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Oakland Businesses Propose $92 Million to Create First Black-Owned NFL Team

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Ray Bobbitt (left), pictured with Raiders superfan Violator, is in a group lobbying for a team in Oakland. (Photo provided by Ray Bobbitt).

A group of African American entrepreneurs and business people have put together a history-making proposal to purchase the Oakland Coliseum for $92 million to create the first Black-owned NFL team.

This is more than just about football, says Ray Bobbitt one of the Oakland business owners and a member of the African American Sports and Entertainment Group (ASSEG), which developed the proposal.

“Historic design, having it be the first African-American owned football team in the NFL,”  he said.

Seventy percent of the players in the National Football League are Black, and the NFL made about $16 billion in national revenue in 2019.   Yet there has never been a Black-owned team In the history of the league.

A lifelong Raider fan who grew up in Oakland,  he views the proposal as much more than about sports: it is a way to enrich and empower the community. “We would add an educational component to the facility,” Bobbitt said. “We want to add a Bay Area sports and entertainment museum, utilize funds to help increase education in East Oakland.”

Bobbitt’s development team includes sports agent Bill Duffy of BDA sports management, one of the world’s top ranked sports agencies; Oakland developer Alan Dones of Strategic Urban Development Alliance, one of Oakland’s largest African-American real estate development firms; former Oakland City Manager Robert Bobb, who heads an African American-owned national consulting firm to both public and private sector clients; and Loop Capital, the largest African American-owned, full services investment banking brokerage, financial advisory and investment management organization.

In a letter to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Oakland City Council members,  Bobbitt wrote for the AASEG team, “We recognize the interests of city leadership in the holistic redevelopment of the Coliseum area….(and) in maintaining a home for its Major League Baseball franchise.”

“We believe that all these objectives can be achieved and to these ends, we have assembled a Master Development Team well-capable of marshaling the resources and expertise necessary to transform our mutual interests into reality.”

Taking into consideration the aspirations of Oakland residents, the ASSEG Team’s proposal includes:

  • Local hiring with priority on racial equity;
  • Inclusion of local and small business contractors and businesses;
  • Environmentally-friendly landscaping and sustainable, energy-efficient design;
  • Anti-displacement assistance and housing preservation policies for residents of the area;
  • Affordable housing;
  • Living wages, benefits and stable employment opportunities

Concluding the letter, Bobbitt wrote:

“As America wrestles with social change, social justice and economic justice, Oakland can lead the way by demonstrating what the real impact is. As proud Oakland (residents), it is a part of our DNA. It is simply who we are and what we do best.

“We look forward to helping lead that change in the City of Oakland.”

City Council President Rebecca Kaplan told the Oakland Post that she is enthusiastic about what the proposal can mean for the community.

“I’m excited about the possibility of more African American-owned businesses in Oakland and economic development and housing and more that benefits the community including WNBA, affordable housing, restaurants, hotels, local jobs and more,” said Kaplan.

Justin Berton, a spokesperson for Schaaf, said:

“The mayor has tremendous respect for Mr. Bobbitt and other Black entrepreneurs who want to make significant investments in Oakland, as well as claim long overdue ownership stakes within industries like the NFL.

“The vision of Mr. Bobbitt’s group is a historic one that would make Oakland the home to the first African American-owned football team in the NFL — a league that desperately needs more diversity among its fraternity of owners.”

 

 

African American News & Issues

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Announces National Health Equity Strategy to Confront the Nation’s Crisis in Racial Health Disparities Sets Goal to Reduce Racial Disparities in Maternal Health by 50% in Five Years

“Your health shouldn’t depend on the color of your skin or the neighborhood you live in,” said Kim Keck, president and CEO of BCBSA. “The crisis in racial disparities in our country’s health care is unconscionable and unacceptable. While BCBS companies have made great strides in addressing racial health disparities in our local communities, there is so much more to be done.”

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CHICAGO, IL (April 20, 2021) – Today, as part of its ongoing mission to improve the health of America, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) announced its National Health Equity Strategy to confront the nation’s crisis in racial health disparities. This strategy intends to change the trajectory of heath disparities and re-imagine a more equitable healthcare system. BCBSA has convened a national advisory panel of doctors, public health experts and community leaders to provide guidance.
“Your health shouldn’t depend on the color of your skin or the neighborhood you live in,” said Kim Keck, president and CEO of BCBSA. “The crisis in racial disparities in our country’s health care is unconscionable and unacceptable. While BCBS companies have made great strides in addressing racial health disparities in our local communities, there is so much more to be done.”
“Starting here and starting now, we can begin to put an end to the racial disparities in health care,” continued Keck. “Our deep roots in the local communities we serve, combined with the scale and scope of our national reach, enable all of us at Blue Cross Blue Shield companies to drive this new strategy and bring real change. But we cannot do it alone. It is a moment in time when we as a nation must come together to build a new model of equitable health care.”

BCBSA’s National Health Equity Strategy is comprehensive and relies on close collaboration with providers and local community organizations. This collaboration was essential in recent months as BCBS companies worked with local leaders to support vulnerable communities with COVID-19 vaccine access. The strategy includes collecting data to measure disparities, scaling effective programs, working with providers to improve outcomes and address unconscious bias, leaning into partnerships at the community level, and influencing policy decisions at the state and federal levels. The multi-year strategy will focus on four conditions that disproportionately affect communities of color: maternal health, behavioral health, diabetes and cardiovascular conditions. BCBSA will first focus on maternal health, then behavioral health in 2021.
Setting a Goal to Address Racial Disparities in Maternal Health BCBSA has set a public goal to reduce racial disparities in maternal health by 50% in five years.
“BCBS companies are fully committed to reach this goal,” said Keck. “We will continue to collaborate with our local partners and providers to continually improve our programs and build momentum, and we will seek out new ideas and proven initiatives that accelerate health equity reform.”
Metrics will include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Severe Maternal Morbidity measures. BCBSA will report results annually. Use of nationally consistent measures will evolve over time based on research, industry development, and in-market learnings.
BCBS companies currently have a range of maternal health programs supporting women of color during their pregnancies. Each program is tailored to the needs of the communities they serve. These BCBS companies’ maternal health programs support both BCBS members and non-members of their partner organizations.

Commenting on the breadth of the BCBS companies’ maternal health programs, Dr. Rachel Hardeman, Founding Director, Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity and Assistant Professor, Division of Health Policy & Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and member of the newly formed advisory panel, said: “Who better to address racial disparities in maternal health than Blue Cross Blue Shield? BCBS companies serve every ZIP code across the U.S., and they have the scale and resources needed to ensure women of color get equitable maternal health care.”
A Panel of Experts Focused on Closing America’s Gap in Health Equity “The more people we bring to the table, the more we can create lasting change,” said Keck about the nine handpicked members of the BCBSA National Advisory Panel on Health Equity. “I’m excited we have brought together such experienced, highly regarded leaders in health equity and the community, and I look forward to their guidance as we move forward.”
Members include: Tracey D. Brown, CEO of the American Diabetes Association®; Marshall Chin, MD, MPH, Richard Parrillo Family Professor of Healthcare Ethics at the University of Chicago; Gilbert Darrington, CEO of Health Services, Incorporated; Adaeze Enekwechi, PhD, MPP, Research Associate Professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University; Maria S. Gomez, RN, MPH, President and CEO of Mary’s Center; Rachel R. Hardeman, PhD, MPH, Tenured Associate Professor in the Division of Health Policy & Management at the University of Minnesota; Stacey D. Stewart, President and CEO of March of Dimes; Richard Taylor, CEO of ImbuTec; and Kevin Washington, President and CEO of YMCA of the USA. The National Health Equity Strategy is part of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Pledge to Make Meaningful Change. The Pledge speaks to BCBS companies’ broad commitment to addressing racial disparity in health and all its forms.

ABOUT BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD ASSOCIATION
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 35 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for one in three Americans. BCBSA provides healthcare insights through The Health of America Report series and the national BCBS Health IndexSM. For more information on BCBSA and its member companies, please visit BCBS.com. We also encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube and follow us on Twitter and Instagram. You can read our Pledge to Make Meaningful Change here. To learn more about our National Health Equity Strategy and our Maternal Health Program, visit BlueHealthEquity.com.

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Activism

MAYOR LONDON BREED NOMINATES CITY ATTORNEY DENNIS HERRERA TO LEAD THE SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION

As the new General Manager of the SFPUC, Herrera would bring decades of experience serving San Francisco residents and advancing the fight for significant environmental policies.

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San Francisco, CA — Today Mayor London N. Breed nominated City Attorney Dennis Herrera to serve as the next General Manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). Herrera was elected as City Attorney of San Francisco in 2001, and will bring decades of experience serving City residents and advancing environmental policies through his nationally-recognized office.
The SFPUC provides retail drinking water and wastewater services to the City of San Francisco, wholesale water to three Bay Area counties, green hydroelectric and solar power to Hetch Hetchy electricity customers, and power to the residents and businesses of San Francisco through the CleanPowerSF program.
“I am proud to nominate Dennis Herrera to serve as General Manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission,” said Mayor Breed. “Dennis has been a great champion in San Francisco across a wide range of issues from civil rights to protecting our environment, and most importantly he has been someone who always puts the people of this City first. By bringing his experience in office and his commitment to public service to this new position, I am confident the SFPUC will be able to deliver the high-quality services our residents deserve while continuing to advance nationally-recognized programs like CleanPowerSF and pursue ambitious efforts like public power. Dennis is the right leader for the hard-working employees of the SFPUC and this City.”
“I will always cherish the groundbreaking work we have done in the City Attorney’s Office over these nearly 20 years,” Herrera said. “We advanced equality for all, pushed affordable housing at every turn, gave our children better opportunities to grow and thrive, and took innovative steps to protect the environment. We never shied from the hard fights. Above all, our approach to government has had an unwavering focus on equity, ethics and integrity.”
“It is that focus that drives me to this new challenge,” Herrera said. “Public service is an honor. When you see a need, you step up to serve. The test of our age is how we respond to climate change. San Francisco’s public utility needs clean, innovative and decisive leadership to meet that challenge. I am ready to take the lead in ensuring that all San Franciscans have sustainable and affordable public power, clean and reliable water, and, overall, a public utility that once again makes them proud. I want to thank Mayor Breed for this unique opportunity to stand up for ratepayers and usher in a new era of clean leadership at the top of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.”
The next step for the nomination is for the five-member commission that oversees the SFPUC to interview City Attorney Herrera and forward him as a formal recommendation to the Mayor. After this, and once a contract is finalized, City Attorney Herrera would be officially appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Commission. This process will take a number of weeks.
For nearly two decades, Herrera has been at the forefront of pivotal water, power and sewer issues. He worked to save state ratepayers $1 billion during PG&E’s first bankruptcy in the early 2000s and has been a leading advocate for San Francisco to adopt full public power for years. In 2009, he reached a key legal agreement with Mirant to permanently close the Potrero Power Plant, San Francisco’s last fossil fuel power plant. The deal also included Mirant paying $1 million to help address pediatric asthma in nearby communities. In 2017, Herrera sued the top five investor-owned fossil fuel companies in the world, including ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell, seeking billions of dollars for infrastructure to protect San Francisco against sea-level rise caused by their products, including large portions of the SFPUC’s combined sewer and stormwater system.
In 2018, Herrera defeated an attempt to drain Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, the crown jewel of the SFPUC system, which provides emissions-free hydroelectric power and clean drinking water to 2.7 million Bay Area residents. He is also leading efforts before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the courts to fight PG&E’s predatory tactics to grow its corporate monopoly by illegally overcharging public projects like schools, homeless shelters and affordable housing to connect to the energy grid.
Herrera was first elected City Attorney in December 2001, and went on to build what The American Lawyer magazine hailed as “one of the most aggressive and talented city law departments in the nation.”
Herrera’s office was involved in every phase of the legal war to achieve marriage equality, from early 2004 to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark rulings in June 2013. Herrera was also the first to challenge former President Trump’s attempts to deny federal funding to sanctuary cities. He repeatedly defeated the Trump administration in different cases as it sought to punish sanctuary cities, deny basic benefits like food stamps to legal immigrants, and discriminate in health care against women, the LGBTQ community and other vulnerable groups. He brought groundbreaking consumer protection cases against payday lenders, credit card arbitrators and others. He also brought pioneering legal cases to protect youth, including blocking an attempt to strip City College of San Francisco of its accreditation and getting e-cigarettes off San Francisco store shelves until they received required FDA approval.

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Community

Sen. Padilla on Reparations: “We Can Walk and Chew Gum”

For nearly two centuries now, Black American descendants of enslaved Africans have been making the case to an unyielding U.S. government for reparations. Advocates say payments would compensate for centuries of unpaid labor and an opportunity for the federal government to make good on its promise to provide 40 acres and a mule to each formerly enslaved Black person after the Civil War. 

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California’s newest and first Latino Democratic Senator, Alex Padilla, says he supports reparations for Black American descendants of enslaved African people. He made the statement during an online news briefing with members of California’s  organized by Ethnic Media Services.

“It’s the morally right thing to do,” said Padilla. “For me, it’s not a difficult conversation.

Padilla said reparations would go a long way to “address institutional injustices.”

For nearly two centuries now, Black American descendants of enslaved Africans have been making the case to an unyielding U.S. government for reparations. Advocates say payments would compensate for centuries of unpaid labor and an opportunity for the federal government to make good on its promise to provide 40 acres and a mule to each formerly enslaved Black person after the Civil War.

A shift in the national consciousness last year – which some attribute to organizing around Black economic and political empowerment led in part by the American Descendants of Slaves Movement and the national reckoning on race that began last summer after the killing of George Floyd — has ushered in a political environment in the United States where many legislators are much more open than they have been in the past to reparations.

“We have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time,” Padilla said. “We should be able to negotiate and advance an infrastructure package, and immigration reform and protect the rights of voters, and work on environmental protection, and address historical injustices like this.”

Earlier this month, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee voted to approve forming a committee to study the idea of providing reparations to African Americans.

Padilla is a veteran politician who’s worked his way up the political ladder, previously serving as a Los Angeles city councilman, a state senator and as Secretary of State before he was nominated in January to replace outgoing Sen. Kamala Harris.

Padilla said that he has been senator for less than 100 days, but he’s packed a lot into that short period. During his first couple of months, he participated in former Pres. Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial and voted to approve the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 intended to help Americans devastated economically by the coronavirus pandemic.

In the Senate, he is pushing and supporting a number of bills on a range of issues, including proposals focused on immigration reform (providing a pathway to citizenship for essential workers) and hate crimes against Asian Americans.   

The son of Mexican immigrants, Padilla grew up in the Pacoima, a Los Angeles neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley. His father worked for 40 years as a short-order cook and his late mother cleaned houses. Both parents were local activists who fought against violence in their community. Padilla said they were the inspiration for his political career.

“Through their hard work, we had a modest upbringing to put it mildly,” said Padilla. “We grew up with the values of service to others, and hard work, but we also saw our parents get very involved in the community.” 

 

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