Tag: Oakland

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s State Of The City Speech, Thursday Nov 3rd, 2017

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s staff for some reason used this Facebook page to post her State of The City Speech, even though the result was not used to be distributed via other social media. Sad.

The City’s residents needs to have a look at The Islamic Cultural Center, located at 1433 Madison, Steet. This gives them that chance – and it’s one reason why I reposted the speech here.

Sit back and watch and listen – and click on this link to hear the speech:

Stay tuned.

Fred Blackwell

In Oakland City Government Management 2017, Black Men, Once Common, Are Rare

Fred Blackwell
Fred Blackwell

John B. Williams, Lionel Wilson, Carter Gillmore, Marcus Foster, George Williams, Henry Gardner, Avon Manning, Elihu Harris, Robert Bobb, Gregory Hunter, Cedric Williams, Clint Bolden, Austin Penny, Ray Leon, Fred Blackwell, Kofi Bonner, and Ron Dellums, Larry Reid, and Lamont Ewell are some of the top names in a long list of distinguished black men who have served executive management positions in the City of Oakland since 1968.

Elihu Harris
Elihu Harris

If you know Oakland at all you know many of the names: John B. Williams was the City of Oakland’s legendary boss of its redevelopment agency, and going back to 1968. Lionel Wilson was Oakland’s first black mayor in 1979. Carter Gillmore was the first African American elected to the Oakland City Council in 1977. Marcus Foster was the first black Superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District, who was killed by the Symbonese Liberation Army in 1973. Henry Gardner was Oakland’s first black City Manager. Avon Manning was Assistant City Manager under Gardner. The legendary Ron Dellums became Oakland’s 48th Mayor in 2007. Robert Bobb was Oakland City Manager and then Oakland’s first City Administrator in 2000. Larry Reid is the current Oakland City Coucilman for District

Larry Reid
Larry Reid

Seven and was Mayor Harris’ Chief of Staff. And Gregory Hunter, Cedric Williams, Clint Bolden, Austin Penny, (now San Francisco Foundation CEO) Fred Blackwell, (now Lennar Urban Director) Kofi Bonner, and Lamont Ewell all held positions as City Manager, Assitant City Adminstrator, or head of Oakland’s economic development and redevelopment departments.

What these gentleman represented was what became something of a tradition in Oakland: an expectation of seeing a black man run something. That’s not to say there wasn’t a great list of black women then, but there are many African American women in high positions in Oakland today – however the ranks of black men in City of Oakland management positions have lessened to such a degree that Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf did not have one black male in any position in her office for most of her time as Mayor, and that includes the City Administrator’s Office.

As one who served as Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris’ Economic Advisor from 1995 to 1999, and then as the founder and Executive Director of The Oakland-Alameda County Sports Commission from 1999 to 2001, I’m proud to say I’ve known the majority of the men I’ve listed, and many others. For example, Mr. Bonner and I have a relationship that goes back to September 15th 1985, when I met him in the computer room of The University of California at Berkeley Department of City and Regional Planning, where we were both students. Part of the Berkeley Mafia.

But something has happened, and that it has became obvious to me when I was at Mayor Schaaf’s thank you event earlier this year. I made a livestream of the gathering, which is up at Zennie62 on YouTube as I write this. It was a fantastic time, but one moment just completely shocked me: when Mayor Schaaf asked her staff of what was by my count 29 people to come up for a photo, there was not a single black man. Black women, yes; black men, no.

That was jarring to me.

It was particularly bothersome because prior to what I will call “The NFL issue”, Mayor Schaaf and I had been close – after she was elected Mayor, she referred to me as her “brother” and so I returned the act, and called her my godsiter, and it went on from there.

This all started because we’ve known each other for about 30 years, and both shared a love for the Oakland community. In May of 2009, I was the one who told Libby she should run for Mayor, and I said it in front of her parents, my godparents, and my Mom, at their place. Libby ran for District Four Oakland City Council, and won in 2010, even as I wrote that she was going to run for Mayor of Oakland as an April Fools story that many took seriously.

But, in 2013, things changed: Bryan Parker, a black Oakland busness man new to politics, asked me to support his run for Mayor. I held off to ask Libby if she was going to run; she said no. But I was completely blindsided by the news she changed her mind – and it did not come from her. Libby never asked me to join her team – just expected that I would automatically dump Bryan and back her. But that’s not something one does in politics. Rank Choice Voting saved me – I could pick Parker 1, Schaaf 2, and Joe Tuman 3. But I was, and still am, hurt about that. The one who pushed her to run for Mayor and laid the publicity groundwork – the one who has a deep history in Oakland government – was left on the outside of her campaign, even as a black man in Bryan Parker asked for my help. That really dd hurt.

Then came the NFL: Schaaf rotinely learned on me for advice – some she took early on (like working to develop a relationship with Oakland Raiders Owner Mark Davis) but most she did not take (the stadium plan Mark Davis asked for from me, landing Pier Jaffrey Investment Bankers for the stadium project, letting the NFL purchase the Coliseum land, forming an incentive package and a plan to have the A’s go to Howard Terminal, and so on). But what was occasional at first became for all practical purposes a job for me. So, when I changed my mind and sought to be brought on as a consultant, and after Oakland Raiders Owner Mark Davis asked me to form a plan for Coliseum City – and after I cold-called Piper Jaffrey Investment Bankers and introduced a spreadsheet financial plan the firm blessed that called for no tax subsidy. Even with all of that, Libby never hired me – just maintained what I called the brother code.

We lost our preliminary bid to keep the Raiders, and for reasons that, had I been placed in an official position to fix, would not have existed. That because I have a relationship with the National Football League which goes back to 1995, and the return of the Raiders to Oakland from LA. After my work from 1999 to 2001 to have Oakland bid for the 2005 Super Bowl (we lost to Jacksonville), I wound up covering the NFL Draft from 2005 to present year.

Anyway, on March 26th 2017, by a vote of 31 to 1, we lost. A lot happened that weekend leading up to that day that involved the Mayor and I will not go into. But after that, I started to put things together, and look around at my City of Oakland – and that’s when the problem I wanted to ignore became impossible not to pay attention to: black men in non-elected executive positions were all but impossible to find in Oakland’s City Hall.

Now, you can say my reasons for being so interested in this issue now are self-serving, and you would be correct. But look: the whole point of being gainfully employed, being able to be well-compensated for being good at what you do, is self-serving. It would have been great to see other black men in many different high-level positons in Oakland, thus meaning it really was just my lack of whatever, but that is not the case. Oakland has gotten rid of black male managers under Mayor Schaaf.

That this is happening under Libby, and that I am compelled to point it out, makes me sick to my stomach. But someone has to shed a light on this problem. One media publication I will not named pointed to the “sisterhood” but I contend deliberately failed to note the lack of black men. Moreover, that publication has had a history of attacking black male government executives in Oakland. So, when I read that article, it seemed to me that the publication was engaging in a kind of dog-whistle racism, celebrating that black men were nowhere to be seen, without saying so.

This has to be considered a crisis of perception based on race and sex. A combination of some kind of weird hatred for competent black men, combined with what seems to be a white guilt over the race issue. Even though Oakland’s had and has a great history of powerful black women in many executive positions in Oakland, to see the ranks today and the media coverage, you’d think Oakland had never seen sisters before. Perish the thought.

Clearly, we collectively took a wrong turn over the last few years. If Mayor Schaaf was committed to ending the problem of perception, she would have hired me to represent her on the NFL issue, rather than just repeatedly calling me her brother and saying I have her ear. When you believe someone is truly competent at something, you pay for their services, and not seek free advice and work from them.

Something is wrong in Oakland. It’s not the way we used to be. That said, the new City of Oakland Planning Director William Gilchrist, an African American man, is a step in the right direction. It’s not that the ranks have to be as they were when Oakland was a majority black city, but the drop in black men has been so dramatic that people have talked about it – I decided to write about it.

Stay tuned, because I’m not done trying to figure out what happened to Oakland.

Oakland Raiders Las Vegas NFL Stadium Snags Are Roadblocks

More fake news about the Oakland Raiders Las Vegas NFL Stadium was tossed your way this week.

There are some in the sports media business who just write to maintain access. Access to team players, managers, and owners. When that desire runs up against the public’s need to get the truth, readers stuffer under the worse barrage of fake news there is. That happened on Tuesday of this week.

I’m not going to name the person at fault for this, but the scribe is well-known in San Francisco Bay Area Sports Media and, from an entirely other perspective, is a heck-of-a-nice person. Still, the writer is obviously only trying to make the Oakland Raiders brass happy, because this person issued a take with the headline that the Oakland Raiders Las Vegas NFL Stadium project will have only snags and not roadblocks, and based that conclusion only on a so-called source who said “the casinos want this”, referring to the Raiders new stadium.

My friend could have got that kind of quote from any yahoo – and that dude or dudett would not even have to be a Las Vegas resident. “The casinos want this” is a statement only a person who has not really followed the Oakland Raiders Las Vegas NFL Stadium story, let alone understand urban development, would make.

Everyone who knows the Oakland Raiders Las Vegas NFL Stadium story is aware, and in some cases painfully so, that the project is posting a giant mound of costs that the Raiders would never have to deal with in Oakland. Let’s look at what they are:

1. Relocation Fee of $370 million: This is the easy cost the Raiders have to bear and they expected it, and because it’s levied by the NFL, there are a number of ways the League can allow the Silver and Black to afford to pay it. Still, it’s a cost the Raiders would not have to deal with in Oakland.

2. Off-Site Transportation Cost of $450 million: This is 50 percent of the estimated $900 million in total, stadium related, expenses for the installation of a number of projects the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) has identified as needing to be completed before the stadium opens. Such things as new interchanges (three of them) at $200 million each, and ‘High Occupancy Vehicle” lanes along Interstate 15.

The Southern Nevada Tourism and Investment Act (SNTIA) is the law that not only gave the greenlight to the much-talked-about $750 million subsidy for stadium construction, it also mandates that the “developer” pay an “adequate” amount of the off-site transportation infrastructure cost that was preliminarily determined by NDOT. Note the word preliminarily.

Here’s the latest bad news associated with that matter: the Las Vegas Stadium Authority hired a firm called Marnell Companies to basically review the Kimey Horn Transportation Study – the one that laid out that the Raiders would also generate a number of traffic problems for streets and roads, not just the highways. Well, guess what? Marnell Companies found a ton of errors that also point to the late-2016 NDOT report of $900 million, and the Kimey Horn work which was based, to a degree, off of it.

The simple explanation is that no one at Kimey Horn or NDOT bothered to estimate the actual traffic impact of the stadium itself on top of and in addition to the current traffic levels! In the case of NDOT, existing planned projects were identified as candidates for early construction, but not one person bothered to ask exactly what kind of highways and roads would be needed because of the stadium but that are not planned as of now. In NDOT’s defense, it did say the findings were preliminary. But what this means is the real cost of the transportation infrastructure improvement needed for the Las Vegas NFL stadium is not known, and is certainly higher than $900 million – which means the Raiders share of that cost is going to be north of that, thanks to the SNTIA.

What Marnell Companies also pointed out is that NDOT and Kimey Horn did not take into account the combined traffic produced by the patrons leaving the Raiders stadium just as others are trying to get to McCarran International Airport. That would create a nightmare traffic situation higher and beyond the kind of ‘we can deal with traffic as if it’s nothing’ take that Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak shared a few months ago when it became obvious this traffic deal had not been thought out by the Raiders. There are a lot of problems – did you know the stadium can’t even handle having a line of taxis and Uber and Lyft cars? That’s what Marnell Companies discovered. Wow!

3. Parking Facility Cost of $195.7 million: that’s based on Clark County’s regulatory call for 14,000 additional parking spaces and only because, well, the Raiders need 16,250 of them, but can only come up with 2,250 next to the stadium – times the per-acre cost of land around the stadium, the market rate of which is $2.9 million right now, and then times the number of acres needed: which is 67.4 acres assuming that each parking space is about 210 square feet – that comes to $195.7 million.

So that total cost is, so far, $1.015 billion in costs that the Oakland Raiders have to bear that they can avoid by building a new stadium in Oakland. Repeat, the Raiders could take the Fortress new stadium deal in Oakland, and save at least $1.015 billion in costs. Let’s add that to the stadium’s base expense of $1.9 billion – we get $2.915 billion – almost $3 billion in expenses and climbing. Note that we have not even seen the acutual price tag to build the stadium (the guaranteed maximum price), and we will not know what that will be until (hopefully for the Raiders) February or March of 2018. That could be even more expensive that the $1.9 billion – and that does not even include other unforceen costs. Like, who’s going to pay for the much-needed water runoff drainpool? The Atlanta Falcons Stadium has one; what ahout the Raiders stadium, which happens to be in a flood plain?

So far, no casino has officially stepped forward to take on these expenses on behalf of the Oakland Raiders. In fact, as Las Vegas minority contracting activist Stanley Washington told me “the casinos have gotten a lot for spending no money at all – they’re not about to change that. Now, Everyone’s watching to see what the Raiders do.”

Raiders Owner Mark Davis scared away the blank check Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson had offered to pay for all of these costs (and as a gift to Las Vegas) when Davis tried to double-cross him.

I hear the popcorn’s good in Las Vegas. Maybe the guy who wrote the take about the idea that the “casinos want this” should have some for himself – he’s gonna need it.

Oakland City Council

Oakland Councilmembers Brooks, Kaplan, Gallo Introduce Resolution Supporting DACA

Oakland City Council
Oakland City Council
OAKLAND, CA (Press release) – Oakland Councilmembers Brooks, Kaplan and Gallo introduces a Resolution supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that was put in place by President Obama to allow immigrant minors who entered the United States illegally, but who had been largely raised in the United States to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.

Councilmembers Brooks, Kaplan and Gallo’s statement:

“We are sickened and saddened by Attorney General Sessions announcement winding down and rescinding DACA. We know that immigrants strengthen our country. We know that diversity strengthens our country. We have seen how DACA has let scores of young people come out of the shadows and pursue fuller, richer lives – and we will fight tooth and nail to protect and defend DACA for those young people and for the next generation.

These are the aspiring citizens who live and work in the communities and cities that Local Progress members represent. They have completed their education here, they have families here, they are our neighbors, friends, and colleagues.

Ending this program further demonstrates that President Trump is committed to an agenda of white supremacy that runs counter to the values of inclusion and diversity that we hold dear in this country. Oaklanders stand in direct opposition. As such, we will introduce the Resolution below at the first Council meeting in September.”