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Unhoused West Oakland Residents Evicted

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Oakland’s Department of Public Works (DPW) and Police Department followed Mayor Libby Schaaf’s city administration’s orders on Tuesday to evict about two dozen homeless residents who lived along the perimeter of Raimondi Park in West Oakland.

“[The City of Oakland] is messing with peoples’ lives,” said 56-year-old homeless resident Larry Coke, who grew up in Oakland. “This is not a checker or chess game and they can’t just move people around anytime they feel like it.”

Many of the Raimondi Park homeless residents were surprised at the sudden eviction. In the past, city workers had come by to do outreach work and had given residents two weeks notice before they were forced to relocate. This time, Coke reports, no representatives came and he found out about the move due to a notice posted four days before the eviction by Operation Dignity, a local non-profit that works in collaboration with the city.

The homeless residents were also surprised at the sudden move because on May 1, 2019, the city had provided toilets, barriers to protect them from traffic, and had given them permission to live along Raimondi Park’s perimeter between 18th and 20th streets, an area that borders a field used for soccer and football. Previously they’d lived scattered all around the park.

Oakland’s DPW removed the barriers and bathrooms during the eviction. They also destroyed two self-made homes and cleared debris. Auto Plus Towing towed at least three vehicles out of the area, one of which belonged to Anthony Thompkins, a person who has lived in Oakland since his childhood and had been using his vehicle as a home.

Thompkins had trouble moving during the eviction day due to various health problems and a recent operation. His right toe appeared swollen to roughly twice its normal size as he talked with The Oakland Post.

“The people in that area were…recently evicted and forced to move all of their belongings over to this spot where the city said they would be safe,” said Talya Husbands-Hankin, who volunteers with the Homeless Advocacy Working Group and was on site during the eviction to help the homeless residents. “For the city to ask them to move again on an extremely hot day with nothing provided except what volunteers bring is unacceptable.”

Accuweather reports that the temperature reached 95 degrees in West Oakland during the eviction day.The Oakland Post has emailed Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney three times over the past month asking for comments related to the homeless people staying in her district but she has not responded.

The Oakland Post asked Assistant City Administrator Joe DeVries why the homeless people were being forced to move, but he has not responded.

Homeless people that The Oakland Post spoke with insisted that they want more communication, collaboration, and better plans from Schaaf and the city officials who directly make policy.

“I don’t need to hear from Operation Dignity or the police and I’m not blaming them” said Larry Coke. “I need to hear from the people who are in charge.”

“They don’t have nobody come out and try to help people like me who had an operation and can’t get around,” said Anthony Thompkins. “They should collaborate with us instead of sending the police who just run us off the place.”

Activism

ILWU leads May Day Protest down Market Street in San Francisco

“The best way to protect worker unity is to protest racism, patriarchy and xenophobia,” continued Davis. “Labor united will never be defeated.”

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    As participants assembled in front of the Ferry Building at the Embarcadero in San Francisco, a group of wearing blue jackets and white painters hats could be seen moving to the front of the group.  

   The group, workers from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, were on hand to lead the May Day march and rally from the Ferry Building down Market Street to San Francisco City Hall. 

   “This is the real Labor Day and this day is celebrated all over the world, said Trent Willis, the head of the ILWUs Local 10 longshoremen’s union.  In 1886, the first fight for workers was for the eight-hour work day. 

    May Day is the celebration of labor and working classes, promoted by the international labor movement and occurs every year on May Day, May 1. The ILWU in San Francisco has spearheaded for the day in the Bay Area and it has been leading the rally and march for the past 15 years.    

   Political activist and college professor Dr. Angela Davis, was a keynote speaker at the rally and she marched along Market Street in between ILWU members. Willis led the march of over 5,000 people with the ILWU, the Teamsters Union, teachersunions and other unions from San Francisco. Adjoining streetswere blocked off to allow the crowd walk freely

    As they walked, the ILWU drill team yelled out chants.  They stopped in front of the Flood Building, where Willis said he,along with others from the labor movement, stand in solidarity with the Chilean Dock Workers Union, who are in the middle of a contract negotiations with the Chilean government for higher wages and better working conditions.  

    The marchers continued to San Francisco City Hall, where Willis, Davis and other labor union officials, got on the back of a flatbed truck and spoke to the crowd.   

    “We need to fight systematic racism,continued Willlis. If you don’t stand up against systematic racism and systematic oppression, racism keeps us from talking to each other.”

   Willis said that when people arent talking to each other, the differences they have cannot be understood or resolved. He said talking is needed in order for people to get along and resolve situations, working conditions and move society forward.        

   Davis,looked out on at the crowd, saying that she was proud to be a part of the march and rally. 

    “There is no place I would rather be then to be standing up for the rights of workers, said Davis.  In solidarity with workers from all over the world.

    Davis said that workers need to stand up and fight so there will not be any more George Floyds, Breonna Taylors, Stephen Clarks, Oscar Grants and Sean Monterrosa. Monterrosa was the San  Francisco man who was killed by police in Vallejo last year. His family was on hand, holding a banner with his name.  

    “The best way to protect worker unity is to protest racism, patriarchy and xenophobia, continued Davis. Labor united will never be defeated.

   Willis said he will make Davis an honorary member of the ILWU, which is an honor that has only been bestowed on Paul Robeson and Dr. Martin Luther King.  He said the struggle for workers continues across the world and within the United States, but it will be a push the ILWU will be vigilant in fighting for to improve working conditions for working people.    

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Bay Area

Why Promoting Private Sector Investment in Electronic Vehicle Charging Market is Key

As Democrats debate their $2 trillion infrastructure package, there has already been a lot of discussion about provisions aimed at promoting EVs. I know Democratic leaders like Speaker Pelosi will ensure that these policies will effectively encourage the adoption of EVs, and one way to do that is to ensure free and fair competition in the EV charger market.

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The Biden Administration has expressed that one of their priorities is to facilitate more use of electric vehicles (EVs). Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has said that “to meet the climate crisis, we must put millions of new electric vehicles on America’s roads.”
The Democratic Party is in agreement that EVs are a big part of the future of our transportation system and will be a huge component of their upcoming infrastructure package. But in the rush to move to electric cars, it is critical that Democratic leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ensure policies will be effective at aiding in the transition to EVs without putting the burden of this shift on already underserved communities.
One policy to avoid, for example, can be seen right here in California, where the California Public Utilities Commission approved utility companies to increase the rates on current customers to pay for the construction and operation of EV infrastructure.
Given that EVs are also not an economically viable option for most Americans, the people who will benefit most from these charging stations are those who can afford the EVs’ more expensive sticker price – which is wealthier Americans. On average, an EV costs nearly $20,000 more upfront than gas-powered vehicles. Yet the people who will be most burdened by an increase on their monthly electric bill to cover the cost for these EV chargers are already struggling families. Low-income families should not have to shoulder additional burdens for addressing climate change, particularly since wealthier people produce more carbon pollution.
And while utility companies have tried to downplay the increased costs on ratepayers, the utilities’ EV infrastructure projects have already run exceedingly over budget – meaning they have to charge their customers even more. For example, the public utility commission authorized $45 million for the first phase of “Power Your Drive,” which was a program established for utilities to build EV chargers. But by the time phase, one was complete, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) had spent $70.2 million — 55.5 percent more than authorized.
The fact that these utility companies went so over budget highlights another flaw with this policy. Because utilities can pass the costs of building and operating EV chargers onto those who already use their services, it is impossible for the private sector to compete against them. SDG&E running 50 percent over budget would mean lost market share and profits in the private sector. That is why private funds incentivize efficiency and cost savings.
Utilities using their current customers as piggy banks that they can dip into whenever needed removes the incentive to keep costs down, while also making it impossible for the private sector to compete in the EV charging market. And chasing away private sector investment will hamper the development and deployment of charging stations. That can’t be emphasized enough – going the SDG&E route will mean fewer charging stations and fewer EVs on the road, as well as higher costs for low-income consumers. It is truly a lose-lose proposition.
It is obvious that the private sector is key to fueling our current transportation sector, and competition keeps prices as low as possible for consumers. Free market competition and private sector investment would also help the EV charging market thrive if elected officials will let it.
As Democrats debate their $2 trillion infrastructure package, there has already been a lot of discussion about provisions aimed at promoting EVs. I know Democratic leaders like Speaker Pelosi will ensure that these policies will effectively encourage the adoption of EVs, and one way to do that is to ensure free and fair competition in the EV charger market.
Jaime Patino is a city councilman in Union City, CA, and represents the city on the Board of Directors of East Bay Community Energy. 

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Bay Area

TownConnect Initiative Wish Program Downpayment Assistance

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