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Who’s In Charge?

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Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and Patrolman's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch (Courtesy Photos)

Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and Patrolman’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch (Courtesy Photos)

by Nayaba Arinde
Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News

Since the murders and subsequent funerals of two members of the New York City Police Department, tensions have risen between the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the mayor’s office and the police commissioner. At this point, it is unclear to many who is actually in charge, and the city is seeing a dramatic drop in arrests, summonses and tickets, not to mention the fact that hundreds of police officers disrespected the families of the two slain officers by turning their backs on the mayor during funeral services.

“If there has ever been a question of whether or not the NYPD is out of control, it is certainly evident at this point, it is,” stated retired NYPD detective Graham B. Weatherspoon in an op-ed written this week for the Amsterdam News. “Some of the rank-and-file members of the PBA and the union’s president have considered the road most traveled. The road of disrespect and opposition … How can the public embrace those who would defy the orders of the police commissioner of the city of New York and disrespect the office of the mayor of the city of New York?”

The main focus on policing in New York City right now is the “virtual work stoppage” by police that is being alleged by members of the community and by the media. Pat Lynch, the president of the PBA, blamed the recent deaths of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos on Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Two weeks ago, a memo of disputed origins was circulated to officers, stating, “At least two units are to respond to EVERY call, no matter the condition or severity, no matter what type of job is pending or what the opinion of the patrol supervisor happens to be.”

The memo further advises NYPD officers, “IN ADDITION: Absolutely NO enforcement action in the form of arrests and or summonses is to be taken unless absolutely necessary and an individual MUST be placed under arrest.”

In the past week, arrests have plummeted by 66 percent and the issuing of tickets has dropped by 94 percent, according to several media reports.

The memo concluded by saying, “These are precautions that were taken in the 1970s, when police officers were ambushed and executed on a regular basis. The mayor’s hands are literally dripping with our blood because of the words and actions and policies, and we have, for the first time in a number of years, become a ‘wartime’ police department. We will act accordingly.”

Assemblyman Charles Barron told the Amsterdam News, “Too many police officers are out of control. They are acting like a lynch mob under the influence of a lunatic named Lynch, Patrick Lynch, president of the PBA.”

When the Amsterdam News asked the mayor’s office about the decrease in police activity, the paper was referred back to his recent press conference that ignored the issue and praised the drop in crime.

In his only reference to the PBA, the mayor said, “Rather than get lost in the daily back and forth by the loudest and most disrespectful voices—those that have been so loud in this debate in recent weeks—let’s talk about where we need to go as a city. Let’s talk about a positive vision.”

Community

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.

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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 www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vsEi_7bXx4

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Oakland

Naismith Hall of Fame Basketball Legend Nancy Lieberman WNBA team for Oakland

The former player-coach and Gary Reeves, her development partner, have talked with Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan and members of the African American Sports Entertainment Group since March.

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Nancy Lieberman/ Wikimedia Commons

Nancy Lieberman, one of the most celebrated female basketball players over the last decades, is supporting the push to bring a WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) franchise to Oakland.

The former player-coach and Gary Reeves, her development partner, have talked with Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan and members of the African American Sports Entertainment Group since March.

Reeves said, “she (was) one of the most successful WNBA executives. In the early stages of the league’s development with the Detroit Monarchs …. she impressively operated the business side of the team into the ‘black’ and drove a fearless community outreach program. This resulted in the team having one of the largest fan bases in a large, urban-based WNBA city.”
Lieberman has spoken at length to Kaplan about possibly joining a female-led and Black-equity ownership group to bring a team to Oakland. Nancy Lieberman Charities is active today, supporting under-resourced communities across the country with PPE, food distribution, academic scholarships, job readiness programs and providing clothes to 100 new Nancy Lieberman Sport Courts for neighborhoods that don’t have up-to-date, safe playing surfaces.
Lieberman told Post Publisher Paul Cobb that she often credits the African American community for protecting her and supporting her as a child, especially when she played hoops at the legendary Rucker Park in New York City. 

Kaplan cited the June 2021 cover story of the Sports Illustrated magazine as evidence of the emergence and growth of the WNBA and its potential opportunities for diversity and equity and female and Black ownership potential.

Since Lieberman’s first interview and podcast with the Post, many Oakland-based groups have expressed interest in bringing a WNBA team to Oakland. 

Reeves said the initiatives taken by Lieberman and Kaplan should be supported and embraced by the Black community. 

Gay Plair Cobb, CEO Emerita of the PIC (Partners In Careers), said “It’s past time for Black women to also participate as co-owners with a diverse group of women investors in major sports franchises.”

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Community

California Comeback Plan

Besides a $6.2 billion tax cut to help small businesses, there will be a $250 million Cal Competes grant program which will draw businesses to relocate to California

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Photo Credit: Auintard Henderson

Gov. Gavin Newsom stopped through Oakland on Thursday to promote the “California Comeback Plan.”  It will provide an additional $1.5 billion in COVID-19 relief grants, becoming the largest relief program in the United States for small businesses.

Besides a $6.2 billion tax cut to help small businesses, there will be a $250 million Cal Competes grant program which will draw businesses to relocate to California. 

Newsom was joined by State Senator Nancy Skinner, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, Terilyn Gray, Small Business Advocate for the State of California, Cathy Adams from OAACC and Black business owners from Beastmode Barber Shop and Graffiti Pizza. 

The Post was granted an exclusive one-on-one interview with Newsom and that interview will appear on postnews.com

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