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Community Day Staff Fear School Site May Be Slated for Housing Development

“Board President Gary Yee has been open about his desire to look at the Community Day School site as a possible location for the creation of educator housing,” Sasaki wrote in an email to The Oakland Post. “He continues to explore that idea.” Yee visited the site during school hours on February 25. Joshua Simon, whose work history includes real estate development and consulting for non-profit organizations, accompanied him.

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Caption: A sign outside of Community Day School's campus. Photo by Zack Haber on March 6.
Caption: A sign outside of Community Day School's campus. Photo by Zack Haber on March 6.

By Zack Haber

Staff who work at Community Day School, which Oakland Unified School District’s Board has scheduled for closure at the end of the academic year, expressed frustration to The Oakland Post about the possibility of the site’s campus being developed into housing. According to OUSD Director of Communication John Sasaki, Board president Gary Yee has been looking to develop the site.

“Board President Gary Yee has been open about his desire to look at the Community Day School site as a possible location for the creation of educator housing,” Sasaki wrote in an email to The Oakland Post. “He continues to explore that idea.”

Yee visited the site during school hours on February 25. Joshua Simon, whose work history includes real estate development and consulting for non-profit organizations, accompanied him.

Yee did not respond to two emails requesting his comment on this story that included questions related to his visit to the school. Simon stated that he did not join Yee during the site visit in any professional capacity.

“As a person with a career of working on nonprofit community benefit projects, I am often asked for my advice,” he wrote in an email to The Oakland Post. “In this case, I had no advice to give. I met with Mr. Yee as a private citizen.”

Community Day School Administrative Assistant Sandra Backer said neither Yee nor Simon signed into the school’s visitor logbook. Staff members objected to the duo coming onto campus unannounced and without signing in during school hours.

“It was very disrespectful and showed a disregard for the policy and safety of our school,” said Vernon ‘Trey’ Keeve III an English teacher at Community Day School. “If you’re visiting a public-school ground, the first thing you should do is sign in.”

Rachel Machtinger, a therapist who works at the school said she “felt angry about them thinking they were just entitled to come onto the campus unannounced.”

In an email Yee sent to Community Days’ principal, which was then forwarded to staff, Yee apologized and stated, “It was insensitive of me to come during the school day and without letting you know in advance.”

Keeve speculated that Yee was checking out the land for a possible development project. This upset Keeve, in part because Yee had not visited the school in recent months as the board was considering whether or not to close the school.

“It felt like a blatant slap in the face,” Keeve said. “So, he has time to come by and survey the land but he doesn’t have time to visit us and see the work we do here? When you consider where our campus is located, it would be a great view if anything gets built there?”

Community Day sits in Oakland’s Leona Heights neighborhood, which features a park in a densely forested redwood groove.

To create housing on its 17-acre campus, Community Day would first have to be closed. Staff and a student at the school have spoken out recently against their school’s planned closure, saying that the site serves a unique purpose that can’t be replaced. Community Day is the only school in Oakland where expelled students can attend in person as they work to clear their expulsion with the district.

To lease or sell Community Day’s campus for housing, the district would also need to form a new 7-11 Committee of community members who would then have to declare its campus as surplus property. There is a recent history of the district forming such a committee, declaring OUSD property as surplus, and then leasing property for housing.

A 7-11 Committee was formed in 2019 and met from May through December of that year.  In 9-1 and 6-4 decisions, that committee voted to declare two vacant OUSD properties, a former adult school and a former child development center, as “surplus.” On June 30 of last year, OUSD’s Board then voted 5-2, with Yee voting yes, to lease these properties for 65 years to Eagle Environmental Construction Inc., a private company that plans to construct market rate units, a job training site for residents, and subsidized housing. The lease stipulates at least half of housing units will be set aside for OUSD employees. Members of Oakland Education Association and SEIU Local 1021 spoke out against the lease during that meeting.

Machtinger, along with Keeve, expressed displeasure at the idea of turning Community Day’s campus into housing and coupling that plan with educator housing. Machtinger felt that profit could be a main motivating factor in such a development.

“It feels dubious to me because it’s such attractive real estate,” she said.

Keeve felt that creating educator housing wouldn’t address the root cause of teachers not making a livable wage in Oakland.

“If there’s ever something capitalism would do, it would be to create ‘teacher housing,’” they said. “Teachers should just be paid a livable wage for the places they live in. It seems like a weird band-aid to put on that gaping wound.”

Keeve said they thought living in “teacher housing” would make it difficult to create a separation between work and leisure. They wouldn’t want to live around a group of people who do the same job as them because it would remind them of work.

“I love my colleges and collaborating with other educators while I’m at work,” they said. “But I also create boundaries.”

These days, the future of Community Day remains unclear, Yee has not publicly declared any plans to pursue housing on the site, and Keeve remains focused on teaching.

“Right now, I just want the students to have a good time and get the things they need before the school year ends, and this place could close down,” they said.

Recently, thousands of community members have been pushing back against school closures in Oakland, including Community Day’s. Since five Board directors, including Yee, voted to formally request the district recommend a list of schools for consolidation in mid-January, they’ve seen pushback from staff, parents, students and community members in the form of protests, teacher and student walkouts, a hunger strike, and over a thousand e-comments and comments against closures before and during meetings.

The community has specifically objected to the closures disproportionate effect on Black and Latinx students. Two Board directors, Mike Hutchinson and VanCedric Williams, have also repeatedly voted against closures. During meetings last month, despite the pushback, the board voted to close, merge or downsize 11 schools over the next two years and then voted against a resolution to delay considering closures set to occur at end of this school year for an additional year.

After the votes, pushback has continued in the hopes that school closures still can be stopped. On March 5, hundreds took to the streets to protest the planned closure of Oakland schools. Oakland’s Education Association is also continuing to pursue legal action to stop the closures by filing an unfair labor practice charge accusing the district of violating a deal they reached in 2019 that requires a one year engagement process before any closures can occur.

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Activism

Juneteenth Father’s Day for the Formerly Incarcerated

The giveaway was a testament of the Formerly Incarcerated Giving Back to the community in the best way they could. Participants received an array of gifts including clothing, work pants, jeans, socks, toiletries and gift cards. The event gave them a place to identify with other men who have overcome many hardships and now live independently of the direct supervision of the criminal justice system.

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From left to right: Dora Parlor, Richard Johnson and Ayanna Weathers. Photo by Jonathan ‘fitness’ Jones.
From left to right: Dora Parlor, Richard Johnson and Ayanna Weathers. Photo by Jonathan ‘fitness’ Jones.

By Richard Johnson

The founders of The Formerly Incarcerated Giving Back organization sponsored a Father’s Day celebration event that highlighted a “just serve spirit” which recognized dads who want to “give and serve” their families and communities, that reached over 150 men in deep East Oakland. Fathers from all walks of life, languages and nationalities were in attendance.

The giveaway was a testament of the Formerly Incarcerated Giving Back to the community in the best way they could. Participants received an array of gifts including clothing, work pants, jeans, socks, toiletries and gift cards. The event gave them a place to identify with other men who have overcome many hardships and now live independently of the direct supervision of the criminal justice system.

The celebration was co-sponsored by several organizations, including the African American Sports and Entertainment Group, (AASEG) headed by Ray Bobbitt, B.O.S.S. Reentry program, and the Reentry, The Post News Group and Violence Prevention programs directed by John Jones III.

The participating fathers were offered counseling and services to cover back rent, rental deposit, utility bills, credit repair and much more.

As fate would have it, one of the Founders of Formerly Incarcerated Giving Back, Mr. Paul Redd, was called home by the Lord. His passing came on Father’s Day. We could never question God’s work when He calls His flock home. Paul will be greatly missed by many who loved, appreciated and respected him greatly. We, the Formerly Incarcerated Giving Back, gave back in our experience our profound condolences to the family. We will certainly continue the work that he helped to establish. Rest in Peace my brother.

To utilize the services of BOSS (Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency), please contact John Jones at 510-459-9014. For more information on this activity and future activities, please contact Richard Johnson at fatijohns28@gmail.com.

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Marin, Sonoma, and Mendocino Counties Partner to Create Cleaner Coast

California Coastal beaches and public parks are experiencing rises in visitation year over year as important outlets for mental and physical health. Over 10 million people annually visit the California coastline and adjacent communities across Marin, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties. Even more staggering, over 55,000 pounds of trash were picked up from the sensitive coastal environment across the three counties last year alone.

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“Leave No Trace is thrilled to be working with Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties,” said Dana Watts, executive director of Leave No Trace. “With such diverse natural and cultural resources, we look forward to addressing the key issues in the area. Consistent messaging is crucial because there is no differentiation from visitors on what county they are in when they visit the coastline.”
“Leave No Trace is thrilled to be working with Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties,” said Dana Watts, executive director of Leave No Trace. “With such diverse natural and cultural resources, we look forward to addressing the key issues in the area. Consistent messaging is crucial because there is no differentiation from visitors on what county they are in when they visit the coastline.”

The Goal: Teach leave no trace practices to growing number of coastal visitors

Courtesy of Marin County

Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties are launching a coordinated campaign to provide visitor education and outreach to reduce the amount of litter and waste in coastal regions and watersheds through a three-County memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the non-profit organization Leave No Trace. The ongoing partnership includes coordination with federal and state agencies, tribal partners, local jurisdictions and land managers, Sonoma County Tourism, and other community-based groups across all three counties.

Beginning later this month, the bilingual campaign will include a broad scope of messaging that will be used by all three counties to educate and influence visitors prior to and during the summer season. Agencies and organizations partnering with the campaign will be able to share the Leave No Trace-based messaging resources in English and Spanish and take advantage of a new stewardship education series, both of which specifically address visitation impact issues taking place along the California coastline.

California Coastal beaches and public parks are experiencing rises in visitation year over year as important outlets for mental and physical health. Over 10 million people annually visit the California coastline and adjacent communities across Marin, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties. Even more staggering, over 55,000 pounds of trash were picked up from the sensitive coastal environment across the three counties last year alone.

“COVID-19 pushed more residents outdoors and drew them to the coast as they looked for safe ways to recreate,” said Marin County Supervisor Dennis Rodoni, who initiated the three-County collaboration in 2020. “This stressed our limited visitor-serving infrastructure, creating an overflow of trash and waste like I have never seen before.”

Sonoma County Tourism, the county’s destination stewardship organization, was instrumental in bringing the Leave No Trace organization into the partnership conversation with the three counties. Sonoma County Tourism has worked with Leave No Trace since April 2021 on the Sonoma County Leave No Trace Initiative.

Through its Seven Principles, Leave No Trace provides a framework of minimum impact practices for anyone visiting the outdoors. New education messaging focusing on trash and litter in coastal watersheds is highly relevant due to a surge in visitation to all three counties’ coastlines and adjacent communities. The new education messaging serves to complement existing Leave No Trace and other trash reduction efforts promoted by state, county and local parks officials in all three counties, as well as the Sonoma County Leave No Trace Initiative.

“We had a bit of a head start with the successful launch of our Leave No Trace campaign last year, and we are happy to leverage and coordinate our efforts with our neighbors from the north and south,” said Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins. “Visitors don’t stop at county lines, nor does the flow of trash.”

Trash causes major impacts on our enjoyment of creeks, bays and the ocean, and creates significant impacts on aquatic life and habitat in those waters; trash eventually enters the global ocean ecosystem, where plastic persists in the environment for hundreds of years – if not forever.

“We don’t have the resources to launch this effort on our own,” Mendocino County Supervisor Ted Williams noted, “But with the support from our southern neighbors and non-profit partnerships with groups like MendoParks, we are excited to launch this campaign.” Fellow Mendocino County Supervisor Dan Gjerde added, “The key to moving this effort forward was the unanimous decision for all three counties to use a shared MOU and contract with Leave No Trace. We look forward to working together for years to come.”

“Leave No Trace is thrilled to be working with Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties,” said Dana Watts, executive director of Leave No Trace. “With such diverse natural and cultural resources, we look forward to addressing the key issues in the area. Consistent messaging is crucial because there is no differentiation from visitors on what county they are in when they visit the coastline.”

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Juneteenth ’22: California Legislature Recognizes Reparations Task Force

“The task force, without a doubt, is probably one of the most important task forces not only in the state, but this nation, dealing with the horrors of slavery,” said Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC). “This task force is a reflection of California’s leadership and progressive nature that made a commitment to help bridge racial division and advance equity.”

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While honored by the California Legislature, the California Task Force for Reparations members presented the 483-page, Interim Report to lawmakers of the California Legislature Black Caucus. Shown from left to right are attorney Don Tamaki, Senator Maria Elena Durazo, Assemblywoman Lori Wilson, Sen. Steven Bradford, Sen. Sydney Kamlager, attorney Lisa Holder, Dr. Cheryl Grills, Dr. Rev. Amos Brown, attorney Kamilah Moore, Sen. Nancy Skinner, and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer. CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.
While honored by the California Legislature, the California Task Force for Reparations members presented the 483-page, Interim Report to lawmakers of the California Legislature Black Caucus. Shown from left to right are attorney Don Tamaki, Senator Maria Elena Durazo, Assemblywoman Lori Wilson, Sen. Steven Bradford, Sen. Sydney Kamlager, attorney Lisa Holder, Dr. Cheryl Grills, Dr. Rev. Amos Brown, attorney Kamilah Moore, Sen. Nancy Skinner, and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer. CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.

By Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌, California‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Media

Several members of the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans received a standing ovation from constituents of the State Legislature last week for their work over the last 12 months.

During the opening of legislative sessions at the State Capitol in Sacramento on June 16, members of the Senate and Assembly participated in the gesture that coincided with the kickoff of the state’s official Juneteenth 2022 commemorations.

“The task force, without a doubt, is probably one of the most important task forces not only in the state, but this nation, dealing with the horrors of slavery,” said Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC). “This task force is a reflection of California’s leadership and progressive nature that made a commitment to help bridge racial division and advance equity.”

Bradford, who was appointed to the task force by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, made his remarks on the Senate floor after fellow task force panelist Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) delivered similar comments in the Assembly chambers.

Seven of the nine task force members and staff from the California Department of Justice (DOJ) were recognized at the event.

Task force members attending the ceremony were Chairperson Kamilah V. Moore, a Los Angeles-based attorney, reparations scholar and activist; Vice Chairman Dr. Amos Brown, a civil rights leader and respected Bay Area pastor whose journey to leadership started under the tutelage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in the 1960s; Dr. Cheryl Grills, a professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and Lisa Holder, a nationally recognized trial attorney.

Attorney Don Tamaki, Esq., an attorney best known for his role in the Supreme Court case of Korematsu v. the United States and the only non-Black member of the panel, was also in attendance.

Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon met briefly with the panel.

Task force members Monica Montgomery Steppe, a San Diego Councilmember and Dr. Jovan Scott Lewis, chair of the Department of Geography at the University of California Berkeley, could not make the trip due to prior commitments.

Several members of the CLBC attended the function, which coincided with the passage of resolution in recognition of the Juneteenth holiday in the Assembly.

Assemblymembers Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), Mia Bonta (D-Alameda), Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City), Akila Weber (D-La Mesa), Mike Gipson (D-Carson) and CLBC vice-chair Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) showed up to support the task force members’ efforts.

The Task Force first convened on June 1, 2021, to conduct an examination of the lasting consequences of discrimination against freed slaves and their descendants.

Under Assembly Bill (AB) 3121, authored by then-Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, who is currently Secretary of State of California, the nine-member panel is charged with making recommendations for how the state can compensate Black Californians who are descendants of enslaved African Americans.

On June 1, the task force released its first interim report, a 483-page document compiled by the California Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Enforcement Section.

“The information in the interim report reveals uncovered facts about incidents that disproportionately and negatively affected Black Californians in California for 170-plus years and the country for the last 400 years,” Grills said.

“Until we have a reckoning with the truth, we cannot understand who we are as a nation. When we then begin to have that kind of reckoning, I think the specific manifestation of the harm will be easier to deal with and we will actually have an opportunity for transformative change,” Grills continued.

Over the next 12 months, Moore told California Black Media (CBM) that the task force will focus on bringing increased awareness for the interim report, community engagement, and formulating a framework of how California should compensate around 2 to 2.6 million Black Californians.

“It’s important that the California Legislature understand how important this effort is,” Moore told CBM. “This past year we’ve been working incredibly hard. The next (12 months) I categorized it as the development stage where the nine-member task force has substantive and intentional conversations about what reparations should look like.”

Video link of Sen. Steven Bradford and Dr. Cheryl Grills at the state capitol in Sacramento:  .California Task Force For Reparations at State Capitol 6.16.2022

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