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OP-ED: District Attorney Glenn Funk on Current Behavior Rather Than Ancient History

THE TENNESSEE TRIBUNE — There’s a long, ugly history of white fraternities and yearbook staffs at various universities participating in racist behavior.

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By Tribune staff

There’s a long, ugly history of white fraternities and yearbook staffs at various universities participating in racist behavior. A new wave of national attention regarding this situation was initially generated by a 1982 yearbook photo of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s medical school class. It showed one man in blackface and another wearing Klan robes. Northam at press time has refused demands to step down from his post as Governor.

The Northam photo prompted a USA Today investigative search of a host of 70s and 80s college yearbooks which has uncovered hundreds of racist photos. One of those featured Tennessee’s brand new Governor Bill Lee. He was shown wearing a Confederate army uniform during his ‘70s student days as a member of Auburn’s Kappa Alpha fraternity in a salute to the “Old South.” The Governor has since issued an apology for that photo.

This week current Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk publicly revealed he was a member of that same fraternity while at Wake Forest in the ‘80s. In addition, he disclosed there’s a photo of him in a setting where the Confederate flag is being prominently displayed. He has also apologized for that photo.

The Tribune’s attitude regarding such behavior is simple. There was no place for it in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and there remains no place for it today. It should always be condemned, particularly the use of blackface, and any homages to the “Old South.” 

But it is both foolish and politically ignorant for anyone to demand Glenn Funk’s resignation strictly on the basis of actions done 37 years ago. No one’s excusing youthful ignorance, but there’s nothing anyone can do about it now. You won’t find too many people who didn’t do dumb things when they were young. Unless it was something criminal, we learn from them and hopefully move on to become better people.

Another reality is many colleges and universities, whether in or out of the South, thought nothing of having “Old South” parties, events where people showed up in blackface, and parading the Confederate flag at various functions and rallies. Anyone who saw SEC football or basketball games during the ‘60s can remember when students at various schools waved those flags as acts of defiance against integrating their campuses. But none of that has anything to do with District Attorney Glenn Funk in 2019.

District Attorney Glenn Funk’s  track record as a DA is far superior to that of his predecessors, particularly in the areas of employment. Where they could only find 1 or 2 Blacks and constantly made excuses that they couldn’t find qualified Black attorneys to hire, either locally or nationally. District Attorney Glenn Funk has recruited and hired Black men and women attorneys to his staff, and not just for show. There are 5 Black males, 5 Black females, 2 Hispanic males and 2 Hispanic females.

He has also been steadfast in not covering up difficult issues involving police misconduct. His decision to charge police office Andrew Delke with criminal homicide in the shooting of Daniel Hambrick was a courageous one, and got him accused by Delke’s attorney of having “declared war on the police department.” The vast majority of District Attorneys would have reviewed the evidence collected by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) and simply ruled it a justifiable shooting, anxious to avoid any possibility of conflict with the police.

Perspective and good judgment should be exercised when evaluating someone’s past and present actions. It is right to call attention to past misdeeds, and right for those involved to publicly admit their mistakes and apologize. 

But in the District Attorney Glenn Funk case, he made the decision to publicly disclose what happened. He didn’t try to hide it or explain it away, but apologized for it.

The Kappa Alpha fraternity has banned the wearing of Confederate uniforms since 2010, and no longer celebrates or even uses the term “Old South.” 

Incidentally, another person whose name turned up in USA Today’s yearbook search is their current editor Nicole Carroll.  She was the 21-year-old editor of Arizona State University’s 1988-89 yearbook which included a photo of two whites in blackface, one pretending to be Mike Tyson, the other wearing a wig and pretending to be Robin Givens. Carroll has issued a formal apology for that picture.

No one is calling for her resignation from USA Today, or that Governor Lee plans to step down. He could follow District Attorney Glenn Funk fairness to the Black community statewide by hiring Blacks in those top level positions and increase the number of Blacks in state government.  

So there’s no reason for District Attorney Glenn Funk to do so either, especially when he’s demonstrated the most concern for opportunity and fairness in the DA’s office of anyone in the Tribune’s 26 year plus  history.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessee Tribune

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Activism

EDITORIAL: Gallo Wants the Voters to decide if the city should spend $1 billion of its Public Funds on a Privately Owned Stadium and Luxury Condos

We salute Noel and encourage the Council to support his efforts. Oakland faces many critical issues including homelessness, affordable housing, crime, and keeping schools open. City officials need to focus attention on getting those issues under control. Instead, the A’s attempt to bully them into spending over $ billion on their new stadium and luxury housing project.

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District 5 Councilmember Noel Gallo. Photo courtesy of SF Bayview.

By Paul Cobb

The Oakland A’s have finally met their match. Councilmember Noel Gallo is courageously bringing forward two significant pieces of legislation to stop the A’s bullying of the City of Oakland.

Gallo convinced his colleagues on the Council to unanimously vote for a public hearing and an independent third-party analysis of the costs, benefits, and risks to the city of funding the A’s privately owned stadium and luxury condo project at Howard Terminal.

He has also introduced legislation to place a measure on the November 2022 ballot to allow residents to vote on whether public money should be spent on the A’s private development.

We salute Noel and encourage the Council to support his efforts.

Oakland faces many critical issues including homelessness, affordable housing, crime, and keeping schools open. City officials need to focus attention on getting those issues under control. Instead, the A’s attempt to bully them into spending over $ billion on their new stadium and luxury housing project.

Let’s peel away the layers of the onion.

The A’s promise union jobs. But the truth is that all the new jobs they promote are construction jobs that could be created at the Coliseum if they built their stadium there. And that would not cost $1 billion because the land is already approved for development and there are fewer infrastructure needs there than at Howard Terminal. Meanwhile, if the A’s build at Howard Terminal they weaken a working port and threaten the loss of hundreds of good-paying existing ILWU union jobs.

The A’s threaten that if they don’t get their way they will leave and eliminate Oakland’s last sports team. Right now, there are fewer fans at A’s games than there are homeless people living on the streets of Oakland. We should worry more about our unhoused, mostly Black residents than 2,000-3,000 baseball fans.

The A’s say they are adding 3,000 new housing units to the city that desperately needs housing. But the A’s balk at making more than a paltry 15% of those units affordable. They do not clarify the income levels of affordability. Will unhoused people be included?

Unlike every other developer, the A’s do not contribute community benefits, especially to the East Oakland area where emergency affordable housing is sorely needed.

But rather, in a deceptive and clever ploy, the A’s would have the community pay for their benefits, which unwittingly would hasten the gentrification wave that could increase homelessness. They reneged on past promises and caused people like Margaret Gordon, a strong community advocate, to drop her support for the team.

More galling than everything above, the A’s are negotiating with Las Vegas while they arrogantly bully Oakland.

Many people believe this is all a sham. The A’s leverage a potential site in Oakland only to get a sweet deal in Vegas. And, ironically they stand to further enrich themselves by just “occupying” the coliseum site and taking advantage of the increased property value of their half-ownership share of the Coliseum.

By questioning the financial capability of the co-owner, the city staff upped the price to sell their half interest to a Black-led group for more than $30,000,000.00 than that for Alameda County, which owns the other %50 of the Coliseum.

Oakland does not need the A’s.

Oakland needs to take care of its own critical issues. The City’s Department of Race and Equity should be at the table with the City Attorney to make sure that the financial interests of Oakland residents are protected and fairly handled.

But even if those issues were not so pressing, City officials must stand firm and not let any developer bully them and disrespect them the way the A’s are disrespecting them.

Thank you, Mr. Gallo, for standing up for Oakland residents and not bending the knee to the A’s.

We urge the Council to support Mr. Gallo by placing the A’s request for public spending before the voters in November. Let the voters guide the decision of whether the City should fund the A’s or take care of our own problems.

We encourage all voters to demand that the Council let the people vote.

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Activism

OPINION: Juneteenth is a Chance for Faith Leaders to Address Modern Slavery

the prohibition of slavery in the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the 1st Amendment of the California Constitution have exceptions with regards to people duly convicted of crimes. People continue to be subjected to involuntary servitude in California and are as invisible as the enslaved people met by Union General Gordon Granger in 1865. I question the moral implications of the state and federal governments’ ongoing practice of slavery; it is one thing to punish and another to be entitled to enslave.

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Dorsey Nunn dons his “All of Us or None” cap with a smile.
Dorsey Nunn dons his “All of Us or None” cap with a smile.

By Dorsey Nunn

I hope this letter finds you in the loving embrace and grace of the God of your understanding. I am writing you as a former slave of the State of California. As Juneteenth approaches, I thought I would reach out to you in hopes of influencing and inspiring faith leaders to speak to their congregations about the issue of current day slavery on the week of June 12. Juneteenth has been adopted as a federal holiday—one that has been celebrated in the African American community since 1865. On June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas, the Union soldiers arrived, led by General Gordon Granger. They freed enslaved people that had been held in bondage almost two years after the Jan. 1, 1863 signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Despite this alleged freedom, the prohibition of slavery in the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the 1st Amendment of the California Constitution have exceptions with regards to people duly convicted of crimes. People continue to be subjected to involuntary servitude in California and are as invisible as the enslaved people met by Union General Gordon Granger in 1865. I question the moral implications of the state and federal governments’ ongoing practice of slavery; it is one thing to punish and another to be entitled to enslave.

A couple of weeks ago while sitting in a church listening to a minister preach about Moses, I wondered why current enslavement was invisible. Why can’t people see current day slavery? Why can’t they see people being forced to work on the side of freeways as current day slaves? Why can’t they see people being forced to work in parks, shoring up levees in the valley, fighting forest fires and countless other jobs extracted through threats and punishment by the state as current day slaves? Moreover, why can’t they see people being rented out to corporations by the state and traded on the stock exchange as current day slaves? I do not believe people can volunteer at gunpoint or while imprisoned. I wonder if Moses showed up today if we could really see him or his enslaved parents.

The narrative associated with right and wrong is so potent that it renders people indifferent. People assume because it is legal, it must be just and it must be right. History has more than enough examples where laws were proven to be unjust over the course of time. Chattel slavery is just one of those examples.

If Assembly Constitution Amendment 3 passes in the California Senate, the issue of whether prisoners should be enslaved will be put on the California ballot for a vote. If it is put on the ballot for a vote, it will be the first time in multiple generations that the California electorate will have the opportunity to vote on anything regarding slavery. I believe faith leaders will get a chance to ask themselves and their congregations, “What would Moses do if given an opportunity to vote on the issue of slavery?”

Ultimately, if the historic ACA3 winds up on the ballot, I want to offer my formerly incarcerated staff and All of Us or None members to speak or lead discussions on this most important political and moral issue. People could see my incarceration, but they still have not caught up with the notion of my enslavement.

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Activism

EDITORIAL: If the City Council Won’t Vote for You, Don’t Vote for Them

District 5 Councilmember Noel Gallo has heard the demands of Oakland voters and he is scheduling a hearing before the Council to place public spending on the ballot. We urge the Council to act. If they do not, we urge the voters to ask themselves “If Councilmembers do not support our right to vote, why should we vote for them?”

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Paul Cobb is the Publisher of the Post Newgroup family of publications and websites.
Paul Cobb is the Publisher of the Post Newgroup family of publications and websites.

By Paul Cobb, Publisher, Post Newsgroup

The voters of Oakland demand the right to vote on whether the City of Oakland should spend a billion dollars of public money on a privately owned baseball stadium and luxury condominiums at Howard Terminal.

We agree.

If City Councilmembers want the voters to support them in upcoming elections, they must support the voters’ demand for a public vote on Howard Terminal now.

In an April 6, 2022 poll of 800 registered voters, 76% said they want to vote on whether the City Council should spend public funds on Oakland A’s privately owned baseball stadium and luxury condominium complex.

District 3 Councilmember Carroll Fife followed that poll with a Town Hall meeting where the vast majority of attendees voiced their support for a ballot measure and demanded that the City Council place the issue of public spending before the voters.

As of this writing, thousands of voters have delivered petitions demanding the right to vote and we are told thousands more petitions are on the way.

District 5 Councilmember Noel Gallo has heard the demands of Oakland voters and he is scheduling a hearing before the Council to place public spending on the ballot. We urge the Council to act. If they do not, we urge the voters to ask themselves “If Councilmembers do not support our right to vote, why should we vote for them?”

Oakland faces many crises including homelessness, public safety, school closures, and the loss of existing union jobs at Howard Terminal.

Homelessness is such an urgent crisis that the City Council declared a local emergency just this week. How can we even consider spending public funds on a baseball stadium and luxury condos in these times of crisis? The voters demand a right to be heard and the City Council has a moral and ethical obligation to place the matter on the ballot.

We are told that there are two major obstacles to a vote. The A’s say that if they don’t get their way they will take to the highway and leave, and Oakland will lose its last sports team. With people dying on the streets and crime at an all-time high, and since the A’s, who are co-owners of the Coliseum, have not signed a cooperation agreement with the new community-based ownership group that wants to launch a fast-track housing and jobs redevelopment plan for the very low-income residents and homeless population — who now live in the shadow of the Coliseum – it’s no wonder that some city and county taxpayers give a care if the A’s threaten to leave.

And the number of homeless dwellers now exceed the number of fans who attend the games. When you poll those barely surviving with their monthly general assistance checks from Alameda County, which is selling its half-ownership interest in the Coliseum to the A’s, then it’s no wonder that some city and county taxpayers give a care if the A’s threaten to leave: They want the county’s equity stake to help build truly affordable housing now.

When the City Council voted unanimously to support the Black-led group’s proposed redevelopment, they didn’t intend for the A’s or any other group to be in a position to hold the neighborhood hostage as a bargaining chip.

Therefore, the entire Council should vote to place the financing of A’s future stadium plans on the November ballot and require the A’s to sign a cooperation agreement with the East Oakland group.

Trade unions say their members will get a lot of jobs building a new stadium and luxury condos. They could have the same jobs, without the huge costs and public spending, if a stadium and housing were built at the Coliseum by a baseball team that truly cared about Oakland.

Many residents and organizations have asked the Post to host Town Hall meetings to help hold our officials accountable for the costs of the new stadium.

We will publish articles on how to link the future housing relief for homeless as a requirement for the A’s to get the approval of Howard Terminal and why the original injunction was filed by the city attorney.

The voters of Oakland hold the key. They should send a clear and unequivocal message to the Council: “Support our right to vote on public spending or don’t expect us to vote for you.”

We urge voters to contact your Councilmembers and demand they vote to place public spending on the November 2022 ballot.

Please send an email to council@oaklandca.gov. With one click, every councilmember and their staffs will get your message.

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