Archive for June, 2013

SF Gay Pride March Celebrates Supreme Court Victories

About 1.5 million people attended San Francisco's 43rd annual gay pride parade — the largest ever with half a million more than last year. Photos by Ken A. Epstein

About 1.5 million people attended San Francisco’s 43rd annual gay pride parade — the largest ever with half a million more than last year. Photos by Ken A. Epstein

 

 

Marchers in the Free Bradley Manning contingent wait for SF Pride Parade to begin.

Marchers in the Free Bradley Manning contingent wait for SF Pride Parade to begin, Sunday, June 30.

 

 

Celebrants wait for parade to start.

Celebrants wait for parade to start.

 

Marching in the parade

Marching in the parade.

 

 

State Attorney General Kamala Harris, Community Marshal

State Attorney General Kamala Harris, Community Marshal.

 

Singers on a fire truck float.

Singers on a fire truck float.

 

 

 

Exuberant day after Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and Prop. 8

Exuberant day after Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and Prop. 8.

 

 

 

PUEBLO: City Administrator Hinders Reform of Police Complaint Intake

“The mayor is (also) culpable,” said Grinage.

 By Ken A. Epstein

There is growing frustration between local advocates of police accountability and City Administrator Deanna Santana, who they say is foot-dragging and purposely confusing the issues involved in implementing a City Council decision to turn over intake of complaints against police to civilians.

Approved by the City Council, the handover of the intake of complaints from police to civilians was supposed to begin in January.  But Santana said she could not make the transfer until October, citing insufficient staff, need to confer with the Oakland Police Officers Association (OPOA) and other issues.

Deanna Santana

Deanna Santana

Santana further angered community activists this week at a City Council committee meeting when she raised new complications and modifications of the civilian intake plan, which they say are contrary to what the council has told her to do.

“Ms. Santana uses as many words as possible as to be confusing as humanly possible. This is a deliberate strategy, but it isn’t going over well, and it won’t work,” said Rashidah Grinage, executive director of PUEBLO, which has been working for years to increase police accountability to the community.

Santana said at Tuesday’s Public Safety Committee that one of the issues was the need to develop a form for civilian intake workers to use that was in line with the form currently used by OPD’s Internal Affairs.

“The Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) and Internal Affairs have used the same form for 10 years,” said Grinage. “She says she needs time to develop the same form, but the form already exists and is on the city’s website to download.

“The fact that she can make such startlingly inaccurate statements is shocking.”

Defending herself Tuesday a Special Public Safety committee meeting Santana said, “I feel compelled to represent myself professionally and to ensure the accuracy of the record.”

She said the process of implementing the civilianization of complaint intake was slowed down because the federal compliance director who oversees the police department was supposed to begin in January but was not appointed until March.

Rashidah Grinage

Rashidah Grinage

“We did receive his approval of no objections as of April 30,” she said.

Further, Santana said at the Public Safety Committee meeting that, based on her talks with the compliance director, it would take about 18 months to hire and train civilian intake workers, who would be trained in-house by Internal Affairs staff.

In addition, she said, after training they might be housed at Internal Affairs. The positions will be “based initially in OPD,” and eventually it will be decided “where these positions will transfer or whether they will stay in the (police department),” Santana said.

“We strongly object to the training of intake workers by Internal Affairs,” said Grinage in an interview with the Post. “Why would the city hire people to be trained by people who have been proven deficient? The whole idea is to improve the intake process.”

“And why would you house civilian intake workers at Internal Affairs? That’s not what the council voted for.”

There are a numbers of reports that when residents tried to file complaints with Internal Affairs in the past, they were actively discouraged – contacted and pressured to withdraw their complaints.

The problem, said Grinage, is that Santana is protecting the OPOA. “They are fearful of losing control at the complaint process.”

“They’re trying to avoid to losing the ability to discourage people who file complaints,” she said.  “God knows how many complaints will be filed if they lose control of the process – all this is designed to keep control of the process.”

Grinage added that Mayor Jean Quan has to accept responsibility for Santana’s actions.

“The mayor is culpable here,” she said. “The mayor knows full well what’s going on and has refused to do anything about it. She is the supervisor of the city administrator, and she’s complicit, either intentionally or otherwise.”

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, June 26, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)

Oakland City Council Honors Street Academy

street academy

Click on photo to see full picture.

 

By Post Staff

The City Council honored the Oakland Street Academy last week for 40 years of graduating generations of Oakland youth.  Shown left to right are: City Councilmembers Noel Gallo and Desley Brooks; Gallo’s staff member Karely Ordaz; Leon Richardson, a senior at the school; science teacher Betsy Schultz; 2013 graduates Paul Crossley III and Michael Brown; community supporter Carole Watson; principal Patricia Williams-Myrick;  Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney; school supporter Dr. Kitty Kelly Epstein; staff member Bobby Young; Gina Hill, who will become the school’s new principal; and Sylvester Hodges, former school board member and community supporter. Photo by Ken A. Epstein

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, June 26, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)

Youth Touch the Future at Scotlan Center’s Sky High Program

By Jaron K. Epstein

Jaron K. Epstein

Jaron K. Epstein

The George P. Scotlan Youth and Family Center, founded in 1966 and based at the historic DeFremery Park, is heading up an innovative flight simulation training program for young people in West Oakland.

Operated in alliance with the Tuskegee Airmen Association and the Bay Area Black Pilots Association, the aviation program gives students real flight hours in a flight simulator, which they can use to prepare for careers as an independent pilot or if they choose, they can pursue a career working for a major airline.

Matthew Graves Jr.

Matthew Graves Jr.

This experience can also lead to opportunities to be trained as an air traffic controller.  Generally quite expensive, such a program often costs as much as $200 an hour for flight time.

“We built this flight simulator lab so we can put 23 kids in a room and have them look forward to new expectations,” said Matthew Graves Jr., executive director of Scotlan, which is a full service center for young people and their families.

The program also offers a career exploration workshop, which focuses on digital arts and media and renewable energy, in addition to aviation.

“We have partnered with College of Alameda, and we have FAA certified Tuskegee Airmen instructors, who are signing log books so (young people) have official ground hours that will last forever,” said Graves.

“We call it our Sky High program so they can look forward in the future to things that they hadn’t looked at before.”

The center not only has services to help youth improve education and job opportunities but also addresses family needs. Scotlan offers onsite counseling, mediation and real career training that provides the support Oakland youth need to make healthy life choices.

“We have a lot of youth who come to us saying they don’t expect to be here after they’re 18 or 19 years old because of the gun violence and the other things they experience,” Graves said. “We have to find innovative ways to address these problems.”

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, June 26, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)

Counterpoints: In the Wake of the Supreme Court Voting Rights Ruling

A preliminary – but basic – thought in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act

By Jesse Douglas Allen-Taylor

I was too young to be involved in the fight for the original passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, but I was in South Carolina during the struggle for renewal of the bill in the early 1980’s.

Jesse Douglas Allen-Taylor

Jesse Douglas Allen-Taylor

Many have forgotten that the Republicans temporarily took control of the United States Senate in 1980 during the year Ronald Reagan was elected President. That elevated South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond to the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Thurmond immediately said that one of his goals as chair would be to kill the Voting Rights Act, which was up for renewal in 1982.

In South Carolina, we formed a group called the South Carolina Voting Rights Campaign to fight for renewal of the act. To show South Carolina support for the Act, we set a goal of 10,000 signatures on petitions. By the time the petition campaign ended, we delivered more than 30,000 signatures to every Congressional District office in the state as well as to the U.S. Congress in Washington.

At the same time, we sponsored workshops and rallies and demonstrations throughout South Carolina in support of the Voting Rights Act. When the Southern Christian Leadership Conference held a march from Selma, Alabama to Washington D.C. for the same purpose, we helped coordinate the march when it came through our state.

One of our actions was to follow Senator Thurmond every time he returned to South Carolina for a public event, holding demonstrations to protest his stand against the Voting Rights Act.

Some of us were jailed during those actions.

The fight put up by the South Carolina Voting Rights Campaign in 1981 and ’82 was only a small part of the Voting Rights Act support going on in South Carolina, throughout the South and many parts of the nation, and in the nation’s capitol.

It was because of those nationwide actions that Congress made some portions of the Voting Rights Act permanent, and extended others for 25 years through 2007. Without those actions, Senator Thurmond and his friends would almost certainly been successful, and the Voting Rights Act would have been killed more than 30 years ago.

That should give us a guide on how to react to the Supreme Court’s recent ruling, particularly as we observe state governments from Ohio to Texas enact laws making voting harder and harder for people who do not vote the way those governments would like them to vote.

This hits African-Americans the quickest and the hardest, but it is certainly not limited to us and ours.

The authority to participate in the governing of our communities, our cities, our state, and our country-the right to vote-is not secured by the Supreme Court.

That authority is not secured by a Presidential proclamation, or a civil war, or an act of Congress, or a voter initiative.

Our right to participate in the governing of our own lives was and is both authorized and held by our own hands.

It can be permanently minimized, or taken away altogether, only if we allow it.

The question, therefore, is not about what the Supreme Court has done. The question is, what must and will we do in response?

Posted on June 26, 2013. Read more of the writings by Jesse Douglas Allen-Taylor at www.safero.org

End Game for Base Tenants

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor

The fate of three port-related businesses facing imminent eviction from the City of Oakland portion of the old Army Base went into an end-game this week, with PCC Logistics and Impact Transportation waiting on Army Base developers to approve a

Gilda Gonzalez

Gilda Gonzalez

city-port land-transfer deal, and City Council scheduling a closed-door legal and economic briefing on Friday of this week before making a final decision on a lease for Oakland Maritime Support Services.

The three companies—representing hundreds of jobs and providing critical Port of Oakland services—are being forced to move from the Oakland portion of the Army Base to make way for the city’s massive Gateway Development Project, scheduled to begin breaking ground on the Army Base this fall. The companies are hoping to move to property on the Port of Oakland portion of the old Army Base.

The latest extended deadline for the evictions expired last Sunday, but the Oakland City Council let its regular Tuesday meeting pass this week without authorizing city staff to move forward with the evictions.

Last week, with no debate, the Port of Oakland Board of Commissioners unanimously approved two alternative deals with the City to move PCC Logistics and Impact Transportation to warehouses on the port Army Base property. The proposed warehouse leases with PCC and Impact and two other companies currently on port property is projected to provide the port with $3.7 million in net revenue over a 30 month period.

Because part of the terms involve financial considerations by the Army Base developers, the deal cannot be finalized until approval given by Prologis Corporation, the San Francisco-based international financial partners in the development to Phil Tagami’s Oakland-based California Capital Investment Group. The Prologis Board of Directors is scheduled to consider the PCC-Impact Transportation transfer deal on June 24.

Following port commissioner approval of the deal at last week’s meeting, Commission President Gilda Gonzalez told a representative of CCIG to tell Tagami that “it is imperative” that the developers “do what they have to do” to make the deal “a reality.”

Once Prologis makes its decision, the Port Board of Commissioners will return on June 27 to take a final vote on the lease proposal.

The OMSS situation is somewhat more complicated.

While the PCC and Impact Transportation move to the Port portion of the Army Base will cost neither the Port or the City any money—the two companies will foot the bill for renovating the warehouses they are moving into—the proposed deal with OMSS would require the City to foot the bill if that company were to default on a 30 month lease of 11.7 acres of port land OMSS wants to move to.

In addition, some Councilmembers have expressed concerns about a $964,000 judgment issued earlier this month by an Alameda County Superior Court judge against AB Trucking, a company owned by OMSS owner Bill Aboudi in a lawsuit charging Aboudi with wage and labor condition violations.

Council President Pat Kernighan said that she had “some concerns about the issue that the city is taking on the responsibility to the liability to the Port for the lease payments should OMSS default, and I am worried about these judgments and what it’s going to do to Mr. Aboudi’s financial ability.”

The Council eventually gave tentative approval to the OMSS Port property lease agreement with the understanding that Councilmembers reserved the right to reverse their votes when a vote for final approval comes up in two weeks after this week’s closed session briefing on the matter.

The fate of three port-related businesses facing imminent eviction from the City of Oakland portion of the old Army Base went into an end-game this week, with PCC Logistics and Impact Transportation waiting on Army Base developers to approve a city-port land-transfer deal, and City Council scheduling a closed-door legal and economic briefing on Friday of this week before making a final decision on a lease for Oakland Maritime Support Services.

The three companies—representing hundreds of jobs and providing critical Port of Oakland services—are being forced to move from the Oakland portion of the Army Base to make way for the city’s massive Gateway Development Project, scheduled to begin breaking ground on the Army Base this fall. The companies are hoping to move to property on the Port of Oakland portion of the old Army Base.

The latest extended deadline for the evictions expired last Sunday, but the Oakland City Council let its regular Tuesday meeting pass this week without authorizing city staff to move forward with the evictions.

Last week, with no debate, the Port of Oakland Board of Commissioners unanimously approved two alternative deals with the City to move PCC Logistics and Impact Transportation to warehouses on the port Army Base property. The proposed warehouse leases with PCC and Impact and two other companies currently on port property is projected to provide the port with $3.7 million in net revenue over a 30 month period.

Because part of the terms involve financial considerations by the Army Base developers, the deal cannot be finalized until approval given by Prologis Corporation, the San Francisco-based international financial partners in the development to Phil Tagami’s Oakland-based California Capital Investment Group. The Prologis Board of Directors is scheduled to consider the PCC-Impact Transportation transfer deal on June 24.

Following port commissioner approval of the deal at last week’s meeting, Commission President Gilda Gonzalez told a representative of CCIG to tell Tagami that “it is imperative” that the developers “do what they have to do” to make the deal “a reality.”

Once Prologis makes its decision, the Port Board of Commissioners will return on June 27 to take a final vote on the lease proposal.

The OMSS situation is somewhat more complicated.

While the PCC and Impact Transportation move to the Port portion of the Army Base will cost neither the Port or the City any money—the two companies will foot the bill for renovating the warehouses they are moving into—the proposed deal with OMSS would require the City to foot the bill if that company were to default on a 30 month lease of 11.7 acres of port land OMSS wants to move to.

In addition, some Councilmembers have expressed concerns about a $964,000 judgment issued earlier this month by an Alameda County Superior Court judge against AB Trucking, a company owned by OMSS owner Bill Aboudi in a lawsuit charging Aboudi with wage and labor condition violations.

Council President Pat Kernighan said that she had “some concerns about the issue that the city is taking on the responsibility to the liability to the Port for the lease payments should OMSS default, and I am worried about these judgments and what it’s going to do to Mr. Aboudi’s financial ability.”

The Council eventually gave tentative approval to the OMSS Port property lease agreement with the understanding that Councilmembers reserved the right to reverse their votes when a vote for final approval comes up in two weeks after this week’s closed session briefing on the matter.

  Courtesy of the Oakland Post, June 21, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)

McClymonds Graduate Portia Lee-Fletcher Wins Scholarships

By Post StaffGraduate-1-225x300-1

Oakland educator Dr. Denise Saddler congratulated McClymonds High School graduate Portia Lee-Fletcher, who won the James D. and Kathleen Saddler Memorial Scholarship presented by the Marcus Foster Educational Fund and a Delta Sigma Theta scholarship.

Lee-Fletcher graduated from McClymonds with a 3.27 grade-point average. An honor roll student, she received an award for over 900 hours of community service, volunteering at Hoover and Lafayette elementary Schools.

She also served as a peer leader and was co-captain of the cheer leading team. She will attend Cal State East Bay and plans to become a sociologist or social worker.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, June 21, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)

Mills Grove Church’s “Common Ground” Community Garden

By Post Staff

Members of the Mills Grove Christian Church grant writing committee are: (L to R): Majeedah Rahman, Brenda Barnes, Karen Barrett, Rosa Celestine, Rev. Clarence Johnson, Sharon Dalke, Rahime Butcher (rear), Melissa Butcher, Deloris Suarez, and Angie Dalke (lower right). Photo by Ken A. Epstein.

Members of the Mills Grove Christian Church grant writing committee are: (L to R): Majeedah Rahman, Brenda Barnes, Karen Barrett, Rosa Celestine, Rev. Clarence Johnson, Sharon Dalke, Rahime Butcher (rear), Melissa Butcher, Deloris Suarez, and Angie Dalke (lower right). Photo by Ken A. Epstein.

Mills Grove Christian Church is working to develop a community garden, “Common Ground,” on an empty lot owned by the church at 5410 Fleming Ave. in Oakland.

The garden will be operated as a cooperative. The 2,200-square-foot lot will be divided into several gardening plots. Based on the available space, an estimated 32 garden plots will be created – 10 subsidized by the church to serve low-income, under-served individuals and families in Alameda County.

Children and adults will have the opportunity to learn about organic gardening, nutrition and environmental sustainability while working collaboratively.

Funding for the project was raised in part from a San Francisco Foundation grant and other donations.

A fundraising dinner was held June 15 at the church to support the garden. Music was provided by Dr. Terrance Elliott.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, June 21, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)

City Takes One-Third of Job Funds Off the Top

Kathy Chao Rothberg, executive director of Lao Family Community Development speaks at Thursday's Oakland WIB meeting

Kathy Chao Rothberg, executive director of Lao Family Community Development speaks at Thursday’s Oakland WIB meeting

By Ken A. Epstein

Nonprofit agencies that receive federal money to help unemployed workers are upset following the announcement that the city’s Workforce Investment Board (WIB) will take one-third of the total annual funding to pay for administrative overhead, while adding nothing to the pot for adult and teenage jobseekers.

The proposed budget for the WIB for 2013-2014 is $4.8 million.  The city is taking $1.5 million or 32 percent off the top.

Three years ago before the city became WIB system administrator, overhead was only 16 percent or $918,000.

“The need  (in the community) is great, but the funding is actually going to the department (of) the city, and I really don’t see the justification,” said Kathy Chao Rothberg, executive director of Lao Family Community Development that provides support for unemployed youth and adults in East Oakland.

Where is the plan for providing more jobs services to the unemployed and meeting the needs of employers? She asked, speaking at the Thursday morning meeting of the Oakland WIB.

The WIB distributes Federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funding for job training for teenagers in school and out of school, training and placement for the formerly incarcerated and long-term laid off workers as well as supporting the one-stop job centers in downtown Oakland and in other satellite locations.

“Your training dollars are underfunded, your (job) providers are underfunded, and the city is overfunded,” said Richard de Jauregui, planning director of the Oakland Private Industry Council.
“Thirty-two percent is an unprecedented number and far beyond the guidelines that are set forth in Department of Labor standards,” he said.
The city only takes money out of the WIA funding, he said.  “All they do is take money out, there is no buy in by the City of Oakland.  If you look at other workforce investment areas, there is a lot more buy in by local authorities.”
Oakland’s WIA funding is 9 percent less this year than last, but the city’s costs have risen, said Al Auletta, a program manager in the City Administrator’s Office.

Increased city overhead is connected to the rising costs  of staff, greater health insurance costs and a new city facilities charge, he said

Also at Thursday’s meeting, Agnes Ubalde replaced Bryan Parker as WIB chair.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, June 21, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)

Reid, Brooks Lead on LED Lights

By Ken A. Epstein

Thanks to years of efforts by Councilmembers Larry Reid and Desley Brooks and outspoken community members, the City of

Councilmembers Larry Reid and Desley Brooks and  Interim Deputy Police Chief Danielle Outlaw spoke  at the press conference announcing new street lights, Tuesday at the corner of 98th Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard. Photo by Ken A. Epstein.

Councilmembers Larry Reid and Desley Brooks and Interim Deputy Police Chief Danielle Outlaw spoke at the press conference announcing new street lights, Tuesday at the corner of 98th Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard. Photo by Ken A. Epstein.

Oakland has begun installing 30,000 greener, brighter street lights designed to enhance public safety, reduce crime and save money.

The project, announced Tuesday morning by the city at a press conference at the intersection of 98th Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard, began last year as a pilot program.

District 7 Councilmember Larry Reid said he was excited the project has finally come to pass. He said he had originally met 15 years ago with the company, Amland, to discuss the possibility of bringing improved lighting to the city.

Since then, Reid said, “My colleague Councilmember Brooks has been leading the charge after hearing the cry from the neighborhoods about how we need to brighten up this community in which we live, to give people a sense of hope that things are getting better (and) safer.”

“I want to thank the community and the people who are standing behind me, who came out and said it’s just too dark,” said said Brooks, speaking at the press conference. “We know that there are places in Oakland where there’s insufficient street lighting and that in other places where there is street lighting, it isn’t bright enough,” said Brooks at the press conference.

“These lights will change that. They will change what our city looks like.”

The city has a contract with Amland Corp. of San Jose to do the installation, which began in May and is scheduled to be completed by December. Existing High Pressure Sodium cobra head streetlights will be replaced with Light Emitting Diode (LED) streetlights, which are more energy efficient, are cheaper to operate and have a longer lifespan – a 15-year minimum.

The total cost of the new lighting is estimated to be $14.8 million, which will be paid for by reduced electricity costs and  $2.9 million in incentive rebates from PG&E.

“It started with community people talking about what they needed, partnering with their government to make change,” said Brooks.

The new lighting is an example of the kind of program that would be funded by the alternative city budget backed by her and two other councilmembers, she said.

Brooks characterizes the alternative budget as one that both improves city services and public safety, contrary to the mayor’s proposal, which Brooks says gives too much of the funding to the Oakland Police Department.

“(The City Council is) looking at the budget right now. And this project is exactly what my colleague Larry Reid, Noel Gallo and I are talking about in terms of partnerships that have to be made with law enforcement in order to make a difference in our community,” she said  “If we all work together, we can make a change in this community.”

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, June 21, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)