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Feds End Prosecution of Barry Bonds Without Conviction

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FILE - In this Thursday, June 23, 2011, file photo, former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds arrives for a hearing about his perjury trial at the federal courthouse in San Francisco. The U.S. Department of Justice formally dropped its criminal prosecution of Barry Bonds, Major League Baseball's career home run leader. The decade-long investigation and prosecution of Bonds for obstruction of justice ended quietly Tuesday morning, July 21, 2015, when the DOJ said it would not challenge the reversal of his felony conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

In this Thursday, June 23, 2011, file photo, former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds arrives for a hearing about his perjury trial at the federal courthouse in San Francisco. The U.S. Department of Justice formally dropped its criminal prosecution of Barry Bonds, Major League Baseball’s career home run leader.  (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

PAUL ELIAS, Associated Press
SUDHIN THANAWALA, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — After a nearly decade-long steroids prosecution, Barry Bonds emerged victorious Tuesday when federal prosecutors dropped what was left of their criminal case against the career home runs leader.

The government’s pursuit of Bonds ended quietly with a one-paragraph motion by the U.S. Department of Justice announcing Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. will not ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the appellate decision that overturned Bonds’ obstruction of justice conviction.

A jury found the former San Francisco Giants star guilty in 2011 for giving a meandering answer to a federal grand jury in 2003 when asked whether his personal trainer gave him anything that required a syringe for self-injection. An 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that conviction in April, and the government had until Wednesday to file for a Supreme Court review.

The jury deadlocked on three counts accusing Bonds of making false statements when he denied receiving steroids or human growth hormone or any substance that required a syringe for self-injection from the trainer, Greg Anderson. The government dismissed those counts in August 2011, and the 9th Circuit barred a retrial on the obstruction charge, citing double jeopardy.

“The finality of today’s decision gives me great peace,” Bonds, who turns 51 on Friday, said in a statement. “As I have said before, this outcome is something I have long wished for. I am relieved, humbled and thankful for what this means for me and my family moving forward.”

Major League Baseball had no immediate comment. The U.S. Attorney’s office in San Francisco didn’t immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment.

Bonds’ legal victory is unlikely to win over critics who concluded he cheated by using performance-enhancing drugs, or help him with Hall of Fame voters.

In his third year on the Hall ballot in 2015, Bonds received 202 votes for 36.8 percent from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. A player must garner at least 75 percent of the vote to be elected.

But it brings to a close one of the most high-profile prosecutions to emerge from an investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative that began in 2002 and saw the convictions of Olympic track gold medalist Marion Jones, elite sprint cyclist Tammy Thomas and former NFL defensive lineman Dana Stubblefield along with coaches, distributors, a trainer, a chemist and a lawyer.

“It seems that the government has finally come to their senses,” BALCO founder Victor Conte, who was sentenced to four months in prison and four months of home confinement, said in a statement. “In my opinion they should have never brought charges against Barry Bonds and wasted tens of millions of taxpayer dollars. … The Bonds case was simply a trophy-hunting expedition by these federal agents and prosecutors, and I believe they need to be held accountable for this waste of federal funds.”

William Portanova, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice, disagreed, saying the prosecution acted as a deterrent despite the lack of a conviction. “There’s no question that the world paid attention to this case, so win, lose or draw, any potential steroid abusers saw that there’s a chance of getting tangled in the court system,” he said.

The BALCO investigation also helped lead to the report by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, which called out many of baseball’s top players, including Roger Clemens, for alleged steroids use. Clemens was acquitted in 2012 on all charges that he obstructed and lied to Congress in denying he used performance-enhancing drugs.

Bonds was charged four years after he testified before a grand jury after receiving a grant of immunity. Bonds didn’t dispute that he took steroids, but testified to the grand jury that Anderson told him they were flaxseed oil and arthritic balm.

After a three-week trial, Bonds was convicted for his response to the question: “Did Greg ever give you anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with?”

“That’s what keeps our friendship,” Bonds replied. “I was a celebrity child, not just in baseball by my own instincts. I became a celebrity child with a famous father. I just don’t get into other people’s business because of my father’s situation, you see.”

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit unanimously upheld the conviction in 2013 but the larger group of judges ruled in April that there was insufficient evidence Bonds’ answer was material to the federal investigation into sports doping.

After the 2011 conviction, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston sentenced Bonds to 30 days of home confinement, two years of probation, 250 hours of community service in youth-related activities and a $4,000 fine. Bonds served the home confinement before his conviction was overturned.

Bonds ended his career after the 2007 season with 762 homers, surpassing the record of 755 that Hank Aaron set from 1954-76. He has been more active with the Giants recently, serving as a hitting instructor at spring training, and Bonds still has the backing of Giants who played alongside him, such as two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum.

“Thank you to all of you who have expressed your heartfelt wishes to me; for that, I am grateful,” Bonds said.

___

AP Baseball Writers Janie McCauley and Ronald Blum contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Commentary

Biden, Vax Americana, and What the Recall Could Mean in COVID-19 Wars

Masking works. You can see it working. Vaccines work too, but we’re on the honor system for that. And people lie or show a fake vax cards. 

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COVID/Photo Courtesy of Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire 

At Oakland’s Stagebridge, I taught a class this year. One of my students couldn’t make the final. The student had COVID.

I don’t know if the student was vaccinated or whether this was a breakthrough case. But the fact remains, the COVID war must be our No. 1 priority—no matter how many people you see on TV at football games and sporting events unmasked. 

Masking works. You can see it working. Vaccines work too, but we’re on the honor system for that. And people lie or show a fake vax cards. 

This is why President Joe Biden’s speech last week, what I call his “Vax Americana” speech was so much more important than people want to admit.

It was his first get tough moment. And it reminded me of the phrase, “Pax Americana,” from post-World War II in 1945 to describe how the U.S. used its dominance to bring peace and prosperity to the world. 

After months of “nice,” Biden was a little less nice ordering federal workers to get vaxed, and OSHA to lean on employers with 100 workers to mandate vaccinations.

But all you need to remember from the speech was the last line, when Biden in a hushed, aggressive whisper said, “Get vaccinated.” 

What are you waiting for—a death bed conversion? 

It’s time to get serious about public health, about caring for our country and each other. 

We can end the war on COVID if we all do our part, masked and vaxed. 

I wonder if Biden knows about a non-profit in Stockton called Little Manila Rising

“Someone Pulled a Gun” 

You know what guns do to a situation. In the COVID wars, the anti-vaxers are insane. 

One of the handful of Filipino American canvassers for Little Manila Rising going door to door to provide the public with good information, got a rude greeting from an anti-vaxer.

“A gun!” said Amy Portello-Nelson, the head of the Get-Out-The-Vaccine drive in Stockton. The canvassers are armed only with information. No one was hurt, but you see how dangerous fighting COVID can be when you’re armed only with facts. 

Here’s what Little Manila Rising’s done in two months on the job. It has knocked on more than 32,000 doors and had 20,000 conversations. The area they’ve worked has gone from a vaccination rate of 32% to more than 50%. 

Talking to people and telling them to get vax works. It’s how we’re going to get back to normal. It’s going to take a “Vax Americana” effort.

The Recall

Of course, whatever happens with this gubernatorial recall will determine how quickly the state gets to the 70%-80% rate that gives us an effective herd immunity. 

My deadline is before any official recall results. And even then, mail-in ballots with a September 16 postmark will take time to be counted. 

The talk of voter fraud is greatly exaggerated. There’s more rhetorical fraud than anything else. 

With more than 8 million ballots in already, unless there’s a strange crossover vote, the Democrats should continue in power. 

But let’s say the recall succeeds and a person with the most votes among 46 also-rans becomes the new governor, it would not bode well for the state.

The Black conservative Larry Elder was leading among those who want to replace Governor Gavin Newsom.

Elder is an anti-vaxxer and has espoused views indicating that – under his leadership– California would look a lot more like Alabama, Texas, Louisiana and Florida on the COVID map. 

That would be the real monumental tragedy for California and for Vax Americana. 

Let’s face it, the political virus unleashed by the Republicans on our democracy is worse than COVID. 

The recall effort needs to die a natural death this week.

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Bay Area

Castlemont High Coach Launches “Books Before Balls” Project

Tamikia McCoy, an Oakland Athletic League phenomena in 1991 – 1993, dominated girls’ basketball, becoming a walk-on at Grambling to win the Southern Western Conference of 1993-1994.  

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Tamikia McCoy/Photo Courtesy of Tanya Dennis

 

Michael Franklin

Tamikia McCoy, an Oakland Athletic League phenomena in 1991 – 1993, dominated girls’ basketball, becoming a walk-on at Grambling to win the Southern Western Conference of 1993-1994.  

For two years, she played with the Running Rebels, an Oakland all-star basketball team.  After earning many degrees, McCoy returned to her beloved Castlemont as Coach in 2019, and quickly realized a responsibility to her students beyond winning games and created Books Before Balls.

Another Castlemont alumni of that same year was not as fortunate as McCoy.  Like McCoy, Michael Franklin was a basketball beast.  He was awarded first team All-City for the Oakland Athletic League 1993-1994 and was Northern California’s All American that same year. 

Franklin continues to hold the record for scoring 43 points in one quarter in a game against McClymonds. Tragically, he was killed Dec. 14, 2016, at a gas station at 98th and Edes in Oakland.

Coach McCoy’s concerns about violence inspired her to create the Books Before Balls Project to address academic and social gaps that are working against student success. 

“For violence and bullying to cease, the underlying reasons have to be addressed,” said McCoy, “Food scarcity may seem unrelated to violence, but it’s a signal that economic opportunities are lacking, which leads to trauma and desperation.”  

McCoy is also concerned that Castlemont’s library was closed and is spearheading a campaign to reopen and revitalize the library.  

She has joined with Oakland Frontline Healers and Adamika Village#stopkillingourkids movement to address issues of food scarcity, lack of economic opportunity, lack of resources and lack of support for students entering college.  

Together, they are creating a model that is duplicatable and hopefully will be adopted at other OUSD schools. Oakland Frontline Healers are a collaborative of 30 nonprofits and doctors offering services, food, and resources to mitigate the effects of COVID-19.  

Players and families will be tested weekly by Umoja Health before games, and the COVID-19 vaccine will be available for those that wish to take it.

With a grant from the Department of Violence Prevention, Building Opportunity for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) and Adamika Village#stopkillingourkidsmovement, are honoring Michael Franklin’s life by hosting a series of “Mike’s Knights” Basketball Tournaments at Castlemont High School beginning the last Friday in November.  

Participants will be paid stipends to participate in the league or cheer squad and will be tutored and mentored during the tournaments, which will include family forums to discuss ending violence in East Oakland.

Books Before Balls invites the community to donate to the organization to support the Lady Knights’ basketball team, the success program that funds first year college students, or join their initiative to reopen the library. 

 For more information contact:  Ladyknights2019@yahoo.com For youth interested in joining the eight-week tournament contact Adamika Village at adamikaadamika@gmail.com 

Together with school leaders and administrators, and with the support of Oakland Frontline Healers, Books Before Balls is staging a “Student’s Against Bullying” event Friday, Sept. 17 from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. at Youth Uprising, 8711 MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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The Tragic Sports Abuse of Oakland

All 3 teams leaving?

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Spalding Basketball on a court; Photo courtesy of Sabri Tuzcu via Unsplash

Oakland is the most victimized sports city on the planet, and there is no close second.

And it’s not Oakland’s fault. Pirates, highwaymen and carpetbaggers have unified their heartless souls to rob Oakland of its championship, and fan-supported, sports existence. Under high crimes and misdemeanors, this is the highest crime in sports pilfering.

The Raiders are the only sports franchise to leave the same American city twice, despite sellout crowds before skipping off to Los Angeles, and sellout crowds again after their inglorious failure in Tinseltown. And now they’re off to Las Vegas, which, in time, might prove a worse investment than playing craps.

But, at least, the Raiders were homegrown, Oakland’s own. The Warriors came to Oakland from San Francisco, where the franchise was going broke, and built themselves up financially, with capacity attendance, as by winning three NBA championships in the short space of five years. After that, it was back across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco, where this one-time dynastic bunch has found itself in serious slippage.

And, lastly, Oakland is one fleeing franchise short of a hat trick — all three of its teams taking flight. The last team still with an Oakland zip code, the Athletics, are looking at Las Vegas or — who knows? — the moon for a new home. This is the same franchise that bottomed out in Kansas City, after burning out in Philadelphia, and now is seeking to bury Oakland among its dearly departed.

It isn’t failure on the field of play that’s driving these teams elsewhere. Despite becoming a major-league sports town in 1960, a late start in sports economics, Oakland has produced 10 national championships. The A’s and Warriors have four titles apiece, and the Raiders have won two Super Bowls.

And it isn’t disappointment at the box office that these teams can use as an alibi. The Raiders and Warriors filled their facilities despite having long stretches of losing seasons, built on horrific draft picks. Jamarcus Russell, anyone? Joe Smith? The A’s haven’t drawn nearly as well as the other two tenants at the Oakland Coliseum Complex, but when you’re constantly trying to move to Fremont, Santa Clara, and now Las Vegas, why should local fans display loyalty?

I’ve been observing the Oakland sports scene closely since 1964 after gaining employment at the Oakland Tribune, which has left Oakland, too, with no relocation, no nothing. My arrival coincided with the building of the Coliseum and adjacent Arena in 1966, which was large-scale planning since the Raiders were the only team in town back then. The A’s moved here in 1968, and the Warriors in 1974. The Coliseum and Arena, over time, would be the last of the dual sports complexes in the country, but let it be known that it was the absolute best of its kind.

First, it was built in the middle of six Bay Area counties, with Contra Costa to the North, Santa Clara to the East, San Mateo to the South, San Francisco and Marin to the West, and Alameda County where the first shovel of dirt was dug for the complex itself.

Fortuitous still, the complex would be abutted in time by rapid transit (BART), a freeway, and railroad tracks, with an airport five minutes away. The Father of the Coliseum, the late Robert Nahas, was Einstein-like in his blueprints for the complex, and for Oakland’s future as a big-league, big-time sports town.

Adding to that image were the most loyal, passionate and, well, loony crazy fans. Oakland has the most abused fans in the universe in spite of fanaticism that couldn’t be rivaled anywhere. Who gets stepped on not once, but twice, by the black-attired, blackhearted Raiders and still professes loyalty. If the Raiders fail in Las Vegas, and they might eventually, the Coliseum in Oakland would fill up again. Nobody loves a team like Raider fans, bless their ravaged souls.

You mean the Raiders could come back to Oakland for a third go-around? If the Davis family is in charge, of course. Al, the father, was a user, and Mark, the son, a loser. Neither one of them, in all this time, has stuck their nose out for Oakland. They advertised little if all, they gave to charities nil, and they expected deference regardless throughout their penuriousness. There have been traitors replete throughout the history of organized sports, but nothing like the Davises, father and son: Benedict Arnold and Benedict Arnold Junior.

But as bad as they were, Oakland’s biggest problem, sadly, is Oakland itself. Oakland’s sports owners look at Oakland as a place to run from, rather than to grow with. Being situated across the Bay from San Francisco always has been Oakland’s detriment, dating back to early last century when Oakland native Gertrude Stein said of Oakland: “There’s no there there.” She said that after returning home from Paris and finding her old neighborhood changed, but historians took it as a slight on Oakland.

So the Warriors’ new ownership of Joe Lacob and Peter Gruber began packing up right away for San Francisco, but like other sports ownerships, myopically. Because, at that same juncture, Oakland suddenly came alive as a city commercially, more so than at any other time in history. New businesses, new buildings, new daytime choices, and new nighttime adventures suddenly spurted. Oakland had become, of all things, a boomtown.

Imagine that, while the thinking of the Raiders and Warriors ownerships could go “boom” in their faces. There is no rapid transit or railroad tracks abutting the stadium in Las Vegas, and there is limited parking next to the stadium, which means most fans will tailgate a mile away and take transit to the stadium. The Warriors have no rapid transit close by, no parking to speak of, and game tickets cost high-roller prices.

What was there in Oakland has been lost in franchise-and-fan togetherness in Las Vegas and San Francisco. And if the Raiders and Warriors start losing, which is immediately possible, who will want to mortgage homes and businesses to pay those exorbitant ticket prices? And if the A’s follow the Raiders to Las Vegas, it gets costlier because the A’s will need a domed stadium. You see, you can’t play baseball in 115-degree heat, for there’s nothing cool about that.

It just might turn out, for all three Oakland teams, that “there’s no there there” in their new digs.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Feds End Prosecution of Barry Bonds Without Conviction

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FILE - In this Thursday, June 23, 2011, file photo, former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds arrives for a hearing about his perjury trial at the federal courthouse in San Francisco. The U.S. Department of Justice formally dropped its criminal prosecution of Barry Bonds, Major League Baseball's career home run leader. The decade-long investigation and prosecution of Bonds for obstruction of justice ended quietly Tuesday morning, July 21, 2015, when the DOJ said it would not challenge the reversal of his felony conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

In this Thursday, June 23, 2011, file photo, former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds arrives for a hearing about his perjury trial at the federal courthouse in San Francisco. The U.S. Department of Justice formally dropped its criminal prosecution of Barry Bonds, Major League Baseball’s career home run leader.  (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

PAUL ELIAS, Associated Press
SUDHIN THANAWALA, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — After a nearly decade-long steroids prosecution, Barry Bonds emerged victorious Tuesday when federal prosecutors dropped what was left of their criminal case against the career home runs leader.

The government’s pursuit of Bonds ended quietly with a one-paragraph motion by the U.S. Department of Justice announcing Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. will not ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the appellate decision that overturned Bonds’ obstruction of justice conviction.

A jury found the former San Francisco Giants star guilty in 2011 for giving a meandering answer to a federal grand jury in 2003 when asked whether his personal trainer gave him anything that required a syringe for self-injection. An 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that conviction in April, and the government had until Wednesday to file for a Supreme Court review.

The jury deadlocked on three counts accusing Bonds of making false statements when he denied receiving steroids or human growth hormone or any substance that required a syringe for self-injection from the trainer, Greg Anderson. The government dismissed those counts in August 2011, and the 9th Circuit barred a retrial on the obstruction charge, citing double jeopardy.

“The finality of today’s decision gives me great peace,” Bonds, who turns 51 on Friday, said in a statement. “As I have said before, this outcome is something I have long wished for. I am relieved, humbled and thankful for what this means for me and my family moving forward.”

Major League Baseball had no immediate comment. The U.S. Attorney’s office in San Francisco didn’t immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment.

Bonds’ legal victory is unlikely to win over critics who concluded he cheated by using performance-enhancing drugs, or help him with Hall of Fame voters.

In his third year on the Hall ballot in 2015, Bonds received 202 votes for 36.8 percent from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. A player must garner at least 75 percent of the vote to be elected.

But it brings to a close one of the most high-profile prosecutions to emerge from an investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative that began in 2002 and saw the convictions of Olympic track gold medalist Marion Jones, elite sprint cyclist Tammy Thomas and former NFL defensive lineman Dana Stubblefield along with coaches, distributors, a trainer, a chemist and a lawyer.

“It seems that the government has finally come to their senses,” BALCO founder Victor Conte, who was sentenced to four months in prison and four months of home confinement, said in a statement. “In my opinion they should have never brought charges against Barry Bonds and wasted tens of millions of taxpayer dollars. … The Bonds case was simply a trophy-hunting expedition by these federal agents and prosecutors, and I believe they need to be held accountable for this waste of federal funds.”

William Portanova, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice, disagreed, saying the prosecution acted as a deterrent despite the lack of a conviction. “There’s no question that the world paid attention to this case, so win, lose or draw, any potential steroid abusers saw that there’s a chance of getting tangled in the court system,” he said.

The BALCO investigation also helped lead to the report by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, which called out many of baseball’s top players, including Roger Clemens, for alleged steroids use. Clemens was acquitted in 2012 on all charges that he obstructed and lied to Congress in denying he used performance-enhancing drugs.

Bonds was charged four years after he testified before a grand jury after receiving a grant of immunity. Bonds didn’t dispute that he took steroids, but testified to the grand jury that Anderson told him they were flaxseed oil and arthritic balm.

After a three-week trial, Bonds was convicted for his response to the question: “Did Greg ever give you anything that required a syringe to inject yourself with?”

“That’s what keeps our friendship,” Bonds replied. “I was a celebrity child, not just in baseball by my own instincts. I became a celebrity child with a famous father. I just don’t get into other people’s business because of my father’s situation, you see.”

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit unanimously upheld the conviction in 2013 but the larger group of judges ruled in April that there was insufficient evidence Bonds’ answer was material to the federal investigation into sports doping.

After the 2011 conviction, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston sentenced Bonds to 30 days of home confinement, two years of probation, 250 hours of community service in youth-related activities and a $4,000 fine. Bonds served the home confinement before his conviction was overturned.

Bonds ended his career after the 2007 season with 762 homers, surpassing the record of 755 that Hank Aaron set from 1954-76. He has been more active with the Giants recently, serving as a hitting instructor at spring training, and Bonds still has the backing of Giants who played alongside him, such as two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum.

“Thank you to all of you who have expressed your heartfelt wishes to me; for that, I am grateful,” Bonds said.

___

AP Baseball Writers Janie McCauley and Ronald Blum contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Commentary

Biden, Vax Americana, and What the Recall Could Mean in COVID-19 Wars

Masking works. You can see it working. Vaccines work too, but we’re on the honor system for that. And people lie or show a fake vax cards. 

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COVID/Photo Courtesy of Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire 

At Oakland’s Stagebridge, I taught a class this year. One of my students couldn’t make the final. The student had COVID.

I don’t know if the student was vaccinated or whether this was a breakthrough case. But the fact remains, the COVID war must be our No. 1 priority—no matter how many people you see on TV at football games and sporting events unmasked. 

Masking works. You can see it working. Vaccines work too, but we’re on the honor system for that. And people lie or show a fake vax cards. 

This is why President Joe Biden’s speech last week, what I call his “Vax Americana” speech was so much more important than people want to admit.

It was his first get tough moment. And it reminded me of the phrase, “Pax Americana,” from post-World War II in 1945 to describe how the U.S. used its dominance to bring peace and prosperity to the world. 

After months of “nice,” Biden was a little less nice ordering federal workers to get vaxed, and OSHA to lean on employers with 100 workers to mandate vaccinations.

But all you need to remember from the speech was the last line, when Biden in a hushed, aggressive whisper said, “Get vaccinated.” 

What are you waiting for—a death bed conversion? 

It’s time to get serious about public health, about caring for our country and each other. 

We can end the war on COVID if we all do our part, masked and vaxed. 

I wonder if Biden knows about a non-profit in Stockton called Little Manila Rising

“Someone Pulled a Gun” 

You know what guns do to a situation. In the COVID wars, the anti-vaxers are insane. 

One of the handful of Filipino American canvassers for Little Manila Rising going door to door to provide the public with good information, got a rude greeting from an anti-vaxer.

“A gun!” said Amy Portello-Nelson, the head of the Get-Out-The-Vaccine drive in Stockton. The canvassers are armed only with information. No one was hurt, but you see how dangerous fighting COVID can be when you’re armed only with facts. 

Here’s what Little Manila Rising’s done in two months on the job. It has knocked on more than 32,000 doors and had 20,000 conversations. The area they’ve worked has gone from a vaccination rate of 32% to more than 50%. 

Talking to people and telling them to get vax works. It’s how we’re going to get back to normal. It’s going to take a “Vax Americana” effort.

The Recall

Of course, whatever happens with this gubernatorial recall will determine how quickly the state gets to the 70%-80% rate that gives us an effective herd immunity. 

My deadline is before any official recall results. And even then, mail-in ballots with a September 16 postmark will take time to be counted. 

The talk of voter fraud is greatly exaggerated. There’s more rhetorical fraud than anything else. 

With more than 8 million ballots in already, unless there’s a strange crossover vote, the Democrats should continue in power. 

But let’s say the recall succeeds and a person with the most votes among 46 also-rans becomes the new governor, it would not bode well for the state.

The Black conservative Larry Elder was leading among those who want to replace Governor Gavin Newsom.

Elder is an anti-vaxxer and has espoused views indicating that – under his leadership– California would look a lot more like Alabama, Texas, Louisiana and Florida on the COVID map. 

That would be the real monumental tragedy for California and for Vax Americana. 

Let’s face it, the political virus unleashed by the Republicans on our democracy is worse than COVID. 

The recall effort needs to die a natural death this week.

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Castlemont High Coach Launches “Books Before Balls” Project

Tamikia McCoy, an Oakland Athletic League phenomena in 1991 – 1993, dominated girls’ basketball, becoming a walk-on at Grambling to win the Southern Western Conference of 1993-1994.  

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Tamikia McCoy/Photo Courtesy of Tanya Dennis

 

Michael Franklin

Tamikia McCoy, an Oakland Athletic League phenomena in 1991 – 1993, dominated girls’ basketball, becoming a walk-on at Grambling to win the Southern Western Conference of 1993-1994.  

For two years, she played with the Running Rebels, an Oakland all-star basketball team.  After earning many degrees, McCoy returned to her beloved Castlemont as Coach in 2019, and quickly realized a responsibility to her students beyond winning games and created Books Before Balls.

Another Castlemont alumni of that same year was not as fortunate as McCoy.  Like McCoy, Michael Franklin was a basketball beast.  He was awarded first team All-City for the Oakland Athletic League 1993-1994 and was Northern California’s All American that same year. 

Franklin continues to hold the record for scoring 43 points in one quarter in a game against McClymonds. Tragically, he was killed Dec. 14, 2016, at a gas station at 98th and Edes in Oakland.

Coach McCoy’s concerns about violence inspired her to create the Books Before Balls Project to address academic and social gaps that are working against student success. 

“For violence and bullying to cease, the underlying reasons have to be addressed,” said McCoy, “Food scarcity may seem unrelated to violence, but it’s a signal that economic opportunities are lacking, which leads to trauma and desperation.”  

McCoy is also concerned that Castlemont’s library was closed and is spearheading a campaign to reopen and revitalize the library.  

She has joined with Oakland Frontline Healers and Adamika Village#stopkillingourkids movement to address issues of food scarcity, lack of economic opportunity, lack of resources and lack of support for students entering college.  

Together, they are creating a model that is duplicatable and hopefully will be adopted at other OUSD schools. Oakland Frontline Healers are a collaborative of 30 nonprofits and doctors offering services, food, and resources to mitigate the effects of COVID-19.  

Players and families will be tested weekly by Umoja Health before games, and the COVID-19 vaccine will be available for those that wish to take it.

With a grant from the Department of Violence Prevention, Building Opportunity for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) and Adamika Village#stopkillingourkidsmovement, are honoring Michael Franklin’s life by hosting a series of “Mike’s Knights” Basketball Tournaments at Castlemont High School beginning the last Friday in November.  

Participants will be paid stipends to participate in the league or cheer squad and will be tutored and mentored during the tournaments, which will include family forums to discuss ending violence in East Oakland.

Books Before Balls invites the community to donate to the organization to support the Lady Knights’ basketball team, the success program that funds first year college students, or join their initiative to reopen the library. 

 For more information contact:  Ladyknights2019@yahoo.com For youth interested in joining the eight-week tournament contact Adamika Village at adamikaadamika@gmail.com 

Together with school leaders and administrators, and with the support of Oakland Frontline Healers, Books Before Balls is staging a “Student’s Against Bullying” event Friday, Sept. 17 from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. at Youth Uprising, 8711 MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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The Tragic Sports Abuse of Oakland

All 3 teams leaving?

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Spalding Basketball on a court; Photo courtesy of Sabri Tuzcu via Unsplash

Oakland is the most victimized sports city on the planet, and there is no close second.

And it’s not Oakland’s fault. Pirates, highwaymen and carpetbaggers have unified their heartless souls to rob Oakland of its championship, and fan-supported, sports existence. Under high crimes and misdemeanors, this is the highest crime in sports pilfering.

The Raiders are the only sports franchise to leave the same American city twice, despite sellout crowds before skipping off to Los Angeles, and sellout crowds again after their inglorious failure in Tinseltown. And now they’re off to Las Vegas, which, in time, might prove a worse investment than playing craps.

But, at least, the Raiders were homegrown, Oakland’s own. The Warriors came to Oakland from San Francisco, where the franchise was going broke, and built themselves up financially, with capacity attendance, as by winning three NBA championships in the short space of five years. After that, it was back across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco, where this one-time dynastic bunch has found itself in serious slippage.

And, lastly, Oakland is one fleeing franchise short of a hat trick — all three of its teams taking flight. The last team still with an Oakland zip code, the Athletics, are looking at Las Vegas or — who knows? — the moon for a new home. This is the same franchise that bottomed out in Kansas City, after burning out in Philadelphia, and now is seeking to bury Oakland among its dearly departed.

It isn’t failure on the field of play that’s driving these teams elsewhere. Despite becoming a major-league sports town in 1960, a late start in sports economics, Oakland has produced 10 national championships. The A’s and Warriors have four titles apiece, and the Raiders have won two Super Bowls.

And it isn’t disappointment at the box office that these teams can use as an alibi. The Raiders and Warriors filled their facilities despite having long stretches of losing seasons, built on horrific draft picks. Jamarcus Russell, anyone? Joe Smith? The A’s haven’t drawn nearly as well as the other two tenants at the Oakland Coliseum Complex, but when you’re constantly trying to move to Fremont, Santa Clara, and now Las Vegas, why should local fans display loyalty?

I’ve been observing the Oakland sports scene closely since 1964 after gaining employment at the Oakland Tribune, which has left Oakland, too, with no relocation, no nothing. My arrival coincided with the building of the Coliseum and adjacent Arena in 1966, which was large-scale planning since the Raiders were the only team in town back then. The A’s moved here in 1968, and the Warriors in 1974. The Coliseum and Arena, over time, would be the last of the dual sports complexes in the country, but let it be known that it was the absolute best of its kind.

First, it was built in the middle of six Bay Area counties, with Contra Costa to the North, Santa Clara to the East, San Mateo to the South, San Francisco and Marin to the West, and Alameda County where the first shovel of dirt was dug for the complex itself.

Fortuitous still, the complex would be abutted in time by rapid transit (BART), a freeway, and railroad tracks, with an airport five minutes away. The Father of the Coliseum, the late Robert Nahas, was Einstein-like in his blueprints for the complex, and for Oakland’s future as a big-league, big-time sports town.

Adding to that image were the most loyal, passionate and, well, loony crazy fans. Oakland has the most abused fans in the universe in spite of fanaticism that couldn’t be rivaled anywhere. Who gets stepped on not once, but twice, by the black-attired, blackhearted Raiders and still professes loyalty. If the Raiders fail in Las Vegas, and they might eventually, the Coliseum in Oakland would fill up again. Nobody loves a team like Raider fans, bless their ravaged souls.

You mean the Raiders could come back to Oakland for a third go-around? If the Davis family is in charge, of course. Al, the father, was a user, and Mark, the son, a loser. Neither one of them, in all this time, has stuck their nose out for Oakland. They advertised little if all, they gave to charities nil, and they expected deference regardless throughout their penuriousness. There have been traitors replete throughout the history of organized sports, but nothing like the Davises, father and son: Benedict Arnold and Benedict Arnold Junior.

But as bad as they were, Oakland’s biggest problem, sadly, is Oakland itself. Oakland’s sports owners look at Oakland as a place to run from, rather than to grow with. Being situated across the Bay from San Francisco always has been Oakland’s detriment, dating back to early last century when Oakland native Gertrude Stein said of Oakland: “There’s no there there.” She said that after returning home from Paris and finding her old neighborhood changed, but historians took it as a slight on Oakland.

So the Warriors’ new ownership of Joe Lacob and Peter Gruber began packing up right away for San Francisco, but like other sports ownerships, myopically. Because, at that same juncture, Oakland suddenly came alive as a city commercially, more so than at any other time in history. New businesses, new buildings, new daytime choices, and new nighttime adventures suddenly spurted. Oakland had become, of all things, a boomtown.

Imagine that, while the thinking of the Raiders and Warriors ownerships could go “boom” in their faces. There is no rapid transit or railroad tracks abutting the stadium in Las Vegas, and there is limited parking next to the stadium, which means most fans will tailgate a mile away and take transit to the stadium. The Warriors have no rapid transit close by, no parking to speak of, and game tickets cost high-roller prices.

What was there in Oakland has been lost in franchise-and-fan togetherness in Las Vegas and San Francisco. And if the Raiders and Warriors start losing, which is immediately possible, who will want to mortgage homes and businesses to pay those exorbitant ticket prices? And if the A’s follow the Raiders to Las Vegas, it gets costlier because the A’s will need a domed stadium. You see, you can’t play baseball in 115-degree heat, for there’s nothing cool about that.

It just might turn out, for all three Oakland teams, that “there’s no there there” in their new digs.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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