To Do List, Last Week in June

Please squeeze in one or more of these opportunities for activism this week!

It’s been a hectic week even for diehard activists. And if you’re freaked out about losing your healthcare now or very soon, you’ve been frenztiedly calling Washington, DC. But some Americans unlucky enough to be represented by Republican senators, have been filling the hallways of Congress this week even if you don’t see it on tv-sitting in at their senators’ offices and going out in plastic ties, otherwise known as handcuffs.

Here in California voters for Single Payer Healthcare traveled by bus to Sacramento today to protest the sidelining of a bill which would guarantee free healthcare to every Californian. More on that in another blog.

On Monday-Oaklanders for a People’s Budget shut down the Oakland City Council meeting when it became clear that council members were going to vote on a budget which did not prioritize the funds need to help the homeless nor to prevent the imminent displacement of many more renters. There were other necessities being demanded like funding for the arts. See ReFund Oakland or https://www.facebook.com/DefundOPD/  18839239_307755119662088_2859169411652791691_n

Tuesday-Last night the same city council came to an impasse/tie over the implementation ordinance that would set the final rules for the new police commission.

And tonight-Wednesday- the Oakland School Board expects to remain in session until they are able to pass a contentious budget for the upcoming year at OUSD. According to Mike Hutchinson, they’re still at it as I write this at 11 pm  six hours in.

So, phew, not much left to do for the remainder of this week, right? Please read on..

Thursday-The Public Defenders Office led by Brendon Woods and their allies will be holding a press conference and rally tomorrow at the iconic Oakland courthouse at noon which hopes to forestall the removal of Oakland and Berkeley arraignment hearings all the way to…Dublin. Here’s more info-unnamed (3)

I’ll be there because the fight for justice still begins at home.

Then at 4 pm the City Council will make another try at passing a budget which needs to be done by Friday, June 30th, by law. Please see ReFund Oakland on 19399573_1326252544156296_7554708531302223629_nFacebook https://www.facebook.com/Refund-Oakland-388201741294719/ or my recent guest blog from Margaretta Lin, https://draketalkoakland.com/2017/06/26/tell-the-oakland-city-council-tonight-refund-oakland/

 

But wait, did you forget that the Supreme Court temporarily let stand parts of the Orange Moron’s travel ban? As a result a coalition of refugee and immigrant groups are asking you to start showing up at airports, SFO for us, after 2 pm. If you’re not at the Oakland City Council meeting, catch lunch after the Public Defender’s rally, then jump on BART and head out there.

Here’s more info from Zahra Biloo at the Council on American Islamic Relations_

Community advisory from CAIR-SFBA and Advancing Justice-Asian Law https-cdn.evbuc.comimages305773251144539292471originalCaucus: http://bit.ly/2sKmVVv

Media statement from CAIR National: http://bit.ly/2sKiaeW  

Facebook live video explaining all of it: http://bit.ly/2sKE9lN

Also on Thursday– in the morning…from the California Immigrant Youth Jusice Allianc

Join us this Thursday to demand the release of Maguiber, an Alameda father of 3 US-citizen children, who is currently in deportation proceedings because of local law enforcement’s collaboration with ICE.

Help us continue sharing his story as we demand the Field Director Jennings us his unnamed-11prosecutorial discretion to release Maguiber.

 
#FreeMaguiber
Thursday, June 29
10:30 am 
1401 Lakeside Dr # 1200, Oakland, CA 94612        

 

Friday evening-

The ACLU led group People Power has managed to arrange a community meeting with our local Republican and Jeff Sessions supporter, Sheriff Ahern, to talk about our sanctuary laws and how he does/or does not implement them. It’s important we have a good turnout. Here is the info-

Freedom Cities Action • City/Town Council Meeting- starts at 5 pm
Location:

Hayward Adult School, 22100 Princeton Street, Hayward, CA 94541

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Rabi’a Keeble, founder of Qal’bu Maryam Women’s Mosque holds Teach-in on Islamophobia in Oakland’s City Hall

Mourning in America-Resist & Revolt

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Here in Northern California, we woke up at 4 am to thunder and lightning and remembered that it was January 20th and the Obama family was packed and ready to leave. We felt like children waking from a nightmare whose parents came into the room to comfort you, then said, “we have to leave but the monster under the bed will take care of you now.”

We took to facebook in shared horror and received some small measure of consolation. But we went back to sleep so that we would wake up ready to use the coming chaos as a time to reshape the nightmare into an experience of solidarity against the oncoming backlash.

Of course, Barack and Michelle were never our parents and could not protect us against the ugliest of America’s pathologies-the pathologies of racism, xenophobia, and misogyny-on the rise in many countries as I write this-in ways comparable to the 1930s. This movement towards hatred, repression and ethnic cleansing is part of our history-we are not exceptional in this.

Some of us remember the Reagan years, not as a time of renewal, but a time in which it was very difficult to raise a family without wealth and privilege. As a single mom of biracial kids with chronic illnesses, there were very few places to go for help or even succor. We can’t let that happen to our families during this time of looming disaster.

For instance, in California we have begun a movement toward declaring a sanctuary state. Our cities cannot stand alone against this kind of lawless regime which has already declared them as enemies. The sanctuary we seek must include all who are threatened by these thugs and their billionaire accomplices.

We have already declared:

“In the face of deportations, harassment, and growing threats of violence, the immigrant, Muslim, Latino and other targeted communities, including all People of Color, LGBTQ, women and people with disabilities are experiencing levels of stress and fear not seen since the days of Jim Crow. We the undersigned believe the first, best response would be to create a statewide sanctuary.” We are heartened that individuals and organizations have rushed to sign onto this statement.

So many of us are now living in fear that it’s important to honor all their concerns as we work in concert or on parallel tracks to protect and uplift what is known as the beloved community.

Who will be under threat first, undocumented immigrants, members of the Black Lives Matter movement and People of Color in general, DACA kids, women who seek to control their own bodies, anyone in the LGBTQ community, people with pre-existing conditions, seniors, journalists and dissenters? Folks, they’re coming for all of us at once. They have the money and power to try and overwhelm our people’s movement.

This is no time for division. The time to fight the last battle is over, Bernie vs Hillary, whose slate is more righteous! We need to look as Obama has tried to show us, at the good intentions in each other, and work with that. 000ywc_wordle

That doesn’t mean we will ignore Democratic Party pandering to campaign donors or insist on lockstep responses. We demand a high standard because we need a demonstration of strength in principles now more than ever.

Back to California-do you know that we give more to the Federal government than we receive in benefits? This is also true for 13 other states-see http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/05/which-states-are-givers-and-which-are-takers/361668/.

There must be a way to stop or at least slow the flow of our tax dollars to a government which will use them to punish us-taking our healthcare, our environmental protections, our rights to family planning, and imprisoning or deporting our newest, most enthusiastic Americans. So let’s think in creative, even grandiose ways and attack the regime where it depends on our compliance the most.

This is truly taxation without representation as our huge population did not vote for any of this-indeed almost no one voted for the devastation of services that we all pay for. If we resist successfully and even one other economic powerhouse state also resists, we can throw a monkey wrench into the federal machine which is even now lining up against us.

Probably no one said it better than our own Mario Savio. Heed his words-resistance, rebellion and the fight for a more perfect union start today. Throw off your despair, harness your anger, and remember:

“There’s 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.”

Contact your legislators, make friends with the electeds with whom you so recently fought, forget sectarianism, find common ground. Your life may depend upon it. I know mine does.

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Media Advisory: Oakland Community Issues Call for a Sanctuary State

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Press Advisory

Oakland Community Makes Push for Sanctuary State

Oakland, CA: The Oakland City Council will consider a resolution expressing its recommitment as a sanctuary city at its meeting on Tuesday, November 29th. In the face of deportations, harassment, and growing threats of violence, the immigrant, Muslim, Latino and other targeted communities, including all People of Color, LGBTQ, women and people with disabilities are experiencing levels of stress and fear not seen since the 1930’s. We the undersigned believe the first, best response would be to create a statewide sanctuary.

We must believe President-Elect Trump when he says he will immediately take action against the Dreamers-members of the DACA Executive Order- their parents and any undocumented persons plus consider ethnically based registries, etc., at the same time, cities like Oakland can ill afford the loss of any federal funds or other sanctions.

Because of California’s large population and strong economy, a statewide declaration of sanctuary would have a much better likelihood of preventing the threatened cuts and protecting Oaklanders and all California residents. We are asking that the Oakland City Council commit to requesting that its representatives work toward such a declaration.

Oscar Chacon, Executive Director, Alainza de las Americas noted, “Thousands, even millions of people in California are threatened with deportation, registry, harassment and violent acts because of the words and deeds of the president-elect. California must take steps to protect them immediately.”

A partial list of organizations and individual sponsors can be found here https://draketalkoakland.com/2016/11/23/join-the-call-on-november-29th-make-california-a-sanctuary-state/ who have called a rally and candlelight vigil at 5 pm tomorrow evening prior to the City Council meeting to demand action from Oakland and Sacramento. Speakers will represent a broad swath of our communities.

Contact: Pamela Drake-510-593-3721 or pamelaadrake@gmail.com or info@BBBON.net or check in with Jose Dorado, 510-326-4810 at the rally.

 

Join the Call: Make California a Sanctuary State

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“We invite you to join this call for the community to come together to help build the movement to defend our neighbors.”

Community Organizations Call on California Legislators and Governor Jerry Brown to Make California a Sanctuary State

 

In light of Trump’s very real threats against immigrants, many people are calling for cities that have sanctuary resolutions or ordinances in place (that prevent local officials from reporting undocumented residents to ICE) to recommit to those policies (and, of course, for cities that don’t have such a resolution to pass one).

At its meeting on November 29th, the Oakland City Council reaffirmed that Oakland is a sanctuary city.  The Council also committed to work toward California standing up to Trump’s threats to cut federal funding by declaring itself a sanctuary state. This is crucial because a lot of the potential cuts to federal funding could fall most heavily on the working people of Oakland and California’s other large cities. 

In the face of deportations, harassment, and growing threats of violence, the immigrant, Muslim, Latino and other targeted communities, including all People of Color, LGBTQ, women and people with disabilities are experiencing stress and fear not seen since the 2016-11-14-11-51-29days of Jim Crow. Children are having difficulty in school as parents seek to reassure them.

California is in a unique position in its ability to honor its diversity and protect its residents from the harm that may come under the new regime which seeks to disempower whole categories of people.  A statewide resolve to not give in to the pressure on sanctuary cities would have a much better likelihood of preventing the threatened cuts and protecting Oaklanders and all California residents.

For more information and to get involved, please contact Jose Dorado of the Latino Task Force,joseadorado48@gmail.com, 510-326-4810, Sharon Rose, Co-chair, Block by Block Organizing Network (info@bbbon.net) or Pamela Drake, pamelaadrake@gmail.com, 510-593-3721.  

Supporters* as of December 4, 2016 (partial list):

Jesse Arreguín Mayor elect, Berkeley

Jose Artiga Exec. Dir., SHARE Foundation

Rev. Debra Avery First Presbyterian Church of Oakland

Joe Brooks Brotherhood of Elders

Josie Camacho Exec. Sec.-Treas., Alameda Labor Council

Keith Carson Alameda County Supervisor

Jose Cartagena Nat’l Network of Salvadorans in the Exterior

Oscar Chacon Exec. Dir., Alianza de las Americas

Paul R. Chavez Exec. Dir., Centro Legal de la Raza

Carroll Fife, Oakland Justice Coalition

Rabbi David Cooper Kehilla Synagogue

Andreas Cluver Building Trades Union

Jose Dorado Latino Task Force

Pamela Drake and Jack Kurzweil Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club

Shanthi Gonzales Director, OUSD Board

Katherine Grije Genesis rst Cong. Church Oakland

Rashidah Grinage Coal. for Police Accountability

George Holland Chair Oakland NAACP

Deborah Lee Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity

Mirna Medina Somos Familia

Gus Newport former Mayor, Berkeley

Rabbi Jaqueline Mates-Muchin Temple Sinai

Fred Pecker Sec. Treas. ILWU local 6

Jean Quan former Mayor, Oakland

Sharon Rose Block by Block Organizing Network

Tulio Serrano Committee of Central American Refugees

Angela Sambrano La Red Mexicana

Pastor J. Alfred Smith Jr. Allen Temple Baptist Church

Deacon Reginald Lyles Jr, Allen Temple

Tony Thurmond Assemblymember

Rosie Torres Director, OUSD Board

Gus Newport, former Mayor of Berkeley

Malia Vella Alameda City Councilmember elect

BWOPA, Black Women Organized for Political Action

 

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Thank You Oakland City Government!

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I know the headline of this blog is shocking-and if you’re one of those people who believes government can’t do anything right-you might want to stop now. To paraphrase a friend-intelligent and radical young leader, Dannette Lambert, I believe in government-it gives us things like schools, hospitals, healthcare and-regulations against harm.

I’ve written a lot on the current Oakland City Council, that they can’t build coalitions, that they don’t want to step out and lead. I’m not rescinding those critiques, not yet. They are overall a moderate group but they have heard the roar of our communities and coalitions for change-well, you’d have to be deaf not to but-wait!

Wait-I’m doing it again when I want to thank them for stepping out of their comfort zones to struggle around the police accountability measure, ultimately placing a really unique proposal for the voters to decide on this November’s ballot.[PS.the measures for renters’ protections are no chopped liver either-they are real change.]

Time to Correct the Record-

Last night quite a few folks denounced the measure and said they wouldn’t support it because they found it deficient. Some of their conclusions were correct and some were incorrect but I can’t agree that it won’t make some people’s lives better because it will. It may even save some lives and that counts as worthy of doing to me and the folks I’m working with.

Some of us have been in so many meetings with council members in the last couple of weeks that perhaps we were a bit shell shocked last night after the roller coaster ride of change, compromise, and confusion. We forgot how much we won and why it is so important.

Writing and Researching the Measure-

We should have acknowledged the importance of the moment and spent more time thanking everyone involved so let’s do it now. I especially want to thank the folks who researched and wrote this unique measure, by which I mean the Coalition’s version-Larry White, an attorney and more recent arrival to Oakland, of course Rashidah Grinage, Mary Vail, long time police accountability stalwart, Paula Hawthorn MOBN member, Susan Shawl Wellstone and CPRB member, Nate Dewart of Black Men/White Men (in addition to writing and posting the petition!), and Saied Karamooz.

More thank yous

Jason Pfeifle did yeoman’s graphic and web work along with Sandra Tasic, quite pregnant at the time. Joel Tena contributed heavily to messaging. Len Raphael was our financial wiz who along with Jose Luis Fuentes set up our official organization with the state. Allene Warren, Ann Janks, and Sheryl Walton worked hard to recruit other organizations and to relay the nuances to them. Carroll Fife supported us with the Oakland Justice Coalition as did April Thomas, Nicole Dean, and Deb Avery , and Millie Cleveland(Cat Brooks was there for us also but I believe she is unable to support the current iteration.) Tonya Love is a communications’ treasure in her own right.

Josie Camacho, head of the Alameda Labor Council, joined SEIU leaders Gabriel Haaland, Gary Jimenez and Rachel Richman-Local 21- who worked long hours to help us make this right with Labor with special notice to their union, Local 1021, long time Coalition members who showed up en masse to speak at council meetings.

As for me I want to acknowledge the tremendous support the Coalition and I personally received from The Block By Block  Organizing Network and the Wellstone Democratic Club-so many members, in addition to those listed above showed up to every  council meeting and waited hours to speak-Sharon Rose, Floyd Huen, Margaret Cunningham, Gen Katz, Mike Davis, Rich Johnson, Kit Vaq, Cathy Leonard, Eileen Benevides, Jean Quan, and Berkeleyite Jack Kurzweil-Wellstone also funded snacks for all participants at the council meetings-no small thing. Sorry, if this list is too long but that’s how it’s done in coalition work. There will be many not listed and for that I’m sorry, truly.

Brief summary of what this measure will do from Ms. Grinage-

“This proposal changes the City Charter, transferring the authority to impose discipline on police officers from the City Administrator (who reports to the Mayor) to a Police Commission made up of Oakland residents. This is a fundamental change in power.

The Commission will also be able to influence policies and practices that will include the issues raised by video footage of incidents, privacy and surveillance, use of force, racial profiling, and so on. They will be able to make recommendations on the budget request submitted by the Police Department to make sure that resources are used in a way that is consistent with the priorities of the community.

The investigative agency director does have access to the personnel records of officers accused of misconduct and can take that history into account when deciding on appropriate discipline. These are all major shifts.

As Larry White said, “I think a lot of confusion was caused by the format of the text that was voted on.  There were two sections (g). One was the deleted text.  Both were in gray and if you didn’t look closely you might think that all of it was in strikethrough. In fact only the second (g) was deleted text.”

More from Mr. White-“The Agency Director will have access to the personnel records but can only share them as permitted by law. As a practical matter, this is access. The disciplinary part was not struck in the final version. One big thing is that the City Administrator’s role as final arbiter of discipline is eliminated.”

Just the beginning

More from Rashidah Grinage, “This proposal is more than good, but it is not everything we had envisioned. That being said, as we know, every journey begins with a single step. This is a journey to justice for those who have suffered the abuses of the Oakland Police Department for decades, and the Police Commission will be one giant step in this journey.

We are not dismayed and we are not discouraged: we are committed to continuing to challenge the City to alter its relationship with the OPOA so that further changes can be implemented without facing a Court battle. So, for those who seek justice, join us, let’s get this Commission established, and let’s continue with the work that lies ahead!”

The City Council Struggles to Find Consensus-

Council Member Noel Gallo came out early to support the community-driven measure, a surprise, as he had always been seen as a law’n order CM, but he has a big heart and uses it to listen to his constituents. Then Dan Kalb got involved and threw himself and his staffer, Oliver Luby, into it with hours and hours of researching, checking and rechecking what would work and what would get him the votes to put it on the ballot. Without their attention to detail, this measure wouldn’t have made it onto the agenda much less the ballot.

Other CMs who had been skeptical but then began to meet assiduously-Rebecca Kaplan threw herself into it. Annie Campbell Washington went line by line working on what each one meant and how to clarify it. Abel Guillen checked in frequently and Lynette McElhaney held numerous workshops with our folks, eventually becoming a co-sponsor. Desley Brooks lent us her expertise and unique voice from her position as chair of Public Safety, and Larry Reid, long time police advocate, welcomed us into his office, too.

City Attorney Barbara Parker may have gotten a bad rap in a previous blog, as we understand she personally AND her staff worked long and hard on the details. We’re not even sure she did advise removing the pivotal provisions at all. To be honest, our sessions included- confusion, a little back-biting, and yes, some shouting matches as we made our way up and down the halls of city power. But ultimately, everyone including Mayor Schaaf, supported our efforts in some way. Thank You!

Driving home after the vote at 11:30 pm, I couldn’t help but imagine our CMs as characters from the Wizard of Oz. You can decide for yourselves who is which character hmm. And sometimes I think, we the residents who love Oakland so passionately, are both Dorothy and the Wiz, trying to find our way home all the while hiding behind a curtain of our own inability to move ahead together. Maybe we won’t make it to the Emerald City but we can and shall build a better Oakland.

Join the CoalitionforPoliceAccountability.org now!

 

Oakland City Council Declares Emergency Over

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The Oakland City Council heard from housing rights/housing security activists tonight including some who demanded more city assistance for those who need it less. One council member was moved to declare that he wouldn’t be “appeasing the activists.” Since a tenant had suggested that war had been declared on those who can no longer afford the new rents, appeasement was avoided at all costs by the majority of the council.

Many poor beleaguered developers showed up toting back packs and looking distressed saying that they couldn’t possibly build in one of the most popular spots of the country if they were called on to donate a fraction of a percentage of their profits to mitigating the the wholesale removal of ordinary Oaklanders.

Gary Winkin-Bottom of upper Blackhawk said, “Who’s going to pay the move-out fees”…that the council might someday-possibly-impose, on-a-sliding-scale-to-a-few, long-deceased, drawn by lottery, suffering landowners-or at least their great grandchildren who may be reimbursed under certain circumstances to be detailed in rules to be determined at some undisclosed time and place  in closed session.[Yeah, they really almost said all this. If you don’t believe me, order a tape from KTOP and watch it, I dare you.]

Sometime around 11pm the city council got around to discussing all this in ever decreasing levels of arcane minutiae and vigorously disagreeing with each other.

But at the conclusion of this hard fought discussion for the withering soul of the city formerly known as Oakland, the council thanked the staff for vigorously misleading them and applauded each other for their courage in the face of activists who openly prayed for them. A good time was had by all except for one local advocate who missed an appointment emptying her cat’s litter box. Oh, the horror!

State of Emergency-75 Days and Counting

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Our Oakland City Council with the encouragement of 400 to 600 residents (estimates vary) last April 5th, finally agreed with what we have been saying for months-we are in an affordable housing crisis. Renters had hoped to breathe a sigh of relief and there is time for a brief respite, very brief.

Of course, this crisis can’t be resolved in 90 days but since we’re already off to a bad start, it looks like we’ll have to keep the pressure up.

At least the council is dealing with it. I really have no idea what the mayor is doing about the state of emergency. I guess watering down the previous mayor’s roadmap- maybe global warming has caught up with us already-is a plan?

But here we are, 15 days gone, 75 to go. We have not heard a response to our 12 recommended actions some of which could  improve the housing situation of our most vulnerable Oaklanders almost immediately. We do know that the City Council [CC] is barreling ahead with plans to impose the tiniest, tardiest impact fees in the area.

Impact fees are those most municipalities collect to put into an affordable housing fund or funds for other impacts such as transportation costs and park improvements. Developers coming to Oakland have been expecting these to be imposed for over a year now. They know how they work since most surrounding cities have already imposed them.

Based on my quick calculations-Alameda has the lowest impact fees at $18,000 per unit of housing but they also have inclusionary zoning-requirements to build a percentage of a project as permanently affordable. Berkeley, which also has inclusionary zoning and has charged impact fees for years, is busy raising theirs to $30k or even $34,000 in some cases, and Emeryville raised theirs to $28,000 last year.

Despite the study the city was required to do which recommended at least $20k per unit, our council has asked for $5500 per unit plus some transportation impact fees which raises them to the grand total of $7000 per unit, about 25% to 30% of what other cities have already been charging-this in the city which has hit 4th place in the race to be the highest cost for rental housing in the country.

Additionally, the city has decided to raise the level of affordability, meaning the level at which renters and even buyers can get housing assistance from (top level) 80% to 110% of median income or up to $110,000 per family.

They also want to transfer some of the money in the affordable housing fund to mortgage assistance, from renters homes to ownership which would reduce the numbers of people housed overall. For more on this see, https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/04/18/18785341.php

We know the middle class needs help in this housing market and we know they are important; but with very limited funds and the CC unwilling to impose much more, how can we justify ignoring the needs of the lowest income, most vulnerable people-single moms, seniors, and many of  the original Black and Brown residents of this city.

Okay, there’s more. The Citywide Displacement Network took the Renters’ Protection Initiative to the Rules Committee on April 7th requesting that the CC agendize the measure a pathway to putting it on the ballot. The CC can put it directly on the ballot themselves and save the community thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars to run a campaign that could force the CC to place it on November’s ballot anyway.

You would almost think that the city mothers and fathers did not want to give the people of Oakland, 60% of whom are renters, the chance to vote for these protections??? Now due to the Council’s odd (?!) delay, it will not come before them until the same time as the petitions for the initiative will (almost) be due. SIGH! 2016-04-19 00.27.05

There are members of the CC who really want to assist folks who need housing security. I’m not going to dismiss them all as callous but I am going to ask that some of them get out in front on this. You know who you are! The time for leadership is almost past-only righteous anger and utter hopelessness can follow if you do not.

The CC, maybe even the mayor, should be seriously considering the 12 recommended actions that were part of the Emergency Declaration. Here’s just a couple in no particular order:

  • require owners to file petitions with the Rent board instead of the other way around. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it is a longstanding demand/request/need.
  • make it illegal for owners to deny receiving payments from tenants when they are paying on time and in compliance with their rental agreements. (crazy ask but some landlords are doing this!)
  • require that at least 5% of units be available to households at 15% to 30% AMI (5%… too much??)
  • Here’s another doozy-establish a program to punish discrimination based on Section 8 as a source of income. Some of those people you see in tents under bridges or just under trees have Section 8 vouchers that they can’t use.
  • Here are the rest- http://postnewsgroup.com/blog/2016/04/04/suggested-actions-protect-tenants-oakland/

Add to these actions my favorites-make sure you vote for a Democrat for President and lobby your legislators early and often to provide funding and bills that make it easier to build and maintain housing for all our folks.

Let your council member know you are counting the days and ask for a full report on what s/he has been doing during this emergency AND how you can help.

 

April 5th, Oakland’s Housing Emergency Declared

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Lots is happening in the fight against displacement in Oakland. Let’s get to it:

First Friday-Come out to this week’s First Friday and join Oakland Against Displacement and Oakland Awake. Rooted Oakland: Holding onto Home meet-up starts at 8pm, Grand and Broadway, “A festive, mobile happening with art, giant projections, drumming and more!” Mobilize while having some fun and meeting your neighbors who are working to stop the wholesale displacement of Black and Brown families, artists, small business people and all who have made Oakland the creative, diverse place it is.

4c707ae2776cb3113781c55aaa8d7476 Tuesday, April 5th at City Council-The City Council has agendized our demand to declare a State of Housing Emergency and consider a moratorium on rent increases above the CPI in our existing law AND a temporary stay on no cause evictions while they work on ways to stanch the wholesale removal of people from their homes, neighborhoods and businesses.

The Block By block Organizing Network along with the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club had called for a rally but given the early start of the meeting, we are asking people2016-03-01 23.49.29 just to show up and get seated-no rally. We will be providing some small sustenance to folks as they arrive and invite others to help us. We need to honor and nurture community members who regularly come to meetings where they rarely feel heard.

What Libby Schaaf says– According to her recent newsletter, “The impacts of displacement have already been real and devastating. Understandably, they’ve led many to call for sweeping measures. But as attractive as ideas like blanket moratoriums on rent increases and evictions may sound to many – two ideas that are being discussed and may be presented at the April 5th City Council meeting – such sweeping controls are legally dubious under present law.”

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Evicted cat

We are asking for temporary relief since the solutions we’ve been seeking had not been contemplated until very recently. We’ll be watching to see which council members use these excuses not to take emergency measures. If there were a devastating fire or earthquake, would they not act? For some life long Oaklanders, it is no less an emergency.

Renters’ Protection Ordinance-Last week the Citywide Displacement Network came to the Rules Committee to demand the City Council agendize this ballot initiative. It puts the onus on landlords to show why rents should be increased above the CPI instead of expecting the tenants, most of whom don’t know of the law’s existence much less how to use it, to file a timely objection to the increase and gives tenants a fighting chance to protect themselves against illegal increases and evictions. It should also come to back to the council this month.

The City Council could place this initiative directly on the ballot or consider its provisions and pass it as a city ordinance without waiting for the November election. In fact, the measure came out of the Renters’ Working Group in the Mayor’s Housing Cabinet where it was ignored or downplayed.

Appeal of the Bay Development Project at Alice and 14th Street- Last winter the city approved a project on the corner where the beautiful mural depicting Oakland’s history of art and its unique culture of resistance was recently completed. The city planning department requested no concessions from the developer toward replacing the mural or providing any level of affordable housing. It also provides no parking for programs at the Malonga Casquelord Center which may doom the center.

A group called Keep Oakland Creative appealed that planning decision and their appeal will also be heard later this month. The group says that the appeal is about the broader issues of an unresponsive planning department as much as this particular building application. So stayed tuned, you will hear more from these folks about the need for community benefits and engagement as part of our planning process.

City Reduces Affordable Housing for Low-Income Residents– For more information on these city decisions, check the Oakland Post News Group: http://postnewsgroup.com/blog/2016/03/25/city-guts-affordable-housing-funds-low-income-oaklanders/.

Don’t forget-First Friday, then Tuesday, then check your local listings on the city clerk’s agenda for more: http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/CityClerk/s/AgendaManagement/index.htm

The People’s Proposal Vs Urban Core but did it have to be that way?

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If you attended the Oakland City Council hearing on Monday evening, held to showcase the 3 housing proposals for the E 12th Street parcel, you would have thought it was greedy developers versus poor residents, but like anything in Oakland, it’s not that simple.

I’ve been following Oakland politics since the mid 80’s sometimes closely, sometimes peripherally, but in all those years, I have never seen Mike Pyatok or The East Bay Local Asian Development Corporation, known to all as EBALDC (eebaldtsee), decried as greedy corporate types.

The activists from the East Lake neighborhood, some of whom are long time, generational residents, but also including those who reached the shores of Lake Merritt more recently-drawn here by our reputation for creativity, diversity of not only ethnicy but ideas, and our storied culture of resistance-arrived in time to fall in love with the Town but then found that love to be unrequited-at least by our leaders.

They presented what seemed to be opposing proposals along with one from the Bridge Housing Corporation, which also has a good rep in the community, but apparently no dog in this race. In a nutshell, the folks from #SaveE12th or the People’s Proposal working with Satellite Housing proffered a small project of 132 units in a 7 story building and Urban Core working with EBALDC proposed two towers, one with 26 floors of mostly market rate units or possibly some in the upper limits of “affordability” with a smaller tower. This project would offer 108 units for lower income renters like those who are rapidly being displaced by the current volatile housing market.

I just have to say that “market rate” is a strange term, one that implies the folks who already live here aren’t part of the market but are just people in the way-whereas the new-money-people-no perjorative names here-will come whatever the price, just cause we’re such a great place to live (ironic, tell that to the city council and mayor who want to reduce the costs known as impact fees to developers cause maybe no one really wants to come?)

Anyways, there is a total of 24 units difference between these warring proposals. But there are two other very important differences to contend with beyond the number of affordable apartments. 1)the Urban Core/EBALDC folks have financed the deal mostly by building all those unaffordable units (laughingly called market rate) and they can recompense (like that fancy term?) the city to the tune of $4.7 million, a mere $400k less than their original proposal, cash the city could probably use. So here the People’s Proposal which I’ll call the #PP, no, maybe stick with #Save, which is offering to build a low rise complex with purportedly all the city’s current affordable housing funds, leaving nothing left for other projects, hmm, concerning maybe?

Here’s the other big difference, 2) when all those unaffordable units are built, towering over most of the neighborhood, except the existing 26 floors at 1200 Lakeshore, which admittedly looks pretty bizarre so close to the edge of the Lake, ok,ok, no more tangents. The other yuuge difference to the neighborhood is the way the Urban Core project will impact the current residents’ homes when spanking new, very expensive, luxury-type apartments are thrown into an area that previously nutured a  mix of people, cultures, and lifestyles. That mix will vanish like El Nino in February. God only knows where everyone will go, God or whoever’s in charge at the tent city now residing under the bridge by the new LM boulevard.

So what to do, who to choose? If I were on the CC, I’d be tempted to  give the #Save group all the housing funds and at least get something built to offer the neighborhood right now. But, of course, that won’t happen. What I’m really wondering is-why the brilliant, politically-oriented minds contained in the mayor’s or city council’s collective brain, couldn’t have gotten some of these guys together and said, “Is there a way to build a range of affordable units with some at “market rate,” some at middle management rates, some at upwardly-mobile-we-hope rates, and almost as many at lower-income, social-security-only rates as the #Save folks have proposed without using all the city’s housing fund??

In this way the parcel could be developed more densely than most of the neighborhood because up is the appropriate direction for cities to be going, but NOT so out of whack with the surrounding community that that existing culture is destroyed forever.

So, now I’m wondering why didn’t they do that? Why didn’t Mayor Schaaf, no. 1 city cheerleader, apply some of her secret sauce to this mix and bake an Oakland flavored cookie out of it, or a papusa, something?? Now we will probably get a much better project from Urban Core than we had initially-although I have it on good authority that they had early on offered to put significant affordable units in the project, then backed off-because that’s what it always looked like we’d get. In the end we’ve achieved lots of bad feelings, ill will, and distrust in government process for something we could have had last year with albeit, some leadership.

On the other hand we now have an informed, activated citizenry working together-young and old, a grand Oakland mix of cultures who have learned to be skeptical and organized and tenacious. So watch out, more to come very soon from all the corners of our city, our beloved Town, bit by bit we are organizing. We’re going to take on the bureaucracy and the political class and we’re going to energize our collective creativity.We might even serve as a model to our “leadership.”

We’re coming from old political clubs, neighbohood-organized associations, and new alliances. We demanded a Declaration for a Housing Emergency last fall (check this blog) and it’s way past time for that to have happened. Those being ousted now come from all sectors-the poor, oldtimey residents, teachers and students, artists and middle management professionals-our representatives have shown that they are better at pitting us against one another than bringing us together so-looks like we’ll have to do it ourselves. Stay tuned.

 

Wellstone Democratic Club to Host “Deconstructing Oakland Politics”

On Thursday, October 22nd, at Humanist Hall, 370 27th Street (wheelchair access from the 28th Street entrance,) the Wellstone Democratic Club will host a panel discussion on the current and historical political trends in Oakland, especially as they affect the Oakland City Council and Mayor’s office with a brief overview of the situation at the Oakland Unified School District.

Panelists will include long time housing activist James Vann, blogger and former council staffer, Pamela Drake, and Tribune Columnist Matt Artz and we’ll hear from the Chair of the Education Committee of the Block by Block Organizing Network, Sharon Rose.

Oaklanders often despair of their elected officials who seem to morph from progressive community leaders into bureaucrats unable to respond quickly to the needs of their constituents after taking office. They don’t seem willing to form coalitions to bring their progressive promises for affordable housing and police accountability to fruition no matter how loud and persistent the demands. What’s going on here?

It is necessary to understand the historical direction and the forces that bombard inexperienced politicians if political activists are to move them to act. Some of these forces will be outlined along with suggestions of how to move the city to recognize and act in a crisis such as this.

Oakland is in the midst of what some are calling a state of emergency in terms of the desperate need to prevent families, artists, and long-time residents, predominantly people of color from being displaced. If city officials and their administrative staff cannot recognize and act during this housing emergency, Oakland will become another enclave for the rich, white, and childless like San Francisco. In the process our city could see its historic reputation for social justice and its diverse culture disappear. Additionally, the climate for small business and entrepreneurialism is deteriorating leaving corporate chains to fill the gap.

But Oakland’s powerful tradition of political activism is fighting back. What are the next steps? Is there a unifying vision for a changing Oakland or will reaction thwart an inclusive movement-this is only one of many conversations going on all over Oakland during these troubled times. You do not have to be a Wellstone member or a Democrat to join the conversation and you are welcome to attend the potluck dinner (please bring a dish) at 6pm-the panel will start by 7:30pm.

For more information, contact Local Politics Coordinator Pamela Drake-pamelaadrake@gmail.com, @bethpikegirl on twitter