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Richmond Mayor Opposes Solar-Powered Light Rail Company



Special to the Post


Richmond Mayor Tom Butt after a recent city council meeting posted a blog attack on local company CyberTran International, Inc.


(CTI) and the company’s president Dexter Vizinau. CTI is a transit innovation development company that for close to 20 years has been working to bring Ultra Light Rail Transit (ULRT) systems to market. In comparison, BART was first envisioned in 1946 and began a demonstration project in 1971. 


BART technology could not have been implemented without government funding.


The light-rail system, if fully deployed, will eventually be in direct competition with BART. Butt’s company works as a consult for AC Transit, which is in competition with CyberTran.


Butt is against any government monies supporting such technology and has repeatedly refused to provide any letters of support even though he claims to support the technology.


Publicly, he has voted to support the efforts, but his actions demonstrate otherwise.


In his blog statement, Butt starts off by stating the company is not a legal company. CTI, a legal corporation since 1994, had a brief administrative mishap and is currently in good standing as a legal corporation.


Mayor Butt states that CTI has never built or tested anything.


According to Vizinau, all but one of Richmond’s City Council Members have visited the company’s facilities including Butt and have even sat in the 2nd generation prototype.


The system has already been built and tested with over $6 million dollars having been invested in the development of the technology. ULRT was designed to reach speeds up to 150 mph and has been analyzed by the American Association of Railroads.


According to CTI Board Chairman Neil Sinclair, “We don’t have engineering problems, we have political problems.”


The company has taken the prototype vehicle up to 60 mph and has proven the system can climb a 10 percent grade. This means the system can go over grades such as the Altamont Pass and the Grapevine on Highway 5.


Neither BART-type systems nor Bullet Trains can do this and have to tunnel, which is very costly. A study conducted by BART concluded ULRT would be a quarter of the cost to build and half the cost to operate and maintain, compared to a BART type of system.


BART is PG&E’s biggest customer, while ULRT will run on solar and generate eight times more energy than it consumes. The system is a power grid with a transit system in it that provides clean renewable energy to surrounding communities everywhere it will be installed.


ULRT is disruptive technology. According to Vizinau, there is no shortage of status quo groups that don’t want to see this technology move forward.


“Panic is setting in because we are so close to funding so there is a push to discredit ULRT,” said Vizinau.


In 2011, the Richmond City Council voted unanimously to explore a public-private partnership and seek ways to include the system in the city’s general plan. Since Richmond has taken steps to potentially be the first the city to deploy ULRT, the company has made great progress in Washington, D.C.


Washington is only interested in demonstrations that lead to deployment says Vizinau. Somebody has got to be first.


According to Richmond Councilman Eduardo Martinez, “We want to capture the opportunity to create good well-paying jobs in Richmond and be the first.”


However, Mayor Butt has a seat on the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee (WCCTAC), and he is doing everything within his power to kill the idea.


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Assembly Candidates Confront the Issues:  Howard Terminal , Local Control of Schools, Reparations

The candidates are running to represent Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro in a June 29 special election for California State Assembly District #18, a seat that was previously held by Rob Bonta, who was recently appointed as California Attorney General.





James Aguilar

Janani Ramachandran

Malia Vella

Mia Bonta


Candidates for State Assembly responded to pointed  questions on some of the critical issues facing Oakland schools and the community – including displacement, housing, reparations, public safety and returning full local control to the public schools – at a recent Education Candidate Forum on Zoom hosted by the School of Education at Holy Names University in Oakland, in partnership with the Oakland Post Community Assembly.

The candidates are running to represent Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro in a June 29 special election for California State Assembly District #18, a seat that was previously held by Rob Bonta, who was recently appointed as California Attorney General. Candidates attending the forum were James Aguilar, Victor Aguilar, Mia Bonta, Joel Britton, Janani Ramachandran, and Malia Vella.

The event was hosted by Dr. Kimberly Mayfield, dean of the School of Education at  Holy Names, who emphasized the importance of these issues for the city’s future.

“We have just come through a moral and political crisis (in this country) around racism and the government’s role in maintaining this system. We are looking for a new approach, and this is the lens we will be using today for this education forum,” said  Dr. Mayfield.

Also welcoming the candidates and the public to event were Oakland Post publisher Paul Cobb and his wife Gay Plair Cobb, who highlighted  their intense interest in schools and education. Paul Cobb is a former member of the Oakland Board of Education, and Gay Cobb served for many years on the Alameda County Board of Education.

The first question to  candidates was whether they would oppose the big money coalition of politicians and  powerful interests  behind  Oakland A’s owner John Fisher’s stadium and massive downtown real estate project at Howard Terminal. 

 Opponents of the project  argue  that the A’s proposal is vaguely worded and would come at a  high cost to Oakland taxpayers, who would foot the bill for decades. They say the development would create  a city-within-a-city, like Piedmont, that would  displace local residents and likely wreck  the Port of Oakland and its decent-paying longshore jobs, turning the city’s waterfront  and downtown into a tourist attraction like Pier 39 in San Francisco.

Of the three candidates who are considered to be the top contenders., only Janani Ramachandran was strongly opposed to Fisher’s deal. Malia Vella and Mia Bonta raised concerns but did not oppose the development. 

James Aguilar, Victor Aguilar and Joel  Britton were also against the project.

Bonta, president of the school board in Alameda, said, “I believe that there is a way for us to be able to hold the Oakland A’s accountable to the plan and the processes that they made … starting with stakeholder involvement in the environmental impact of the proposed project.”

Malia Vella,  vice mayor of Alameda and attorney for the Teamsters Union, said, “We need to have community input. The best projects are the results of a robust process that involve community stakeholders,… and an opportunity to meaningfully engage.. to get the best community benefits.”

Said Janani  Ramachandran, a social justice attorney, “I was the first candidate in this race who took an uncompromising, clear and public stand against the project … because having visited Howard Terminal, I have seen why it is entirely unfeasible and harmful to our West Oakland residents and extremely harmful to our thriving port, the fifth largest in the country.”

The candidates supported the statewide demand or reparations and the movement for Reparations for Black Students raised by community groups in Oakland.  They also backed an approach to public safety that deemphasizes policing and stresses the need for jobs, housing and health care to build safe communities. 

Candidates also backed the return of local control of Oakland schools and loan forgiveness, to end the domination of the schools  by a state-imposed trustee and the austerity program pushed by Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team (FCMAT),as well as halting the closing of schools in flatland neighborhoods.

Bonta called for “an end state receivership, which is decades old, and  the FCMAT order that has created a status of fiscal enslavement of Oakland Unified, which paired with growth of charter schools has created a structural deficit that OUSD  can’t get out from under.”

About teacher recruitment, all the candidates said would seek to end expensive standardized tests and other obstacles facing Black and other people of color who want to become teachers.

Janani Ramachandran said she would support legislation  “to remove excess and expensive tests and other barriers that .. keep Black and other potential teachers of color from entering the profession.”


To watch the video of the forum, go to

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Bay Area

Pastors of Oakland, Oakland Police Expanding Community Chaplaincy Program

The program is seeking clergy with cultural competency to meet the needs of Oakland citizens who are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist – especially in Asian, Latino and African American communities.



Pastor Phyllis Scott is president of Pastors of Oakland. Photo courtesy of Phyllis Scott. By Post Staff

In preparation for building up the Community Chaplaincy Program with the Oakland Police Department (OPD), the Pastors of Oakland (POC) is looking for potential chaplains to serve  citizens in the worst of times.

According to Phyllis Scott, pastor of Tree of Life Empowerment Ministries and current president of Pastors of Oakland, OPD Chief LeRonne Armstrong is looking for at least 30 men and women to accompany officers to help victims of crime and their families who are in crisis.

The crises can range from homicide to sexual assault, to domestic violence, to car accidents and more.

Community Chaplains must have the ability to serve believers and non-believers alike and “must advocate for healing regardless of faith,” Scott said.

The program is seeking clergy with cultural competency to meet the needs of Oakland citizens who are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist – especially in Asian, Latino and African American communities.

Not all Community Chaplains must have a religious affiliation. Professionals like teachers, caregivers and healers who have several years working in community may also serve.

Though Scott feels that some cultural values can be taught in the training, it’s not so easy to teach a language, and so bilingual chaplains will also be in demand.

“We are looking for people who have heart for Oakland,” she said.

Lt. Aaron Smith, who is assisting Chief Armstrong in expanding the program, agrees. Currently, there are 15-25 chaplains on call but “not all are willing to go where emotions are running high,” he said.

Once the details are hammered out, dates will be set for training, Scott said, who was herself certified to do this work in 2009. The training, six weekly sessions, will include instruction by specialists familiar with the emotional states of people who are in shock because of a homicide, domestic violence, sexual assault, and sex trafficking “without interfering with law enforcement,” Scott said.

Typical needs are help with planning a vigil, getting the body of a victim out of the morgue, finding a church or a place to hold a funeral that isn’t too expensive. Once those issues are dealt with, the family can freely grieve, and then they can begin to heal.

Scott cited an instance where a boy was shot to death, and the family and community, fearing reprisal, were essentially afraid to grieve openly. That’s where the chaplaincy came in, joining forces with OPD so the young man was funeralized safely, Scott said.

OPD and Pastors of Oakland want chaplains who are located in all parts of the city, roughly East Oakland, West Oakland and North Oakland. Once contacted by OPD, a ‘beat’ captain will call on the chaplain or chaplains in that area who have agreed to be available day or night.

Besides the city streets, Scott would like to see Community Chaplains at Highland Hospital, which is where many trauma victims are treated and where further violence against victims can be perpetrated as when gang members try to kill someone who survived an attack.

Scott said she is bracing for an escalation in violence, not just because it’s almost summer, the most dangerous season of the year, but because homicides were already alarmingly high so far this year, despite the pandemic.

Last month, there were four homicides in one week: two 17-year-old boys were shot to death, and the next day two teenaged girls died when a party bus was shot up by more than one assailant as it traveled from the freeway and ended up at 73rd and MacArthur –  just a few blocks from Scott’s home. She wished she could haven there.

For those interested in learning more about the Community Chaplains, please call Pastors of Oakland at 510-688-7437.


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Actor Clarence Williams III, 81

Williams was an actor from 1960 to 2018 and was best known for his roles as Linc in “The Mod Squad” (and his signature line, solid) (1968-1973) and Prince’s father in “Purple Rain” in 1984.




Actor Clarence Williams III

Actor Clarence Williams III was born on Aug. 21, 1939 in New York, New York and died on June 4, 2021 of colon cancer in Los Angeles, California.

Williams was an actor from 1960 to 2018 and was best known for his roles as Linc in “The Mod Squad” (and his signature line, solid) (1968-1973) and Prince’s father in “Purple Rain” in 1984.

He acted in the theatre, on television and in film.

On “The Mod Squad” Williams was one of the first Black actors to have a lead role on a television series. Following in the footsteps of Bill Cosby and Diahann Carroll.

Cosby recommended Williams for his role as Linc.

He was married to actress Gloria Foster from 1967 to 1984 when they divorced.  Foster died in 2001.

Williams is survived by his daughter, Jamey Phillips.

Wikipedia, The New York Times, and CNN were sources for this story.

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