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Eli Ferran Challenges Incumbent Barbara Parker in Oakland City Attorney Election 2020

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There are two candidates running for Oakland City Attorney, the incumbent, Barbara Parker and former Deputy City Attorney Eli Ferran.

Parker has been in the office since 1991 and was elected City Attorney in 2013.  She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and is a single mother of one, and a grandmother of two. Parker lives in District 2.

Ferran joined the Oakland City Attorney Office in 2008 and left in June of 2020. He is married with three children and attended law school at Loyola University in New Orleans with a brief post-Katrina evacuation stint at the University of San Francisco.  Ferran resides in District 6.

The Oakland Post asked both candidates their views on three issues impacting Oakland residents: housing/homelessness, climate change, and predatory lending practices.

In their own words, here are their brief thoughts on the three issues:

Parker on Housing/Homelessness:

City Attorney Barbara Parker

I envision Oakland as a city of progressive neighborhoods, policies, and actions. Since becoming City Attorney, I proved my commitment to housing rights and homelessness prevention by authoring/sponsoring tenant protection legislation, such as the EQUAL, Fair Chance and Eviction Moratorium Ordinances.

I pursue strategic litigation to protect vulnerable tenants from abusive landlords. My commitment led to energizing our community-directed Neighborhood Law Corps (NLC), in part seeking to preserve Oakland’s racial, income, and professional diversity. The NLC has filed lawsuits that resulted in the creation of affordable housing.

In one case of substandard housing and numerous code violations, we secured a $485,000 settlement, the owner was removed and 90 units of affordable housing were created for 55 years.

I believe individuals re-entering from incarceration should not be penalized in housing, so I co-sponsored an ordinance prohibiting consideration of criminal records in rental housing applications. Because aggrieved tenants deserve protection and compensation, I secured over $1 million in various case settlements, successfully intervened in over a dozen cases during the pandemic to immediately protect tenants, allowing them to stay in their homes and stop landlords from removing belongings and changing locks.

My commitment to affordable housing and alleviating homelessness is absolute.

Parker on Climate Change 

As a member of the human species, I recognize climate change as our existential challenge. In response, as City Attorney, I have not been afraid of going after the big guys. I have not shied away from suing -and will continue to go after multinational corporations for damaging our environment.

As a lead plaintiff, we have agreed to $550 million to settle a class-action lawsuit against Monsanto for contaminating waterways across the country with toxic chemicals.

I am prosecuting a public nuisance lawsuit against five major, international fossil fuel companies, including Chevron and Exxon Mobil, for their role in global warming.

After hard-fought litigation, Oakland and nine other cities and counties secured a $305 million settlement from lead paint manufacturers to clean up lead paint that poisons tens of thousands of children in California; and I successfully sued a company for discharging massive amounts of dangerous dust potentially containing asbestos or other hazardous materials into West Oakland neighborhoods and the City’s stormwater system.  I continue fighting to stop the handling and storage of coal at the former Oakland Army Base. I vow to continue as a relentless protector of our environment.

Parker on Predatory Lending Practices

As City Attorney, I believe in pushing the envelope as far as legally and ethically possible to protect Oaklanders. My actions extend to stepping in when regulatory institutions fail us. It is no secret that the banking industry, including Wells Fargo, has taken advantage – illegally – of low-income and communities of color.  In response, I filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo for predatory and racially discriminatory mortgage-lending practices against African American and Latinx borrowers in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act. Wells Fargo fought back with its considerable legal resources and money.

Nonetheless, in our David vs. Goliath story, the Federal Court of Appeals recently upheld Oakland’s right to proceed with our lawsuit.  This lawsuit seeks to stop these predatory practices and to compensate Oakland for lost property taxes and other damages the City suffered as a result of the foreclosure crisis that resulted in part due to predatory lending practices.

I will continue to seek ways to protect Oaklanders financially, be it against big banks, payday lenders, or others who try to take undue advantage of our residents.

For more information go to  http://www.parkerforoakland.com

Ferran on Housing/Homelessness

Eli Ferran

Many in my generation of Black Oakland residents despite, education and good jobs are not able to purchase property in the City.  In addition to dealing with the COVID pandemic, we are still experiencing the consequences of discriminatory policies such as redlining and an affordability crisis. Due to discriminatory lending and housing practices, those who inherit property are unable to benefit from an increase in equity that would allow them to maintain the property. About 70% of homeless people in Oakland are Black residents, and we must work with the unhoused community, homeless advocates, City staff, and councilmembers to provide real solutions to this humanitarian crisis. Those solutions include a range of emergency, transitional, and permanent housing. As City Attorney, I will work with councilmembers and City staff to make sure these policies are legal and enforced. We must also call on Alameda County to play a great role in providing mental health and housing solutions.

The housing affordability crisis is not only an Oakland problem, but it is also a regional problem that requires regional and state-wide cooperation and solutions. The City can, however, improve the elements within its control such as the zoning and permit process.  As City Attorney, I would encourage the City Council to implement fair and equitable policies that encourage homeownership within Oakland.  This can be accomplished by the following: (1) Establishing a dedicated California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) attorney within the City Attorney’s Office; (2) Recommending amendments to the California Building Standards Code to the Building Standards Commission; (3) Reviewing and updating regulations affecting the Planning and Building Dept.; (4) Creating and implementing a faster Planning and Building Dept. permit process; (5) Streamlining the process for building accessory dwelling units (ADU’s); and by (6) Effective use of state density bonus rules for new housing.

Ferran on Climate Change

These are unprecedented times. We are seeing wildfires spread across 3.1 million acres in California thus far, forcing thousands out of their homes. This is in addition to a pandemic with no end in sight that is disproportionately hurting low-income communities of color.  Make no mistake, we are seeing the devastating consequence of climate change right before our eyes. We need climate leadership now because the alternative is not an option.

I am running for Oakland City Attorney because I believe that it is incumbent upon every one of us to build a sustainable future for our children and grandchildren. We cannot sit idly by when corporations are diminishing the air quality in our neighborhoods. As City Attorney, I will fight to hold accountable industrial polluters and work to equitably reduce Oakland’s climate emissions.

I will actively enforce the City’s Equitable Climate Action Plan (ECAP) to minimize Oakland’s contribution to climate change, focus on creating good green jobs, and improve air quality.  I will be a visible, proactive, and progressive City Attorney, who will work to expand our capacity to be more responsive to the needs of our communities, especially those victimized by environmental racism.

Ferran on Predatory Lending Practices

Housing is arguably the greatest civil rights issue of our time. Historically, the government has instituted barriers to homeownership and tenancy for Black families. Neighborhood associations, landlords and financial institutions have all played a role, by promoting racial zoning laws and policies that discriminate against Black and brown homeowners seeking mortgage loans.

It is not acceptable that as recently as the early 2000’s Black communities were targeted with subprime mortgages by financial institutions. The Black community was deeply affected by the economic downturn that displaced many long time Oakland residents. The economic outcome of this pandemic is not certain; however, we must be pro-active and implement policies to prevent the same devastating effects that occurred in the last housing crisis.

As City Attorney, I will review the housing policy and laws that contribute to predatory lending.  We must make it easier, not harder, to build more affordable housing. While being mindful of development’s impact on historically Black and Brown neighborhoods, which through the years have faced increasing gentrification, further displacing working-class people of color out of Oakland. As City Attorney, I will create a space for open dialogue and more transparency, where stakeholders such as community leaders and housing advocates can participate in the process.

For more information go to http://www.eliforoakland.com

 

 

 

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Bay Area

Board Bars Evictions Related to COVID-19

Several times during the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Board has passed resolutions barring evictions for nonpayment of rent arising directly from the coronavirus. Preventing evictions for nonpayment due to financial hardship related to COVID-19 allows the County and its partners to continue making funds available for tenants who have struggled to pay rent. Since spring 2020, nearly 1,260 local households have received County-sponsored COVID-19 rental assistance.

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The County budget is balanced and structurally sound, although national economic indicators are showing signs that the recovery is slowing down.
The County budget is balanced and structurally sound, although national economic indicators are showing signs that the recovery is slowing down.

Protections intended for those experiencing hardship because of pandemic

Courtesy of Marin County

Determined to prevent housing displacement for residents financially hampered by the ongoing pandemic, the Marin County Board of Supervisors took another action June 21 to prohibit residential renter evictions in unincorporated Marin effective July 1 through Sept. 30, 2022. The State of California’s eviction protections are scheduled to expire June 30.

Several times during the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Board has passed resolutions barring evictions for nonpayment of rent arising directly from the coronavirus. Preventing evictions for nonpayment due to financial hardship related to COVID-19 allows the County and its partners to continue making funds available for tenants who have struggled to pay rent. Since spring 2020, nearly 1,260 local households have received County-sponsored COVID-19 rental assistance.

The County is continuing to assist tenants who have applied for rental assistance and working with community partners to assure an equitable distribution of federal funds earmarked for eviction prevention. All renters have been protected by state or local laws, regardless of a person’s citizenship status, during the public health emergency. The County continues to process rental assistance applications as quickly as possible with added staff over the past year to accommodate assistance applications.

Rental assistance priority has been given to households that are considered extremely low income, which in Marin would be a family of three with an income of no more than $43,550. Nationally, communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and are often at the highest risk of housing displacement. The County recognizes that those most in need of eviction protection experience barriers to access such a program. While more than two-thirds of non-Hispanic white residents are homeowners in Marin, roughly three-quarters of both Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx communities in Marin are renters.

Between state and federal funds, the County’s pandemic rental assistance program was awarded $36,414,871 of which $23,970,885 has been distributed to 1,260 local households in need. There is a remaining balance of $8,579,705, which will serve the remaining applicants and waiting list and is anticipated to be spent by September 30, 2022.

Clearing accumulated debt is designed to provide a lifeline to the hardest-hit families and provide income stability for landlords. Several local agencies, such as Canal Alliance, Community Action Marin, and North Marin Community Services, are assisting applicants with the process.

Property owners may call the District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit at (415) 473-6450 for assistance on rights and responsibilities. Renters are encouraged to contact Legal Aid of Marin at (415) 492-0230, extension 102, for inquiries on eviction protections.

Anyone needing help with the online application may call (415) 473-2223 or email staff to learn more about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. More information about the County’s eviction moratorium is on the County’s COVID-19 Renter Protections webpage.

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Bay Area

Marin Prepares to Vaccinate Young Children

Parents and guardians should contact their pediatrician to discuss appropriate timing to have their child vaccinated for COVID-19, especially if due for another routine pediatric vaccination. Children in their first 5 years are regularly visiting their pediatrician and vaccines are a routine part of these visits. The COVID-19 vaccine can be given in the same visit as the other important vaccines needed. MCPH will support pediatricians to ensure access to the vaccine over the coming weeks.

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Parents and guardians in Marin County will be able to make COVID-19 vaccine appointments for kids 6 months to 4 years starting this week. (Copyright-free photo from Unsplash).
Parents and guardians in Marin County will be able to make COVID-19 vaccine appointments for kids 6 months to 4 years starting this week. (Copyright-free photo from Unsplash).

New COVID-19 vaccine reduces risk in childcare and youth settings

Courtesy of Marin County

Now that federal and state regulators have approved the use of COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 6 months through 4 years old, local pediatricians, health centers and Marin County Public Health (MCPH) are preparing to vaccinate the nearly 8,000 children in that age group who call Marin County home. Appointments are opening this week.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County’s Public Health Officer. “Until now, 8,000 of our residents – everyone under 5 years – has been excluded from the protection of vaccines because they were too young. Vaccinations will make every setting where kids gather safer, for kids and adults. We’ll all be able to worry a lot less about childcare centers, playdates, parties, and summer camps.”

Community transmission rates in Marin and across the Bay Area remain high. Since the beginning of June, Marin children up to 4 years old have the highest rates of COVID-19 of any age group. Nationally, over 500 children aged 5 or younger have died from COVID-19, making the virus among the top 10 causes of death in children.

The two authorized vaccines are Moderna and Pfizer, offered in lower doses than for adults and older children. Moderna will be for children aged 6 months to 5 years, as two shots spaced one month apart. The Pfizer vaccine will be for children 6 months through 4 years, as three shots over 11 weeks, two within three weeks and a third eight weeks later. The three-dose Pfizer regimen was found to be 80% effective at preventing infection, roughly twice as effective as the Moderna vaccine.

One of the settings that will benefit most from pediatric COVID-19 vaccination is childcare. In Marin, over 80% of school-aged children 5-18 are fully vaccinated, after a dedicated countywide campaign to make schools safer through vaccinations.

“Our childcare providers have been heroes, taking care of our kids since the very beginning of the pandemic while knowing none of the children were vaccinated,” said Michelle Fadelli, Manager of Public Policy and Communications at First 5 Marin. “Now very young children will be safer in childcare, and their providers will be, too.”

ACCESSING THE VACCINE

Parents and guardians should contact their pediatrician to discuss appropriate timing to have their child vaccinated for COVID-19, especially if due for another routine pediatric vaccination. Children in their first 5 years are regularly visiting their pediatrician and vaccines are a routine part of these visits. The COVID-19 vaccine can be given in the same visit as the other important vaccines needed. MCPH will support pediatricians to ensure access to the vaccine over the coming weeks.

Kaiser Permanente, which is the primary medical provider for more than half of Marin households, will welcome children 6 months to 5 years old for COVID-19 vaccination starting Friday, June 24. Parents and guardians can book a vaccination appointment via Kaiser’s call center at (415) 444-4460. Walk-ins or drop-ins are not immediately available.

In addition, parents and guardians will be able to find appointments in a variety of settings – including pharmacies, pediatricians, and public health clinics – online via MyTurn.ca.gov. Select MCPH clinics will offer vaccines to infants and young children without a primary care physician beginning Thursday, June 23. Appointments can be made online via MyTurn and the ongoing schedule will be published at GetVaccinatedMarin.org.

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Bay Area

Cautious Parents Weigh Decision to Give Children Under 5 COVID Vaccine

“There is definitely still a need for vaccinations for the whole population,” said Dr. Lucia Abascal, a physician and researcher at CDPH. “There is this idea that Omicron is milder, but if we look at children’s data in this age group, we can actually see that hospitalizations peaked as well as deaths. We have more and more evidence that kids are at an acute risk of COVID.”

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Visit Vaccinate All 58 to learn more about the safe and effective vaccines available for all children in California ages 6 months and older.
Visit Vaccinate All 58 to learn more about the safe and effective vaccines available for all children in California ages 6 months and older.

By Edward Henderson, California Black Media

Antonio and Tenaja Kizzie, a San Diego area couple, are parents of a 3-year-old daughter. Although both parents are vaccinated and boosted, the Kizzies have reservations about giving their toddler the COVID-19 vaccine the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended last week for children younger than 5 years old.

“It’s one thing to feel like her body is still developing and growing. She’s been vaccinated for everything else for things that have been around for years. It’s a little scary thinking about something that’s new. We don’t want to jump in right now,” Tenaja told California Black Media. “We just want to wait a little bit and see the side effects for other kids in her age group and reassess from there.”

Her husband chimed in.

“We believe in the science, we believe vaccines work, but when it comes to the under-fives, just being a parent we’re a bit more hesitant to give her the vaccine so far. We’re waiting to see how it goes with other under 5 kids that get the vaccine. Even though science and logic say yes, as a new parent you’re extra cautious,” Antonio said.

The Kizzies are not alone.

Numbers the CDC released at the end of May indicate that hesitancy about vaccinating their children is high among parents across the country. Although the U.S. Food and Drug administration approved COVID vaccines for children between the ages of 5 and 11 last October, only about 30% of kids in that age range have received the shot.

“For those families that are hesitant and questioning, I try to understand what their fears and questions are. I try to remind them that we are in this together. I care about the health and wellbeing of their children, and I will always suggest the best possible course for them,” said Dr. Jennifer Miller, a pediatrician with East Bay Pediatrics, a medical practice with offices in Berkeley and Orinda.

Miller was speaking during a medical panel co-hosted by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Ethnic Media Services (EMS). The discussion was held to offer information about vaccinating children 6 months to 4 years old against COVID-19 to parents, caregivers and the media.

“I let them know that ultimately it is their decision to make, and I am here as a resource,” Miller added. “It is normal to be afraid of the unknown and to want to protect your child. With that in mind, vaccination is the best protection around.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines made by Moderna, Pfizer and BioNTech earlier this month. The agency’s approval came on the heels of news that COVID-19 is now the fifth leading cause of death in children 1-4 years old and the fourth leading cause of death for children younger than 1.

“These are sobering statistics for all of us,” said Sandy Close, EMS director and moderator of the news briefing. “Vaccination is an important tool to protect their long-term health against COVID-19 and helps achieve full family protection against this deadly virus.”

Panelists said it is a myth that COVID does not affect children. The CDC reports that 1 in 5 hospitalized children end up in the ICU. And during the Omicron surge, children were hospitalized five times more than in the Delta surge.

“There is definitely still a need for vaccinations for the whole population,” said Dr. Lucia Abascal, a physician and researcher at CDPH. “There is this idea that Omicron is milder, but if we look at children’s data in this age group, we can actually see that hospitalizations peaked as well as deaths. We have more and more evidence that kids are at an acute risk of COVID.”

Abascal detailed the steps of the vaccine approval process at the state and federal levels. An independent expert panel reviewed the data that Moderna and Pfizer provided and unanimously voted that the FDA approve the vaccine. The CDC was the final step of approval for the vaccine at the federal level.

Before California recommends any COVID vaccine, it is reviewed by The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, a commission comprising medical professionals and scientists convened by Washington, Oregon, Nevada and California.

Children 3 years old and above will be eligible to receive vaccines at pharmacies. However, children under 3 will need to get vaccinated at a pediatrician’s office or a community clinic.

California has purchased enough vaccinations for every child in the state. The first shipment of 500,000 doses will arrive next week. About 2.2 million children are eligible for vaccination in California.

The Moderna vaccine is a two-dose regimen like the adult shot, with a one-month wait between doses. The Pfizer vaccine requires three doses. The first dose is followed by the second 21 days later and the final dose comes 60 days after that.

Authorities familiar with the vaccine trials say the side effects of minor fever and pain at the injection site may be stronger for children who receive the Moderna shot.

Dr. Sarah Takekawa, an obstetrician-gynecologist, who is currently raising three children under age 5, was also a panelist.

Takekawa spoke to some of the concerns pregnant women may have. She said she was fully vaccinated before conceiving her third child. She received her booster while pregnant.

“I have seen firsthand what COVID-19 infection can do to otherwise extremely healthy young women during their pregnancies. Watching adults who are otherwise healthy succumb to the disease, it seems easy to us to make this decision about wanting to get vaccinated and encouraging other parents to have their children vaccinated.

Visit Vaccinate All 58 to learn more about the safe and effective vaccines available for all children in California ages 6 months and older.

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