By David DeBolt, firstname.lastname@example.org
OAKLAND — A controversial measure to establish a civilian police commission is headed to the November ballot after a flurry of last-minute changes and objections from reformers over who gets to pick the members.
The Oakland City Council’s unanimous vote Tuesday came with a sense of urgency as it was their final meeting before the Aug. 12 deadline to place the measure on the fall ballot.
Recent police scandals, including sexual misconduct involving several officers and the teenage daughter of a police dispatcher, and racist text message exchanges, have renewed calls for a more powerful commission.
Despite those stains on the department’s reputation, the powerful Oakland Police Officers’ Association pushed back and threatened to sue over changes to the police discipline process defined in the union’s current contract. That led to a private meeting of the City Council on Friday and further amendments to the proposed seven-member commission’s powers.
On the other side of the debate, reformers with the Coalition for Police Accountability unsuccessfully lobbied to take away three commission appointments given to Mayor Libby Schaaf. The remaining four will be appointed by a panel of residents who are picked by the mayor and council, causing worry that the panelists could be influenced by politicians.
“We hope it won’t stop people from voting for it,” Pamela Drake of the coalition said before Tuesday’s council meeting. “Every single person we talked to would ask us who is going to appoint the commissioners. It shouldn’t be political.”
In an unexpected move, council members Rebecca Kaplan and Desley Brooks attempted to strip Mayor Schaaf of her three appointments, but their motion failed to get council support.
Some of the 75 residents who addressed the council said Oakland has long needed civilian oversight of its police department. Since 1980, the city has had a Citizens’ Police Review Board, but critics have said it is understaffed and its recommendations are often ignored by city officials. The board would be disbanded and its executive director would become the interim director of the Oakland Police Review Agency, which will work alongside the commission.
If approved by voters, the new review agency and the commission would have more power than the CPRB.
The proposal by councilmen Dan Kalb and Noel Gallo allows the commission to fire a police chief for cause if five members agree to do so. The commission, which is expected to meet twice a month, will also have subpoena power over police records, but only the head of the review agency will have access to an officer’s personnel file. Other powers and duties include probing officer misconduct complaints and commenting on police policies related to First Amendment assemblies, use of force and profiling.
No past or present police officers would be allowed on the commission. Members must be at least 18 and Oakland residents.
Initially, the proposal called for the commission to take part in selecting an arbitrator, the person who hears a police officer’s appeal in discipline cases. But under pressure from the police union, references to changing the binding arbitration process were omitted. The union had argued it violated their current contract.
Critics have called for reforms to the process, citing reports from a court-appointed monitor who found police officers more often than not won jobs back or had their punishment reduced at arbitration.
Cat Brooks of Anti Police-Terror Project said the legislation is not groundbreaking.
“It’s the same tired thing they have in San Francisco that doesn’t work and continues to support police,” Brooks said.
Earlier Tuesday, police union President Sgt. Barry Donelan said the union was withdrawing its objection to the measure.
“The measure no longer has any impacts on our labor contracts and due process for the officers and privacy rights,” Donelan said. “All of that’s been removed.”
Gallo and Kalb said the city can revisit changes to the process of binding arbitration at a later date or during future negotiations with the police union. The pair expected additional revisions to strengthen the power of the commission.
“If we don’t agree on everything that’s part of the unpleasantness of democracy,” Kalb said. “This is and will be the only police commission that I know of in the country that has less than a majority” of its members being selected by a mayor.
“That’s a big deal,” he said.
David DeBolt covers Oakland. Contact him at 510-208-6453. Follow him at Twitter.com/daviddebolt.
From October 8, 2016 to February 12, 2017, the Oakland Museum Of Califonia will display an exhibit in celebration of the Black Panther Party For Self Defense 50th Anniversary. For most Oakland natives this exhibit and era will bring back memories of an era in Oakland History.
For me, it reminds me of a time when Black Power and Black Pride held a place within the Oakland community. Where people came together for the uplifting of Black people and other people of color. For me it was a time when social programs were being created to support families within the community. For me it will remind me of a time when my father who dressed in Black Panther gear and made sure that the weekly publication of The Black Panther newspaper was always on his “man” stand.
I am proud to have grown up during this time in Oakland – the good, the bad, and the ugly. From receiving a oppressive hegemonic education within the Oakland Public School System, to the police brutality that plagued the Oakland streets, to the segregation, to the racism that continues today. I am glad that I had parents who introduced me to aspects of Black life that helped to shape and mold me to who I AM today!
“ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE.”
Cynthia D. Cornelius, TCXPI
MuseumCa.org: Social movement, political party, cultural influencer, government target, and Oakland-born—there are many ways to feel about the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, founded in October 1966. As the Black Panther Party celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, visit the exhibition All Power to the People for a contemporary view on the legacy of this visionary group, told from multiple perspectives. Rare historical artifacts, first person accounts, and new contemporary art show how the Party continues to inspire culture, activism, and community empowerment on local, national, and international levels.
Gain insights from former Black Panthers, artists, scholars, and community members about the Party—and how it continues to impact our lives and give meaning to the places around us. Examine a sweeping array of artifacts from OMCA’s collection and former Party members, along with never before seen photographs highlighting the everyday experiences and moments within the Party’s history. Uncover little-known aspects of this innovative group’s past in sections focusing on unheralded members of the movement such as women and rank and file, the Panthers’ revolutionary social programs, and how secret government programs led to the Party’s demise and influenced how it is remembered today. Throughout, consider why the Panthers remain controversial to some and inspirational to many, and how their political agenda continues to resonate with the social justice efforts today.
REAL ESTATE INC.
First look: Oakland project from Texas developer would add 225 units in Auto Row
Feb 19, 2016, 2:42pm PST Updated Feb 19, 2016, 2:50pm PST
INDUSTRIES & TAGS Commercial Real Estate, Residential Real Estate, Construction, East Bay
Roland Li, Reporter
San Francisco Business Times
The Hanover Company is moving forward with a new 225-unit residential building in Oakland’s hot Broadway-Valdez area, even as opponents continue to fight another project by the same developer across the street.
Oakland’s planning department will hold public hearings in the coming months on the Hanover Co.’s proposed seven-story project at 2400 Valdez St. The Houston, Texas-based developer also plans 23,000 square feet of retail, which is consistent with the city’s push for more shopping destinations in the area, which has historically been an Auto Row.
The project would replace a narrow parking lot that currently spans 24th to 27th streets. The site is just west of another large housing proposal on the same block by Holland Partner Group on what is currently an Acura dealership.
The developer didn’t immediately return requests for comment. TCA Architects is designing the project.
City planning staff stated in a report released this week that the project is a “well thought design concept” and released the project’s first renderings. But the staff had some design concerns regarding the project’s facade on 27th Street and recommended that the city planning’s Design Review Committee study the project further.
The Hanover Co. also received approval from the city’s planning commission in January for 256 units at 2630 Broadway, a site a block away from the proposal at 2400 Valdez St. But construction of the project would require demolition of the historic Biff’s coffee shop, which has been vacant for years and would require significant renovations. Local preservationists have filed an appeal against the approvals that will require the project to go to a vote by the city council, possibly in April.
Opponents argue that the Hanover Co. can save the historic building and build a taller tower that only occupies part of the parcel. “There is actually plenty of room for lots of housing on the property as well as great commercial space along Broadway and keeping Biff’s,” said Leal Charonnat, an architect and preservationist who is one of the opponents filing an appeal.
But the Hanover Co. has stated that repairing the historic building would be too expensive.
It’s the second time in the last month that opponents have filed appeals against newly approved projects. Last week, community groups and neighbors also appealed the approval of a 126-unit Oakland tower at 250 14th St. in part because they want the developer to pay for the replacement of a mural that would be blocked by construction of the project.
Roland Li covers real estate and economic development
By Kevin D Sawyer
San Quentin News Journalist
This week’s 50th Anniversary of the National Football League’s Super Bowl game pits the Carolina Panthers against the Denver Broncos. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party.
These two historical celebrations boast leading persons whose names are similar. Cam Newton is the leader and quarterback of the North Carolina Panthers. Huey Newton is the co-founder, along with Bobby Seale, of the Black Panther Party, which was founded in 1966 in Oakland, California.
Perhaps no one has taken notice of the symbolic meaning of these two events. Fifty years ago the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, led by Newton, was originally named and organized to “combat police violence in Negro neighborhoods.”
Meanwhile, today the same issues exist as we view the recent demonstrations and outrage over police killings and lawlessness.
As the world focuses on the 50th Super Bowl game, they will see the Carolina Panthers, led by Cam Newton, who is a prime candidate to be named as the league’s most valuable player for his offensive and bold skills, also boasts a strong defense.
How ironic. While Huey Newton is no longer with us, there is a symbolic reference to his bold legacy and the Black Panthers. It is the Carolina Panthers’ Black quarterback Cam Newton who bears some resemblance to Huey. He is also bold in his style of play.
For many, Black History has come full circle in the last 50 years, from the 1965 Watts riots to the 1992 uprising in Los Angeles after the verdict of the Rodney King police beating trial, to the Ferguson, Missouri police killing of Michael Brown.
Seemingly, from Newton to Newton, not much has changed.
Perhaps the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl will not do anything to remedy any of the wrongs of the past and present, but while sitting in a prison cell at San Quentin State Prison, the image of Cam Newton coming to the Bay Area with his Carolina Panthers will give me more of a reason to reflect on the symbolism this game represents.
Editor’s note: Post Publisher Paul Cobb has visited the San Quentin Newspaper staff and he sponsors their membership in the Society of Professional Journalists. Many of their writings have appeared in the Post News Group’s publications. Cobb spoke with the inmates about Black History, the Civil Rights movement and how he had attended elementary school with Mr. Newton and attended Black History classes with Newton and Seale at the Afro-American Association.
Kevin Sawyer, born in 1963, began focusing on writing 19 years ago while awaiting trial in jail. Some of his writings have been published.
Prior to incarceration, he worked 14 years for several telecommunications corporations. He has a B.A. Degree in Mass Communications from Cal State Hayward. He also has a diploma as a paralegal assistant from Blackstone Career Institute. He is a certified electrician through the National Center for Construction Education and Research and an accomplished guitar and piano player.
October 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party(for Self Defense). History will surely recognize the Party as having organized the single greatest effort by Blacks in the United States for freedom.
Please spread the word!
On January 16, 2016, TCXPI Afrocentric Young Scholars Saturday School Program began its First Session, at Impact Hub Oakland. Eleven young scholars from community schools have enrolled in engaging awareness of African history and its many contributions made by African descendants to World and Human Civilization.
Held on Saturdays, TCXPI SSP brings Afrocentric Education to the Bay Area community, education that is not normally seen in our public school curriculum.
The Chinue X Project, Inc. (TCXPI) is the creation of Cynthia Chinue X Cornelius, MA.Ed. As an Oakland native, a product of the OPS, and mother to the same, Cynthia is all too familiar with the curriculum and how it has omitted, distorted and negated the many contributions made by people of African descent. She holds a Bachelors in Africana Studies, and a Masters in Equity and Social Justice in Education both from San Francisco State University. In 2011, she establish a 501(c)3 in Maryland as a vehicle to disseminate Black History Facts and to bring awareness to African and African American History. She has a following on Facebook and features a page that focuses soley on Daily African/Black History Facts entitled On This Day In TCXPI History. Cynthia believes that the time is now for our nation’s public school systems to become culturally relevant and inclusive in what is taught in schools.
TCXPI’s goal for 2016 is to hold FOUR FREE six-week sessions beginning the second Saturdays of the months of January, April, July, and October. Each session will include engaging African-centred or Afrocentric activities that will facilitate instruction to each scholar in the history of their heritage and culture.
To stay updated or to become a part of our program please contact Cynthia; to”Like and Join” our fb pages please visit: TCXPI Afrocentric Young Scholars Saturday School Program, Chinue X Rising, The Chinue X Project, Inc. (TCXPI), and I Love Oakland, CA. ILOC.
If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.
Dr. Carter G. Woodson
Oakland pledges to fund college for poor
“From Cradle to Career”
Oakland will launch a citywide effort Thursday to triple the number of college graduates coming out of public schools, an ambitious and expensive “cradle to career” plan that aims to reverse cycles of poverty and hopelessness by raising expectations that all children can thrive in school.
The centerpiece of the Oakland Promise initiative is an infusion of grants, ranging from $500 college savings accounts for children born into poverty to college scholarships of up to $16,000 for low-income students. The money is intended to provide both real and symbolic support, signaling to kids and their families that there’s an investment in their future.
According to officials, who have spent six months developing the initiative and will announce the details Thursday at Oakland High School, it will cost $38 million to ramp up the program over the first four years and up to $35 million annually to sustain it. The money is coming from sources including foundations, philanthropists, the city and the school district.
The effort is something of an experiment, because no other place in the country has this kind of comprehensive, long-term strategy to send more kids to college, city officials said. But the need is great in Oakland, where 10 percent of the city’s public-school ninth graders graduate college.
“Yes, this initiative is ambitious,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf. “All my life I’ve seen this as the one thing that has held Oakland back.”
Over the next 10 years, officials said, Oakland Promise plans to open 55,000 college savings accounts, provide $100 million in college scholarships and serve 200,000 students and families. Every City Council and school board member has endorsed it, as have 100 community organizations, two dozen university officials and 200 leaders including the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
$25 million raised
While sustained funding is the central challenge, Oakland officials say they raised $25 million to launch the effort. The school district is expected to cover $1 million annually, and the city has committed $150,000, a number that may increase now that the initiative has begun, officials said.
The East Bay College Fund plans to contribute $1.5 million per year, while Kaiser Permanente and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. are giving $3 million and $1 million, respectively, to start up the program. Organizers will need $18 million more to cover the costs through 2020, an amount they say is reachable.
“It will be on us to make the case that eventually this would be one of the smartest public investments that any city could make,” Schaaf said.
That investment includes the $500 college fund for each child born into poverty — with eligibility tied to the same government standards that apply to free and reduced-price school lunches — as well as a $100 college account for every kindergartner, high school counseling centers and up to $16,000 in scholarships that come with individual mentors and support through college.
Belief in all kids
Oakland Promise combines successful initiatives from across the country, with a focus on disadvantaged youth and building “a culture of a college-bound city,” said David Silver, the mayor’s education director. Research shows that a child who has a college savings account of at least $500 is four times more likely to graduate college, he noted.
Middle-class families generally consider college a given, said city schools Superintendent Antwan Wilson. Poor children and families don’t — and they often don’t believe in the system. A $500 college account, he said, tells them the city believes in them and their future.
“Hope is extremely important. It’s called privilege, and the way privilege works is it gives you the ability to take things for granted,” Wilson said. “Odds are, a young person born into poverty in Oakland will live a life of poverty and have a shorter life.”
The prescription to change that, however, is expensive. The city’s plan is to ramp up the number of children served over the next four years and fully implement each piece within 10 years.
By this fall, 250 babies born into poverty will have $500 in the bank for college, according to the timeline, stepping up to 1,000 per year by 2020, and all 2,200 within a decade. Their parents will be also be eligible for up to $500 to support their child’s development. That will cost an estimated $5 million over the first four years.
In addition, every child entering kindergarten in a public school — about 4,600 each fall — will have $100 for college by 2020, and more in matching funds if their parents put in money. That will cost $2.9 million over four years.
In the same period, roughly $3.6 million will go to “future centers” at high schools to support applications for college and financial aid, with all slated to be open within 10 years.
College scholarships are the most expensive part of the plan, which calls for $1,000 to $16,000 to go to every financially and academically eligible student, with mentors assigned to them to ensure they get their degree. That will cost $25.5 million to scale up, with a goal of supporting 1,600 scholarship students per year within a decade.
Building more housing is critically important to our city’s continued economic growth. Every new unit built in Oakland – at any income level – helps relieve the housing shortage, as well as create jobs and retail spending. Oakland’s business community has seen firsthand the economic benefits of what happens when people choose Oakland. Increasing our city’s housing supply to meet the rising demand to live and work in Oakland is a critical part of creating jobs, supporting local business, and expanding Oakland’s sales tax base.
The Chamber believes that the best way to raise money for affordable housing without discouraging new development is to phase in the fee over a 4-year schedule at increments of $5,000, $10,000, $15,000, and $20,000. Given current market conditions and indications from the City’s own economic consultant, this is likely the most aggressive fee schedule Oakland can tolerate. Some in the community are advocating to implement fees over 3 years at increments of $5,000, $10,000, and $20,000 per unit and exempt projects that submit building permit applications before Dec. 1, 2016, and some are advocating to implement fees well over $20,000 immediately.
Impact Fee Update 1/27/16
The Community and Economic Development Committee heard a brief summary of the staff report on development impact fees on Tuesday, Jan. 26, followed by public testimony from approximately 40 housing activists organized by East Bay Housing Organizations. EBHO speakers called for immediate impact fees at $25,000 with few pipeline project exemptions. The 7-8 non-EBHO speakers all called for a phased in approach generally maxing out at $20,000. Those speakers included the Chamber, Jobs and Housing Coalition, a BID leader, and others. Approximately 15 speakers also came to advocate to use a significant portion of the money raised for park improvements.
Read the update here.
Read the Chamber’s letter regarding impact fees to the Oakland City Council here.