Category: CA Politics

Oakland City Attorney Resolution Asks Federal Government To Reclassify Medical Cannabis

Oakland City Attorney Resolution Asks Federal Government To Reclassify Medical Cannabis

On November 17th, Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker’s staff will introduce a resolution to the Oakland City Council that, if passed, will ask the Federal Government to reclassify Medical Cannabis from its current status as a “Schedule 1 controlled substance.”

The Oakland City Attorney argues that because of this designation, “the federal government considers marijuana as dangerous a heroin with no medical use and high potency for abuse” and that threats of criminal arrest and prosecution leave those in need of the medicine unable to obtain it lawfully.

According to the Oakland City Council Agenda for November 17th, the item is called “Subject: Declaration Of Medical Cannabis Health Emergency From: Office Of The City Attorney Recommendation: Adopt A Resolution Renewing The City Council’s Declaration Of A Local Public Health Emergency With Respect To Safe, Affordable Access To Medical Cannabis In The City Of Oakland” and is Agenda File #17-0197.

The meeting starts at 5:30 PM at Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza. via IFTTT

Will California’s New Housing Laws Really Help Oakland’s Affordablity Problem?

On September 29th, California Governor Jerry Brown put pen to the paper of what he called “15 good bills” designed to respond to the state’s affordable housing crisis. But will they really help Oakland’s affordability problem? They are as follows according to the press release from the Governor’s Office:

SB 2 (Atkins), the Building Homes and Jobs Act, establishes a permanent funding source for affordable housing through a $75 fee on real estate transaction documents. The fee is capped at $225 per transaction and exempts real estate sales. The fees would generate roughly $250 million a year, which would be split among state and local housing programs.

“We know what solves homelessness: homes,” said Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). “SB 2 will provide an ongoing infusion of funding that communities all over California need to build affordable housing, so they can help bring people off the streets and into safe homes with supportive services. It will also help provide housing for seniors on low, fixed incomes and struggling families. California’s housing crisis is causing pervasive instability for individuals, families and communities. It will take continued hard work to solve the crisis, but our comprehensive, multifaceted package of housing bills is a good start toward restoring stability. I thank my colleagues who have contributed their great ideas, and I thank Governor Brown and our legislative leadership for making housing a top priority in 2017.”

SB 3 (Beall) authorizes $4 billion in general obligation bonds for affordable housing programs and a veteran’s home ownership program. SB 3 must be approved by voters next November.

“Senate Bill 3 gives California the opportunity to build $15 billion in much-needed affordable housing for working families, seniors, vets, and the homeless,” said Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose). “Together, SB 3 and the housing bills signed today represent a historic step to expand a limited housing supply and counterbalance the skyrocketing market that threatens our future and economy. More Californians will be able to live in the community where they work and spend less time on congested roads.”

SB 35 (Wiener) streamlines the approval process for infill developments in local communities that have failed to meet their regional housing needs.

“California just took a huge step forward to address our housing crisis – a crisis that is tearing our communities apart, undermining our environment and economy, and making it harder for families to succeed,” said Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). “No one should be living on our streets, be forced into three or four hour commutes, or have to leave their community as their family grows because they just can’t afford housing. These bills to streamline housing creation and fund new affordable housing construction won’t solve California’s entire housing problem – that will take years of hard work given how deep this crisis is – but today we are establishing a strong foundation for future housing efforts.”

SB 166 (Skinner) ensures that cities maintain an ongoing supply of housing construction sites for residents of various income levels.

SB 167 (Skinner) increases the standard of proof required for a local government to justify a denial of low- and moderate-income housing development projects. (SB 167 is identical to AB 678.)

“Our housing permit process should not be a shell game,” said Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley). “My bills, SB 166 and 167, tackle the ‘Not in My Backyard’ obstacles that too often keep needed housing from being built.”

SB 540 (Roth) streamlines the environmental review process for certain local affordable housing projects.

“Access to housing is a basic human need,” said Senator Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside). “That’s why I am proud to have authored SB 540, which will incentivize and streamline housing construction to meet our state’s dire housing shortage. California is home to one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation, with many folks unable to afford to rent or own a home. SB 540 is a commonsense measure that will remove the barriers to housing construction in the areas most in need, helping ensure this crisis does not continue to grow and families do not continue to struggle”

AB 72 (Santiago/Chiu) strengthens the state’s ability to enforce laws that require local governments to achieve housing goals.

“Housing should not be for the privileged few who can afford a place to live,” said Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles). “Housing should be a right ensuring that any person who tries hard, works hard, and plays by the rules has the ability to sleep with a roof over their head. I’m thrilled that the Governor agrees with my legislative colleagues and I on this issue and I thank him for his leadership during California’s current housing emergency.”

AB 73 (Chiu) gives local governments incentives to create housing on infill sites near public transportation.

“California is a large and diverse state, but one thing we all share is that we’re living through the worst housing crisis in our state’s history,” said Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco). “With this historic package of bills, we begin to take on the affordable housing crisis that threatens our state’s economic prosperity, deepens inequality, and increases homelessness. My deep thanks goes to Speaker Anthony Rendon for making housing a top priority, and to my Assembly and Senate colleagues for their tireless partnership. I also appreciate the engaged leadership of Governor Brown and his incredible team. Our work is not done, but we’re making a down payment for our children’s future, for people struggling to pay the rent or the mortgage or even to have a roof at all, and for our teachers, firefighters and other workers who can’t afford a home in the cities they serve.”

AB 571 (E. Garcia) makes it easier to develop farmworker housing by easing qualifications for the Farmworker Housing Tax Credit.

“I truly want to commend Governor Brown, Speaker Rendon and Chairman Chiu for leading the charge to address our state’s severe housing crisis,” said Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella). “I was proud to support this comprehensive package of bills, anchored around SB 2 and SB 3, which established a funding mechanism for these critical measures, and play my part advocating on behalf of rural Californian communities, like those in my district that have been historically underserved. AB 571 eases eligibility requirements for a state tax credit for developers to build migrant housing. Farmworker labor fuels our economies, yet these areas lack the necessary investments to spur growth and prosperity. These modifications to the Farmworker Housing Assistance Tax Credit Program, along with other programs established within this historic bill package, will help ensure the essential right to safe, affordable housing for more of our hard working families and veterans across California.”

AB 678 (Bocanegra) increases the standard of proof required for a local government to justify its denial of low- to moderate-income housing development projects. (AB 678 is identical to SB 167.)

“California is in the midst of an unprecedented housing crisis caused by a severe lack of inventory and new housing construction,” said Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima). “I’m proud to have worked with many of my colleagues in the Legislature as well as with Governor Brown to help create more housing and make owning or renting in California more affordable by providing greater certainty during the project approval process at the local level.”

AB 879 (Grayson) authorizes a study of local fees charged to new residential developments that will also include a proposal to substantially reduce such fees.

“This has been a long time coming, and after a decade of falling behind 100,000 housing units a year we finally exercised the fortitude to move California forward,” said Assemblymember Tim Grayson (D-Concord). “Though this package is not a fix all – it contains the first steps in the right direction. I want to thank leadership and the Governor for their work and vision on this issue.”

AB 1397 (Low) makes changes to the definition of land suitable for residential development to increase the number of sites where new multifamily housing can be built.

“No one should be denied a place to call home,” said Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell). “This housing package will help make our Golden State shine bright again.”

AB 1505 (Bloom/Bradford/Chiu/Gloria) authorizes cities and counties to adopt an inclusionary ordinance for residential rental units in order to create affordable housing.

“The skyrocketing cost of housing is forcing millions of Californians to make stressful financial decisions every month just to keep the eviction notice off their front door,” said Assemblymember Richard H. Bloom (D-Santa Monica). “Our housing problem is real and devastating to families, seniors, and young adults in communities throughout this state. Today’s signing of AB 1505 ensures that real affordable housing is built so our teachers, grocery clerks, car mechanics, and retired seniors – those who we interact with every day and who make up the fabric of our communities – can also afford to live in our communities.”

“People shouldn’t have to the leave the state in order to find affordable housing or achieve the American dream of home ownership,” said Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena.)

“Skyrocketing housing costs have squeezed California’s working and middle class for too long,” said Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego). “I am proud to join the Governor and my fellow legislators to pass a historic package of bills that makes specific and tangible progress to give some relief to those struggling to pay their rents and mortgages. We have more work to do on housing affordability and I look forward to building on this year’s achievements in the months ahead. Our goal must remain a roof over the head of every Californian at a price they can afford.”

AB 1515 (Daly) allows housing projects to be afforded the protections of the Housing Accountability Act if the project is consistent with local planning rules despite local opposition.

“The Housing Accountability Act fosters and respects responsible local control by providing certainty to all stakeholders in the local approval process, and preventing NIMBYism from pressuring local officials into rejecting or downsizing compliant housing projects,” said Assemblymember Tom F. Daly (D-Anaheim). “AB 1515 strengthens the provisions of the HAA and provides courts with clear standards for interpreting the HAA in favor of building housing.”

AB 1521 (Bloom/Chiu) gives experienced housing organizations a first right of refusal to purchase affordable housing developments in order to keep the units affordable.

For full text of the bills, visit:

“These new laws will help cut red tape and encourage more and affordable housing, including shelter for the growing number of homeless in California,” said Governor Brown.

No one should have to work three full-time jobs just to provide a home for their family,” said Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leïn. “This bipartisan package by the legislature marks an historic step towards our goal of ensuring that every Californian has a place to call home.”

But in Oakland’s case, will the bills work? Prior to 2012, Oakland benefited from the use of California Redevelopment Law, and what became a robust affordable housing funding effort that saw $111 million Oakland had for use in 2011.

But then, the same Governor Brown who now is trying to alter the climate to cause more affordable housing to be made, took away the industry’s best tool in 2011. That was the year Brown had completed a full-attack on the California Redevelopment Law System, and with the idea that doing away with the CRL would save the state $1 billion. What it did was take away a giant engine of funding for affordable housing, especially for Oakland.

Prior to Brown’s action, and the California Supreme Court’s ratification of it, CRL was such that 20 percent of redevelopment tax increment revenue was set aside for use in the development of affordable housing. By 2011, Oakland had an affordable housing fund that was at $111 million; now, the Oakland City Council has bragged about having just over $50 million for the same purposed – under half what was there, when more is needed.

The question is will this new set of laws really solve Oakland’s and California’s affordable housing problem? Stay tuned for more on this.

In 2017 Oakland Engaging In Analysis Paralysis After 2016 Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire

Oakland Warehouse Fire Photo Courtesy of CBS News

In the wake of the tragic Oakland Ghost Ship Fire that took 36 lives on December 2, 2016, The City of Oakland has still not taken any meaningful action to make sure that such an event does not occur again, save for one policy change: allowing Oakland Police Officers to tell the City about unpermitted events.

This effort is also part of a survey that’s under way and established by an inner-City-of-Oakland group called the Special Event Permit Redesign Task Force. Don’t worry if you’ve not been informed about it as an Oakland resident; only City of Oakland staffers sit on it, and that’s a bad idea.

The Special Event Permit Redesign Task Force includes “Greg Minor and Nancy Marcus in the City’s Administrator’s Office, Kelley Kahn in the Mayor’s Office, Jim MacIlvaine in the Cultural Affairs Office, Sgt. Andy McNeil in the Oakland Police Department, Assistant Fire Marshall Cesar Avila in the Oakland Fire Department, Tim Low in Building Services and Aubrey Rose in the Planning Department, (and) has identified several barriers that discourage compliance, as well as strategies to combat these obstacles.”

But on the survey page the task force does not explain what those “several barriers that discourage compliance, as well as strategies to combat these obstacles” are.

The problem is what we in planning used to call “Analysis Paralysis” – or “the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome.”

For example, the survey has been in existence for several months now, and no release of information from it has happened. Moreover, the survey itself lacks a way to determine the location of any venue that may be the focus of the response. There’s a reason for this, if wrongheaded.

Greg Minor, in The City’s Administrator’s Office, said in an email to me that..

“The special event permit redesign survey did not include a question regarding the specific venue(s) associated with the survey respondents in order to protect the anonymity of the survey respondents, many of whom have expressed concern about either being displaced from their place of residence/assembly or having the venue shut down. In turn, this anonymity should maximize the amount of information the City receives from those currently holding unpermitted events.

In terms of the task force composition, it only includes staff members but has and will benefit from the expertise of those involved in the entertainment community. For example, the task force conducted a listening session with a focus group of event holders earlier this year, met with the sf entertainment commission director, is currently reaching out to the public via the survey, and will circle back with the entertainment community as it moves forward with implementing the suggestions put forth by the public.”

Given that today is now September 23rd, 2017, and that email was just sent to me on September 14th, and the Warehouse Fire happened on December 2nd, there has been plenty of time to do that, and to take more meaningful action.

Like what?

If I were to put on my economic development hat, I would call a real estate broker who specializes in warehouse development and go around the City with that person, making an inventory of warehouses – used and not used. I got this idea from a project I worked on as an intern in the Oakland Office of Economic Development.

In 1987, it was my job to find a way to relocate pipes owned by East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD). My boss, Oakland Assistant City Manager Ezra Rapport, did not give me a road-map to use – he expected me, the Berkeley City Planning grad, to come up with the method myself. So I did.

I found a site, and went about the task of relocating the pipes, stopped only by EBMUB, who’s property manager had no idea Ezra put me up to the task.

But if I can do that, then, 30 years later, what the hell is going on with the City of Oakland that it does not have staff members who take effective action?

Rather than just posting a survey online, the task force should be expanded to include Oakland event producers like my friend Lionel Bea, and actually make a list of places that events have been held or could be held, and determine what’s right and wrong with them via a combination of site visits, phone calls, emails, and information provided by organizations that have held (for example) art gallery tours.

Then, when problems are found, create solutions, and where that has to be done, draft a resolution for the Oakland City Council, and then get to work selling the plan to the City Council – then once all of the kinks in the plan are worked out (and limit that work to a month’s time), put it up for vote.

That could have been done by now. It can be done by now. It should be done by now.

Oakland has policy wonked itself to a point of inaction. The Special Event Permit Redesign Task Force has to stop wasting taxpayer dollars and get to work.

Stay tuned.

Rebecca Kaplan Hosts Oakland Public Banking Forum; City Council Votes to Fund Study

Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan
Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan

OAKLAND, CA (Press release) – On Monday, September 25th, Oakland Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan (At-Large) and Dan Kalb (District One) will host a community forum on public banking and renewable energy, at Oakland City Hall, 3rd Floor, from 7-9pm. The forum, co-sponsored by Friends of the Public Bank of Oakland and Local Clean Energy Alliance, will discuss how a public bank in Oakland could help fund local renewable energy resources for our new Community Choice program, and bring jobs and economic benefits to communities throughout Alameda County.

This forum follows tonight’s public banking victory, where Oakland City Council passed Councilmember Kaplan’s Resolution authorizing a public bank feasibility study. The Resolution, co-sponsored by Councilmembers Kaplan, Kalb, and Guillen, authorized a feasibility study of a regional public bank with the ability to provide community benefit lending and handle cannabis business deposits. The study was funded by Oakland City Council at $75,000, the City of Berkeley at $25,000, and private donors, many from the cannabis industry. Councilmember Kaplan offers special thanks to these donors, especially Berkeley Mayor Arreguín and Berkeley Councilmember Worthington, for contributing to the study, and making it a collaborative, regional effort.

Councilmember Kaplan says: “Passing this Resolution marks an important step in the process of investigating public banking for the City of Oakland and larger region. By creating a bank that is accountable to the community, we can fund needed projects, offer low interest loans to underserved populations, and invest in accordance with our values. We can protect our cannabis community by taking them out of the cash economy, and, like our recent successful efforts to create Community Choice Energy, we can harness local community support to take action that improves the environment, public health, and the local economy. As distrust in big corporate banks and lack of oversight at the Federal level are growing problems — this is how we can be part of the solution.”

Libby Schaaf Runs For Re-Election As Mayor Of Oakland, Raises $161K So Far

Libby Schaaf is officially running for re-election as Mayor of Oakland – not new news at all. Let’s take a look at where the 50th Mayor of Oakland, and first white woman to run the City of Oakland, stands in her quest to retain her seat as of this moment in time. Preliminarily, one has to say she looks pretty good, particularly from a fund-raising and competitors standpoint.

In 2014, Schaaf raised $341.503.55, and even though challenger Bryan Parker raised more than she did by just over $11,000, he failed to make that money become votes: Schaaf gained 20,094 votes (when rank-choice voting second and third selections are combined with first picks), versus just 5,546 votes for Parker. (Who has said he has no plans to run again, but people do change their minds.) This year, Schaaf’s on a good pace with respect to that.

Right now, according to City of Oakland campaign files, Schaaf has already raised just over 47 percent of her 2014 campaign total, or $161,557.66 as of July 30th 2017.

That $161,557.66 came from some of the usual suspects: local Oakland entrepreneur John Bliss and his wife Kim Thompson, who’s an Oakland lawyer, Oakland Lawyers Joan Story and Bob Stumpf, long-time friend and legal talent recruiter Becky Taylor, San Francisco-based Political Consultant John Whitehurst, Oakland-based Political Consultant Jason Overman, Yui Hay Lee’s architecture firm, William Rosseti of Oakland apartment owner J and R Associates, and SCN Strategies of San Francisco.

The list was also notable for who didn’t put money into it: one name that sticks out among them is long time Oakland lawyer Zachary Wasserman of Wendel Rosen Black & Dean LLP (a firm Mayor Schaaf once worked for). Another is Amy Baker, who seems to have timed out from supporting the Mayor this time around.

I know these two were supporters before, because they were at the same initial fund-raiser i attended in 2014, and assembled by Oakland developer John Protopappas – who’s name was not on the City of Oakland record this time around, either.

And missing were the folks in this video from the press conference on the minimum wage law:

That would seem to imply Mayor Schaaf has a problem drawing back the people who initially helped her. Considering it’s still early in the political ball game this time out, that could change.

Still, Mayor Schaaf has crafted for herself an uphill battle – and the hill is formed by two simple facts: she forgot to bring along her real friends, and Libby micro-managed in matters she was better off letting more experienced players work for her.

The friends matter reared its head, first, in 2014, when a mutual friend of ours complained that she wanted to work for Libby (and needed work) but could not get a call back from her. I did reach out to Libby on her behalf, but the then-new Mayor was supposedly too swamped to get back to our friend.

That’s the lesson in politics: friendship is a two-way street: you can’t ask for people to help you, if you’re not willing to help them when you reach the prize. For all of his errors, that’s the one rule Donald Trump did not forget when he became POTUS: keep your friends close – period. Money is the oil that helps friendships run smoothly – the other factor is communication. Libby didn’t get the memo in both cases.

(Mainstream media types might complain about friends and cronies in politics, but then they turn around and act the same way in newsrooms. Go figure.)

The other lesson is to let more experienced people help you and then you sit back and take the credit. Scott McKibben, the current head-boss over at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority (JPA) was completely unappreciated by Mayor Schaaf, and her bad treatment of him is one reason he’s all-but out of the door and headed to run Levi Stadium. If McKibben had been the head of a task force to retain the Raiders (and one ran by the JPA), the Oakland Raiders arguably would not be wasting bucks in Las Vegas as I write this.

But I digress.

So with that, and more from the usual suspects of errors in judgement you and I both know about (like the Police Sex Scandal, the Ghost Ship Fire, and the apparent loss of the Raiders), it would seem Libby has a set of problems that could hamper her quest for the brass ring, once again. But there’s one fact: as of this writing, she’s running for Mayor of Oakland unopposed.

Sure, there are many rumors that this person, or that person, or me, will go against Libby, but none of them has materialized for now. Heck, I was just told there’s a rumor that a former African American female employee of Libby’s thinking of running for Mayor.

Considering there are two who fit that “former” tag, and one of them is Director of Communications for Mozilla, that could only mean Peggy Moore. Yep: the same Peggy Moore who ran for the Oakland City Council At-Large Seat and lost to the incumbent Rebecca Kaplan. The same Peggy Moore who was one of Libby’s major behind-the-scenes campaign workers the first time out.

Yes… THAT Peggy Moore…

Keep your friends close, right?

Stay tuned.

Libby Schaaf For Mayor Of Oakland 2018 Campaign Statement And Monetary Contributions To Date by Zennie Abraham on Scribd

Buffy Wicks, Former Obama Aide, Running For California State Assembly District 15 2018

Buffy Wicks is someone I’ve known since 2007, and because of her job as field organizer with the Obama For America campaign. After the successful 2008 Presidential Election, Buffy landed a position in the White House working for President Obama.

I interviewed Buffy at the 2012 Democratic National Convention:

After the unsuccessful 2016 Presidential Race ran by Hillary Clinton, for which Buffy was, again, a field organizer, she took time off with her family in Oakland, then issued this letter moments ago, today, announcing her run for the California State Assembly District 15 Seat currently held by Eric Swalwell:

Advocate and Activist Buffy Wicks Launches Campaign For State Assembly

OAKLAND — Today, in an email and video message to supporters, advocate for kids and families and longtime grassroots activist Buffy Wicks officially announced her candidacy to be the next Assemblywoman from California’s 15th District.

“We live in scary times, but here’s the thing: we don’t have to let what’s happening in Washington define us,” Buffy said. “California has the unique opportunity to achieve bold, progressive goals that reflect our shared values and actually help people: economic security for all women and families, equity for all people, and clean air and water for all our kids. The next Assemblywoman from our district should be leading this fight, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

Buffy is a community organizer, an advocate, and a grassroots leader with experience at the local, state and federal level. A California native, she got her start in community organizing when she moved to the Bay Area to organize against the Iraq War. She’s been an organizer ever since.

Buffy became a grassroots organizer for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, then joined the United Food and Commercial Workers and led the campaign to fight Wal-Mart for better wages and health care for its employees. In 2007, she was one of the first hires on then Senator Obama’s campaign for President, innovating the campaign’s national grassroots organizing model and serving as one of the senior staff for the California primary. Following the President’s election, she was asked to serve in the Obama White House organizing support for the eventual passage of the Affordable Care Act that has provided more than 20 million Americans with health care, including 5 million here in California.

Buffy’s passion is fighting for equity, equal opportunity, and economic security – with a particular focus on policies affecting women and children. She served at the Center for American Progress as a Senior Fellow, where she launched a national policy initiative, with Planned Parenthood and SEIU, fighting for economic security for women and families. Currently, Buffy is leading a statewide campaign to empower parents to advocate for better opportunities for their kids. Buffy hopes to continue advocating for California’s parents and kids as an Assemblywoman in Sacramento, where only 22% of our state legislators are women and just a handful are mothers to young children.

Buffy lives in Oakland with her husband Peter and her 6-month old daughter, Josephine.

Alameda County DA Files Charges Against 7 Oakland Police Officers In Celeste Guap Sex Scandal

Nancy O’Malley, the Alameda County District Attorney, has filed charges against seven Oakland Police Officers that were responsible for the sexual violation of Jasmine Celese Abuslin, who’s commonly known as Celeste Guap. You can read more about the charges filed here, but the DA did not release the names of the officers.

You can learn about Ms. Guap herself, via this interview conducted by Zennie Abraham:

Rebecca Kaplan First Oakland Councilmember On BAAQMD Since 1992 #OakMtg

Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan

OAKLAND, CA (Press Release) – After over two decades of Oakland going unrepresented on the Board of the powerful Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), Oakland Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan won a seat on the Board of Directors, representing all of the Cities of Alameda County.

Link for BAAQMD Board:

Councilmember Kaplan is the first Oakland representative to hold a seat on BAAQMD’s Board of Directors since the late Oakland Councilmember Frank Ogawa left the Board in 1992. Kaplan obtained the seat, which is appointed by the Alameda County Conference of Mayors, by applying and obtaining the votes of Mayors of cities from throughout Alameda County, upon the departure of prior member, Margaret Fujioka of Piedmont.

In her short time thus far on the BAAQMD Board, Kaplan has successfully advanced limits on refinery pollution, new funding for the Broadway Shuttle connecting BART, ferries, Amtrak and more through downtown Oakland, and is launching new initiatives to clean up air pollution from trucks.

Kaplan said: “Parts of Oakland have had some of the highest asthma rates in the nation, and it is vital that programs and laws to improve air quality for our region protect some of our hardest hit and most vulnerable communities.”

Councilmember Kaplan plans to work with BAAQMD to achieve high quality air standards and reduce the health problems caused by air pollution. Councilmember Kaplan has already urged the Board of Directors to adopt stricter emission limits for the Bay Area oil refineries in order to protect community and refinery worker health and safety. “Bay Area residents already suffer disproportionally from emissions related diseases,” Kaplan said. “This is unacceptable, which is why we must prohibit any further increase of emissions from the five Bay Area oil refineries.”

Oakland receives a disproportionate share of some of the negative impacts, from truck congestion and pollution from ships and other projects that benefit the economy of the region. Solving the region’s traffic congestion and air quality problems can be achieved more effectively if the city in the heart of the region, which carries a majority of freight traffic and other impacts, is at the table and part of the solution.

Bringing creative programs, whether connecting transit systems, increasing use of zero-emission vehicles, or improving truck systems to protect communities, can improve air quality and human health for Oakland and the entire Bay Area.

To learn more about BAAQMD, please click here.

In Oakland, Councilmember Kaplan fought for and succeeded in keeping the Free Broadway Shuttle running. This fast and free shuttle connects riders to Oakland offices, restaurants, local shops, and social services 7 days a week. “Before the Broadway Shuttle, Oakland had a hole in the transit system,” Kaplan said. “The Broadway Shuttle helps weave that together, which is why I am so happy to have succeeded in maintaining this service.”

To learn more about the Broadway Free Shuttle, please click here.

Tony Thurmond, Rob Bonta, And The Metropolitan Transportation Commission

Tony Thurmond, Rob Bonta, And The Metropolitan Transportation Commission

Looks like it’s up to California Assemblypersons Tony Thurmond (D 15th District) and Rob Bonta (D 18th District) to make sure that MTC won’t become its own, self-serving mini-empire once the “merger” with ABAG goes through and all the planners in that formerly once-respected agency are let out to pasture – or, more likely, onto the street.

The promise of more efficient and fairer Bay Area-wide governance depends on what kinds of checks and balances the Thurmond-chaired Assembly Select Committee on Regional Planning manages to put into place, otherwise the already-painful elitism of a superagency like MTC will continue on its psycho path of funding special interests while throwing mere crumbs into public transit and other needed infrastructural improvements.

Think not? How bizarre that so much public money ($250M+ and already $90M over budget!) should into the purchase and remodel of the new, not-at-all necessary MTC HQ in SF, an exercise in power that some malcontents have already tagged the Taj Mahemminger. Well, it is a more worthy address than crudball Oakland, no? Plus it just happens to be farther from BART (so the hoi polloi will have an increasingly difficult time accessing the new building and actually coming into contact with MTC personnel?).

Plus, we get a new Emperor out of all this! There’s suddenly just one supreme head of post-merger MTC to direct staff when it comes to the usual monthly buffalo session for Commissioners, where staff-prepared reports that are too big for even Paul Bunyon to digest in a single sitting are piled high like pancakes, topped with the syrup of public money, and a yea vote expected.

Our recent Bay Bridge Bolts Boondoggle could soon be seen as this decade’s construction highlight if Rob and Tony don’t ride to the rescue here and allow for the healthiest possible oversight process to be in place when the next round of abuses hits the headlines. This is, after all, the ultimate regional government we’ll all be left with when our Bay Area-wide megalopolis finally coalesces into a single entity to manage one of the strongest economies in the US, if not the entire world.

Oakland Needs A New News Blog: “Oakland News”

Since 2004, when I started Oakland’s first true blog (and not a news website) Oakland Focus, Oakland has seen the following online publications come and many go:

Grand Lake Business
Oakland Local
A Better Oakland
Make Oakland Better
The Oakland Tribune

And between 2004 and today, 2016, the ways that media is published and distributed have expanded and changed at the same time. Back then the concept of micro-blogging was just that. 2006 gave us Pownce and Twitter. And now, even though the basic micro-blogging platform is easy to build, it seems like everyone has just counted on Twitter without challenge.

But this growth and change has caused many established news sites to reduce in both web traffic and staff size. And many offline media publications did not successfully make the leap to the Internet. And so the Oakland Tribune is, for all practical purposes, dormant.

The last Oakland news website standing, The Oakland Post, is a fantastic publication ran by the legendary Paul Cobb. But The Oakland Post’s problem is, it hasn’t successfully monetized its content, nor widely expanded from it’s base in the African American Community of Oakland to fill a news void that has gotten only larger with time.

This is also true of the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner. Blogs like SFist and 7×7 have tried to cover Oakland culture, but they just don’t get it, and only know that after decades of being ignored by the white media in the Bay Area and the World, Oakland is now mainstream.

The hunger for Oakland news has become so great, some have turned to The New York Times, but even that has failed to meet the demand.


There has to be a publication that has enough Oakland moxy to know that Rod Dibble has played piano at The Alley at 3325 Grand Avenue, and since 1960, and yet pay attention to who’s running for what Oakland City Council seat, and why!

I could go on and on, but you get the point now: this new site is the news venue of Oakland. The main difference here is that you can read about what Oakland’s are doing in their own words, and using there own voice, either in text or video.

Like this:

“Oakland News” is an experiment I am excited to get going.

Let’s go!