Opinion: City Agency Set to Seize Black Veteran’s Home

Leonard Powell is facing “an unconscionable and unwarranted debt”

Leonard Powell (right) with relative.

By Steve Martinot

The City of Berkeley is campaigning right now to drive Leonard Powell, a 76-year-old Black veteran, and his family out of their home at 1911 Harmon St. in south Berkeley.

This family has lived there for 44 years and owned the house free and clear. By a legal process called receivership, the city has succeeded in placing Mr. Powell in a financial position beyond his means, in order for him to lose the house to foreclosure or sale.

Receivership means that the house, after it is found to be in violation of the city’s housing code, is placed under the control of a “receiver,” who then he takes over the job of repairing the house.

Where initial estimates of repair expenses were around $200,000, the receiver has racked up expenses of $700,000, a debt which ultimately falls on Mr. Powell’s shoulders.

Right now, the case is in Superior Court, and the judge has demanded that Mr. Powell come up with the full amount right away. Clearly, he is acting to protect the interest of the receiver, who is white.

This writer would ask that the legal system be as diligent in protecting the interests of the Black family, who are now faced with an unconscionable and unwarranted debt.

This kind of thing has happened to other families. It has also been accomplished through Probate Court, as well as through receivership. But Mr. Powell’s case is instructive.

It occurred through three stages. And it is important to note that at no time did Mr. Powell object to doing the repairs on his house. He simply asked the city for assistance and negotiation, which the city subtly declined.

First, there was a police raid on the house, ostensibly to arrest a person who didn’t live there. The entire raid was fake, reporting fabricated evidence, and no charges were ever filed. But it gave city officials a chance to inspect the house without prior notice.

The city knew Mr. Powell’s financial situation, and that he had family members in the house in ill health who depended on the house.

Second, though inspection found some 23 code violations, all were of housing maintenance. Mr. Powell was given deadlines, negotiation on those deadlines were refused, and missed deadlines allowed the city to label the house a public “nuisance.”

The label made the city’s desire for receivership much stronger (though without evidence of any specific danger to the neighborhood). Without material foundation, this essentially admitted that for the white power structure, black people are just a nuisance.

Third, there is the receivership process. Mr. Powell opposed the house being placed under receivership in court declarations, but his objections were ignored.

The city’s petition was granted, and a white man appointed as receiver to repair the violations. The receiver then violated his mandate by having his contractor reconstruct the house rather than simply repair the code violations.

This is what tripled his expenses, and tripled the debt placed on Mr. Powell. The receiver admitted, in a later report to the court, that in shifting the work on the house from repairs to reconstruction, he was following city directions in doing so.

The receiver must have sensed a vulnerability, because he has asked the judge to get full payment from Mr. Powell immediately, and the judge has done so.

 

Leonard Powell’s case is scheduled to be heard Monday, Dec. 17, 10:30 a.m., at Alameda County Superior Court, Second Floor, Room 511, 24405 Amador St., Hayward. For more information or to support Mr. Powell, contact Friends of Adeline at (510) 338-7843 or friendsofadeline@gmail.com

Published December 12, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

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Oakland Pays Tribute to Outgoing Councilmember Desley Brooks

“Desley was the lightning rod who took all the bad energy (and stood) up for us in this city,” said Carroll Fife.

Community activist Carroll Fife spoke Tuesday evening, Dec. 11, at the City Council meeting, backed by Oaklanders who joined her in paying tribute to outgoing Councilmember Desley Brooks. Photo by Ken Epstein.

By Ken Epstein

Oaklanders crowded into City Council chambers this week – the last meeting of the year – -to pay tribute to outgoing Councilmember Desley Brooks, who represented District 6 in East Oakland for 16 years.

Brooks, who was excused due to illness in her family, did not attend the meeting.

Almost 40 people signed up to speak about the issues Councilmember Brooks championed – including homelessness and construction jobs for Black and Latino workers – and praise her for courageous stands on behalf of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

Two drummers beat a solemn, celebratory rhythm, and the crowded chambers reverberated with clapping, cheering and chants of “Desley! Desley! Desley!”

Those who appreciated the work of Councilmember Brooks, especially her outspoken demands for equity for Black Oaklanders, crowded around the podium as Oakland activist Carroll Fife spoke of the “scars and battle wounds that Brooks took for standing up for us in this city.”

“Desley was the lightning rod that took all of the bad energy from the press, from you all (on the council), from the gentrifying agents of the city. She took it, and she wore it. She is African. That is what we do…

“Desley was unapologetically Black. (She) unapologetically stood with the people who are most in need.”

Over her years in office, Brooks helped create the landmark Race and Equity Department, fought for Black neighborhoods stigmatized by the War on Drugs to have equitable opportunities to engage in the legalized cannabis industry and stood up to the police chief and mayor when they violated Oakland’s Sanctuary City ordinance.

Earning the anger of state construction trade unions, she recently had been questioning the proposal for a Project Labor Agreement that would give all the construction jobs on city projects to segregated unions that have few Black members.

Though members of the council praise ‘bad sistas,’ said Fife, “We have to talk about the difference and the disparity. She cannot be bad on that seat (on the council), but Libby gets to be ‘Oakland Tough’ (referring to one of the Mayor Schaaf’s recent campaign slogans).”

“You did not lose your seat Desley Brooks – it was stolen from you by the mayor, by independent expenditures, by the half a million dollars (they raised) to put out of office so you couldn’t represent us,” Fife continued.

“We see, and we are united.  We are coming together. This is bigger than Desley, but Desley was our drum.”

Published December 13, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

 

Opinion: Reflection on Tuesday’s City Council Meeting

Current members of Oakland Council through the end of 2018.

By Cathy Leonard

It is clear that these councilpersons, with the exception of Councilperson-at-Large Rebecca Kaplan, do not respect us as voters or even as people.

Oaklanders are suffering like never before, and these councilpersons and our mayor turn a blind eye and deaf ears and continue to maintain policies that are harming and killing us. And the disrespect shown towards Oaklanders, to our faces, is outrageous.

The Council meeting ended around 2 a.m. as this council attempted to ram through 34 agenda items before new councilpersons are seated in January.

A number of items on the Consent Calendar dealt with the Oakland Police Department, who in 15 years has failed to complete the Negotiated Settlement Agreement. In fact, the federal judge added back in 3 items they said were completed but in fact were misrepresented to the court.

The council voted to approve a settlement for a 14-year-old female child who an officer punched in the face as if she were a man. He denied that, stating that he slapped her with an open hand. He’s still on payroll.

So, too, was the officer, who, against written policy, plowed through a red light and into a motorcyclist whose leg had to be amputated. It cost the city $12 million.

Yet, our Council voted to give officers a raise.

And yet housing the unhoused never came up.

Never came up. But someone from the audience mentioned that last week the mayor evicted a sober and clean camp of 13 women and their children on a rainy day with nowhere to go. Mayor Schaff is “tough” on Oakland alright. But the Council said nothing.

In 2020, Oaklanders have got to finish cleaning house.

Two of our new councilpersons were present and stayed the entire time. I did not see smiles on their faces.

Our community will continue expand our outreach work. Many of us are outraged and will work hard to break the cycle of disrespect and the harming and killing of Oaklanders by our mayor and councilpersons.

We are energized.

I repeat, in 2020 Oaklanders have got to finish cleaning the council’s house and the mayor’s house in 2022.

Cathy Leonard is a founder of Oakland Neighborhoods for Equity.

Opinion: Disguised Discrimination Against Black Workers Returns to City Council Agenda

Hold Public Hearings Before Passing a Project Labor Agreement

By Paul Cobb

Black workers get only 9 percent of the work on city-funded projects, although Black people make up 25 percent of the Oakland population.    The City Council is scheduled vote next week to continue or even reduce this small percentage of Black employment.

The proposal for a Project Labor Agreement (Item 13 on this week’s City Council agenda) is actually not as complicated as it sounds.  For most employment you apply for a job, and if the employer discriminates you make a complaint.

With a citywide Project Labor Agreement, the construction unions decide who works and you cannot complain, if you do not belong to the construction union.

Of course, in most industries we support what unions ask for, because they are working for the common good.  In the case of the construction unions,  they will not disclose their membership by ethnicity, and from all the available evidence they have few Black members.

So guaranteeing them all the work is guaranteeing that Black people will have little of it.

Making this Council motion even more deceptive is the fact that it is hidden in a social justice proposal to use public land for public good.  So council members and the construction trades have set up good folks to oppose an important policy on public land, because they insist on hiding a discriminatory policy on employment within it.

What should happen?

Council members (Kaplan and Guillen) should:

  • Separate the two issues;
  • Pass a strong public lands policy; and
  • Hold public hearings on the Project Labor Agreement so that Oaklanders can understand the issues, deliberate, and propose Oakland city policies that both protect all workers and enhance Black participation in construction.

Published December 11, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Health Advocate Margaret Gordon Receives West Oakland Health Trailblazer Award

Margaret Gordon

West Oakland Health is honoring Margaret Gordon, co-director of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP), with a West Oakland Health Trailblazer Award for her work as a “forward thinker in the field of health care.”

“The purpose of the …Trailblazer Award is to recognize and honor an individual who has demonstrated innovation, creativity and overcoming obstacles to meet the challenges of health care delivery in education, clinical service, public policy or community service,” according to the award letter sent to Gordon.

Gordon will receive the award at West Oakland Health’s 50th Anniversary Gala Celebration Saturday, Feb. 16 at the Marriott Hotel, 1001 Broadway in Oakland.

Gordon co-founded WOEIP in 2003 to fight to clean up air quality in West Oakland, classified as a major “toxic hotspot.” The community is located next door the Port of Oakland, a hub for ships and diesel trucking, which produces 90 times more diesel emission participates per day compared to the state of California.

Up until the founding of WOEIP, the voices of West Oakland residents were entirely absent from the Port of Oakland’s governing process.

“I was the first member of the impacted community in over 80 years to meet at a table with Port of Oakland executives,” said Gordon said in an interview with Breathe California – California Golden Gate Public Health Partnership.

Since the launch of WOEIP, the Port of Oakland has reduced its emissions by 70 percent, and Gordon has been a principle catalyst.

West Oakland Health is a nonprofit community health center with four sites providing primary care, women, children, and infant care, behavioral health, substance abuse recovery services and an oral health program to residents of West, North and East Oakland, Emeryville and Southwest Berkeley.

Published December 6, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

 

Report: How to House Oakland’s Unhoused Within Six Months

City workers and police officers evict homeless residents Thursday afternoon, Dec. 6, from Housing and Dignity Village, an encampment of 13 women and children on city-owned land at Edes and South Elmhurst avenues in East Oakland. Photo by Amir Saadiq.

The following is the third part of a series profiling the new report from the Dellums Institute/Just Cities for the Housing and Dignity Project led by The Village and East Oakland Collective, Housing Oakland’s Unhoused, focuses on what we’ve all been waiting for—solutions to Oakland’s new homelessness crisis. 

The Housing Oakland’s Unhoused Report very powerfully establishes that the traditional approach to homelessness does not address today’s realities where the majority of the homeless only need housing, rather than intensive services, and the costs and time needed to build multi-family housing is insufficient.

Instead, the report offers innovative solutions that would result in providing safe, dignified, and affordable housing to over 2,000 people within 6 months, IF the political will in City Hall and the County exists.

Perhaps the innovativeness of the solutions comes from the fact that the Dellums Institute and the Goldman School for Public Policy partnered with unhoused people and activists from The Village and the East Oakland Collective.

This authentic participatory research model relied directly on the voices, experiences, and brilliant ideas from the people most impacted by the housing crisis.  Different from most government community “input” sessions, the research findings and final recommendations were then vetted and approved by the same unhoused people and activists.

The report’s Short Term Solutions are implementable within 6 to 12 months.  They include low cost and immediate housing building models such as tiny, mobile, or container homes which cost between $7,500 to $35,000 to build, including infrastructure costs.

The report states that it would cost around $23 million to immediately build 1,600 new housing units that could provide dignified housing for 2,000 people.

The report identifies specific resources that are currently available to implement this critical plan, including available public land parcels and new monies for homeless housing from the City, County, and State.

See page 6 of the Housing Oakland’s Unhoused Report for more details, http://dellumsinstitute.org/community-justice-data/

Not stopping at short-term solutions, the Housing Oakland’s Unhoused Report also lays out Long Term Solutions to build 2,000 units of permanent housing for extremely low income to no income residents.

These longer term solutions include the traditional multi-family housing model that would cost a public subsidy of about $150,000 per unit.

In addition, the report recommends utilizing alternative housing models that are cheaper and faster to build such as container, modular, and prefab homes, which would range from $13,500 to $125,000 of public subsidy per unit.

The report also identifies new funds for implementing these long-term solutions such as the new County Measure A1 funds and the City’s new ballot measures increasing the real estate transfer tax on properties selling for over $2 million championed by Councilmember Dan Kalb and also the new vacant lots tax championed by Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan.

Ultimately, the Dellums Institute’s Housing the Unhoused Report for the Housing and Dignity Project represents a call to action for all of us who care about Oakland.

No longer can we turn away from the growing homeless crisis, throwing up our hands and saying that there’s nothing we can do.  There’s plenty of strategic solutions available.  All it takes is political and moral leadership.

Let’s exercise our rights in a democratic society and call our elected officials to implement the Housing and Dignity Project’s solutions designed by unhoused people.

See the full Report on the Dellums Institute’s website at  http://dellumsinstitute.org/community-justice-data/

Published December 6, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

City Awards Police 12.5 Percent Raise, Bypassing Public Input

Oakland police

By Ken Epstein

The Oakland City Council, bypassing opportunities for public input, rushed this week to approve a Schaaf administration agreement with the Oakland Police Officers Association (OPOA) that gives officers a 12.5 percent raise over the next five years and locks in controversial provisions that reform advocates say are hampering efforts to strengthen police accountability.

The only council member to vote against the new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with OPOA was Rebecca Kaplan. Councilmember Desley Brooks did not attend the Tuesday night meeting.

The second and final vote on the approval of the MOU was scheduled for the Dec. 11 City Council meeting.

The agreement has already been ratified by OPOA members.

A huge windfall for the city, the agreement drastically reduces medical benefits for police retirees, saving the city an estimated $123 million over the life of the contract as much as $350 million over 25 years, according to city officials.

The average 2.5 percent a year raise does not start until 2020 and is not likely to keep up with the rate of inflation.

The agreement perpetuates other provisions of the current MOU, include those that establish police disciplinary procedures and grants the OPOA the right to a fairly unlimited right to “meet and confer” over policy changes affecting public safety, which has held up reforms for as long as a year on several occasions.

As a result, new City Council members who will be seated in January will not have an opportunity to review the MOU’s provisions during their four-year terms.

“Nobody knew they were negotiating,” said Rashidah Grinage of the Oakland Police Accountability Coalition, pointing out that the current MOU does not expire for another seven months and the firefighters are now in their second year of working without a contract.

The administration sent the agreement directly to the council, placing it on the consent calendar where it might receive minimal notice, bypassing public discussion at the Public Safety Committee and not even sending the proposal to the Rules and Legislation Committee for scheduling on a council agenda.

Nor was the Police Commission given an opportunity to express its opinion on the new MOU.

“This was definitely underhanded and intentional,” said Grinage. She noted the irony of giving the police a raise on the same day that an irate federal judge chastised the city and OPD for turning in reports that misrepresent the use of force and other requirements of the court-supervised Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA).

After 15 years, the city has not been able to fully comply with the NSA. In Tuesday’s court hearing, the judge added back to the noncompliant list three requirements that had formerly been listed as compliant.

“After all this time, they are going backwards,” said Grinage.

According to Grinage, members of the Coalition for Police Accountability met with Mayor Schaaf on Oct. 11, where the mayor said she was willing to discuss modifying the MOU, including a provision that says in disciplinary hearings an officer’s history of misbehavior can only be examined going back a maximum of five years.

However, Mayor Schaaf ignored what she said at that meeting when her administration sent the new MOU to the council. The representative of the City Attorney Barbara Parker’s office who attended Tuesday’s council meeting said the MOU was a labor agreement, and therefore the Police Commission has no right to express an opinion on it.

A local labor leader in the city told the Post why he thought the OPOA might be willing to settle for contract with only a modest raise and a huge cut in medical benefits.

“Everyone is expecting a recession in 2020.” He said. “Also making it a five-year deal means that they don’t have to deal with the incoming board where they think they won’t have a majority anymore.”

In addition, he said, the recent issues raised by the federal may have encouraged the OPOA to move quickly to settle the MOU, he said.

By the Oakland Post’s deadline, Mayor Schaaf did not respond to a request for comment.

Published November 28, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Oakland Unified Looks at Closing Up to 24 School

School board members Shanthi Gonzales, Nina Senn, Jumoke Hinton Hodge and Aimee Eng.

By Ken Epstein

The Oakland Unified School District’s Board of Education is moving ahead with a “Community of Schools Policy” that will mean closing as many as 24 schools over the next several years, arguing that these closures are the best way to improve the quality and equity of schools across the district.

Pushing the district to make the cuts have been a number of outside agencies – a state-supported nonprofit called Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT), which has been pushing for school closures in Oakland for almost 20 years; a state-appointed trustee who has the authority to “stay and rescind” district budget decisions; the Alameda County Office of Education; and pro-charter groups like GO Public Schools, stand to reap the benefits of the reductions.

“OUSD will need to operate fewer schools. OUSD currently operates too many district-run schools for the number of students we serve,” according to a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) produced by the district.

The number and names of schools that will be closed or “consolidated” will not be made public until February when the board releases a “final Citywide Map” that will include the number and location of “surplus properties,” which may be offered for sale.

District officials have gingerly approached the prospect of shutting down and merging schools, one of the most explosive concerns in Oakland that over the years has mobilized the angry opposition of parents, students, teachers and school communities.

Adding to the potential for conflict, other budget-related issues are coming to a head – the possibility of a teachers’ strike for a new contract in the next few months and the already approved budget cuts of $30 million that will deeply impact school site programs.

The district says it is not committed at this point to closing all 24 of the 87 schools it currently operates.  The reduction of the number of schools by 24 would leave the district with the estimated minimum number of schools it would need operate, say officials.

Closing 24 schools would give the district the minimum number of schools it needs to serve all of its students over the next five years, according to the FAQ.

A recent report from the district does not name 24 schools but identifies them by grade level and location:

  • One high school in East Oakland;
  • Six middle schools, including five in East Oakland and one in West Oakland, and:
  • 17 elementary and K-8 schools, including 14 in East Oakland, two in Central Oakland and one in West Oakland.

Significantly, no closings are proposed for sites that serve hill areas and more affluent students.  Schools that are protected from the threat of closure include: Claremont Middle, Edna Brewer Middle, Oakland Technical High, Hillcrest (K-8), Piedmont Avenue (K-5), Peralta (K-5), Chabot (K-5) and Glenview (K-5).

Officials optimistically say these reductions will produce greater educational equity among remaining schools “long-term sustainability” of the school system.  However, judging by the past aggressive tactics of the charter school industry, there is a hat there is a real possibility that existing or new charter schools would take over the vacated schools, leasing or purchasing the properties, and push he district into a cycle of declining student population and loss of revenue.

Currently 45 charter schools operate in Oakland, serving about one-third of the students in the city. These schools are publicly funded, diverting resources from public schools, but they are privately managed. They are not bound by most of the state Education Code and operate with little oversight.

State regulations for establishing new charters allow them to appeal to the county board of education and the state board of education of the district denies their petition.

The district’s proposal does not examine the performance of charters nor place any of them on the list of possible closures.

Adding to pressure on the district, a recently passed law, supported by Governor Jerry Brown and Oakland elected state representatives, requires the district to cut programs and close schools as a way to obtain temporary extra state funding.

Published November 28, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Opinion: Climate Change Intensifies Injustice in East Oakland

Mask Oakland and Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) deliver breathing masks to local communities.

With the haze of Butte County’s “Camp Fire” looming over the Bay Area, the injustices people face have become ever more evident. During this fire, we are most concerned for the health of children, those with asthma and other respiratory issues, outdoor workers and our unhoused neighbors.

Suggestions to stay indoors and switch out masks every eight hours are not feasible as an ultimate solution. It took hustle to get masks to share with schools, local organizations and the unhoused.

We still do not have enough for all that need them. We know that masks are not enough.

Our adult masks do not properly work for children because of fit and activity. The recommendation has been to keep children indoors with air filtration. This is difficult as air filtration devices are not affordable for low-income people, and information on making your own air filtration device is not as accessible.

Everyone has been told to stay indoors to avoid this poor air. This is not possible for our unhoused neighbors and for those housed in spaces unable to keep outdoor air from coming in due to poor insulation.

Poor air quality impacts are nothing new to East Oakland residents. Exposure to pollution from 880, industrial land uses, the Oakland Airport and the Port of Oakland has resulted in harsh smells, nausea and flare-ups of asthma.

In East Oakland, there is twice the rate of asthma emergency department visits. People in the hills of Oakland, on average, will live 15 years longer than those in the flats. Smells reach local schools and recreation centers, which do not have air filtration.

Breathing in East Oakland is a problem year-round. Many residents in East Oakland are Black and Latino, and race has historically not been considered in planning decisions. Most recently, a mega-crematorium, which will burn 3,000 bodies a year, was approved near a neighborhood that is nearly half Black and Latino.

The following are some of CBE’s demands, calling on the City and other regional agencies to act with urgency to bring forth justice year-round:

  • People must be housed, and housing must be affordable. Our unhoused neighbors and those struggling to stay in their housing need shelter. We demand 100 percent affordable housing on public land.
  • Make major investments in community centers, senior centers, schools and libraries to turn them into hubs for daily healing and emergencies, including climate change-related disasters.
  • Schools need air filtration, including: Brookfield, Madison, Esperanza, Fred Korematsu Discovery, Rise, New Highland, ACORN/Woodland, EnCompass, CCPA, Greenleaf, Community United, Roots, Futures School of Languages, Aurum Prep, Aspire Golden State, Lodestar, Lighthouse, and Lionel Wilson.
  • Address local air quality by funding major greening projects and air filtration.
  • Help families in healing from long-term exposure to air quality
  • Rezone East Oakland. Current zoning does not provide enough of a buffer needed to protect neighborhoods next to industrial uses.
  • Develop an environmental Justice element in the City of Oakland’s General Plan.
  • We demand local jobs.

We demand urgency but must work at the pace of the community. Major education is required to inform people of upcoming impacts and emergency resources.

Published November 23 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Oakland Race & Equity Dept. Report Calls for End to Systemic Racial Disparities

Affordable housing protest at Oakland City Hall

City Councilmembers  this week took the “first step” to implement the “2018 Oakland Equity Indicators Report,” a recent study that provides data on racial disparities experienced by African Americans and Latinos in nearly all areas of life in Oakland, including housing, health, public safety and education.

Darlene Flynn

The report, a joint project of the Resilient Oakland Office and the city’s Department of Race and Equity, was released in July. The plan now calls for the council and city departments to begin to examine policies and programs “through intentional focus on race and ethnic disparities and their root causes,” said Darlene Flynn, director of the Department of Race & Equity, speaking at Tuesday’s meeting of the council’s Life Enrichment Committee.

The report was funded by a $140,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation,

The ultimate goal is “fairness,” which means that “identity—such as race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation or expression—has no detrimental effect on the distribution of resources, opportunities and outcomes for our city’s residents,” according to the report to the council submitted by Flynn.

The report will be updated each year, “measuring how much we have changed (in terms of) what our outcomes are,” because “if we keep doing things the same way we are doing them, we will keep getting the same outcomes,” Flynn said.

The report looked at Oaklanders’ quality of life based on 72 indicators in six areas: economy, education, public health, housing, public safety and neighborhood and civic life.

On a scale of 1 to 100, the report gave the city an overall average score of 33.5. The number 1 represents the highest possible inequity, while 100 represents the highest possible equity.

“This is not good news. It should also not be surprising news for people who are paying to attention to how people’s lives are going in (Oakland),” Flynn said.

“This (report) shows that race does matter. Every area that we looked showed some level of disparity by race and usually quite a bit of disparity,” she said.
One indicator, “Oakland Poverty Rate by Race/Ethnicity,” shows that 26.1 percent of African Americans live at or below the poverty line, while only 8.4 percent of whites are classified as poor.

In other words, “African Americans are three times more likely to live in poverty than whites,” she said.

In addition, one of five Latinos, 21.9 percent, live in poverty. Overall, the poverty rate in Oakland is 17 percent.

This pattern can be seen in nearly all of the 72 indicators: African Americans are the most “negatively impacted,” followed by Latinos, she said.

On 12 indicators, the city received a 1.0, the lowest possible score:

  • Education – student suspensions
  • Education – teaching staff representative of the student body
  • Public Health – child asthma emergency department visits
  • Public Health – substance abuse emergency department visits
  • Housing – homelessness
  • Public safety – adult felony arrests
  • Public safety – jail incarceration
  • Public safety – prison incarceration,
  • Public safety – use of force
  • Public safety – homicides
  • Public safety – juvenile felony arrests
  • Neighborhood and Civil Life – pedestrian safety

The five highest scoring indicators:

  • Equal Access Accommodations (language access) – 100
  • Adopt-a-Drain – 80
  • Homeownership with mortgage – 78
  • Life expectancy – 77
  • Labor force participation – 72
  • Participation in workforce development – 72

A high score does not necessarily mean that an outcome is good, but that is it more equal across different groups of residents.

Flynn, who has headed the Department of Race and Equity since it was formed two years ago through the efforts of Councilmember Desley Brooks, was cautiously optimistic about what the work around the new equity report can achieve.

“This is just the first step, not the end of the story,” said Flynn, pointing out that government played a role in creating the systemic inequities that exist, and it can play a role in reversing them. “I have some level of optimism that with public will, with leadership support, with changes in strategy, we can make a difference,” she said. “By leading with race, we can make a difference.”

To read the report, go to www.ca.gov/projects/oakland-equity-indicators

Published November 15, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post