From June 2012

Global AIDS Advocates Say “Keep the Promise”

By Jesse 

Brooks

 

From left to right: Kabir Hypolite, Director of Alameda County Office of AIDS; Karen Mark, MD, MPH, Interm chief State Office of AIDS, Naina Khanna, Member of Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS; Dr. Grant Colfax, who was in town for the Bay Area National HIV/AIDS Strategy Symposium; and symposium host Adrian McCall, MNA, Regional Resource Coordinator. Dr. Colfax, Director the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP), spoke at Oakland’s Asian Cultural Center June 8. In March of this year, President Obama named him as the new director of the ONAP. Colfax was most recently the director of the HIV Prevention Section in the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

Prior to the opening ceremonies of the XIX International AIDS conference in Washington, D.C.  in July, Wyclef Jean and Ambassador Andrew Young will join a crowd of over 10,000 at a “Keep the Promise” march and rally, to mobilize support for the continued fight against HIV.

The march and rally are designed to publicize the domestic and global concerns of many AIDS advocates, and present a collective commitment to specific actions and solutions to address the epidemic.

Organizers of the march want to remind world leaders and policymakers that the AIDS epidemic remains a global threat to public health.

Advocates also want to refocus public attention to the lack of access to HIV testing, treatment and prevention. Paramount is the wavering political commitment to funding the global AIDS response and excessive AIDS drug pricing by pharmaceutical companies.

Without more resources for treatment, care, prevention and cost-effective interventions, progress achieved over the past 30 years could be lost.

Wyclef Jean, Grammy award winning musician, songwriter and humanitarian will be the opening headliner. Following Haiti’s 2010 earthquake he helped mobilize international support and assistance.

Civil rights leader Andrew Young will deliver the keynote speech on the National Mall, where he participated with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  at the historic 1963 civil rights March on Washington.

“The (AIDS) march presents an ideal opportunity for AIDS advocates and organizations the world over to join together and have their collective voices heard to press the US and world leaders to do the right thing on AIDS funding, care and treatment,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Health Foundation.

The international AIDS conference, which will take place after the march, is expected to draw over 25,000 delegates including scientists, community leaders, advocates and activists from over 200 countries. It will be 20 years since the conference was last held in the U.S. and will give the nation an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment and continued leadership to battling the disease at home and globally.

Writer Erica Kennedy, 42

Writer Erica Kennedy (left) has been found dead in her Miami Beach apartment. She was 42.

Kennedy, whose full name was Erica Kennedy Johnson, was found dead last week. No cause was immediately reported.

A former fashion publicist, she began her writing career as a special correspondent for the New York Daily News. She later wrote fashion and entertainment for magazines such as Vibe, In Style, Paper and Elle UK.

She published the hip-hop novel “Bling” in 2004  and “Feminista” in 2009.

“Bling” tells the story of a young, innocent mixed-race woman trying to break into the music business. A gifted singer, she is remade in flashy style by a rapacious record mogul.

Kennedy was a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and Oxford University.

Oakland COGIC Convocation “Retools for the Future”

By Paul Cobb

 

Bishop W.W. Hamilton

Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr., Presiding Bishop of the more than 6-million-member Church of God in Christ (COGIC), came to Oakland’s Marriott Hotel, 1001 Broadway,  Wednesday to encourage the Northern California congregations to “Retool for the Future” and to reach out to remain relevant for the needs of youth, the communities and their membership.

Bishop W.W. Hamilton the Jurisdictional Prelate and Secretary to the General Board invited Blake and more than 25,000 congregants from around the Bay Area to attend workshops, attend convocations and to share new skills and approaches to improve their missionary and auxiliary work.

“We learned how to prepare for disasters, emergencies and other tragedies as well as how women entrepreneurs could mentor youth to become businesspersons,” said Emma Clark, a conference headquarters support staff.

Bishop Hamilton, who pastors the Greater Victory Chapel in Seaside, told the other pastors, bishops and congregants at the 55th Annual Holy Convocation that “It is time to rework our scorecards to fit the end game that the Lord will be measuring at the Bema –the judgment seat of Christ.”

He said COGIC should not just “measure success by bodies, budgets, attendance, buildings and offering plate totals. The scorecard should also stress the deeper emphasis on accountability, discipleship and spiritual maturity.”

Marvin L. Winans, founder and pastor of Detroit’s Perfecting Church, was the lead speaker at Monday’s Musical night.

Women’s Day will be observed Friday with Bishop Hamilton hosting a breakfast. Dr. Mary M. Welch, Jurisdictional Supervisor of Women, will present worship services featuring Missy K. Burrell, Upper Room COGIC; Missy D. Herron, Greater McGlothen Memorial COGIC; and Elder P. Parker, Olive Grove COGIC.

Nathaniel A. Bullock, Sr., administrative assistant and pastor of the Greater White Rose, COGIC, in Stockton, is Saturday’s keynote speaker.

Bishop Hamilton will cap off Sunday’s closing services with ordinations of ministers.

For information visit www.ca-northwest.org or www.cogic.org. and/or clarkemmaj@aol.com.

 

Anniversary of 1964 Deaths of Freedom Summer Workers

Left to right: Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman.

June 21 is the anniversary of the murders in 1964 of young civil rights workers in Mississippi Freedom Summer, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

The three young men were arrested by the police on trumped-up charges, imprisoned for several hours, and then released after dark into the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, who beat and murdered them. It was later proven in court that a conspiracy existed between members of Neshoba County’s law enforcement and the Ku Klux Klan to kill them.

The killings, which shocked the nation and world, were the subject of the 1988 movie “Mississippi Burning” and a new documentary “Neshoba: The Price of Freedom.”

Protest Against Police “Stop-and-Frisk” Policy

By Chris Francescani, 

Reuters

 

Several thousand New Yorkers marched silently down Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue from lower Harlem to the mayor’s Upper East Side townhouse last Sunday to protest the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy.

Civil rights leaders Rev. Al Sharpton and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People President Benjamin Jealous marched with U.S. Representative Charles Rangel, union and civil liberty leaders.

Joining the marchers were likely mayoral candidates, including New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation magazine.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD officials have vigorously defended the stop-and-frisk tactic, arguing it has been crucial in taking guns off the streets and achieving a historic drop in crime rates. The police deny that race or quotas motivate stops and say they are stopping anyone considered suspicious.

Last year, the department performed 168,126 on-the-spot searches of Black men aged 14 to 24 out of a total population of 158,406 for that demographic, according to a New York Civil Liberties Union analysis of departmental statistics.

“This program needs to be scrapped and needs to start from square one,” Jealous told Reuters.

Bloomberg acknowledged the criticism last week but said the program should be “mended, not ended.”

The mayor said new training videos and precinct-level audits of stop-and-frisk data by commanding officers – who will be held accountable to senior police officials – will address critics’ concerns.

He insisted the program is vital, particularly in high crime areas, where police make stops “not because of race, (but) because of crime.”

Jose Lopez, 26, said at the march that he has been frisked repeatedly in the lobby of the Brooklyn city housing apartment building where he lives, and described the searches as invasive.

“It was never just a pat down,” he said. “It was always a hand in my pocket, a hand in my backpack.”

Sharpton and other civil rights leaders met recently with Bloomberg to discuss the program.

“We’ve agreed to keep talking,” Sharpton said. “But he said he’s not backing down off ‘mend it, don’t end it,’ and we say ‘end it, it can’t be mended.’”

R.C. Owens, 78

R.C. Owens, a San Francisco 49ers wide receiver who was best known for pairing with quarterback Y.A. Tittle to invent the “alley-oop” pass into the end zone, has died at the age of 78.

A 14th-round draft pick out of Idaho in 1956, Owens spent his first five NFL seasons with the 49ers, and his best year came in 1961, when he caught 55 passes for 1,032 yards and five touchdowns. He later played for the Colts and Giants in the 1960s.

But what Owens is best known for is the alley-oop, a term that was applied to Owens’ catches in football before it was used in basketball: The 6-foot-3 Owens would simply plant himself in the end zone and jump as high as he could, and Tittle would hit him in the end zone. After retiring from the NFL as a player, Owens worked for the 49ers from 1979 to 2001 in a variety of capacities, including director of training camp and director of alumni relations. He also started a summer reading program that involved more than 10,000 kids. He is survived by his wife, Susan.

Kamala Harris Busts High-Tech ATM “Scammers”

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris (right) has announced the outcomes of two cases investigated by her office’s eCrime Unit in which defendants “skimmed” credit card information of Chase Bank customers across the state.

Both cases involved a type of crime frequently referred to as a “skimmer operation.” In both cases, the defendants, organized as “crews,” replaced the card readers at Chase Bank ATM vestibules with ones that allowed them to retrieve customers’ card information. Additionally, both crews installed micro cameras to capture the cardholders’ PIN entry. With this information, they created bogus ATM access cards.

“Technology benefits consumers, but also opens them up to risks that law enforcement must respond to,” Harris said. “ATM skimming cases like these are fast-growing, can lead to identity theft and significant financial losses.  I applaud the state and local collaboration that shut down these two criminal schemes.”

Gnel Snapyan, 35, was sentenced today in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court to 364 days in state prison and five years probation. His co-conspirator, Gervork Aroutiounyan, 48, was sentenced in March 2012 to three years and eight months in state prison. The men were ordered to pay restitution to Chase Bank.

In a separate scam, Santiago Alcantar, 37, Genea Antoine, 39, and Anthony Garcia, 30, entered a plea of guilty in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court to one count of conspiracy to commit grand theft, computer access fraud, identity theft, second degree burglary and forgery of access cards. They were charged in March with 14 counts of felony fraud.

Between July 2010 and February 2011, Snapyan fraudulently withdrew approximately $220,000 from the bank accounts of more than 300 victims in Santa Clara, Marin, Fresno, and San Luis Obispo counties.

Between October 2010 and February 2011, Alcantar, Antoine, and Garcia ran their skimmer operation in Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. The crew stole approximately $217,000 from more than 200 victims.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 27.

In both cases, Chase Bank has reimbursed customers for their losses.

“Shine” Helps Youth Overcome

By Jeneé Darden

 

The cast of “Shine” at the Alameda Theatre for the film’s premiere. Arthur Renowitzky (seated), Brianna Williams (left) , Markeeta Parker. Photo Credit: Jan Stürmann.

In 2007, Arthur Renowitzky was leaving a San Francisco nightclub when an armed robber shot him. The incident left the San Lorenzo man paralyzed from the waist down and in a deep depression. Renowitzky, 24, eventually recovered from his depression thanks to family support.

“Never give up no matter what you go through in life,” said Renowitzky, now a rapper, public speaker and founder of his own nonprofit.

Renowitzky is one of three dynamic East Bay youth profiled in the powerful documentary “Shine.” The film follows their recoveries from mental health problems caused by trauma.

Markeeta Parker, 24, of East Oakland, opens up about being sexually abused since childhood.  The mental health youth advocate speaks honestly on surviving PTSD, depression and attempted suicide.

“I want viewers to learn from the film that it’s okay to share your story,” Parker said.  “Do not be ashamed of anything that has happened to you because it’s not your fault.”

“Shine” is a project of PEERS, or Peers Envisioning and Engaging in Recovery Services, an Oakland-based nonprofit that advocates for people with mental health challenges.

PEERS Transitional Age Youth Coordinator Brianna Williams, 23, lives in Oakland. Her experience with mental health challenges, beginning in adolescence, may resonate with young viewers having similar experiences. Williams hopes “Shine” influences others to think differently about mental health.

“I just want viewers to understand that having a mental health challenge doesn’t make you crazy,” Williams said.  “It just means that you lived through some life experiences, like we all do, and that you just need a little extra help to get over it.”

PEERS will screen the film in schools across the Bay Area. Visit www.peersnet.org to view the entire film for free.

70 Win Marcus Foster Scholarships

Christi Carmons, MetWest High

At the Marcus Foster Education Fund’s Scholarship Awards Ceremony on June 4, 70 scholarship recipients shared their perspectives on this year’s theme: Persistence Equals the Power to Succeed.

The high school students shared their insight and wisdom on what will be required of them to earn a college degree and what inspires their college-bound dreams.

Many of the students at the event held at Holy Names University spoke of their desire to return to Oakland and make a contribution to their community.  All spoke of their commitment to never quit and to seek out support on their college and university campuses.

The students will attend over 30 different colleges and universities in California and throughout the country including several California Community Colleges, University of California and California State University campuses, Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Ivy League Universities.

Keynote speaker Alexandra Bernadotte, founder of a college persistence platform-Beyond 12, provided a compelling and inspiring message about staying in college for both the scholars and the parents.

Katherine Zepeda, Cal junior and Marcus Foster scholarship recipient, shared her academic journey thus far, making college attendance and completion even more tangible for the parents and students. She announced that she is establishing a program to support incoming, first generation students to succeed at Cal.

The event also featured some of the donors who make the scholarships possible, explaining why making this critical investment in the future of Oakland’s youth is important to them.  Donors include the Clorox Corporation and the Port of Oakland, former Oakland Unified School District teachers and alumni and families uniting to honor their loved ones.

Scholarship awards ranged from $1,000 for one year to $12,000 for four years.

For more information regarding the scholarship and other programs of the Marcus Foster Education Fund, go to www.marcusfoster.org.  Anyone interested in establishing a scholarship for deserving, low-income, first generation high school student, call (510) 777-1600.

 

Youth Kickball Extravaganza

By Godfrey Lee

 

Top photo: Carol Thomas kicking the ball for her team. Bottom photos from left: Elesia Knudsen taking the blood pressure of Nicole Dorhan with her daughter Monya sitting on her lap; Jason Iles and Jessie Broomfield cooking hot dogs; Lesia Knudsen and Wayne Price, Raphael Durr and Nancy Johnson, Steve Knudsen and Andrew Abou Jaoude. (Photos by Godfrey Lee).

A Kickball Extravaganza for children and teens was held on Saturday, June 16, organized by Steve Knudsen, vocational counselor at Marin City Community Development Corporation (MCCDC).

Four teams played three games with six players per inning. The final score of the championship game was 18-17, and winners took home the gold, along with gift certificates for frozen yogurt.

Andrew Abou Jaoude of Marin City was field coordinator, umpire and fulltime pitcher.

Marin City Health and Wellness Center gave free blood pressure checks, and student volunteers from the University of the Pacific Dental School in San Francisco provided dental demonstrations.

Wayne Price was the DJ and play-by-play announcer. Tours of the organic garden at the Martin Luther King Junior Academy were also available.

National HIV Testing Day in San Rafael

Wednesday, June 27 marks National HIV Testing Day reminding everyone to get tested and know their HIV status.

Those who have never been tested or think they may be at risk can call Marin AIDS Project (MAP) at (415) 457-2487 to find a testing site.  MAP offers free HIV testing at its offices and in several other community settings.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1 in 5 people with HIV don’t know they are infected. In Marin this means as many as 150 people don’t know they are HIV positive.

The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime as part of routine health care.  Gay and bisexual men, injection drug users, and people whose partners are HIV+ should be tested at least once a year.

Although HIV testing is easier now than ever, more than half of all Americans have never been tested for HIV.

MAP offers a rapid, HIV test and provides prevention counseling while the results are developing. Results are available in about 30 minutes.

The OraQuick Rapid HIV Test uses an oral swab, so no blood draw is required.  All testing is free, confidential and available in English and Spanish.  Testing is available at a drop-in clinic every Tuesday from 4:30-7:00 p.m. at Marin AIDS Project, 910 Irwin St. in San Rafael.  Call 457-2487 to arrange testing on alternate days/times.

MAP will host an open house on Tuesday, June 26 to drop by for testing and to get more information about HIV and staying safe.

HIV testing is also available at the Marin County Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic at 3260 Kerner Blvd., San Rafael.   Call 473-4400 for clinic hours and test costs.

Marin AIDS Project is the only AIDS service organization in Marin County. Services are confidential, offered in English and Spanish. For more information go to www.marinaidsproject.org.

Pre-Kindergarten Class Writes Children’s Tale

By Godfrey Lee

 

Top photo: Illustration for Front Cover. Bottom photo from left to right: Katleen Santos, Kobe Vicente, Marcelles Jackson, Ziggy Stennett, Abraham Fdaouch, Julie Rodas, Anthony Santos, Kimberly De Leon, Kaylee Terraza, Ezequiel Rodrigues, Mahealani Bernes (Co-site Supervisor and Head Teacher in Room 1), Harmony Harris, Sarai Cook, Jayla Hall, Annica Harris, Rashell Diaz, Essie Hardy (Co-site Supervisor and Head Teacher in Room 3), Angel Pereira, Joshua Rodas, Octavien Green, Angel Lugo. (Photo by Godfrey Lee).

The Marin Learning Center’s has just published “The Princess, a Cheetah and the Lollipop Door,” a book written and illustrated by students in the school’s pre-kindergarten class.

For teacher Mahealani Bernes class, this will be the fourth book she has done with her class in the past five years.

The book, which will be sold to raise money for the school, costs $25.

Though Bernes helped the students develop the story and the illustrations, the book is a product of the creativity and imagination of the children.

The children touched upon some of the issues that affect them, such what should you do when you are lonely or when you meet people who others consider ugly.

The books tell the story of a lonely princess who lives by herself in a large castle in Marin City. She wants to be bigger and a teenager and is worried that she will not be able to grow.

The princess befriends a dragon that has fallen in the moat of her castle, discarded by a little girl who thought he was too ugly. The dragon said that nobody ever treated him so nicely.

The princess and the dragon became friends. In the morning when the princess wakes up, the dragon had died.

But then some friends came to replace a broken door with a lollipop door, which then helped the princess fulfill her wishes and helped  her neighbor the Cheetah obtain color spots.

As the story ends, the princess finally opened up her castle for all her friends and neighbors to live with her. And they lived happily ever after.

The Marin Learning Center is located at 100 Phillips Drive in Marin City. For information or to obtain the book, “The Princess, a Cheetah and the Lollipop Door,” call the school at (415) 339-2834.

Floral Design Class at Senior Center

A flower-arranging workshop will be held at 12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Friday, June 29 at San Leandro Senior Community Center.

Learn floral design and arrangement. Beginners and students with prior experience are welcome.  Participants should bring their own scissors or flower cutters to class if they have them.

The fee is $6 for San Leandro residents and $8 for non-residents. A $12 material fee is due at time of registration. No registrations or refunds after June 22. Must be 50+ to register.

For information call (510) 577-3462 and refer to course #25289. Register at Customer Service locations at San Leandro Senior Community Center, City Hall South Offices or Marina Community Center or online at sanleandrorec.org.

National and World Affairs Discussions at Senior Center

A National and World Affairs Forum discussing important current issues will be held for 50+ adults beginning Thursday, June 28 at the San Leandro Senior Community Center.

Share and learn about what is going on in the world in a moderated forum setting. The forum meets 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Thursdays.

This summer’s topics include: “Death Penalty. Does It Stop Crime or Is It Barbaric?” on June 28; “Political Lobbying – Is It Business as Usual or Un-American?” on July 26; and “Campaign Financing – Where Should It Come From?” on August 23.

There will be a $1 fee for San Leandro residents and $3 for non-residents. For information call (510) 577-3462. Register at customer service locations at San Leandro Senior Community Center, City Hall South Offices or Marina Community Center or online at sanleandrorec.org.

Celebrate Independence Day at Senior Center

The San Leandro Senior Community Center is celebrating Independence Day with a lunch prepared by “Chef Rick, ” Tuesday, July 3, noon to 2 p.m.at 13909 East 14th St. in San Leandro.

This event will be held outdoors (weather permitting). Participants are invited to wear red, white or blue.

Open to adults 50+. Fee is $10 for San Leandro residents and $12 for non -residents. For more information, call (510) 577-3462.

City Will Expand Moscone Convention Center

Mayor Edwin M. Lee this week announced the development of a 25-year master plan for the expansion of Moscone Convention Center with completion of the first phase expected by early 2018.

“The recent renovations at Moscone North and South are exciting, but they don’t address San Francisco’s need for more convention and meeting space to remain competitive with cities around the world,” said Mayor Lee.

“Tourism is our city’s number one industry and bringing Moscone into the 21st Century will boost our economy,” he said.

“This is one of the most utilized convention centers in the nation and many of our convention clients are simply outgrowing it,” said President and CEO of the San Francisco Travel Association Joe D’Alessandro.

“Other competing cities have either recently expanded their convention centers or are planning expansions. We can’t sit back and let other cities around the world take our business away,” he said.

“With over 10 groups breaking attendance records at Moscone this year alone, the demand for additional space is clear,” said San Francisco Convention Facilities Director John Noguchi. “An expanded facility will provide us with the type of venue that will help convention business continue to thrive here in San Francisco.”

Moscone Center was built in a series of phases beginning with Moscone South in 1981; Moscone North and the Esplanade Ballroom in 1991; and Moscone West in 2003 providing nearly one million square feet of meeting and event space.

The expansion is funded by a public-private partnership with the San Francisco Tourism Improvement District (TID) and the City. The Department of Public Works and Sares Regis, representing the TID will manage the project. Architects Skidmore, Owens & Merrill LLP with Mark Cavagnero Associates was selected by the TID to create the Master Plan, which they will submit later this year.

From the Master Plan will come a timeline to complete the plan in phases. The project team will select a general contractor in the next few months.

Moscone Center attracts 50 events annually and is a major generator of demand for hotel rooms in San Francisco, where tourism is the largest industry and generates more than $8.4 billion annually and supports over 71,000 jobs.

SF State A Leader in Degrees to Minorities

San Francisco State University is again among the leaders for awarding bachelor’s degrees to minority students, ranking 16th nationally in that category, according to a report published June 7 in Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

The university awarded 2,869 bachelor’s degrees to minorities during the 2010-11 academic year, half of all undergraduate degrees awarded that year and a six percent increase over 2009-10.

SF State ranked ninth nationally for awarding undergraduate degrees to Asian Americans in all disciplines, 27th for awarding undergraduate degrees to Hispanic students and 36th for awarding undergraduate degrees to Native American students.

Attracting a highly diverse student body and faculty is an important part of SF State’s mission, and the University’s students and faculty reflect the diversity of the Bay Area and California.

Seventy percent of students and 35 percent of tenured or tenure-track faculty come from minority backgrounds.

The university has long been committed to opening doors to higher education for minorities. Programs such as SF ROCKS, Step to College, SF Promise and others have demonstrated SF State’s commitment to social justice and ensured educational opportunities for students of minority backgrounds.

SF State is the only master’s-level public university serving the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin. The university enrolls nearly 30,000 students each year and offers programs in a range of fields, from creative writing, cinema and biology to history, broadcast and electronic communication arts, theatre arts and ethnic studies.

 

Farmers Market and Music on Main Street in Richmond

Richmond Main Street is celebrates the start of summer with its first certified downtown farmers’ market.

Hosted by the Pacific Coast Farmers Market Association (PCFMA), the farmers’ market will be held at the Nevin Plaza on Nevin Avenue and 13th Street on Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from June 27 through October.

Music on the Main begins the same day from 5 pm. To 7:30 p.m. in the Foods Co parking lot on 12th Street and Macdonald Avenue with bluesman Jesse James, R&B crooner Reed Fromer and pop performers from the  Richmond Police Activities League, The Originalz.

Also scheduled are activities for children and an outdoor bazaar featuring local restaurants, entrepreneurs, and community resource groups.

Patrons will have the opportunity to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, flowers and a range of other products from local farmers.

Music on the Main takes place every 4th Wednesday of the month, between June and August. Each concert features a variety of musical performances, arts and crafts activities for children, local entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations, and food by local restaurants.

For information contact Richmond Main Street at (510) 236-4049 or www.richmondmainstreet.org

Richmond Juneteenth Parade and Festival

By Kia 

Croom

 

Richmond residents gathered at Nicholls Park to celebrate the city’s 9th annual Juneteenth Family Day Parade and Festival on Saturday June 16. The event Grand Marshal was Clarence Van Hook—“the singing cowboy.”

The parade, sponsored by the Black American Political Action Committee (BAPAC), featured the Richmond Police Activities League (RPAL), the Black Cowboy Association, the historic Wells Fargo Wagon and its rider Dr. Denise Noldon,  the Vallejo Corvette Club and many other groups and organizations.

Community leaders, including Congressman George Miller, paid homage to the late Joe Eddy McDonald, City of Hercules Mayor, who died on Saturday, June 9. Upasi Mtambuzi of Black Women Organized for Political Action honored the late mayor with a libation ceremony.

Congressman Miller presented legendary pioneer of P-Funk George Clinton with a Congressional Recognition Award in honor of his civil rights advocacy that led to the introduction of the Performance Rights Act in Congress.

Dr. Oba T’Shaka, Professor Emeritus at San Francisco State University, discussed the history of the Juneteenth holiday, followed by an Afrocentric fashion show.

A poetry slam followed, hosted by Mariah Flowers, a local student. Cash prizes and gifts were awarded to participants courtesy of local businesses, which included Cassandra’s Bakery, Century Theatre, Ashay by the Bay, Mama’s Kitchen at Hilltop and Regal’s Essence.

Performers at the festival included George Clinton, 2012 Bay Area Blues Hall of Famers Original Kingdom Travelers, Ray McCoy and the Luther Vandross Tribute Band.

“George Clinton and his people were great,” said Jerrold Hatchett, President of the National Brotherhood Alliance. “He (Clinton) really wanted to come to Richmond and commemorate Juneteenth with us, and so many volunteered to make it happen.”

Sponsors of the celebration included Richmond Community Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, KDYA Gospel 1190, Allied Propane, Richmond Police Management Association, Mark & Christy Gagan, City of San Pablo, Neighborhood Housing Services of the East Bay, Sims Metal Management, the American Beverage Association, the Richmond Association of Professional Black Firefighters and BAPAC.

Kia Croom is a contributing writer for the Richmond Post.

“Monumental First Step” for Army Base Jobs

By Post Staff

 

Oakland will develop its old Army base with more benefits to the local community than most cities achieve in local development projects.

That is the opinion of representatives of major community organizations, who have been working for years to create an agreement on the $1 billion project that serves local residents and not only corporations and developers.

At the same time, many feel that the City Council made unnecessary concessions to the developers, which did not conform to its own jobs policy passed just a few months ago.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done here. It is a monumental first step, but we know there’s still a lot to be done,” said Shirley Burnell from Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE).

The deal that passed at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting contains a 50 per cent local hiring agreement on construction jobs, with no loopholes for contractors to bring employees from somewhere else, at least for half the jobs.

A “jobs center” through which all the jobs will pass will be created, so that it is clear that local residents and those from the most affected zip codes are being hired.

The resolution contains preferences for small local businesses and small contractors.

The community will have a voice in enforcing the agreements and community participation in the design and funding of the Jobs Center.

“OaklandWORKS is especially proud of the fact that a strong voice for West Oakland and other marginalized residents has been created that is not affiliated with any particular politician, contractor or trade,” said Kitty Kelly Epstein, a local education professor and activist.

At the same time OaklandWORKS, ACCE and other community members are determined to keep up the fight about issues that have not been resolved.

There are many concerns whether enforcement will have sufficient teeth. Councilmember Desley Brooks has proposed stronger reporting requirements and sanctions for failure to comply with the agreement, which will be discussed at next week’s Community and Economic Development Committee meeting.

There is no clear “ban the box” agreement that guarantees the formerly incarcerated can apply for employment without the automatic discrimination that comes with having to declare their arrests on an application.

“While I am still somewhat skeptical about the loophole that deals with the box, I am somewhat hopeful,” said Pastor J. Alfred Smith, Jr. of Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, speaking at the council meeting.

“Don’t equivocate when it comes to the box,” he told council members. “Stand your ground.”

There are also concerns about whether the 50 percent local hire requirement will actually be applied to later phases of the development.

Several local businesses that already hire more than 500 local workers in port-related logistics and transportation need to be  assured  space in the development, said local businessman Dexter Vizenau.

Concerns are also being raised that the principal developer’s record on other projects in the city has included overspending and broken agreements.

 

Judge Henderson Could Fine Quan for Not Completing Police Investigations

Judge Thelton Henderson

Mayor Jean Quan and the City of Oakland may face fines if they continue to miss deadlines to complete police internal affairs investigations  of complaints stemming from  the Occupy Oakland protests.

The judge overseeing police department reforms agreed to the city’s plan for completing dozens of overdue investigations but warned in a court order Monday that not only might he fine the city for missed deadlines, he also might choose to fine the mayor.

U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson had previously ordered Oakland to specify the deadlines for finishing Occupy-related Internal Affairs investigations and the names of police administrators responsible for meeting the deadlines.

If the investigations aren’t completed within a year, state law prevents any legal actions from being taken.

Henderson approved the city’s plan, but warned that a court-appointed monitor “shall consider whether other individuals in the line of authority, up to and including Mayor Jean Quan, should also be held liable for any missed deadlines.”

Project Touchdown All-Stars

Laborers International Union of North America Local 304 is supporting Project Touchdown –Developing Academic All-Stars – a Berkeley-based academic accelerated tutoring and mentoring program for students in middle and high school.

The project provides comprehensive supportive education learning assistance in math, science, reading, English, communications and computer skills. In addition the project helps students with SAT and High School Exit Exam preparation.

“This is the type of program we support,” said Fernando Estrada, Business Manager of Local 304. “We are very pleased that the Laborers International Union of North America Local 304 has made this contribution,” said Antoine Golden, President and CEO, Project Touchdown.

Project Touchdown operates primarily with volunteers from companies and organizations, including many BART engineers, who provide one-on-one mentoring in numerous fields.

For information go to www.projecttouchdown.com or  call (510) 734-9361.

 

Chief Fired in Trayvon Martin Case for Poor Investigation

Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte (left), looks on as Chief Bill Lee speaks to the media.

The central Florida police chief who was strongly criticized for his agency’s initial investigation of Trayvon Martin’s slaying was fired Wednesday.

City Manager Norton Bonaparte said in a statement that he relieved Chief Bill Lee of duty because he lacked the trust and respect of elected officials and the community.

“We need to move forward with a police chief that all the citizens of Sanford can support,” Bonaparte said. “I have come to this decision in light of the escalating divisiveness that has taken hold of the city.”

Lee will receive three months of severance and one week’s salary, in addition to any earned time off, under his contract.

“I wish Chief Lee all the best in his future endeavors,” Bonaparte said.

Banks Must Maintain Abandoned Homes

By Post Staff

 

The Oakland City Council this week passed a law that expands the ordinance that fines Big Banks $1,000 per day for not maintaining their blighted foreclosed properties, as well as expanded registration requirements.

Under the previous ordinance, the has collected over $1.6 million in fees and penalties as well as getting banks to actually clean up their vacant and blighted properties.  But at the same time, notices of defaults issued by banks have led to properties left in limbo, abandoned and left in blighted and deteriorating conditions.

The expanded ordinance closes this loophole following the lead taken by other cities across the state. The new ordinance will now require banks to register and inspect vacant and occupied properties that are in “default” and maintain vacant “notice of default” properties. Read more

Faith Visionary Services Offers Wholesome Food

Front row – L to R Pierre Stevenson, Jr., Winter Varner, Leon Brooks, Perrier Stevenson; Second row- Jalil Wong-Singley, Mother Sadie Cobb, Judith Sami, Rosemary Brewer, Victoria Caldwell, Yolanda Williams, Bilal Habeebullah, Laura Singley, Kiesha Stevenson, Pierre Stevenson, Sr.; Back Row – James Hamilton, King David, Myron Jenkins, Deacon Clarence Brewer, Pastor Curtis O. Robinson, Sr., Ruthie Smith. Photo by Stephen Brooks, Jr.

Under the leadership of Pastor Curtis O. Robinson, Sr., Faith Baptist Church’s Faith Visionary Services, Inc. is creating wholesome food in central East Oakland through Five Loaves of Bread Food Pantry, which works with the Alameda County Food Bank.

Since beginning the program in November, the pantry has served over 4,000 families, adults and children and has distributed over 50,000 pounds of food. These services are available to the public on second and fourth Wednesdays of the month. Faith Visionary Services was organized in 1999 under the leadership of the late Pastor Haywood Harvey.

For information or to make donations,  contact pastorcurt@thefaithbcofoakland.org or call (510) 633-0205.