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Jackson gets $30,000 a Month to Replace White’s $13,000

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The Oakland Unified School District has hired Lance Jackson as the interim head of the Division of Facilities and Management Department at the cost of $30,000 a month.

 

Depending on how long the district takes to conduct a national search for a new administrator to oversee OUSD’s school bond-financed construction programs and repairs, maintenance and custodial services, the cost would total $360,000 a year – more than the $280,0000 a year earned by Supt. Antwan Wilson.

 

Tim White, who was forced out of his position in February, earned about $13,000 a month when he left the district, roughly $156,000 a year.

 

“Lance is earning $30,000 per month, which equates to $360,000 annually, although it’s unlikely he’ll remain in the position for that long and the contract was not designed with the idea that Lance will remain as interim head of facilities for a full year,” said district spokesman Troy Flint in an email to the Post.

 

“This high rate of pay is due to a number of considerations, but most importantly that Lance was the only person well-positioned to take over the facilities department after Tim’s departure.”

 

“Lance is the only person who satisfies all the (necessary experience and qualifications), and for someone with that level of expertise working on a consultant basis, the price tag is significant– but if that means sound management of the $435 million in taxpayer bond money at stake, it’s an investment that will pay dividends for OUSD and our constituents. There’s too much at risk to entrust projects with this level of complexity and this much money involved to someone who may not be prepared to carry the work forward.”

 

In addition, the Post has learned that Jackson and his company Seville Group Inc. (SGI) are responsible for planning and design management of the $1.6 billion dollar construction program currently underway at West Contra Costa Unified School District, which has come under intense public criticism for mismanagement by the district’s administration.

 

According to Oakland Unified, as Chief Operating Officer of Seville, Jackson is ultimately responsible for the company’s work in West Contra Costa. But the company is not implicated in the investigation of mismanagement, and Jackson has not been involved for five years in day-to-day oversight of construction in that district, according to OUSD.

 

On Feb. 17, Supt. Wilson announced White’s replacement in an email to employees: “OUSD is pleased to announce that Lance Jackson, Chief Operating Officer of the Seville Group, Inc. (SGI), has agreed to become interim leader of the Oakland Unified School District’s Facilities Planning and Management Department. Jackson will serve in this role pending the search and selection of a new Deputy Chief for Facilities Planning and Management.”

 

Jackson and his company have had consulting contracts with OUSD for a number of years.

 

In the 14 years that Tim White worked for the school district, he was in charge of expenditures for school bond Measure J, $475 million; Measure B, $35 million; Measure A, $330 million; and before that Measure C, $169 million. He also brought in $300 million in state matching funds.

 

Seville Group, Inc., founded in 1994, provides program, project, and construction management services for public agencies in California. Its projects include facilities, such as K-12, higher education and municipal facilities; infrastructure projects, including water, wastewater, power, and highway projects; and transportation projects.

 

According to the company’s website, Jackson has over 20 years of program and project management experience. As COO of the Seville Group, “He is responsible for facilitating the best practices for all programs and projects to strengthen the quality of services provided.”

 

“He is responsible for planning and design management of the billion dollar construction program currently underway at West Contra Costa Unified School District and is also providing executive oversight for the East Side Union High School District’s new construction and modernization programs and the Oakland Unified School Districts Measure B Bond Program and Capital project,” according to the website.

 

Superintendent Bruce Harter of the West Contra Costa School District.

West Contra Costa School Superintendent Bruce Harter.

In a strongly worded editorial last Sunday, the Oakland Tribune called on the West Contra Costa’s Board of Education to fire Supt. Bruce Harter for mismanagement of the district’s $1.6 billion school construction bond program.

 

Harter should resign, and if he does not, the board should fire him, according to the Tribune.

 

What became clear after six school bonds, the Tribune wrote, was that “There’s not enough money to finish all the construction promised. Criteria are needed for selecting the schools that will get the remaining funds.”

 

“Harter had a professional responsibility to mind the purse, to provide the school board, the bond oversight committee and the public with meaningful analyses of the spending,” the Tribune said. “Instead, Harter and his staff stonewalled.”

 

Obtaining “basic information such as square footage construction costs is nearly impossible. A 2013 audit dinged the district for disproportionately spending on architectural, engineering and management costs rather than direct construction,” the editorial said.

 

For the full Oakland Tribune editorial, go to www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_27697711/contra-costa-times-editorial-fire-west-contra-costa

 

In response to questions from the Post, OUSD spokesman Flint wrote in an email: “To my understanding, the investigation in Contra Costa is centered on district management and one trustee who took an unusually active interest in how the funds were allocated– not on SGI. As SGI’s COO, Lance has ultimate responsibility for many of SGI’s projects, but he hasn’t been involved with day-to-day project management in West Contra Costa for more than five years.”

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Business

Gov. Newsom Signs Package of Laws Supporting Restaurants, Bars

California Gov. Gavin Newsom approved a COVID-19 recovery package Friday supporting small hospitality establishments around the state, including restaurants and bars.

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Oakland, CA, USA February 21, 2011 Folks enjoy a sunny day with al fresco dining at the historic Last Chance Saloon, made famous by author Jack London, in Oakland, California/ iStock

California Gov. Gavin Newsom approved a COVID-19 recovery package Friday supporting small hospitality establishments around the state, including restaurants and bars. 

Signed at a restaurant in Oakland, the legislative package includes Assembly Bill (AB) 61, Senate Bill (SB) 314 and SB 389 – bills that, among other provisions, extend COVID-19 special permissions like outdoor dining and to-go licenses for alcoholic beverages. 

Funding for the package will come out of the governor’s California Comeback Plan which allots $10.2 billion in small business support. So far, the state has spent $4 billion on an emergency grant program and $6.2 billion in tax relief for small businesses. 

“These innovative strategies have been a lifeline for hard-hit restaurants during the pandemic and today, we’re keeping the entrepreneurial spirit going so that businesses can continue to create exciting new opportunities and support vibrant neighborhoods across the state,” said Newsom. 

The state support comes at a time when many Black-owned small businesses in California, including restaurants, are struggling to recover after being hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) research, 13 % of Black-owned businesses have had to close down due to the pandemic, compared to 8% of White-owned ones. For Latino-owned businesses that number is even higher at 18 %. 

Due to the pandemic, Black businesses have experienced higher revenue loss, more layoffs of employees and less success in getting government funded relief like assistance from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. 

“We have all seen the fallout from the pandemic and recession and the effect on BIPOC people and BIPOC small businesses owners has been devastating,” said Tara Lynn Gray, Director of the California Office of the Small Business Advocate. She was speaking at an IGS event last week titled “Diversity and Entrepreneurship in California: An Undergraduate Research Symposium.”

“These are problems that have to be addressed. Access to capital continues to be a challenge,” Gray continued. “We are seeing bankers like Wells Fargo, Citi and JP Morgan Chase making significant investments in BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) small businesses, communities and individuals. That is a trend I would like to continue to see.”

Gray pointed out there are a number of state programs like the Small Business COVID-19 relief funds that prioritize providing relief funding to underserved businesses in the state. 

Authored by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino) and Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) respectively, AB 61 and SB 314 establish a one-year regulatory grace period for businesses operating under temporary COVID-19 licenses to get permanent expanded licenses, such as outdoor dining authorization.

The one-year grace period will begin once the pandemic emergency declaration has expired. 

“Outdoor dining has been a critical lifeline that has helped these establishments keep their doors open during these challenging times,” said Gabriel.

 “AB 61 provides important flexibility so that restaurants can safely expand outdoor dining and continue to serve the communities they call home. I applaud Governor Newsom for his thoughtful leadership in protecting both public health and small businesses as we continue to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gabriel continued.

Wiener also stressed the importance of pandemic protocols for small businesses in California.

“SB 314 ensures the public can continue to enjoy outdoor dining with alcohol and that our small neighborhood businesses can continue to benefit from this change. The hospitality industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, and it’s important we make changes to modernize our entertainment and hospitality laws to allow them more flexibility and more ways to safely serve customers,” he said.  

SB 389 allows restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars that sell food to continue to sell to-go alcoholic beverages through Dec. 31, 2026.

“This is an important step toward helping our restaurants, which have been hit hard by the pandemic,” said Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa), SB 389’s author. 

“It will ensure their recovery, protecting jobs and our economy. I thank Gov. Newsom for supporting this new law,” he continued.

 

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Business

City Must Pay Contractors, Businesses, Non-Profits Promptly

By restoring the Prompt Payment Ordinance, local organizations working for Oaklanders will be compensated in a timely manner and can do more work for Oakland as a result.

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Sheng Thao

I have introduced legislation to restore the City of Oakland’s Prompt Payment Ordinance and it will be heard at 1:30 p.m. by the City Council on October 19 because local contractors and local businesses need to be compensated in a timely manner for work they do on behalf of the City.

It’s unacceptable that the city is using the COVID-19 pandemic to delay payment to these local non-profit organizations.  By restoring the Prompt Payment Ordinance, local organizations working for Oaklanders will be compensated in a timely manner and can do more work for Oakland as a result.

In March 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, then-Interim City Administrator, Steven Falk issued an Emergency Order suspending parts of the City’s codes to give the City the flexibility to navigate the uncertain times.  Few would have guessed then that the world would still be navigating the COVID-19 Pandemic nearly 18 months later. One of the ordinances suspended by the Emergency Order was the Prompt Payment Ordinance.

Oakland’s Prompt Payment Ordinance requires the City to compensate local businesses and contractors executing City grants or contracts within 20 days of receiving an invoice.  This allows local organizations providing services on behalf of the City of Oakland to be compensated in a timely manner and builds trust between these organizations and the city.  Local contractors and businesses provide a diverse set of services to the City, covering areas ranging from trash removal and paving to public safety.

Almost 18 months since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Oakland’s Prompt Payment Ordinance is still suspended.  Even as City staff have adjusted to working remotely and the City has adjusted to operating during the pandemic, there is no requirement that the City compensate its contractors or local businesses in a timely manner.

Oaklanders can comment at the meeting by joining the Zoom meeting via this link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88527652491 or calling 1-669-900-6833 and using the Meeting ID 885 2765 2491 and raising their hand during the public comment period at the beginning of the Council meeting.

 

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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Black History

Ruth Carol Taylor: Breaking the Sky-High Ceiling

During a 1997 interview with Jet magazine, Taylor described herself as a “blacktivist,” and admitted that she had “no long-term career aspirations as a flight attendant but only wanted to break the color barrier.”

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Ruth Carol Taylor. Fair Use Photo

It was the 1950s. The United States had been dubbed “the world’s strongest military power.” The economy was booming. Jobs were overflowing; housing was plentiful. But for Black Americans, racism was on fire, the Civil Rights Movement was gaining speed, and the best-paying jobs were for whites.

The airlines were no exception.

None of this stopped Ruth Carol Taylor (1931–), a journalist and nurse from New York City, from submitting her application to Trans World Airlines (TWA) for the position of airline stewardess (known today as flight attendants).

Her application was rejected almost immediately because she “did not meet the airline’s physical standards.”

Stewardesses, at the time, were selected because of their physical attractiveness and height/weight conformity. But the decision made to reject Taylor’s application was racially motivated. She filed a discrimination complaint with the New York State Commission and approached other airlines offering the position.

Mohawk Airlines, a regional passenger airline operating in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., mainly in New York and Pennsylvania, began advertising open positions for stewardesses. The company also announced the open recruitment of Black women. More than 800 applied, and Taylor became one of the new hires. This made her the first African-American airline flight attendant in the US. It was 1958.

When asked about being the only Black hire, Taylor said that she believes it was “due to nearly white-passing skin and features.” She completed her training in early 1959 and was ready to take on her first flight.

After a few months, TWA, threatened by the lawsuit, brought its first Black stewardess onboard: Margaret Grant.

A short time later though, Taylor was grounded. She was let go from Mohawk on another discriminatory practice: she met and married Rex Legall and was forced to resign from her position. A ban against stewardesses being married or pregnant was not uncommon at that time.

Due to the decisive court case of Diaz vs. Pan Am., the no-marriage rule was eliminated throughout the US airline industry by the 1980s.

Taylor and Legall traveled and lived abroad for a few years. After their divorce, Taylor, in 1977, returned to New York City and nursing.

Best known for breaking the color barrier in the airline industry, Taylor was also an activist for minority and women’s rights. In 1963, she covered the March on Washington as a journalist for a British magazine, Flamingo.

By 1977, she began to focus more on her work as an activist. In 1982, she cofounded the Institute for Inter-Racial Harmony Inc. There she developed testing designed to measure racial bias in educational, commercial, and social settings.

During a 1997 interview with Jet magazine, Taylor described herself as a “blacktivist,” and admitted that she had “no long-term career aspirations as a flight attendant but only wanted to break the color barrier.”

Today she lives in Brooklyn.

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