Category: Army Base Jobs

“No Coal, No Way,” Say Protesters

Protesters rally to stop the coal shipments from Utah to the Oakland Army Base, for export to Asia. Photo courtes of Oakland Elects.

Protesters rally to stop the coal shipments from Utah to the Oakland Army Base, for export to Asia. Photo courtes of Oakland Elects.

By Ashley Chambers

A coalition of environmental groups, concerned residents and local leaders held a rally on the steps of City Hall Tuesday demanding, “No coal in Oakland,” opposing a potential project to export the fossil fuel from the Oakland Army Base.

“When City Council Oakland made plans to boost our economy for the public benefit, then public health and safety must be a primary factor in these decisions,” said Margaret Gordon, co-founder of West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP), speaking at the protest.

“For all the citizens of Oakland, we hope that our public officials will stand by this policy and put an end to this dirty, backroom deal,” she said.

The plan to bring coal to Oakland has become public in the last few months, after Phil Tagami’s California Capital Investment Group (CCIG) became involved in a $53 million investment with four Utah counties with the potential of transporting coal by train and exporting up to 5 million tons of the commodity from a terminal at the Oakland Army Base.

Citing dire health and environmental risks to West Oakland and other parts of the city, local environmental groups including the Sierra Club, WOEIP, 350 Bay Area, and Communities for a Better Environment have called for keeping fossil fuels out of Oakland.

Youth added their voices to the protest, talking about the damaging impacts a coal terminal on already overburdened communities.

“Not all of us have the resources to live a healthy life, but exporting this coal in the city is allowing pollution to happen, making it difficult for a future,” said Allyson Dinh, 16, with the Summer Climate Justice Leadership Academy, speaking at Tuesday’s rally.

“The color of our skin, where we live or how much we make should not dictate if we get to live a long, healthy lifestyle,” she said. “I deserve to live better, we all do.”

Community members called on the City Council and the mayor to do everything in their power to stop the coal terminal.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, July 24, 2015 (postnewsgroup.com)

Residents Want Port of Oakland to Negotiate Development Project’s Impacts

Rendering of Army Base Project

Rendering of Army Base Project

By Ken Epstein

The future of Oakland as a conduit for global commerce took a big step forward recently when the Port of Oakland and Union Pacific Railroad started construction on a project to link the ongoing development at the old Oakland Army Base to the railroad’s main line.

But community activists are asking if Oakland residents are going to be part of this commercial future and if they are going to have a say in this public investment.

They want the port to sit down with them to negotiate the benefits and the impact of this project. They say the port had a few meetings with them and then stopped meeting.

“They’ve presented nothing to us –they have not given us any idea of the level of community benefits they are considering,” said Margaret Gordon of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project and OaklandWorks Alliance.

“We’ve given them proposals, and they have not responded to us.” Gordon said. Port officials only met with local residents three times to discuss community benefits, the last time right before the election, said.

Amy Tharpe, Port of Oakland

Amy Tharpe, Port of Oakland

In addition, she said, the port never explained the development plan to the community.

As of Wednesday of this week, the port has sent a message offering to schedule a meeting in February to talk with community members.

“The Port of Oakland has never sat down and said what benefits represent their commitment to the people of Oakland, said Brian Beveridge of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project and OaklandWorks.

“My question is: ’Why does the port continue to demand unilateral control over the community benefit discussion with West Oakland residents? What are they so afraid of?’” Asked Beveridge.

In response to community complaints, the port is saying it will restart community benefits meetings after it picks a developer for the port side of the Army Base development project.

The $25 million project is financed by the Port of Oakland and the California Transportation Commission’s Trade Corridors Improvement Fund. It’s part of a $100 million port effort to significantly expand Oakland rail capacity.

A 7,400-foot lead track and the reconfiguration of adjacent tracks should be completed in October. Once finished, the port will be better positioned to receive bulk rail shipments at the former army base from Union Pacific and BNSF railroads.

The port and City of Oakland expect to transform Trans-Pacific supply chains at the 360-acre former army base logistics center. Located on the Port’s Outer Harbor, it would include warehousing, trans-load facilities and a dry-bulk cargo terminal.

“Connecting the Oakland Army Base to the national rail network is a milestone for us,” said Chris Chan, the port’s engineering director. “To be successful, we must have good rail access.”

Bulk shipments of commodities such as Midwest grain and beef could be delivered to Oakland by rail, trans-loaded into containers at the port, and then exported via Asia-bound container vessels.

According, to Amy Tharpe, the port’s Director of Social Responsibility, the Port of Oakland is interested in meeting with community members who will be impacted by the Army Base project.

“The Port of Oakland is committed to developing a community benefits package for the redevelopment of the Port’s portion of the former Oakland Army Base,” said Tharpe.

“To ensure this we have to hear from the people in our community who will be impacted by the project and could benefit from it,” she said. “We’ve held several meetings that began last year with multiple key stakeholders from more than ten community groups.”

“Once a development partner is selected,” she continued, “the Port will schedule more community meetings to create a specific community benefits agreement.”

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, February 8, 2015 (postnewsgroup.com)

 

Army Base Developer Gets Amnesia on Promises to Hire West Oakland Workers

By Ken Epstein

City agent and Army Base developer Phil Tagami of CCIG lashed out recently in an email newsletter against West Oakland community and environmental activist Margaret Gordon as one of a “handful of critics” who have “publically questioned

Phil Tagami

Phil Tagami

whether the project is creating ‘enough’ jobs” and claimed that “more jobs should be going to West Oakland and African American residents.”

“In reality, there rightly was not a provision in the jobs policies that a particular Oakland neighborhood or ethnicity would receive a priority over another,” according to Tagami’s email “Oakland Global Newsletter” at the end of August.

According to Tagami’s newsletter, African Americans so far have obtained 15.3 percent of the hours worked on the project – about 46 percent below what they should be receiving as 28 percent of Oakland’s population.

Tagami’s present position, however, is at odds with the “consensus “agreement produced by the Jobs Working Group that included community members, labor and city representatives, on Oct. 27, 2011.

The Jobs Working Group met for nearly four years and was facilitated by then Councilmember Jane Brunner for its last year and a half. The report on the consensus agreement was submitted to the City Council on Jan. 24, 2012.

“The goal for local hire is 50 percent of work hours for Oakland residents … with first priority being given to zip codes that comprise West Oakland and City Council District 3, and second priority to areas within the Oakland Enterprise Zone Targeted Employment Area,” according to the Recommendations from the Jobs Working Group on Employment-Related Community Benefits for the Development and Operations at the Former Oakland Army Base.

Margaret Gordon

Margaret Gordon

In the course of the working group’s meetings, there was a recognition and eventual consensus agreement on the need to hire African Americans in jobs in the building trades from which they have been traditionally excluded.

Since legal constraints do not allow for race-based preferences or goals, the working group decided to utilize zip codes with high numbers of African Americans and low income workers. This approach was worked out in consultation with the U.S. Labor Department , according to Gordon and Brian Beveridge, who were both involved in the working group.

“We never said anything about African Americans.. We just talked about West Oakland,” said Gordon.

Further, Gordon and Beveridge say that Tagami and city consultant Julian Gross have been trying to portray them as going back on an agreement they helped to negotiate. Gross was hired by the city as a recognized expert on community benefits agreements.

Tagami criticized Gordon for telling the Oakland Post, “People negotiated one thing, but then the agreement went to labor and other ‘stakeholders,’ and it was changed before it went to the City Council.”

“The notion that there were surprise twists and something was changed in the backroom without everyone who signed the cooperation agreement knowing about it, is not a fair or accurate representation of the city’s process,” according to Gross, quoted in Tagami’s newsletter.army base

“It’s one place they’re trying to adjust history,” said Beveridge. “We were part of a working group that was collaborating to figure out how to get people hired.”

“We never got to sit at the table while the unions and the developer and the contractor were actually in negotiations. .We had (then assistant City Administrator) Fred Blackwell and Julian Gross representing our interests in those negotiations.”

“We wanted to sit at the negotiating table, but we were told by Blackwell that Phil Tagami would not meet with us at the table,” said Gordon.

When the final negotiated agreement went to the City Council, Beveridge and Gordon were told that this was best agreement they could obtain and that all other parties were going along with the agreement.

“They act now like we’re being bad sports” to complain about the agreement, said Beveridge.

“We were asking for them to lower the barriers so that people could get into the jobs,” Beveridge added. ”Maybe we made a mistake signing the (agreement) – then we would be not be getting used the way we are now.”

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, October 10, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

Phil Tagami’s Uninspected Trench Harms Port, Could Cost Taxpayers Up to $5 Million

By Post Staff

Work on a portion of developer Phil Tagami’s Army Base project has been at a halt since March because the job was not built to Port of Oakland safety specifications and also utilized contaminated dirt that has to be dug up and replaced.

In an Oakland Post article on April 3, 2014, the newspaper revealed that work had halted on the trench. Shown are Mayor Jean Quan and Phil Tagami at Army Base groundbreaking. Photo Courtesy of Oakland Local

In an Oakland Post article on April 3, 2014, the newspaper revealed that work had halted on the trench. Shown are Mayor Jean Quan and Phil Tagami at Army Base groundbreaking. Photo Courtesy of Oakland Local

When the work will be resumed and who will have to pay for the errors has not yet been announced by city officials. The total cost could run as high as $5 million, according to Post sources.

The work in question was done by a contractor hired by the city’s agent, Master Developer Phil Tagami of CCIG, to dig a trench around the Army Base project.

The trench will contain underground electrical wiring that is placed within conduit and buried – what is referred to as the “utility corridor.” The Port of Oakland says the part of the trench that goes through its property is not deep enough because large vehicles and stacked containers could potentially damage or break the electrical lines.

According to sources, the Port of Oakland is also saying the trench should be covered by a concrete cap over the conduit.

Overall, the Army Base infrastructure project covers 160 acres and involves earthwork, grading, drainage, replacement of utilities and public roadway improvements. The total estimated cost is $270 million and will be completed on a four-and-a-half year timeline.

The city will not have to pay the costs of replacing the material in the trench, according to Assistant City Administrator Arturo Sanchez, speaking Tuesday at the meeting of the city’s Community and Economic Development (CED) committee.

“The material that went inappropriately into the trench – that cost will be borne by the contactor,” he said.

However, according to Post sources, the contractor who built the trench is not expected to pay for the additional work. Therefore, the name of contactor who will pay is still unspecified.

John Monetta

John Monetta

In addition, the Port of Oakland has come up with changes in its specifications for the trench, and these costs will have to be paid, said John Monetta, the city’s real estate manager at the Army Base Project.

According to Post sources, the port made its specifications clear from the beginning, and Tagami chose to ignore them.

Seeking answers to the costs to the city, Councilmember Lynette McElhaney said, “It is my understanding that the project doesn’t have any excess funding. We need to understand what the (change) is and what the fiscal impact is. “

Responding, Assistant City Administrator Sanchez said, “We believe we have a way to resolve it without it having a significant impact to the financial picture of the project.”

The total cost to replace the contaminated material and upgrade the trench is still not known, according to city staff

Tom Chasm

Tom Chasm

In addition, city staff is saying the problem of the contamination can be traced to aggregate left at the base by Urban Recycling Solutions, a company that is no longer in existence. But under questioning by Councilmember McElhaney, staff admitted that the material – crushed concrete and asphalt – was placed in the trench without being tested.

Tom Chasm, former manger of Urban Recycling, said the aggregate his company left at the base was tested and up to industry standards.   There is no way to know if Urban Recycling was the source of the material used in the trench or if it was dumped by a different operator, according to Post sources.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, October 4, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

Pressure Grows for Tagami to Turn Over Army Base Property to CWS

Rebecca Kaplan. Photo courtesy sfgate.

Rebecca Kaplan. Photo courtesy sfgate.

By Post Staff

Connected with the implementation of the Oakland’s garbage agreement is the unsettled question of when the city’s agent Phil Tagami will turn over property at the Oakland Army Base Development so that California Waste Solutions (CWS) can build a new recycling center and finally move out of the West Oakland community.

Henry Gardner

Henry Gardner

CWS’ recycling facility will mean construction and recycling jobs for Oakland residents and will take 18 months to build.

The city has promised to give the property at the North Gateway area of the Army Base to CWS in 2016, but some say the date could be put off for a year or more beyond that date.

Speaking at Monday’s council meeting, Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan pushed the administration to fast-track efforts to turn the property over to CWS.

Addressing concerns of residents who are distressed that the company is still in their community, Kaplan said, “City Council voted years ago to move the recyclers out of the neighborhood and over onto the Army Base.”

Mayor Jean Quan

Mayor Jean Quan

“For reasons that still continue to baffle, years pass, and that piece of property still has not been turned over,” Kaplan said. “It is not the fault of the recyclers that they have still not moved.”

“Despite the vote of this council, … that has not been done. I want to be very clear that we expect that to be accomplished – immediately. Is work being done to expedite the process?”

Responding to Kaplan, City Administrator Henry Gardner said, “I have met with Phil Tagami, who is our agent on that site and our future developer.” There is an “urgency” and a “commitment” to make the property transfer happen, he said.

And there are questions why  the city is paying Tagami to be its staff/agent, which permits him arrange for his own businesses with taxpayers’ funds, while city priorities are paced on the waiting list.

Mayor Jean Quan said that the transfer of the property to CWS had bogged down in a lot of complicated issues.

“I started working with Fred Blackwell, and we will continue to work on how quickly we can get CWS into their space,” said a the council meeting. “The original delay is that they are still using part of that space over there as a staging area for the demolition of the (old Bay) Bridge.”

“This is something that needs collaboration. I don’t like that people are being blamed for something that’s pretty complicated,” said Quan.

Some say Tagami wants to push that date back, though other are saying that he is responding to pressure and seeking to start the project on time or move the date forward.

Phil Tagami

Phil Tagami

In a recent email to the Oakland Post, Tagami wrote: “The city has requested an earlier delivery date of July 2016 in January 2014, and such a date is possible if the current sequencing plan continues without interruption or unreasonable weather delay,” Tagami said.

According to Councilmember Lynette McElhaney, Tagami is hearing the concerns raised by the council and community members and is seeking to address those concerns.

A major problem facing the infrastructure development is that it may run out of money before it is completed, according to a source close to the project.

If the development runs out of cash before it is completed, scheduling becomes crucial, because what is scheduled to be built at a later date may never get built, said the source, who raised some questions.

Will the project complete the work first for Tagami and his partner Prologis? Or will he expedite the city’s priorities – preparing the property for the recyclers and for OMSS truck parking?

Why is the city paying Tagami to be its staff/agent so he can arrange for his own businesses to benefit his personal private gain while using taxpayers’ money?

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, September 27, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

Port Commission Kills Tagami’s Army Base Ambitions

By Post Staff

Fresh developments have raised new concerns about the City of Oakland’s Army Base project, led by its master developer and project manager Phil Tagami.

Phil Tagami

Phil Tagami

The first blow came last Thursday when Tagami learned that he was not going to land a contract with the Port of Oakland to develop the port’s property at the Army Base.

The port decided not to go with Tagami because he could not bring money to the table, and the port is not in a position to take on debt, according to the Post’s sources.

The decision not to go ahead with the developer, who had an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) with the port, was made at a closed session meeting of the Oakland Port Commission.

The second blow was the failure of the city to secure a nearly $50 million U.S. Department of Transportation “TIGER Grant” to help finish the infrastructure project the city has hired Tagami to head on the city’s Army Base property.

At this point, the financial future of Tagami’s project is tied to the passage of Measure BB, the Alameda County Transportation Commission’s proposal that would raise between $100-$200 million for the project, according to estimates.

The sales tax measure, which would be on the November 2014 ballot, would fund $7.8 billion in road, freeway and transit projects. A similar measure failed in 2012, largely because it grants $400 million for a BART extension to Livermore, which would pay for one that one station to the rail line.

“Most of Tagami’s developments are predicated on his use of the city’s or the port’s money. He uses taxpayers’ monies for his salary, and then he develops corporate welfare strategies to self-enrich while ignoring the promises to hire Oakland residents,” said Post Publisher Paul Cobb. “By holding the city’s Army Base lot as ransom in the CWS trash dispute, he could pocket another $2 million while also seeking to be the developer of other downtown properties. All of this occurs dring his record of delinquincies in payments to the city.”

According to Tagami’s email newsletter, Measure BB would pay for “infrastructure upgrades, including roadway and truck route improvements” on the project.

“Without new funding, Alameda County will lose job opportunities, experience increased traffic on degraded streets and highways, suffer potential cuts on buses and BART and see more costly transportation services for youth, seniors and people with disabilities,” the newsletter said.

Neither Tagami nor Mayor Jean Quan responded to the Post’s questions about possible jeopardy to future funding for the city’s Army Base project.

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

 

Mayoral Candidates Dispute Council on Garbage Contract

Part 2

By Ashley Chambers

With Oakland’s garbage conflict capturing public attention, a number of mayoral candidates are expressing discontent with the two-year process of how the City Council came to a 7-1 decision.

Bryan Parker

Bryan Parker

“The city government really messed up the process. They created a process where Waste Management was almost guaranteed to win,” says Dan Siegel, civil rights attorney.

Last week, the Post interviewed mayoral candidates who hold public office – Mayor Jean Quan and Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan and Libby Schaaf –who upheld the council’s decision as democratic and transparent and called it the deal that will provide the best services and lowest rates for Oakland residents.

Siegel says he prefers CWS over Waste Management but adds that the Council “bought themselves a huge lawsuit and created incredible uncertainties to what’s going to happen” through this process.

While Port Commissioner Bryan Parker says he supports investment in a local West Oakland business, he also criticized the contracting process.

“I would have ensured that every concern – including whether a particular vendor had the capacity to provide services – was addressed before the contract was awarded,” Parker says. “Then the lawsuit could have been avoided. We need better planning, better processes and less drama. We need real leadership to avoid these issues in the future.”

Joe Tuman

Joe Tuman

City auditor Courtney Ruby has failed to comment on the heated trash debates. But mayoral candidate Joe Tuman, a professor at San Francisco State University, was willing to weigh in on the matter.

“I’m bothered by the fact that there has been misleading information,” says Tuman, responding to the Waste Management referendum that seeks to disrupt the trash contract with CWS.

Dan Siegel

Dan Siegel

“The process was fair and to claim otherwise is just silly,” he says, having personally witnessed paid signature gatherers make incorrect claims.

“City Council decided to award the contract differently than what city staff had recommended.” However, he says, “that’s just fine; we don’t elect our City Council members to be rubber stamps, we elect them to exercise independent judgment.”

While he believes in awarding the contract to the local company, Tuman criticized City Council for not being transparent about the franchise fee – $30 million – that the company awarded with the contract pays annually to the city, and would ultimately raise rates for consumers.

“The city knew full well that the winning vendor would pass that rate on to ratepayers…the money goes right back into the city’s pockets,” Tuman says. “Our city government should’ve been more honest about what that [franchise fee] was. It’s reprehensible that the council and the Mayors office weren’t more vocal and upfront about this.”

CWS will build a new state-of-the-art facility at the Oakland Army Base and offer job opportunities for youth, local residents, and Waste Management workers. The new contract is scheduled to start July 1, 2015.

Photos by Adam L. Turner.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, September 19, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

Phil Tagami Responds to Oakland Post

Rendering of Army Base Project

Rendering of Army Base Project

By Post Staff

Master developer Phil Tagami of CCIG responded on Thursday to questions from the Oakland Post.

He was asked when the city’s Army Base property would be ready for California Waste Solutions (CWS).

“The city has requested an earlier delivery date of July 2016 in January 2014, and such a date is possible if the current sequencing plan continues without interruption or unreasonable weather delay,” Tagami said.

“On May 19, 2014, the city requested that we study delivery of the site for and earlier date – perhaps as early as Q4 2015,” he said. “That analysis is still on going and may require several other agreements with both public and private parties to be modified. There are costs associated with the changes under a number of scenarios under consideration, the total cost is not yet fully understood.  The disposition of the BNSF controlled easement being a primary issue.

Tagami was asked if he was opposed to the CWS contract and in favor of Waste Management.

“We have no interest or position on that matter,” Tagami said “We do support the sale and transfer of the land to CWS and CASS (another company) at the earliest commercially feasible date. I have been personal friends with the Duong family (CWS owners) since 1992 and have a potential business relationship with Mr. Juarez and Viridis bio-fuels vis-a-vie our railroad interests in Oakland Global Rail Enterprise providing service to their site. “army base

He was asked how he responds to residents’ charges that he has a conflict of interest at the Army Base, standing to gain in his private enterprises if companies lose their places or are evicted from base property.

“We are unaware of any such claims, and if there are such claims they indicate a total lack of understanding of the agreements in place,” he said. “There is simply no benefit to CCIG under such a scenario”

“In fact it is quite the opposite, as the infrastructure project as a whole relies upon the sale of the property.”

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, September 13 (postnewsgroup.com)

Phil Tagami’s Conflicts of Interest Could Jeopardize Trash Deal

By Post Staff

Army Base master developer and city agent Phil Tagami has a long-term relationship with the City of Oakland that creates a conflict of interest that could possibly influence turning over base property to build the new California Waste Solutions (CWS) facility, according to sources close to the project.

Phil Tagami

Phil Tagami

The city has promised to turn over the property at the North Gateway area of the Army Base to CWS in 2016.

Some say Tagami wants to push that date back, and some city officials are pushing staff and Tagami to move the date forward. The new facility will take 18 months to build and handle trash and serve as the company’s headquarters and truck yard.

Among the roles that Tagami plays on the city’s base project are master developer and project manager of the whole development. He is also the property manager, which means he is the landlord representing the city at the base; he is the finance broker, which means he gets commissions if he can bring money to the table; and he is the rail operator.

Because Tagami wears so many hats, in practice it is not clear whether he reports to city staff or staff members report to him, according to sources.

“He is being paid by the public to build an (Army Base) facility that he basically gets to own, and he is paid by the public to evict other companies, which he then can replace, because he is the real estate agent for the city on the base,” said Brian Beveridge of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project.

In the past, Beveridge said, Tagami “had been offering (CWS and other base businesses), which goes with a certain amount of pressure, to let him build their facilities.  He said they don’t need to own their own land or facilities, but could lease from him.”

“Of course, by the time these new facilities get built, the businesses could belong to him or companies tied to him. It all would have been turned into Tagami rail, Tagami trucking, Tagami cargo facilities, Tagami recycling.”

Brian Beveridge

Brian Beveridge

This is contrary to the exclusive negotiating agreements that all these companies thought they had with the city, Beveridge added.

According to another source, “It is better for him to have tenants who will cut him in on their action where he has some kind of profit sharing with whoever the tenant is.”

According to another source, Prologis, which is Tagami’s partner, has paid a fee to Tagami  so that its part of the project at the East Gateway can be built before other parts of the development. This could rearrange and set back the city’s commitment to CWS and other companies.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, September 13, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)

Army Base Project Hired Only Eight Workers from West Oakland

Oakland Army Base

Oakland Army Base

By Ken A. Epstein

More and more people in the community are raising concerns that the $1.2 billion Army Base project is not living up to its promises to deliver jobs to local residents who are trying to break into the construction trades.

George Holland

George Holland

In particular, the project hired only eight workers who live in West Oakland out of 171 total new hires between October 2013 and Aug. 1, 2014.

During negotiations several years ago it was agreed upon by all parties at the table that community benefits would prioritize jobs for West Oakland residents, who have been adversely affected for many years by the Army Base and the Port of Oakland.

Because of legal restrictions, the city can only require hiring by zip code and residence but not by race. However, activists have wanted to see increased percentages of African American workers, who have long been underrepresented in many construction unions.

At the Army Base, though African Americans represent 27.3 of the city’s population, they have received only 14.9 percent of the total work, which means they are 45 percent underrepresented in comparison with their percentage in the population.

Focus is now being turned to the benefits agreement, which was negotiated with community groups at the table and passed by the City Council requiring that 50 percent of the jobs go to local residents and allegedly providing stronger guarantees than ever before that these promises would be delivered upon.

But along the way, say activists, the verbal agreements were subverted. As written, the agreement does not match up with what everyone had thought they had agreed upon during negotiations.

“We believe that the African American community has not received a fair portion of the jobs available at the Oakland Army Base – the process, whatever it is, is not working,” said attorney Gorge Holland, president of the Oakland chapter of the NAACP and member of the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce.

Margaret Gordon

Margaret Gordon

“We were led to believe that a large number of jobs were supposed to go to West Oakland,” Holland said. “There should be better oversight to make sure those who are affected by lack of employment would be considered more favorably.”

The West Oakland Job Resource Center was supposed b a “clearing house” for Army Base jobs, a place where all the jobs would be listed, so that the proof of what was happening at the base would be transparent to all.

But somewhere along the line, the job center turned out to be something different. Though the center has found work for a number of people, only 11 people have been employed at the Army Base through June.

When the job benefits were originally negotiated, there were a number of community groups at the table along with city representatives and master developer Phil Tagami of CCIG.

Questions about what happened to the promises and what can be done to repair and enforce the agreement were directed to the community groups who sat at the table and negotiated the agreements. Besides OaklandWorks, which is speaking out, there were a number organizations claiming to represent community interests: East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE), Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Alameda Labor Council and the Building and Construction Trades Council of Alameda County.

Post spoke with leaders of OaklandWorks but by deadline was unable to interview Andreas Culver, secretary treasurer of the building trades council.

Despite repeated calls, the Post did not receive replies from EBASE, ACCE, or Josie Camacho, executive secretary treasurer of the Alameda Labor Council.

“There are so many loopholes now that it comes down to a voluntary, ‘good faith’ agreement,” said Margaret Gordon of OaklandWorks, who was at the negotiating table.

People negotiated one thing, but then the agreement went to labor and other “stakeholders,” and it was changed before it went to the city council, said Gordon.

At this point, the discussion must go back to the City Council, which has to deal with Phil Tagami, has final say-so over changes in the written agreement, she said.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, August 23, 2014 (postnewsgroup.com)