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Health, Housing, & Public Services News

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Dozens of reporters, videographers and photographers thronged around the yellow tape surrounding the block containing the Ghost Ship warehouse the morning after the tragic fire that killed 36 people in the center of Fruitvale. Voices in Fruitvale, a neighborhood where almost half the children live in poverty, weren’t heard for days at all. In this sensational story that garnered nation-wide attention, it was weeks before journalists evinced the slightest interest in the neighborhood where the fire occurred.
Toxic lead levels are dangerously high in Oakland’s Fruitvale district, which has the highest level of contamination in California and are worse than in Flint, Michigan, according to a national report. Unlike Flint’s contaminated water crisis, which caught national attention in 2015, Oakland’s lead is not in the water system but is coming from old buildings and chipping paint that is getting into the dirt and being tossed up in the wind. The result is that 7.57 percent of children under the age of seven who were tested have high levels of lead in their blood.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released a report last week detailing the 2014 results of their Pesticide Illness Surveillance Program. The report, documenting all reported pesticide-related illnesses from all California counties, shows 20.1% of agricultural pesticide-related illnesses occurred in Tulare County, making it the county with the most agricultural pesticide illnesses in the state. Santa Cruz County came in second with 17.2%. Of the 53 counties with documented pesticide-related illnesses in 2014, Tulare County accounted for over 1 in every 5 cases of poisonings from agricultural pesticides.
A lawsuit filed on December 13 by civil rights groups charges the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) with violating the constitutional rights of homeless people by confiscating and destroying their property in ongoing sweeps. Plaintiffs have lost cherished and necessary items, including family heirlooms, photographs of loved ones, tents, sleeping bags, warm weather clothing, tools, food, camp stoves, bicycles, and personal documents. “Caltrans has been a major obstacle to getting my life together," said plaintiff James Leone. "Twice in six years, I’ve been left with only the clothes on my back. Twice I’ve lost everything I own in the world.”
An oil company with a long history of hazardous spills in California wants state and federal permission to dispose of contaminated waste fluid into an underground water supply in Livermore. The proposal, announced by California's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, seeks to exempt an aquifer in eastern Alameda County from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act on behalf of E&B Natural Resources, the oil company seeking the exemption. State officials are now taking public comments and will hold a January 11 hearing on the proposal.
Chanti Ollin, a well-known autonomous cultural center in the gentrified financial district of Mexico City, was violently evicted on November 22. Eight hundred riot police, two helicopters, and an armored car executed the operation, illegally breaking into the building and detaining 26 individuals without so much as a judicial order. This eviction takes place against the backdrop of Mexico City's new constitution, which seeks to privatize land and resources, and suppress any political or cultural activity that disrupts this profit-making program.
Santa Cruz police initiated a raid at City Hall on November 23 at 3:30 am, shortly after it stopped raining that evening, to clear from the area approximately two dozen individuals who had been sleeping and sheltering themselves from the weather under the eaves of the buildings in the complex. Officers issued citations to individuals, and made one arrest. Many of those sleeping at City Hall were participating in the weekly Freedom Sleepers sleep protest, while others were simply sheltering themselves from the wet weather temporarily with the group.
Tenants in the cities of Oakland, Richmond, and Mountain View are celebrating rent control victories. Tens of thousands of renters will have new protections from greedy landlords, realtors and speculators around the Bay Area. The renter protection ballot measure in Oakland, known as Measure JJ, was voted into law with 74% of the vote. In Richmond, after a long hard struggle, 64% of voters passed rent control and just cause eviction protections into law with the passage of Measure L. In a victory for Mountain View over corporate interests, the grassroots renter protection measure known as Measure V was passed with 53% of the vote.
At 5:00am on November 4, the Berkeley Police Department violently raided an encampment of people living in tents at the corner of Fairview and Adeline Streets. The encampment served as a safe, clean and drug-free place for those seeking shelter from the rain and cold. Four people were arrested, including District 2 City Council candidate Nanci Armstrong-Temple. In response, a "Housing Not Handcuffs Sunrise Vigil" is scheduled for 6-10am on November 7 at Berkeley City Hall. In Oakland, from 8am-4pm the same day, a call has gone out to pack the Wiley Manuel courtroom in solidarity with arrestees.
Thu Nov 3 2016 (Updated 11/10/16)
Community Responds to SCPD Killing of Sean Smith-Arlt
Following the killing of Sean Smith-Arlt by officers with the Santa Cruz Police Department on October 16, residents are organizing in the community with the intention of preventing another killing like his. On October 22, a candle light vigil for Sean was organized at the Town Clock, which coincided with the 21st annual National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality. On October 25 a large group of community members attended the City Council meeting to voice their concerns during oral communications, and on November 1 a community forum hosted by the newly formed Social Justice Alliance was held.
It was 1966 when Huey Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Initially, their goals were to make use of California's open-carry laws at the time to directly challenge police brutality in Oakland and to turn Black rebellion into political power. In little time, the party expanded nationwide, fed hundreds of thousands of children, and created free health clinics and a number of other social programs. October 2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party.
Many long-time Bay Area residents have been displaced over the last several years. The median rent in Oakland is now $3,000 a month and heartless landlords are taking extreme measures to boost their profit at the expense of tenants. In one recent case, an East Palo Alto property owner and his son were arrested for a plot to push tenants out of rent-controlled units by destroying their property. Tenant advocates across the Bay Area urge voters to support the strong renter protections in Richmond, Oakland, Alameda, Burlingame, San Mateo, and Mountain View.
Word got out that the Oakland Police Department had intentions to do neighborhood outreach in West Oakland on October 18. Knowing that OPD holds public relations events such as these to whitewash their earned reputation as racist, violent, and corrupt, the Anti Police-Terror Project set out to prevent OPD from exploiting local residents for a propagandistic photo op. As an unexpected bonus, a man's home was saved from being confiscated by the police.
Officers with the Santa Cruz Police Department shot and killed 32-year-old Sean Smith-Arlt outside of a home on the corner of Chace and Getchell Streets on the west side of Santa Cruz. Police have stated that Smith-Arlt, who was experiencing mental health issues, was advancing towards officers with a gardening rake when officers deemed him a threat and shot and killed him at about 3:30 am on October 16. In response, residents have organized a candle light vigil at the Town Clock in Santa Cruz for No Police Brutality Day on October 22.
The Take Back Oakland Coalition is now gathering signatures to recall Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. On September 18, recall organizers handed out the first recall petitions all afternoon in front of Oakland City Hall. Primary among the objections to Schaaf are her inaction in the face of massive displacement of long-time residents, the deference she continues to show to the corrupt and murderous Oakland police department, and her failure to support local youth and job centers.
iCal feed From the Calendar:
24 Hour Vigil for the Homeless Who Have died on our Streets First They Came for the Homeless Sunday Jan 15th 10:08 PM
Speakeasies and Artists Warehouses: A Tale of Two Oaklands Hyphenated-Republic Friday Jan 13th 7:04 PM
Post Office Uses Leaf Blowers to Harrass Homeless at 6AM Free Speech Matters (8 comments) Thursday Jan 12th 7:46 AM
Freedom SleepOut #79 Swims Toward Justice Tuesday Night Keith McHenry (story by Norse) Tuesday Jan 10th 12:43 AM
Selective Enforcement documented on Pacific Ave. in Santa Cruz, CA The Jones/Skelton Report (2 comments) Sunday Jan 8th 10:55 AM
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Prison Strike Organizers to Protest Food Giant Aramark Kamala Kelkar, SF Bay View Sunday Jan 8th 9:10 PM
Roots of Renewal: Amy Fottrell and Lilith Winkler-Schor WTUL New Orleans 91.5 News & Views Wednesday Dec 21st 12:14 AM
Evicted Okupa Chanti Ollin Calls for Solidarity El Enemigo Común (1 comment) Wednesday Dec 14th 1:47 PM
Chanti Ollin, Okupa Desalojada, Hace Una Llamada Para La Solidaridad El Enemigo Común (1 comment) Wednesday Dec 14th 1:43 PM
New Study: Mounting Evidence Supports Eating Less Meat for Health of People, Planet Center for Biological Diversity Tuesday Dec 6th 1:59 PM
Nurses Donate $50,000 to Aid Veterans Stand with Standing Rock via National Nurses United Monday Dec 5th 5:23 PM
EPA Petitioned to Acknowledge Extensive Fluoride/Brain Risk Evidence Fluoride Action Network Sunday Dec 4th 11:36 AM
Dream Caravan 2016 WTUL News and Views Wednesday Nov 30th 11:26 AM
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The Civilization Crisis: Post-Factual Criticism of Politics Rudolf Hickel Thursday Jan 12th 6:50 AM
The Generations Manifesto www.openculture.com (1 comment) Thursday Dec 22nd 8:34 AM
Low Taxes is an Act of Desperation Rudolf Hickel Tuesday Dec 20th 7:20 AM
Tories announce NHS 'STP' plan for City of Bristol, UK BCFM Drivetime Sunday Dec 4th 6:07 AM
2016 California Diabetes Awareness Month ~ Victory Garden Project Khubaka, Michael Harris Saturday Nov 26th 2:04 PM
Why Health Care Should Be a Human Right Kristy Dale Tuesday Nov 22nd 4:04 PM
Lyme Disease & the Weaponization of Borrelia Elena Cook Thursday Nov 10th 12:28 PM
Tom Hayden on The Unfinished Business of Democracy The Nation (1 comment) Friday Oct 28th 4:54 AM
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