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Shutdown drags on

FLORIDA COURIER — Residual effects are being felt among people far removed from the federal government.

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By Barrington Salmon | Trice Edney News Wire

WASHINGTON D.C. ‒ While the focus of the media has centered primarily on the 800,000 federal employees who are currently sidelined without their paychecks because of the squabble over a wall on the southern border, the residual effects are being felt among people far removed from the federal government.

John E. DeFreitas began driving a taxicab when he was in college 40 years ago. The self-described “transportation specialist” said he has watched what is now the longest federal government shutdown in U. S. history unfold and swallow up the lives of significant numbers of people.

‘Things have died’

“Things haven’t slowed down, they have died,” DeFreitas said, referring to the pulse of the taxicab business on and well beyond Capitol Hill in the wake of the shutdown.

“There are no people on the street. I usually go to the Watergate where business is usually brisk, but now it’s at about 30 percent of capacity. I wait two or three hours before somebody comes out, and the few people coming out use cheap transportation. Unless they’re doing business, they won’t take taxis.”

DeFreitas said doormen’s hours have been cut back, others have been sidelined temporarily until business picks back up, and the numbers of maids, servers and cooks in restaurants in the Washington metropolitan area is being reduced or increased depending on demand.

“All the others outside of the federal government who’re being affected have lost wages and may never recoup them,” he said. “Nobody is saying how it directly and indirectly affects other people.

Closing up early

Fela Sekou Turner, a hairstylist located in the heart of the nation’s capital, caters to clientele who work for federal and D.C. governments.

“More of what we’re seeing is the experiences people are going through,” said Turner, a 23-year veteran and owner of Hair by Fela. “For example, we’re wrapping up our last clients at 5 on Friday when usually we’re not getting off ‘til 10 p.m. or 11. Our salon, and those of our friends, have really been affected by this.”

By “this,” Turner means a partial shutdown of 11 federal agencies initiated by President Donald Trump on Dec 22. He made that move because he’s upset congressional Democratic leaders have refused to agree to give him $5.7 billion for a wall to be constructed on America’s southern border – the wall that he repeatedly, during his campaign, said that Mexico would pay for.

Evidence-free warnings

For months, Trump has issued warnings about the influx of thousands of Central and Latin American migrants who he has wrongly branded murderers, drug dealers and terrorists.

The wall, he contends – despite evidence to the contrary – will keep out tens of thousands of Central and Latin American migrants from entering the country.

The president has threatened to declare a national security emergency, though none exists. He is using hyperbole and misleading statements about the criminality of brown-skinned immigrants to bolster his case, even though statistics show that immigrants commit less crimes than natural-born Americans.

Contrary to Trump’s characterizations, most of the migrants are running from gangs, violence and economic privations in their countries of origin.

Trump has stirred up fear among his base – majority White Americans. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have refused to budge. Trump is promising to keep the federal government closed ‒ for years if necessary ‒ until Democrats accede to his demands.

As a consequence, approximately 800,000 federal workers have missed their last paycheck. Approximately 420,000 workers deemed essential employees are working without pay, and an additional 380,000 are on furlough ‒ forced to stay home without pay.

Permanent loss

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of federal government contractors who are not full-time federal employees are not being paid and may never receive back pay, according to the Associated Press and other reports.

Fear, uncertainty and frustration is simmering as people try to figure out how to pay rent, mortgages, school fees, tuition and childcare, make car payments, determine what to cut back on, surmise what to eliminate ‒ and still take care of utilities and other facets of modern life that demand their money.

“I didn’t anticipate that it would last this long because of the optics. I thought it would last a week,” said Nurel Storey, vice president of the National Treasury Employees Union, Chapter 22 and a 33-year employee of the Internal Revenue Service.

Hard-hit households

“There is fear and anxiety. There are a lot of single mothers, households where both parents work for the federal government, people with kids. They still have to eat, deal with bill collectors, take care of their homes.”

A recent Business Insider story points out that affected federal workers have more than $400 million in mortgage and rent payments due this month. That could cause turmoil in the U.S. housing market.

Yet, there’s no resolution or end in sight for a shutdown that on Jan. 12 became the longest federal shutdown in U.S. history. Economic experts say if it lasts two more weeks, the cost to the economy will exceed the price of the wall.

Diane Stevens, owner of the Cole Stevens Salon, and Clayton Lawson, an area barber, said the apprehension is palpable.

Stevens’ company has 49 employees and two locations, one on Capitol Hill and the other in Greenbelt, Md. She said they are just beginning to feel the effects of the shutdown, but she still expects a spike.

“The beginning of the year is the time to do a splash of highlights, get a new haircut or different style for workouts. (But) we’ve been looking at the numbers and we’ve seen a decrease, probably around 25 percent,” she said.

Discounts, free meals

Meanwhile, restaurants and an assortment of eateries have been offering affected workers free coffee, pizzas, burgers and other meals, according to published reports. Churches in and around D.C. have appealed for contributions to their food banks to assist furloughed federal workers and others during the hard times. Establishments are offering entrance into activities at community and fitness centers and private museums.

Turner, a Pittsburgh native, says this outpouring of support he’s seeing from regular people is unprecedented.

“I’ve never seen people come together as much as they have. On Facebook, people are giving groceries and discounts on business services,” he said. “So many people are saying, ‘No, we won’t let this happen.’ When people pull together, a great deal can be done. This will bring a certain unity we haven’t had before. I think people will learn to take care of each other.”

This article originally appeared in the Florida Courier.

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Activism

Inheriting the Mantle: Who Will Carry the Legacy of John George?

Black political representation in Oakland and Berkeley was spurred by the Black Panther Party’s political organizing which began with the support of Shirley Chisholm’s bid for president in 1972 and an effort to elect Bobby Seale as mayor and Elaine Brown to City Council.  

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John George became the first African American to hold the District 5 seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. He was followed by Warren Widener and then Keith Carson who decided not to seek re-election in December 2023. File, Facebook and campaign photos respectively.
John George became the first African American to hold the District 5 seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. He was followed by Warren Widener and then Keith Carson who decided not to seek re-election in December 2023. File, Facebook and campaign photos respectively.

By LV McElhaney

This Black History Month, voters in Alameda County will be deciding which of eight candidates will succeed Supervisor Keith Carson in the District 5 race. Long considered a civil rights seat, this may be the first time in 30 years that there won’t be a Black leader at the helm since John George became the first African American elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1976.

Black political representation in Oakland and Berkeley was spurred by the Black Panther Party’s political organizing which began with the support of Shirley Chisholm’s bid for president in 1972 and an effort to elect Bobby Seale as mayor and Elaine Brown to City Council.

Before helping George, a young Black attorney who had sued Oakland over voter disenfranchisement and to create district elections, win a seat at the all-white Republican Board of Supervisors, the Panther organization was instrumental in electing Oakland’s first Black mayor, Lionel Wilson to office in 1977.

George was succeeded by another African American, Warren Widener, who served three terms from 1989 – 1992.  Widener also broke the color barrier when he became the first Black mayor in Berkeley. Widener would become a pioneer in what would become the affordable housing sector when he developed a program to build military housing on vacant land owned by the government working with his classmate, retired Navy Rear Adm. Robert Toney. That program produced more than 3,500 housing units throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and became a model for the nation.

When he sought a third term on the Board of Supervisors, Widener was defeated by newcomer, Keith Carson, a young mentee of Ron Dellums, who was viewed as more progressive than Widener.  During his 30 years in office, Supervisor Carson was known as a steady leader who sought to build an inclusive and accessible government.

He created AC Impact, a program that provides permanent supportive housing and services to chronically homeless adults in Alameda County and was instrumental in funding community-based organizations to deliver services for people returning home from prison.

Carson, who was set to run unopposed, decided in December not to seek reelection to the Board of Supervisors.  The decision shocked many in the African American community who are concerned that Black leadership is under pressure from neo-progressives and social democrats who pursue policies that threaten Black land and business ownership.

Among the eight competing to succeed Carson are two Black men, Berkeley Councilmember Ben Bartlett, and former Oakland School Board member Greg Hodge.  This diverse district includes the cities of Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Piedmont, and large portions of Oakland, namely the West Oakland, North Oakland, Rockridge, and Montclair neighborhoods, as well as portions of the Dimond, Bella Vista, and San Antonio districts.

Also running are Emeryville Councilmember Jon Bauters, Oakland Councilmember Nikki Fortunato-Bas, and social worker Ken Berrick, who previously served on the Alameda County Board of Education.

L.V. McElhaney served two-terms on the Oakland City Council and was the first Black woman to serve as Oakland Council President. She championed the establishment of the Department of Violence Prevention to channel investments into community-led solutions to eradicate gun-related violence and violence against women and children. LV. Holds a BA in Political Science from UC Berkeley and PhD from Mills College.

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Activism

PRESS ROOM: Oakland Pic Hosts New Year’s Career & Resource Expo 

OPIC CEO Pastor Raymond Lankford expressed his enthusiasm for the event, stating: “This Career Fair is not merely a gathering of employers and prospective employees; it’s a platform for opportunity, growth, and community collaboration. We are thrilled to bridge the gap between Oakland’s talented residents and the employers who recognize their potential. Together, we are building a stronger Oakland.” 

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Connecting Employers and Talent in Oakland and Beyond 

OAKLAND, CA – Oakland Private Industry Council, Inc., is hosting the New Year’s Career & resource Expo on Thursday, February 8, 2024, at 12 noon at the Oakland Coliseum – Eastside Club – 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland CA 94621.

This exciting event brings together over 70 employers, all seeking to hire Oakland residents with various skill levels to fill a wide range of employment opportunities. Additionally, a collaborative of resource agencies will be in attendance, providing further assistance to job seekers.

OPIC CEO Pastor Raymond Lankford expressed his enthusiasm for the event, stating: “This Career Fair is not merely a gathering of employers and prospective employees; it’s a platform for opportunity, growth, and community collaboration. We are thrilled to bridge the gap between Oakland’s talented residents and the employers who recognize their potential. Together, we are building a stronger Oakland.”

For more information or to request media access, please contact Yawo Tekpa at yawot@oaklandpic.org.

OAKLAND PIC HOSTS NEW YEAR’S CAREER & RESOURCE EXPO 

  • Who:             All job seekers, with all ages and experiences welcome
  • What:              Connecting Employers and Talent in the Community
  • When: Thursday, February 8, 2024 at 12 noon
  • Where: Oakland Coliseum – Eastside Club – 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland CA 94621.

OPIC INVITES YOUR ORGANIZATION TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR UPCOMING NEW YEAR’S CAREER & RESOURCE EXPO!!!

Dear Esteemed Employer & Community Organization Partner,

Oakland Private Industry Council, Inc. (OPIC) is excited to wish you a warm welcome into 2024! A new year, a new HOPE!!!

We enthusiastically invite your organization to participate in our NEW YEAR CAREER & RESOURCE EXPO at the OAKLAND COLISEUM!!!

DATE: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2024

TIME: 12:00 NOON – 3:00 P.M.

LOCATION: OAKLAND COLISEUM – EAST SIDE CLUB

ADDRESS: 7000 COLISEUM WAY, OAKLAND CA 94621

Participating Employer & and Community Resource Partners will receive one six-foot table and two (2) chairs for this event. Additional information, including event details and logistics, will be forwarded after you sign-up.

Please confirm your attendance by completing the online registration link below by JANUARY 31, 2024 at the latest.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1bfv0LXBexc26AeE_cosSoQrpYrx2HXOIwn1bG47chwU/edit

Thanks to our invaluable network and partnership, we are giving HOPE to many community members through quality employment opportunities and supportive resources.

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact Yawo Tekpa, Assistant One-Stop Operator/Events Coordinator, at (510) 419-0392 office/ (510) 499-6657 cell.

Sincerely,

Raymond Lankford                Yawo S. Tekpa,

CEO                           Assistant One-Stop Operator/Events Coordinator

raymondl@oaklandpic.org                   yawot@oaklandpic.org

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Business

California African American Chamber of Commerce to Host 2 Economic Summit in Los Angeles

Another discussion will be a Mayor’s Roundtable, featuring African American mayors from Northern, Central, and Southern California. Regional perspectives on African American participation in the California economy will be shared by these panelists as well as challenges and opportunities for businesses in their respective cities. Deborah Robertson, Mayor of Rialto, will be the roundtable’s moderator.

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Another discussion will be a Mayor’s Roundtable, featuring African American mayors from Northern, Central, and Southern California. Regional perspectives on African American participation in the California economy will be shared by these panelists as well as challenges and opportunities for businesses in their respective cities. Deborah Robertson, Mayor of Rialto, will be the roundtable’s moderator.
The California African American Chamber of Commerce (CAACC) and California African American Action Fund (CAAAF) will hold their 2nd Annual State of California African American Economy Summit in L.A. on Jan. 24 and Jan 25. The Summit will be held at the Westin Los Angeles Airport located at 5400 W. Century Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045. The Conference is designed to discuss specific economic topics as well as provide opportunities for business owners, entrepreneurs, advocates and other guests to connect, learn, and grow.

By California Black Media

The California African American Chamber of Commerce (CAACC) and California African American Action Fund (CAAAF) will hold their 2nd Annual State of California African American Economy Summit in L.A. on Jan. 24 and Jan 25.

The Summit will be held at the Westin Los Angeles Airport located at 5400 W. Century Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045.

The Conference is designed to discuss specific economic topics as well as provide opportunities for business owners, entrepreneurs, advocates and other guests to connect, learn, and grow.

Speakers at the summit will include Dr. Julianne Malveaux (Economist), Dr. Anthony Samad (Executive Director Mervyn Dymally Institute), and Tara Lynn Gray (Director of The California Office of Small Business Advocate – CalOSBA), among others. They will also participate in the State of California Economy Panel.

Another discussion will be a Mayor’s Roundtable, featuring African American mayors from Northern, Central, and Southern California. Regional perspectives on African American participation in the California economy will be shared by these panelists as well as challenges and opportunities for businesses in their respective cities. Deborah Robertson, Mayor of Rialto, will be the roundtable’s moderator.

CAACC Chairman Timothy Alan Simon Esq. will host a fireside chat with keynote speaker Janice Bryant-Howroyd. Bryant-Howroyd is the founder and chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based The ActOne Group, the largest privately held, minority-woman-owned personnel company founded in the United States.

Vaughn M. Williams III, Principal Supplier Diversity Advisor for SoCalGas Company will be the moderator for Business Matchmaking, a session that facilitates networking among business owners across sectors.

For more information on the summit, call (800) 791-7068.

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