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School District Leaders Earn Top Pay

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Teachers and others in the school community are complaining that Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Antwan Wilson’s administration is top-heavy with highly paid new administrators who had worked in Denver, CO public schools.

<p>Wilson, formerly an assistant superintendent of Denver schools, earns $280,000 a year plus benefits. In addition, he received a $28,000 moving allowance and an additional payment for six months of temporary housing while he looks for a new home, as well as reimbursement for his legal expenses for negotiating his contract with the district.

The price of benefits generally adds more than one-third to the cost of an employee’s’ annual salary.

Troy Flint, the school district’s spokesman, told the Post that he is working on gathering the information on the amounts Supt. Wilson is being paid for temporary housing and for his legal expenses.

Administrative salaries frequently become a major issue during contract negotiations between school districts and teachers’ unions, especially in Oakland where teacher pay is the lowest in the Bay Area.

 

Oakland’s two previous top executives were Gary Yee, acting superintendent who earned $250,000 a year; and Tony Smith, who was formerly a superintendent in Emeryville, earned $265,000 a year when he left the district.

 

Also from Denver, Chief of Schools Allen Smith earns $175,000 and received $15,000 for moving expenses.

 

Yana Smith, Chief of Organizational Effectiveness & Culture, Allen Smith’s wife, is earning $155,000 and $12,500 for moving costs.

 

Devin Dillon, Chief Academic Officer, Office of the Superintendent, is earning $175,000 plus $11,000 for moving.

 

Bernard McCune, Deputy Chief of the Office of Post-Secondary Readiness, earns $157,000 a year plus $17,000 for moving costs.

 

Ray Mondragon, deputy chief academic of early childhood learning, is earning $157,000. The position is grant funded.

A number of these positions are newly created and supplement existing top administrators in the district.

 

Other new officials include Isaac Kos-Read, chief of Communications and Public Affairs, who earns $192,000. He previously worked as director of External affairs at the Port of Oakland and was a public affairs consultant for the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

His position is paid by the Oakland Public Education Fund, which has an office in the school district headquarters.

According to Flint, the district’s spokesman, Kos-Read plays a crucial role at the school district.

“Isaac brings substantial experience and expertise in Public Affairs and Communications, areas where the District has suffered from lack of capacity for years,” he said. “The marginal benefits of adding someone of Isaac’s talents yields benefits far beyond the cost in terms of increased ability to interact with diverse stakeholder groups, identify community concerns, and deal with those issues effectively.”

The Oakland Post is hearing from community members and district staff that they are concerned that the superintendent’s reliance on administrators from outside Oakland contributes to what they say is his team’s relative isolation from the concerns of local people and a tendency to make mistakes in judgment based on ignorance or disregard for local realities.

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Activism

OPINION: An Agenda for Jobs and Freedom in Oakland

This struggle is not over, and the work must continue, as today the Black unemployment rate continues to far exceed the white unemployment rate in America. The racial wealth gap is large, and, in Oakland, our local disparity studies continue to document, year after year, the ongoing exclusion of Black-owned businesses from important city opportunities in contracts and economic development.  

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Rebecca Kaplan. Oakland.ca.gov photo.
Rebecca Kaplan. Oakland.ca.gov photo.

By Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember-At-Large

In 1963, hundreds of thousands of people marched in what many now refer to as the March on Washington for Civil Rights. But the march organizers called it the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, fighting for justice and equality under law and equal access to economic opportunities and jobs.

This struggle is not over, and the work must continue, as today the Black unemployment rate continues to far exceed the white unemployment rate in America. The racial wealth gap is large, and, in Oakland, our local disparity studies continue to document, year after year, the ongoing exclusion of Black-owned businesses from important city opportunities in contracts and economic development.

That is part of why I and others have been pushing to remedy these problems, and fighting to ensure that jobs, business contracts, and development opportunities in the City of Oakland must, much more significantly, include our Black community.

One of the recommendations that came from conducting the most recent disparity study, was to ensure that Black contractors are ready and able to bid on city contracts.

As a result, and with strong community support, we fought for and won a budget amendment allocating hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund a project, in conjunction with the Construction Resource Center, to provide training and technical support to ensure Black contractors have improved access to these opportunities.

And yet, at every turn, there has been opposition and obstruction to these efforts, from an Administration which initially tried not to even conduct the legally mandated disparity study in the first place, to hide the data about the extent of the ongoing inequities and tried to block the release of the study.

Once the study was released, and our budget amendment had passed, they then continued to obstruct these efforts, refusing to issue the funds for the contract. Repeated and ongoing efforts — including demanding follow-up public reports from the Administration on the status of funds — were required to get the support that the Council had approved, issued.

Similar obstruction also took place with workforce investment funds — even as communities in Oakland continue to suffer the economic fallout from both the pandemic and decades of under-investment and inequality.

Monies the Council has approved to support workforce development, job training, and job placement have been delayed and undermined. In fact, this issue of delay of funding of these vital needs has been such an ongoing problem that former Councilmember Desley Brooks authored a law, which Council passed, mandating “prompt payment” — recognizing that crucial organizations doing work to improve quality of life and opportunity are impeded and undermined when payment is not issued promptly.

We have continued to push for full implementation of this law.

This is also why the plan of the African American Sports and Entertainment Group (AASEG) to develop 30,000 jobs in the revitalization of the Oakland Coliseum site is so important.

This vital development opportunity is one of the most significant in the entire county. It is on a large site that is central to the entire region, with easy access to BART, freeways, the airport and more.

The land has been approved for development through the completion of the Coliseum Area Specific Plan, as well as Oakland having completed California’s required Surplus Lands process.

This large site can provide for housing at all income levels, business, entertainment, hotel, convention, biotech, public services, and much more, and provide for quality jobs for our community, both during construction and in ongoing jobs going forward.

This important effort, too, faced ongoing obstruction from the Administration, and, nevertheless, we persisted, and it was approved in November 2021 by the City Council in a unanimous vote!

In order to ensure that Oakland, and particularly, the Black community in Oakland, will have the opportunity to fully succeed, it is essential that the next mayor of Oakland be someone who not only will stop the obstruction of these important efforts, but also who will actively champion them and help ensure they are brought to fruition.

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Activism

Environmental Advocate Margaret Gordon Turns Against Oakland A’s Development 

“We, as a community, should hold everybody to task around the issue of equity,” West Oakland community leader and environmental advocate Margaret Gordon said. “The A’s started off talking about equity and ended up putting [all the costs] back on the city. That’s not equity. Unmitigated environmental issues — that’s not equity. I don’t believe they are going to [build affordable] housing — that’s not equity.”

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West Oakland community leader and environmental advocate Margaret Gordon, co-founder of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP), has served on the Port Commission and has struggled for decades to reduce the impact of industrial pollutants that cause respiratory illnesses and improve the overall air quality in her community.
West Oakland community leader and environmental advocate Margaret Gordon, co-founder of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP), has served on the Port Commission and has struggled for decades to reduce the impact of industrial pollutants that cause respiratory illnesses and improve the overall air quality in her community.

The former Port Commissioner says, ‘The A’s should adopt fair and equitable benefits to Oakland or stop lying and saying (they’re) doing community benefits.’

By Ken Epstein

Until recently, West Oakland community leader and environmental advocate Margaret Gordon had been on board with billionaire John Fisher’s massive real estate and stadium development project at Howard Terminal, which is public land at the Port of Oakland.

She has now withdrawn her support and is actively opposed to the development. In an interview with the Oakland Post this week, she said she was involved since the beginning several years ago, working with others to produce a community benefits agreement with the A’s, which the A’s were expected to pay for.

But the A’s have gone back on their promises, she said.

“We, as a community, should hold everybody to task around the issue of equity,” Gordon said. “The A’s started off talking about equity and ended up putting [all the costs] back on the city. That’s not equity. Unmitigated environmental issues — that’s not equity. I don’t believe they are going to [build affordable] housing — that’s not equity.”

Gordon, co-founder of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP), has served on the Port Commission and has struggled for decades to reduce the impact of industrial pollutants that cause respiratory illnesses and improve the overall air quality in her community.

She said her goal in working with the A’s development was to design social justice and environmental justice projects to support West Oakland, Chinatown, Jack London Square area and Old Oakland, four areas that would be most impacted by the massive project.

“We agreed with the City to sit down and do a community benefits agreement, which included education, environmental improvements, housing, jobs, business development,” she said. “We met for almost two years trying to develop our own agreement with the City and the A’s. We finalized our draft, telling them that this is what we want.”

But then the A’s shifted their position. “All of sudden, the A’s stopped the process. We wanted more conversations as part of negotiations. But there never were negotiations to finalize the community benefits agreement,” she said.

“There were no sit-downs with the A’s or city staff. Never.”

Gordon said she was not encouraged by the role of the mayor and city staff in the process. “I don’t see who is going to hold the A’s feet to the fire to enforce community benefits,” not the mayor, the city administrator nor city staff, she said.

She said city leaders are “so hungry for money and development, as long as it’s not in [their] neighborhood, [they] don’t care,” she said, adding that the A’s and the City should adopt benefits to Oakland that are “fair and equitable, or stop lying and saying you’re doing community benefits.”

She said poor people, African Americans, Latinos and others are not going to benefit from this project. “I don’t see them building affordable housing next to the million-dollar townhouses. I just don’t see it.”

People took tours of the Howard Terminal area in December, and it dawned on them that the plans were to create a “whole new city within Oakland,” an exclusive gated new city for rich people

“They decided to release the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) during the holidays, minimizing public input,” she said. “The staff, the City of Oakland, they obviously don’t care [about community benefits], otherwise they wouldn’t have written the EIR the way they did,” said Gordon.

“They keep talking about equity, but they’re not practicing equity. This [Environmental Impact Report] is evidence of that. This is all problematic.”

Many of the needed mitigations have not been addressed, Gordon continued. The stadium would be built where thousands of huge semi-trucks are parked now at Howard Terminal, but the City and the A’s still haven’t said where said where the truck parking will be moved, meaning they may be going back onto city streets, polluting residential neighborhoods.

Nor have the officials offered solutions to the large traffic jams that will be produced by the development.

Not only will Oakland residents not get community benefits, they will also end up footing the bill for a lot of the project, Gordon continued.

“We the public are going to end up paying for the infrastructure,” she said. “This is going to use public money.” Over $800 million in public funds will be used on the project.

“The A’s should be paying for this. The rich people who are going to be moving over there should be paying for this,” said Gordon.

“I am not surprised to hear that the A’s have reneged on promises made to the community,“ said Paul Cobb, publisher of the Oakland Post. “The A’s want hundreds of millions of taxpayer money, but they don’t want to pay for community benefits like every other developer does.

“They renege on affordable housing and then turn around and bully our elected leaders by saying if they don’t get what they want, they will leave. Our elected leaders should end this drama now. They need to focus on jobs, homelessness, public safety and real issues affecting Oakland residents, not the ongoing give-and-take sham game played by the A’s.”

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Activism

County Employees Rise to the Donation Occasion

The campaign allows the workforce to make biweekly paycheck deductions or one-time donations to nonprofit federations that assist a variety of charities. Employees can also pick charities of their choice. With employees giving at the office in a combined campaign, nonprofits save the time, effort, and expense of seeking out and processing individual donations. Payroll deductions create a reliable way for the nonprofits to predict contributions and plan for consistent revenue streams.

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Liza Massey, the County’s Chief Information Officer and the Heart of Marin countywide campaign coordinator.
Liza Massey, the County’s Chief Information Officer and the Heart of Marin countywide campaign coordinator.

Annual payroll deductions and one-time contributions help nonprofits

Courtesy of Marin County

It’s the Giving Season, but County of Marin employees have proven again that giving is a yearlong endeavor. The County workforce demonstrated its community spirit by committing to the Marin County Employees Charitable Giving Campaign, known internally as the Heart of Marin. A sum of more than $108,000 was committed in charitable donations via payroll deductions and one-time donations this holiday season, and that money will be dispersed to nonprofit agencies steadily throughout the coming year.

“I am thrilled that we surpassed our goal of $100,000,” said Liza Massey, the County’s Chief Information Officer and the Heart of Marin countywide campaign coordinator. “The past two years have been hard on everyone, especially nonprofits and charities. Many have closed and others are close to it. County employees’ generosity will help prevent that from happening and benefit critical programs both locally and globally.”

The $108,000 figure was an increase from the $98,000 raised by the workforce last year. Total donations rose 10% and payroll deductions were boosted by 7% during the November campaign. Last holiday season, County employees surpassed the $1 million mark in total charitable contributions since starting the coordinated effort in 2007.

The campaign allows the workforce to make biweekly paycheck deductions or one-time donations to nonprofit federations that assist a variety of charities. Employees can also pick charities of their choice. With employees giving at the office in a combined campaign, nonprofits save the time, effort, and expense of seeking out and processing individual donations. Payroll deductions create a reliable way for the nonprofits to predict contributions and plan for consistent revenue streams.

Among the County’s 22 departments, the Department of Health and Human Services raised the most funds, followed by Information Services and Technology and Public Works. The Public Defender’s Office and County Counsel had the highest percentage of employee participation.

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