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Rebecca Kaplan Endorses Cat Brooks for Mayor

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City Councilmember-at-Large Rebecca Kaplan, one of Oakland’s most popular progressive political leaders, ended months of speculation about whether she would jump into the mayoral race when she announced last Thursday that she is committing her energy to elect community activist, actor and radio journalist Cat Brooks as mayor of Oakland.

“With a lot of thought and prayer and contemplation” of the social justice issues facing Oakland, “I have come to the conclusion that the best way to strengthen our community’s voice (for our) vital goals is by endorsing and supporting Cat Brooks for mayor,” said Kaplan, speaking at an event held at the Joyce Gordon Gallery in downtown Oakland.

“We will continue to build and move forward together,” she said. “We have an opportunity to strengthen our solidarity, to strengthen our city and to make sure we have a city hall that is responsive to the community.”

Kaplan focused on some of the major social and moral challenges the city is facing that she says are being ignored by Mayor Libby Schaaf.

“We deserve leadership that believes in respect and that believes in justice and understands that we are judged by how we treat the least of these,” she said.

“Every additional person who is homeless should be a heartbreak to all of us and a call to action and a demand to do something about it,” said Kaplan.

She also spoke about what she considers Mayor Schaaf’s failure to punish police who participated in and covered up the Oakland Police Department’s sex abuse scandal.

“The level of police misconduct that has been tolerated is totally unacceptable,” she said, accusing the mayor of intervening to hide OPD officers’ “brutal sexual misconduct,” promoting those who covered it up and punishing those who spoke against it.

A rabbi, Kaplan said a prayer for Brooks’ campaign:

“I pray that you may be protected and strengthened in this incredible journey and that I may be blessed to have the opportunity to work together with you…May your voice be strong, may you be heard.”

Thanking Kaplan and assembled supporters, Brooks invited everyone to “support a vision of justice, a vision of transformation, a vision of mobilizing our people to the polls to take back our city.”

Rather than having to fight City Hall every day, “What if we spent all of our time building the kind of Oakland we want to live in?” she asked.

She said the city should be working to build housing so teachers and low-paid nonprofit employees can afford to live in Oakland.

“It can be done, and if the current administration had the will to do it, it would be done,” said Brooks.

Saying that this is not “a Cat Brooks campaign,” she emphasized that she would hold “people’s assemblies” or town hall meetings during the next two months for input of community people who are struggling to improve conditions and are knowledgeable about the issues.

“There’s amazing work that’s being done on a range of issues, and those will be the voices that determine the direction of this city,” said Brooks. “There are so many brilliant, beautiful ideas that are being ignored by City Hall.”

 

For more information, go to www.catbrooksforoakland.com/ and www.kaplanforoakland.com/

 

Bay Area

Council President Pro Tem Sheng Thao Champions Public Safety Investments for Oakland

“My top priority is public safety, which means addressing violent crime, street safety, poverty, and homelessness. These budget amendments invest in our community and increase our Police Department’s ability to prevent and respond to violent crimes,” said Councilmember Sheng Thao, “These amendments will also protect our business corridors so Oaklanders can feel safe while they shop, and in turn, invest in our Oakland businesses.”

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San Francisco Bay Area Skyline; Photo Courtesy of Ronan Furuta via Unsplash

Oakland City Councilmember Sheng Thao, working with fellow councilmembers, community leaders, and city staff, won public safety investments for Oakland on July 26, including investments that align with the city’s reimagining public safety goals. The City Council unanimously approved her budget amendments, which included investments in:

  • Traffic Calming and Sideshow Prevention
  • Faster 911 Response
  • Restoring Foot Patrol officers in business corridors during the holiday season
  • Business District Ambassadors
  • Adding Public Restrooms near homeless encampments
  • Investments to job training and resources

“My top priority is public safety, which means addressing violent crime, street safety, poverty, and homelessness. These budget amendments invest in our community and increase our Police Department’s ability to prevent and respond to violent crimes,” said Councilmember Sheng Thao, “These amendments will also protect our business corridors so Oaklanders can feel safe while they shop, and in turn, invest in our Oakland businesses.”

Oakland Police Chief LeRonne L. Armstrong thanked Oakland City Councilmember Sheng Thao and other council members for their vote and support with additional funding. “These funds will provide walking officers in our business districts across the city during this holiday season,” he said. “The funds allow us to restore much needed public safety services, walking officers, while our community and visitors shop across our city. The COVID-19  pandemic has touched many of our vulnerable communities and businesses; we must not let crime be the driver of this holiday season, we will have walking officers to ensure community safety. “
Councilmember Thao’s amendments included direct investments in West, Central, and East Oakland, including West Oakland community centers, Central Oakland traffic safety, and Oakland 911 response.

“These amendments also help address decades of divestment from our BIPOC communities in East Oakland. By bringing investments into street safety, beautification, and city services. It is important that we stay committed to equity for East Oakland. Our office made a point to work with Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, Councilmembers Treva Reid and Loren Taylor to bring these amendments forward and I thank them for their strong partnership in this work.”

These amendments were approved unanimously by the Oakland City Council as the final step in the fiscal year ‘21-‘23 two-year budget process. You can find a copy of the final amendments here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/12LWbi8ty3SnNKX33pfUahz6n6agWXym-/view?usp=drivesdk

This report is courtesy of Oakland City Council Aide Brandon Harami.

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Business

City of Oakland’s Historic Sports Doubleheader: Black Group to Buy Coliseum Complex While Also Urging the A’s to Negotiate to Bring Community Benefits to City Through Howard Terminal

Hours of engaging discourse, bolstered by a throng of community supporters who packed the virtual council meeting with back-to-back appeals, got their wish in a 6-0-2 vote, on Monday, July 20. 

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Oakland Coliseum and Arena/Wikimedia Commons

The African American Sports & Entertainment Group (AASEG, www.aasegoakland.com), received a resounding vote from Oakland City Council members to pursue terms of ownership of the fabled, multiplex sporting venue, the Coliseum Complex.

Hours of engaging discourse, bolstered by a throng of community supporters who packed the virtual council meeting with back-to-back appeals, got their wish in a 6-0-2 vote, on Monday, July 20.  Oakland City Councilmembers approved the resolution brought forward by Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan to begin negotiations with the AASEG to acquire the City’s 50% interest of the Coliseum Complex.

The Oakland A’s bought Alameda County’s half of the Coliseum for $85 million in 2020.

This critical vote came just three days after the Alameda County Joint Powers Authority unanimously approved a resolution to begin negotiating with the AASEG to bring a WNBA team to Oakland.  With these successive actions, the AASEG can formalize negotiations with City staff toward a Purchase and Sell Agreement for the Coliseum Complex.

“This is very important,” said 96-year-old Gladys Green, chair of the Elmhurst Board in Oakland’s 7th District, where the Coliseum sits. “These Black men and women are coming back into this community at a time when we’ve lost so much. It is critical that you move forward with the AASEG proposal.”

Desmond Gumbs is the athletic director of Oakland’s century-old Lincoln University. “This is a strong group,” he said. “We are really excited about their community engagement. Let’s do this. It’s great for our community.”

Councilmembers complimented the AASEG’s impactful community outreach, citing receipt of scores of support letters, in addition to the group’s top priority to maintain a “community first” development approach.

“The historic footprint of this effort is unprecedented,” said AASEG founder Ray Bobbitt.  “It would be the largest award of public land to an African American group in the City’s 169-year history.”

The AASEG proposal includes commitments to revitalize the local community through affordable housing, job creation, public services, hospitality, life sciences, education, retail, public space, sports and entertainment activities.  Voices from the community expressed their hope for much needed infrastructure and quality of life improvements within the East Oakland community.

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Bay Area

S.F. Mayor Announces Expansion of Treatment Beds for People Suffering from Mental Health, Substance Use Disorders

As part of the Breed’s budget investments, San Francisco will create over 400 new treatment beds, a 20% expansion

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Key Words - Mental Health Photo Courtesy of Marcel Straub via Unsplash

Mayor London N. Breed and the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH) announced on July 21 that San Francisco is implementing the expansion of over 400 new treatment beds for people experiencing mental health and substance use issues. This expansion of treatment beds will provide more options for people in need to receive appropriate services that match their situation, while also providing San Francisco’s new Street Response Teams with additional placements for clients they interact with.

The expansion plans represent a 20% increase in the City’s residential treatment capacity. In 2021 alone, San Francisco will see 140 new beds opened, with significant progress made toward filling the gaps in critical needs areas identified in the 2020 Behavioral Health Bed Optimization Report. Since Breed took office, San Francisco has added more than 100 treatment beds across San Francisco’s system of care.

“This is an unprecedented expansion of our system of care and treatment for people with mental health and substance use disorders,” said Breed. “We are responding with the urgency that this crisis deserves, while saving millions of dollars by removing bottlenecks in the system so that people can move into lower, less costly levels of care when they are ready. Each one of these placement facilities takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to make happen, but we should see the benefits for years to come.”

These new treatment beds will allow San Francisco’s new street outreach teams, including the Street Crisis Response Teams and the Street Wellness Response Teams, with additional placements that can serve the clients they interact with.

There are now five Street Crisis Response Teams operating in San Francisco, responding to about 500 calls monthly. Breed included funding in this year’s budget for five Street Wellness Response Teams, which will begin to respond to “wellness check” calls, which total roughly 17,000 annually.

The expansion effort is guided by recommendations from the Behavioral Health Bed Optimization Project report in 2020, as well as the Mental Health SF legislation in 2019, and utilization data that identified the types of treatment in highest need. These new beds and facilities are at various stages of development, with some ready for opening in 2021 and others in stages of planning and design.

“Coming out of COVID, our biggest public health crisis is the thousands of people living on our streets with untreated mental health and substance use disorders. Getting these sick people off the streets and into appropriate treatment beds will save lives and make San Francisco a safer and healthier place for all,” said District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman.

“People who are mentally ill and addicted to drugs need immediate access to treatment and care.  Expanding our city’s treatment beds and Street Crisis Response teams through Mental Health SF will better ensure services are available, accessible and effective,” said District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney. “Fully funding Mental Health SF was a top priority for us during this year’s budget process, and we worked together to expand much needed treatment beds, care coordination, and street intervention. These treatment beds cannot come soon enough.”

“This expansion of available treatment facilities is an essential part of fully implementing Mental Health SF. We must have places for people in crisis to get the care they desperately need and to stop the revolving door that returns people to the streets,” said District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen.

“We are not only improving patient flow so that individuals receive timely care and treatment, we are also developing innovative models of care to target the unique needs we see in the community,” said Dr. Naveena Bobba, Deputy Director of Health. “The investments we are making in the expansion in our residential care and treatment system will be critical to help us meet our goal for rapid access to recovery-oriented care and treatment.”

Several innovative types of treatment and care programs designed to meet the diverse needs of people with behavioral health challenges are being developed, including:

  • The 20-bed SOMA RISE Center will open in the fall of 2021 as part of the City’s response to the drug overdose crisis. It will offer a safe indoor space for people who have used methamphetamine or other substances, monitor their health while intoxicated, and connecting them with other health and social services.
  • A 10-bed residential treatment facility specifically designed to treat young adults with serious mental health and/or substance use disorders is under design.
  • Neighborhood-based psychiatric respite facilities for people experiencing homelessness to shelter in a safe, supportive environment where they can also access ongoing care.

Meanwhile, as board-and-care homes shutter due to the escalating costs of housing, DPH is also in active negotiations to acquire facilities to accommodate at least 73 residential care beds to support people with mental health issues who require assistance with activities of daily living. Some of these will support the elderly.

Critically, DPH is also creating 140 new beds to support people leaving residential substance use treatment – a last step in skill-building before independent housing.

In May, DPH alongside community partners PRC/Baker Places, the Salvation Army, and Tipping Point Community opened Hummingbird Valencia, a psychiatric respite facility for people experiencing homelessness in the Mission and Castro neighborhoods. It is now operating at full capacity with 30 overnight beds and 20 daytime drop-in spaces.

For the latest update on San Francisco’s residential care and treatment expansion, go to: sf.gov/residential-care-and-treatment.

San Francisco has also made available a daily update of available mental health and substance use treatment beds at: FindTreatmentSF.org. 

The San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Communications is the source of this story.

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