By Ken A. Epstein
A proposal to redirect $200,000 in federal youth job funding to hire a single city administrator, who would serve as the city’s youth employment coordinator, was met with resounding opposition this week from community members and members of the Youth Council, a committee of the Oakland Workforce Investment Board.
“This is the first time that I’ve seen this. I thought in the (WIB’s) approved budget this was described as the mayor’s summer jobs program. It was presented that this was money to be put on the streets for summer jobs,” said Kathy Chao Rothberg, member of the Youth Council and executive director of Lao Family Community Development.
“What’s being presented here is $200,000 for a coordinator’s position. I ‘m not comfortable with this,” she said.
“Why does it take $200,000 to hire one person? Asked Gay Plair Cobb, Youth Council member and executive director of the Private Industry Council, speaking at the Wednesday afternoon meeting at City Hall.
“This is the only source of revenue for local service providers to run summer jobs programs,” added Cobb, pointing out that the WIB has said it has no funding for agencies in the Fruitvale District serving Latino youth and no funding for young people in West Oakland for the fiscal years 2013-14 and 2014-15.
Created by a work group of the Youth Council in a nonpublic meeting, the proposal was presented as a memorandum to the Mayor’s Office. It said the Youth Employment Coordinator will work with community partners to develop and leverage federal funds and other resources to increase programs for youth.
Some people at City Hall were speculating that the proposal had originated in the Mayor’s Office. Mayor Jean Quan was contacted but did not reply to the Post’s questions. If the money were used for $1,000 stipends for youth interns, it would put 200 young people to work.
Among the community members opposing the new position was Marlon McWilson, member of the Alameda County Board of Education.
“You cannot say you are advocates for youth and then go take $200,000 from kids,” said McWilson. “If we’re talking about reallocation of funds, we should reallocate the funds to organizations serving West Oakland and Latino students.”
While the city wants to spend money for an administrator, West Oakland is not getting job resources for young people, said Ron Muhammad, a West Oakland community activist. “We should not be coming … to meeting after meeting talking about West Oakland. We’re just asking for equity.”
Marilyn Washington Harris of the Khadafy Foundation for Non-Violence urged members of the Youth Council to consider the needs of all the young people in Oakland who are to risk of dying by violence.
“It’s not my fault, and it’s not your fault. It’s all of our faults collectively, because we’re not doing our job,” she said. ”People of color… are the people who are dying. Those are the people who do not get the funding.”
The motion to fund the position was tabled to a future meeting because the meeting no longer had a quorum.
Courtesy of the Oakland Post, October 12, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)