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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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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Make Your Way to the EastSide Arts Alliance this Weekend, Sept 12th, 13th plus Sept. 19th

Oakland is one of those cities in which gentrification is running wild at the same time that young artists and entrepreneurs of color are busy staking ever larger claims. It’s one of those paradoxes of modern urban living; and Oakland is the petri dish in which competing claims may learn how to create art out of that tension as is happening again this weekend at the EastSide Arts Alliance.

If you haven’t yet been to the ESAA for festivals, music/spoken word performances or lively discussions, get yourself there this weekend-or next Saturday. The Anastasio Project is a collaboration of community organizers, cultural icons and artistry that will make you mad, sad and, hopefully, propel you to action all at the same time.

It takes its name from Anastasio Hernandez-Rojas who was beaten to death by border guards as he attempted to return from Mexico to his family in San Diego. No one has yet been charged with that brutal murder which took place in 2010. The collaboration seeks to make the connections between state violence towards immigrants in the border zone, immigrants who are struggling to live in California and on-going police brutality against those who have lived here for centuries.

It is a research project wrapped in spoken word, music, and dance which attempts to utilize all the media available to represent the varied experiences of people whose lives don’t matter to the mainstream media (MSM.) These programs have been presented before but the organizers NAKA Dance Theater along with the Alliance have added topical forums to extend the discussion.

If you go tonight, September 12th, you will hear from Birdie Guttierrez, a San Diego organizer, dealing with how families in that area cope with the brutality of ICE and other agencies with the help of Mujeres Unidas y Activas. MUA has been active in fighting for Latina women’s rights for twenty-four years here in the Bay Area and is a national model of organizing for empowerment.

If you go tomorrow night, Sunday, September 13th, you will hear from our own Cat Brooks, Oakland political activist, artist and dynamo of creative resistance (ONYX and the Anti Police Terror Project) who will talk about the criminalization and murder of Black Women in America and where the #BalckLivesMatter collective goes from here.

Then next Saturday, September 19th, Matt Gonzalez, San Francisco politician and lawyer in the Public Defender’s Office-for whom I trekked many a hilly block in his mayoral campaign in the early 2000’s-will speak on the needs to protect our sanctuary cities in the face of a serious right wing threat. Members of MUA will also contribute to this forum.

The forums run from 4 to 6 and the play starts at 8pm and there are two more performances on the 18th and 20th at 2277 International Boulevard in the San Antonio district of Oakland.

People talk about the Temescal, West Oakland and the Fruitvale as models of or battle grounds for displacement and change but the San Antonio district I remember, the one I raised my kids in for four years, was one of the most diverse and unknown neighborhoods of Oakland. We lived there in the height of the crack epidemic-my kids and I watched as Felix Mitchell’s funeral passed by a block away. This neighborhood still represents so much of the peril and promise of Oakland even as it stays under the MSM radar.

But the EastSide Arts Alliance draws together all these cultures and forces, not to neutralize or homogenize them but to listen and learn from all their stories. So get there soon, this weekend would be a good time to be introduced to issues of national, international importance, through art and community,