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No Cuts to Policing Made: Oakland Police Budget Is Increasing by $38.5 Million or 6%, Say Councilmembers

Councilmembers Send Letter to Mayor and Police Chief Urging Correction of Inaccurate, Fear-Inciting Rhetoric

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High police presence in Lyon, France, during the 25th weekend of the yellow vests movement. Police violence is at its highest since the 1950s. There is an extensive use of tear gas, sting-ball grenades and the LBDs ("defense ball launchers") against largely peaceful protesters. The policeman holds his hand on a LBD, shown on the left in the picture. The use of LBDs is very controversial, causing serious injuries. As of now (May 5th), 292 persons claim to be seriously injured by rubber balls, 23 persons lost an eye, 5 a hand during protests (source: mediapart.fr, http://tiny.cc/6hd85y).

Dan Kalb

Nikki Fortunato Bas

Noel Gallo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carroll Fife

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oakland Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas and her budget team of Councilmembers Carroll Fife, Dan Kalb, and  Noel Gallo sent a joint letter to Mayor Libby Schaaf, Administrator Ed Reiskin and Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong on July 1 expressing serious concerns that the administration and police department have been sharing inaccurate and misleading information regarding police funding in the Fiscal Year 2021-23 budget, passed on Thursday, June 24.

The City’s 2019-21 budget allocated $635,278,301 million for police spending; this total accounts for midcycle budget amendments made in 2020-21, whereas prior released numbers did not reflect these amendments. Oakland’s new 2021-23 budget allocates $673,819,639 million for police spending, a $38,541,338 million (+6%) increase from the last budget cycle in the City’s General Purpose Fund.

“I am disappointed by our mayor and police Chief characterizing Oakland’s new budget to the media and general public as having ‘defunded’ or ‘decimated’ the police budget, when in fact total resources allocated for policing have increased by 6% or $38.5 million in this budget, compared to our last two-year budget,” said Council President Bas.

“Since 2012, OPD’s budget has increased by more than $100 million,” she said. “As leaders of our city, we must not use exaggerated, inaccurate information. It prevents us from coming together to focus on strengthening our public safety system’s ability to address violent and serious crime, while transitioning to build effective alternatives for non-violent, low-level 911 calls for service.”

Said Councilmember Gallo, “We did not defund the police. It was about reform and clearly defining our priorities and services to better serve Oakland. Public safety begins at home and in the neighborhood. We need to create jobs, open our parks and libraries, and support our schools.”

Mayor Schaaf’s proposed 2021-23 budget would have increased police spending to $692,584,997 million. Council President Bas’ budget increased police spending but redirected $18,765,358 million of Schaaf’s proposed increase towards tripling the Department of Violence Prevention’s budget and expanding MACRO, Oakland’s civilian crisis response program in the Fire Department.

The Police Department’s projected staffing levels in the first year are the same in both Mayor Schaaf’s proposal and the budget passed by the Council, which will serve as a transitional year to divert non-criminal, non-violent 911 calls to alternative responses in the Fire and Transportation Departments.

The goal of the council members has been to define violence interruption and fund plans to expand violence prevention in 2021-23.

On June 29, Bas convened a public panel on the Department of Violence Prevention’s plans to expand violence prevention efforts in Oakland using its significantly increased budget with Guillermo Cespedes, Oakland’s Chief of Violence Prevention, as well as life coaches and violence interrupters leading frontline organizations addressing gun / gang / group violence, gender-based violence, human trafficking, and trauma in Oakland.

During the discussion, Chief Cespedes explained that San Francisco’s 2020 homicide rate was 5 homicides per 100,000 residents, with 32 violence interrupters; Los Angeles’ rate hovers around 10 homicides per 100,000 residents, with 132 violence interrupters.

By contrast, Oakland is severely understaffed: our homicide rate was 24 homicides per 100,000 residents, with only 10 violence interrupters.

Read the open letter to Mayor Schaaf and Police Chief Armstrong at https://drive.google.com/file/d/17R5uY1DQfUXKLw2N_9RnRwvDOPv03uew/view

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Bay Area

Grassroots Group Unites to Help Community Breathe During Wildfire Season

The attendance at each build event has, accordingly, increased each week (there were over 60 volunteers at the previous event) with over 800 high-quality purifiers assembled so far. 

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CHC Air Purifier Build

Wildfire season is hitting California hard this year. Fires fueled by climate change are burning across the state in record sizes and numbers, devastating communities and turning the skies red with smoke.

During these times, it is easy to feel helpless, especially when the underlying causes of these crises are so monumental. What can ordinary people possibly do to address each other’s health and survival?

The Common Humanity Collective (CHC) might have the beginnings of an answer. CHC came together at the beginning of the pandemic as a small group of friends, neighbors, and UC Berkeley graduate students to create alternative ways to produce and distribute hand sanitizer and high-filtration face masks in the Bay Area when these basic resources had disappeared from store shelves.

CHC’s momentum grew as more people joined the effort—expanding to over 300 volunteers, who coalesced into decentralized groupings across the Bay—to build PPE and slow the spread of COVID-19. So far, the collective has distributed over 60,000 DIY face masks and over 7,000 gallons of sanitizer, all for free.

Now, recognizing the harmful effects of smoke and air pollutants during the wildfire crisis, the collective is building high-quality DIY air purifiers so individuals and families can filter the poisonous air that billows into their homes.

Every other Saturday since the first signs of smoke, community members, students, teachers, organizers, tenants, and workers of the East Bay have come together to build these air purifiers and get them out to the most affected parts of their communities.

Over 130 people from over 10 different Bay Area organizations have participated in these builds. The efforts have grown to include members of the tenant group, Tenant and Neighborhood Councils; East Bay and SF chapters of the Democratic Socialists of America; the Sunrise Movement; Mask Oakland; other mutual aid groups, as well as friends, families, and loved ones.

These DIY purifiers are comparable to significantly more expensive ($100+) commercial purifiers and can filter a room full of smoke and particulates down to healthy levels within a similar period of time as commercial products.

CHC distributes purifiers to the most polluted and least-resourced communities in Oakland and Berkeley, occasionally in partnership with organizations such as East Oakland Collective and Tenant and Neighborhood Councils. The group also makes a determined effort to recruit the recipients of the purifiers to participate in future builds and personally distribute purifiers they assemble to their neighbors and friends.

Traditional nonprofits that act as a stopgap measure against government austerity often have a deactivating and demobilizing effect on the beneficiaries of their goodwill. This can perpetuate a vicious cycle of alienation and reliance among working people.

In contrast, by urging such people to assume ownership of the processes of production and distribution of these essential tools, the work of mutual aid aims to increase their autonomy, their solidarity, and their participation in decisions that affect their survival.

The attendance at each build event has, accordingly, increased each week (there were over 60 volunteers at the previous event) with over 800 high-quality purifiers assembled so far.

So, what can we do? We may not be able to flip a switch to eradicate the pandemic or the wildfires, but we can build tools to help each other breathe through these crises. We don’t have to feel helpless alone: we can grow stronger together.

     Air purifier builds occur every other Saturday through the wildfire season. Come build air purifiers with us and take one home with you, sign up here at tinyurl.com/chcpurifierbuild. 5515 We are located at 5515 Doyle St, Emeryville, CA 94608 in the parking lot across from the Doyle Street Café. Follow CHC on Instagram/Twitter at @chumanityc and contact us with any questions or ideas you have. 

 

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Barbara Lee

Barbara Lee Celebrates Local Entrepreneurs, Vows to Continue Fighting for Recovery during National Small Business Week

In addition, Congresswoman Lee is a co-sponsor of H.R. 3807, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act, which will provide an additional $60 billion to support restaurants and other food and beverage businesses.

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small business open sign photo courtesy of Tim Mossholder via Unsplash

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) released the following statement on September 23 celebrating East Bay entrepreneurs during National Small Business Week, and vowing to continue fighting for resources to help local businesses to recover from the COVID-19 economic crisis.

“During this year’s Small Business Week, we celebrate the local business owners, entrepreneurs, and workers who drive our economy and give the East Bay so much of its diverse, resilient, and unique character,” Lee said. “Our small businesses have struggled to survive during the pandemic, and many have closed their doors permanently. Our work to get help for small businesses through the American Rescue Plan and other measures resulted in major investment in this community and allowed many businesses to weather the storm. But the pandemic is not over yet, and we still have more work to do in this recovery.”

East Bay small businesses have received significant help from funds authorized by the American Rescue Plan (ARP), the $1.7 trillion recovery bill passed by Congressional Democrats and signed by President Biden in March. The bill included a Restaurant Revitalization Fund and Shuttered Venue Operating Grants administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

A total of 668 East Bay restaurants, other food and beverage businesses, and venues received close to $300 million through these two programs. A city-by-city breakdown showing the number of businesses helped and the amounts of money awarded is below. More information about the individual businesses that received assistance can be found here.

Lee and House Democrats are now working to pass President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act, which includes a “generational” investment in American small businesses. The bill will help small businesses get through the ongoing pandemic and thrive by increasing access to capital, funding entrepreneurial development programs, supporting underserved businesses, and driving innovation.

In addition, Congresswoman Lee is a co-sponsor of H.R. 3807, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act, which will provide an additional $60 billion to support restaurants and other food and beverage businesses.

For more information about help available to small businesses, please see this comprehensive guide to SBA resources.

Recovery Funds Awarded to Small Businesses in California’s 13th Congressional District

Restaurant Revitalization Fund

Total Awardees: 590

Total Amount: $212,676,228.49

By City:

  • Oakland

Total awardees: 297

Total amount: $99,965,410.64

  • San Leandro

Total awardees: 44

Total amount: $12,909,939.13

  • Berkeley

Total awardees: 146

Total amount: $63,817,616.60

  • Alameda

Total awardees: 61

Total amount: $20,031,428.71

  • Albany

Total awardees: 12

Total amount: $2,686,934.95

  • Emeryville

Total awardees: 29

Total amount: $13,163,744.46

  • Piedmont

Total awardees: 1

Total amount: $101,154

Shuttered Venues Operating Grants (As of September 13, 2021)

Total Awardees: 78

Total Amount: $87,142,607

By City:

  • Oakland

Total awardees: 36

Total amount: $19,917,509

  • San Leandro

Total awardees: 3

Total amount: $234,970

  • Berkeley

Total awardees: 29

Total amount: $59,197,077

  • Alameda

Total awardees: 7

Total amount: $5,098,536

  • Albany

Total awardees: 1

Total amount: $311,674

  • Emeryville

Total awardees: 2

Total amount: $2,382,841

  • Piedmont: None

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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Bay Area

Rosie the Riveter Trust to Celebrate History, ‘We Can Do It!’ Spirit

Tribute to storyteller and park ranger Betty Reid Soskin marking her 100th birthday

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Betty Reid Soskin/Wikimedia Commons

The Rosie the Riveter Trust is celebrating the history of the World War II home front at a September 26 gala, Making History Together. The fundraiser will highlight programs supported by the trust in collaboration with Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park: Every Kid Outdoors, Rosie’s Service Corps, and a documentary about the park’s Rosie Ambassadors, currently in production.

“We have a gem of a national park located right here in Richmond, California, where visitors can come learn about the home front and hear stories told in first person. This includes women and men who worked in the Kaiser shipyards, as well as those who spent years in the internment camps during the war,” said Sarah Pritchard, executive director of Rosie the Riveter Trust. “The history of the home front and societal changes that transpired during World War II are important lessons to preserve and share.”

The gala will also include a special tribute to Betty Reid Soskin, who turns 100 in September. Soskin helped establish the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, later joining the National Park Service and becoming the oldest ranger in the national park system at 85. 

Soskin’s programs at the park’s visitor center have captivated audiences since the center opened in May 2012. During her presentations, she shares her own experiences as a young woman of color during a time when segregation and discrimination were common, adding dimension to the stories of the home front too often left out of the history books. “What gets remembered is determined by who is in the room doing the remembering,” says Soskin in her 2019 film, “No Time to Waste.”

The gala will be held at the historic Craneway Pavilion, 1414 Harbour Way South (next to the park’s visitor center on the Richmond waterfront). The Craneway, which boasts a fabulous view of San Francisco, is the former Ford Assembly Plant where some 49,000 tanks and jeeps were assembled during the home front era. 

While individual tickets to the in-person event sold out on August 1, tickets to view the live-streamed event are still available. The event begins at 5:00 p.m., followed by a tribute to Soskin, highlights of the trust’s programs, a live auction, a Zoom afterparty, and entertainment.

Major event sponsors include the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Kaiser Permanente, The Marguerite Fund, Chevron Richmond Refinery, Accenture, Bank of Labor, California State Pipe Trades Council, Microsoft Corp., The Honorable Barry Goode, Northern California Carpenters Regional Council, IBEW Local 302, IBEW Local Union 595, and Marathon Petroleum. Event sponsorships are available beginning at $1,000.

Rosie the Riveter Trust is the official partner of the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park, founded in 2000 in Richmond, California. The Park chronicles the explosive growth of wartime industry, the innovations fostered by visionaries like Henry J. Kaiser, and the extraordinary history of people who were challenged as never before and came together to overcome wartime odds with the “We Can Do It!” spirit.

Event proceeds support expansion of educational programs for all ages and preservation of historical resources for the Bay Area and the nation.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the trust’s web site at www.rosietheriveter.org. For sponsorships, contact Executive Director Sarah Pritchard, at 510-507-2276, or by email at sarah@rosietheriveter.org.

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