transgressions? Would the Affordable Care Act have become law, would the WIC https://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/women-infants-and-children-wic program have gotten passed? Would SCHIP  https://www.gohealthinsurance.com/health-insurance-information/what-is-schip.html have given poor kids medical coverage, coverage now revoked by this sickening adminstration? And going all the way back to the beginning of Kennedy’s career, would the 1964 Civil Rights Act ever have gotten through a recalcitrant senate?

I thought about this recently when an acquaintance tweeted that Kennedy had been (partly) responsible for his opportunity to become an American after leaving Vietnam on a leaky boat. He had cosponsored The Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act in 1975 and according to Wikipedia [please donate] “Senator Edward Kennedy and Representative Liz Holtzman were the leaders of the refugee advocacy community, and the first supporters of the 1975 Act. They were backed by labor groups like the AFL-CIO and religious services, including the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and Church World Service. Their goals to redefine the legal notions of “refugee status” and attain a more comprehensive amnesty policy were not realized until the Refugee Act of 1980.[8

Would we be enjoying the benefits these Southeast Asian families have brought to our shores and would they have survived at all? It’s not an academic exercise and it’s not pretty having to dissect how things work in the real world but I think we need to do it.

Senator Kennedy left us 8 years ago, but  we should remind ourselves that Mary Jo Kopechne lost her life at 29-years-of-age, 38 years ago when she drowned or suffocated in the waters off Chappaquiddick. The young senator had driven off a bridge, had left her in the sunken car and simply forgot to report this “incident.” Was Edward M Kennedy, Liberal Lion of the Senate, the guy who endorsed President Obama early on and made healthcare-for-all his lifetime goal, also a monster who drank to excess and treated women like toys? I think he was both and I don’t know what to do about that.

And let’s not forget that Ted’s older brother, the legendary Jack Kennedy of Camelot fame, cavorted with gangsters-who may have won him the presidency-and used women like tissues so let’s be real about our heroes. I’m not interested in a discussion over whether the history books should be rewritten but whether we have thought out how we move forward– and what the consequences are in this time and place of our actions or inactions. Have we had that conversation? Can we have it, do we even know how?

It’s still a boys’s club and the boys who are in charge now are quite willing to watch as we demand more from each other while they get away with murder or at least child molestation: 

Robert Reich put it succinctly, “I’m glad Democrats are taking principled stands against sexual harassment but sickened by Trump’s and Republicans unwillingness to do the same. Tyranny beckons when the principled fall on their swords while the unprincipled keep theirs.

The decision to push Franken out has been portrayed as a purely moral one but its underside is that there is also a political calculus that somehow expelling Al would also remove some road blocks to throwing out Trump or future Senator Moore. I dunno, can you see that working?

It seems to me that we are in a war, maybe not a shooting one but that’s only because actual bullets are not needed for Republicans to get their way. Without a shot being fired, they have impoverished millions by eliminating the medical care offered by the ACA and soon Medicare, plan on reducing or even ending Social Security, are removing environmental protections, including cutting parks and monuments, have already passed laws promoting gun slinging, reduced the courts to a mediocre weapon of their far right ideology and more…. every day. They are courting nuclear war and terrorism while torpedoing hope during the worst refugee crisis in the history of the world. They are on a path not to take us back to the 1950’s but to something like the Age of Inquisition. kn120817dAPR20171206094507 (1)

It’s possible that the GOP or the Bannonites constructed most,  though probably not all, of the allegations against Franken who they saw as a rising general on our side of this war. He had the wit and intelligence to fight for us without starting an actual civil war as he knew something else too, how to reach across the aisle without conceding a bit of his progressive goals. Since he resigned on Thursday, I have read social media responses from many, many women who were opposed to Franken’s resignation [not a formal survey.] And we know that most women have experienced some form of harassment at work and of course, in the street so their responses don’t seem based on a lack of experience.

So here are some examples of the divide, without identities or any accounting of age or ethnicity:

From twitter: “I understand the politics behind this, but it makes me uneasy. The allegations against Franken are comparatively benign and largely unvetted.#GOP will not follow suit and the precedent this sets could easily be weaponized. https://t.co/FxKS4bJfax

Responses to this tweet- “At this point, I am very, very angry at the Democrats for turning on Al Franken this way, when the evidence against him is so weak, what he is alleged to have done is so minimal (compared to men who actively pursue women who have already said “no” and who have economic or other power over those women) and the Republicans have every reason to want him gone. I am almost never a believer in conspiracies, but the allegations against Franken just don’t pass the smell test.”

I am so, so happy to read what you all have to say. I thought I might be the only activist woman feeling uneasy about this. Seems like he should get “due process” at least.”

Reacting to a tweet from Senator Gillibrand, one among many:

“Women allowing themselves to be used by an opposing & anti-women political party to oust a man, who is on the right side of women’s issues, based on claims that were largely unsubstantiated while not calling for ouster of a white supremacist ADMITTED SEXUAL PREDATOR in WH

 

“I disagree about Franken for a couple reasons. First his case provides an opportunity for us to have some discourse regarding cultural norms that the majority on some level participated in. Particularly in the name of ‘comedy’. 1/. His case can also help us nationally discuss what constitutes ‘credible’ accounts. Through this we can dispel ‘witch hunt’ labels. We need men to participate in this evolution. I believe we can only get there through VERY PUBLIC discourse. 2/”

“As popular as SNL was,/is I’m guess that a number of the Dems clutching their pearls now over Franken laughed like crazy at SNL in years past. Total double standard and no nuance to the thinking. And the whole scenario of losing Franken, who is so articulate and fearless, undoubtedly has Rs licking their chops and looking for the next victim (you can be sure it won’t be one of theirs).”

“I wish Franklin hadn’t resigned and let the process play out through the ethics committee while Demo-women in congress called for Trump’s resignation A.S.A.P.”

      “If someone I didn’t like tried to kiss me I’d remove myself or push him away. Since when is a kiss or a pat on the rear as reprehensible as assaulting a child? Yes I am glad that sexual harassment has come to forefront but what is being done to Franken is above and beyond and he doesn’t deserve this.”
And responses supporting the resignation of Franken:
     “We may not know what it’s like to work with Franken and this is about his colleagues and their ability to do work. Women have to go around continually allowing different layers of male toxicity, or attitudes to prevail. Maybe the super smart Senators, who I respect deeply had some information, or put their minds together and saw it was important, so I back them!”
     “I will hope that sacrifice will lead to an honorable change in the future. I could be wrong and darkness will prevail, but in these times of darkness, I want more valor. Idealistic I suppose, but I can’t be cynical or I will wither.”
     “Those 21 Democratic women Senators who called for his resignation aren’t stupid, they’re strategic. There is a Dem governor in Minnesota who will appoint an interim. And we have a deep bench in MN, e.g. Keith Ellison and several excellent women. I understand they are trying to brand us as The Party of Zero Tolerance–from racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-immigration. We need to stand for something. We have to differentiate ourselves from the other guys. We have to clean our house and be different. Imitating them has never, ever been good for us.”
Who Will the Governor Appoint and why didn’t we ask this first?
But now from this article I learned that the governor of Minnesota may not be looking for a Franken replacement but just a place holder which may open the seat to the GOP, “Now Gov. Mark Dayton is throwing a wrench in the works by evidently appointing a caretaker on the condition she not seek to keep the seat, which opens the seat up to the real possibility of Republican capture in 2018 (maybe by Norm Coleman, the Republican Franken defeated in 2008).”

So this blog is getting a bit long, yet I just have to ask you to think about the concept of zero tolerance. Isn’t just the phrase a tip-off to our inability to look at complex issues and respond according to each situation?  Zero tolerance for weapons at schools got little boys and some girls arrested for having toy guns in their  backpacks. [perphttps://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/School-Defends-Actions-Over-10-Year-Old-With-Toy-Gun-197748851.htmletrators] .

Zero tolerance has criminalized young men who had consensual relationships with girls in their age peer group but just under the age of consent. Funny thing, these often turn out to be Black youth and the book is thrown at them. Shouldn’t punishment fit the “crime?”

Back at the OK Corral, i.e. Washington DC, the folks who are restructuring our economy for the 1% of the 1%, eliminating our remaining rights and gifting our country to oligarchs continue on. Many of us may not survive their onslaught. But, you know, we took the high road…maybe, just maybe, it will slow our descent into hell.

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The Upside Down, Welcome to Oakland

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If you haven’t heard of the series, Stranger Things, you’re missing out but you can attend Oakland City Council meetings, no subscription required, and find yourself in another dimension – The Upside Down- in which one thing may mean its opposite but not always…..there often is no logical explanation for how our city plays fast and loose with their stated goals and even their lawful resolutions. But don’t worry, unlike the evil critters in Stranger Things, they don’t mean anything by it.

Item 7.13 Oak Knoll final Vote

On the agenda tonight are some interesting discussions/votes. The City Council will finally dispense with the Oak Knoll property, a large parcel of formerly publicly owned land that the city managed to lose long ago. They had one final chance to make it work for more than the 2% of Oaklanders (that’s a generous estimate) who got their way. But no, with a vote of 5 to 3-Kalb, Guillen, and Gallo voting no- they are sending it to the cheerful world of wealthy Nimbiism. Never forget-not one unit of affordable housing will be built in this project.

Item 17–Stop ICE Complicity

Please sign up to speak or just listen to the mind boggling excuses our Chief of Police, Anne Kirkpatrick, has given that allowed OPD to assist ICE and Homeland Security Investigations while they arrested a Guatemalan refugee last August. He awaits deportation hearings now as a result of this activity.

Here’s an op-ed Seven Days” Robert Gammon in the East Bay Express:

https://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/why-oakland-should-cut-off-ice/Content?oid=11028169

In the agenda packet for tonight, you can view this report from the city administrator which contains a copy of one of the council’s resolutions against assisting ICE in civil investigations or apprehensions. Civil in this case means, immigration laws rather than criminal, which means the person or persons may be engaged in criminal activities that have nothing to do with immigration violations-got it?

“Further Resolved: That, in accordance with state and federal laws, City employees
including members of the Oakland Police Department shall not enforce federal civil
immigration laws and shall not use city monies, resources, or personnel to investigate, question, detect or apprehend persons whose only violation is or may be a civil violation of immigration law; and be it
Further Resolved: That, in accordance with state and federal laws, the Oakland Police
Department will continue to cooperate with federal immigration agencies in matters involving criminal activity and the protection of public safety:”   

Also from the city administrator’s report:
OPD has fully complied with all City of Oakland resolutions concerning the status of Oakland as a sanctuary city in immigration actions. Two of the three relevant resolutions prohibit city departments and employees from assisting or cooperating with ICE (formerly INS, Immigration and Naturalization Service) in relation to civil provisions of immigration law. The two more recent relevant resolutions both specifically state that OPD “will continue to cooperate with federal immigration agencies in matters involving criminal activity and the protection of public safety.”

Since the city can aid in the investigation of criminal activity, did ICE and/or HSI lie to the police chief  and if so, why would she not admit she had made a mistake in believing them or had not read the charge or did she go ahead anyway because…well.. the language of sanctuary is riddled with loopholes and she used one. However, the majority of Oaklanders have been pretty clear that they don’t want to be complicit in criminalizing refugees or terrorizing our hard working immigrant communities.

This is What OPD is offering as a Fix:

In order to provide greater transparency in operations with ICE, OPD will modify its
immigration policy to include the following language:
As a follow up to all cooperation OPD provides to ICE in criminal investigations,
the Department will publish an after-action report on its website within 15 days of
the operation. The public report will include:
• The date, time, and unit-block location of the operation
• The number and cost of OPD personnel involved”

It’s pretty easy to pass ordinances that say we won’t hire firms who help build the border wall but, it turns out to be much harder to really provide sanctuary to our otherwise law-abiding immigrant community. That doesn’t mean that socially conscious Oaklanders won’t continue to push the envelope and demand accountability on this and other forms of tangible resistance to our rogue government in Washingtion DC.

Come out tonight and again on December 5th to the Public Safety Committee Meeting if you want to continue closing those loopholes or, as they say in Stranger Things, closing the gate to the Upside Downimages (9)

Oakland Goes Through the Looking Glass Again-the Oak Knoll Decision

“’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves   Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,  And the mome raths outgrabe.”

Vintage Alice In Wonderland Clip Art 29

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party reconvened at the Oakland City Council last Tuesday, the 7th, where the non binary Queen of Hearts magically made a huge swath of our city [187 acres] disappear, the Oak Knoll project, an exclusive community near Toler Heights in the East Oakland hills. [“the Oakland City Council on Tuesday evening ended the long wait over the site’s fate by voting to approve the construction of 918 townhomes and houses at the former military hospital above Interstate 580. The project will represent one of the largest developments in the city recent years, in terms of acreage.” http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/11/08/after-long-wait-massive-oak-knoll-housing-project-approved/ ]

Oak Knoll which started out as the “original community benefits” project as designated by the federal government-a mix of housing, expanded retail, and open space available to all-has been redesigned into Neverland, a dystopian version of Glocca Morra—from the musical Finian’s Rainbow, a place where time stands still and folks do things the old fashioned way and where, of course, there are no tent cities, troubled youth or parks in which  families of many colors picnic together. [“You’ll never grow old and you’ll never grow poor if you look to the rainbow beyond the next moor.”]

The project was signed, sealed and delivered to Suncal, a giant developer who had already left a bad taste in another local community’s mouth but has a clear view of the pot of gold in the Oakland hills.

Back in 1992 when I was a staffer to an Oakland Council Member and Larry Reid was chief of staff to Elihu Harris, the Navy which owned the land and used it for a military hospital and officers’ club, decided to unload it. The city of Oakland got first dibs but almost blew it, in fact did just that for a number of years, because the federal government had stipulated conditions for its conveyance to local jurisdictions that included a variety of community uses that would benefit not just those who lived in the surrounding area but some less fortunate neighbors in other parts of our city.

But the folks who live in those lovely, isolated hills were not about to let the hoi polloi, the more proletarian segments of our community, know what a good thing they had. And so began the fight to prevent every possible usage that would benefit anyone beyond their imaginary gates.

They fought against allowing any level of subsidized housing including at the top level of affordability so that a family with an income of $120k will not be qualified for one of the 918 homes being built there. They killed a day center serving traumatized foster kids and expanded retail and a park that bordered 580. However, the new homeowners can count on holding their meetings in part of the old officers’ club, we’re happy to note.

And they won-through lawsuits, a cowardly city council [“Why, they’re only a pack of cards, after all. I needn’t be afraid of them!”, said Alice] the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the resurgence of predatory capital. They persisted in pursuit of the narrowest definition of community.

On Tuesday night amid a packed agenda, city council chambers, and competitive signs– different segments of the labor movement were successfully pitted against one another–while the Mad Hatter bounced from council seat to council seat, they won. There will be no labor agreement for the building trades, prompting one East Oakland resident to note that this will be an exclusive project built for the wealthy by workers making $16 an hour.

The Chesire Cat from District 3 smiled and explained away everyone’s pain while voting  to turn over the keys of the kingdom to the white knights of Glocca Mora. CMs Guillen and Gallo tried to postpone the giving of the gifts til a later tea party, but the Queen, once again portrayed ably by Larry Reid, shouted “Off with their heads” at less senior colleagues Guillen and Gallo. Dan Kalb declared the whole project “not ready for prime time,” a phrase that leaves anyone under 50 scratching their heads and nearly drove the Queen to apoplexy as he tried to come up with ever more ridiculous insults.

Finally the Queen, I mean the Council President, realized he had won by garnering the alice_tenn_croquetqueen_100votes of the two most progressive CMs, leaving the rest of us scratching our heads….who declared the scheme agreeable to all after promising to disappear along with all the gifts stacked around the council’s table. Most of the partiers made sure to pay homage to the Council Queen and his years long struggle to protect the denizens of the original Glocca Morra from….the rest of us.

There were some heroes who organized and fought the good fight and may find relief elsewhere should anyone decide to take it to the courts. Just a few of them, with my apologies to the scores of able speakers, Karolyn Wong of the East Oakland Collective, Angie Tam of the Congress of Neighborhoods, members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers http://www.ibew595.org/  and other reps of the Building Trades Council, and of course, James Vann, the conscience of our community.

I’ll leave you with some choice tweets and a few old newspaper column inches (remember them?) on the sordid history of this huge parcel of once public land. Don’t blink or you’ll miss the chance to find this special place but I’ve been assured that the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, the Knaves, and of course, the Queen of Hearts will perform in this space again soon. [With many thanks to Lewis Carroll and Broadway, ever relevant.]

Keep your eyes open for this project, no promises made though-

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http://www.oakknollcommunity.com/news/oak-knoll-to-include-low-income-homes/

http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2005/07/11/military-sets-ex-base-land-up-for-sale/

http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2008/02/08/seneca-center-can-stay-at-present-site/

http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/05/20/developer-ready-to-move-oak-knoll-clubhouse/

Notice: New Information–Join our Complaint–No Complicity with ICE in this Sanctuary City

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Breaking: Although the complaint has been removed from next Tuesday’s agenda  by Council Members Annie Campbell Washington and Abel Guillen with no new date, we plan on packing the chambers and speaking during Open Forum. Be sure to sign up for Open Forum and/or item 2, Determination of Scheduling Outstanding items, on the link in the article.

From the Supplemental Meeting Agenda: “The Item Regarding “HSI/ICE Raid In West Oakland On August 16, 2017” Was Moved To The Pending List No Date Specific By The November 9, 2017 Rules And Legislation
Committee.

The situation is untenable for paperless immigrants who live in fear of being ripped from their lives and creates more distrust among Oaklanders when the department issues conflicting or false reports. This cannot and should not have to wait for a lengthy investigation, and until the Police Commission is seated this December, the department will continue to investigate itself.

Let us know if you still wish to join the complaint–the more the merrier politically speaking. You can email pamelaadrake@gmail.com. See you on Tuesday.

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On an August morning I awoke to find that Oakland twitter was freaking out over what many supposed was an ICE raid in West Oakland. It turns out they were right. The DHS, Department of Homeland Security and ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was in the process of hauling several members of a Guatemalan family out of their homes with the assistance of the Oakland Police Department. One was detained and another was returned to the home, purportedly a male teenager who was in no danger of being trafficked by anyone in that home.

I am a member of a group called the California Sanctuary Campaign. We’ve pushed the city to enact ordinances to prevent the local administration including our police department from becoming complicit in the harassment and removal of  hardworking but paperless residents from the city they call home. The Oakland Privacy Advisory Commission led by attorney Brian Hofer has taken the lead in proposing legislation to protect residents from the predatory folks in DC.

But this particular morning OPD soon sent out a press advisory that they were assisting ICE in detaining suspects in a sex trafficking operation involving youth. So I suspended judgement because I never want to find myself on the wrong side of protecting children, mostly young women, from the horrors of that trade. I trusted the OPD’s Media Relations folks not to lie on something this important, even given that they have done this many times before. See the Celeste Guap case, etc. http://reason.com/blog/2017/07/13/oakland-police-corruption-comes-out

Here is what has been documented so far on  the issue of youth sex trafficking — “But there is no evidence that the raid was conducted pursuant to any sex trafficking allegations. OPD later deleted the notification and issued a different one stating it was a “human trafficking” investigation instead.

However, there is no evidence of human trafficking in the case. At last week’s hearing, Hofer said, “The chief repeatedly supplied false information.”  Here’s more about the hearing the Privacy Advisory Commission held into the case and their findings so far– https://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2017/10/12/oakland-city-council-to-hold-hearing-on-controversial-ice-raid-and-oakland-police-misinformation

The one person who was arrested by HSI or ICE is now awaiting deportation proceedings. So here we have a situation in which the people of Oakland’s reps voted to withdraw our city from assisting ICE in enforcing civil immigration laws but they continue to do so. Did ICE lie to OPD to get their assistance when it was not a criminal pursuit? That’s entirely possible but we don’t know as Chief Kirkpatrick insists that OPD had to assist, using whatever reasoning is available, depending on the day the department is asked.

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Photo by Darwin BondGraham

To make matters worse, the City Council passed two ordinances that deal with how we react when the Feds say jump–one that eliminates MOUs in which OPD can join federal task forces and operate within them with impunity-and another that requires public hearings when new agreements are even being considered. OPD’s actions seem to have violated both these progressive policies.

I know that when Chief Kirkpatrick came to town, most folks were open to giving her a chance to pull together our demoralized and disgraced police force. We wanted and needed that to happen. I was a member of at least two groups that met with and are still meeting with her but I think I’ve seen and heard enough.

As Privacy Chair Brian Hofer said, “The Oakland Police Department will never change if those at the top are not held accountable for their actions. When she was hired, Chief Kirkpatrick raised the issue of accountability, yet since her hiring she has promoted officers suspected of covering up the Jasmin [Celeste Guap] scandal https://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/oakland-police-chief-doubles-down-on-promoting-the-cops-who-covered-up-the-celeste-guap-case/Content?oid=7922863, issued a ‘fake discipline’ report about the cover up, and attempted to derail two federal task force proposals earlier this summer.

Hofer continues, “It’s this last issue that is motivating me to hold her accountable – by attempting to maintain the ICE MOU, and attempting to derail a federal task-force transparency ordinance, the Chief has twice chosen the feds over the people of Oakland. We do not share the same values, and in the era of Trump and Sessions, this is dangerous for the people of Oakland.”

As a result of these actions, Chair Hofer has filed a complaint against OPD that is now being investigated by Internal Affairs, not the new police commission since it has not been seated yet, that accuses the chief of making numerous false statements to the public about the need to assist ICE in a civil detainment plus of asserting that the new city policy had not gone into effect at that time. I have joined that complaint along with Pastor J Alfred Smith Jr, Margaret Cunningham, Judith Stacey, Sharon Rose and Linda Olvera, all of the California Sanctuary Campaign and Tracy Rosenberg of Media Alliance.

We would be happy to have you or your organization join us in signing the complaint. John Jones III of CURYJ has already joined us and we are expecting others, many others. Notify me by responding to this blog and then please attend the Oakland City Council Public Safety Committee Meeting, November 14th, 6 pm, agenda Item no. 4 fill out a speaker card online.

If we want sanctuary to mean something, if we want an accountable police department–and humane policies for all our residents–we have to back up our stated goals with actions. Join us.