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City Reacts as A’s Threaten to Leave

The A’s said on Tuesday said they will start looking into relocating with the backing of Major League Baseball.

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Mount Davis Oakland with Fans/Wikimedia

The Oakland Athletics made a public threat this week to leave Oakland if  the City Council does not accept their latest proposal by the end of June to build a baseball stadium and huge real estate complex at the Howard Terminal at the Port of Oakland.

The A’s said on Tuesday said they will start looking into relocating with the backing of Major League Baseball.

 A’s owner John Fisher said in a statement,  “The future success of the A’s depends on a new ballpark. Oakland is a great baseball town, and we will continue to pursue our waterfront ballpark project. We will also follow MLB’s direction to explore other markets.”

 A’s President Dave Kaval told the Associated Press on Tuesday, “I think it’s something that is kind of a once-a-generational opportunity to reimagine the waterfront. We’re going to continue to pursue that, and we’re still hopeful that that could get approved, but we have to be realistic about where we are with the timelines.”

Many residents are angry at the A’s aggressive stance, especially since the team’s new proposal is vague on details and puts the city and its residents on the hook for nearly one billion dollars in infrastructure improvements plus over $400 million in community benefits the A’s have pledged but instead would be handed off to taxpayers. 

Reflecting the reaction of some residents, Tim Kawakami, editor-in-chief of the SF Bay Area edition of The Athletic,  tweeted, “I just don’t see the municipal validation in kowtowing to a billionaire who won’t spend much of his own money to build a new stadium that will make him many more billions.”

Mayor Libby Schaaf says she is open to the A’s proposal, and Council members  want more details on its financial impact  on the city and its taxpayers, 

Councilmember Loren Taylor told the Oakland Post in an interview: “We know they are looking for alternative locations. It is something that has to be factored in. Our commitment is to  work to keep the A’s in Oakland but to do it in way that protects the interests of the city  and is  the best deal for the people of Oakland.”

Said Councilmember Treva Reid:

“My commitment will always be to the residents of East Oakland and ensuring strong community benefits and economic development.  I appreciate the contribution of the Athletics … However, the Council must have an adequate amount of time to thoroughly evaluate their proposed offer to ensure Oakland residents receive a fair, transparent  and equitable deal.” 

In her statement, Mayor Schaaf, who has long been a backer of the A’s real estate development near Jack London Square,  said, “We share MLB’s sense of urgency and their continued preference for Oakland. Today’s statement makes clear that the only viable path to keeping the A’s rooted in Oakland is a ballpark on the waterfront.

“Now, with the recent start of financial discussions with the A’s, we call on our entire community — regional and local partners included — to rally together and support a new, financially viable, fiscally responsible, world class waterfront neighborhood that enhances our city and region and keeps the A’s in Oakland where they belong.”

Major media outlets,  often  boosters  of super- expensive urban developments, are unenthusiastic about the A’s proposal and the team’s pressure on the city to go along with its demands.  

In an article, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Scott Ostler wrote, “Get the message, Oakland? Vote to approve the A’s plan and commit to kicking in $855 million for infrastructure for the A’s new ballpark and surrounding village around Howard Terminal or kiss your lovable little baseball team goodbye.

“It’s called power politics, folks.”

In an editorial, the Mercury News and the East Bay Times wrote,” The team has thrown down a greedy and opaque demand that the city of Oakland approve a $12 billion residential and commercial waterfront development project that happens to include a new ballpark — and requires a massive taxpayer subsidy.

“If that’s the best the A’s can offer, the city should let them go.”

Ray Bobbitt of the African American Sports and Entertainment Group told the Oakland Post, “These are bully tactics. You either give me the money or I’m leaving. I don’t think that’s the way to work with the community.

“Do it in a way that’s respectful of the people. If you want to play hardball, I don’t think it’s a tactic that works these days.”

Bay Area

Spoken Word Offers Aid to Black Men Facing Hardships

Their mission statement highlights that through sharing their lived experiences, members of Black Men Speaks and Men of Color “promote self and communal wellness, recovery, and freedom”.

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Image provided by Black Men Speak website

According to a National Health Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted in 2019 for the African American community, 6.5 million African Americans had a mental illness and/or substance abuse disorder.

These numbers don’t compare to the more in depth statistics on those who receive treatment and who do not and how, specifically, Black men are affected. For a lot of Black men and men of color, access to resources that may aid in mental health or substance abuse treatment are slim because of the influence within their own communities and outside of it to turn their backs on things that are perceived as anything less than the strength they should possess as a man, especially a Black man.

Black Men Speak, INC.(BMS), an international speakers bureau, was founded in 2009 through the Alameda Pool of Consumer Champions with this very notion in mind, that the best way to connect to other Black men who were struggling with mental health and substance abuse was through storytelling of their own struggles.

Three years following Black Men Speaks’ foundation, Men of Color(MOC) speaker’s bureau was established, which allowed them to expand their reach in the community.

Their mission statement highlights that through sharing their lived experiences, members of Black Men Speaks and Men of Color “promote self and communal wellness, recovery, and freedom”.

The stories that are told are set in the present day and feature unique challenges of loss, trauma, social and family issues and community violence and the importance of faith on the road to overall wellness & recovery.

Besides aiding their fellow men through connection in storytelling, BMS offers resources that help with employment, housing, homeless prevention, mentoring and peer support and training for presentation and public speaking.

Alongside these resources and mentoring, they make sure to do their part in advocating and assertively addressing other issues within their communities that have a direct impact on the African American community.

Black Men Speak is located in Oakland at 303 Hegenberger Road in Suite 210. Hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 510-969-5086 or email 1blackmenspeak@gmail.com.

 

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Activism

Jasmine Market Encourage Unity in Marin City

During the event, Jong Lee, Caitilin Damacion, and Tammy Lai discussed how to raise the awareness of the various ethnic groups to each other in Marin City. A mobile clinic provided free COVID-19 vaccines.

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Top: The Jasmine Market at the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church. Bottom: Jong Lee, Caitilin Damacion, Tammy Lai (Photos by Godfrey Lee)

The First Marin City’s Jasmine Market was an inclusive, outdoor market celebrating Asian joy and intercultural solidarity in honor of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in May.

It was hosted by the Marin City Community Development Corporation (MCCDC) and was held at the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Marin City on May 28, 2021.

A Marin City Librarian read an AAPI story. Sammy Brionnes gave a musical performance. Natalie Nong performed a Spoken Word poem.

During the event, Jong Lee, Caitilin Damacion, and Tammy Lai discussed how to raise the awareness of the various ethnic groups to each other in Marin City. A mobile clinic provided free COVID-19 vaccines.

Lee is the director of Women’s Rights and Peace Bay Area, and a board member for the Asian American Alliance of Marin. She is involved in advocating for ethnic studies in the Marin County School District and is working to spread awareness of the “comfort women” from Korea and other Asian nations. These women were forced to serve as sexual slaves for Japanese soldiers during WWII.

Tammy Lai is the CEO at Foundation for Justice and Peace (jpf.world).

Damacion, who lives in the East Bay, is the Micro-Enterprise Program Manager at the MCCDC.

During the discussion, Lee says that God created people in his image. We need to treat people in the image of God.

Lee really wants to see Asians, especially women, integrate with the other minorities, such as Koreans, who can become culturally isolated, and spoke to the need to bridge and understand other ethnic groups. “We need to step forward to meet each other halfway, and to reach out to understand each other,” Lee said.

Lai says that we have this opportunity, as we question ourselves in this cultural landscape, to build bridges. Communities become healthier when its members take one step toward one another to understand, listen and to build something better together.

Damacion, who is Filipino and mixed-raced, feels very strongly about building connections that are positive and beneficial to a community. Through her work with the MCCDC, she will work to advance diversity in Marin City, and will shed a light on the beauty she sees in Marin City and how people in the community took care of each other for generations.

Lai’s family immigrated from China to America after the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882. Her family history has brought her a deeper awareness of her identity. It becomes important to carry these conversations forward and share them with others.

“We all have our stories and should be open to tell them. There is nothing new under human history so we should learn to share them. You become much closer to each other,” says Lee.

For more information, go to www.marincitycdc.org/jasmine-market

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Bay Area

Vice Mayor: Business Group Wants to Buy Coliseum, Attract WNBA Team

The group will provide additional details of its effort at a news conference at 11:00 a.m. Friday at a site to be determined.

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Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan.

Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan said a local business group has made serious inroads to buy the city’s 50% stake in the Oakland Coliseum complex and to bring a WNBA team to the city.
Kaplan’s office shared a news release Monday about the effort by the African American Sports and Entertainment Group.

Kaplan said the group is in negotiations with the Oakland-Alameda Joint Powers Authority, has submitted a formal proposal to WNBA officials, and has submitted a term sheet to the city, which the City Council’s rules committee recently voted to advance to the full council for a vote.

The group will provide additional details of its effort at a news conference at 11:00 a.m. Friday at a site to be determined.

“I am pleased that there is such great interest in doing an important development at the Oakland Coliseum that will provide jobs, revenue and community positivity,” Kaplan said. “My goal is to help this process move forward before the summer recess.”

Kaplan said the group has the backing of more than 30 community groups of faith-based institutions, labor organizations, civic leaders, and job development organizations. She did not name the groups

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