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Tracy Morgan Settles Suit with Wal-Mart Over Fatal Crash

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In this April 9, 2014 file photo, actor Tracy Morgan attends the FX Networks Upfront premiere screening of "Fargo" at the SVA Theater in New York. Kevin Roper, a Wal-Mart driver involved in a New Jersey highway crash that killed a comic and severely injured Morgan, has asked a federal judge to reconsider her decision not to delay Morgan’s lawsuit against the company. Roper is not a defendant in Morgan’s lawsuit against Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. but wants to intervene to delay it from moving forward until his criminal case is resolved. He filed his appeal Monday, Feb. 16,  2015. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP, File)

In this April 9, 2014 file photo, actor Tracy Morgan attends the FX Networks Upfront premiere screening of “Fargo” at the SVA Theater in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP, File)

DAVID PORTER, Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Actor-comedian Tracy Morgan has settled his lawsuit against Wal-Mart over a highway crash that killed one man and left Morgan and two friends seriously injured.

Morgan’s lawyer, Benedict Morelli, said he and Walmart worked diligently to reach the settlement for the plaintiffs and their families.

“Walmart took full responsibility for the accident, which we greatly appreciate,” he said Wednesday in a statement.

In the same statement, Morgan said Wal-Mart “did right by me and my family, and for my associates and their families. I am grateful that the case was resolved amicably.”

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. called it an “amicable settlement.”

A filing in federal court in Newark referred to a confidential settlement reached by the two sides, and details weren’t disclosed.

A Wal-Mart truck slammed into the back of a limo van carrying Morgan and the others back from a show in Delaware last June. Comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair was killed. Morgan suffered head trauma, a broken leg and broken ribs and is still recovering.

Wal-Mart reached a settlement with McNair’s two children in January. McNair, of Peekskill, New York, grew up with Morgan in New York City and was a friend and mentor to him over the years.

Wal-Mart had said earlier this year it was working toward settlements with the victims of the crash.

“We know there is nothing we can do to change what happened to Mr. McNair,” company spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said in January. “We’re committed to doing what’s right.”

The truck driver, Kevin Roper, of Jonesboro, Georgia, faces several criminal charges, including death by auto, in state court. He has pleaded not guilty. He wasn’t a defendant in Morgan’s federal lawsuit.

Morgan, who starred on “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock,” suffered what his lawyer has referred to as a traumatic brain injury and hasn’t worked since. The lawyer said in March that Morgan wasn’t fully recovered but was “working very hard to get better, physically, emotionally and mentally.”

Morgan had hoped to attend the 40th anniversary show of “Saturday Night Live” in February but was unable to.

Limo van passengers Ardley Fuqua, of Jersey City, New Jersey, and Jeffrey Millea, of Shelton, Connecticut, also suffered serious injuries in the crash and were plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Wal-Mart.

According to a criminal complaint, Roper was operating the truck without having slept for more than 24 hours.

A preliminary investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board estimated that Roper was driving 65 mph in the minute before he slammed into Morgan’s limo van on the New Jersey Turnpike. The speed limit on that stretch of the turnpike is 55 mph and was lowered to 45 mph that night because of construction.

Authorities said Roper apparently failed to slow for traffic ahead and then swerved to avoid a crash but instead his big rig smashed into the back of Morgan’s limo.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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ILWU Profile: Marcus McDade, Working on Oakland’s Waterfront

Oakland’s longshore and dock workers are the frontline essential workers for economic pandemic relief and supply-chain restoration.

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ILWU member Marcus McDade

“I was born and grew up in North Oakland and attended Washington Elementary and Claremont Jr. High School, then Oakland Tech and graduated from Berkley High. I work for ILWU, Local 10 and have been a longshoreman for 22 years.  

“Before becoming a longshoreman, I worked small, part-time jobs including as a coach for after-school youth program football, basketball and baseball for Oakland Parks and Recreation. 

“A buddy called me one morning and said that the longshoremen were hiring and to get down to Jack London Square, fill out a postcard and send it in before 5 p.m. At the time, I wasn’t sure exactly what a longshoreman did, but I knew it was a good-paying job with benefits. 

“When I arrived at Jack London, there was a line wrapped around the corner. My buddy kept saying it was a good job, so I put in for it.  It was 1999, and my name was picked from the lottery. The rest is history. 

“This is a great job. It takes care of my family, my kids and me. I started off as a dock man, unidentified with no benefits, then identified and went straight to B-man and then A-man where I still am today.” 

“I like the fact that you can start at the bottom (unidentified) and be promoted to the top as A-Man. I’ve completed numerous skill trainings that allow me to work various waterfront jobs for good pay, including but not limited to operating top picks, calamars, cranes, and transtainers. 

“Not only are the pay and benefits great, I also love the flexibility. I pick up my jobs from the Hall and if a job is available and in alignment with my number, I can choose it because I’m trained in so many skilled jobs on the waterfront.

“Currently, I have a nephew who works on the Oakland waterfront.  I’m proud I was able to help my nephew have an opportunity as a longshoreman. He is a B-man and loves his job. Working on the waterfront as a longshoreman can involve strenuous physical labor, so it is not for everyone.

“Howard Terminal is on designated port land, and it provides more work for our industry and helps the whole port run more efficiently while keeping idling and parked cargo trucks off West Oakland streets. 

“The Oakland A’s should not have a ballpark there. The A’s move to Howard Terminal with thousands of fans will affect the future of the longshore workers, truckers, residents, and businesses. It’ll be far too congested down here and unsafe for the thousands of fans and residents who would be crossing rail lines and 24/7 cargo truck traffic.

“Make no mistake: I want the A’s to stay in Oakland. I’m a huge fan. I grew up in Oakland and in the same neighborhood as Ricky Henderson and his family. However, it would be best if the A’s found a way to continue playing at the Coliseum. 

“Longshoremen are essential American workers that keep America supplied with goods.”

 

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Business

A’s Owner John Fisher Port Proposal No Good for Oakland

Billionaire John Fisher, owner of the A’s, has things to do before he can take over Oakland’s public port property to build malls and housing for the rich. 

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Howard Terminal on Port of Oakland Map

OPINION

Billionaire John Fisher, owner of the A’s, has things to do before he can take over Oakland’s public port property to build malls and housing for the rich. 

It is such a bad idea and the costs to the public are so ridiculous that logically it shouldn’t happen.  But this right-wing, Trump-supporting Republican has a boatload of money and a few corporation-oriented politicians to help him push it through.  

So, Oaklanders need to be active, or he might get it. Here are two of the things we need to act on: 

  1. Fisher won’t spend his own money.  So, he wants Alameda County to give up spending on things like the COVID-19 pandemic, so we residents can pay for his project with taxpayer money.  The vote on this will come up to the Board of Supervisors on October 26.  If you’d prefer that the County fund health care, housing and other resident necessities, ask them to vote “No.” Call your supervisor at 510-208-4949 and/or attend the meeting.
  2. The Oakland City Council will make the ultimate decision about Fisher’s project and there are a zillion reasons they should say “No.”  Among them: a) Fisher’s project requires that thousands of people run across the tracks of a busy railroad, which killed a number of people even before there were big crowds needing to get to their condos or a stadium.   b) And  Fisher’s project would wreck Oakland’s Port.  The “Seaport Compatibility Measures” necessary to keep the Port alive would cost hundreds of millions of dollars which would not be needed if it were not for Fisher’s project.  So, Fisher, not taxpayers, should pay for them. c)  And then there are all the other ways it will hurt the waterfront, the environment, and Port workers.

You can get contact information to reach your Council member here – https://www.oaklandca.gov/officials

Personally, any public official who votes for Fisher’s project will never get my vote again.   Call me hard-headed, but the harm to  Oakland as a working-class, multi-racial city, the harm to the ILWU (the union of Port workers, perhaps the most progressive union in America)  and the opposition of the people of East Oakland are enough to make my hard head think that’s what solidarity requires.

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Business

Development Group Proposes Black Panther Film Studios at Coliseum

Elaine Brown, former Black Panther Party leader and CEO of Oakland & the World Enterprises (OAW), has teamed up with master developer McCormack Baron Salazar (MBS), to create The Coliseum Dream development project.

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Elaine Brown via Twitter

Elaine Brown, former Black Panther Party leader and CEO of Oakland & the World Enterprises (OAW), has teamed up with master developer McCormack Baron Salazar (MBS), to create The Coliseum Dream development project.

Highlights of the Dream project are: readiness to purchase the city’s 50% interest; positive discussions with the Oakland A’s; installation of Black Panther Studios as development anchor, which will be the first Black-owned film studio on the West Coast; ability to finance the entire development, estimated at $5 billion; building of hundreds of affordable housing units; development of a luxury hotel and department store; creating and supporting youth tech, arts and business training centers; construction of a supermarket in a food desert; making Oakland a tourist destination.

Vince Bennett, president and CEO of MBS, a multi-billion-dollar housing developer based in St. Louis, said: “MBS is ready to immediately enter into a purchase and sale agreement with the City of Oakland and become the master developer of the entire site.”

The Coliseum Dream Development Group (CDDG) recognizes the impossibility of developing the Coliseum site solely by purchasing the city’s 50% interest. Partnership with the other 50% interest owner, the Oakland A’s, is necessary.  

Brown says she has discussed the site with Dave Kaval, A’s president, over the last few years, and said, “Dave has stated he loves the idea of Black Panther Studios as the anchor of CDDG’s development vision.”

The problem CDDG faces is not readiness on its part but the City Council’s unwillingness to entertain proposals other than those two they hand-picked in a recent closed session.

In a closed session scheduled for Thursday, October 7, the Council considered the merits of its two preferred proposals, based on reports from the City Administrator.  This closed session meeting arose from a vote of the Council’s Rules Committee on Thursday, September 30.  

In lieu of allowing Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan’s request to push through a resolution at the Council’s October 19 meeting to enter into an agreement with the group she is promoting, the Council decided to consider the two proposals.  

It’s unclear what happens next.

Brown said, “There is no process regarding the sale of the city’s interest in the Coliseum, certainly not one that is transparent.”

In a statement to the Oakland Post, Brown submitted the following questions and answers:

Q:  Everybody talks about jobs and housing.  Will your group be able to deliver on the promise in your Coliseum Dream proposal to create jobs and build affordable housing for the community?

A (Elaine Brown): “Oakland & the World Enterprises (OAW), of which I am CEO, is presently co-developing a $72 Million, 79-unit, 100% affordable housing project in West Oakland with master housing developer McCormack Baron Salazar (MBS), headed by CEO and President Vince Bennett. 

“This reflects my ongoing commitment to the ideal of the Black Panther Party, of which I was a leading member, of Black self-determination.  The track record of MBS for building affordable housing is without parallel.  Not only has MBS built thousands of affordable housing units throughout the U.S., as well as, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, MBS is currently building a $1 billion development in Dayton, Ohio, the Dayton Arcade, which includes hundreds of affordable housing units and is bringing residents, jobs, and visitors back to downtown Dayton.  

“Our Coliseum Dream anchor project, Black Panther Studios, alone, will create thousands of new, high-tech jobs, and we will build an affiliated tech training center to create a new generation of Black, tech-savvy “digital carpenters” to make films and enter the tech economy at a high end.

Q:  Even if you are willing and able to purchase the City’s 50% interest in the Coliseum site, how can you develop the site without either purchasing the A’s 50% or partnering with the A’s?

A, (Elaine Brown): “Our team is prepared to purchase the City’s 50% interest outright, today.  We have not discussed purchasing the A’s 50% interest with the A’s, but, if that were an option, we would take it.  We have been in discussions with Dave Kaval, A’s president, over the last two years about our Coliseum Dream, and Dave has unequivocally stated that if we were to acquire the City’s 50%, he would work with us.  And, we have told Dave, we are willing to partner with the A’s.”

The Dream Proposal is available here: https://bit.ly/thecoliseumdream

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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