Free East Bay Showing of Documentary “Backpack Full of Cash”

¨Backpack Full of Cash,” narrated by Matt Damon, is a feature-length documentary that explores the growing privatization of public schools and the resulting impact on America’s most vulnerable children.

Dr. Julian Vasquez-Heilig

Sylvester Hodges

Filmed in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Nashville and other cities, “Backpack Full of Cash” takes viewers through the tumultuous 2013-14 school year, exposing the world of corporate-driven education “reform” where public education – starved of resources – hangs in the balance.

A free showing of the film will be held Monday, Dec. 11, 6:30 p.m., at Oakland Technical High School, 4351 Broadway in Oakland (Enter on 42nd Street).

The film will be followed by a discussion that will include Dr. Julian Vasquez-Heilig, professor at Sacramento State and California NAACP Education Chair; and Sylvester Hodges, former Oakland Board of Education member.

The event is sponsored by the Sacramento State Doctorate of Educational Leadership.

Poll Shows Most Oaklanders Want Oakland A’s to Stay at the Coliseum

Laney “is the worst site you can pick to put a baseball stadium,” says Council President Larry Reid

The ballpark would be built at the current site of the Peralta Community College District headquarters, across the street from Laney College.

Oakland Rising, an alliance of nine Oakland grassroots groups, conducted a poll of 2,526 registered voters between Oct. 21 and Nov. 6 to find out where people stand on the Oakland A’s proposal to build a stadium at Laney College near Lake Merritt.

Results show that 4 in 5 people living in Oakland want the Oakland A’s to stay at the Coliseum and invest in East Oakland, rather than construct a stadium and ballpark village next to Laney College, Chinatown and Eastlake.

“This poll is a true reflection of what Oakland communities want.  The people we spoke with oppose constructing a stadium at the Laney site which would inevitably push out and could destroy historic cultural neighborhoods,” said Oakland Rising Executive Director Jessamyn Sabbag.

“People also overwhelmingly support keeping the stadium in East Oakland as part of a plan to create safety, stability, and fair economic investment that benefits the Black and Brown working-class and immigrant families who live in the surrounding neighborhoods.”

The A’s proposal to construct a stadium, tourist businesses, and luxury housing next to Laney College would push people out of the surrounding Eastlake and Chinatown neighborhoods.  According to the 2010 Census, 78 percent of Chinatown households are renters.  Nearly 90 percent of Chinatown residents are of Asian descent and 45 percent speak a primary language other than English.

“In Chinatown and Eastlake, immigrants and refugees have spent generations building communities where people can thrive.  Our friends, churches, doctors, and stores are here.  We will not allow the A’s owners destroy the sanctuaries we’ve built,” said Alvina

Wong, Oakland Lead Community Organizer at Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN).
Oakland Rising’s poll included more than four times the number of people than a Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce-commissioned poll, according to the community organization.

The Chamber’s poll of 500 Oakland voters found support for the Peralta Community College District site next to Laney College by a 2-1 margin.

Oakland Rising’s poll included registered voters with a diversity of voting histories, not just ‘likely-voters’, a methodology that has historically silenced the voices of working-class people of color who may not vote in every single election.

  • 4 in 5 Oaklanders want the A’s to stay at the Coliseum and invest in East Oakland.  2,227 of respondents live in Oakland.  82 percent of people living in Oakland support the A’s remaining at the Coliseum, 5 percent are opposed, and 13 percent undecided.
  • 84 percent of African American voters, 80 percent of Asian voters, and 87 percent of Latino voters support the A’s staying at the Coliseum rather than constructing a new stadium and ballpark village at Laney.
  • Young people overwhelming support the A’s remaining at the Coliseum.  93 percent of people age 18-24 and 85 percent of people age 25-34 support this position.
  • Middle class and working-class people responded the A’s should stay at the Coliseum and invest in East Oakland.  86 percent of people making less than $50,000 a year, and 81percent of people making $50,000 – $100,000 a year support this position.

Speaking at the City Council’s Community and Economic Development (CED) Committee meeting last week, Council President Larry Reid said he has talked to A’s President Dave Kaval saying that he hopes the team will stay at the Oakland Coliseum.

“I met with him and said, ‘That is the worst site you can pick to put a baseball stadium,’” Reid said. “You need to leave it at the Coliseum where all the transportation infrastructure in the world comes to.”

Published November 25, 2017, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Anti-Coal Activists Announce Boycott of Phil Tagami’s Rotunda Building

Young people join protest Tuesday at the downtown Rotunda Building against Phil Tagami’s attempt to transport coal by rail through Oakland to a shipping terminal at the Oakland Army Base.

Oakland youth, clean air activists, workers and labor leaders rallied Wednesday to kick-off a boycott of Phil Tagami’s Rotunda Building in response to the developer’s lawsuit against the City of Oakland.

Tagami is suing to overturn the city’s ban on the handling and storing of coal so he can move forward with his controversial plan to ship coal from Utah to Asia through the Oakland Army Base.

The City Council banned the shipment of coal in June 2016. Tagami had originally pledged that coal would not be one of the products that would be transported through the new shipping terminals, but he later changed his position, entering a deal with corporations that own coal mines in Utah.

In response, activists are asking local businesses and organizations to boycott the Rotunda Building – an event space where progressive institutions host events – located at 300 Frank H Ogawa Plaza, near Oakland City Hall.

“This is the third time I’ve come to the Rotunda Building to tell Phil Tagami that Oakland doesn’t want dirty coal,” said Sonia Mendoza, Oakland student. “But he isn’t listening to kids like me. My best friend has asthma and has to use an inhaler.”

“She can’t always go outside and play like I can. If Phil Tagami brings coal to Oakland, more people will get asthma and other health problems. That’s why we’re boycotting – to get Tagami to listen to us,” said Mendoza

“Every dollar spent at the Rotunda Building is a dollar that Phil Tagami can use to try and force toxic coal dust on working class black and brown communities in Oakland” said Alicia Flores, a member of Teamsters 2010 and a member of the Climate Workers organizing committee.

“(This rally) put Tagami on notice that any events booked from this date forward until the day Tagami stands up for Oakland and drops the lawsuit should expect picket lines.”

Hotel workers represented by UNITE HERE also joined the boycott, raising the issue that Tagami’s Rotunda Building uses non-union labor for their events.

“Banquets held at the Rotunda Building are catered by non-union companies,” said Wei-Ling Huber, president of UNITE HERE Local 2850.

“Working in the hospitality industry without a union can mean lower pay for workers, often times unaffordable healthcare, and always a lack of guaranteed contract rights,” said Huber.

“Banquet servers and hospitality workers are joining the call to boycott the Rotunda Building because we need good jobs in our community as well a healthy environment with clean air for our families to breathe.”

Published November 24, 2017, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Parents and Teachers Angry Over Mid-Year School Budget Cuts

New superintendent left to clean up mess left by former supe and

state mismanagement

Alix Black, a 5th grade teacher at Franklin Elementary, and Elisabeth Donley, an art teacher at Hillcrest School, hold up signs and chant ‘No cuts for kids, fund out schools’ during a demonstration in front of the Grand Lake Theatre. Photo by Anne Wernikoff/Oakland North.

By Ken Epstein

The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is preparing to approve $15 million in budget cuts this school year at a special school board meeting on Monday, hoping that these immediate reductions will give the district the financial cushion it needs to stay afloat.

In response, angry teachers and families are planning to attend the board meeting in an attempt to halt or reduce the cuts that directly impact classrooms and students.

“$15.1 million in cuts at this time is not necessary,” said Oakland Education Association President Trish Gorham in an email blast last Sunday evening.

“Creating a ‘cushion’ to allow OUSD the room to make more accounting errors while schools are cutting to the bone is unacceptable,” she said. “Cuts to school sites must be eliminated and layoffs of the lowest paid workers in the district reversed.”

According to the district, the “fiscal solvency” objectives for this school year include $1.3 million to fully fund the state-required reserve for economic uncertainties, as well as an $5.5 million to fully fund the additional 1 percent reserve that was passed by the Board of Education.

Another $8 million would restore the district’s workers’ compensation fund, which was used last year to keep the district from going bankrupt.

The district has been struggling to get a handle on a growing deficit that came to light in December and January after former Supt. Antwan Wilson announced he was resigning to take over the leadership of Washington, D.C. schools.

To keep from going into the red this year, OUSD is planning to cut $47.6 million from its budget, $15.1 million this year after already reducing spending by $32.5 million since January of last school year

The district administration has proposed that this year’s cuts would be divided between the schools and the central office, roughly 2.2 percent of school site expenditures and 11.6 percent of the central office budget.

Most employees who will lose their jobs this year are classified, non-credentialed staff. Educators with administrative or teaching credentials by state law can only be laid off at the end of June and would not have a budget impact until next school year.

In October, Supt. Kyla Johnson-Trammell met with principals. She asked them to participate in a survey about which of the district’s 29 departments they thought should be reduced or cut, rating the central office services they thought were lest critical to the ongoing work of the schools.

The department with the lowest rating was Organizational Effectiveness and Culture, which had been formed under Supt. Wilson and led by the wife of Allen Smith, Wilson’s Chief of Schools.

At one point, the office had five administrators. At present, there are two.

Principals also called for cuts in Communications. “Frequent comments related to the recent non-essential growth of this department,” according to an internal document explaining the results of the survey.

The department has a deputy chief, director, manager of the district television station and manager of local control of accountability.  A director of community engagement headed a team of four staff, now reduced to two.

The principals in the survey rated financial services as important but wanted cuts in Business Operations. “Comments related to cuts seemed largely connected to principals’ anger at historical financial mismanagement,” the internal document said.

Some employees blame financial staff for not catching the over-expenditures and failing to do anything to halt them.

Another department that faced criticism was the Office of Postsecondary Readiness. “Principals commented that there was significant overhead in this department,” the document said.

The administration of the Oakland Athletic League (OAL) came under this department. At one point, the OAL has one staffer and one clerk. Under the Wilson administration, it grew to one executive director and three directors, as well as a part-time support staff.

Among the district departments that were rated as most crucial to the functioning of the schools were Special Educations, Buildings and Grounds, Custodial Services, Human Resources, Purchasing, Tech Services and Cafeteria and Nutrition.

Correction: An earlier version of this article reported that Oakland’s adult education program was top heavy with administrators. Some of that information was incorrect and was deleted.

Published November 24, 2017, Courtesy of the Oakland Post

 

 

 

“America Untold” Storytellers Come to the Marsh Theater

 

Stagebridge’s “America Untold” Storytellers. Photo by Ken Epstein

“America Untold¨ Performance comes to the Marsh Theater A performance of ¨America Untold in Times Unseen – Stories that Let the Light Come In¨ will be held Tuesday, Dec. 12, 7:30 p.m., the Marsh Theater, 2120 Alston Way in Berkeley.

¨America Untold¨ features a series of vignettes produced and performed by Stagebridge Storytellers as part of ¨Times Unseen,” the Marsh’s ongoing project to chronicle the current political turmoil and its effects on individual lives.

This one-night production showcases the Fall 10-week storytelling class directed by Jeanne Haynes for Stagebridge, Oakland, a senior theater company.

Void of rants or insults, and with barely a mention of the administration, tellers will present their personal stories impacted by current political issues.

Honing their tales into powerful succinct bite-size pieces, with music by classical guitarist Karen Sellinger, Stagebridge tellers and their topics are:

Susan Shampanier – Economy; Harry Santi – Endangered Species; Laurie Baumgarten – Global Warming; Stuart Korn – Gun Control; Judy Kennedy – Housing; Samir Saad – Immigration;

Sarah Strong – LBGT Rights; Beverly Miles – Racism; Ellen Kaufman – Reproductive Rights; Theresa Nervis – Voter Integrity; Scott Ullman -World War III?

Tickets are $10 – $25 sliding scale, $55 and $100 reserved seating.
For tickets and more information go to:

https://themarsh.org/times_unseen/america-untold-in-times-unseen/

or call The Marsh at (415) 282-3055.

Published November 23, 2017, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Flatland Students Could Lose Access If AC Transit Cancels Bus Service to Hill Schools

“Resegregation of our schools is not an option,” says Rev. Hubert Ivery

Community members attended a meeting Monday organized by Genesis to save bus transportation to hill schools. Photo by Ken Epstein

By Ken Epstein

Community members are keeping up pressure on the Oakland Unified School District and the AC Transit District to find $2.5 million to maintain dedicated bus lines for over 1,600 mostly flatlands students who depend on daily bus transportation to attend Montera Middle and Skyline High schools in affluent neighborhoods in the Oakland hills.

Board of Education President James Harris and Elsa Ortiz, president of the AC Transit Board of Directors, presented an update on efforts to save bus service to Montera Middle and Skyline High schools. Photo by Ken Epstein

A community meeting with representatives of AC Transit and the school district to report on the progress of locating funds to continue bus service next school year was held Monday night at Corpus Christi Catholic Church on Park Boulevard.

The meeting was organized by Genesis, a faith-based social justice organization, composed of member congregations and affiliated with the national Gamaliel Network, which hired and trained President Barack Obama in community organizing in the Southside of Chicago, Illinois.

“The snapback toward segregation is trending in many parts of this county,” said Rev. Dr. Hubert Ivery, president of Genesis.

Rev. Dr. Hubert Ivery

“This discontinuing of buses to the schools is not option. Resegregation of our schools is not an option. Denying access to students who want access to quality schools is not an option,” he said.

“We need to hold our ground, so we don’t go back!”

Speaking at the meeting, Elsa Ortiz, president of the AC Transit Board of Directors, said the bus agency and school district “are really working together to solve this situation.”

“The problem is that both agencies depend on federal and state funds” which is not enough, she said.

Bus transportation to the Oakland hill schools costs AC Transit $4.5 million a year, said Ortiz. In comparison, the cost of service to 35 other school districts in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties costs the agency $5 million.

Some members of the AC Transit board from other areas have no interest in using agency funds to support Oakland schools, Ortiz said.

In January, the school district informed the bus agency that it would no longer pay the $2.5 million for the bus routes. For the past 20 years, the state had given the district the money, which was earmarked to pay for bus service.

However, changes in state funding regulations have allowed the school district to begin to utilize the funds as it saw fit.

 The current temporary agreement, passed in May by the AC Transit Board, preserved bus lines, 56 buses, which last year served 1,615 student a day, according to Ortiz.

Board of Education President James Harris said that last year, when the bus service was threatened, the two public agencies were able to work out a temporary fix.

“We did save the day last year. We did it for this year. We don’t know for next year. We want to know by April,” he said, adding that the district is talking to the city and other agencies in the hope that they will contribute to saving the bus service.

Harris pointed out that the school district is facing desperate financial conditions and has little wiggle room.

“We are certainly looking at giving more money for the buses,” he said. “But every dollar we direct, that’s somebody’s job (that’s cut),” he said.

Montera Middle School Principal Darren Avent said two-thirds of Montera’s 778 students rely on AC Transit to attend school.

“We have at least one student from every elementary school in Oakland. AC Transit leads to the diversity we are proud of,” he said.

When the news came out last school year about the possible ending of bus transportation, “we lost several families,” Avent said.

According to state statistics, Montera’s student body last school year was 37.9 percent African American, 18.9 percent Latino and 21.9 percent white.

Skyline High School Principal Nancy Blooms said two-thirds of her students come to school by bus. “If that goes away, those kids go away. If it is reduced to a neighborhood school, that would completely segregate it. That’s not OK.”

Skyline last year had 1,843 students, 31.3 percent African American, 40.2 percent Latino and 6.1 percent white.

She continued. “We are under-enrolled by 56 kids (this year) because families could not count on bus service.”

As a result, the school lost 4.6 staff members, $156,000 from the site budget.

“We can’t wait until May to know what is happening,” she said. “Families are already making up their minds for next year. We can’t leave huge numbers of families in the dark.”

Open enrollment for next school year started this week and ends Jan. 26.

If the bus lines are eliminated, the schools could resegregate. In addition, the schools might have trouble surviving with so few students. And OUSD could take a huge financial hit if large numbers of affected families decide not to send their students to other district schools.

Published November 19, 2017, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Despite Opposition, Council Members Will Discuss “Cover-Up” of OPD’s Violation of Sanctuary City Status

Did Mayor Schaaf block City Council discussion of ICE raid to shield Police Chief´s false statements?

Full discussion set for Dec. 5 Public Safety Committee meeting

 

Students from Aspire Lionel Wilson Preparatory Academy in Oakland spoke at Tuesday evening’s Public Safety Committee, asking the city to uphold its Sanctuary City commitment. “We have a right to demand the truth,” said Jackie Moreno, a student at the school. Photo by Ken Epstein.

 

By Post Staff

Oakland City Councilmembers Desley Brooks and Rebecca Kaplan, seeking information and accountability, last month called for a staff report to be discussed at the Public Safety Committee on the controversial actions of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that took place in West Oakland on Aug. 16

Brooks and Kaplan, as well as many members of the public, had expected the discussion to be held Nov. 14 at Public Safety, but the item was pulled at last week’s Rules and Legislation Committee by Councilmembers Annie Campbell Washington and Abel Guillén.

Some are voicing concerns that the item may have been pulled by Mayor Libby Schaaf’s administration as an attempt to short circuit the current internal investigation of the Chief of Police.

The Rules Committee, which normally sets the agendas for council committees, had originally scheduled the item for a hearing at Public Safety for Tuesday, Nov. 14.

An independent investigation conducted by the Oakland Privacy Commission had concluded that several false statements were made by Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick about the incident and the OPD’s assistance to HSI/ICE had constituted a violation of sanctuary city policy.

“There has been a significant amount of concern with respect to the raid that took place.  The events surrounding the ICE operation were especially troubling because the City Council has set a sanctuary policy that bars any city employee, including police, from assisting federal immigration agents when they are enforcing civil immigration laws,” said Councilmember Brooks.

Asked by the Post for a comment on the mayor’s possible involvement in pulling the item off the calendar, spokesman for Mayor Schaaf Justin Berton responded.

“It is simply untrue,” he said.

Councilmembers Guillén and Campbell Washington did not respond to the Oakland Post’s request for a comment.

At Tuesday’s Public Safety Committee meeting, Guillén did not explain his position.

According to reports, officials made public statements incorrectly alleging the undocumented immigrant who was detained by ICE was wanted in connection with a criminal matter and that the issue had to do with human trafficking. These allegations seem not to be based on the facts that are known so far.

Oakland police officers performed traffic control duties during the Aug. 16 raids, according to reports.

Many remain unclear as to why the item was taken off calendar.

However, the actions of the mayor and city administration fit a pattern, according to some. City Hall observers say this current dispute is an egregious example how the mayor and city administration respond to City Council decisions they do not like. They do not say anything, they just do not carry out those resolutions.

Staff had already completed a report for the Public Safety Committee item and published it on Legistar for public noticing and were prepared to report on it. Neither the City Attorney’s office nor Oakland Police Department staff had requested that the item to be pulled.

According to Councilmember Brooks, the rationale for pulling the discussion from the agenda was that the issue had been forwarded to OPD’s Internal Affairs Department.

However, the report’s sponsors say the report does not appear to interfere with the investigation. The report asks for facts and to reaffirm that the City of Oakland is a Sanctuary City that will not use any of its resources to assist with “ICE” or “HSI” requests.

“There is no justifiable reason for pulling the item,” said Brooks, speaking at the Public Safety Committee meeting.

“I think it’s inappropriate to try to hide this report and vital that we clearly protect our community from “ICE,” said Kaplan.

Earlier this year, Councilmember Kaplan authored legislation to cut ties between OPD and ICE, and on July 18, the City Council unanimously passed the resolution.

This directive was not adhered to, she said.

The Brooks and Kaplan request for information included:

A chronological timeline and review of the Aug. 16 HSI/ICE raid;

The date the OPD/ICE Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was officially terminated; and

Any and all Oakland police department involvement in, and tasks, at the HSI/ICE West Oakland raid on Aug. 16.

Despite the cancellation of the agenda item, Kaplan and members of the community went ahead with a discussion of the controversy at this week’s Public Safety meeting.

Councilmember Brooks, who heads the Public Safety Committee, has joined with Councilmembers Kaplan and Gallo to submit a resolution that strongly reaffirms Oakland as a Sanctuary City and prohibits city agencies from working with ICE.

“It is vital that we not allow this incredibly important issue to be swept under the rug. The (issue) was cancelled, no reason was given,” said Kaplan.  “We are a sanctuary city – we do not collude with ICE.”

Councilmembers, including Guillén, voted to hold a full discussion of the issue of at the Dec. 5 Public Safety Committee meeting.

Ken Epstein contributed to this article.

Published November 18, 2017, courtesy of the Oakland Post

 

Richmond and San Pablo Protest Against Charter School Expansion

Richmond City Council  on Tuesday will  consider supporting a moratorium on new charter schools

By Francisco Ortiz

Teachers, students and residents of Richmond and San Pablo rallied this week at the Board of Education meeting of the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) to oppose charter school expansion.

Over 500 people packed the auditorium at Lavonya DeJean Middle School as the school board held its first public hearing for the Rocketship San Pablo Elementary Charter petition.

Many of those opposing the charter petition wore yellow and blue shirt, supporting the efforts of United Teachers of Richmond (UTR) to stop the opening of a new Rocketship school.

Vice Mayor of San Pablo, Genoveva Garcia Calloway testified before the board, opposing charter school expansion in her city.

Families and teachers from Bayview and Lake Elementary schools in San Pablo showed up in large numbers because they fear their schools would close if Rocketship opens its doors.

As the discussion ended, the charter opponents left the auditorium chanting, “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Rocketship has got to go!”

Rocketship, founded in 2006, opened its first school in San Jose, California in 2007. The chain expanded to serve other communities in Northern California as well as Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Nashville, Tennessee; and Washington, D.C.

On Tuesday, Nov. 21, the Richmond City Council will  consider supporting a moratorium on new charter schools.

Opponents of charter expansion and school privatization in West Contra Costa are urging members of the public to attend and speak out.

Before the meeting, supporters of the organization Defend Public Education will gather at 6 p.m. Richmond City Hall, 440 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond.

For more information, go to www.facebook.com/groups/defendpublicednow/

Published November 18, 2017, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Consulting Firm Will Make Recommendation to OUSD on School Closings

Lakeview Elementary School, across the street from Grand Lake Theater, was closed by the school district in 2012. The site now houses a charter school and district administrative offices.

By Ken Epstein

The Oakland Unified School District, near the end of the former Superintendent Antwan Wilson’s administration, paid $2.3 million to a multinational company, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, to develop a new facilities master plan, which would include proposals or “options” for closing or moving schools in different parts of Oakland.

The company, which has an office in Oakland has operations in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Central and South America, in addition to North America, according to Jacobs’ website.

Under the contract with Jacobs, hired on Jan. 11, the company will issue a final report to the school board next year in January.

Jacobs was originally hired by Supt. Wilson because he wanted updated facilities information and construction costs for a school construction bond measure he hoped to place on the ballot in 2018.

The current process – which has been named Blueprint for Quality Schools – includes the involvement of a 54-member advisory that includes parents, teachers, school administrators and some representatives of charter school organizations based in the city.

It is not clear how much influence the advisory group, which was scheduled to meet five times, will have on Jacobs’ final report to the school board.

A number of the people in the advisory group told they feel the process was flawed from the beginning – the discussion of a “blueprint for quality schools” should be based on the values of the community and the needs of students – not on the work of a group of engineers who study facilities and enrollment trends, regardless of how valuable that information may be.

At this point, the process has produced a series of options, which are available on the website:  

Some of the options related involve “consolidation” or closing schools:

  • “Consolidate (central district) elementary schools from seven down to six campuses.’
  • “Consolidate Castlemont-area elementary schools from 10 down to 7-8 campuses.”
  • “Move Melrose out of an over-crowded facility and into one of the larger area elementary schools.”
  • “Consolidate Northeast (area) elementary schools from seven down to five-six campuses.”

The campuses of the school sites that would be vacated under this plan would be “repurposed” “high school career instruction, a pre-kindergarten (PK) center, teacher housing, administration, or another high-need priority.”

Published November 13, 2017, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Stroller Brigade and Rally Held in Berkeley to Save Alta Bates Medical Center

Community protests closing of Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley, Sunday, Nov. 4.

Community members, elected officials and registered nurses held a rally and march Sunday, Nov. 4,  led by a brigade of strollers, to protest Sutter Health’s proposed closure of Alta Bates Medical Center in Berkeley, the city’s only acute care medical facility and the birthplace of thousands of East Bay residents.

Scheduled speakers at the rally will Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín; Ethel Long-Scott, executive director of the Women’s Economic Agenda Project [WEAP]; Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto, El Cerrito City councilmember; and RN, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Alta Bates, and retired RN Anjali Sundaram, who was delivered by Alta Miner Bates, the nurse who founded the hospital in 1905 to care for women and infants.

The march and rally was held to celebrate the “important role Alta Bates plays in in the East Bay, especially for mothers and newborns and to collectively speak up for its survival,” said Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto, an RN in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Alta Bates.

“Sutter Alta Bates had 5,863 live births last year, ranking number seven out of all the hospitals in California,” said Pardue-Okimoto. “We can’t let Sutter shut down this vital center of maternity and neonatal health care in our region!”

“Sutter’s claim that patients rerouted from a closed Alta Bates to Summit will only experience a 12-minute delay in care is laughable to anyone who lives in the East Bay. Even if it were true, 12 minutes to someone who has experienced a massive heart attack, a GI bleed or a stroke can mean the difference between life and death, even traveling in an advanced life support ambulance,” said Stephanie Crowe Patten, a Cardiac Telemetry Nurse at Summit.

“It means the difference between a UC Berkeley student graduating and becoming a biologist and discovering a cure for cancer or your husband coming home to you rather than dying in route or in the parking lot,” she said.

Last year the Berkeley City Council unanimously approved a resolution opposing the closure of the Alta Bates hospital and emergency room recognizing that a closure would restrict access to emergency care for thousands of Berkeley residents — as well as students, faculty and staff on the UC Berkeley campus.

Sutter says it will maintain only doctors’ offices and potentially an “urgent care center” in Berkeley. But a broad range of vital patient services cannot be treated at an urgent care center, including heart attacks, strokes, seizures, internal bleeding, most burns, life threatening allergic reactions, poisoning, electrical shock, and severe abdominal pain, head and back injuries, and bone breaks, according to statement released by the California Nurses Association.

Published November 11, 2017, courtesy of the Oakland Post