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GOP-Led Congress Prepared to Let Export-Import Bank Expire

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Secretary of State John Kerry addresses a gathering of the Export-Import Bank at the Omni-Shoreham Hotel in Washington, Thursday, April 24, 2014. (AP Photo)

Secretary of State John Kerry addresses a gathering of the Export-Import Bank at the Omni-Shoreham Hotel in Washington, Thursday, April 24, 2014. (AP Photo)

ERICA WERNER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Republicans are poised to deal a sharp blow to their traditional allies in the business community by allowing the federal Export-Import Bank to go out of business at the end of the month. But it may only be temporary.

The 81-year-old bank is a little-known federal agency created during the Depression that makes and guarantees loans to help overseas buyers purchase U.S. products, from airplanes to bridges to baby clothes. Over the past year it’s also become a surprising test of GOP purity, as tea party-backed lawmakers and outside conservative groups have denounced the bank as crony capitalism and vowed to get rid of it, pressuring fellow Republicans to go along.

“It is the purest form of corporate welfare, where you have a government agency that basically exists to subsidize Boeing airplanes and GE engines and Caterpillar tractors,” said Dan Holler of Heritage Action for America, one of the conservative groups pushing congressional Republicans to stand against the bank.

Supporters at the Chamber of Commerce and other business groups disagree, arguing that the agency helps many smaller companies and is necessary to keep U.S. businesses competitive, especially because key foreign competitors like China have generous export credit agencies helping their homegrown industries.

“The fact that all the major exporting countries have export credit agencies means American exporters would be competitively disadvantaged if the bank goes away,” said Boeing spokesman Tim Neale. “The opposition has thrown a lot of stuff out there that’s frankly pretty misleading.”

The Export-Import Bank, which says it supported $27 billion in U.S. exports last year, still counts supporters in both parties on Capitol Hill. But a number of high-profile Republicans including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., have abandoned past support for the bank under pressure from the party’s conservative wing. Most of the party’s leading presidential candidates have also lined up against reauthorizing the bank.

“The Export-Import Bank is essentially welfare for big corporations, both foreign and domestic,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, one of the GOP hopefuls, said in a Wednesday speech at the Heritage Foundation. “Do nothing, let it expire, and end the gravy train for Washington lobbyists on the Export-Import Bank.”

Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, a longtime business booster, has pushed his Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, to come up with a plan to reform the bank or wind it down. Hensarling has responded, instead, by pushing for the bank’s charter to expire without a vote June 30.

With Congress heading out on recess next week and no prospect of action on the Export-Import Bank before then, Hensarling and fellow tea party conservatives will get their wish. But their victory may be short-lived.

Lawmakers of both parties on Capitol Hill expect a reauthorization of the bank could move in the Senate in July. If attached to must-pass legislation extending the federal highway trust fund, it could make it through the House as well.

The fate of the Export-Import Bank has become enmeshed in Congress’ contentious debate over trade after Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell withheld her support on a key trade vote last month until she said she got a commitment from McConnell to allow a vote on the bank.

What exactly was agreed to is now a matter of dispute on Capitol Hill, and McConnell says he’s already fulfilled his commitment by allowing a symbolic vote on the Export-Import Bank earlier this month that allowed supporters to demonstrate they command at least 65 votes in favor. Still, McConnell and other GOP leaders sound open to adding a reauthorization of the bank to the highway bill next month.

“The highway bill, of course, will be open for amendment, and it’s pretty obvious that that would be a place for this vote to occur,” McConnell said Tuesday.

Asked about the issue Wednesday, Boehner said: “I think some expectation has been that it’ll come over here on some must-pass bill. The only commitment I’ve made is that if it does, it would be considered under an open process.”

Some supporters seem resigned to a brief lapse in the bank’s charter. But some Democrats say even a temporary standstill will jeopardize projects and U.S. jobs. They also question whether Congress has abandoned its habit of solving problems only when a deadline looms — in favor of solving them only after the deadline has come and gone.

“There’s a whole lot of people who think that it doesn’t matter; it does matter. It matters to the jobs that are out there. We have $11 billion in credit in the pipeline at the Ex-Im Bank. That $11 billion is now going to be stalled out,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. “I hope that the message this place gets is do things on time, don’t wait.”

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Associated Press writer Steve Peoples contributed to this report.

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

Bay Area

Residents Demand Right to Vote on Use of Public Funds for A’s Stadium Project

“We’re here to commit to the residents of Oakland that they must have a right to vote on whether to spend over a billion public dollars (on the proposal) for the Oakland A’s to build a stadium and real estate development at Howard Terminal,” said City Council member Noel Gallo, speaking at the media event Wednesday morning.

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Councilmember Noel Gallo speaks at a press conference Wednesday, June 29, calling on the City Council to put public funding for the Oakland A's real estate development on the November ballot. Photo by Ken Epstein
Councilmember Noel Gallo speaks at a press conference Wednesday, June 29, calling on the City Council to put public funding for the Oakland A's real estate development on the November ballot. Photo by Ken Epstein

Oakland City Council may decide July 5 whether to place measure on November ballot

By Post Staff

Oakland community leaders and activists, port workers and environmental advocates joined City Councilmember Noel Gallo on the steps of City Hall this week to urge the City Council to allow the public to vote on the use of public funds for the A’s stadium and private real estate development at Howard Terminal.

“We’re here to commit to the residents of Oakland that they must have a right to vote on whether to spend over a billion public dollars (on the proposal) for the Oakland A’s to build a stadium and real estate development at Howard Terminal,” said Gallo, speaking at the media event Wednesday morning.

“This is an unprecedented grab of public funds,” which could grow considerably because there seems to be no limit on the city’s liability for potential cost overruns, Gallo said.

“We have to learn from our past experiences (with the Raiders) to not make the same mistake again,” he said.

The rally comes in anticipation of a July 5 City Council meeting that will consider a resolution to put an advisory vote on the November ballot on the use of public funds to support a privately owned stadium and real estate development at Howard Terminal at the Port of Oakland.

At the Tuesday, July 5 meeting, the Council will discuss the measure and may ultimately take a final vote on placing it on the ballot. Public comment for this item will be taken at the beginning of the meeting.

In recent weeks, more than 4,000 Oakland residents have signed a petition in support of putting the measure on the November ballot.

Other speakers at the City Hall media event included James Vann, an advocate for affordable and homeless services.

“This is the people’s money, and the people should get to decide,” said Vann.

Civil rights attorney and activist Walter Riley said that Oakland A’s owner John Fisher is acting like a “corporate raider” who takes money out of the A’s instead of investing in his team.

Instead of giving a billion dollars to Fisher’s private development, the city should be investing in building and maintaining public parks and other infrastructure needs, he said.

Naomi Schiff, a housing activist, said, “The Howard Terminal deal keeps getting more expensive” for taxpayers. adding that the stadium at Howard Terminal would be built on a “inundation zone and liquification zone.”

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Bay Area

Willie O’Ree, 1st Black Player in NHL, is a Real Ice Man

In 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden signed the Willie O’Ree Congressional Gold Medal Act. The bill awarded O’Ree a Congressional Gold Medal, the U.S. Congress’ highest honor, for his contributions to “hockey, inclusion and recreational opportunity.”

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Willie O’Ree on the ice in mid-career.
Willie O’Ree on the ice in mid-career.

By Tamara Shiloh

Historically, professional hockey has held fast to its tradition of lacking diversity among its players. But no Black on the ice did not hold Willie O’Ree back. He started playing hockey at age 3 and instantly had a passion for the game.

Born on October 15, 1935, in Frederickton, New Brunswick, Canada, O’Ree at the age of 14 years old, played with his brother Richard in organized hockey. Within a year, he was playing with the Frederickton Falcons in New Brunswick Amateur Hockey team.

O’Ree played in Canada with the Quebec Frontenacts in the 1954-55 Junior League and the Kitchener Canucks of Ontario during the 1955-56 season. It was during this season that he lost 95% of his vision in his right eye after being hit by a puck. He also suffered a broken nose and cheekbone. Knowing that the NHL bylaws would prevent him from playing with the eye injury, he kept it a secret.

After one year in Ontario, O’Ree returned to play in Québec and was eighth in team scoring with the Quebec Aces in the 1956–57 season with 22 goals and 12 assists for 34 points. He would play two more seasons with the Aces in 1957–58 and 1958–59.

As a result of the relationship between the Boston Bruins and the Quebec Aces, O’Ree was called to play with the Bruins making him the first African American to play in the National Hockey League.

That same night the Bruins beat the Montreal Canadiens 3–0, so there was no fanfare in the fact that O’Ree was the first Black player to play in the NHL. Neither The Boston Globe nor The New York Times wrote anything about the historical event.

O’Ree would only play two games for the Bruins in the 1957–58 season. He returned to the team in the 1960–61 season and scored four goals and 10 assists for 14 points in 43 regular-season games. On Jan. 1, 1961, O’Ree also became the first Black player to score a goal in the NHL, in a 3–2 win over the Canadiens.

Racism continued to show its ugly head on and off the ice. On the ice there were always fans throwing things at him and players would make racial remarks and he would suffer body abuse.

However, during one game he returned the favor and broke his stick over a player’s head. During an interview, O’Ree shared that he was treated worse in the United States than in Canada.

He retired in 1979 at age 43. He has spent the past two decades as the NHL’s diversity ambassador, working to expand the sport.

O’Ree has received many accolades since his retirement. In 1998, he became the NHL’s director of Youth Development and an ambassador for the NHL Diversity program. He traveled throughout the United States promoting hockey programs, with a focus on serving economically disadvantaged children.

In 2003, he was named the Lester Patrick trophy winner for his outstanding service to hockey in the United States. O’Ree received the Order of Canada in 2010 for his outstanding service to youth development and promoting hockey within North America.

He also received the Order of New Brunswick (2005) and was named an honored member of the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame, where he was inducted in 1984. In 2018, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

In 2021, as a celebration of Black History Month, all NHL players wore a commemorative helmet decal honoring O’Ree from January 16 to February 28.

In 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden signed the Willie O’Ree Congressional Gold Medal Act. The bill awarded O’Ree a Congressional Gold Medal, the U.S. Congress’ highest honor, for his contributions to “hockey, inclusion and recreational opportunity.”

O’Ree is the first player in NHL history to receive the honor.

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Bay Area

Nigerian Ambassador Visits Oakland

The Nigerian embassy came to the Oakland Airport Executive Hotel from June 3-5, 2022, in response to complaints of delays in processing passports and lack of access to embassy support. 

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By Uche Uwahemu

The Nigerian Embassy in Washington, DC was in Oakland for three days recently to provide needed passport services to Nigerians in the Bay Area and beyond.

The Nigerian embassy came to the Oakland Airport Executive Hotel from June 3-5, 2022, in response to complaints of delays in processing passports and lack of access to embassy support.

Seen as a way of taking the embassy to the people, the event brought with it some dignitaries, including Nigerian Ambassador/Deputy Chief of Mission Mukhtar Ibrahim Bashir, Embassy Minister Peter Edako, and Nigerian Head of Mission/US Embassy Amiru Abdulmajid.

“Our goal is to meet Nigerian citizens where they are and provide services to them,” said Bashir. “I think we met our goal with more than 400 people that received services in Oakland alone.”

The president of Nigerian American Public Affairs Committee (NAPAC), Dr. Veronica Ofoegbune, echoed the sentiment of the ambassador by saying, “this event is an absolute success and we are happy that Nigerians took advantage of the opportunity to renew their passports.”

The ambassador and his team also met with Oakland City Councilmember Loren Taylor to discuss the possible business opportunities and sister city bilateral relationships between Oakland and Nigeria.  “Nigeria is one of the largest markets in Africa,” said Taylor. “I welcome the opportunity to open that market for our small businesses and investors from Oakland.”

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