The Last Memorial Day, I’m Done

Okay, it was an interesting 242 years-if you’re using 1776 as a start date-or you could use 1607, the founding of Jamestown, and maybe that’s more fitting because according to https://www.nps.gov/jame/learn/historyculture/a-short-history-of-jamestown.htm “On July 30, 1619, newly appointed Governor Yeardley called for the first representative legislative assembly. This was the beginning of representative government in what is now the United States of America. In that same year, the first documented Africans were brought to Virginia.”

So there we are in a nutshell, a country founded not on freedom and democracy but on commerce and the allowance that some folks might have the right to a little bit of representation while others were here solely for the purposes of exploitation. Our sprawling country was seemingly founded by imperialists from Europe who sought to reproduce themselves. And now it seems time to call it a day….an exceptional day, but  a day nevertheless.

Ah, I know, we’re also a nation where in our little city of Oakland alone, 52 languages are spoken and one of the few countries where folks born here receive the rights of citizenship by birth (no and it didn’t happen just by passing the 14th amendment but through the struggle of the children of Chinese immigrants. See  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Wong_Kim_Ark.)

We have a Bill of Rights that was truly revolutionary at the time-setting out some important principles but we have to admit that the 4th and 6th amendments are on life support with the current government working hard to pull the plug (google search and seizure, prisoner rights, etc.) The First Amendment is now so contorted and confused-what with certain religionists forcing a new meaning in which their dogma is to be protected while corporations, with the aid of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, contain and control the media what we know about how business and government work.

Well, no conspiracy theories are necessary to see that our huge country of feudal like kingdoms no longer works very well. And I’m not just talking about the failure to prevent a Goebbels-like tinpot dictator from being “elected” president while his less than competent crime family steals our country’s resources in front of our eyes.

We don’t have a democracy. If we didn’t see that before, it’s all too clear now. Two party rule which can so easily devolve to 1 party rule in such a short time, puts the lie to the uses of representative government versus a parliamentary form with all its complex compromises and muddle now seems to offer a little more-at least if it was in bite size form. Our supersized system produces little more than diabetic offspring.

We don’t even have a national voting policy. Each state or municipality can determine (with a few restrictions) who will vote, when and how. More people have lost their rights to suffrage in the last decade than ever gained it after the Civil Rights laws were finally passed. Between voter suppression laws, reduced polling places and times, to say nothing of foreign interference and machine hacking, we have disenfranchised many more by virtue of our zeal to imprison more folks than, well, it looks like, anybody. Here’s a stat from 2013, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_incarceration_rate.

“In October 2013, the incarceration rate of the United States of America was the highest in the world, at 716 per 100,000 of the national population. While the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners.”

We can’t even agree with the rest of the world on how to measure stuff or note dates. For those few of us who will get a passport and leave the continent (actually it’s worse than that. Both Mexico and Canada use the metric system,) it’s damn hard to book your stay or apply for visas with our antiquated system. We can’t understand how far anything is or even what time our tour starts unless it’s translated to our so “exceptional” brains. I had to unlearn using my fork and knife in a natural way in favor of swapping them out every time I took a bite after spending a year in Germany at the tender age of 17.

Now we have a rich and powerful country with almost no allies, save Guatemala and Israel. No one much cares about what Guatemalans do-if we’re honest most of us have no idea where it is-and the world over is condemning current Israeli policies in their colonies. [I must assert-no Philistine I-that I have been to Guatemala twice and loved it.]

Everyone gets exercised over national politics but few can do anything at all about them. Do you believe you had any say in who was nominated for president other than feeling personally slighted when your chosen candidate did not get the nod?

But, ok, our local form of democracy has its problems. For instance, in my city when a politician colors outside of the box [by working to get local folks trained for local jobs that local taxes paid for,] she is called a criminal and compared to Trump. She has a predictable reaction to criticism that forces people to chose sides with her or “agin” her (not useful) but when our police chief is caught in a mistake, instead of apologizing, she then lies with charts and drawings (glossies,) she is not compared to GOP characters who do that stuff even better.

Remember Arlo Guthrie (probably not since you’re all 20 years younger than me at least) “Cause Obie came to the realization that it was a typical case of American
Blind justice, and there wasn’t nothing he could do about it, and the
Judge wasn’t going to look at the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy
Pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each
One explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us. ” from Alice’s Restaurant Massacree, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m57gzA2JCcM

Anyway, since that song is about illegal dumping, I better not mention it since in our city, dumping garbage has become a more serious crime than allowing people to live in tents surrounded by their own filth.

Back to the problem, the United States of America. The number of crises we are confronting since the inauguration of 45, widely understood now to be an illegally elected POTUS, have grown so rapidly, the level of cruelty casual and deliberate has grown beyond what your average soccer mom can comprehend. Some of us were already painfully aware of many of them before this stolen or just bungled election and now, what..uh,yeah…what??

in some countries when they get fed up enough like Poland or Romania, it is possible to take to the streets or go on strike where your capital city, like Paris, is also the most important city. You can make things so inconvenient that governments fold or flee or just shoot down enough people to hold off change for another decade or so. But in the US, places like Washington DC, Harrisburg and Sacramento are the seats of government but otherwise, who cares?

Hardly anyone even in little Oakland knows how the government works or why PG&E, a private company, is in charge of our most important utility, doing it poorly. Just read Nextdoor for an hour or so, low information voters also live in the enclaves of the well-educated and well compensated.

So my modest proposal is that we devolve into regional entities. California is large enough and its residents confused enough to immediately become a country of its own. We grow our own avocadoes and weed, almonds, all on gluten-free trees. Really, we could be two or even three states. One for the folks who think like Alabamans, another for the vegans and the rest for those of us moderate meat eaters who like their edibles on the side.

We could conceivably have our own healthcare system once we are done arguing over how to do it with the purest of motives. Ok, so maybe not. But as Californians we know that thinking will just make it so, not to worry your little botoxed head.

Now that Georgia and Texas have real progressive female candidates, they could get elected and ship their Trump voters to Mexico which could turn out to be the biggest joke on us all once they see they how much they like it-beautiful culture, great food and plenty of holidays plus a very top down government.

Yeah, I know, there’s a blue wave a’comin. And there might be. There are lots of exciting and interesting candidates and the soccer moms are furious. Throw in the rest of us who have been pissed off for a long time, things can change. But Trump and his damage won’t go away soon. The Judiciary is being overhauled top to bottom. We might end up waxing nostalgic for the days when we could lambaste Justice Scalia instead of his younger paler technocratic replacement. The blandness of evil, eh, Neil Gorsuch?

That’s it for me. I need a new country. One in which I have some agency and in which there are national programs for healthcare, education through grad school, real public utilities including use of a modernized internet, no prison industrial complex but a renewable energy complex and housing is a right. Oh yeah, and we play the same national sports the rest of the world gives a dam about but not until the Oakland Warriors win another championship.

Yeah, you know I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…https://www.google.com/search?q=imagine+youtube&oq=imagine%2C+youbu&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0l5.5924j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

My 2018 Primary Recommendations & a Look Foward to November

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Vote Dan Kalb AD 15, Pamela Price DA, & Write-in N.O. Confidence for Sheriff

You got your ballot in the mail and your handbook before that and wow, this is another fine mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. With an open seat in Berkeley/Oakland/Richmond for state assembly and our current governor being termed out from his last incarnation, we have lots of folks to study and TV ads to avoid.

So let’s tackle the governor’s race first. Like most Californians, or most voters, I don’t know any of these guys and gals too well. At least the current governator was once our mayor and though I didn’t much like him, I had some idea what he’d do. Scratch that, with Jerry you’re never sure of anything.

The once flamboyant Governor Moonbeam has turned into Gov Scrooge and it’s well known by all our legislators that if we want more money for programs for kids and housing for the bottom, say, 75% of us, we’ll have to wait for the next boss in Sacramento.

Governor-Delaine Eastin

Gavin Newsom had sucked all the air out of the room until two billionaire charter school proponents, Eli Broad and Reed Hastings, started pumping billions into the race for Antonio Villaraigosa. Having met him once and found him to be a bit sleezy and a lot opportunistic, I would take Gavin over him if those were the only choices.

However, despite Newsom’s image as the brave guy who promoted marriage equality, I remember when San Francisco was on the brink of total gentrification from a wonderful pastiche of cultures and revolutionary instincts to the stultifying center of finance and tech bros it seems to be today, and Newsom presided over that change, encouraging it all the way. Oakland is there now and woe to us if we don’t heed the warning signs.

So my choice was between State Treasurer John Chiang and former Schools Superintendent Delaine Eastin.  Delaine has all the right instincts and when I saw her at Oakland’s rally to repeal Costa Hawkins law which prohibits many municipalities from passing renter protections,  I gave her my vote. You should too.

Lieutenant Governor-Gayle McLaughlin

I am not excited about this race but most voters never are. The only obvious reason to run is to be the next in line for governor. I had thought to endorse Ed Hernandez and then looked at his list of supporters-I was very impressed that he has all the union support but then noticed that that included all the police unions and that worries me. It’s already very difficult to get police reform bills passed, and I doubt he would oppose anything police unions support.

Gayle McLaughlin has operated in the tiny crucible that is Richmond politics where Chevron is the obvious villain to be opposed and most who do, come out looking like heroes. I find her naive and not as grounded as I would like but I will vote for her in lieu of the establishment candidates. BTW, if you notice the inundation of your airwaves with Kounalakis ads, look her up. She is a developer who is the daughter of a developer who has spent her life being appointed to high profile commissions. Don’t let the Obama imprimatur cloud your weepy eyes.

US Senator-Kevin De Leon

State Senator De Leon is responsible for most of the progressive legislation which got through the legislature this year as he was the Senator Pro Tem who pushed and organized the resistance including defining us as a sanctuary state. Now that Senator Feinstein has managed to portray herself as a staunch supporter of the Resistance and, given her millions in campaign cash, Kevin may have little chance but we should look for him to lead our state in some other capacity soon.

Congress-Barbara Lee Speaks for Me-as always

CA Secretary of State-?

I’m sure there are folks who can tell you why or why not to continue to support the incumbent, Alex Padilla, but I could find little or no information on that race. It looks like Padilla is guaranteed a return to that office.

Also, the Wellstone Voting Rights Task Force, for complicated reasons, is voting no endorsement in this race.

Betty Yee for Controller and Malia Cohen for State Board of Equalization.

Attorney General-Xavier Becerra

Ok, so I changed horses in mid-season. My club, the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, had heartily endorsed Dave Jones for Insurance Commissioner and feted him with a celebratory dinner. I got many calls from him and finally decided to endorse him before the California Democratic Convention back in February.

But then I got more info from someone who worked as an attorney in that department under both Garamendi and Jones. Describing Jones as insurance commissioner,”Jones could have pursued a pro-consumer agenda, like John Garamendi. But instead he was as passive as he could possibly be. He didn’t even bother to replace people who were in positions subject to his appointment. He just left the Republican holdovers to keep doing whatever they were doing (he didn’t seem to know or care).”

And more specifically as a reference to Jones’ environmental platform, “But where he has real power to help consumers–by making insurance companies treat policyholders fairly–he’s pathetically timid.
Here’s an example I {former employee} know about:  the insurance commissioner has the authority to disapprove all health insurance contracts (policies). There are department lawyers who review every word to make sure it complies with the law.
There was a huge backlog of these policies (the insurers could use them until and unless they were disapproved).  While literally thousands of these policies were sitting without review the laws changed and included more consumer protections. I tried to get those policies disapproved, since they clearly no longer were valid.
But the policies were being used by insurance companies and Dave Jones didn’t want to upset them. So he ordered that they all be approved, even though they all violated the law.”
I’ve heard that Jones was weak on money bail reform while Becerra was not. So I am now endorsing AG Becerra. Maybe Jerry managed to do something right.
Tony Thurmond for Superintendent of Schools-very important!
Now to the fun down ballot stuff. It often seems like throwing darts at your handbook would work just fine which leads me to believe that some of these positions should be appointed rather than elected as they are based on professional credentials that few have and even fewer may desire. But here we go:
Assessor-James Johnson
I can’t say I know a lot about this office though I suspect it’s one that shouldn’t be based on political expertise. I have a recommendation from a progressive friend who has worked with him that Johnson does indeed know the work of this office and is highly competent to carry it on. She is concerned about that the next assessor see the job as important and not just as a political stepping stone so I’m going with that.
Auditor-Controller-Irella Blackwood
Ok, I’ll admit to knowing little about what this office does too but it seems very important. One of the reasons I chose Irella was that during a forum she mentioned why she would present more transparent reports than her opponent Melissa Wilk, who already works in the county auditor’s office, is currently doing. Of course, promises are cheap and we’ll have to see but it is a concept her opponent did not push.
They both have great endorsements but Blackwood’s includes Ann-Marie Hogan while Wilk’s includes Sheriff Ahern who is being targeted by civil rights groups demanding his department be audited for why spending is going up for county jails while prisoner numbers are falling.
I’m sure they would both be fine auditor’s but I want to see this office removed from the sheriff’s influence.
County Board of Supervisors- Wilma Chan-this incumbent has quietly led the fight against the worst of the Trump crimes here in Alameda County.
District Attorney-Pamela Price
I’m happy to note that since I endorsed her, George Soros has followed my lead, LOL and pumped some money into mailers to elect her and other progressives into the office most responsible for mass incarceration of Black and Brown youth.
I’ve written more extensively about this endorsement here – https://draketalkoakland.com/tag/pamela-price/

And I will just add that while Nancy O’Malley has accomplished good things in the past, she is a traditional DA and the times call for innovation and a focus on dismantling mass incarceration. Whatever happens we should be grateful to Candidate Price for taking this on.

Sheriff-Write-In–N.O. Confidence

As I detailed in the blog above, there was a search for someone to run against this sheriff with the necessary law enforcement background but no one took that on despite our coalition’s effort. Since then, some of us have been beating the bushes to find a write-in candidate who would not be required to have the law enforcement certification but would be the antithesis of what most California sheriffs have become,  gung-ho supporters of the Trump anti-immigration policies and purveyors of the abuses of the mass incarceration state. Because they are elected independently, they act with impunity and little can be done to restrain their most negative impulses.

We still have until May 22nd to find a write-in candidate who embodies what real public safety would look like, a California where everyone is encouraged to watch out for each other without imposing their biases on them and where all feel free to come forward and ask for help in times of need. That person must be a registered voter in the county and be willing to obtain 20 signatures to prove it. That’s it, sign up!

But if as likely, no one steps forward-ideally a POC who works in the re-entry, anti-violence or public health field-then we will promote a campaign for everyone to write in the well known anti-sheriff candidate (gluten free of course) N.O. Confidence, who uses the pronoun “they.

State Assembly AD 18-Rob Bonta

Assembly Member Bonta is running unopposed probably because he is one of the hardest working folks in that body and is one of our reps who ushered in the resistance against the regime in DC while also fighting for affordable housing, renter protections, and money bail reform. That’s just a sliver of the issues he is taking on. Show him your support.

State Assembly AD 15-Dan Kalb

This is an open seat in a wide-open race. We have a well-heeled candidate, Buffy Wicks, whom almost no one knows and who has’t lived here for long but due to the Obama nostalgia and piles of cash, has a good chance of getting in the top 2 of our weird primary system.

Wicks is also not a supporter of the repeal of Costa Hawkins which would allow municipalities to enact renter protections on some of the units not now affected by any protections, and she is quite willing to take contributions from the charter school industry. Outside of those pivotal issues, she might be a fine rep but I have nothing to base that on. She worked in the Obama administration but I have no way to know what her real contribution was.

My candidate, Dan Kalb, is widely acknowledged to be the most likely to write successful legislative initiatives in the legislature. His expertise ranges from environmental experience to fighting for affordable housing through knowledge of and a willingness to enact police reform. He is a principled politician who will not make promises he can’t keep.

So now I have to add that I like Jovanka Beckles and Cheryl Sudduth. I keep scratching my head wondering why CNA, the nurses’s union, declined to support Beckles in favor of a political neophyte when they might have put Jovanka over the top. Maybe it’ll still happen, we’ll see. In terms of Cheryl, I am really impressed by the number of issues she is involved in, particularly the layers of sanctuary she reps, and the passion with which she addresses them.

Judge Superior Court-Karen Katz

When Tara Flanagan ran she made a big splash and was a very visible and able politician. But since then she has disappointed those who closely watch trials as more law and order, especially for Black defendants, than was hoped for when elected.

Karen Katz has spent her life as a public defender and is running because she says, “we are all safer when justice is administered fairly.” I have no idea if she has a chance to beat a sitting judge, actually that is probably unlikely, but given some of what I have heard about Judge Flanagan’s court, it’s worth a try.

Propositions-County & Regional

RM3-NO

This measure raises the tolls on the Bay Bridge over the next few years to fund a hodgepodge of projects which claim to be public transit oriented but list to the side of ferry boats while stalling out on your daily AC Transit route leaving you stranded as you bike, albeit in better lanes, to the BART where your wait might be a couple of minutes shorter or not, depending on where you live. As one wag said, these are projects inspired by a transit agency that recently moved to the west bay at great expense but wants East Bay drivers to fund far flung transit and highway improvements to traffic nightmares wrought by Silicon Valley. Why must we continue to pay for all their sins?

The worst part about this mishegoss of a measure is that once these tolls are implemented, there will be no place left to go for funding by transit agencies which are still cleaning up the crumbs left by this mess.

As Jack Kurzweil, one of the founders of the Wellstone Club says, “The projects are not presented as part of a grand plan to address the future transportation needs of the Bay Area.  That’s because there is no such grand plan.  Consequently, there is little basis upon which to evaluate the choice of projects.  They are parts without a whole.  The Bay Area needs a transportation vision that makes sense.”

County Measure A-Childcare-Yes

Although it’s a small increase to the sales tax, the type of tax I rarely favor, we can handle this to fund something as desperately needed as good childcare. I recently bought shoes in Santa Monica and their sales tax is higher-yet I saw lots of shoppers there so go ahead and vote for this.

City of Oakland Measure D-Libraries-Yes

This is a relatively small increase in property tax, $75, but it will have a big impact especially for children for whom their local library branch is a sanctuary and the 30% whose school libraries have been shuttered. With this tax, library hours can be increased as well as the services they supply.

By the way, as some of you may know, adult education was wiped out in Oakland over the last decade and the library is one of the remaining spaces which provides adult literacy classes. And if, like me, you’re a kindle user, the library is a great place to get your ebooks too and the librarians are quite helpful in getting you signed up.

Prop 68-Yes-Park bonds

Prop 69-Yes-funds for Transportation to be spent on Transportation-Duh

Prop 70-NO, no,no-Don’t hobble the Legislature waiting on Republican votes for these projects

A Word about the Upcoming Mayoral & Council Contests

As many of Oaklanders look forward to the fall 2018 elections to remove some of the Trump stain, we also have to take stock of our city. We see the cranes all over the downtown and the crowds at the Lake. We have a plethora of renowned restaurants to choose from when we go out–and all this is good.

But  we may be becoming inured to the ever growing empire of tents, the daily displacement of families & couch surfing youth; at the same time as many of our 1920’s cottages turn into million dollar homes, more and more of us live in unspeakable and highly visible squalor on our streets. And others band together in older homes and apartments hoping that when they go out to work, they don’t get attacked and deported by agents of a xenophobic and lawless regime in Washington.

Our neighbor San Francisco now has the lowest percentages of families of any city in the country. Are we on the verge of becoming the same kind of city as that, cleansed of  its Black leaders, its Latino entrepreneurs, its artists and writers, its Bohemian youth, those who struggle and yearn for justice and new ways of living?

We are in the last moments when the way out of that reductionist and ultimately bleak future is clear–reelecting the folks who have tinkered with small solutions and toyed with our fears while so many go quietly away from us, is not the answer. Just as we’re doing on the national scene, we must allow our creative and compassionate ideas to flow and design the Oakland we have always dreamed of. That means we must stop looking for someone to blame and start proposing bold even outlandish solutions, then join with others to make them happen. Si se puede.

PS. Don’t be fooled by those who denounce the regime in Washington while doing little for the least of these in our hometown. Watch what they do, not what they say.

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Oakland City Council Tonight-Housing, Sanctuary, Police Commission and so much more

 

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Sorry this is so late and since it will be quick and dirty, please excuse typos. If you  are concerned about almost any issue, it’s on the Oakland City Council Agenda for discussion tonight. Well, maybe not net neutrality and the fate of former FBI Director Andrew McCabe’s pension.

So here we go-

A number of issues will be resolved and some will be discussed, resolution still to come. If you don’t want to stay for a couple hours and listen to the discussions on other proposals, sign up now for open forum (or submit and ecomment) and try and race through your points in the 1 minute allotted or sign up for all the items and ask for another minute, sometimes this works. However, you must be there for the 5:30 opening in order to speak at the Open Forum part of the meeting.51y2efayiLL

Famous local woman, Betty Reid Soskin, the oldest park ranger at the Rosie the Riveter exhibit at the National Historical Park in Richmond, and author of Sign My Name to Freedom and so much more will be honored. That alone is worth the price of admission- if there were one.

Open Forum OnlySign up to speak–Tenants rights folks will be  announcing the launch of their petition campaign to “Close the Loopholes” in Oakland’s rent laws for an ordinance on the November ballot to permanently remove “Substantial Rehabilitation” from the Rent Law (SR was removed from Just Cause but not the rent law by Meas JJ in 2016), and to remove the current exemption for “Owner-Occupied 2 & 3 Unit Buildings” from both Just Cause and the rent law.

Substantial rehabilitation means that landlords who have long term tenants, have found that they can evict folks in order to update their flats with fancy new kitchens and baths and then charge whatever the market will bear. Remodeling may sound good but it has become an effective tool of displacement where the existing units were habitable but not updated.

Item 7.9-Tenant Move Out Agreement Ordinance– Long discussions with all concerned groups seem to have resulted in an ordinance that requires certain payments to certain tenants when tenants are legally evicted for no cause, as we stated earlier, there are lots of reasons that can still happen. This is expected to pass under consent but worth watching.

Item 7.10_Support of  Temporary Protected StatusSign up to speak–This is only a resolution but it’s symbolism is very important in a sanctuary city. TPS was granted to groups of immigrants due to dangerous situations in their home countries including acts of nature but also civil wars and in many of these countries, the political and domestic situation remains almost as perilous as the original event that led to their seeking refuge. And many of them have settled and raised families here by now.  https://immigrationforum.org/blog/fact-sheet-temporary-protected-status/

In Oakland many Salvadorans, Haitians and Yemenis would face an uncertain future if the federal government were allowed to follow through with their edict to begin removing protections. This should be a slam dunk for our council but it’s important that we show up and speak in favor so that the issue stays at the forefront of voters’ minds and they understand the terrifying ramifications of this type of change.

S7.27 and S7.28-Cannabis Record ExpungementWatch and learn–one is in support of Assembly Member Rob Bonta’s bill AB 1793 which is a follow-up measure to Prop 64, to legalize pot use and to ask the DA to remove or dismiss such sentences (she has to be asked?) don’t foresee any trouble passing these but thought you oughta know. And S7.3 supports the change to the commercial loophole in Prop 13 which also exempts small businesses and will provide much needed funding to our schools and other local community needs-

https://www.evolve-ca.org/press-release/

http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-california-lawmaker-proposes-easier-1515529046-htmlstory.html

S7.31-Support of a State Bank for cannabis businesses-Speak or watch— There are lots of reasons to set up a state bank, a bank that would hold California’s best interests at heart by funding affordable housing, non predatory home loans, small local businesses, and generally use our tremendous financial resources to invest in our state rather than wealthy shareholders and bonuses for ridiculously rich CEOs. But this bill looks to focus on making it safe to run a cannabis industry which is a necessary function since federally chartered banks are prohibited from doing that.  http://sd18.senate.ca.gov/news/1252018-hertzberg-introduces-legislation-establish-framework-cannabis-banking

Item 11 is a biggie-The Enabiling Ordinance for the Oakland Police CommissionSign up and speak--This new commission was supported by 83% of the voters. They long for an independent body which can make policy and impose discipline when necessary on the officers of our very troubled police department. Despite this, the city administration has made it as difficult a process as possible for the commission to get up and running-the charter change was passed over a year ago but this ordinance is still aborning, sigh.  yesonll_gray

And, the city has allowed the police union, OPOA, to take months to try and negotiate away, under an overly broad understanding of what “meet and confer” means, to weaken the new law which amended the city charter’s oversight of the department. This is a longer discussion for another time. The point of passing this measure was to remove the question of oversight as much as possible from city politics and give it to the citizens affected by this department’s failure to resolve issues in the NSA, etc.

Unfortunately, the new ordinance under which the commission would be guided to operate “misunderstands” the core of the measure and tries to return  some of the rights and responsibilities of the Commission and the agency, which conducts the investigations, to city administrators.

For instance, the original ordinance-not the measure but the ordinance which outlines additional details on how it is implemented, so call it the “implementation ordinance”-changes some terms such as “directs the chief to notify” or “provide” the commission and the agency with up-to-date information to “requests” that the information be provided. If you’re a parent, you will probably notice the huge difference between the power of those words. I have also heard that city officials are being advised that the ordinance has to comply with the city charter. Of course it does, but remember that this measure changed the city charter in this area.

Item 13-Moratorium Extension On Substantial Rehabilitation Exemption– Back to the previous argument against the exemption for substantial rehabilitation as a tool for gentrification and displacement. The city has been studying the issue and we want to support the continued study for another 180 days in hopes of some actual legislation. During this period, this exemption to tenant protections on certain units is suspended and those affected renters are safe while the city considers what needs to be done.

That’s all folks, something for everyone—please sign up to speak or register an e-comment on any of the above based on your interest, comprehension and tolerance for BS in our progressive city by the Oakland Estuary.

https://solar.oaklandnet.com/Speaker/form

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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

 

 

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-

1book36

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. 

 

James Vann on the Oakland A’s Proposal

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Guest blogger James Vann submitted this post to the East Bay Times but they rejected it saying that it was too “broad [a] critique” of the A’s plan to obtain a parcel on the Laney College campus. And this morning a puff piece appeared on the front page of the Chronicle touting  A’s president Dave Kaval as an all around great guy – including a timeline for building  the stadium- leaving community members to wonder what kind of “public process” will be actually pursued. 

Are the A’s Out to Harm Oakland?

by James Vann

The Oakland community strongly supports the Oakland A’s and urges the team to remain in the City. Unfortunately, the team’s seeming response is “to heck with what is good for Oakland.”  The secretive decision recently revealed by the A’s threatens the existence of much of Chinatown and the low-income Eastlake residential neighborhoods; will pressure and cause abandonment of highly popular Laney Community College and its working-class body of students; will overtax the only two local streets that serve the area; will destroy the wildlife and ecology of Lake Merritt and the Channel to the Bay, and will turn the communities surrounding Peralta and Laney over to speculators, land-grabbers, and gentrifying boutique and luxury developments.
At an A’s-hosted  “listening tour” on August 30 at La Estrellita Restaurant in the Eastlake district, A’s President Dave Kaval stated that the A’s were still in the information-gathering stage and a decision on location was months away.  To the contrary, just the day before onAugust 29, Kaval delivered a 4-page letter to Peralta trustees and Chancellor Jowel Laguerre announcing that the A’s had selected the Peralta site and requested the opening of negotiations.  The misrepresentation was followed on Sept 12 with release of Kaval’s public announcement and promotional  video.
The off-repeated “month’s-away-to-decision” declarations were belied by the splashy A’s video and premature announcement. The video features developers; out-of-area business owners; commercial associations foreseeing new stores and restaurants (as though no displacement is necessary to make room for the envisioned new establishments); construction unions forecasting “jobs, jobs, jobs” (forgetting that the number of jobs is the same irrespective of location); and certain city policymakers (who immediately backed off  their prior-recorded compliments).  The video features no area residents.
Selection by the A’s of the Peralta site lacks logical justification.  Superimposing the A’s own “bare-bones” stadium option on the site reveals that the parcel can barely contain a 35,000 seat stadium and bleachers, with little to no remaining area for offices, accessory buildings, service vehicles and storage, off-street parking, or gathering space.  A more desired A’s rendering depicting a circular stadium surrounded by bleachers has no chance of fitting on the small parcel.  It is unbelievable that the A’s would not be aware of the expansion limitations of the Peralta site.
In addition to the Peralta site being too small, it is inconceivable that the ecological and environmental impacts highlighted by The Audubon Society and The Measure DD Community Coalition on birds, fish, wildlife, and humans can ever be mitigated.   Also unstoppable once approvals for the stadium are obtained will be real estate vultures swooping into Chinatown and the Eastlake buying up low-rise buildings, single-family homes, and ethnic businesses to be replaced by high-rise luxury hotels and condominiums.  Displacement of the areas’ thousands of present residents will be total.  In Oakland’s current out-of-control housing market, once an existing resident is displaced from their housing, only 2 choices are available:  Out-of-Oakland, or, join the growing thousands of homeless who populate the streets and sidewalks of neighborhoods throughout the city.
It is difficult to blithely ignore the ‘natural fit’ and ‘rightness’ of the Coliseum area for the A’s new mega-stadium.  Even if the A’s want no part of the present joint-use Coliseum, practically unlimited and unencumbered land exists there to choose from.  BART already serves the area with a generous station, pedestrian overpass, and bus-transit transfer center; convenient and accessible rail connector to Oakland Airport; generous unoccupied city land is present to accommodate any desired parking configurations; all needed utilities exist in the vicinity; no housing or commercial establishments exist to be impacted; no residents to be displaced; little if any environmental challenges to mitigate; and land galore throughout the area that literally “begs” for compatible housing, commercial, technological, industrial, and office developments for various futures and visions.
The vast Coliseum area is ripe for immediate development.  Thoughtful planning could assure an equitable “win”-“win” solution for the Oakland A’s team and organization as well as for the greater East Oakland community and for the whole of the City of Oakland.
StAy the Right Way !