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Mayor Schaaf’s “Plantation-Style” Approach Leaves Oakland Community No Seat at the Table

by Oakland Post Staff
The Oakland post holds regular Salons at Geoffrey’s Inner Circle at 410 14th Street. The Post Salon on April 24 featured Congresswoman Barbara Lee and former San Quentin inmate Troy Williams. Topics included overcoming barriers for the formerly incarcerated to vote and find jobs, as well as the housing moratorium, a local voter registration drive, and the crisis of jobs and job training programs in Oakland
Congresswoman Barbara Lee addressed the Post Salon on Sunday with Troy Williams to discuss the need to remove barriers to employment and government services for the formerly incarcerated.

During the question and answer session of the evening, Lee responded to Post publisher Paul Cobb’s question about last week’s Post article, saying she was surprised that Oakland or any other city in her district would not choose to apply for federal dollars for youth and other jobseekers.

A fact sheet outlining how nearly half of the federal jobs funds is being used by Oakland to pay for internal city staff support was presented at salon.

The Salon voted to ask the public to use social media to spread the word to attend Councilmember Larry Reid’s Community and Economic Development Committee meeting Tuesday at 1 p.m. at City Hall, where using available funds for job programs instead of returning them to the State will be discussed.

The Salon also voted unanimously to endorse the Protect Oakland Renters Initiative for the November ballot.

During the salon, Post publisher Cobb reported on how the Mayor has refused his numerous requests for an exclusive interview, even though she was one of the three candidates endorsed by the Post in the last mayoral election.

Cobb said Schaaf would not grant the Post an interview unless she could have prior knowledge and approval of what questions would be asked.

Cobb also said that the Post will continue to publish the Mayor’s intent to shut down the seven-district neighborhood budgeting process and replace it with a hand-picked three-member committee that will decide on where funding goes.

He said she wants to use the funds for her own projects and groups.

“She is drying up funding for neighborhood-based non-profits, which speeds up the gentrification process,” said Cobb.

“That’s why the mayor wants to give an exclusive 17-year contract to privatize Raimondi Park, in exchange for a $2 million gift to the city, further drying up options for Black youth to have access to public parks,” said Cobb.

Bill Patterson, an EBMUD Director who endorsed Schaaf, said he will speak to the Mayor about the greatness of Raimondi and its historical contribution to many of Oakland’s hall of fame athletes.

“Why not make Oakland a livable place for those who presently live here? Is the Mayor’s new slogan to be ‘It’s Hella Time for Blacks to Leave Oakland?’”

According to Cobb, this is reminiscent of a “plantation-style” decision making where a few people get to make the decisions that will affect a multitude of underrepresented residents.

The Mayor also has repeatedly said that she does not consider the policies and goals of the new department of Race and Equity relevant because it doesn’t have a director yet.

The Salon voted to invite the Mayor, the City Attorney, former City Administrator Fred Blackwell, the present City Administrator and the East Bay Community Foundation Director to answer questions about whether the city and its network of foundation partners were holding out grant promises to community groups based up their political stance with Mayor Schaaf.

“We have been warned by many in City Hall that if the Post continues publishing investigative articles about certain topics, it could cause the Mayor to curtail City announcements and public notice advertising to the Post and El Mundo as punishment for our questions,” said Cobb.

“These stories include the lack of local hiring at Phil Tagami’s army base project, the questions of how the city is seeking to delay a decision on coal until after the elections to allow some incumbents to vote for it without repercussions, organizing support for the moratorium on rent increases, the advocacy for a Black Arts Movement and Business District, and the publishing of city staff salaries of more than $100,000 per year,” he said.

Cobb said the Post will put this on the City Council agenda to make sure that the Post and El Mundo gets it fair share of advertising.

The Salon voted to invite Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Mayor Schaaf and Governor Jerry Brown to a citywide gathering of all of Oakland’s formerly incarcerated population to explain what they intend to do to find jobs for them.

Cobb said, “It’s interesting that Jerry Brown and Libby want us to vote for the governor’s prison bill but at the same time they don’t want to make sure the formerly incarcerated get jobs.”
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by Oakland Post Staff
April 21, 2016

One consequence of Mayor Libby Schaaf’s unilateral reorganization of existing federally funded job programs will be the shutting down of East and West Oakland Neighborhood Career Centers, which last year had visits of almost 9,500 adult job seekers.

Earlier this year, Mayor Schaaf announced and is implementing drastic changes to programs that are funded by what previously was called the Workforce Investment Act.

She did not make the changes based on the experiences of the nonprofit agencies that provide services to the unemployed nor did she put the changes to a vote of city councilmembers or the Oakland Workforce Investment Board, which has legal oversight responsibilities under the law.

The two career centers are losing their funding and will close at the end of June. One is the East Oakland Career Center, located in Eastmont, 7200 Bancroft Ave., which provides services to English- and Spanish-speaking jobs seekers.

The other is the West Oakland One-Stop Career Center, located at 1801 Adeline St., second floor, which is housed in a renovated space that opened in 2014.

Erica, one of the jobseekers who has received services from the career centers, says she is welcomed in a friendly and cheerful manner whenever she goes to the center, and the support has been invaluable.

“I learned how to make a résumé and what to say and not to say in an interview,” she said. “If I’m going to have an interview, we do a little skit. (The job counselor) will go over the interview questions with me, so I can practice my answers.”

The centers also have clothes and shoes that people can wear to interviews.

Erica said that with the job center’s support, she is usually called to interviews when she applies. She has found work at Safeway and the Berkeley Unified School District.

Marilyn Norman is the project director of the two sites, which are satellite career centers of the Oakland Private Industry Council.

“Our primary focus is to aid in helping people with their job searches,” she said.

On-site job recruitments in the past year have featured employers, large and small, including PG&E, Oakland Unified School District, AC Transit, Home Depot, Claremont Hotel and Uber.

Norman says she and the small staff who work at the two centers find that many applicants, old and young, do not know how to use a computer to find job listings or fill out applications.

“We work with the clients by directing them to job websites and helping them with online job application forms,” she said.

Between 70 percent to 75 percent of the clients that go to the East Oakland center are African American, though they serve people from Mexico and Guatemala, as well as Middle Eastern applicants.

“We help people get their high school diplomas and GEDs as well as senior citizens who need jobs to supplement their pensions. A lot of employers will not hire people without a drivers’ license, and we help them obtain their license,” said Norman.

“We also work with people who are already working who have received a rent increase and are seeking better job or a second job to pay for their housing,” she said.

According to Erica, shutting down the career centers would be a blow to jobseekers like her.

“They are very important for us. There are people who don’t have computers or computer skills. We need those people to teach us.”
by Ken Epstein, Oakland Post
April 22, 2016

Mayor Libby Schaaf’s administration lost the opportunity to win up to $2 million to provide summer jobs for Oakland youth, when city staff failed to apply for a federal grant by the March 25 deadline.

According to the grant announcement released by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration, the fund – which totals $20 million – is available to cities to support programs for “in-school or out-of-school youth, ages 16- 24, who are new entrants who have never participated in the workforce, or have limited work experience.”

According to the grant announcement, “the money is designed to provide resources to Local Workforce Development Boards, (formerly called Workforce Investment Boards or WIBs), to expand and enhance existing summer employment programs and work experiences throughout the year for eligible youth.”

The Mayor’s Office acknowledged that the city had not applied for the $2 million grant.

“While no application was submitted for the U.S. Department of Labor grant, the City of Oakland will still be able to offer robust and fulfilling educational paid job experience to its young people this summer through continued philanthropic and government support of Classrooms2Careers,” said Erica Derryck, spokesperson for Mayor Schaaf.

“Last year, Mayor Schaaf was able to raise $195,000 for Classroom2Careers and will work to raise even more funds for this summer,” Derryck said.

By Post deadline, the Mayor’s Office had not replied to a question about why the city had not submitted a proposal.

A Post reporter recently asked WIB Executive Director John Bailey why the city had not yet announced its annual summer youth program.

Bailey replied: “I’m just dong what the mayor wants me to do.”

Derryck explained to the Post what the mayor’s youth job programs had accomplished last summer.

“Mayor Schaaf’s administration secured public, private and grant funding to provide 2,064 Oakland youth and young adults with paid summer jobs in organizations across the city through an initiative called Classrooms2Careers. Classroom2Careers adopts the nationally recognized ‘earn and learn’ model.”

The Department of Labor federal grants are meant to support projects for 24 months, to allow time for two summer employment cycles and one full academic calendar year for inschool youth, according to the grant announcement.

Explaining the reason for offering the grants, the announcement said that “since 2000, the share of 16- to 19-year-old youth who are working has plummeted by 40 percent, with fewer than a third of American teenagers in a job last summer.

“Their share of the overall workforce has never been so low.

“Further, about 5.5 million young people are disconnected youth. Disconnected youth include youth who are homeless, in foster care, involved in the justice system, and/or are neither employed nor enrolled in an educational institution.

“Disconnected youth who meet the eligibility criteria … are the focus of this funding opportunity.”
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