Archive for November, 2014

Growing Bay Area Movement Calls for End to Mass Incarceration

A daylong summit to discuss ways to work to end mass incarceration and implement restorative justice was held recently in Oakland.

The summit, called “Fruitvale, Florida, Ferguson and Beyond,” was held Nov. 15 at Laney College, featuring a day of workshops about police violence, the criminalization of Black and Brown youth and immigrants, how to keep your children out of jail, knowing your rights, and ways to work to hold the criminal justice system accountable.

The event was sponsored by Oakland Parents Together, the Ella Baker Center, Laney College Ethnic Studies Department, Youth Together, PUEBLO, Black Organizing Project, Just Cause, Love Not Blood Campaign, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Fellowship of Reconciliation, School Board members Jumoke Hinton Hodge and Rosie Torres and others.

One workshop, “From Oakland to Ferguson: Will the revolution be televised,” used the film “Fruitvale Station,” as a starting point. The movie tells the story of Oscar Grant the day before he was killed by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland.

Led by Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson, Beatrice X Jackson, and Dr. Tony Jackson with the Love Not Blood Campaign, the workshop encouraged people to understand their constitutional rights and record any act by the police that violates someone’s rights.

The summit was sparked by a panel discussion featuring Laney College professor of African American Studies La’Cole Martin, who teaches her students about the historical context of mass incarceration.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a boom in mass incarceration. This dates back to the convict leasing system,” said Martin, an alumna of McClymonds High School and UC Berkeley.

“Seeing how in general people of color have been targeted by this system and how there’s a lot of folks who actually gain profit off of our victimization…Being able to make those connections for young people has been very important for me,” she said.

“Most people, when we learn that history, it only, in some ways, infuriates us more, but what do we do with that anger and that frustration? How do we channel it?” Asked Martin.

Another workshop led by the Ella Baker Center talked about how youth and their parents can get involved in justice reinvestment. Through their “50 percent for Jobs Not Jails, Books Not Bars, Healthcare Not Handcuffs” campaign, they are seeking political action to reinvest money from the prison system to fund more programs and services in the community.

California spends $30-40,000 on prisons and only $11,000 per student in the public schools. Currently, there are 2.2 million Americans in prison or jail, according to reports.

“We want people to take away from this a connection to the movement and to the struggle against mass criminalization,” said Henry Hitz, executive director of Oakland Parents Together.

Building on this summit, an even larger conference is planned for next spring.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post,

Nationwide Protests Expected After Grand Jury Verdict in Ferguson

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By Ashley Chambers

Residents in cities around the nation – and police departments – are awaiting a grand jury decision whether to indict Darren Wilson, the white Ferguson police officer who shot and killed 18-year old Michael Brown on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri.

If the grand jury fails to indict the policeman, groups in as many as 75 cities around the country are planning protests.

Teff Poe

Teff Poe

Announcement of the grand jury decision is expected soon.

Meanwhile, law enforcement and government officials are gearing up for the protests. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon already has declared a state of emergency in Ferguson, calling in the National Guard and militarizing the local police force.

Other cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland have readied their police forces as well in anticipation of demonstrations.

Seeking to provide a voice for what young people Ferguson have to say, the PICO National Network organized a nationwide telephone press conference this week, moderated by Pastor Mike McBride of Berkeley, who is director of PICO’s Live Free Campaign.

At the press conference, youth activists on the ground in Ferguson, as well as religious and community leaders, spoke to the deep issues surrounding this controversy; which they say no one is addressing.

“While media and politicians like Gov. Nixon are focused on the threat of violent protests, looting and rioting, they are still not addressing the root of the problem – a broken justice and political system that systematically leaves communities of color devalued and disenfranchised,” Pastor McBride said.

“The issues that brought us to situations that caused the killing of Michael Brown are not new issues. They are deeply embedded issues of race and educational inequity, economic disparity, all things that we have known about for generations,” said Rev. Traci Blackmon, pastor of Christ The King United Church of Christ in Missouri.

 

Rev. Traci Blackmon

Rev. Traci Blackmon

Rev. Blackmon has been appointed to a newly created Ferguson Commission, a group of 16 civic leaders chosen by Gov. Nixon this week to address the “social and economic conditions” highlighted by the months of protests following Michael Brown’s killing.

The commission includes lawyers, CEOs, clergy, educators, police officials, and one youth activist, according to press reports.

“This commission is not so much focused on changing heart as it is in changing behavior, and we plan to do that by pushing through very aggressively legislation to change the way law enforcement acts, legislation that hopefully will level the playing field for our children in terms of academic pursuits,” Rev. Blackmon said.

While the newly organized commission has yet to prove its worth, youth activists in Ferguson have been relentless in the struggle for justice.

Pastor Mike McBride

Pastor Mike McBride

Rika Tyler, an HBCU student and mother of a young boy, addressed a letter to President Obama posing the question: Are you really your “brother’s keeper” Mr. President?

The letter was posted on Change.org and received 1,300 signatures. The letter asks the president to “call on Governor Nixon for the immediate de-escalation and de-militarization of law enforcement in Ferguson and St. Louis County.”

Rapper T-Dubb-O, a protester who has been on the ground in St. Louis for 103 days, criticized the governor’s state of emergency. “It’s a declaration of war for the protesters, saying that they would do whatever they can to prevent us from punching the system in the mouth again,” he said.

“A system (has) been put in place to oppress a lower class of people and feed off of their poverty, and we’ve punched it in the face, something that hasn’t been done since the 60s,” he said.

Responding to published promises that police will not target nonviolent protesters, T-Dubb-O said his experience speaks otherwise.

“I’ve either seen an extreme act of policing or a lack of policing,” he said.” I’ve been tear-gassed and shot at, and I’ve always been a peaceful protester. I watched the police force allow rioting and looting to go on while they just pointed at people who were protesting and continued to gas, pepper spray and shoot at them.”

Rapper and youth activist Teff Poe said, “America’s done an excellent job of making it seem like Black people are telling ‘boogey man’ stories when we talk about the police killing us in the middle of the street.”

He traveled to Geneva, Switzerland along with Michael Brown’s family when they went to speak to the United Nations about their son’s tragedy.

“These are real people, they have a real life, they have other children outside of Mike Brown, they have a family that has its own culture,” he said. “That just showed me that we have a lot of work to do, and we’re shooting ourselves in the foot if we continue to localize this fight.”

“We have to humanize ourselves on a worldwide level,” he said.

According to reports, Mayor Jean Quan addressed local residents in a letter, saying, “Although we don’t anticipate problems to occur, keeping peace on our streets and protecting the safety of Oakland residents and businesses is our top priority, and we will be prepared.”

Courtesy of the Post News Group, November 22, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

Opportunities to Attend Medical School Free in Cuba

Training is free, but graduates must commit to return home and practice medicine in underserved communities

By Nikolas Zelinski

Representatives were recruiting for the Latin American School of Medicine, or Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina (ELAM) in East Oakland this past weekend, offering students between the ages of 18-24 a chance to study medicine in Cuba without charge.

U.S. graduates of medical school in Cuba.  Photo Courtesy Associated Press.

U.S. graduates of medical school in Cuba. Photo Courtesy Associated Press.

This is good news for potential medical students, as average tuition for medical schools in the US range from $31,000 to $52,000 per year.

To raise awareness about the medical school program and other medical careers options, Oakland’s Purple Heart Patient Center sponsored the meeting at Youth Uprising in East Oakland on Saturday.

Kim Scott of the Bay Area Black Nurses Association spoke about different nursing opportunities that are available right here at home. Scott urged attendees to end health disparity and said, “Health care providers should reflect the community.”

According to Scott, whites and Asians in recent statistics made up 85.8 percent of the Registered Nurse workforce in California in 2004. Latinos make up 32.5 percent of the California population, yet only account for 6.3 percent of the RN workforce.

African Americans compose 6.5 percent of total population and 3.8 percent of RNs, said Scott.

Dr. Melissa Barber, program coordinator of the Interreligious Foundation of Community Organization, described the ELAM campus in Cuba – the lifestyle, and educational standards.

To best sum up her experience, Barber said, “80 percent of going to school in Cuba was about self-discovery, and 20 percent studying medicine.”

In an interview with the Post, Oakland native and ELAM graduate Maiti Rodriguez said she agrees with the sentiment.

Much of the experience centered on overcoming the language barrier and getting used to living conditions. Rodriguez did not speak Spanish before going to Cuba but quickly learned.

She graduated last July and has taken all US medical licensing exams and has applied for residencies all across the western US.

Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) in Cuba.

Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) in Cuba.

Rodriguez said she would love to work in Oakland if possible, and added, “I’m interested in working with Spanish speaking populations and underserved populations; but that does not exist just here in Oakland, it exists all over California, and in other states. And I feel the need for doctors who are bilingual, willing to work with underserved population, and culturally sensitive are necessary everywhere.”

Rodriguez continued, “So as much as I would love to be home, I would go anywhere I was accepted and needed.”

The ELAM medical school grew out of the Cuban government response to devastation left in the wake of hurricanes Mitch and George in 1998.

Cuba’s leaders realized that if the poorest regions in the hemisphere were able to develop adequate healthcare infrastructures, they could save as many lives every year as had been lost in the hurricanes.

The Cubans offered full scholarships to enroll at ELAM to young people from the nations affected by the hurricanes – on the sole condition that, once they graduated, they would return to their home countries and offer low-cost health services in their own underserved communities.

In 2001, the first US students were able to attend under the scholarship, as long as they committed to return home and practice medicine in underserved communities.

According to supporters of the program, the offer to US students was made because of Cuba’s recognition that millions in the US have little or no access to affordable health care and that many young people in the U.S. cannot study medicine because of the expense.

Students from communities of color and low-income communities are especially encouraged to apply to the program.

Enrollment dates for ELAM began Sept. 30t and continues through the middle of March 2015. For more information, visit http://instituciones.sld.cu/elam/ or ifconews.org. For more about the Bay Area Black Nurses Association Inc., visit babna.org.

 Courtesy of the Post News Group, November 21, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

Superintendent Gives Green Light for Social Justice Website for Teachers and Students

School District had removed “Urban Dreams” after complaints by Fox News and a police union

By Ashley Chambers

A website with lesson plans for teaching students about social justice issues was taken offline almost eight months ago for review by the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), prompting complaints that the district was censoring student inquiry.

"I am dismayed to learn that the Oakland school board has dismantled a website of social justice lesson plans because the police objected to it," said author Alice Walker.

“I am dismayed to learn that the Oakland school board has dismantled a website of social justice lesson plans because the police objected to it,” said author Alice Walker.

Putting an end to the dispute, OUSD’s new Superintendent Antwan Wilson announced this week in a statement that the website will be posted again online.

“The Urban Dreams curricular materials provide students an opportunity to read texts that provoke debate,” said Supt. Wilson in the written statement.

The “Urban Dreams” website contains 27 federally funded teaching units designed by teachers to help students explore issues about history and social justice.

The site was shut down in April after a Fox News story alleged that one of the unions compared Mumia Abu-Jamal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., citing complaints from the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police.

In reality, one lesson in a unit about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. encouraged students to study current issues of media censorship and distortion in the case of Abu-Jamal, a widely known journalist who is now serving life in prison for the killing of a Philadelphia police officer in 1981.

“Providing our students the opportunity to read complex text, to contemplate higher-order questions, and to engage in rigorous discussion and writing are all activities we value in the Oakland Unified School District,” Supt Wilson said. “It is for these reasons that I have asked our team to repost the Urban Dreams curriculum, making it available for instructional use in our classrooms.”

“The Urban Dreams website (should) be reinstated without deletions… to let academic freedom prevail," said actor Ed Asner.

“The Urban Dreams website (should) be reinstated without deletions… to let academic freedom prevail,” said actor Ed Asner.

Since the website was taken down, it has been under review by the district’s department of Leadership, Curriculum, & Instruction to assess if the material met state academic standards.

In an interview with the Post, OUSD Communications Director Troy Flint recently said a decision to repost the site could be made as soon as December.

The website is expected to be reposted by January with all the original material – including a page supporting the teaching of controversial issues and the best practices to engage students.

Teacher Craig Gordon, the author of unit that prompted the controversy, union that had drawn the said, “It’s very good for the materials to be there because…(they) provoke students to think with an open mind and discuss issues in a thoughtful way.

But Gordon still has concerns. “Why did this happen in the first place? He asked.

The debate over “Urban Dreams” has grown to the point that it has involved Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker and Emmy Award-winning actor Ed Asner, who both sent letters to the school district.

Asner wrote: “Urban Dreams website (should) be reinstated without deletions… to let academic freedom prevail.”

"The Urban Dreams curricular materials provide students an opportunity to read texts that provoke debate,” said Supt. Antwan Wilson.

“The Urban Dreams curricular materials provide students an opportunity to read texts that provoke debate,” said Supt. Antwan Wilson.

In her letter Walker wrote, “I am dismayed to learn that the Oakland school board has dismantled a website of social justice lesson plans because the police objected to it. The board has a duty to defend students’ right to learn against police interference.”

Walker herself was once embroiled in a national censorship battle when OUSD in 1984 banned “The Color Purple,” based on the book’s “sexual and social explicitness” and “troubling ideas about race relations, man’s relationship to God, African history and human sexuality.”

After nine months, the book was approved by the Board of Education.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, November, 20 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

“Let Our People Come Out of the Shadows”

President will extend legal status to five million undocuented immigrants

Barack-Obama-immigration

 By Post Staff

In a rare primetime nationally televised address, President Obama Thursday evening announced the most sweeping executive action on immigration in decades.

The president will circumvent Congress, extend legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants, increase numbers of visas for valuable high-skilled workers and strengthen security along the Southwest border.

“Our immigration system has been broken for decades, and every minute we fail to act, millions of people who live in the shadows but want to play by the rules and pay taxes have no way to live right by the law and contribute to our country,” Obama said in a video posted to Facebook.

According to the White House, Obama will “maximize the use of his authority” to extend temporary legal status to more than 5 million undocumented immigrants.

The president will legalize the status of 4.1 million parents and families of U.S. citizens who have been in country more than five years with no criminal record.

The executive memoranda will also bring relief to 300,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children, so-called Dreamers, and will become eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Current age limits for the program will be dropped, sources say.

Oakland Councilmember Noel Gallo, who represents the Fruitvale District in East Oakland, thanked President Obama for his steps to legalize immigrants.”

“We have a ways to go to complete solve our immigration problem, but that is something that will require joint efforts of the president and Congress,” said Gallo.

“On my street and in my neighborhood, people are arriving daily,” he said. “We as a country need to solve the immigration issue so we can welcome them, and they can work productively.”

Councilmember Lynette McElhaney also praised Obama’s action.

“It’s about time,” she said. “This is the most compassionate, sensible and practical thing the president can do it.”

Too many families have been ripped apart by deportations, McElhaney said. “The president is taking a humanitarian step, and it is welcome news to people in Oakland. Now is time for Congress to act.”

Mayor Jean Quan on Thursday invited community members to join her to watch and discuss the president’s announcement. “Our city has long prided itself on its reputation for diversity and inclusion, and our immigrant communities are an integral part of Oakland’s fabric,” Quan said.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee said the president’s action is “in line with our nation’s interest and character, namely, compassion, economic growth and keeping families together. We must never forget that we are and will always be a nation of immigrants.”

“I continue to urge the Republican leadership of the House to call a vote and pass comprehensive immigration reform,” Lee said.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, November 20, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

President to Award Medal of Freedom to Three Slain Civil Rights Workers

Slain civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman will be posthumously awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. During Freedom Summer 1964, they worked to register African Americans to vote in Mississippi.

Slain civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman will be posthumously awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. During Freedom Summer 1964, they worked to register African Americans to vote in Mississippi.

Three young men murdered in Neshoba County 50 years ago registering African Americans to vote will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House has announced.

Murdered in a plot hatched by the Ku Klux Klan, James Chaney, 21, Andrew Goodman, 21, and Michael Schwerner, 24, will be awarded the medal posthumously by President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday, Nov. 24.

In the midst of Freedom Summer 1964, the three men on Father’s Day were investigating the ruins of Mt. Zion United Methodist, burned to the ground by the Klan because it was being used as a meeting place.

Driving back into Philadelphia the trio was stopped on trumped-up speeding charges, arrested and jailed.

They were released that night and later pursued by a mob of Klansmen that included law enforcement. They were pulled from their station wagon, driven to a remote county road and shot at point-blank range.

After a massive search that included federal authorities, their bodies were found 44 days later buried in an earthen dam off Highway 21 south.

In 1967, seven men were convicted of conspiring to violate their civil rights. Some served prison time.

In 2005, Edgar Ray Killen, a part-time Baptist preacher and sawmill owner, was indicted by a Neshoba County grand jury and later convicted on three counts of manslaughter for his role in orchestrating the murders.

He received three 20-year consecutive sentences and is still serving.

The murders gained international attention, and the Neshoba County murders helped lead to passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“Fifty years ago, the lives of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were taken away from us at a far too early age,” said Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi.

“These three young men, and countless others, paid the ultimate sacrifice in an effort to help bring equality to the state of Mississippi,” Thompson said. “Bestowing the nation’s highest civilian honor to these three men is a fitting tribute for their contribution toward making this country a more perfect Union. I commend President Obama for honoring these men and look forward to carrying on the spirit of their effort.”

On May 29, Congressman Thompson and members of the Congressional Black Caucus wrote to President Obama requesting for the Presidential Medal of Freedom to be bestowed posthumously to Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner.

Courtesy of the Post News Group, November 18, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

Coliseum City Proposal Remains in Play; Community Raises Questions

A artist's iew of the Colisuem City might look like

A artist’s iew of the Colisuem City might look like

By Ken Epstein

Many people are furiously committed to a plan to knock down the Oakland Coliseum and replace it with a glitzy Coliseum City complex – which could include up to three sports arenas as well as hotels, entertainment, housing, retail and restaurants.

The Coliseum City plan, according to the City of Oakland’s website, “seeks to transform the underutilized land around the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum and Arena into a world-class sports, entertainment and science & technology district that boasts a dynamic and active urban setting with retail, entertainment, arts, culture, live and work uses.”

Probing questions about the plan are being raised by city leaders, mostly focusing on how to put together the financing and the costs that will have to be borne by Oakland taxpayers.

The value of the massive project is generally taken for granted. More or less unexamined are concerns about the value and impact of the project on the people who live in the city.

Yet Oakland residents and business owners are pressing forward with their own questions. How many and what quality jobs would there be for local residents? Would the proposed housing be only for the affluent?coliseum_city_rendering.0_standard_709.0

Who will be able to afford to go to the expensive venues and restaurants? How would a colossal development parachuted into the middle of the city impact surrounding neighborhoods and companies in East Oakland?

Some community members are saying they would like to see new stadiums built but question the purpose of the massive complex, which they say could negatively impact East Oakland residents and would effectively destroy the city’s only business park, pushing small businesses out of the city.

The city is already moving ahead with the Coliseum Area Specific Plan, which if passed would change zoning requirements and make other permit amendments, putting into place the legal basis for the project if and when financing and other issues are resolved.

Speakers at recent public hearings have questioned why community input was not sought before the draft specific plan was released and why the city allowed such a short period for public comments on the voluminous plan.

There were complaints that the plan’s proposed Environmental Impact Report only deals with Coliseum area property, ignoring impacts on nearby residents and neighborhoods.

Before final approval, the project would have to be passed by the Coliseum’s Joint Powers Authority, as well as the Oakland City Council and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

The project also has designs on what is presently the Oakland Airport Business Park, which contains property owned by the Port of Oakland, therefore requiring the Port Commission to weigh in.

OPD Makes Significant Progress, But City Still Fails to Punish Police Misconduct

By Ken Epstein

The Oakland Police Department is continuing to make significant progress on the reforms required by Federal Judge Thelton Henderson as part of the Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA) that came out of the infamous “Riders” police abuse case 11 years ago.

Robert Warshaw

Robert Warshaw

However, the court is raising serious concerns and has begun an inquiry into the city’s failure to discipline officers who are found guilty of serious misconduct, according to the Oct. 30 report of Independent Monitor Robert Warshaw.

During a recent visit to Oakland, Warshaw wrote, “The court expressed its dismay with the recent reinstatement of an officer whom Chief (Sean) Whent had terminated, and with the city’s poor performance in other recent arbitrations – several of which also overturned terminations of officers who had been sustained for serious misconduct.”

Warshaw questioned “whether defendants are adequately preparing cases for arbitration such that consistency of discipline can be assured to the greatest extent possible.”

While emphasizing seriousness of the failure to discipline officers, he also praised the improvements OPD has made with the backing of the police chief, city administrator and mayor.

“The department has benefitted from the leadership of Chief Sean Whent, whose commitment to the NSA and the future of the agency has been unwavering, “ he said.

“Mayor Jean Quan’s support – and that of interim City Administrator Henry Gardner – has been an essential ingredient in the advances the department has made.”

Warshaw noted the two cases in particular raised concerns over the city’s handling of police discipline.

“One case involved a captain who struck a person twice after he had received a Taser shock and was lying on the ground,” Warshaw wrote.

Judge Thelton Henderson

Judge Thelton Henderson

“In addition, in clear violation of OPD policies for reviewing such videos, the captain obtained a copy of the (body camera) video of the incident that had been generated by another officer.”

The discipline originally recommended was demotion to rank of lieutenant. But a pre-disciplinary hearing handled by a retired police chief recommended that the captain should receive counseling but no other discipline.

Chief Whent considered the hearing result but ordered a 10-day suspension. “(However), the City Administrator overruled the chief and approved only counseling,” Warshaw wrote.

“The result of this case was that a senior command officer – who should be expected to be a leader in proper use of force – received less discipline than his subordinates would expect if they did the same thing,” he wrote. “ As a senior commander, he should be expected to perform at a higher level than his subordinates.”

A second case involved “an officer who tossed a flash-bang grenade into a crowd of people trying to help a citizen who was lying in the street after being shot in the head and injured by a beanbag round during an Occupy Oakland

demonstration.

Sean Whent

Sean Whent

“Tossing the grenade into their midst had no legitimate police purpose – and could only have been a malicious act intended to frighten or scare the people trying to help the man,” wrote Warshaw.

“The officer was appropriately terminated by OPD and city, but the arbitration hearing resulted in an order that the officer be reinstated,” he wrote.

“The system clearly failed to produce a proper result, and it cannot be said that discipline is consistently imposed.”

Warshaw continued: “Both cases were appropriately handled within the department.

“The City of Oakland, however, failed in both.”

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, November 15, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

 

Libby Schaaf Starts Search for City Administrator, Reaches Out to Councilmembers

“I have been very clear that I will be unbending about not putting public money into stadium projects,” Schaaf said.

By Ken Epstein

A week after winning an intense race to become mayor of Oakland, Libby Schaaf is busy preparing for her term of office, which will start when she is sworn at the beginning of January

Libby Schaff

Libby Schaff

At the top of her “to do” list is the hiring a first-rate permanent city administrator to replace Henry Gardner, who is currently serving in that position on an interim basis.

“The recruiter is already on board, and I am meeting with them tomorrow to finalize the job description,” said Schaaf in an interview Thursday with the Post.

“They will do a national search to find someone who has the background and the track record, who can deliver great services for Oakland residents,” she said.

Schaaf emphasized that she had broad experience working in all parts of Oakland, including stints running a citywide school volunteer program, operating a homework center in West Oakland and initiating the school district’s Parenting University, which for years was a project of the Marcus Foster Educational Institute.

Pledging to work collaborative with the City Council, she said she has already contacted councilmembers, requesting to do a “driving tour” of their districts with them. She says she wants to see their districts and priorities through the councilmembers’ eyes.

“Nobody gets anything done alone,” said Schaaf. “I have so much respect for councilmembers – I’ve worked with them for decades. They know their communities best.”

A major issue that the new mayor will have on her plate will be “Coliseum City,” a proposal to build new sports arenas and an entertainment, housing and hotel complex on the property surrounding where the current Coliseum is located.

“I want to keep my teams in Oakland,” said Schaaf, adding that she has already called the owners of the Raiders and the A’s.

“(But) I have been very clear that I will be unbending about not putting public money into stadium projects,” she said.

The project can be done with private money, as has been done in other cities, she said.

“It’s is appropriate to for the city to look at investments into infrastructure and transportation, which will be owned by the city in perpetuity.”

In addition, she said, the city has committed to an open process in which residents would be able to have a say on the project.

“The directive was to get a lot of public input on the different development scenarios for the entire area, going down to the waterfront,” she said. “The public process should be including robust community participation.”

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, November 15, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)