Dr. Kimberly Mayfield, chair of the Education Department at Holy Names University, Barbara Parker, Oakland City Attorney, and Lisa Williams, past board president of San Francisco Pride, are among the 2013 Ella Hill Hutch awards presented by Black Women Organized for Political Action, which this year is celebrating its 45th anniversary.
Named after the first Black woman elected official to serve the greater Bay Area in the late 1970s and a founding member of BWOPA, the awards will honor local and state African-American women political and community leaders for their achievements on Saturday, Nov. 2, 6 p.m., at Holy Names University, 3500 Mountain Blvd. in the Oakland Hills.
An award also will be presented to one African-American “Man of the Year” who has shown courage and enormous support to BWOPA, women in general and to the African-American community.
“We – BWOPA – are extremely excited to celebrate 45 years as the first women’s organization in California working on the front-line to educate, engage and train women to participate in the political process.,” said State President Dezie Woods Jones. “We have grown from our 12 founding members in 1968 to seven chapters throughout the state.”
Advance tickets for the event are $45 for individuals and can be purchased online. Tickets will be $55 at the door. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. For tickets and sponsorships, visit http://ella2013.eventbrite.com
State honorees include Lisa Williams, immediate past board president and Interim CEO, San Francisco Pride; and Barbara Parker, Esq., City Attorney, City of Oakland.
This year’s Oakland / Berkeley Chapter honoree is Kimberly Mayfield, EdD, Education Department chair, Holy Names University. The Richmond/Contra Costa Chapter award winner is Judge Diane Becton, Superior Court of Contra Costa County.
The Fresno/San Joaquin Valley Chapter award winner is Cassandra L. Joubert, ScD Director, Central California Children’s Institute. The Hayward/South County Chapter award winner is Connie Willis, vice president, Administrative Services, Chabot College.
The San Francisco/Peninsula Chapter honoree is Jo Elias Jackson, regional director, California Democratic Party African American Caucus.
The Man of the Year is Pastor Raymond Lankford, MSW, Chief Executive Officer, Healthy Communities Inc.
Special Honorees are Gary Bell, former Richmond City Councilmember, and David Glover, former Executive Director, OCCUR, Oakland.
Courtesy of the Oakland Post, October 27, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)
By Post Staff
Independent truckers who work at the Port of Oakland held a work stoppage Monday to protest working conditions at the port.
“We need safer conditions and better compensation,” says port trucker Isaiah Thompson.
Truckers and their supporters picketed outside three entrances to the SSA Marine terminal, shutting down cargo traffic because crane operators and other terminal workers refused to cross the protest line.
Economic activity at the port amounts to about $8 million a day.
As owner operators of their own trucks, the protesters are organized informally, holding meetings at a park near port terminals.
Drivers are making three basic demands. One is for companies to raise the rate per container hauled. In 10 years, the pay per cargo load has not increased, while the cost of diesel has more than quadrupled, and costs for truck maintenance have skyrocketed.
They want a congestion fee paid to compensate truckers for hours, currently unpaid, spent waiting for a cargo load. Until recently a driver could make three local round trips to the port per day. Now, with increased inefficiencies at terminals, specially the SSA terminal, they can only make one trip a day.
They also want a Green Emissions Fee, $50 paid to truckers monthly to offset the cost of upgrading trucks to new green emissions standards, and an extension for compliance with new environmental standards that will go into effect for owner-operators on Jan.1.
Without compensation or an extension, several hundred owners operations may be put out of business.
Some truckers met with port officials and representatives of the SSA terminal after their last work stoppage on Aug.19, but those talks did not yield results, according to truckers.
Truckers are saying they sent a letter to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan in August asking for her to intervene to avoid the work stoppage. “This letter went unanswered,” they said.
Many of the truckers did not want to identify themselves, saying they fear they will face lawsuits in retaliation for their work stoppage.
They timed the stoppage with the start of the longshoremen’s morning shift. The truckers asked for supporters to join them at the port at 5 a.m.
Courtesy of the Oakland Post, October 25, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)
By Ken A. Epstein
While numbers of overall foreclosures in Oakland are decreasing, they are more and more affecting people who have lived in their homes for 10 or more years, according to a quarterly City of Oakland report on housing issues.
In addition, contributing to gentrification, rent increases are rising off the charts. “New rents in crime-heavy neighborhoods (are) rising to $2,200 (per month),” according to the report released Tuesday at the city’s Community and Economic Development Committee (CED) meeting.
A single-earner family with an income of $13.75 per hour would “have to make 207 percent more to reasonably afford the rent,” the report said.
Much of the change housing market, including the decline in foreclosures, can be attributed to new state and federal laws that provide homeowners at least some level of protection, according to Margaretta Lin, Strategic Initiatives Manager of the city’s Housing and Community Development Department.
“It’s been about a year since the national mortgage settlement agreement has been implemented, and about nine months since our state Homeowner Bill of Rights has been implemented. That have been some major shifts and transitions in our housing market,” she said.
However, she said, “We continue to see intense impact on longtime homeowners. At the height of the subprime mortgage crisis in Oakland, families that were in crisis had owned their homes for less than two years. Today the majority of families in Oakland in foreclosure have owned their homes for at least 10 years.”
“Many of the clients we working with have owned their homes for decades, ¨ Lin added.
Lin also pointed to anecdotal evidence of renters who are coming to agencies who are being forced to move because they cannot afford huge rent increases, especially in homes and apartments that are not covered by the city’s rent ordinance.
“Rent prices continue to rise at alarming rates,” she said. “We are seeing renters coming in who are (faced) with new rents in parts of East Oakland, rents that are rising $400-$500 a month, (rising to) $2200 a month.”
“This is clearly unaffordable to most Oakland renters, ¨ said Lin.
Owners of homes who belong to a homeowners’ association have also faced foreclosures when they fall behind with their dues or assessments, according to Maeve Elise Brown, executive director of Housing and Economic Rights Advocates.
People may not know that they can be foreclosed on if they get behind in their dues or assessments, she said. “We are getting ready to file suit against a particular collections entity that encourage the homeowner association not to work with homeowners and instead loads
huge fees into their collection effort,” she said.
“This is apparently a common practice among some homeowner collection agencies,” she added.
Brown said her organization is also litigating cases where a homeowner dies and a bank forecloses rather than allow children and widows to take over the home they inherited.
“There are children and widows who are inheriting the home but are not on the loan. We have the experience of having the mortgage servicer not talking to them,” she said.
“We’ve filed a class case on behalf of a daughter who lost her home completely at the hands of Chase and got a good decision on a motion to dismiss,” said Brown.
Courtesy of the Oakland Post, October 25, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)
By Ashley Chambers and Ken A. Epstein
City officials are saying that current zoning regulations prohibit the inspection of hazardous materials at the old Horizon Beverage building in West Oakland, which is encouraging news to local residents who do not want to see big trucks and potentially dangerous cargo moved from the Port of Oakland into their neighborhoods .
The city planning and zoning department has yet to receive an application from the building operator, according to city staff.
“If there were to be any hazardous materials proposed to be handled, stored or transferred here, that’s prohibited in [that
zoning district]. If anything were to come to the zoning counter on this issue, the red flags would go up,” said Scott Miller, the city’s zoning manager, speaking at Tuesday’s Community and Economic Development Committee (CED) meeting.
Owned by investor Tom Henderson at 1700 20th Street, the proposed site is located across from Raimondi Field, posing potential risks to the community and small children who regularly play sports there.
In general, U.S. Customs inspects cargo containers suspected of carrying black market products, illegal drugs, smuggled weapons, radioactive materials and infested farm products. If produce is infested, it must be fumigated with highly poisonous gas.
In response to concerns raised by community members, city staff is conducting a risk assessment on the hazard conditions that could stem from customs inspections operating in West Oakland. The assessment is expected to be done by next week.
“I don’t want us to limit our view just to the hazardous materials. There are a lot of other health impacts that could happen from land-use decisions,” said Councilmember Libby Schaaf, who wants the risk assessment to include the impact of diesel trucks and other diesel producing equipment associated with inspections of cargo at the site.
Community speakers urged the council members on the CED committee to put a stop to the proposed inspection site.
“The chemical waste issue is concerning to me being a homeowner in West Oakland,” said Dean Chambers, who added that he has asthma and therefore a personal concern about air quality in the area.
Pacific Coast Containers (PCC Logistics) located on the Oakland Army Base previously had a contract with U.S. Customs. However, when the city moved the company off of its current site, PCC was only granted a two and a half year lease. Customs decided to contract with another operator with a long-term five-year lease, according to the city.
The city knew well in advance that it was going to move the businesses at its Army Base property in order to make way for its development project and therefore had plenty of time to ensure that PCC Logistics could maintain its contract on Port of Oakland land, said Rashidah Grinage, executive director of PUEBLO.
“This was entirely foreseeable. You knew this was coming for two years, and no provisions were made for how to keep this ‘genie in the bottle.’ You need to figure out how to keep customs inspections at the port,” Grinage said.
“This is a disaster in the making,” she said. “This is a risk that is incalculable in terms of potentially dangerous items coming into the community.”
City staff agrees that customs operations should remain at the port and that the contract should be awarded to PCC Logistics, said John Monetta, project manager for the city.
“City staff believes that (inspections) should stay in the port area. We believe that (the contract) should be awarded to the applicant that is within the port area, which is (PCC Logistics),” said Monetta.
Community members suggested that city staff reach out to Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein to encourage U.S. Customs to dialogue with the city.
To contact Scott Miller, City of Oakland zoning manager email email@example.com or call (510) 238-7733.
Courtesy of the Oakland Post, October 24, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)
By Azalia Cruz and Ken A. Epstein
Quito, Ecuador – Ecuador, a small country mostly known for the Galapagos Islands on the Pacific coast of South America, has never been on the radar for most Americans – at least until it defied the U.S. by allowing WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange to take refuge in the country’s London Embassy.
Even less well known in the U.S. is that the country is the home of a vibrant culture of Afro Ecuadorians, who make up as much as 10 percent of the population and whose soccer stars have captured global headlines.
One of the centers of Afro Ecuadorian culture lies in the Chota River Valley in the Andean highlands several hours by bus north of Quito near the border with Colombia. Here in farming villages along the river, including Juncal, a community of 1,800 inhabitants, many of Ecuador’s best soccer players grow up practicing on dusty fields.
Juncal and the Chota Valley have entered Ecuador’s consciousness as the birthplace of one of the country’s most famous soccer stars, Augustín Delgado, nicknamed Tín. Delgado, now retired, is the all-time top scorer for the Ecuadorian national team. He played professionally in Ecuador, Mexico and England.
Other well known soccer players include Ulises de la Cruz, Edison Mendez, Kléver Chalá and Geovanny Espinoza.
On a recent trip to Chota, two Post reporters were given a tour of the town by Pedro Manuel Julio, a spokesman for Juncal and a few of the neighboring villages; Patricio Borja, who plays drums at local festivities; and Segundo Mosquera, who heads the Intercultural Community Center, which promotes Afro Ecuadorian culture and history as well as that of other countries of the African diaspora, particularly the United States.
The tour took the reporters past young men who were practicing soccer on the field near the Chota River at the edge of town. Many of Juncal’s residents were watching young women play volleyball in the center of town, knocking the ball over a net stretched across the main street.
Pedro Manuel Julio explained that most of the people are involved in agriculture, though nowadays many of the young men more interested in playing soccer. The town grows and sells tomatoes, strawberries, onions, green peppers, beans and other produce for the nearby market in the city of Ibarra.
The town has a health center, built with funds donated by soccer star Augustín Delgado.
In the cultural center, Patricio Borja, playing a drum, and Narcisa de Jesús demonstrated the Bomba del Chota, a well-known dance form in which the dancer often balances a bottle on her head.
With music that is rooted in Africa, the dance uses drums and improvisation to build relationships between the dancer and lead drummer. This music and dance is said to also have prominent Spanish, mestizo and indigenous influences in the melodies. Among the instruments that are important in the Bomba are a leaf of a tree that is used to make a special sound and gourds.
The cultural center featured large displays of Afro Ecuadorian history, as well as the Civil Rights struggle in the U.S., especially Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. A display of African American music highlighted jazz, blues, gospel and hip-hop.
One of the key problems in the town is the lack of a source of clean water. The water that the town uses comes the Chota River, which is not adequate. The town leaders are working with the government to bring water to Juncal.
Government support for irrigating the area is especially important in this valley, which has a hot climate and desert landscapes that contrast with the rest of province.
Most Afro-Ecuadorians are the descendants of slaves or escaped slaves, who originally arrived in Ecuador in the early 16th century. In 1533, the first African slaves reached Ecuador in Quito when a slave ship heading to Peru was stranded off the Ecuadorian coast.
The slaves escaped and established settlements in Esmeraldas, which became a safe haven. Eventually, they started moving from their traditional homeland and settled in Chota and other areas.
Courtesy of the Oakland Post, October 24, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)
By Ashley Chambers
One of the small companies that has been adversely impacted by the city’s Oakland Amy Base development project is Pacific Coast Containers (PCC Logistics), which has been handing inspections of potentially hazardous cargo coming through the Port of Oakland every day.
Because the city failed to guarantee PCC a stable lease on property on the base or Port of Oakland land, the company has lost its contract with the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Customs is now now looking to contract with another business and relocate at the old Horizon Beverage plant in West Oakland across from Raimondi Park, an open field where young athletes and youth sports teams engage in regular activities
The CBP Customs Examination Station inspects about 300 trucks a month. As a result of the move, West Oakland may soon have to deal with polluting trucks loaded with cargos that could contain hazardous materials.
Hazardous materials are those that are explosive, toxic or radioactive.
According to PCC, which managed the customs contract for the last 10 years, this new location does not meet the requirements specified by CBP for Customs Exam Stations.
“Location is crucial,” said Rosa DeAnda, Assistant Business Unit Manager at PCC Logistics. “The community is out there with this high-risk cargo. What experience does this new company have? They don’t have the personnel or the experience.”
PCC received their letter of disqualification from CBP on Sept. 5, nearly a week before they moved into their new location on Maritime Street.
The company anticipated the customs exam station moving with them and their 60 staff members continuing to manage the contract. “They’re not creating new jobs but trying to recruit PCC staff,” said DeAnda.
Community groups and residents are also in strong opposition to moving this operation into the West Oakland neighborhood.
“We’ve already engaged for over eight years to not have these trucks in the neighborhood,” said Margaret Gordon of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP).
“We do not want the trucks to come back to West Oakland anymore.”
Local observers have also asked the city to request a risk assessment by the Alameda County Environmental Health Agency to evaluate the impact this move will have on the community.
“Customs does not have a policy saying they can’t, or shouldn’t, be having exam stations in neighborhoods,” Gordon said.
Activists are planning demonstrations at the Customs Bureau and at the old Horizon Beverage building. They are also starting a petition and plan to alert the teams and individuals who use Raimondi Park.
They are asking concerned residents to come to the city’s Community and Economic Development (CED) meeting Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Oakland City Hall.
The city has attempted to sit down with CBP with no success. Assistant City Administrator Fred Blackwell says CBP must still go through the city’s zoning process and receive approval from the planning department before they can begin operations at the site.
Ces Butner, president of the board of the Oakland Port Commission, was the former owner of the old Horizon Beverage plant building, which is currently owned by Bay Area entrepreneur Tom Henderson.
Phil Tagami, master developer of the Army Base project, is a former port commissioner.
Courtesy of the Oakland Post, October 18, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)
By Tasion Kwamilele
Oakland’s Workforce Investment Board takes one-third of its federal job and training funds to pay for administrative overhead. But other nearby cites, including Richmond, not only do not use job funds to pay for city staff, they even contribute money to enable their cities to provide additional services to the unemployed.
Oakland’s WIB announced earlier this year that $1.5 million – roughly 32 percent – of its $4.8 million federal allocation for 2013-2014, would be taken off the top to assist with the city’s administrative costs.
In Richmond, the city supports federal workforce development programs. With a 2013-2014 budget at $6.5 million, the City of Richmond has put in $1 million, says Sal Vaca, who has served as Richmond’s Workforce Investment Board executive director for 10 years.
“The City of Richmond actually supports work force development, “said Vaca. “Instead of taking out, they’re actually putting in.”
Oakland’s Workforce Investment Board (WIB) distributes federal funding to provide job training for teenagers, placement for
the formerly incarcerated and long-term laid off workers, as well as supporting the one-stop job centers in downtown Oakland and in other satellite locations.
Being embraced by the city has given Richmond’s WIB access to partnerships and information to help expand its work, and also gives the necessary credibility, according to Vaca. The City Council has helped by making work force development its top priority.
“We help our city reduce violence, move forward economically, and make a significant impact in the lives of our residents by creating job and career opportunities,” he added.
For more information about Richmond’s Workforce Investment Board, visit www.ci.richmond.ca.us/index.aspx?NID=671
Courtesy of the Oakland Post, October 12, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)
By Ken A. Epstein
A proposal to redirect $200,000 in federal youth job funding to hire a single city administrator, who would serve as the city’s youth employment coordinator, was met with resounding opposition this week from community members and members of the Youth Council, a committee of the Oakland Workforce Investment Board.
“This is the first time that I’ve seen this. I thought in the (WIB’s) approved budget this was described as the mayor’s summer jobs program. It was presented that this was money to be put on the streets for summer jobs,” said Kathy Chao Rothberg, member of the Youth Council and executive director of Lao Family Community Development.
“What’s being presented here is $200,000 for a coordinator’s position. I ‘m not comfortable with this,” she said.
“Why does it take $200,000 to hire one person? Asked Gay Plair Cobb, Youth Council member and executive director of the Private Industry Council, speaking at the Wednesday afternoon meeting at City Hall.
“This is the only source of revenue for local service providers to run summer jobs programs,” added Cobb, pointing out that the WIB has said it has no funding for agencies in the Fruitvale District serving Latino youth and no funding for young people in West Oakland for the fiscal years 2013-14 and 2014-15.
Created by a work group of the Youth Council in a nonpublic meeting, the proposal was presented as a memorandum to the Mayor’s Office. It said the Youth Employment Coordinator will work with community partners to develop and leverage federal funds and other resources to increase programs for youth.
Some people at City Hall were speculating that the proposal had originated in the Mayor’s Office. Mayor Jean Quan was contacted but did not reply to the Post’s questions. If the money were used for $1,000 stipends for youth interns, it would put 200 young people to work.
Among the community members opposing the new position was Marlon McWilson, member of the Alameda County Board of Education.
“You cannot say you are advocates for youth and then go take $200,000 from kids,” said McWilson. “If we’re talking about reallocation of funds, we should reallocate the funds to organizations serving West Oakland and Latino students.”
While the city wants to spend money for an administrator, West Oakland is not getting job resources for young people, said Ron Muhammad, a West Oakland community activist. “We should not be coming … to meeting after meeting talking about West Oakland. We’re just asking for equity.”
Marilyn Washington Harris of the Khadafy Foundation for Non-Violence urged members of the Youth Council to consider the needs of all the young people in Oakland who are to risk of dying by violence.
“It’s not my fault, and it’s not your fault. It’s all of our faults collectively, because we’re not doing our job,” she said. ”People of color… are the people who are dying. Those are the people who do not get the funding.”
The motion to fund the position was tabled to a future meeting because the meeting no longer had a quorum.
Courtesy of the Oakland Post, October 12, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)