From July 2009

Bay Area Favorite Ernestine Anderson Returns

By Lee

Although jazz singer Ernestine Anderson has lived in Seattle for most of the past 63 years, the Bay Area has long played an important part in her career.
San Francisco Chronicle critic Ralph J. Gleason and Oakland disc jockey Pat Henry gave the Houston-born vocalist a major boost in 1957. From 1977 to 1991, she recorded a dozen albums for the then-local Concord Jazz label.
Anderson, now 80, almost lost her family home since 1946 to foreclosure last summer. Quincy Jones, who had worked with Anderson when she was a teenage vocalist in Bumps Blackwell’s band in Seattle and later in Lionel Hampton’s band, was among a number of friends who donated $43,000 to keep her in the house.
By 1947, Anderson was on the road with the Johnny Otis Orchestra. Richmond singer Ed Reed, also 80, recalls running into Anderson at the Rex Club, a bar on 7th Street in West Oakland, not far from Slim Jenkins’ supper club, where she was appearing with Otis.
“She and I used to grin at each other,” Reed, then stationed at Oakland Army Base, says of seeing her at the Rex Club. Anderson and Reed will have an opportunity to officially meet when they share a bill at Yoshi’s in San Francisco on Saturday and Sunday, August 1 and 2. Shows are at 7:30 and 10 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
In 1957, while singing with the Mastersounds at the Jazz Workshop in San Francisco, Anderson gave Gleason a copy of her first album, “Hot Cargo,” which had been recorded and released a year earlier in Sweden. Gleason passed it on to Henry, who began playing it on Oakland station KROW. Due to their support, Mercury Records issued the album in the U.S. Anderson was suddenly hot stuff in the jazz world. Time magazine called her “the best new singer in the business.”
By 1976, when bassist Ray Brown introduced her to Concord Jazz president Carl Jefferson, Anderson had been retired from performing for a decade and was running an antique store in Seattle. “He was wonderful as a producer,” she says of Jefferson. “He let me pick the songs I love.” Among the tunes she recorded for Concord Jazz were jazz arrangements of such blues hits as B.B. King’s “Never Make a Move Too Soon,” Z.Z. Hill’s “Down Home Blues” and Denise LaSalle’s “Someone Else Is Steppin’ In.”
In 1989, Anderson was on her way from an interview at KJAZ in Alameda to the San Francisco International Airport when the Loma Prieta earthquake caused Bay Bridge to snap five cars ahead of her. Terrified, she got out of the car and ran all the way back to the toll plaza.
Anderson made two CDs for Quincy Jones’ Qwest label after leaving Concord Jazz. She now records for HighNote in New York City. “A Song for You,” her current release, was produced by Todd Barkan, former proprietor of Keystone Korner in San Francisco.

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What A Comeback

Oakland, CA– In a time of despair the Oakland A’s achieved one of the greatest comebacks in baseball.  Down as many as 8-2 in the second inning, the A’s  seven home runs lead them past a stunned Minnesota Twins to win the game 14-13..  A’s pitcher Gio Gonzales probably played his worst game by giving up ten hits and walking three in two innings.  It was hard to believe how bad the A’s looked?  The Twins held a 12-2 lead in the third inning and it began with two back to back home runs by Justin Morneau who hit a grand slam, then Michael Cuddyer hit a solo to left field.

Bob Geren hit the field immediately to replace pitcher Gonzales and things got rolling for Oakland.  Bottom of the third Jack Cust singled to Holliday and Daric Barton hit a two run homer to make it 12-5.  This was the life line the A’s needed to stay in this ball game.  Matt Holliday then hit a two run homer in the fourth and the offense came alive!

The seventh inning was dominated soley by the A’s.  Orlando Cabrera hit a two run double, and Holliday followed with a grand slam, which was his second home run of the game.  Jack Cust then  followed with a solo home run to seal the game.  What an amazing run for the A’s who played both good defense and offense on the field.

Controversy came on a a play at the top of the ninth where the A’s relieve pitcher Michael Wuertz delivered a wild pitch with Delmon Young at the plate and Michael Cuddyer on second with two outs.  Catcher Kurt Suzuki could not locate the ball after it was thrown toward home base.  Cuddyer made a run for the home base and Suzuki found the ball, threw it to Wuertz who tagged Cuddyer at home plate.  The umpire called him out and the Twins went into a frenzy believing he was safe.  Game over, the A’s began their celebration for an incredible win as the Twins looked on in amazement.

Written by: Malaika Bobino

Making A Difference in Oakland

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Oakland, CA–The Oakland Athletics signed many new faces to their organization this year.  One new addition is a veteran player that portrays leadership through voice and his style of play.  I’m referring to none other than shortstop, Orlando Cabrera.  A native of Cartagena, Columbia who made his major league debut on September 3, 1997 for the Montreal Expos.  After seven years years with the Expos, Cabrera was traded to the Boston Red Sox, where he won his first world series in 2004.  He then made his way west to the Anaheim Angels for two years before signing one years contracts with both the Chicago White Sox and the Oakland A’s.

His road to success in major league baseball has been exciting but, it’s here in Oakland where Cabrera finds peace and happiness.  “I’ve been fortunate enough to play for big teams.  Being in Oakland compared to Boston is heaven!  It’s nice and people don’t bother you as much.  The fans support despite record of losing to winning and I like that”, said Cabrera.

Oakland doesn’t have the biggest rivalry nor media frenzy among Cabrera’s former teams but we do appreciate our players and give them the support to get better.  The A’s are in desperate need of a leader and Orlando Cabrera is our guy.  During the first part of the season Cabrera called a “players only” meeting to get the team focused on winning ball games and to not lose hope.  Despite the challenges that the Oakland A’s have faced, Cabrera maintains a positive attitude.

“This is a team with good chemistry.  We have a long way to go before we can accomplish anything.  We have to focus and keep winning.  The fans in Oakland are loyal and supportive”, said Cabrera.

The A’s remain in last place of their division and have returned after the MLB All-Star break ready to get back to baseball.  With a 28 game schedule ahead Orlando Cabrera has a positive outlook for the second half of the baseball season.

“With no breaks for the next 28 games means nothing to me.  I play everyday and can exceed that number to 40 or 50.  We got a young group here in Oakland and must focus on our pitching and winning games.  We have an opportunity to push harder to see what kind of team we can be during this second half.  However, we can’t erase the past.  The first half of the season we don’t forget but remember it reminds us we still have an opportunity to make it work in the future.”

Orlando Cabrera is a dedicated player who leads by example to the younger players that hard work, dedication, and playing aggressively leads to many accomplishments.  He is two time Gold Gold Award winner (2001 and 2007).  Everyday is a new opportunity for Cabrera to get better as well as his team.  We continue to welcome Orlando Cabrera to give his best and be a good leader for the Oakland Athletics organization.

Written by: Malaika Bobino

Bill Would Ease Traffic Congestion

A bill by Senator Loni Hancock to allow local communities to raise money for programs that ease traffic congestion has passed the Assembly Local Government Committee.
SB 205, which passed the committee last week on a vote of 5-2, authorizes county transportation planning agencies to place on the ballot a local measure that would impose a fee of up to $10 on each vehicle in that county for the purpose of developing traffic mitigation projects specific to that county.
“This bill gives local agencies the opportunity to seek voter approval for programs to ease traffic congestion in their area. Any money approved by voters must be used exclusively in that county and only on programs that help lessen congestion,” Hancock said,
“I want to give voters an opportunity to decide whether or not they want to pay a small additional vehicle fee for specific programs to ease traffic in their local areas,” she said.
The bill defines how that money must be used. According to Senator Hancock, “This bill is meant to encourage the use of ‘intelligent transportation strategies’ that include coordinating signal lights, monitoring real-time traffic conditions in order to make rapid traffic light adjustments and providing drivers with the latest traffic information on freeway message signs.”
Other options for use of the funds include: construction and operation of special lanes; construction and operation of Bus Rapid Transit systems; bicycle and pedestrian projects; local street and road rehabilitation projects; highway improvements such as auxiliary lanes and interchange improvements; storm water runoff project; and air quality improvement projects.
The bill requires a county transportation agency to develop specific plans on how proposed projects will specifically benefit the local voters who will pay the additional fee.

Laws to Protect the Right to Housing

By Senator
Mark Leno

There are few things more important in life than the need for a roof over one’s head. The very basis of our survival is hinged on adequate housing opportunities.
I believe that housing is a right for all, not a privilege of the few. It is easy for housing to be taken for granted when one already has it. However, there is always a looming possibility that this situation could change, as evidenced by our recent housing foreclosure crisis nationwide.
Throughout my legislative career, I have made access to adequate and affordable housing a cornerstone of my work. One of my very first pieces of legislation in the state legislature in 2003 was helping to preserve some of our state’s last remaining affordable housing options.
Our legislation, Assembly Bill 1217, became law and allows local governments around the state to prohibit owners of residential hotels from converting these vital housing units for some of our most vulnerable residents—children and families, seniors, the disabled, and the formerly homeless—to other uses through the invocation of the Ellis Act.
California’s onerous Ellis Act was originally adopted in the 1980’s by the state legislature with the intent of allowing long-term landlords to simply “go out of business” should they desire to do so.
Unfortunately, the Ellis Act has since been primarily utilized by short-term real estate speculators who are buying up buildings, immediately invoking the Ellis Act, and often leaving stranded families, seniors, and children in order to make a quick profit. I have worked on numerous options to amend the Ellis Act and its flagrant abuse by speculators who are not landlords and will continue to so that more housing options are preserved.
Currently, I am working on two new pieces of legislation in the Senate, which will help to alleviate housing displacements for seniors and tenants. Losing one’s home without adequate notice and protections often creates greater difficulties in establishing new housing and can lead to increased numbers in our homeless populations.
Many of our most vulnerable Californians at risk of eviction are seniors who live in residential care facilities. Oftentimes they are not adequately informed of their full range of legal rights, including their right to file a complaint or contest the eviction. Our Senate Bill 781, sponsored by the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, would allow these seniors to have additional protections in notice and information regarding alternative housing prior to being forced to leave their homes.
Senate Bill 290, sponsored by the Western Center for Law and Poverty, would provide continued protection for tenants who are being evicted. Existing law requires landlords to give tenants a notice of 60 days before being forced out of their rental home, when it is for reasons without fault of the tenant. The 60 day notice allows for tenants confronted with these ‘no cause’ or ‘no fault’ evictions to be given adequate time to find new housing opportunities. However, this requirement will permanently expire at the end of 2009 without the passage of our bill, which will keep it in place.
Our work is not yet done to create, provide and protect housing for all of our residents. Safe and secure shelter keeps our communities strong. I will continue to fight for everyone’s right to housing.
Senator Leno can be reached via the web at, by phone in the San Francisco office at (415) 557-1300 or San Rafael office at (415) 479-6612, or by e-mail,

North Richmond Committee Reverses Bey Firing

By Ken A. Epstein

A special meeting of a North Richmond advisory committee has voted to reverse the firing of Saleem Bey, a community outreach coordinator who was suddenly terminated last month after successfully advocating and receiving funding for neighborhood development programs in the North Richmond community.
Bey had been fired from his position at Community Housing Development Corporation of North Richmond (CHDC), where he worked for the past year, earning broad community support for involving the community in s variety of “green” programs, including neighborhood beautification and cleanup, youth baseball, green economic development and green jobs training.
Bey’s position was funded from a pot of money raised from the more than $1 million paid each year to mitigate the impact of the City of Richmond and Contra Costa Sanitary Landfill Bulk Materials Processing Center located next to the community.
The decision to rehire Bey was made at the July 8 meeting of the Waste & Recovery Mitigation Fee Joint Expenditure Planning committee, which recommends how the mitigation money should be spent and is composed of community representatives and county and city officials.
“There were rumors, things floating around that were very hard to verify, (regarding who was behind the firing) (but) it was a big surprise (that he was fired). We have had nothing but praise for Mr. Bey’s work,” said Dr. Henry Clark, a community representative on the Mitigation committee from the North Richmond unincorporated area.
“This man loves the community. He has continued to work on projects in spite of the fact that he has been fired, even though he hasn’t been paid. He has been on the job consistently. This man should be given an award and reward – the community should do what is necessary to restore him to this position.”
Speaking at the meeting, Bey said that he had adopted a “holistic approach” to mobilizing the entire community, including Latinos, young and old residents.
“We have wide support from seniors – we have youngsters who are behind this – and we have a bunch of volunteers,” he said. “(In the past), we would get more corporate volunteers than community members; now we have more community members – they are motivated. They see the vision and they are getting behind it.”
Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin was part of the majority that voted to move funding for the position from CHDC in order to fund the position at another community nonprofit or public agency that would be willing to hire Mr. Bey.
County Supervisor John Goia, who voted against the motion, said that he was concerned that some people are raising negative criticism about how the mitigation money has been spent in the past. – I’m always troubled when there is division,” he said. “We (adopted) a plan that was approved unanimously.”
Before the decision of the mitigation committee is final, it must be approved by both the Richmond City Council and the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors.

Saleem Bey (left) and Dr. Henry Clark.

Saleem Bey (left) and Dr. Henry Clark.

Federal Bill Would Pay for Police

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer has introduced legislation to increase the number of police officers in cities with the highest violent crime rates, including Oakland. Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced the bill in the House of Representatives.
“It is common sense – more police officers on our streets mean less crime. As cities with high violent crime rates deal with budget cuts, we must ensure that local law enforcement officials can fight crime and keep our communities safe, ” said Boxer.
“This is about public safety and violence prevention – and what we know is that community policing works,” said Congresswoman Lee. “It’s time we provide the necessary help for our local law enforcement agencies to hire officers to help reduce crime rates.”
The legislation would amend the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Act to direct funding to the five cities with the highest violent crime rates according the 2007 Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting statistics.
Those cities are: Oakland, CA; Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Detroit, MI; and Memphis, TN. These cities would become eligible for hiring grants that could increase police forces by five to 10 percent by adding officers to patrol areas affected by violent crime.
The bill also authorizes the Attorney General to provide increased hiring grants to an additional 15 cities based on other crime indicators such as gang activity, drug trafficking, unemployment and poverty.
Earlier this month, the Oakland City Council approved $13.4 million in cuts to the Oakland Police Department’s personnel budget,
The legislation is supported by Oakland Mayor Ronald V. Dellums, Acting Oakland Police Chief Howard A. Jordan, the Oakland Police Officers Association and the Peace Officers Research Association of California.

Bill Prohibits Businesses from Barring Non-English Speakers

The Assembly Judiciary Committee has approved legislation that would prohibit businesses from denying service to a patron because of the language he or she speaks.
Specifically, the bill adds “language” to the list of protections in the state’s civil rights act, which prohibits discrimination within business establishments.
While speaking one’s native language is protected in cases of employment and housing under state law, such protections are not currently extended to consumers.
The Unruh Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination within business establishments, generally to protect patrons from not receiving service. SB 242, authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), would add the use of any language to the list of the Act’s protections, which currently includes sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, and sexual orientation.
“No one should be discriminated against simply for speaking their language,” said Yee. “All patrons, English speaking and non-English speaking, deserve to be served. SB 242 will rightfully add language to the list of protected classes within California’s civil rights act.”
The issue stems from a proposed policy announced last summer by the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) to suspend players who do not speak English. Despite there being no relevance to the sport, the LPGA claimed that it was important for players to be able to interact with American media and event sponsors. Ironically, many of the sponsors are international companies and a number of the tournaments are not held in the United States. No other professional sports league in the United States has such a mandate.
The LPGA later rescinded the proposal after objections from Senator Yee and over 50 civil rights organizations.
“It is quite disheartening that in the 21st century any organization would think such a policy is acceptable,” said Yee. “With the passage of SB 242 such discriminatory mandates will not only be unfair, but illegal.”
Under SB 242, it would be a violation of state law for an entity to adopt or enforce a policy that requires, limits, or prohibits the use of any language in a business establishment, unless the language restriction is justified by a business necessity and notification has been provided of the circumstances at the time when the language restriction is required and of the consequences.
The entire Assembly will now consider SB 242.

Numbers of Homeless Decline in Berkeley

The numbers of chronically homeless residents in Berkeley has dropped 48 percent since 2003, according to a count and survey of homeless done by Alameda County’s EveryOne Home program.
That count also showed that the number of people living on Berkeley streets has fallen 17 percent.
“The county’s count in 2003 gave us important insight about the nature of homelessness in Berkeley, and the obstacles that homeless residents faced,” said Acting Housing and Community Services Director Jane Micallef.
“That data allowed us to work with community agencies to better orient our services toward the problem of chronic homelessness. We’re glad to see the approach is working,” she said.
The 2003 count and survey revealed that two-thirds of Berkeley’s homeless population was chronically homeless adults, defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as “an unaccompanied disabled individual who has been continuously homeless for over one year.”
This population was 20 percent of the homeless people in Alameda County, and is 10 percent of the homeless population nationally.
A comparison between 2003 to 2009 show that the number of chronically homeless people in Berkeley decreased from 529 to 276 (48 percent); Berkeley’s share of the countywide chronically homeless population decreased from 41 percent to 27 percent; people residing on the streets, in shelters or in transitional housing programs decreased from 821 to 680 (17 percent).
In addition, significant decreases in the number of homeless adults with no dependent children were somewhat offset by an increase in the number of homeless adults with dependent children, from 94 to 125 adults and children.
Based on the 2003 count, the city and community-based organizations have worked over the past five years to end chronic homelessness. For many years, the national response to homelessness focused on the individual crisis of being homeless, and providing a compassionate response to the most immediate needs.
While retaining this function, Berkeley has invested more deeply in programs that emphasize ending homelessness through permanent housing. Strategies include creating new supportive housing opportunities for chronically homeless adults by combining the resources of Public Commons for Everyone Initiative’s Square One Program, as well as new federal funding for permanent housing subsidies,
In addition supportive services, emergency shelter, and transitional housing programs have been reoriented to emphasize a move to permanent housing through agencies such as Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency and the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, as well as the City’s own mental health and aging service. City funding also more than tripled for services that help disabled adults access Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for housing support and medical and mental health treatment.
Although there has been significant improvement in chronic homelessness, the recession has driven up “hidden homelessness” countywide. In the 2009 count, the number of people living temporarily with a friend or relative, in a motel, or facing eviction within seven days in Alameda County had increased by more than two and half times, and increased to 41 percent of the county’s total homeless population.
Berkeley’s hidden homeless went from 14 to 144, a ten-fold increase.

A homeless woman in Berkeley reads on a bench. Lydia Gans photo.

A homeless woman in Berkeley reads on a bench. Lydia Gans photo.

First Black Master Diver

Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear, the first Black Master Diver in the U.S. Navy, poses with actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. on the set of the 2000 film Men of Honor, which was inspired by Brashear’s life.  Gooding played Brashear in the movie. Brashear passed away in 2006. He is buried at Woodlawn Memorial Gardens in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear, the first Black Master Diver in the U.S. Navy, poses with actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. on the set of the 2000 film Men of Honor, which was inspired by Brashear’s life. Gooding played Brashear in the movie. Brashear passed away in 2006. He is buried at Woodlawn Memorial Gardens in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

L.A. Sentinel Publisher to Head Black Newspaper Federation

Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., executive publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel, the West Coast’s oldest and largest African American newspaper, was elected as the new chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA).
“I’m honored and humbled to have been chosen by my fellow publishers to lead the 200 plus Black newspapers in America in bringing a renewed sense of commitment to our community and our profession,” said Bakewell. “Be assured that we will continue the tradition of using our newspapers to educate our people and to report the news without any filter and to fight for the honor of our communities and the rich legacy of the Black Press of America.”

Danny J. Bakewell, Sr

Danny J. Bakewell, Sr

Four Local Groups Receive National Arts Funding

The National Endowment of Arts will provide $175,000 in federal funding to support four art-related endeavors in the East Bay, including the Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the Crucible of Oakland.
The funding for these grants is being made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and is designed to help support projects that involve the creation and presentation of artistically excellent work – both new and established.
Awards are designed to support the preservation of jobs that are threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the current economic downturn. Awardees include Crucible of Oakland, $50,000; Kala Institute of Berkeley, $25,000; the National Federation of Community Broadcasters of Oakland, $50,000; Berkeley Repertory Theatre, $50,000.
“The arts are an important expression of American culture,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “I am pleased that we were able to allocate these funds so that our rich artistic legacy will be preserved for our posterity and celebrated for years to come.”

Oakland Provides Free Internet Access

The City of Oakland is putting in place free access to computers and the Internet at all of the 24 Parks and Recreation Centers in the city.
Mayor Ron Dellums made the announcement at a press conference held Tuesday at the deFremery Recreation Center in West Oakland, along with Audree Jones-Taylor Director of Parks and Recreation and Bruce Buckelew, director of Oakland Technology Exchange (OTX) West.
“This partnership will give every Oakland resident, from school children to senior citizens, the opportunity to utilize the benefits of a computer,” said Dellums. “We want all community members to be well-informed and to have access to the latest technology, so that they can enjoy global communication and have a place to work on skills that help them in the job market.”
Computer access is already available at facilities in 19 recreation centers. The last five centers will be online soon. Despite current economic conditions, Dellums said, this collaboration was able to provide this service to Oakland residents for about $100,000, using remaining funds from a previous state literacy technology fund and assistance from Google, the Gap, Kaiser and other key partner organizations.
OTX Director Buckelew had participated in one of the Mayor-initiated Community Taskforces on Education that made the recommendation to bridge the “digital divide” in Oakland. The task force’s work was responsible for the recommendation to provide not only access to computers and the Internet, but to provide education and technical support to all Oakland residents who need it.
OTX West is dedicated to eliminating the digital divide in Oakland, said Buckelew. The organization, based in West Oakland, has refurbished used computers donated by companies and agencies and gives the computers free to every Oakland student, grade 6 to 12, who attends a three-hour orientation class.
Since 1999 OTX has provided over 10,000 computers to Oakland Public School families free of charge, 10,000 computers to Oakland Public School classrooms and community access labs and over 1,000 laptop computers to students and community members in Oakland
“We now have 200 computers at 24 sites with wifi hot spots, and all the computers were donated by the Port of Oakland,” said Buckelew. “This is a sustainable long-term solution to (ending) the digital divide.”

A  press conference Tuesday at deFremery Park in West Oakland announced the opening of free Internet connected computer facilities in Oakland’s 24 Parks and Recreation centers. Pictures (L to R) are Bruce Buckelew, director of Oakland Technology Exchange (OTX) West; Mark Hall, director of capital projects for Parks and Recreation, Domingo Vazquez, director of curriculum and training at OTX West; Xavier Smith, 13, student; Mayor Ron Dellums; Tamara Cole, 10, student; Oscar Rosales, technician, OTX West, Audree Jones-Taylor, director of Oakland Parks and Recreation; Valorie Winn, director of the deFremery Park and Recreation center. Photo by Ken Epstein.

A press conference Tuesday at deFremery Park in West Oakland announced the opening of free Internet connected computer facilities in Oakland’s 24 Parks and Recreation centers. Pictures (L to R) are Bruce Buckelew, director of Oakland Technology Exchange (OTX) West; Mark Hall, director of capital projects for Parks and Recreation, Domingo Vazquez, director of curriculum and training at OTX West; Xavier Smith, 13, student; Mayor Ron Dellums; Tamara Cole, 10, student; Oscar Rosales, technician, OTX West, Audree Jones-Taylor, director of Oakland Parks and Recreation; Valorie Winn, director of the deFremery Park and Recreation center. Photo by Ken Epstein.

Harold Anthony Wilson, 83

Harold Anthony Wilson, 83, a lifetime resident of Oakland, died on July 10. His funeral was held Tuesday at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland. 

He was born on Feb. 2, 1926.
As a young probation officer, Wilson strove to help people on his caseload stay out of trouble and to help them learn to find and use resources. After serving as the chief probation officer of Alameda County, he moved to the Juvenile division where he worked tirelessly to help troubled youth find their way out of a life of detention.
He helped organize a network of halfway houses to help ex-offenders develop careers, finish their education and become useful members of the community.
Wilson went to work for the Alameda County Central Labor Council, where he represented employees of Highland and Fairview hospitals. He also represented civilian employees at Treasure Island. He served as business representative for AFL-CIO Local 390 City Employees Union based in the Labor Temple in downtown Oakland.
Through his association with the unions, he became part of the Bay Area contingent that traveled to the South to participate in the Birmingham/Selma Civil Rights march.
Wilson was later inspired to obtain a Doctorate of Divinity and was ordained as a Unitarian Minister. He filled in at churches and presided over weddings. His broader focus was to make the church take responsibility for improving conditions in underserved communities.
He used his abilities to help establish the Black Unitarian Universalist Caucus, comprised of ministers from across the U.S. who were trying to make the church responsive to the needs of minority communities.
Wilson continued his interest in higher education and nearly completed a PhD. As he worked on his own higher education, he was concerned as well with bettering the conditions of people he grew up with in West Oakland.
He was among the first to work in the newly-established affirmative action department serving UC Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory His effectiveness led to his being promoted to the position of Personnel Director of the Lab.
Wilson is survived by his wife of eight years, Rodica Feldman Wilson, his children Glenn Foerster Wilson, Pamela Louise Wilson, Deborah Wilson Cornland, his brother Warren Barrios Wilson, sister Marie Anderson, and his grandchildren Taj, Eric, Alexander, and Liana. He is predeceased by his daughter, Stephanie Louise Wilson, his brothers Lionel, Kermit, Julius, and Barrios, and his sister Marjorie Honoré.

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Bill Patterson Park and Joe Morgan Field

Brookfield Park’s Hall of Fame “Double Play”

A joint naming ceremony honoring Bill Patterson and Joe Morgan will be held 11 a.m., July 29, at 9175 Edes Ave. Patterson was the first recreation Director at the center, mentoring Hall of Famer Morgan. Patterson also mentored other Oakland sports legends: Bill Russell, Frank Robinson, Willie Stargell, Paul Silas and Curtis Flood. Photo by Gene Hazzard.

A joint naming ceremony honoring Bill Patterson and Joe Morgan will be held 11 a.m., July 29, at 9175 Edes Ave. Patterson was the first recreation Director at the center, mentoring Hall of Famer Morgan. Patterson also mentored other Oakland sports legends: Bill Russell, Frank Robinson, Willie Stargell, Paul Silas and Curtis Flood. Photo by Gene Hazzard.

Army Base Developers Face Community

By TC Wilson

Over 100 hundred residents, faith leaders, workers and community advocates filled Taylor Memorial Church’s fellowship hall on July 7 to interview the two developers vying to redevelop the city’s portion of the massive Army Base site, which covers the equivalent of more than 80 football fields and could transform Oakland’s economy over the next decade.
Both teams, AMB/CCG and Federal Oakland Associates, presented their proposals and answered numerous questions.
Oakland City Council will select a Master Developer for the city’s portion of the former Base. Community advocates see this as a once in a lifetime opportunity and have been working to ensure that the Oakland Army Base redevelopment creates family-supporting jobs for residents, improves air quality, reduces exposure to toxic pollution, and paves the way for shared prosperity and health in Oakland.
At the meeting, speakers recounted the long history of community efforts to ensure residents and workers benefit from development at the former base, which closed in 1999 and was returned to the City of Oakland and the Port of Oakland in 2006.
Speakers noted that, after more than a decade of pushing, residents scored a significant victory in 2008 when the City incorporated many key community demands in the requirements set for developers interested in the site, including environmental, health, small business, and job standards.
Among the questions posed to the developers, family-supporting jobs and training for Oaklanders were a common theme. West Oakland resident Shirley Burnell elaborated, “It will take up to 10 years to redevelop the Base, but we have to start recruiting and training for jobs now. With so many youth dropping out of school, we need strong programs to train them for real careers that support families.”
Regardless who is selected, residents and community advocates expect the developer to work with the community to make real the promise of good jobs for Oakland families.
All participants, including both developers, agreed that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Oakland. Joe Brooks, Vice President of Civic Engagement of Policylink and a parishioner at Taylor Memorial for more than 10 years, who facilitated the meeting, put it this way, “This is a window of opportunity. I want to see a project that benefits my children, and their children.”

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Base Development Decision Postponed

Margaret Gordon, Port Commission and West Oakland activist, says she has lived in Oakland for a long time, and residents have been promised jobs with every new proposed development project. The jobs never come. This time she wants jobs for Oaklanders to be assured, not promised, with the development of the army base.
That was one of many issues voiced at the Community and Economic Development committee meeting of the City Council, which voted Tuesday to postpone selection of a developer for the Oakland Army Base.
Councilmember Reid voted “No” on a motion to move forward, saying the issue was too important to be decided hastily.
Councilmember Brunner abstained. She said she had 12 issues on which she wished information from city staff, including financial viability of two projects under consideration and the comparative advantage of each project to Oakland residents.

Obama in Ghana: “I have the blood of Africa within me.”

By Paul Cobb

President Barack Obama, accompanied by his wife Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha, continued to make history when he became the first Black U.S. president to visit Ghana and the African continent.
He addressed the Ghanain Parliament and boldly claimed his ancestry as a family member of the diaspora when he said “I have the blood of Africa within me.”
As he and President John Atta Mills toured the Cape Coast Castle, the cannon-lined fortress where slaves were kept in squalid dungeons, then shipped in chains to America through a “Door of No Return” that opens to the sea, Obama said ,”I’ll never forget the image of my two young daughters, the descendants of Africans and African-Americans, walking through those doors of no return but then walking back (through) those doors.”
In the midst of that historic homecoming moment, while Ghanains danced in the streets, Obama, referred to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s visit in 1957 when Ghana declared its independence from the British, as he dared to go where no other President had ever gone by preaching a tough love sermonette that challenged African leaders to declare independence from the chaos of coups,corruption, greed, tribal conflicts.
“Africa doesn’t need strongmen,” Obama said. “It needs strong institutions.”
Obama promised Africa some American aid if Africans would take more responsibility for the health and welfare of its people by turning from brutality and bribery.
In a speech reminiscent of those he gave to predominantly African American audiences during his run for the Presidency, he said, “You can conquer disease, end conflicts and make change from the bottom up.You can do that. Yes you can. Because in this moment, history is on the move.”
“What happens here,” he said, “has an impact everywhere.”

President John Atta Mills ushered America’s African American first family through the “Door of No Return” where millions of Africans were sold into slavery to the Americas.

President John Atta Mills ushered America’s African American first family through the “Door of No Return” where millions of Africans were sold into slavery to the Americas.

CSU Employee Union Agrees to Talks on Work Furloughs

In an effort to address a projected $584 million budget deficit for 2009-10, the California State University Employee Union (CSUEU), that represents more than 16,000 non-academic employees, has voted to enter talks with CSU on the concept of two-day per month furloughs.
This option is under consideration rather than the contractually mandated non-retention and layoff language contained in CSUEU’s labor agreement with the CSU. In addition, the Academic Professionals of California, that represents approximately 2,400 student services employees, has also voted to begin the same process.
Combined with changes initiated in June to Title 5 that would allow CSU flexibility to furlough management employees, a total of approximately 21,000 of CSU’s overall workforce of 47,000 employees are committed to looking at furloughs as a way to address the budget deficit.
CSU has been meeting with the system’s labor unions that represent the vast majority of its workforce to discuss the furlough option and expects to finalize the details of an action plan in the near future. Approximately 80 percent of CSU’s budget goes toward employee salary and benefits, and the CSU is proposing to furlough all of its employees (with the exception of public safety personnel) in all classifications, including management and executives, to help close the anticipated budget deficit.
The Governor’s budget proposal would mean a $584 million cut to the CSU’s general fund support for 2009-10. This represents a 13 percent reduction from 2007-08 in state support of the CSU. The furloughs, if accepted by all employees, would save approximately $275 million, and other cost-saving options are under discussion to address the remaining budget deficit. CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed has indicated that the guiding principles of any action plan would be to “serve as many students as possible without sacrificing quality, and to preserve as many jobs as possible.”
A furlough is a mandated period of time off without pay. Furloughs differ from salary reductions and pay cuts in that they are temporary and do not affect employment status, or health benefit eligibility or pay rate for retirement benefits. Also, employees are not required to work on furlough days.

Tougher Controls Sought for DNA Ancestry Testing

As the popularity of take-home DNA kits to trace ancestry or calculate the risk for serious medical conditions grows, there is an increasingly critical need for federal oversight of “direct-to consumer” genetic testing, as well as of the use of DNA samples for research, according to researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, and several other academic institutions.
In the past year, scientists, sociologists and bioethicists, among others, have come to agree that the technology of these direct-to-consumer tests, which run between $100 and $1,000 apiece, is problematic and that the test results can be misleading and lead to problems including skewed ethnic data and questionable membership claims to Native American tribes.
But while organizations such as the American Society of Human Genetics have issued guidelines to curb the unintended consequences and misuses of DNA testing, federal agencies need to step in and help shape a “gold standard” in genetic ancestry testing, according to a policy paper published in the July 3 issue of the journal Science and coauthored by researchers from UC Berkeley, Stanford University, the University of Texas, University of Wisconsin and New York University.
“We encourage regulatory agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control to help set industry standards for responsible and accountable practices in genetic ancestry testing,” said coauthor Kimberly TallBear, assistant professor of science, technology and environmental policy at UC Berkeley.
The article in Science is a direct response to the American Society of Human Genetics guidelines, which recommend increased accountability, transparency and collaboration among consumers, scientists and the companies selling
According to news reports, a half million consumers have purchased genetic ancestry tests, which are sold by more than two dozen personal genomics companies with names such as “Roots for Real,” “23andMe” and “DNA Tribes.”
Typically, the test taker swipes the saliva inside his or her cheek and sends the swab to the lab. The DNA is extracted and compared to samples from a reference database of haplotypes (sets of inherited, linked genetic markers) to see if there’s a match.
Different tests use different methods. For example, mitochondrial DNA tests trace the mother’s lineage, while Y-chromosome tests track paternal ancestry. But because these tests only trace one bloodline, they exclude most ancestors. Moreover, they cannot pinpoint where these ancestors lived.
Another option is AncestryByDNA, a genealogy test that relies on markers that show genetic differences between what are assumed to be four biologically distinct populations: Africans, Europeans, East Asians and Native Americans. But some groups that don’t fit neatly into these categories, such as South Asians and Middle Easterners, have received test results identifying them as Native Americans, for example, according to researchers.


The first son of Sharon and Reverend Dr. Gordon W. Choyce Sr., Elder Gordon W. Choyce, II was loved greatly by his family and friends and he spent his life spreading the love of God to others. As a young child, Gordon dutifully attended church on each Sunday with his parents, which served as the cornerstone of Gordon’s devotion to high moral values, educational achievement and hard work.
Gordon attended De Anza and Salesian High School in Richmond, CA where he discovered a love for the game of football. Outside of the classroom, Gordon worked several jobs; as a waiter at his Grandparents restaurant (Choyce’s), as a newspaper delivery boy for the Contra Costa Times and as a courtesy clerk for Lucky’s Store.
Upon graduation from Salesian High School in 1991, Gordon attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, where he received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance and Marketing. Upon returning home to California in 1996, he began his business career at the Clorox Company in Oakland, CA as a Financial Analyst.
One day Gordon heard the voice of the Lord tell him to leave his job, career, success and money to help undergird the ministry at the Missionary Church of God in Christ in Berkeley where his father and mother were serving God’s people as Pastor and First Lady.
Gordon was ordained as an Elder in the Church of God in Christ in 2001. Although a relatively young preacher, Gordon delivered the word of God with passion and wisdom. He had a special word for the youth of the community where he touched many young men and women struggling to find their purpose and destiny in God. As Gordon grew in ministry, God also blessed him with a gift in community and real estate development. He created a real estate and development company, Landmark Ventures, where he directed all activities related to the design, entitlement and development of several residential, commercial and mixed-used construction projects.
Sadly, the amazing life of Elder Gordon W. Choyce, II was cut short on Monday, July 6, 2009. We have lost a great person on earth, but God needed him more.
Gordon leaves to mourn his passing, his wonderful son Kalyn Choyce, his parents Sharon and Reverend Dr. Gordon W. Choyce, Sr., his brother Dionne E. Choyce, his sister Kara A. Choyce, sister-in-law, Michelle Tong-Choyce, nephew and nieces James Tyanna & Brenea Choyce, aunt and uncle Judy and Pastor Ovelester Strassner, and a host of aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and mentees. Gordon will be missed dearly.
Funeral services: Sat., July 18th 10AM, Glad Tidings, 27689 Tyrell Ave. Hayward, CA.
Viewing: Fri., July 17th, Fouche’s Hudson Funeral Home, 3665 Telegraph Ave. Oakland, CA 11AM-5PM.

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Bishop Reems’ 80th Birthday Celebrated

Hundreds of congregants and well-wishers joined in the festivities last week for the 80th birthday of Bishop Ernestine Cleveland Reems-Dickerson during a weeklong celebration at the Center of Hope Community Church.
Highlights of the festivities included sermons by Bishop Darrell Hines of Milwaukee, WI, Dr. Wanda Davis Turner of Atlanta and Dr. Bridget Steib of Baton Rouge, LA.
Famous gospel duo Mary Mary concluded a capacity filled event at the church. A luncheon at the downtown Oakland Marriott featured Dr. Frederick C. Haynes, III, as keynote speaker. Pastors Brondon and Maria Reems served as hosts.
Bishop Reems-Dickerson is the founder and Senior Pastor of Center of Hope Community Church at 8411 Macarthur Blvd. in Oakland.
While serving as pastor for over 35 years, she has impacted her local community by providing for those in need through the development of a food feeding ministry, a K-8 charter school, a 150-unit affordable housing complex, a 5- unit building for senior housing, and a 17-unit transitional facility for homeless single women with children.
Reems-Dickerson has led Kingdom Builders Ministerial Alliance, an organization she founded to mentor leaders of urban ministries. Additionally, she supports missionary projects in Haiti and throughout South Africa.
Her efforts through Ernestine C. Reems Ministries Inc. have offered her the opportunity to speak to national audiences in an annual conference and regional Wisdom Retreats.

Bishop Ernestine Reems-Dickerson (center left)  with husband Theotis Dickerson,  and famous gospel duo Mary Mary (Erica Atkins-Campbell and Tina Atkins-Campbell. Photo by Gene Hazzard.

Bishop Ernestine Reems-Dickerson (center left) with husband Theotis Dickerson, and famous gospel duo Mary Mary (Erica Atkins-Campbell and Tina Atkins-Campbell. Photo by Gene Hazzard.

Ex-Convicts Working to Prevent Future Convicts

By Andale Gross,
Associated Press

An argument earlier in the day between teens from rival neighborhoods had Jason Broom worried as he stood in a pothole-riddled parking lot pondering his next move. Broom was released from prison last year after serving time in two killings and is now a conflict mediator on Kansas City’s gang-infested east side.
He grew anxious as none of the feuding youngsters answered his cell phone calls. Worried the confrontation could escalate to a gunfight and perhaps another killing, Broom took off, peering down blocks and slowing his car to check out teens huddled on porches and stoops. Nothing.
The stocky, 270-pound Broom easily blends into the neighborhood scenery as part of Aim4Peace, a program that sends reformed criminals into some of the city’s tensest neighborhoods to calm disputes before they erupt.
Police credit the program with reducing violence on the east side, where most of the city’s 126 homicides occurred last year.
Leaders in the nation’s most violent cities have talked for years about trying to get ahead of their crime problems, but efforts in Kansas City and Chicago take a different approach by sending former convicts into neighborhoods to more quickly identify, and defuse, trouble spots.
“I’ve done everything they’re thinking about doing,” Broom said.
As the 38-year-old ex-convict combed the streets for the feuding boys, Broom couldn’t help but think the worst. Night came and went without a word. But he caught up to them the next day, demanded they “chill out” and detailed what could happen if they let their argument turn violent: jail, or worse.
“That’s over with,” a relieved Broom said later. “Another conflict resolved.”
Broom and the other half-dozen or so Aim4Peace street intervention workers, also known as “violence interrupters,” say they resolved 22 conflicts last year in Kansas City and at least 14 this year. And the east side — where poverty, gangs and drugs have conspired against residents for years — no longer leads the city in killings, according to crime data.
“The work they’re doing in that area is having an impact,” said Maj. Anthony Ell, commander of the Kansas City Police Department’s violent crimes division.

Lillie Walker Cage, 111

Lillie Walker Cage, who was either 108 or 111, depending on who did the counting, died Tuesday evening in Sacramento.
Born in New Orleans officially on Feb. 4, 1998, Cage was a longtime Oakland resident and member of the Market Street Seventh Day Adventist Church in Oakland.
She worked for years as a nurse. She was the first African American Registered Nurse in Alameda County.
Cage leaves behind a son, John C Cage, and grandchildren. After she became too ill to live in her own home in Oakland, she moved in with her granddaughter, Elisabeth Ruth Cartwright, who lives in Sacramento.
“She helped deliver me (when I was born),” said Cartwright. “ She raised me –she has always been my grandmother because she has always been here with us.”
Cage voted for Barack Obama in November, said Cartwright. “She had all her senses – she was coherent until she closed her eyes.”
A memorial service will be held at the Market Street Seventh Day Adventist Church, 900 34th St. in Oakland.

Lillie Walker Cage

Lillie Walker Cage