Archive for December, 2012

Army Base Evictions Could Cost Oakland 1,000 Jobs

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor

Caught between the possibility of a loss of thousands of dollars in federal funds on the one hand, and community and City Council concerns over the possible loss of nearly a thousand Oakland jobs on the other, the Jean Quan Administration moved forward this week with a plan to remove several businesses from the old Oakland Army Base by May 31.

Included in the business clusters affected are Pacific Coast Container (PCC) and Oakland Maritime Support Services (OMSS), both of which supply support for Port of Oakland activities, the Oakland Film

Rebecca Kaplan

Rebecca Kaplan

Center, and Urban Recycling.

PCC employs more than 400 workers on the Army Base and OMSS more than a hundred, while the Film Center is a conglomeration of more than 30 separate businesses.
The businesses, which have been on short-term leases on the Army Base since 2006, are being moved so the city can begin dismantling  the buildings they occupy in the first phase of the city’s development of the Army Base property.

Oakland faces the loss of $120 million in federal matching funds on the redevelopment of the Army Base if construction does not begin sometime in 2013.
It is possible that because of their port-related focus, PCC and OMSS could eventually return to the base as part of the redevelopment plan for the area, which is focused on support for the port.

If the Film Center is to be retained in Oakland, however, it must find a new location within the city outside of the old Army Base.

The Film Center has reached an agreement in principle with the city to vacate their premises by the May 31 deadline, although details of the terms  have yet to be worked out. The other tenants are reportedly balking over the fact that in order to stave off a possible February eviction by the city, they must sign away their right to challenge their removal from the Army Base property in court.

The OaklandWORKS Alliance, a West Oakland based advocacy coalition that includes such organizations as Leadership Excellence, PUEBLO, West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, Oakland Black Caucus, John George Democratic Club, NAACP, Oakland Natives Give Back, and Oakland Parents Together, has started an online petition calling on Oakland Administrator Deanna Santana to provide an alternative location and transition plan for the outgoing businesses.

OaklandWORKS is charging that “the city is promising thousands of jobs for Oakland residents in the distant future, while it is unnecessarily destroying the jobs of hundreds who already work on Army Base property.”
Several City Councilmembers also urged administration officials to ensure the retention of the Army Base businesses during the Council’s last meeting of the year this week, with particular emphasis on the Film Center.
Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan said, “I continue to be very concerned about what’s happening with the Film Center. It’s now been four years since this council said we expected the Film Center to be relocated

Dexter Vizinau

Dexter Vizinau

[in Oakland], and they haven’t been. Every study we’ve commissioned has told us that the film industry is an excellent job growth target industry for our city, and we are currently in the process of destroying it.”

Oakland business advocate Dexter Vizinau, who represents PCC and OMSS in its negotiations with the city over the relocation, says he hopes that both organizations will find a home in the new development.

“There’s nothing wrong with the city’s proposal for the Army Base,” Vizinau said by telephone this week. “The only question is, are local businesses going to be able to take advantage of this great opportunity? We don’t believe the city should be trading existing jobs for new jobs.”

“You keep the ones you have and grow the rest.”

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, December 20, 2012 (www.postnewsgroup.com)

Teach Tomorrow Oakland Seeks Dedicated Homegrown Teachers

By Post Staff

“People are going to say ‘I didn’t think it would be this hard’. (But) teaching is a practice.  You’re going to have to work, and you’re going to have work really, really hard.”

It was a Tuesday evening recruitment session, and more than 20 prospective teachers were listening to Dr. Rachelle Rogers-Ard, director of Teach Tomorrow Oakland (TTO), as she talked to them about joining what she called one of the most exciting and difficult professions in the country.

Teach Tomorrow Oakland Director Rachelle Rogers-Ard explains the program to people considering entering the teaching profession.

Teach Tomorrow Oakland Director Rachelle Rogers-Ard explains the program to people considering entering the teaching profession.

“We’re going to try to give you as much help as possible.  We’re going to help remove the obstacles to teaching. We´ll pay for costs of teacher tests and help you pass them,” said Rogers-Ard, who is recruiting for the fifth cohort of Oakland home grown teacher interns, set to begin training over the summer and take over classrooms next fall.

In exchange for the support and training, she said, “We’re asking for a five year commitment, more than any other internship in the country, because Oakland students deserve teachers who are not passing through, who are willing to stay long enough to become excellent teachers.”

According to Rogers-Ard, 93 percent of Oakland students are kids of color, and they need more teachers who look like them and live in the same neighborhoods.

TTO is a project created by the Oakland Unified School District and the office of former Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums. The program has higher “standards” than most teacher preparation programs.

The candidates are interviewed by a team that includes Oakland students, Oakland community members and professional educators.  The applicants have to demonstrate a lesson in front of Oakland students before they are even admitted to a cohort.

Funded by the Transition to Teaching federal grant program, TTO is a not a substitute for a university-based teaching credential program. Those who want to teach still must earn a credential.

What TTO does is help those who want to teach find a position as an intern teacher and provide those who need tutors with help to pass the CBEST and CSET exams.

To do its recruiting, TTO reaches out more broadly to more diverse communities than many traditional teacher programs.  Also, unlike other traditional recruiting programs, TTO works with community members for at least six months prior to placement to help pass teacher tests, enroll in credential programs, and remove other barriers to becoming an educator.

Once interns begin, TTO gives them professional and nurturing support to help them be successful. Organized in cohorts, the interns become a kind of family, which helps them through the inevitable rough times.

Teach Tomorrow has two upcoming recruitment sessions, Thursday, Jan. 10, and Thursday, Jan. 24, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Room 116 at McClymonds High School, 2607 Myrtle St. in Oakland. To register or for more information go to www.teachtomorrowinoakland.net or call (510) 273-2339.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, Dec. 14, 2012 (The Post News Group)

Is City Jobs Program Serving Youth?

By Ken A. Epstein

Some members of the Youth Council of the Oakland Workforce Investment Board (WIB) and representatives of local agencies that provide youth jobs are expressing anger and frustration at what they are calling the failure of the city to provide sufficient jobs for teenagers and young adults, especially youth in West Oakland.

Further, they accuse the city bureaucracy of not properly evaluating youth job contractors and slowing down the hiring of young people, keeping many from obtaining jobs or only allowing them to work for a few weeks before the summer program ended.

Members of the Youth Council also have been blocked from placing these issues on the council’s agenda for discussion and action, according to several members, including Gay Cobb of the Oakland Private Industry Council, who stated at the Nov. 28 Youth Council meeting she had been requesting an open discussion for the past 18 months.

Co-chair of the council George McDaniel said he had decided not to place the discussion on the agenda after consulting with the City Attorney.

“Oakland got the funding because we have a serious, serious problem in the area of youth employment. We took a system that was award winning, and it has fallen way off,” said William “Bill” Patterson, long time WIB

William "Bill" Patterson

William “Bill” Patterson

member, Oakland NAACP member and member of the Board of Directors of the East Bay Municipal Utility District.

“You’ve got a program that is supposed to be serving young people across the whole city, (but) the accounting (by the city) of it does not have the details – it’s flawed information,” said Patterson, who explained that he has informally spoken to people at many organizations in West Oakland, including Campbell Village, religious organizations and McClymonds High School, and he is not hearing about young people who are getting jobs.

“We’re not spending the (money) correctly. Where is it going, and how is it being spent? Patterson asked.

Patterson also complained about the failure of the WIB to address these issues. “We’re being blocked from (from discussing it),” he said. “We don’t know what that’s all about. We’re not accountable. Some people say (the city is) doing a great job, but I think we’re a miserable failure.”

Responding, John Bailey, executive director of the Oakland WIB, said it is “an ongoing concern and focus” of the WIB to create jobs for young people in East and West Oakland
Youth jobs in West Oakland were offered last summer by the Mentoring Center, utilizing funds provided by Youth Uprising, and Pivotal Point, which was funded directly by the WIB, Bailey said, who added he did not have data immediately available on how many jobs were created.

He also said West Oakland has also been designated as a site for a neighborhood career center.

Tony Coleman of Bikes for Life, a community bike shop that works with young people in West Oakland, says his experience is that when he offered jobs to youth in the Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program this year, the young people were only finally assigned at his agency a few weeks before the program ended and they had to return to school.

“The big agencies mismanage the program, and they pass the buck. But there’s no transparency or accountability,” he said.

Rashidah Grinage, executive director of People United for a Better Life in Oakland (PUEBLO), also heads an agency that has served young people in the summer jobs program.
She said she had put in a public records act request for documents related to the evaluation of agencies that provide youth services in the Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program. “When someone gets a bid for intake and placement, what are they required to do?  She asked.  How is their performance reviewed after the fact?

“There were no documents that showed that there was any process at all,” she said. “I’m told that there is one, but there’s none that I’ve been able to discover. If they do a lousy job, how does that impact what happens when they next apply to the same job again?”

Bailey, the WIB executive director, said evaluating the quality of the work of agencies that contract with the city is something that needs to be strengthened.
“Quality review is always an area that needs some work,” he said. “That is an area that staff takes responsibility for, and we can do a better job in terms of program assessment. That is work being done at present, one of the things that is at the top of the list:”

Tony Coleman of Bikes for Life

Tony Coleman of Bikes for Life

A preliminary report on the 2012 Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program was released at the Nov. 28 meeting of the WIB Youth Council, which said that 805 young people were “served” by the city. However, Mayor Jean Quan has repeatedly stated that 1,000 youth were served last year.

“From what I’ve observed, hundreds of kids go through orientations, but that doesn’t mean they ever get a job,” Grinage said. They go through training workshops and orientations, and they don’t get a job after all that. That’s really harsh in terms of how it impacts them.”

John Bailey

John Bailey

“This is not a game,” said Grinage “What are these people dong with all this money? Who are they really serving?”

Bailey concurred with criticisms of the preliminary report.

“I would absolutely agree the report (that was released) was not adequate,” said Bailey. “I’m working to ensure that the final report is before the Youth Council meeting in February, and it will reflect all the jobs provided in the city this past summer.”

Of the city WIB officials contacted, at deadline only Bailey had returned phone calls and email queries. Also contacted were Al Auletta, program manager of the city’s Office of Neighborhood Investment; and Karen Boyd, Citywide Communications Director.

Acknowledging criticisms for the late start of last year’s Mayors Summer Jobs Program, Bailey said the city has already begun working on business outreach for summer 2013.

“We want to make a strong summer commitment, and we want to create year-round internships for our young people, he said.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, December 14, 2012 (www.postnewsgroup.com)