From May 2012

Cassidy Elected President of Mayors’ Conference

San Leandro Mayor Stephen H. Cassidy

Alameda County mayors unanimously elected San Leandro Mayor Stephen H. Cassidy to serve as president of the Alameda County Mayors’ Conference for 2012-2013.
Mayor John Marchand of Livermore was elected as vice president at the May 9 meeting.
Terms of each position are for one year.
“There is a long tradition of San Leandro mayors serving in leadership roles in the Alameda County Mayors’ Conferences,” said Cassidy.
“I am honored to continue this tradition of service,” he said. “I look forward to working with my fellow mayors on addressing issues common to all cities in the county and promoting our shared interests at regional, state and federal levels of government.”
The Alameda County Mayors’ Conference was founded in 1954 to encourage cooperation in matters of mutual interest among cities in the county.
The conference meets monthly, with meetings rotating among cities.

Protect Veterans from Insurance Scams

By Mark Leno

It is hard to believe that some insurance companies and agents would purposefully take advantage of older military veterans for monetary gain.
Unfortunately, that is just what is occurring in community centers, nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the state when senior vets are talked into “quick overhauls” of their finances that sometimes have disastrous results. In an effort to put a stop to this exploitation of our seniors, I have authored SB 1170, which protects veterans from insurance scams.
The federal Veterans Administration (VA) administers the Aid and Attendance Program, which is a safety net for low-income veterans and their spouses who cannot afford medical supplies or in-home healthcare.
Financial predators target high-income veterans and those with significant assets, such as individual retirement accounts, who otherwise would not qualify for this program. They then purport to counsel them on how to move their assets into “safe harbors” such as irrevocable trusts and deferred annuities so they can participate in the program.
Pretending to represent non-profit veterans’ organizations and government agencies that assist veterans, these unscrupulous people advertise “free lunch” seminars to educate seniors about their entitlement to VA benefits. In reality, they are insurance agents who are simply trying to gather financial data in order to sell indemnity products that pay the brokers’ high commissions.
The annuities and long-term investments in which the senior veterans are persuaded to invest are often considered inappropriate for older retirees and can cause serious long-term financial harm. For example, the senior veteran may be unable to access his or her funds in an emergency without paying large penalties and may incur significant tax liability for using assets to purchase an insurance product.
SB 1170 helps protect seniors from these deceitful practices by prohibiting the misleading use of words or symbols on advertisements that are similar to those used by legitimate veterans organizations or agencies.
The bill also requires disclosure when an educational seminar is given by a person who is not qualified to represent veterans in VA proceedings and when veterans’ events are not endorsed or sponsored by the VA, the California Department of Veterans Affairs or other federally recognized organizations. Finally, the bill prohibits insurance agents from delivering legal documents, such as trusts and other estate planning tools.
Senior veterans who served their country with honor deserve to be safeguarded against dishonest scam artists preying on their vulnerability. I believe SB 1170 will help provide the protection they need.
Veterans looking for information on how to qualify for benefits can contact the California Veterans Affairs office at or call (800) 952-5626.
Before investing money, check an adviser’s credentials at California’s Department of Corporations at or call (415) 972-8565.
If a person believes he is a victim of fraud, contact the local district attorney and the California Department of Insurance at or (800) 927-4357.
Contact Mark Leno’s San Francisco District Office at (415) 557-1300 or San Rafael District Office at (415) 479-6612; by email at or on the web at
Senator Mark Leno represents the Third Senate District of California, which includes portions of San Francisco and all of Marin County

City Opposes Religious, Racial Profiling

A new city ordinance requires the San Francisco Police Department to follow local and state standards when working with the FBI’s joint Terrorism Task Force, in order to protect Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian members of the community from racial and religious profiling.
The ordinance was passed unanimously by Board of Supervisors and signed on May 9 by Mayor Ed Lee.
The ordinance also requires public review and comment before SFPD and the FBI’s joint Terrorism Task Force make any new agreements.
In addition, SFPD must make annual reports to the Police Commission about its work with the Terrorism Task Force.
The ordinance was supported by members of the Coalition for a Safe San Francisco, the Asian Law Caucus, and the Arab Cultural and Community Center.
“The Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities have experienced extreme discrimination in the aftermath of September 11,” said Mokhtar Alkhanshali, a community member and founding member of the coalition.
“This ordinance is a step toward protecting our community from racial and religious profiling, and requiring transparency and oversight,” he said.
Joining Portland, Francisco is the second city in the country to pass a local law to ensure that state and local standards are protected.
“The law speaks directly to the community’s concerns about being treated as suspect without any evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Over the past two years, the coalition has worked tirelessly to turn the tide   against such bias and to pass this law,” said Nasrina Bargzie, staff attorney at the Asian Law Caucus, also applauded the new law.
“In the coming months the coalition will be working with the community, supporting organizations, and various officials to ensure proper implementation in a sustained effort to challenge discrimination that targets communities in the name of national security,” said Bargzie.

Military Veterans Graduate from SF State

Daniel Mendoza

Miguel Vargas and Daniel Mendoza are among the more than 100 military veterans who are graduating from SF State University this year, part of the California State University’s Troops to College initiative, which helps vets make a successful transition to academic life.
The university’s commencement will be held on May 19.  A special reception honoring the graduating vets was held in April.
Vargas decided to pursue a career in physical therapy after seeing his close friends sustain injuries and amputations during combat in Iraq.
“My friends who were injured in Iraq have had to relearn how to walk and move – so I was really interested in my motor learning and development classes at SF State,” Vargas said. “I’ve seen how physical therapy can really give someone their life back.”
A native of Salinas and a first-generation immigrant from Mexico, he joined the military a few years after high school in an effort to find his direction in life. As a sergeant in the army, he served a 15-month tour of duty in Iraq from 2006 – 2007.
He was part of an infantry unit that went house to house in Iraqi communities, securing the area and searching for contraband.
Vargas has been accepted to a doctorate program in physical therapy at Fresno State, starting this fall.
Daniel Mendoza, 25, is the first in his family to go to college, graduating with a bachelor’s in political science. The son of Mexican immigrants, he was raised in a poor neighborhood in Richmond.
After dropping out of high school, he joined the marines at the age of 17. He became a sergeant and gained valuable experience working as a logistician on humanitarian aid missions in Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami and in Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake.
When his active duty ended in 2008, he studied at Contra Costa College before transferring to SF State in January 2011.
“When I first came out of the military it was hard to find my place, but I finally felt at home when I got to SF State,” he said. “I made friends with veterans who felt the same as I did, and the student body was accepting towards vets.”
At SF State he learned critical thinking skills and discovered the value of investigating the story behind the words. Still a reservist in the Marine Corps, he has been called to serve in Afghanistan and will spend a year there starting January 2013, managing logistics at a forward operating base.
When he returns to civilian life, he plans to use his logistical skills and college degree working at a nongovernmental organization.

Human Rights Commission Honors Heroes

Aileen Hernandez

The San Francisco Human Rights Commission has announced recipients of the agency’s 2012 Hero Awards, which recognize local residents for outstanding contributions in the field of human rights advocacy and local organizations that support equity in education for youth in vulnerable communities.
Community members submitted nominations, and finalists were selected for their commitment to human rights, community service and for uplifting and fostering positive change.
The “HERO” Legacy Award for Lifetime Achievement in Human Rights Advocacy went to Rev. Amos Brown, Pastor of Third Baptist Church, President of S.F. Chapter NAACP, 2009 Mayor’s Task Force on African American Out-Migration;
Aileen Hernandez- Civil Rights Activist and Chair, 2009 Mayor’s Task Force on African American Out-Migration;
Doris Ward- Former County Supervisor and Assessor, 2009 Mayor’s Task Force on African American Out-Migration;
Espanola Jackson, Southeast Community Facility Commission.
The “HERO” Award for Outstanding Contribution in Human Rights Advocacy went to Jose Romero, Bay View Hunters Point community activist, LGBT youth and diversity advocate;
Karena Franses, MSW, LCSW, social worker, compassion specialist and advocate for persons living with HIV/AIDS.
The “HERO” Equity in Education Award for Outstanding Contribution toward Equity in Education went to the Omega Boys Club Leadership Academy, which Provides academic development and life skills education to youth in marginalized communities in San Francisco;
Japanese Community Youth Council (JCYC) Educational Hub, which assist low-income youth to be the first generation of their family to graduate from high school and enroll in college.
Honorees will be recognized at the San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s regular meeting 5:30 p.m., Thursday May 24, in City Hall Room #416, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place in San Francisco.

Girls Inc. Honors West Contra Costa Youth

Girls Inc. of West Contra Costa County Board President Sharon Kidd at Girls Inc. in Richmond with Girls Inc. Girls Keri-Anne Woods, Shatanya Amerson, Celine Robinson, Shannon Culpepper, Shawn Culpepper. Leah Tannehill (below).

Young women who are participating in Girls Inc. West Contra Costa County were honored at a spring
celebration, “Inspiring All Girls to Be Strong, Smart and Bold.” About 200 guests came to the April 28 event to see 36 young women acknowledged for their
participation in the organization’s after school programs.
Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, Supervisor John Gioia and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner also attended the
event. “I am so proud to see these young ladies growing and developing into tomorrow’s leaders,” said
McLaughlin. “We recognize their hard work and dedication and congratulate them,” said Skinner who provided
certificates of recognition to the girls and invited them to tour the state capitol.
“I am so grateful for the community’s support of our well deserving girls,” said Sharon Kidd, new Girls
Inc. board president. When you educate a woman, you educate an entire village,” said board member Gloria Scoggins, speaking of the importance of the organization’s College Bound Girls program.
Keynote speaker Josetta Jones, a patent attorney for Chevron, urged the girls to be mindful of
those with whom they associate, continue to acquire knowledge, be open to change and be true to themselves. “But most importantly, have faith in something higher than yourself,” she said.
Girls Inc. program assistants Tiffany Wilson and Anicia Bailey shared their enthusiasm for the program. “These girls are really dedicated, and I am proud to see them showcased today,” said Bailey. Attendees enjoyed soul food by Cindy Howell Catering, the music of the Harry Gold Blues Band and performances by drummer Pope Flynn and the lively dancing of the Akwaaba Dancers. For information visit or email

Kymberlyn Carson-Thrower

Kymberlyn Carson-Thrower

By Kia Croom,
Contributing Writer

Richmond native Kymberlyn Carson-Thrower has been Richmond’s recreation program coordinator for 20 years.
Thrower graduated form Richmond High School and attended Contra Costa Community College and Diablo Valley College before going to California State University Sacramento
At CSU Sacramento, her athletic talents landed her an all-expense paid trip in 1993 as a collegiate bowler on Japan Tour.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and her Master’s degree in Marriage Family and Child Counseling. She plans eventually to earn a Ph.D.
Thrower says she is thankful to God and her parents for the strong Christian Foundation they instilled in her while she was growing up.
She is also grateful to her co-workers who have been very supportive of her over the years and have helped her become the woman she is today.

Computers, Internet Available for Low-Income Families

From left to right: iFoster Co-Founder Reid Cox; Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia (District 1); Bernard Naquin; Mounir Tyler, Contra Costa County Program Manager for First Place for Youth, California Emerging Technology Fund President and CEO Sunne Wright McPeak.

The California Emerging Technology Fund and iFoster is launching a new partnership in Contra Costa County to help improve the lives of vulnerable children and youth, particularly those in the foster care community.
During s kick-off event held Monday, iFoster presented a laptop computer to Bernard Naquin, a 19-year-old Richmond youth who emancipated from the Contra Costa County foster care system and now attends Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill.
Through the iFoster program, families in the foster, adoptive and kinship systems, as well as students who are eligible for free and reduced lunch, can receive affordable broadband Internet service and purchase laptop and desktop computers from $120 to $250.
IFoster recently received a $300,000 grant from the technology fund to expand its program in seven California counties.
In Contra Costa County, iFoster will provide youth and families affordable computers and high-speed Internet, and work with county agencies and community partners to develop local solutions that address barriers to academic success for vulnerable youth. There are about 1,000 children and youth in the Contra Costa County foster care system, many of whom will benefit from the program.
“Contra Costa County is proud to partner with iFoster and California Emerging Technology Fund to provide affordable computers and Internet access to our youth. Many of us take for granted our ability to find resources and information at the tip of our fingers,” said Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia.
For more information on how to get discounted computers, please go to

Henry Dishroom Receives Community Leadership Award

Pictured left to right: Janet Johnson, Manager City of Richmond Revolving Loan Fund, Lloyd Madden, President of BAPAC, and Henry Dishroom, Community Leadership. Dishroom is also responsible for the development of the City’s Revolving Loan Fund over 35 years ago.

By Kia Croom

Henry Dishroom won the Community Leadership Award at the Fifth Annual George Carroll Community Service Awards, held May 3 at the Richmond Sanitary lobby in Richmond.
He said he had never imagined so many people would still remember him and celebrate his work.
I was quite moved by people’s expressions – I had not worked for the city for more than 30 years,” Dishroom said.
“My time with the city was one of the happiest times in my life, and I enjoyed what I did,” he said.
Dishroom and his family moved to the Bay Area from Monroe, Louisiana in 1945. He lived in Oakland for 20 years before relocating to Richmond.
Graduating in 1945 from Oakland Technical High School, he attended San Francisco City College, before taking a job at the U.S.   Postal Service.
He had to leave school when he was drafted, spending three years in the military before resuming his studies at Oakland City College. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1960 firm UC Berkeley.
Dishroom was hired in Richmond in 1968 as Model Cities Director and Assistant City Manager, responsible for developing and managing housing, economic development, health and social services programs.
Citizen participation was an integral part of the Richmond Model Cities Program, so Dishroom looked to the Neighborhood Councils, which were already very active, encouraging their participation in the planning process.
“The citizens were my boss,” he said.  “ I quickly learned that having citizens participate directly in the operation of government was not well developed at that time, although citizens in Richmond had always been organized and active.
“ So, I used the integrated neighborhood councils as a part of the governing board of Model Cities… I worked with citizens on the planning, and I worked with my staff to implement the plans.”
Dishroom became a housing manager in 1979 for the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in San Francisco.
During his years at HUD, he approved the construction of hundreds of affordable housing units benefiting low-to-moderate income households. He battled developers who were attempting to displace low-income renters and assisted community-based organizations representing low-income communities to obtain federal funds to develop and renovate housing units.
He retired in 1996.
Kia Croom is a contributing writer for the Richmond Post.

Cynthia LeBlanc Honored

Cynthia LeBlanc

By Kia Croom,
Contributing Writer

Community leaders recently attended an event honoring Dr. Cynthia LeBlanc, a Richmond resident who is the first African American woman to chair the American Cancer Society.
The event was held April 27 at the J.C. Robinson, M.D. Regional Cancer Center at Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo. A cancer society volunteer for 24 years, LeBlanc has worked in various capacities at the community, division and national levels. She has served on the society’s California Board of Directors since 1994, including as chair from 2004-2005 and was instrumental in encouraging involving young people in the work of the society.
LeBlanc was also celebrated for over 30 years as an education. She began working for West Contra Costa Unified School District in 2001 as a regional superintendent and became the district’s Chief Academic Officer in 2002.  She became interim superintendent in 2005.
Previously, LeBlanc worked as classroom teacher and principal, as well as a coordinator and director at the district level.

Rosie the Riveter Visitors’ Center Grand Opening

By Tanya

Black Rosie the Riveter

The new visitors’ center at Rosie the Riveter Home Front National Park will house a treasure trove of World War II history.
The center, located behind the Craneway Pavilion in the Richmond Marina in Richmond, will open Saturday, May 26. The national park opened in 2000.
“The story of the World War II home front is a significant chapter in America’s history where the greatest mobilization of people occurred since the building of the pyramids,” said park ranger Betty Reid Soskin,
“This is a story that many people think they know, but they have no idea how profoundly America was changed by what happened here, especially in regards to the contributions African-Americans made and how Henry J. Kaiser, who had never built a ship, changed the face of the war, migration to California and industry in the East Bay, ” she said.
During the Great Depression, Kaiser went to the South and recruited Black workers from Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas, and White workers from the Dust Bowl, building a labor force at a time when most young men were in the military, she said.
“Old white men too old to fight, young white boys too young to go, single women, married women, Black men and in 1944, Black women – that’s why the Rosie the Riveter story is primarily a white woman’s story because Black women weren’t allowed to work until late into the war effort,” said Soskin.
Kaiser hired 98,000 people working three shifts around the clock.  He was one of the first to use pre-fabrication and could build a “Victory Ship” in 4 days, 15 hours, and 23 minutes with unskilled labor.  Workers built 747 ships in three years and eight months, launching a ship every other day out of Richmond, according to Soskin.
It was in Richmond “that tension in the workplace regarding race and gender started –I’d say this is where Civil Rights issues came to a head,” Soskin said.  “ It was here that Jim Crow was challenged regarding housing, schools and in the workplace.”
The Rosie the Riveter Park contains 32 miles of shoreline bike trails.  The state is currently creating a kayak trail that follows the bike trail.  The park encompasses the Ford Factory where T-Model’s were assembled then jeeps and tanks.
For information on the museum and park, go to or call (510) 232-5050 ex 0.

Berkeley’s School Garden Pioneers

Left to right: Beebo Turman, Joy Moore and Rivka Mason. (Photo by/ Tony Wilkinson)

By Tony Wilkinson

Parents and neighbors at Malcolm X school in Berkeley met Monday to learn about the history of the Berkeley schools’ garden and nutrition program, listening to stories told by three of members of a coalition that completely changed what Berkeley school children eat and what they learn about food.
Beebo Turman, Joy Moore and Rivka Mason shared their personal experiences as part of an effort that not only changed Berkeley schools but also had a major impact how nutrition is taught nationwide.
Turman and Moore explained that they become interested school food through their children.  Turman’s daughter refused to eat the meals produced by the school, saying they were “awful.”
Moore said she learned through trial and error which food in the schools contained dyes and additives that were causing her daughter to have severe allergic reaction
Mason was working in the schools to set a gardening program to expand the school curriculum.
In 1999,these three women and others came together to help develop a healthy food policy for the school district.  They gradually developed the garden and nutrition programs in 12 of Berkeley’s 16 schools.
Today, Mason is the garden teacher at Malcolm X elementary school, and Moore works with high school students in the garden and nutrition program at Berkeley’s alternative high school, the B-Tech Academy.
Each of these three women is passionately devoted to teaching children about where food comes from, the enormous health advantages of eating healthy food and how to make a garden grow.
Pointing to the program’s success Mason recounted how a kindergartener told her, “When we grow our food, it tastes better.”

Youth Spirit Artists’ Exhibition

Skittles Tolbert, Marsean Dunhan (Photo by Tony Wilkinson)

By Tony Wilkinson

Paintings by eight teenaged artists from Youth Spirit Artworks are currently on display at the Rock, Paper, Scissors Collective Gallery in Oakland as part of an exhibition of young talents that continues through May 26.
The theme of the showing is “Hella Positive.”
The Rock Paper Scissors Collective, located at 2278 Telegraph in Oakland, is a volunteer–run organization that fosters creativity and collaboration in order to strengthen local communities and encourage alternative models.
The gallery works to bridge the gap between the arts community and the larger non arts community in Oakland in order to make the arts more accessible to all people and promote creative resourcefulness in under served communities.”
This exhibition of young artists from Youth Spirit Artworks is a major break through, according to Victor Mavedzenge, the organization’s senior artist.
“To be competitively selected for this exhibition represents an important milestone for these young artists,” he said. “As well as being a valuable entry in their curriculum vitae – their body of work – it is an important step in their interaction with the community of artists and the overall community.”
Each of the artists came up with ideas based on the theme. Sketches were developed and discussed. Then the work was examined – the color, lines, shapes and development of the composition.
Finally, each work was critiqued how close was the final work to the original idea?
The exhibition opened on May 4 and continues through May 26.
The Youth Spirit Artworks, located at 1769 Alcatraz Ave. near Adeline in Berkeley, is an art jobs training program that is committed to empowering and bettering the lives of homeless and low-income Bay Area young people, ages 16-25.

The $140 Million Legacy of Measure Y

By Jeff Baker

The legacy of Measure Y depends largely on whom you ask.
Many applaud the inroads Measure Y purportedly made to reduce crime and violence among Oakland’s at-risk youth and re-entry population.  Others point to the unfulfilled promise to hire an additional 63 neighborhood policing officers to bolster the ranks of the Oakland Police Department.
Some refer to the annual independent evaluations, its assessment of the programs and the nominal impact of the programs on the reduction of crime and violence.
Given Chief Howard Jordon’s latest pronouncement that property crime and violence crime are presently up 21 percent from last year, what has the city accomplished with the $140 million in Measure Y Funds to reduce crime and violence in Oakland?
$140 million is the estimated amount that  already has been expended during the 7-year period of January 2005 to June 2012.
So, what is the real story of Measure Y?  We know these facts:
The Measure Y Ballot Initiative passed in November 2004 when Oakland residents voted to tax themselves for 10 years to provide $200 million in financial support for violence prevention programs.
The ballot initiative created the Measure Y Fund, fueled by money collected from a parcel tax and a surcharge on commercial parking spaces.  The Fund raises an estimated $ 20 million annually.
The annual Measure Y Fund allocation was divided among three city departments. $6 million annually goes to the Department of Human Services for violence prevention programming to reduce youth violence.
$4 million is directed each year to the Fire Department to eliminate “revolving blackouts” [closing] of stations and to enhance paramedic services; and a $9 million annual allocation goes  to the Oakland Police Department  to hire 63 neighborhood-policing officers – one assigned to each of the 57 community policing beats.
An upcoming series of articles on the legacy of Measure Y and violence prevention in Oakland will examine the track record of what may be the most controversial public safety ballot initiatives in Oakland’s history.

Jeff Baker, at the invitation on the Post, is writing a series of columns on public safety and community policing. Baker, a former Assistant to the City Administrator and Measure Y Coordinator for the City of Oakland, was  co-convener of Mayor Dellums’ Task Force on Community Policing.  An expert on public safety and community engagement, he lectures extensively on community policing and consults nationwide on drug mitigation strategies.

Raiders Support Youth Football Helmet Safety

The Oakland Raiders is one of six NFL teams chosen to participate in the launch of a program to promote football safety and helmet replacement for youth in underserved communities.
The initiative will remove helmets that are 10 years old or older and replace them with new helmets at no cost to the beneficiary leagues and will provide coaches with the latest educational information to help keep their young athletes safer and healthier.
“We are delighted to work with the NFL on this innovative Helmet Replacement Program and we are thrilled that it will have a local impact,” said Oakland Raiders Chief Executive Amy Trask.
The National Football League, NFL Players Association, National Collegiate Athletic Association and the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) have committed a combined total of approximately $1 million to the program in its first year.
The pilot program is designed to provide valuable information on the
state of youth football helmets, including the number of helmets 10 years old or older in use.
As of 2012, National Athletic Equipment Reconditioning Association members will no longer recondition or recertify any helmet that is 10
years of age or older. NOCSAE will collect the helmets when removed and use them for ongoing research programs.
The effort will provide nearly 13,000 new helmets to youth football players in low-income communities in 2012. Helmets will be distributed beginning in July.
To learn more or apply for helmets, go to

Mt. Zion's 90th

The historic Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church at 1203 Willow St. in West Oakland under the  leadership of Senior Pastor Rev. Michael Wallace will be holding its 90th Church Anniversary Celebration Sunday May 20 and May  27. The theme  is,“We’ve Come This far By Faith…Standing on the Promises of God.” Guest speakers include Dr. Ray Williams,  Rev. Dr. J. Alfred Smith, Sr., Pastor Gary Golden, Dr. Earl Crawford and Pastor Hubert  Garnett.

Andrew Hatch turns 113

Andrew Hatch

Andrew Frank Hatch, who is 113 years old, was born Oct. 7, 1898, the same year as the Spanish American War and the world’s first fatality from an automobile accident on a public highway. A native of a small town in Louisiana near the Texas border, he moved to Oakland in 1928. According to Hatch’s daughter Delane, her father was a good friend of Esther Mabry, the “Grand Lady of 7th Street” and the owner of Esther’s Orbit Room in Oakland. Hatch assisted in the development of several West Oakland businesses, including the Orbit Room and Associated Cab Company. Before retiring at

Donna Summer Dies at 63

Donna Summer

(CBS/AP) Disco queen Donna Summer has died, a family spokesperson told the Associated Press. She was 63. Her family released a statement Thursday saying Summer had died and that they “are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy.”’ Summer had been living in Englewood, Fla., with her husband Bruce Sudano. She died Thursday after along battle with cancer. Known as the “Queen of Disco,” Summer was born LaDonna Adrian Gaines in Boston, Mass., in 1948, as
one of seven children. She was raised on Gospel music. The five-time Grammy winner rose to fame in the 1970s, scoring hits with “Last Dance,” “Hot Stuff”
and “Bad Girls.” She co-

Jabari Parker, A Black Mormon Son of Former Warrior Sonny Parker, Rated #1 in US.

Jabari Parker

Jabari Parker, who maintains a GPA of 3.6, is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was recently named the Gatorade National Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year
Before Parker takes the floor to play a basketball game, he sits by himself in the locker room for a couple of minutes of prayer and reflection. “I pray that God keeps me safe on the floor, and that I’m able to have a good attitude towards my teammates,” he says. When the game ends, Parker heeds that higher calling by rushing to be first in line to shake hands. “I just want to show the opponents that I’m grateful,” he says. “I want to show good sportsmanship.”
In between those displays of piety, Parker reveals something that is truly divine: a game as good as his attitude. A 6-foot-8, 220-pound rising junior at Chicago’s Simeon High, Parker is a lithe, graceful, intelligent swingman who has the length and athleticism to play power forward.
Parker’s assets are indeed heaven-sent. His father, Sonny, is a Chicago native who played for Texas A&M and was a first-round draft pick of the Golden State Warriors in 1976. His mother, Lola, bequeathed Jabari a different kind of glory by raising him as a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Lola was born a Mormon in the Polynesian nation of Tonga. She emigrated to Salt Lake City with her family when she was three, and she met Sonny when she was a student at BYU and he was playing for the Warriors. The two of them have raised all four of their children as Mormons on the south side of Chicago. An African-American Mormon is about as rare as a 6-8 point guard, but Jabari moves adeptly in both arenas. “Everyone thinks I’m so different, but it’s a good different,” he says. “My faith keeps me grounded.”
Of the 6.2 million Mormons in the U.S., only about 186,000, or 3 percent are black, according to the sports illustrated article. Baptized in the Mormon church and ordained a priest at age 16, Parker also is one of only two Mormons out of 1,588 students at Simeon.

Anger at Killing of Alan Blueford

Alan Blueford

Community and family members marched through East Oakland over the weekend and spoke at a City Council meeting this week to protest the police killing of Alan Blueford, an 18-year-old senior at Skyline High School.
Blueford’s family and supporters held up pictures at Tuesday’s council meeting and asked for answers. “My heart is bleeding every day,” Blueford’s mother Jeralynn said. “I want the facts of what happened, how it happened and why it happened … we need help, Oakland Council.”
Blueford’s older sister, Janae, said the family is struggling to deal with the awful reality.
“This is, of course, the hardest thing we have ever had to go through,” she said. “It’s very, very difficult. If we’re not crying, we’re angry. If we’re not angry, we’re crying. I wouldn’t wish this pain on anybody.”
“We want the City Council to hold the police department accountable and demand a thorough investigation,” she said. “So many facts in the case have changed already, we need to make sure that nothing gets swept under the rug.”
According to Oakland police, it was just after midnight Sunday, May 5, when officers approached a group of three people in the 1900 block of 90th Avenue, believing that one man was carrying a hidden gun.
One of the young men started running, and the officer ran after him for several blocks. The officer fired his weapon, police said, when they were in the 8200 block of Birch Street. According to police, Blueford pointed a gun at the officer but did not fire the weapon. The officer fired four shots, hitting Blueford several times, and one hit the officer’s foot, police said.
Police say witnesses confirm that Blueford pointed a gun at the police officer.
The youngest of five siblings, Blueford transferred to Skyline High School in December. According to Skyline High Principal Troy Johnston, the young man was working hard to graduate in June. He was quiet but popular among his group of friends and worked in the school cafeteria, Johnston said.
Blueford lived in Tracy with his family, who have hired Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris to represent them.
Hammer, a well-known rapper, entrepreneur, and actor, spoke at a rally in front of the police station, saying he knew Blueford since he was a child because he was a “dear friend of my children.” “ The character assassination won’t stand,” Hammer said.  “Alan was a good kid.” The police must be held accountable, he said.  “How (can) the penalty for fleeing (be) death?”

Reid, and Neal Back Bonta for Swanson’s Seat

Council President Larry Reid and Alameda County Democratic Party Vice Chair Kathy Neal are backing Rob Bonta who is running for California State Assembly to continue the legacy of outgoing Assemblyman Sandre Swanson.
Reid said “We recognize that Rob Bonta has already walked the walk and proven he is the right person for this job through his long history of commitment to and success in public service that began with his parents.”
Neal said Bonta’s father marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his mother has been a long-time leader in the Filipino social justice movement.
Bonta, the Vice Mayor of Alameda, cites his direct experience working for civil rights, economic justice, community policing and job creation. He said he helped raise $84 million in funding for public schools.
In 2003, he and the ACLU settled a historic racial profiling lawsuit against the California Highway Patrol.
While at Yale, Bonta joined LEAP(Leadership, Education, Athletics in Partnership) He lived with and tutored African American teenagers in public housing in New Haven Connecticut.
“I support Rob Bonta because the 18th Assembly district faces similar challenges and needs a proven leader who will fight for working people and families” says Neal.
Reid said SEIU, California School Employees and the California Labor Federation have joined him to support Rob Bonta for Assembly.

Eastmont Computer Clubhouse Opens

The two brothers (at right) are Davon and Treyvon Cunningham and on the drums in the background is Kalen Smith.

OCCUR’s Eastmont Technology Center and Computer Clubhouse will hold an Open House to showcase  youth projects from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday, May 24 at 6948 Foothill Blvd. in Oakland.
Members of the music group Poplyfe and D’wayne Wiggins of Tony Toni Tone are among the invited guests.
The Eastmont Intel Computer Clubhouse is an innovative digital media after-school program, where low-income youth, ages 10-18 can discover and create through technology, work with mentors to explore their own ideas, develop skills and build self-confidence through the use of technology.
OCCUR/ETC is hosting this Open House to increase awareness of the Clubhouse as well as showcase the creative and inspiring projects youth members have created through their work with Adobe Youth Voices (AYV.)
The Eastmont Intel Clubhouse offers Oakland youth the creative guidance to be content creators and engage in a variety of activities such as designing 3-D models, mixing digitized music, experimenting with image processing, animation, and video production.
Clubhouse members utilize and explore the same professional software used to produce music, film and magazines. For the second year in a row, the Eastmont Computer Clubhouse was also selected to participate in the Adobe Youth Voices program.
Launched in June 2006, Adobe Youth Voices is the Adobe Foundation’s global signature philanthropy program designed to provide youth in underserved communities with the critical skills they need to become active and engaged members of their communities and the global society.
This year, Clubhouse members collectively created five high quality video projects featuring innovative views on community issues and solutions including one about preventing neighborhood blight and littering entitled, “Trash Zombies” and a short film about the dangers of texting while driving entitled, “Driving + Texts = Wrecks.”
The Computer Clubhouse has become a highly effective, constructive, exciting and vital safe haven for the youth living in the surrounding community that unfortunately experiences frequent gun violence, drug abuse and gang activity.
For more information go to

Kaiser Permanente and Labor Unions Settle

Nearly 100,000 unionized workers are celebrating a tentative national agreement reached with Kaiser Permanente hat provides raises and maintains workers’ full benefits, but also contains unique new provisions to promote better health among Kaiser employees as a way of lowering costs and modeling healthy lifestyles to the public.
“This contract takes labor relations to a new level by going beyond the normal bread and butter issues typically covered in a labor agreement,” said Dave Regan, president of SEIU-UHW. “The agreement maintains benefits and provides good raises, and we are proud of that, but we are also proud about provisions that will make employees healthier. The agreement also defines new roles for union members as ‘healthcare leaders’ to help their co-workers achieve that goal.”
The three-year agreement, reached between Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions , provides for annual pay raises of 3 percent, maintains fully paid family health coverage, defined-benefit pensions, and retiree healthcare for the life of the agreement, and improves dental care.
It covers nearly 100,000 workers in multiple unions, including 45,000 in SEIU-UHW, by far the largest union in coalition. It must be ratified by union members in the coalidtion.
“This is exactly what we had in mind when our union started Let’s Get Healthy California, said Judie Adams, a Kaiser medical assistant in Napa. “We said to Kaiser, ‘Instead of cutting our benefits, there’s a better way. Let’s focus on health, let’s reduce healthcare costs by working together to improve the collective health of Kaiser employees.’ And they agreed.”
The agreement includes a new groundbreaking “Total Health” provision that recognizes a shared Kaiser and union goal of “creating the healthiest workforce in the healthcare industry by improving the quality and length of employee’s lives and enhancing the effectiveness and productivity of the organization.”
It includes a Total Health Leadership Committee to create and promote a healthy work environment by addressing topics such as healthy workspaces, healthy food options, and healthy activities in the worksite. It also calls for an education campaign to promote wellness among employees.
Rather than punish employees who do not achieve health goals, the agreement offers financial incentives if employees at a facility collectively make improvements in their health. The agreement calls for benchmarks on body mass index (BMI), smoking cessation, cholesterol, blood pressure, and workplace injury rates, with a goal of reducing those indicators by 5 percent over the life of the agreement.
“Kaiser Permanente national bargaining is unique. There is not only a group of labor negotiators at the table, but a broad cross-section of our employees providing recommendations on how to better deliver high-quality, affordable care, and ensure Kaiser Permanente is a great place to work well into the future,” explained Dennis Dabney, senior vice president, National Labor Relations, and management’s lead negotiator.

Greater Cooper AME Celebrates Pastor

Reverend Dr. Stephen Pogue (left), Pastor of Greater Cooper A.M.E. Zion and Reverend Dr. W. Darin Moore, Pastor Greater Centennial A.M.E. Zion Church.

By Kia Croom

Greater Cooper African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church recently held its annual Shepherd’s Appreciation Celebration honoring Reverend Dr. Stephen W. Pogue.
The event featured Rev. Dr. W. Darin Moore, pastor of Greater Centennial AME. Zion Church in Mount Vernon, N.Y. The three-day celebration took place May 9-11 in the Greater Cooper’s Sanctuary.
The theme of the celebration was “Finding Treasures in Darkness,” taken from Isaiah 45:3, “I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places; so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by name.”
This theme, said Sister Teresa Williams, the preacher’s steward, is a common thread in Pastor Pogue’s teaching.
“The treasures are the Kingdom of Heaven. The treasures God gives the world that are taken out of darkness will show his surpassing power. And although many have seen dark places, you shall come out whole, by God’s Grace,” she said.
Each night highlighted a different biblical character portrayed in a brief theatrical performance. Wednesday, congregants met Peter,who recalled his miraculous fishing experience, where his net overflowed with fish.
Thursday, the Shumanite Woman talked about the ‘Good life,’ her wonderful marriage and God’s gift of a son to her and her husband. She described the darkness that loomed over her when her son took ill and died in her arms and how she found peace.
Friday night, the Woman at the Well described her life as a loner and how her encounter with Christ changed her life
Also attending was Rev. Ed Proctor-Harris, Presiding Elder, Bay Cities. Other guest worship leaders included Rev. Frances Reynolds Tsai of Greater Cooper; Rev. Michael Wallace, Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church and Rev. Malcolm Byrd, First Church A.M.E. Zion Church.
Rev. Pogue is a native of Roselle, N.J. He graduated from Nyack College in 1998 with a degree in Bible and Pastoral Ministries. He has a master’s degree in divinity from the  Alliance Theological Seminary in New York and a Doctor of Ministry Degree from McCormicks Theological Seminary in Chicago.
Greater Cooper African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church is located at 1420 Myrtle St. in Oakland. For information call 510) 444-2672.
Kia Croom is a contributing writer for the Richmond Post.

Lend A Hand for School Backpacks

Lend A Hand Foundation is seeking donations to provide 10,000 low-income youth with backpacks before school opens in the fall.
The goal is for 500 or more people to donate $25, which will allow Lend A Hand to purchase 2,500  additional backpacks and other school supplies.
The fund drive, which continues until July 15, will help provide the supplies to students at 30 Oakland schools, including 17 elementary, 7 middle and 6 high schools.
Make checks payable to Lend A Hand Foundation, 8105 Capwell Drive, Oakland 94621.
For more information call (510) 553-1262 or email