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Opinion: Uber’s Not Coming, What Did We Learn?



In August, Uber announced that it’s probably not coming to Oakland after all and will likely put the former Sears building back on the market. Since the issues of gentrification and displacement that caused The Greenlining Institute and others to form the No Uber Oakland campaign haven’t gone away, this might be a good time to ask what we’ve learned, and how we move forward.

When Uber announced its initial plans that would likely move 2,000-3,000 highly paid tech workers into downtown Oakland, we were alarmed about the impact on Oakland’s residents, workers, small businesses, nonprofits and artists. We’ve all seen what happened when San Francisco rolled out the red carpet to big tech companies: Skyrocketing housing costs left even families with six-figure incomes struggling to find adequate housing, while soaring commercial rents priced out nonprofits – and all of this badly undermined the city’s diversity and character.

Much the same continues to happen in Oakland, where the average one bedroom apartment currently rents for $2,025 per month  – making it the country’s seventh most expensive rental market, according to Abodo, an apartment rental listings website. That’s just not viable when Oakland’s median household income is $54,618.

We launched No Uber Oakland only after months of unsuccessful efforts to meet with Uber’s leadership and have a serious dialogue about the company’s plans for supporting Oaklanders. While the company made some token gestures, it became clear it was never really serious about listening to Oaklanders or being part of our community. On the No Uber Oakland site, we laid out a 10-point platform that Uber could adopt if it was really serious about working with the Oakland community.

Meanwhile, Uber continues to struggle with bad press, declining market share, questions about whether it will ever be profitable, and leadership struggles. Arrogance and insularity don’t constitute a long-term growth strategy. For tech companies to truly succeed, they must embrace good corporate governance and responsibility, and uplift – rather than just exploit — the local communities that surround them and make up their customer base.

That also means opening up good tech jobs and leadership positions to all of California’s diverse population. Right now, tech remains a fortress where Latinos and African Americans are drastically underrepresented and leadership remains overwhelmingly white and male.

Orson Aguilar

But we’ve also learned that companies won’t reform on their own. Local governments, including Oakland’s, must look at the broader picture when any big corporation – not just tech – wants to move into town. Of course we want companies to grow and invest in Oakland, but no good will come from pretending there won’t be downsides in a town where working families, artists and community groups already struggle to keep a roof over their heads. In the future, city leaders must work with the community to make sure companies act responsibly and that the rising tide of corporate investment doesn’t drown ordinary Oaklanders.

Orson Aguilar is president of The Greenlining Institute.


City Government: Please Do No (More) Harm

Oakland city government declares war on the unemployed. An overstatement? Not really.



First in a Series on Jobs in Oakland

Oakland city government declares war on the unemployed. An overstatement? Not really.

City administration professes concern for its residents who need help with access to jobs and training, while at the same time failing to issue contracts to the community organizations that stand ready to provide needed services.

The city council approved these contracts in June. As of late September, they have not been issued by the city administration.

Q: What does this mean? A: Non-profit organizations, operating on shoestring budgets in the best of times, have been required to advance their own funds in July, August, and September to serve the unemployed, with no reimbursement by the city because as the administration says, “Your contract has not been signed yet.”

Another impact: the workers who provide front line job services may not receive their paychecks on time…. creating unnecessary instability in their own households.

And who is responsible for issuing these contracts? Yup…it’s the city…. painfully tone deaf to the needs of the community, particularly those on the economic margins. Most of those served with job help are Black and Latinx residents who consistently suffer double digit unemployment. Many are returning home after incarceration.

And for this level of harmful disregard, the city receives  28 percent of scarce job training funds. Astonishing, since the city provides no direct services to job seekers.

As Oakland struggles with its horrific crime wave, it seems that attention would be paid to root causes, joblessness being paramount among them. Instead, the city administration seems intent on hobbling the very groups who stand ready to help. This happens year after year…. with no apparent consequences to an impenetrable bureaucracy.

Oakland, we can do  better than this.

We must.

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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‘A Way Out of No Way:’ EP Honors Black Shipyard Workers

Youth from Marin City created a musical tribute to Black workers from the Marinship Shipyard called “The Marinovators – A Way Out of No Way.”



Top left to right: Jaliyah Cook, Sarah Williams, Dominiq Austin, Camron McDonald, Raymone Reed, and Tayana Bland. Bottom left to right: Brenda Lara, Bella Lucky, Mykolas Vilatis, Jahi, Mason Le, and Briana Zuniga. Rohan Ayyar is not shown.

Youth from Marin City created a musical tribute to Black workers from the Marinship Shipyard called “The Marinovators – A Way Out of No Way.”

The Marinovators are a group of young people from Marin City and other parts of the Bay Area who came together to lift up the lost stories of Black workers at the Marinship shipyard in Sausalito during World War II, according to their press release.  They created a six-song extended play record (EP) titled “The Marinovators /A Way Out of No Way,” which also featured songs like “Wonder Women Workers” and “Equality” in a “Hamilton-ish” hip-hop style. 

The songs from the EP highlighted Ms. Annie Small, Ms. Rodessa Battle, Rev. Leon Samuels, and Joseph James. Joseph James was instrumental in changing the laws of the union at the Marinship shipyard by going to the Supreme Court with the help of Thurgood Marshall in 1944.

The project will also feature a Virtual Reality experience to be released in October 2021. Oakland-based artist Jahi co-wrote and arranged the EP.  Chris Jeffries engineered, recorded and mixed it at The Marinovation Center in Novato. It was produced by Configa for Configaration Records.

Collaborators include XR LostStories, Performing Stars of Marin, California State Library’s CREi Initiative, The Marin County Free Library, Marin Office of Education, Microphone Mechanics, John MacLeod, Felecia Gaston of  Marin Performing Stars, Anita Gail Jones, Leslie Pelle, and Tim Bartolf.

The sponsors include the Milagro Foundation, the TomKat Foundation, and the Marin County Office of Education.

The EP was released on Sept. 4, 2021 and is available now for streaming on Spotify and iTunes. To listen to the “A Way Out of No Way” video, go to


The Marin County Post’s coverage of local news in Marin 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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How Recall Election Candidate Larry Elder Saved Our State

All is well enough in the state right now because Californians came out to vote on September 14.



Larry Elder speaking at the 2016 FreedomFest at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, Nevada./ Photo Credit Gage Skidmore


Thank you, Larry Elder. Do you sense my sarcasm? 

All is well enough in the state right now because Californians came out to vote on September 14.

And they came out to vote not because they loved or hated Gov. Gavin Newsom. 

They came out to vote because they feared Larry Elder would win a rigged election.

That’s right. Democrats and a majority of voters feared the election was rigged FOR Elder.

As of Tuesday morning, all 18,185 precincts have reported with all mail-in and provisional ballots yet to be counted. 

But we have a good indication of the result: Landslide. 

The No vote on the recall was 6,983,950, or 63%.

The Yes vote to recall was 4,094,118, or 37%. 

So far, Donald Trump is the only one on election night to claim the vote was rigged in California. But even Elder showed some sense of restraint (which must have taken a herculean effort) when he didn’t declare the election was rigged against him. You think he’s going to find 2.9 million dead people voting to make up that margin of defeat?

But as I said, the fact is the election was rigged—but for Elder. 

If the Yes vote had won, the winner of the second question, the one with the list of 46 candidates would have replaced Newsom. All it took was the candidate with the most votes, and as of Tuesday this week that would be Elder with oddly 2.9 million votes. That’s all it would have taken to be the new governor of California.

That would have been a bona fide theft of the governor’s office. A January 6style result under cloak of the official ballot.  So much for majority rule. The recall was all set up for the right person—if Yes on Recall had won.

Fortunately, it didn’t.

I said a month ago after interviewing Newsom that considering the real consequences of this recall election, it would not be hyperbolic to say this could be the single-most important election for voters in California, maybe ever.

I meant it. For voters who believe in social justice, diversity, living wages, freedom of choice for women, etc. etc., there was a real threat of setbacks to all of that if the governorship changed hands.  

Back when I saw him, Newsom looked weary, a bit concerned. His odds to beat the recall was practically a coin flip. 

But Newsom got a boost when the Republican attempt to nationalize the election backfired. The national GOP essentially made the recall a referendum on Trump with Black conservative Elder the uber-proxy. 

And then once you got to know Elder, it was over.

As a former talk host, I know what Larry was up to. Be a provocateur. Excite and polarize. Hence, being anti-vax, anti-climate, anti-minimum wage, anti-abortion lit up the phones. But scared the heck out of the voters. 

They showed up. And voted No for real, by about 2.9 million votes. Ironically, as of this latest count, it’s the same number of votes Elder got on (the moot) question 2. So, he doesn’t leave with nothing. Just a worthless consolation. Winner of the also-rans that couldn’t win its own rigged recall election.  But he did his job. He scared us all into voting against the recall. 


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