Oakland’s Top 10 Exciting New Candidates!

“something is wrong. Since everyone knows we are in a polarizing period of intense political change, it’s not a good thing to have the local party “settle” for status quo seeking candidates that rank and file activists do not support. Some of the candidates below did receive the party’s blessing, most did not.”

Many of us check our twitter in the morning only to find out that the Whitest of White Houses has nominated another racist, misogynist liar to a post he’s the least qualified to hold. On top of that you can sometimes despair that even your local branch of the download (6)Democratic Party can do the right thing but hey, there’s good news all around us if we only look. With the campaigns of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, not to mention Stacey Abrams and Beto O’Rourke’s-a new energized Democratic Party could arise-one that not only rejects Trump’s GOP but also asserts real progressive values.

Well, whadya know we’ve got some dynamic challengers right here in Estuary City and they’re mostly women of color who either have deep community track records or are busy building them now.  20180919_133549

But first, in reference to the crack I made about our local Dems who have no excuse not to be as progressive as the cities and county they rep, last week that party endorsed many moderate, middle-of-the-road incumbents who wouldn’t recognize an emergency situation…..unless it was a threat to their re-election–so I went on a facebook rant about the party’s elected membership, of which I am one, and demanded that folks join me in the good fight for accountable leadership (you know the kind that doesn’t jam people into garden sheds?)

Well, my rant resulted in some cool people beginning to consider a run for that labyrinthine bureaucracy packed in a bunch of nesting boxes we comically refer to as the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee (ACDCC). Here’s a partial list, John Jones III, Debra Grabelle, Wendy Bloom, Tonya Love, Kim Carter Martinez, Jessamyn Sabbag, Alvina Wong, Jenn Tran, Lailan Sandra Huen, Gary Jimenez, Carroll Fife, and more, [please be sure to bug them for me.]

Here’s how it works–each slate runs only in their assembly district. Mine is the 18th, Wendy’s for instance is the 15th. You would run a mini campaign since you will appear on the regular primary ballot of a presidential year and begin to attend the Committee meetings the following January. Your slate has to raise money for campaign lit and mailings and you are expected to appear before various organizations, mostly Dem clubs for endorsements. You will also want to appeal to your assembly member to endorse your slate. The slate for the 18th AD also requires members from Alameda and San Leandro besides Oakland and the 15th AD slate should have Oakland, Berkeley, and El Cerrito/Richmond all the way to Hercules, residents included. But what does the ACDCC do?

What is the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee (ACDCC) and What the Heck Does It do?

In a nutshell, this Committee is the local arm of the California Democratic Party. It supports its local clubs (sometimes), it passes resolutions to alert our state and federal reps on issues of importance. In addition the Committee also offers training sessions to candidates and registers voters. But, the most obvious task we have is endorsing local candidates and measures. When the Committee votes, it’s the final word on who gets to wear the party’s official label in the next election.

The Committee tends to reward incumbents and discourage challengers which is not always a bad thing, but when committee members are pressured to stick with party regulars and back room dealing becomes the only way to accomplish that, it means something is wrong. Since everyone knows we are in a polarizing period of intense political change, it’s not a good thing to have the local party “settle” for status quo seeking candidates that rank and file activists do not support. Some of the candidates below did receive the party’s blessing, most did not.

New Candidates for Oakland in November:

1. Clarissa Doutherd-Candidate for school board in district 4–I don’t even know how to pronounce her last name but the first time I heard her speak and respond to  cropped-clarissa-doutherd-new-headshot-color-512-pxwquestions, the room broke out in spontaneous applause after her presentation. It’s not that her rhetoric soars, it’s that it is so grounded in experience, in compassion and in solutions for Oakland parents who have despaired of anyone listening to their concerns. After years of OUSD officials disrespecting its parents, teachers, and students, this is a candidate ready to hear them, then translate them into action.  https://clarissaforoaklandschools.com/

2. Nikki Bas-Candidate for district 2, Oakland City Council–I haven’t known Nikki as long as others who have worked side-by-side with her on issues like reducing diesel  Resized_20180912_122438_4211fumes at the Port of Oakland, increasing the minimum wage for our low income workers and demanding good jobs for all our folks, but her courage and toughness (not phony tough/cute as the current mayor depicts herself) means that our council would add  a fighter who is honest about the stands she has taken and the decisions she’ll make.  I have to add, most of the parents in our neighborhood came out early for her because they were already familiar with her collaborative style and concern for working families throughout Oakland.   http://www.nikki4oakland.com/

3. & 4. Sheng Thao and Nayeli Maxson-Sorry I keep lumping these two together since they are quite different women but I am stunned by City Council District 4′s good luck in having these options for their 1st and 2nd rank votes. Sheng has navigated the shores of surviving as an immigrant and a domestic abuse victim in a society not known for compassion for either and secured a place where her son can thrive and she can represent this community.   https://www.shengforoakland.com/  https://nayeliforoakland.com/

And Nayeli is an innovative leader with a even tempered style that belies its strength. Unlike her former boss she will be able to accept criticism as an opportunity to develop new solutions. Both of these candidates are grounded in real life experiences.

Pamela Harris and Sheng Thao and Nayeli

5. Pamela Harris-City Council District 4-This area of Oakland has been blessed with a surfeit of smart, well-rounded women candidates. As an entrepreneur and a member of the LGBTQ community in Oakland, Pamela is just starting out in local politics but she has places to go and people to meet. She’s a comer for the Dem Party with one caveat that she keep a respectful distance from the moderates who seek to maintain control over the system.  https://www.pamharris4oakland.com/

7. Cindi Reiss-Candidate for Peralta College Trustee– Every time Cindi opens her mouth to talk about what our local community colleges need, she blows away the competition beyond that even of the incumbent. As faculty at another district, she has been a member of the local and state academic senate so understands the issues and will be a quick study for the solutions. I predict that other trustees will soon be looking to her for leadership.  https://www.cindireiss2018.com/    39105861_420420581698080_5483025507148627968_o

8. Mya Whitaker for Council District 6 and Corean Todd-Candidate for Peralta  IMG_2018-09-19_12-52-26College Trustee- share the 8th place. Mya is a newcomer who can convey the conditions in her central Oakland district like no one else while Corean is very new to politics but not to leadership and struggle. Corean has worked with Clarissa at Parent Voices and is a union steward. Mya was a member of the Citizen Police Review Board before it was disbanded in favor an independent commission and has specific solutions for better community/police relations.  [Honorable Mentions for D6 Candidates-Loren Taylor, Natasha Middleton, and Marlo Rodriguez.]   https://whitakerforoakland.nationbuilder.com/  https://coreantoddforperalta2018.com/

9. & 10. Last but not least or technically new to local politics- The top challengers to the incumbent mayor – Cat Brooks and Pamela Price-are nevertheless exciting candidates in their approaches to the mayor’s race and their visions for the city. We hope they will work out a tag team approach that can take the Jerry Brown machine out and put in as Cat says “the people’s program.” https://www.catbrooksforoakland.com/  /www.pamelaprice4mayor.com

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The California Sanctuary Campaign, Cat Brooks, Pamela Price, & Saied Karamooz, Welcome the TPS Alliance, Journey for Justice, to Oakland this Monday

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Press Advisory

Oakland, CA.- Oakland’s progressive mayoral candidates, Cat Brooks, Pamela Price, and Saied Karamooz, will come together Monday August 27th at 9:30 am in front of Oakland’s City Hall to welcome the National TPS Alliance, a coalition of groups representing Temporary Protected Status holders now threatened with deportation. They will rally and reconfirm Oakland’s position as a sanctuary city for all those targeted by the Trump regime.

The TPS Alliance working in collaboration with Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador) and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) is traveling across the country visiting over 50 cities in a specially outfitted bus to highlight the contributions of TPS holders and the need to prevent the next wave of family separations.

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TPS Holders at OUSD’s Sanctuary Event

According to the American Friends Service Committee, “The largest group of TPS recipients is from El Salvador (195,000 people) followed by Honduras (57,000 people) and Haiti (50,000 people).” https://www.afsc.org/blogs/news-and-commentary/trump-has-ended-temporary-protected-status-hundreds-thousands-immigrants

The movement to #SaveTPS has grown in number and force. In response to the Trump Administration’s decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status for nearly 450,000 beneficiaries, TSP holders are organizing among themselves to demand dignity and respect. As TPS holders, the recipients have been able to establish businesses, hold jobs, buy homes and raise their families–but all that is now in jeopardy.

As José Mejia, of the Save TPS Northern California committee, “Ending TPS goes against our values as Americans. The riders in the TPS Journey for Justice are men, women and children who strengthen our economy and society — we must allow them to stay in their families, homes and jobs.”

The Journey for Justice will arrive in the Bay Area Friday evening, August 24th, riders and local TPS holders will briefly tell their stories and how the threat of loss of status is affecting their lives. They will visit Daly City Friday evening where officials will host them for dinner, then stop by OUSD’s Sanctuary Training Kick-off on Saturday morning August 25th about 10:45 am near Metwest High School https://www.ousd.org/sanctuarydistrict , next stop is a 2 pm TPS Forum at the Corpus Christi Church, 62 Santa Rosa Avenue, San Francisco, CA. This workshop will educate area TPS holders and interested parties about their rights and options. All TPS holders and people interested are invited to attend. After rallying in Oakland, they’ll be back on the bus to more events in the Bay Area before heading to Oregon. Please contact Jose Mejia, 415 963 1557, mejiaj979@gmail.com for more info on the Journey for Justice.

 

Contact: Pamela Drake, pamelaadrake@gmail.com, 510-593-3721 for the Sanctuary Campaign.

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Towards a New City Council in Turbulent Times

As I wrote in The Oakland We Knew and the Mayor’s Race, if your vision of Oakland is not one that mimics the hollowing out of our city a la San Francisco…if your vision is one of a thriving town that includes working families, immigrants and the sons and daughters of those Black and Brown folks who have been marginalized while struggling to live and work in the city they were raised in, then you may have to delve deep into city politics before you vote in the fall city council races. I have done some of that work for you so here goes:

City Council District 2-Nikki Fortunato Bas

I will admit that I’m one of a small group that urged our current council member to run last time around. So I consider Abel a friend albeit not as close a one as then. He is a nice moderate man who likes being able to obtain improvements like better lighting for a park. I think he would be a good assistant city manager but he is not a leader and certainly not one we can look to to bring us through turbulent times. His approach is to bolster the mayor whoever he or she may be and follow their lead.

Here are some of the areas in which he let us down:

  • During negotiations with the council to put Measure JJ on the ballot, which offers better and clearer protections for renters, at a time when more and more are living in the streets or leaving, Abel would not consider supporting it until the mayor had agreed and after it was watered down. He was brought along, seemingly kicking and screaming.
  • During the budget struggle of 2016 a number of community groups built a coalition to propose  a people’s budget. They had hoped to use more of the general fund for the needs of undeserved neighborhoods beyond policing (which is of course necessary but claims the lion’s share of the budget at this time, largely because of  unrestrained overtime, settlements for police abuse cases and the continuing expense of the monitor, because OPD has not adequately dealt with the racial profiling issue-just watch the dog chase its tail, sigh.)
  • Ultimately, Abel joined with the group supporting the mayor’s budget and as chair of that meeting, using a parliamentary slight-of-hand, passed the budget by dropping a firefighter academy, an illegal dumping pick-up crew, and a street paving crew.
  • After the minimum wage law was passed, labor groups [the same labor and community groups who worked to get Abel elected] asked for a small fund to help spread the word about the law so that local businesses would fairly follow it and the city could enforce it but our council member was loathe to vote for it until, once again, the mayor agreed to support it.
  • There are other instances where CM Guillen let down the working people who got him on the council-not supporting settling with the unions until after an unnecessary strike was held, not supporting the Chinatown Coalition when it negotiated with developers for community benefits and initially trying to block placing Measure LL, the police commission on the ballot, instead proposing a toothless alternative along with Annie Campbell Washington.
  • Finally, I would be expected to bring up the sad community process over the 12th Street parcel but I don’t think it is fair to put all the blame on Abel in this instance.

Nikki’s Track Record

Nikki headed up the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy before taking the job as Executive Director of the partnership for Working Families. As EBASE’s CEO she successfully fought for Oakland’s Minimum Wage campaign, to reduce diesel emissions at the Port of Oakland while working up a plan to provide more of the jobs from the Port for Oaklanders all while she was active in her daughter’s girl scout troop.  download (5)

When she was just starting out, she received the Mario Savio Young Activist Award for her work organizing garment workers and in 2012, the San Francisco Chronicle recognized her as a social justice Changemaker. More recently she was honored by Oakland Rising, a local umbrella organization that pulls together many non-profits to fight for our working families. She has the track record to stand up to powerful interests and to lead in changing times.

As Jessamyn Sabbag of Oakland Rising and a former Guillen supporter says, “Nikki has a proven track record – in fact, she’s accomplished more as a civilian in the last four years than Guillen has as an elected official.  We hope you’ll seriously consider supporting Nikki Fortunato Bas for D2 city council.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=7K2rxlGjFPk

http://www.nikki4oakland.com/

City Council District 4 Ranking-Nayeli Maxson, Sheng Thao, Pamela Harris

Pamela-Harris-Shang-Thao-Nayelli-Maxon

For those of us concerned about the direction Oakland has taken to force its historic residents out of the city and to usher in all the new wonderful businesses without protecting those who strove without the means to establish them, Annie Campbell Washington was a disappointment.

Ms. Washington seemed to routinely vote for developers’ demands and the police union’s positions but could not support the other unions who get the city’s work done when they asked to be made right after givebacks during the Recession. So when she announced her retirement from politics, we saw this as an opportunity to support a council member who would fight for working families, defying special interests and even sometimes opposing the mayor.

Many interesting candidates have signed up to take on the challenge and three smart powerful women have emerged in the lead. Here’s my ranking: Nayeli Maxson, Sheng Thao, Pamela Harris

Nayeli is known to D4 residents as a former staffer for Annie Campbell Washington. I got to know her when she led the effort to find someone to run against Sheriff Ahern, this guy, https://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/Video-reveals-Alameda-County-sheriff-s-office-13170239.php. Unfortunately we were unable to get someone who met the requirements to take a chance on challenging this well-heeled and powerful elected official, but Nayeli proved her progressive bona fides to me then and since. You may have noticed that the mayor and CM Washington are supporting a businessman from Montclair, someone who admits it will take a while for him to get up to speed on the issues confronting the town. I can only glean from that that the mayor does not share the vision of Oakland that Nayeli wants for her young family.

Nayeli has the policy chops to put together legislation that can offer relief to working families and is strongly in favor of affordable housing having suffered through eviction  as a child in SF. And, at the Block by Block Organizing Network, BBBON, she was the only candidate who vowed not to take contributions from the police union. As the current director of the Alliance for Community Development, she knows how to encourage entrepreneurship in our undeserved communities. Jobs are important but the days of the gold watch after decades of employment are over and many of us will at some point, try entrepreneurship. Her organization helps provide the tools and she can show Oakland how to make it work.   https://nayeliforoakland.com/

Sheng Thao runs a very close second for me. As Rebecca Kaplan’s chief-of-staff, she has strengthened the focus of the sometimes mercurial council member’s office and assisted her in passing progressive legislation. Sheng has worked with electeds and constituents from around the city and other government agencies. She has developed budget expertise, no small thing when this administration pleads poverty whenever community members demand services.   https://www.shengforoakland.com/

As a daughter of Vietnam War refugees, a single mom who put herself through college after fleeing an abusive partner, she is one tough cookie. Sheng has the sole endorsement of the Alameda Labor Council and Assembly Member Bonta. So long as these two women are in your top two, you can’t go wrong.

Pamela Harris is a Democratic Party activist who has been a documentary filmmaker, a non-profit director, and earned a Mildred Parish Massey Legacy Award from Congresswoman Barbara Lee. In addition to being a delegate to the local Democratic Party, she was a board member of the Stonewall Democratic Club. Her platform is as progressive as Nayeli”s and Sheng’s but in a recent forum, she also spoke of statewide issues, over which she has more experience. Although she has less knowledge of city issues and the machinations of the city council, she would also be a tough force for progressive change if elected.  https://www.pamharris4oakland.com/

District 6-No Endorsement

First, please read this blog from an observer and regular speaker to the Oakland City Council. Not only does he make a point about CM Guillen’s original inclination to vote against the proposal for the E. 12th parcel, but he does a good job documenting the bias against Ms. Brooks in the press.

https://hyphenatedrepublic.wordpress.com/2018/05/17/the-united-front-against-desley-brooks/

Here’s the thing with our Miss Brooks, as one wag told me, “she’s been a thorn in the side of every mayor.” If you haven’t spent time in East Oakland, you might not know the depth of distrust that folks there have with government. No, it’s not of the my-street-didn’t-get-adequately-cleaned-last-week type. It’s of the we have no grocery stores, we have crime but the police treat us all like criminals and our streets never get cleaned, in fact our streets are full of everyone else’s trash and our kids aren’t safe in the park–kind of distrust. Most folks in East Oakland don’t complain (until the East Oakland Congress of Neighborhoods, the East Oakland Collective, etc, came along) because they don’t believe it will get them what they need since no one in city hall seems to care.

So along comes a council member who says, I’ll get you a new teen center and I won’t care whose toes I step on, I’ll make sure you can use your parks by offering free concerts there every summer, and I’ll fight for your share of the city’s funds, that’s what Desley means to some residents of District 6 and she has delivered.

No, it’s still not paradise but that is not for want of her passion and hard work. And more from CM BRooks-I’ll fight to fund jobs programs with the public funds from projects in which the jobless were left out. This fight, which did not get the necessary votes to go forward, was billed by the media as some sort of misuse of funds. Really, using public funding of city projects to prepare city workers to get some of the jobs provided by those funds, is misuse? Depends on the level of unemployment in your neighborhood, I guess.

But to others, she’s the Council Member who snaps at them if they disagree with her or can’t get their call returned (BTW, some of our “best” CMs have difficulty returning those calls) or she’s the council member whose attitude and actions embarrass them.

But please do not talk to me about her corruption since you haven’t proved your case. I have never seen Desley do something for her own enrichment rather for the benefit of her community. I know she lost a lawsuit and I may be wrong but I believe it was an ugly argument that got out of hand. I will never see the smart and tough Elaine Brown as a frail elder and probably neither does she, which might have been part of the problem.

Ms. Brooks does not always take the progressive position (which rankles even more when she condescends to others) but when she does she wields a powerful argument, not just in its vehemence but in its logic and knowledge of city processes. CM Brooks, CM Kaplan and CM Gallo often form a united front on tough issues. Maybe some folks want to see that front crumble, because given the array of candidates running against her, I believe it would; and we would be left to the good graces of a mayor who doesn’t know much about East Oakland.

I think Loren Taylor is a fine man from a good family, rooted in Oakland. His office would be welcoming to all. Natasha Middleton is a policy wonk with some interesting ideas who has put in the work, and Marlo Rodriguez also seems to be a good person, willing to learn. (Loren is heavily supported by the mayor and Natasha seems to have garnered some level of endorsement also as she once worked for her.) But, sorry, folks, it won’t do to replace the tough and often obnoxious Ms. Brooks with any of them. An acquiescent council under any mayor is not a pretty sight.

So why don’t I just endorse her? I’d like to, but I can’t condone the way she treats others or her forays into demagoguery. But those who endorse her purely for her policy positions or because East Oakland needs a strong defender, have to admit that her need to go for the jugular when she’s crossed just the slightest bit, is a painful thing to watch and often renders her ineffective. It’s a shame too, because she’s smart as a whip, brave as a charging bull, and in possession of the institutional memory we need at a time when we seem to be losing our way. So the good voters of Central East Oakland will have to sort it out but I hope they will evaluate the choices thoroughly before they decide.

School Board

I have been less involved with the politics of OUSD than I once was, I think I just found it too sad. But I do endorse Shanthi Gonzales who I believe has the chops and the trust of her community to propose a plan to help us get out of the latest budget disaster that once again threatens our schools.

Aimee Eng is running unopposed in D2 and was a disappointment initially but she seems to have stepped up so here’s to more of that.

Clarissa Doutherd

The incumbent Nina Senn is not running for reelection. Gary Yee, former board member and former superintendent, was on the board during the state takeover and did not prove to be a dynamic force for local control. He is seen as the charter school supporter in this race but that may not be completely fair However, I could not recommend him as a returning board member at this critical time.

But Clarissa Doutherd for District 4 is a revelation. The first time I heard her was at the BBBON endorsement meeting and she got a huge round of applause after she finished speaking  http://www.oaklandpost.org/2018/06/15/parent-leader-clarissa-doutherd-campaigns-school-board-district-4/  . I hope that after she’s done cleaning up OUSD, she runs for higher office. As Executive Director of Parent Voices Oakland, she’s got the smarts, the compassion and the vision to bring everyone together to fight for our kids.  I’m glad to end this blog of tough choices with a hearty endorsement and a video or two.

 

 

 

The Oakland We Knew and the Mayor’s Race

 

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Libby Schaaf’s Record

It’s hard to know how seriously Oakland folks will take this contest at a time when we are glued to twitter trying to understand the circus in Washington, but local politics are also a reflection of broader issues coming home to roost.

Libby Schaaf was a local apparatchik for a number of party politicians before she was elected to a single term on the council. She then ran what a pundit described as a “stealth campaign” for mayor. While everyone was busy blaming Jean Quan for all our ills and taking pot shots at Rebecca Kaplan, Libby Schaaf was tooling around town making goo goo eyes at reporters about her Oaklandish cred. [That was some ish alright.] After she released her secret weapon, an endorsement by Governor Jerry Brown, she turned out to be the top vote getter in that Ranked Choice Voting surprise.

Now almost 4 years later, we areexperiencing a human disaster like none we’ve seen in our 152 history. Thousands of Oaklanders are living in squalor on the streets and whole neighborhoods have been destabilized by gentrification. Of course, Ms. Schaaf cannot be blamed for the sudden rise in homelessness but the level of indifference she’s shown to these conditions, has been, until very recently, stunning.  920x1240

https://draketalkoakland.com/2017/07/10/oakland-city-council-must-heed-the-homeless-advocacy-working-group/

To add incompetence to neglect this administration managed to misplace $2.2 million  desperately needed  anti-displacement funds granted by the state. Eventually, they found them but still had trouble distributing them in a timely manner. Meanwhile tent cities continued to proliferate.  http://www.oaklandpost.org/2018/05/31/oakland-allocated-2-2-million-prevent-evictions-mayors-staff-failed-spend-money/  https://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2018/05/22/oakland-failed-to-spend-22-million-on-anti-displacement-and-homeless-assistance

Yes, she’s raised private funds for tough sheds, probably an improvement on tents, and that’s nice. But when activists of the Homeless Advocacy Working Group, HAWG, offered a list of solutions, I wouldn’t say they were shown the door but just left to sit in the waiting room.  Meanwhile, the mayor created another highly paid position in her office to deal with the problems hiring Darin Ranelletti, Policy Director for Housing Security, phew, I feel better already.

https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2018/03/15/oakland-creates-new-policy-director-position-to-deal-with-housing-crisis/

She spent her first day as mayor hanging out with police officers, because she felt their morale needed boosting and then was blindsided when it came out that they had been engaging in a sex trafficking operation. When it was also discovered that the department had been involved in cover-up after shameless cover-up, her administration did issue a loud slap on the wrist. Her next response to this crisis in confidence was to attempt to limit the independence of the proposed charter amendment that set up a Police Commission.

It turns out that her negotiation style is classic my-way-or-the-highway. When she demanded the power to appoint almost half of the commissioners, no compromise was brooked . I have to add that neither she nor her city administrator nor the city attorney have stopped trying to put obstacles in the path of a truly independent police commission even after the voters overwhelmingly supported it.

There have been a number of disasters and scandals during this administration’s first three years but little has stuck to Schaaf given the mostly positive press she garners locally and nationally–the Ghostship Fire, the cover-up of the new police chief’s images (7)complicity in an ICE raid in West Oakland, at least 4 police shootings in one summer, not to mention the accelerated exodus of native Oaklanders, especially Black Oaklanders from the Town. Additionally, this mayor has managed to look like a hero against the Jeff Sessions anti-immigrant onslaught while doing nothing to ensure our city’s sanctuary policy is upheld. She even told a group of immigrants fighting to maintain their Temporary Protected Status in the US who have started a nationwide bus tour to call attention to their plight that she was too busy to meet with them.  https://consortiumnews.com/2018/08/15/journey-for-justice-caravan-launches-cross-country-trek/

My Ranked Recommendations- 1) Cat Brooks, 2) Pamela Price, 3) Saied Karamooz.

Many people know Cat Brooks as a firebrand speaking at the city council and leading a march to the police department but she has a warm side that shows itself to friends and family and that includes all of the marginalized folks who are being ignored or actively pushed out of Oakland. She is an artist/performer besides being an activist on almost every issue and she has amassed a volunteer army who share her inclusive vision of Oakland. Her campaign is a positive force in Oakland politics. crowd+shothttps://www.catbrooksforoakland.com/  “That’s what this campaign is about. It’s about putting the people into the halls of power and collectively creating a new way of governance that is people driven and people-centered.”

Pamela Price, as many of you know, ran a tough campaign for district attorney. She did well in Oakland, although this race is a completely different one. I championed her  against Nancy O’Malley and think it’s a good thing that she has jumped into this race too. “We must fight injustice and income inequality in Oakland. We must house the homeless and ensure that we protect and enhance the safety and quality of life in our  Pamela_attorney-e1485730265186neighborhoods. We must reach deep inside ourselves and unite behind bold solutions while moving everyone in this City forward. We must “lift as we climb.”

https://www.pamelaprice4mayor.com/meetpamela

Saied Karamooz is a businessman who became active in Oakland politics a few years ago. At the time he seemed to me to be someone who took potshots at what others were doing but I see him differently now. He helped us get the Police Commission, Measure LL, on the ballot, helped pass it and has worked doggedly with the Coalition for Police Accountability [which cannot endorse in any campaign] to fight to maintain its independence. He is a member of  the otherwise ineffective Green Party but has worked with the Oakland Justice Coalition as well as other local advocates.  “I have been active in various progressive causes, such as Police Accountability, Fight for 15, Stop Urban Shield, Renter Protection, Public Bank, and No Coal in Oakland.” Saied-Headshot-e1517086595811

https://everyonesmayor.org/bio/

 

RCV–the Anti-gentrification Tool:

If the campaigns above work together in the Ranked Choice Voting system, there’s a chance we can beat the incumbent (that means ranking everyone but the incumbent in almost any order.) Why is that so important? No, I don’t think that Libby Schaaf is a terrible mayor. No, the potholes are not her fault or even the fault of her predecessor–but if you’re concerned about them–please don’t vote to repeal the gas tax since it’s our best chance to fund road repair and replacement.

Oakland is teetering on a precipice. It may even be too late to pull it back and while I don’t think Ms. Schaaf has done it on purpose, we could easily go the way of San Francisco. That city where I once lived, is no longer home to artists, working families or indeed families in general. In fact SF is a city with the fewest children of any metropolitan area in the US. It’s Black population which once mirrored that of the country and was significant in its cultural life-is now half of that and rapidly shrinking. San Francisco’s rep as a cauldron for activism, creativity and movements for progressive change exists only in nostalgia for the old city that once welcomed everyone in.

We all see where Oakland is going and we’re happy about new businesses opening up, an uptick in nightlife we haven’t seen since WWII, with cranes towering over the downtown and uptown. But it shouldn’t be necessary to harass and evict the people who have lived, worked and raised their families in this city and did so without grocery stores, restaurants or the availability of the capital to fund them.

Admittedly it’s a difficult task to find ways to provide it in a time of deregulation and soaring greed when the federal government long ago ceased funding any significant levels of housing affordable to the middle class much less the poor. It takes an administration that allocates available tax dollars wisely, monitors the funds carefully and actively seeks out creative urban planning ideas.

Contrast this with a city government in which neighborhood groups like the Chinatown Coalition must raise thousands of dollars to appeal planning decisions that give developers valuable height, density, and parking variances in exchange for next to no community benefits. The Chinatown Coalition fought for affordable housing within these giant projects in addition to space for small local businesses and indigenous art communities. But the Planning Department under this administration has still not recognized or utilized community benefits mandates in their process.

https://draketalkoakland.com/2016/12/14/help-wanted-an-oakland-planning-director-for-equitable-development/

With the leadership of this mayor and the current council members in Districts 2, 4, and 3, developers are actively discouraged from listening to community needs, the planning department ignores community demands and the budget is earmarked to fund everything but housing, services for the homeless, clean-up crews, recreation centers, and libraries especially in our economically struggling districts. They have been left to fend for themselves while public land is sold away to charter school corporations and elite programs.   http://www.oaklandpost.org/2018/07/13/council-delays-decision-selling-public-land-build-charter-school/

Oakland scored 33.5% on a study called the Equity Indicator Report. For all this mayor’s focus on police, Oakland’s poorer communities rate the lowest in the city for public safety according to this report.  https://www.kqed.org/news/11680162/new-report-shows-oakland-scores-low-for-racial-equity

The question now is what is your vision of Oakland? Is it the watered down Jerry Brown version where tech bros rule downtown, the uptown all the way to Temescal-whatever that means-“Construction cranes dot the downtown skyline, and scaffolding-shrouded towers march down Broadway into Temescal”-not to mention the Lake, Fruitvale and beyond?  [https://extras.mercurynews.com/oaklandboom/ ]

Should Fruitvale and West Oakland be rebuilt as bedroom communities for one demographic, whose folks will definitely buy artisanal coffee and drink green smoothies a la Blindspotting, but where will the rest of us go who struggled through the days images (1)where the easternmost coffee shop was the Coffee Mill on Grand Avenue, crime was high and storefront churches kept kids fed in the summertime. Should we have to leave because the goodies of the “sharing culture” don’t accrue to us? Should our kids have to move to Sacramento, Oregon, or, I dunno, Ohio because we just don’t fit the new vision? This is our chance, maybe our last one, to select a more inclusive mayor, one who knows and even cares where Willie Wilkins Park in East Oakland is and how it serves our families. We can do this.   http://oaklandschaafted.com/#how%20long

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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

Sheriffs to Receive Summons to Appear at Peoples’ Tribunals

California Sanctuary Campaign Media Advisory

Notice to Appear – Peoples’ Tribunal May 5th

Oakland, CA: On Tuesday, April 10th, 10 am, 1401 Lakeside Drive, Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern’s offices, an alliance of coalitions including ACILEP, Detention Watch Network, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Freedom for Immigrants (formerly CIVIC) and many more organizations representing immigrants, those seeking asylum and groups opposed to mass incarceration will deliver a Notice To Appear [Orden del Pueblo] at the May 5th Peoples’ Tribunal [Tribunal Popular] at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond, CA.

Reverend Dr. Maria Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa of the Starr King Unitarian Universalist Church in Hayward will deliver the summons, saying, “We demand that all elected officials, especially local law enforcement officials, adhere to the letter and spirit of the law by affording everyone due process. We further demand an end to the collusion between ICE and the Alameda County Sheriff’s office and call on Sheriff Ahern to appear before the people and answer to these and other charges.”

At the same time as the Notice To Appear is being delivered to Sheriff Ahern, these demands will also be conveyed to Sheriff Livingston in Contra Costa County and David Jennings, ICE Field Director in San Francisco. Coalition members will  serve Attorney General Jefferson Sessions and ICE Director Thomas Homan in Washington, D.C. tomorrow.

Tribunals are taking place nationwide during April and May to bring attention to the purposeful cruelty being afflicted on these communities by ICE and other law enforcement agencies who promote family separation, exile from community, and mass incarceration. The Tribunals call on agency directors and elected officials to listen to testimony on the harm being done to them and accept the judgement of the people who have suffered directly under these conditions.

Contact: Pamela Drake-510-593-3721, pamelaadrake@gmail.com or Judith Stacey-510-559-0703, judith.stacey@nyu.edu

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Call to Action: Stop Urban Shield at the Alameda Board of Supes Tomorrow

Tomorrow at the Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting, starting at 11 am, Sheriff Ahern, our local representative to President 45, will bring his motion to fund Urban Shield, the Law Enforcement Festival of Militarized Mayhem, which  has included organizations like ICE and the Oath Keepers-a right-wing paramilitary organization-to the Board for approval of Ahern’s next exhibition of guns and tanks on a pretense of teaching disaster preparedness.

Many organizations in the Stop Urban Shield Coalition http://stopurbanshield.org/ will be in attendance asking the Board to fund real preparedness, the kind that makes residents feel safer in their communities and empowers them to help each other, rather than a paramilitary expo which further divides our communities.

Here’s the info:

Rally and Press Conference: 

Where: Alameda County Admin Building, 1221 Oak Street, 5th floor, Oakland 94612

When: Tuesday, March 27th, 10 am rally & press conference, 11 am Board of Supes meeting.

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Photo from the Ella Baker Center by Brooke Anderson

The California Sanctuary Campaign is issuing a call to join the groups and coalitions tomorrow to stop funding this raw display of right wing force masquerading as preparedness training. Our communities have needs that this activity makes a mockery of, and now is the time for the Board to radically rethink the entire sheriff’s budget. You can find info on that from the Ella Baker Center at http://ellabakercenter.org/get-involved/save-money-save-lives–audit-sheriff-ahern

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Read this letter from Oakland’s Latino Task Force 

“We are writing to you today because we have learned that the Board of Supervisors will be voting on the distribution of Bay Area Urban Areas Security Initiative funds on Tuesday, March 27. We are asking that you introduce a motion to exclude funding for Urban Shield for 2018 when deciding on UASI funds.

As the Latino Task Force of Oakland we oppose Urban Shield. You likely have heard the many arguments as to why a militarized approach to emergency response is problematic. We are sure that you have listened to how programs like Urban Shield creates more fear, confusion, anxiety and actual safety concerns in our community. In particular our immigrant community who already is apprehensive in reporting crime, seeking medical attention, and reporting unsafe living conditions will be less likely to participate in neighborhood emergency preparedness. That is why California adopted the Values Act promoting sanctuary and protection for all its residents early this year. By excluding Urban Shield from UASI funds, you will begin to restore confidence and participation within all of our communities.

You and other supervisors play an important role in determining the nature, form, and
implementation of the region’s emergency preparedness. Shifting disaster preparedness
priorities back toward community strength and resilience makes our work more effective.Moving away from war games and militarization makes our communities less vulnerable. It makes them more likely to engage in smarter and stronger preparedness. We have a chance to be a model for the state and the rest of the country.

We ask that you make a motion and vote to defund Urban Shield for 2018 on Tuesday the
27th. We stand with you in recommitting to community-based safety and emergency
preparedness.”

See you tomorrow morning on a beautiful day to Stop Urban Shield and rebuild our beloved community!

 

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

 

TPS-for-haitians-call-alt

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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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)

 

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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