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Economics

Port of Oakland Gives Old Army Base New Life, Work Starts 2018

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A big chunk of this city’s decommissioned Army Base just got new life as Port of Oakland Commissioners approved a plan that re-invents the site as a Seaport Logistics Complex.  Port officials called it a game-changer for global trade and transportation.

“There’s not anything like it on the U.S. West Coast,” said John Driscoll, the Port’s Maritime Director.  “This Complex will make it faster and cheaper to import and export containerized goods internationally than ever before.”

The plan calls for Oak Brook, IL-based CenterPoint Properties to build a 440,000-square foot distribution center adjacent to the Port’s $100 million rail yard.  It will be located across the street from marine terminals where container ships berth in Oakland.  The new building and railyard are part of a plan to develop a 180-acre logistics campus on Port land. CenterPoint said work could begin in the first quarter of 2018.
CenterPoint officials said the project would distinguish Oakland on two counts: The distribution center would be the largest warehouse-style building at any U.S. West Coast port; and, it would be one of few nationally where cargo could be transloaded within a port’s footprint for transport by ship, truck or train.  That’s how international shippers can expect to cut transportation costs while reducing shipment time.

John Driscolli

“This is a unique opportunity,” said CenterPoint Chief Development Officer Michael Murphy.  “There are very few places in North America where we can develop a logistics facility of this size which will effectively accommodate the efficient movement and delivery of goods that are critical to the economic health of a city and provide meaningful jobs for area residents.”

The Port will lease property to CenterPoint, which will manage the facility.  The land is the site of a former Army supply depot shuttered in 1999.  The Port and City of Oakland each received 240-acre parcels from the closure.

The Port’s agreement with CenterPoint includes a jobs policy giving hiring priority to residents from the neighboring community.

Disadvantaged residents would receive special employment consideration.  Community activists have hailed the agreement as a national model for equitable development and job creation that strengthens local communities.

Long-range planning for future developments at the Seaport Logistics Complex is still underway, the Port said.  It gave no timetable for additional projects.

Bay Area

California Gas Prices to Spike Even More with July 1 Tax Increase

Democratic lawmakers, backed by environmentalists, are digging their heels in, defending their decision not to suspend the inflationary tax increase that they fought hard to approve when they voted to pass Senate Bill 1 in 2017. “As we’ve said before, suspending the gas tax would reduce critical funds available for road repair and improvement projects,” Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood said in a joint statement.

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As of Friday, the average gas price per gallon was $5.82 in the state.
As of Friday, the average gas price per gallon was $5.82 in the state.

By Tanu Henry, California Black Media

“I really don’t understand how the price of gas can rise so drastically in California,” said a Black woman and 55-year-old Rancho Cucamonga resident who agreed to be interviewed for this article but asked to not be identified.

“Unfortunately, we need to purchase it regardless of the prices and that’s one of reasons, I believe, it continues to increase,” she complained. “Weekly, it is costing me approximately $75 to commute to and from work, which is $35 more than I used to pay.”

The woman, who is a collections officer with a lead abatement company, said filling her tank often means she has to forgo another obligation.

As of Friday, the average gas price per gallon was $5.82 in the state.

Now, news that the state is tacking an extra 3-cent tax on every gallon purchased — which will not be a significant increase — is still absurd, says the woman, considering that California already has the highest gas prices in the nation.

Because Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature missed the May 1 deadline to suspend an inflationary gas tax increase that is scheduled for July 1, it will still take effect.

Policymakers would have had to act 60 days in advance to avert the increase.

Democratic lawmakers, backed by environmentalists, are digging their heels in, defending their decision not to suspend the inflationary tax increase that they fought hard to approve when they voted to pass Senate Bill 1 in 2017.

“As we’ve said before, suspending the gas tax would reduce critical funds available for road repair and improvement projects,” Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood said in a joint statement.

“Additionally, as oil companies continue to rake in record-high profits, there is no guarantee this relief would be passed onto consumers,” Atkins and Rendon continued.

With the tax hike, the average excise tax price per gallon in the state will go from about 51 cents per gallon to 54 cents per gallon.

Last month, with the May 1 deadline looming, Newsom’s office acknowledged that it would not be able to convince lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly to suspend the tax increase.

Instead, Newsom’s spokesperson Alex Stack released a statement suggesting that the Governor’s office was turning its attention to providing relief to Californians as the cost of gas, food and other commodities continue to skyrocket.

“We look forward to working with lawmakers on the governor’s proposal for direct payments to Californians wrestling with rising prices,” Stack said in a statement. “Helping offset the impact of inflation on California residents remains a top priority for the governor.”

Legislative Republicans blasted their Democratic colleagues for their “inaction” on the gas tax increase.

“Californians are desperate for any relief at the pump while paying the highest gas prices in the nation, but Democrats have decided to run out the clock and increase the state’s gas tax instead,” read a statement the state Republican Party released earlier this month.

Gov. Newsom and lawmakers in both chambers of the Legislature have still not agreed on how to address the excessive cost of gas in the state.

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Activism

Project to Help Non-Profits Gain Access to Almost $200B in State and Federal Funds

The Center at the Sierra Health Foundation, a Sacramento-based organization that promotes health and racial equity, and the James Irvine Foundation, a private San Francisco-based philanthropic nonprofit that advocates for Californians who earn low wages, are the first two foundations investing in the fund called the Community Economic Mobilization Initiative (CEMI).

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CEMI is expected to begin funding the CBOs in the summer of 2022 with $14 million from the James Irvine Foundation and $1 million from the Center at Sierra Health.
CEMI is expected to begin funding the CBOs in the summer of 2022 with $14 million from the James Irvine Foundation and $1 million from the Center at Sierra Health.

By Tanu Henry, California Black Media

Non-profit organizations across California will be able to apply for funding from a pool of cash created with an initial investment of $15 million from two foundations.

The money will help local Community Based Organizations (CBOs) gain access to almost $200 billion in federal and state funding coming down the pike for economic development projects.

The Center at the Sierra Health Foundation, a Sacramento-based organization that promotes health and racial equity, and the James Irvine Foundation, a private San Francisco-based philanthropic nonprofit that advocates for Californians who earn low wages, are the first two foundations investing in the fund called the Community Economic Mobilization Initiative (CEMI).

“CEMI will strengthen nonprofits working in marginalized communities and help them secure and influence the use of public funds designated to reduce economic and environmental inequities,” said Chet P. Hewitt, president and CEO of Sierra Health Foundation and The Center.

This year, California is expected to receive close to $200 billion in federal and state funding. The money will be sourced from the American Rescue Plan ($43 billion) and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act ($56 billion), as well as the state’s Community Economic Resilience Fund ($565 million) and its budget surplus ($46 billion).

“This is a much-needed investment for community-driven organizations, particularly those that support the most vulnerable Californians. Historically, they have not been invested in the same manner as larger organizations. Many of them were affected throughout the pandemic and need this fiscal and operational support,” said Kellie Todd Griffin, convenor of the California Black Women’s Collective, an organization of more than 1500 Black women leaders in various professions from different regions of the state. “My hope is that there will be intentionality to be inclusive of the organizations that can have the greatest impact in our communities.”

CEMI is expected to begin funding the CBOs in the summer of 2022 with $14 million from the James Irvine Foundation and $1 million from the Center at Sierra Health.

“We have a golden opportunity to make sure these investments reach community-based organizations that best know the infrastructure their communities need for economic growth that is inclusive and resilient,” said Don Howard, president and CEO of The James Irvine Foundation.

Howard says the funding from CEMI aligns with the James Irvine Foundation’s mission of supporting low-income workers because it helps grassroots organizations and community advocates participate in the planning and decision-making that goes into the distribution of public funds.

“We need an economy built on inclusion, equity, and dignity for all work and workers — and that starts by making room for diverse leaders to have a say in how these once-in-a-generation investments shape their communities’ futures,” Howard continued.

The CEMI funding will provide technical assistance and training to the CBOs that qualify to build their capacity and infrastructure and build models for what community-driven economic development looks like, according to the Center at Sierra Health Foundation.

The funders of CEMI say they believe the organizations they support will grow into a strong network that can drive more “equitable economic development policy, regulation and accountability at state and local levels.”

The California Endowment (TCE), a private foundation with headquarters in Los Angeles, has also committed to investing in CEMI.

TCE is a 56-year-old foundation that supports programs that improve the health care of Californians living in underserved communities.

“The availability of state and federal funding provides California with an important opportunity to address critical health and economic challenges for the most vulnerable Californians,” said Dr. Bob Ross, president and CEO of TCE.

“This potential can only be realized by investing in community-led change,” Ross added.

Gov. Gavin Newsom praised the foundations for taking a leadership role in making a difference in the lives of Californians who need help the most.

“This initiative will help grow the capacity of committed organizations to continue their important work in communities across the state. This will be especially important as we focus on COVID-19 recovery and creating a healthier, safer, more equitable future for all,” Newsom said.

Hewitt says the project will result in “transformative change” in California.

“The past few years have laid bare the impact of long-term disinvestment in poor communities. We must do all we can to position community institutions to grow power and create opportunity for the places and populations they serve,” he said.

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Black History

Black GOP Candidates Tap Into Voter Frustrations in 2022 Election Cycle

Recently, CBM spoke with another Black Republican candidate Shawn Collins who is running for governor. Critics say Collins’ attempt to become governor is ambitious because he is barely known in the state’s political circles and last week the California Republican Party endorsed another candidate, former California State Senate Minority Leader Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), for governor.

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Some of the Black Republican candidates California Black Media (CBM) has spoken with say they have already made a difference.
Some of the Black Republican candidates California Black Media (CBM) has spoken with say they have already made a difference.

By Tanu Henry, California Black Media

There are 12 Black Republicans running in statewide races across California this election year.

Come June 7, when the primaries are held, many of them – already longshots without local or statewide political experience – will likely be eliminated from competing in the November general elections.

Either way it goes, some of the Black Republican candidates California Black Media (CBM) has spoken with say they have already made a difference. They entered their races to represent Californians who are frustrated with the policies coming out of the Democratic-run Legislature in Sacramento and their ideas and opposition on problems from homelessness and affordable housing to education and the environment have already begun to influence political conversations at the state, county and municipal levels across California.

“I really think 2020 woke up a lot of people to get involved in legislation — find out how a lot of things work,” said Pastor Brian Hawkins, a San Diego native and San Jacinto city councilmember who is a Black Republican candidate running to defeat U.S. Congressman Raul Ruiz.

Ruiz is a Democrat representing California’s 36th Congressional District but due to redistricting is running to represent the 25th Congressional District.

“People are starting to question political motives, people are questioning the education system, the model that’s been the same for hundreds of years. So, I think people are hungry for something different and this gives us an opportunity,” he said.

Recently, CBM spoke with another Black Republican candidate Shawn Collins who is running for governor. Critics say Collins’ attempt to become governor is ambitious because he is barely known in the state’s political circles and last week the California Republican Party endorsed another candidate, former California State Senate Minority Leader Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), for governor.

But Collins, 41, an attorney, father, and U.S. Navy veteran who lives in Orange County, says his message is connecting with people.

“I tell people that California’s problems are so big right now, they transcend politics,” he said. “And what I mean by that is there are certain issues in this state right now that impact you whether you’re a Democrat or Republican.”

Last week, Collins spoke with CBM about his decision to run for governor of California.

Here is an excerpt of our conversation. It has been edited for concision and clarity.

CBM: Why are you running for Governor?

COLLINS: My primary motivation is my family — my wife, and my four young children. I’m genuinely concerned about my children being able to start lives and develop careers here in California because the state has become so anti-business.

The governor’s race excites me because I track our K through 12 education. California is ranked 40 out of 50 states. How is that possible?

This is the fifth-largest economy in the world. We have a budget of over $300 billion. We have a surplus of over $31 billion and our teachers are some of the highest paid in all of America. You have to ask: why is our public education system so bad?

How do we fix it?

It is one of the first things I’ll focus on when I become governor. The Hoover Institute has been tracking this program in Dallas – in the community that I grew up in, actually.

They incentivize high-performing teachers in other school districts to come to lower income communities and try to make an impact. They say, “right now only two out of 10 kids are reading at their grade level. If you can get that up to four out of 10, there’s $50,000 attached to that.”

It’s in its second year right now and test scores have already dramatically improved.

CBM: What do you think about the growing school choice movement that a lot of conservatives support?

COLLINS: I’ve always been an advocate of school choice because it puts pressure on the school district to perform. If they don’t perform, their schools will lose funding.

CBM: What gives you the confidence that you as a Republican can win in California, one of the most Democratic states in the country?

COLLINS: Well, I’ll start with my background. You know, first of all, I’m not your traditional Republican. They’ve never seen any Republican candidate like me. And what I mean by that is I was not born into the Republican Party. You’re looking at a person that grew up in a very Democrat household. My dad was an electrician, and he was a single father because my parents divorced when I was three years old. My mom gave my dad primary custody because she was very intimidated by having to raise two young boys by herself.

CBM: How do you convince Black and other minority voters to support your candidacy?

COLLINS: I grew up in difficult circumstances, so I understand the hurt that average Californians are feeling right now. I can use that personal experience to implement policy that will make substantial changes to individuals’ lives.

CBM: How is your plan for tackling homelessness better than what Democrats have done?

COLLINS: Democrats have thrown $13 billion at the problem over the past five years, and it’s gotten worse. We have to stop this “housing first” policy. The assumption is that if you can provide a home for every single homeless person in the state of California — which is in excess of 160,000 at this point — the security of a home will somehow transform them. When you look at the breakdown of our homeless population in the state, roughly a third are homeless because of life circumstances, meaning they lost their job, or some type of catastrophic economic event. That’s one-third. The other two-thirds are drug addicted or mentally ill. So, if you’re talking about a housing option for that one-third, OK, you’re on the right track.

My policy would be to have more drug addiction and mental health services. If the drug addict or the mentally ill person says, “I don’t want your help,” then we have to implement tough love. You have to accept the help or go to jail, but you can’t live on the street because that’s not compassion.

CBM: Public safety is a big issue right now. A lot of conservatives are slamming criminal justice reforms and calling for tough-on-crime policies again. What is your take?

COLLINS: We have to have accountability built into our criminal justice system. Criminals talk. I know that because I grew up in a community where criminals talked. And if people know that they are not going to be held accountable, they are emboldened to go out and commit crimes.

How is it effective to implement tough-on-crime laws and lock more people up if rehabilitation programs are not built into the correctional system?

For me, rehabilitation is important. We have to have programs in place whereby incarcerated people can learn a vocation, a trade or skill.

If a person just goes to prison and they hang out there for a certain period of time and they pick up no skills, they have nothing to offer society when they walk out. When you walk out of the doors of that prison with no skills, you’re obviously going to return to a life of crime.

Rehabilitation needs to be intelligent.

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