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Post Endorsements for City Council and Schools

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The Oakland Post has endorsed candidates for five seats on the City Council, looking for leaders who are dynamic and visionary,  have a track record of compassion and solidarity with neighborhoods in need, and are capable of working collaboratively with all parts of the city.

Endorsed candidates were:  At-Large –  Rebecca Kaplan;   District 1 – incumbent Dan Kalb; District 3 – Carroll Fife; District 5 – incumbent Noel Gallo; and District  7 — Treva Reid (first choice) and  Aaron Clay (second choice);

Oakland Post panelists in the recent interviews were Clarence Thomas, former secretary-treasurer of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 (retired); Cathy Leonard, founder of Oakland Neighborhoods for Equity and steering committee member of the Coalition for Police Accountability; Zappa Montague, teacher and long-time activist; Walter Riley, civil rights attorney; Dr. Kimberly Mayfield, dean of the School of Education at Holy Names University; and Kitty Kelly Epstein, education professor and host of a show on Radio Station KPFA 94.1 FM.

Panelists directed their questions to several of the deep concerns of local residents that are covered regularly in the pages of the Oakland Post. One issue was whether the candidates support real estate developer John Fisher’s proposal to buy the Oakland Coliseum property in East Oakland and take over Port of Oakland public property in West Oakland to build high-end luxury condominiums, a mall and a baseball stadium.

Candidates were asked if they have a comprehensive plan for housing Oakland residents including the homeless and the housing insecure.

Finally, panelists wanted to know the candidates’ comprehensive plan to resolve the city’s decades-long policing crisis: excessive overtime and cost overruns, and inability to comply with federal court racial justice requirements.

Here are the Post endorsements.

Rebecca Kaplan

Councilmember at Lage: Rebecca Kaplan, has supported many of the issues that are of particular importance to the African American community and people of color throughout this city.

Her leadership has been crucial on housing and tenant rights, police reform and an end to racial profiling, to improved air quality and toxics cleanup.

Her efforts have earned her the respect of many and the hostility of a few.

Kaplan is accessible and responsive to input. Her opponent has no experience in public office and sometimes seems confused by the issues.

Dan Kalb

District 1: Dan Kalb has served on the City Council since 2013.  He has worked hard to create a strong police commission to oversee the Oakland Police Department.  He has also collaborated with fellow councilmembers to create policies for affordable housing and tenant protections.

People in his district have raised that they do not find Kalb accessible. We hope that is something he will change.

Carroll Fife

District 3: Carroll Fife is a candidate who represents real reform in city government and has programs and a track record of working for practical, systemic changes in housing, jobs, racial justice,  health and public safety.

Though she has never held or run for public office before, she is well known for her work in the neighborhoods and at City Council by staff and elected officials for years of work on behalf of the community on many of the most important issues in Oakland.

She was a strong community advocate for the fight to create Oakland’s Department of Race and Equity. She has worked for jobs and training resources for unemployed and job-seeking West Oakland residents. She advocated for Moms for Housing, and she has fought foreclosures and evictions.

Fife has a plan for innovative strategies for housing local residents, to help those who are fighting to stay in Oakland and to bring home those who want to come back to the city.

She has a  plan to rethink criminal justice: improve public safety while reducing police costs and overtime, utilizing mental health and other supportive resources.

District 3 is severely impacted by housing displacement and a  tremendous increase in unhoused individuals.  She has a plan to address this tragedy in West Oakland.

Noel Gallo

District 5: Noel Gallo

Noel Gallo has served on the council since 2013. He formerly served on the school board. For years, he has organized neighbors to hold trash and waste cleanups in District 5 every weekend.

He has raised critiques of the Howard Terminal stadium project and opposed selling the Oakland Coliseum property to a private developer. He has been a long-time advocate of utilizing public land for the public good.

Standing up to resistance, Gallo was one of the council members who worked tirelessly to help create a police commission to promote public oversight of the police department. He has a reputation for being very accessible to his constituents.   While serving together on the Oakland School Board, Post publisher Cobb and Noel Gallo led the fight for funding for La Escuelita Elementary School. 

Members of the Post endorsement panel appreciated a lot of ideas of District 5 challengers Richard Santos Raya and Zoe Lopez-Meraz and hope they will stay engaged in the public dialogue.

Treva Reid

District 7:  Treva Reid (first choice endorsement) is a newcomer to elected office and appears to be very accessible and thoughtful.

A graduate of Hampton University,  she has worked as a Senior Field Representative for then Assemblymember (now State Senator) Nancy Skinner, She advocated for housing policies, gun violence prevention, job training programs and legislation for incarcerated and formerly-incarcerated individuals.

She serves as an Associate for Assembly District 18 on the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee and is an Emerge California Alumna. She is also a ministry leader at Shiloh Church in Oakland.  During the campaign, she has exhibited a grasp of the totality of issues affecting the city and which council members must confront.  The Post publisher was impressed with her voluntarism and church community service activities.

Aaron Clay

Aaron Clay (second choice endorsement) has a strong understanding of the issues and is very forthright about the need to protect public land for the public good.

He is a graduate of Morehouse College and Loyola University of Chicago Law School.  His mother worked for over 30 years as a librarian in Oakland schools.

He serves on the board of the nonprofit Youth UpRising in East Oakland.

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Activism

Reparations Task Force: What to Expect in the Committee’s First Report

California’s AB 3121, signed into law in 2020, created the nine-member task force to investigate the history and costs of slavery in California and around the United States. AB 3121 charges the Reparations Task Force with studying the institution of slavery and its lingering negative effects on Black Californians who are descendants of persons enslaved in the United States.

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Six of the nine members of the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans. From left to right are Don Tamaki, Jovan Scott Lewis, chair Kamilah Moore, vice-chair Dr. Rev. Amos Brown, Dr. Cheryl Grills, and California State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena). CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.
Six of the nine members of the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans. From left to right are Don Tamaki, Jovan Scott Lewis, chair Kamilah Moore, vice-chair Dr. Rev. Amos Brown, Dr. Cheryl Grills, and California State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena). CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.

By Antonio Ray Harvey, California Black Media

The California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans will submit its first report to the California Legislature in June.

The 13-chapter document will detail the committee’s findings so far and include recommendations related to them.

Task force member Donald K. Tamaki said the “comprehensive report connects the dots between past racism and its current consequences.” He also inferred that the report presents a “landmark opportunity” to shape the national conversation around reparations.

“I think the report will not only attract California publicity but will also be looked upon nationally,” Tamaki said before the task force approved the report. “With the report, we can go out to the people to develop an allyship and (generate) support for it.”

As prescribed in Assembly Bill (AB) 3121, the report will establish how California laws and policies have disproportionately and negatively affected African Americans. The report will be available to the public.

The California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Enforcement Section formulated the document based on hearings, expert testimonies, and evidence accumulated since the panel first convened on June 1, 2021.

One of the DOJ’s duties is to facilitate task force consultation with various experts on California history and reparations. The department also provides administrative, technical, and legal assistance to the panel.

The preliminary report opens with an introduction that leads to chapters focused on enslavement, racial terror and political disenfranchisement, among others. It also covers a range of topics documenting historical injustices Black Americans have endured, including housing segregation, separate and unequal education, environmental racism, and others.

Titles such as “Pathologizing the Black Family;” “Control over Spiritual, Creative and Cultural life;” “Stolen Labor and Hindered Opportunity;” and “An Unjust Legal System,” among others, frame the testimonies and historical accounts recorded during the task force meetings.

Task Force Chair Kamilah Moore wrote the foreword. Her introduction is an overview of the task force’s activities over the last year.

“This interim report will catalog all those harms we’ve discussed throughout those two-day virtual meetings since June of last year,” Moore said in an online Blk TLK Platform discussion in April. “It will also have some preliminary recommendations for the legislation to adopt.”

The first report was supervised by Michael Newman, the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Senior Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Enforcement Section (DOJCRE).

The task force voted to describe the first presentation, the “Interim Report.”

Tamaki said about 10 DOJCRE attorneys — including Deputy Attorney General Xiyun Yang, DOJCRE Legal Assistant Francisco Balderrama and additional DOJ staff members created the report.

In a collaborative effort, the diverse DOJCRE team, Newman added, consulted with the task force to determine edits, make clarifications in terminology, modify corrections, and implement recommendations.

“It was a labor of love for everyone who worked on it,” Newman said during the task force meeting held in San Francisco on April 14. “I also want to thank all of the (task force) members and the community’s input in producing an incredible record.”

California’s AB 3121, signed into law in 2020, created the nine-member task force to investigate the history and costs of slavery in California and around the United States. AB 3121 charges the Reparations Task Force with studying the institution of slavery and its lingering negative effects on Black Californians who are descendants of persons enslaved in the United States.

The group is tasked with studying and developing reparation proposals for African Americans and recommending appropriate ways to educate Californians about the task force’s findings.

After the task force decided on March 30 that lineage will determine who will be eligible for compensation, the panel approved a framework for calculating how much should be paid — and for which offenses — to individuals who are Black descendants of enslaved people in the United States.

An expert team of economists identified 13 categories that would be the basis of the method used to calculate damages and determine what constitutes harms and atrocities. A second report is due by July 2023 when the task force two-year charge is expected to end.

Members of the task force include Moore, a Los Angeles-based attorney, reparations scholar and activist; vice-chair Dr. Amos Brown, a civil rights leader and respected Bay Area pastor whose journey to leadership started under the tutelage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s; Cheryl Grills, a professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles; and Lisa Holder, a nationally recognized trial attorney.

Rounding out the panel are Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena); Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles); San Diego Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe; Dr. Jovan Scott Lewis, chair of the Department of Geography at the University of California Berkeley; and Donald Tamaki, Esq. is an attorney best known for his role in the reopening of the Supreme Court case Korematsu v. the United States, which led to the conviction being overturned of Fred Korematsu who refused to be taken into custody during the imprisonment of Japanese Americans in World War II.

For more information, visit https://oag.ca.gov/ab3121#

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Business

Oakland City Council Considers Proposal to Limit City’s Highest Annual Rent Hike in History

In Oakland, landlords can raise rents up to 100% of the inflation rate. So, a 6.7% increase in inflation this year means that landlords can raise rents the same percentage. For an apartment rented for $2,000 a month, the 6.7% rent increase would mean that a tenant’s rent would increase more than $100 to $2,134 a month.

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District 3 Councilmember Carroll Fife introduced a bill to bring Oakland’s calculator more in line with other cities. The law is scheduled for a vote on May 31. If it passes before the current allowable rent hike goes into effect on July 1, then the lower allowable increase will take effect instead.

By Brandon Patterson

Last month, Oakland housing regulators announced that starting in July, landlords would be permitted to raise rents by up to 6.7% — the highest annual increase in the city’s history. The announcement prompted an outcry from renters at City Council meetings and hearings in recent weeks – and calls to local councilmembers.

Now, City Council is considering a proposal to limit the rent increase and give renters, many of whom are already struggling, some needed relief.

In many Bay Area cities, where housing has been an issue for decades, the amount landlords are allowed to raise rents every year is tied to inflation. This stabilizes rents by limiting increases, ensuring more security for renters’ households.

In Oakland, landlords can raise rents up to 100% of the inflation rate. So, a 6.7% increase in inflation this year means that landlords can raise rents the same percentage. For an apartment rented for $2,000 a month, the 6.7% rent increase would mean that a tenant’s rent would increase more than $100 to $2,134 a month.

This deviates from other cities like Berkeley and San Francisco, however, where the annual allowable rent increase is capped at 65% and 60% of inflation, respectively, according to Oaklandside. That means that for the same $2,000 apartment, rents would increase to about $2,087 in Berkeley or $2084 in San Francisco — about $50 less.

Housing justice and tenants’ rights groups have long criticized how differently Oakland calculates its rent hikes from other cities, and earlier this month, District 3 Councilmember Carroll Fife introduced a bill to bring Oakland’s calculator more in line with other cities. The bill would reduce the allowable annual rent increase to just 60% of inflation. It would also cap the allowable rent increase to 3% of the current rent, even if the inflation rate would allow for a higher one.

“I do want to create some security for renters,” Fife told NBC Bay Area in a recent interview. “Oakland is a majority renter city: Over 60% of the residents of the city of Oakland are renters, and it doesn’t make sense to put them in this type of jeopardy.”

“It’s not like we’re coming out of COVID—it’s all around us,” Mark Dias, co-chair of the Oakland Tenants Union, told Oaklandside. “If tenants weren’t able to financially recover from that period of time, they’re also going to be hit with an increase that is legal,” adding that he was “astonished” by the pending rent hike this year.

But some property owners are pushing back, arguing that increases in the cost of operating housing necessitates the higher rent hike. “There has also been an extraordinary increase in everything: water, gas, electric, sewer, repair services, equipment, appliances, plumbing,” Derek Barnes, CEO of the East Bay Rental Housing Association, told NBC Bay Area. “You also have a housing stock that’s older, that really needs a lot of maintenance.”

The law is scheduled for a vote on May 31. If it passes before the current allowable rent hike goes into effect on July 1, then the lower allowable increase will take effect instead.

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Bay Area

Bay Area Health Officers Urge Public to Take Precautions as COVID-19 Levels Rise

The Bay Area now has California’s highest COVID-19 infection rates, fueled by highly contagious Omicron subvariants. Bay Area counties are seeing increases in reported cases, levels of virus in wastewater, and hospitalizations. Actual case rates are higher than those reported because of widespread use of home tests.

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Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer.
Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer.

Courtesy of Marin County

Twelve Bay Area health officers are emphasizing the importance of taking safety precautions, including continued masking indoors, as the region experiences a new swell of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The Bay Area now has California’s highest COVID-19 infection rates, fueled by highly contagious Omicron subvariants. Bay Area counties are seeing increases in reported cases, levels of virus in wastewater, and hospitalizations. Actual case rates are higher than those reported because of widespread use of home tests.

The health officers reiterate their continued, strong support for people to mask up indoors, keep tests handy, and ensure they are up to date on vaccinations by getting boosters when eligible.

“As cases rise around us, it’s important to understand that more people around you are likely infected or have been exposed,” said Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis. “Masks are an easy tool you can use to protect yourself and lower your risk of infection.”

The grim milestone of 1 million deaths from COVID-19 in the United States, reached earlier this week, underscores the need for continued vigilance against the virus.

Although not required, masking is strongly recommended by the California Department of Public Health for most public indoor settings, and health officials say wearing higher-quality masks (N95/KN95 or snug-fitting surgical masks) indoors is a wise choice. Vaccines remain the best protection against severe disease and death from COVID-19.

Health officials say people should also stay home and get tested right away if they feel sick. Officials also encourage getting tested after potential exposure and limiting large gatherings to well ventilated spaces or outdoors. For those more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 infection, medications are available that can reduce chances of severe illness and death. Talk with a health care provider right away if a test comes back positive.

This statement has been endorsed by health officers from the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Sonoma as well as the City of Berkeley.

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