My Primary Endorsements-Price, Kalb & a Surprise Write-In

The California Primary is still months away but for local activists, it’s been super heated since last fall. Many Democratic clubs and other activist organizations held their endorsement meetings weeks ago. But for most voters the difficulty of choosing from ten candidates for the state legislature’s 15th Assembly District-North Oakland, and the hills down through Joaquin Miller Park up to Berkeley and Richmond including Hercules- is expected to be a bit overwhelming.  21271272_2033593886872018_3753374795767531301_n

Two things make this primary on the local level exciting. One is that current Assembly Member Tony Thurmond has decided to run for State Superintendent of Schools (go Tony, yes, that is an endorsement) so it’s an open seat which always stirs the pot of local electeds and wannabes alike.

The DA’s Race-Pamela Price   Pamela_attorney-e1485730265186

No one can remember the last time the District Attorney of Alameda County, any district attorney, was in a contested race. Tom Orloff ran the DA’s office unopposed from 1994 to 2009 and Nancy O’Malley was appointed to fill out his term after which she has run unopposed until now.

Civil Rights attorney Pamela Price has stepped forward and is running a serious campaign. She has significant activist support but O’Malley has most of the establishment endorsements.

As the first woman DA in our county, Nancy O’Malley still gets high marks for being  proactive on domestic violence and human trafficking, but in every other way she has followed the traditional prosecutorial path.

O’Malley opposed the passage of Prop 47, an initiative that keeps petty criminals out of jail where they often become hardened criminals. Price favors looking at the effect the DA’s office has on those who are most often shuttled into the prison pipeline and kept there and how that can be changed.

Price also believes that police should be held accountable when they violate the law rather than honor the traditional prosecutor’s cosy relationship with law enforcement. This is especially important in Alameda County given the many layers of corruption which the Celeste Guap case (or law-enforcement-sexploitation syndrome) unearthed across Bay area police departments.

Price also opposes the DA’s traditional overcharging of defendants in order to wring a plea bargain out of those who have few resources and little understanding of the criminal justice system. As a result 95% of cases are settled this way and guilt or innocence had little to do with it. Here’s a description of that system from Price’s own blog including a look at how parts of the Guap case were handled. It’s a good read,  https://pamelaspage.com/tag/police-corruption/

If that weren’t enough to convince you that it’s time to elect a district attorney and one who will see the job in a new way, let me tell you about some of the answers the current DA gave at the Wellstone Club endorsement meeting. She said 1) she didn’t believe in charging youth as adults, and 2) she doesn’t charge demonstrators who engage in civil disobedience as criminals. Neither of those have been true although it’s possible she has rethought her past decisions.

Please check out this comprehensive article, particularly the last third.  You will probably remember something of this disturbing story. It taught me all I needed to know about this DA’s understanding of the other Oakland, the one where folks don’t get the choice of private schools, good jobs, and artisanal cooking oil.

 

 

And I’m sure you remember the Black Lives Matter demonstrators who stopped BART riders heading to SF for a couple of hours one Black Friday, to make a point about the “inconvenience” of dealing with a justice system that locks Black youth away as a matter of course or refuses to hold police accountable for any level of brutality. Ms. O’Malley wanted to charge these folks (who might’ve been called pranksters under different-colored circumstances) with serious crimes but was talked out of it by powerful community pressure.

So while we often focus on our Republican sheriff for his Trumpian policies, the DA’s office has more to do with implementing mass incarceration than the sheriff. If you want to staunch the flow of poor Black and Brown people into the prison pipeline, we need a DA who really stands behind that goal.

15th Assembly District-Dan Kalb  

The open seat vacated by Tony Thurmond has produced a plethora of progressive candidates, some with long track records of legislative achievement and some who’ve just begun their electoral climb but are hoping to jump ahead a few steps.

Rather than discuss them all, cause who has that kind of time, I’ll share my reasoning for endorsing District 1 Oakland City Council Member Dan Kalb.

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In 2016 Oaklanders overwhelmingly voted for Measure LL which is a charter change (something city administrators and some council members still haven’t wrapped their heads around, but that’s a subject for another time) that gives us an independent police commission with the power to implement discipline over officers.

That charter change would have never made it to the ballot without the courage and hours of hard work and analysis that Dan Kalb put into it. There were other CMs who stuck their necks out, notably Noel Gallo and also Rebecca Kaplan but without Dan’s shepherding it through a complex process, it would not have gotten there.

Dan also put all the resources of his office behind the fact finding that led the City  to  29oakland-master768 (1)reject trainload after trainload of coal chugging through Oakland. He has taken the right positions on renter protections and affordable housing and many other progressive issues although he doesn’t get the credit he deserves because he does sweat the small stuff and can appear as a bit of a know-it-all at times (yeah, I know that’s an understatement.)

I appreciate the progressive positions that Jovanka Beckles has taken as part of the Richmond Progressive Alliance and think she’s a very attractive candidate. But Dan has had to design strong positions on a council amid perpetually shifting alliances and no clear enemy. He has created a path through thoughtful if sometimes studious verging on prissy analysis, still when he gets there he sticks to it-he’s more of a legislator than he is a politician.When Dan says he supports a position he’s taken, it’s principled one and that character trait should garner the respect of many of the diverse voters of the 15th AD.

Dan will fight for our environment, constitutional policing, and housing for all-among some of the things he has learned to champion in Oakland-and I trust his ability to develop well-thought-out positions on the other problems that confront our troubled state.

Sheriff, Write-in N.O. Confidence 

Last fall a number of folks in various progressive organizations came together to find a candidate who could could run a serious campaign against long time Republican Sheriff Gregory Ahern, someone who embodies the Trump White House in deep blue Alameda County.  https://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2017/11/22/activists-call-for-audit-of-sheriff-ahern

We called it the New Sheriff in Town Coalition but we ran into problems finding a candidate who would run against a sheriff with a huge war chest and lots of name recognition; it’s the kind of campaign that would likely prove career ending to many a law enforcement professional.  https://www.facebook.com/NewSheriffAC/

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As of now Sheriff Ahern who invented the Urban Shield Law Enforcement Festival and Extravaganza that would put any military parade to shame and turned emergency preparedness into a celebration of militarized policing against domestic dissent, has no opponent.

Recently against a back drop of lawsuits by prisoner rights organizations and community forums led by the Interfaith Council of Alameda County in support of sanctuary for immigrants and refugees, I attended a hearing with Prisoners United. I heard too many harrowing stories of regular folks ensnared by an inhumane system that this sheriff gladly administers in as repressive a way as he can get away with. The final straw was hearing that persons awaiting trial may get their hour for their phone calls (to family or attorneys) granted in the middle of the night and that they are allowed a clean jumpsuit only once a week while 11% are regularly left in administrative segregation or solitary confinement for seemingly arbitrary reasons.

https://oaklandnorth.net/2018/02/09/activists-bring-concerns-about-jail-conditions-to-alameda-county-supervisors/

So some of us have come together to find a write-in candidate and found the perfect sort-of-person, the gender non-conforming negation of everything this Jefferson-Beauregard-Sessions-loving lawman stands for and to top it off, our candidate has recently immigrated to this county from another astral dimension, an actual alien if you will. Let me introduce Mx N.O. Confidence who is eminently qualified to be a write-in candidate.

They, Mx. NO Confidence, believe that ICE should not be able to hunt those who act on the supposed American creed, to offer refuge and opportunity for all who seek it, nor to deny basic human rights to people awaiting fair hearings in our jails while being forced to wear dirty underwear and languish in isolation for long periods. We are awaiting a word from the county registrar on how likely it will be that our friend from another dimension’s write-in vote will be counted but, whatever, it’s still a better choice than the alternative. download (1)

 

“The Force” & the Oakland Police Accountability Coalition: A Story Untold

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Many members of the Oakland Police Accountability Coalition, some of whom have worked on police reform for decades, have struggled to reconcile the portrayal of the Oakland community, its police department and the fight for police reform which ultimately led to the passage of Measure LL–an independent police commission-with the power to impose discipline and passed by 83% of the voters last fall with the film, the Force. The final product was more significant for what it left out than what it described.

First off, the filmmakers were embedded with the department and that shows in its point-of-view. And even within that access the emphasis was very narrow, following one officer whose community engagement was shallow, to say the least. The film itself came off like an episode of Cops when it came to its portrayal of the Black community, showing only the most dysfunctional interactions with individuals who were experiencing life threatening stress.

The thesis as told by The Force is an old cliche, a cop’s life is tough-he has to deal with difficult even dangerous people. That may be a part of the story but it’s not the whole story, certainly not the one that has yet to be told.

For instance the film took pains to explain away a rash of police killings, showing video from police cameras that purported to hold them blameless. But there was no mention of the shooting death of an unconscious man on the Lakeshore Avenue off ramp that same summer at the hands of a rookie officer. A huge peaceful vigil was held near where he died yet somehow a year later the DA found the killing “justifiable.” The police had video which former Chief Sean Whent IMG_20150612_212616promised to share with the community but never did.  Thirteen months later the city paid out a $1.2 million wrongful death suit on behalf of the dead man’s family. Once again, there was  no mention of this incident or its aftermath in the film which perhaps did not fit the already established narrative.

Peter Nicks and his crew probably thought their film was almost in the can when the news on OPD and its trajectory toward reform blew up. At that point the filmmakers had an opportunity to fully explore what had gone so wrong that a department under a Negotiated Settlement Agreement, that is court oversight of its reform measures for over a decade, could have jumped the tracks once again and found itself in the middle of a national scandal; but it was an opportunity lost. It appeared that Nicks and his crew had run out of steam and then decided to run out the clock just as wave after wave of ugly revelation hit Oakland and the Bay Area police community.

Since then many officers who were involved in the cover-up of this OPD-underage pimping/youth-sex-trafficking scandal have been promoted to OPD command and at the same time the initial charge that led to the NSA so many years ago, that of racial profiling continues to require the court’s oversight.

While all this was going on, the Oakland community, never willing to accept the dangerous status quo, continued to organize against police aggression. There is a story to be told here that would rival any drama now in theaters but alas it remains almost completely untold. The absence of even a mention of People United for a Better Oakland, PUEBLO, the organization that doggedly worked on police accountability for decades  is  particularly galling.

There are some illuminating scenes of powerful Black Lives Matter demonstrations and discussions of tactics and goals at Anti Police Terror Project meetings, one of the groups working toward ending police brutality, but there is not one scene of any of the 30 community organizations which wrote and passed the Police Commission initiative, Measure LL. One member of APTP is seen suggesting a police commission as a path to change but ultimately, that group decided against supporting the measure as “reformist.”

18839239_307755119662088_2859169411652791691_nFor all that, many members of the Anti Police Terror Project continue to apply pressure in the streets and at city council meetings for reduced police budgets and the abolition of policing as we know it. There is no doubt that their efforts have made a difference and some of us continue to show up for those calls. We see no contradiction in taking to the streets while lobbying at the ballot box, because we believe that the broadest strategy continues to be necessary in this struggle.

But to have altogether left out the band of dedicated community representatives who pulled off a huge electoral victory with almost no cash and no paid consultants in favor of hours of rookie cops riding around in police cars, is to downplay, at best, the story of the creativity, tenacity and community dedication that are at the heart of transforming police community relations. We continue to wait for that history to be told but please don’t expect to find it in Peter Nicks the Force.  14523289_1794031850880854_5149506198094883856_n

Further references: https://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/the-force-is-a-methodological-failure/Content?oid=9073235

https://hyphenatedrepublic.wordpress.com/2017/09/16/policing-history-peter-nicks-ahistorical-the-force-erases-context-and-facts-about-opd/

https://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/oakland-police-chief-doubles-down-on-promoting-the-cops-who-covered-up-the-celeste-guap-case/Content?oid=7922863

California Must Resist #notaxationwithoutrepresentation

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[Drawing above–Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/how-charles-dickens-saw-london-13198155/#qjkp6Y867GhOyeU1.99%5D

As of this morning and my first check into Twitter, Trump had done so much damage on so many fronts, it took my breath away, so here pre-coffee, I sit down to write.

I have been thinking of a modest proposal to shut this whole thing down. I love that you’re calling your senators and representatives in Congress. My Rep Barbara Lee is hard at work and my new Senator is tweeting about fighting back. But their modest or, robust a la Barbara Lee, efforts are meager compared to how fast and furious the damage is coming.

Let’s recap briefly: the new FCC chair will probably roll back Net Neutrality which could mean, for instance, that I’d have to pay to post this blog on the internet so that it could continue to blast as far as you all can forward it.

GAG Rule on Family Planning-He already prevented any organization that even mentions (not provides) abortions from receiving federal funding, that includes those who test for HIV or combating the Zika virus and, of course, birth control. He did this worldwide so not only will women die all over the planet but many will be denied care here also. This a broader directive than any former reactionary administration of either party has ever attempted.

The first directive that Trump signed may end the mandate that keeps Obamacare afloat and cause a cascading collapse of it and all the other healthcare initiatives it supports which are too many to go into here. But you can find them on Facebook.

220px-the_writings_of_charles_dickens_v4_p12_engraving_cleanedThe new regime working with the Paul Ryan Congress may seriously try to transform Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid (if you don’t care about poor people, then do you want your grandma’s nursing home option removed?) into programs similar to those Dickens referred to in your favorite Christmas story, “Are there no poorhouses, are there no prisons.” BTW, private prisons are still big money makers and will be expanded. 0b770554576ec15fcef4402967ba948e

Also on his first day, he declared war on protestors, particularly Black protestors, and anyone associated with Black Lives Matter or #BLM–and for krissakes learn how to tweet, blog and get on instagram, snapchat, whatever is out there, facebook is just us talking to ourselves. No laws need to be changed to declare open season on Black and Brown men and women in a police state where the police have always been granted and now, encouraged to assume judge and jury status.

They are already working on increasing voter suppression so unless we do something now, that wistful worry about four year term could easily become a very long and destructive eight. 

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/trump-justice-department-moves-to-delay-texas-voting-rights-case-859610691557

Trump is proposing further destabilizing the Middle East by uprooting any peace talks in Israel/Palestine with a simple yet effective provocation-move the US embassy to Jerusalem http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-jerusalem-idUSKBN1532HW

He’s provoking war with China, and pledging to reduce all regulations–all regulations– by 75% whether that is regulating the banks which crashed the economy in 2008 or quietly ending the investigation into the Flint poisoned water crisis, still ongoing.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/house-gop-quietly-closes-flint-mich-water-investigation/

Oh yeah, he is writing directives to reinstate the Keystone Pipeline AND the Dakota Access Pipeline in which he has investments plus upping the production of coal, oh enough, you say, but it’s never enough for these plunderers….

Ok, but we live in California. We are currently considered the 6th largest economy in the world with Texas following us as the 10th largest economy-hmm, not a useful stat since it is run by folks who would reinstitute slavery the moment Jeff Sessions gave them the go-ahead. http://www.newsweek.com/economic-output-if-states-were-countries-california-would-be-france-467614,    

But if you take the great Northeast, from Boston through Washington, you’d reside in an area that is the world’s 4th largest economy. See http://www.citylab.com/work/2014/03/dozen-regional-powerhouses-driving-us-economy/8575/

If any of the those corridor states joined us, say New York, our state leaders might get the chutzpah given the devastation to our economy and climate that we are facing, to deny or at least delay forwarding its residents’ tax payments to this corrupt puppet government. Can it be done, lets’ try it, the worst that could happen would be a federal suit that could delay implementation of the regime’s plans.

Yeah, I love that legal scholars are going after Trump’s many violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause and others are investigating his ties to Russia, possibly involving treason but without Trump, there would still be the Ryan Congress. Yes, please challenge some of those members in the coming midterms so we could get a couple more votes, but NOW is the time for us to protect our folks and use the economic power of our state, a state which did not vote for Trump.

Anything that California does that restricts the flow of dollars and acquiescence to its new rules-they will probably go after our waivers which, put simply, allow us to pass stronger environmental regulations in our state like on auto emissions-has the potential to throw a monkey wrench into the regime’s ability to govern the other states with an orange fist.

So call your Assembly person, your State Senator (yeah, we have them, do you know who yours is? http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/ ). Then Call Betty Yee’s office, our state Controller http://www.sco.ca.gov/eo_about_bio.html , she’s great by the way, very progressive. Then also call State Treasurer John Chiang’s office, http://www.treasurer.ca.gov/ and ask them how we can resist #taxationwithoutrepresentation. Given the rules of the Electoral College, our votes were virtually ignored.

And since you will no longer bump into Jerry Brown running the Lake or working out at the gym in City Center-he moved last year-you can contact his office, https://www.gov.ca.gov/home.php

20170121_122129-1He has been talking about leading the fight against Trump’s depredations, so let’s challenge him to do it. Part of the overall strategy is to declare our entire state a sanctuary  (https://draketalkoakland.com/2016/11/23/join-the-call-on-november-29th-make-california-a-sanctuary-state/ ) but the implementation has to have some teeth, some financial back-up against the punishments to meted out by the Trumpster’s cabinet.

Yes, that’s it, the New Tea Party of the Left, and unapologetically so. No time to waste, every single day we wait we lose another day of health, another right, another economic protection, and another species on the planet. Is this a radical proposal? I sure as hell hope so! You got another one? Put it out there. If you don’t want to start your own blog, be a guest on mine, love to have you.

Thanks for all you do already, now let’s do some more,  2016-11-14-11-37-46

Your friend in Oakland,

Pamela Drake

 

 

 

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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