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Oakland divests from firearms & ammo makers

Oakland City Council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday night to prohibit the city from holding investments in firearms or ammunition manufacturers.

Council President Rebecca Kaplan, City Attorney Barbara Parker and Vice Mayor Larry Reid had co-authored the measure, which they say is part of the city’s ongoing effort to reduce gun violence. Councilman Dan Kalb requested that the resolution, which originally covered only firearms manufacturers, be expanded to include ammunition companies as well.

“There is a well-funded corporate effort pushing against our work to stop gun violence,” Kaplan said in a news release. “And Oakland is now formally part of a national movement that includes cities like Chicago and Los Angeles – communities committed to stopping so many tragedies that take place at the hands of a gun.”

The resolution declares a city policy prohibiting the Oakland from holding any investment or ownership stake in any manufacturer of firearms or ammunition; directs the city administrator to examine the city’s holdings and future investments to assure that the city complies with this policy; urges the Police And Fire Retirement System Board and the Oakland Municipal Employees Retirement System Board to adopt similar policies; and urges other state and local jurisdictions to prohibit investment of their public funds in manufacturers of firearms or ammunition.

The city also recently has moved to enlarge its police force, and has endorsed the reenactment of a federal assault-weapons ban as well as a state bill to regulate ammunition sales.

“By taking action here to send a message to weapons manufacturers, Oakland is showing its commitment to big-picture efforts to reduce gun violence here and in communities across America,” Kaplan said.

Posted on Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
Under: Dan Kalb, gun control, Larry Reid, Oakland, Rebecca Kaplan | 4 Comments »

Reactions to the Newtown school massacre

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“No words can console the parents of the children murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School or describe the pain and shock of such an unspeakable tragedy. No words can comfort the loved ones of those brutally taken from us today. All Americans share our prayers and our grief over these horrifying events.

“We are all stunned, shocked, and distraught by this tragic shooting, by this violent act, and by the loss of so many young children. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the students, teachers, and educators killed and wounded in Newtown, Connecticut. The entire nation will continue to stand as a source of support to this community in the days and weeks to come.”

From Rep. Mike Honda, D-Campbell:

“Earlier today, another horrific gun tragedy struck our nation as innocent men, women, and children were senselessly shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. My prayers are with the victims, their families and friends, and the communities impacted by today’s terrifying events.

“As an educator for 30 years, I know firsthand the importance of making a school a safe place where children can grow and learn. Having that sense of safety ripped from us, again, is both shocking and jarring. It is difficult to imagine what it feels like to be a parent that has outlived their child or to be part of a family inexplicably left with a gaping hole in their hearts. While exact details still remain unclear, there is no doubt that today is a somber day. A close-knit community, like countless communities all around our country, was violently attacked, and we will continue to feel the shocks of this violence for some time.

“This event, much like the numerous other shootings earlier this year, will undoubtedly lead to difficult discussions about safety, public policy and emergency preparedness. This self-reflection is natural, and it is my hope that we can finally take action to address the root causes of these horrific tragedies together, as a nation.”

From state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco:

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the children and families of Newtown. In a year with so many appalling acts of gun violence, this is the most shocking of such tragedies. While we do not have all the details behind this senseless and unconscionable massacre, it is a sad and horrific reminder of what is possible when guns get into the wrong hands. We must limit access to weapons that can result in such catastrophe and mass murder.”

From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

“I am horrified and incensed by today’s tragedy in Connecticut. These massacres don’t seem to stop—they continue on and on.

“When senseless mass shootings reach into our kindergartens and elementary schools, one has to question what is happening to America. Gun violence took the lives of more than 8,000 Americans last year, and today claimed the lives of at least 18 children.

“As I have said many times before—and now repeat in the wake of yet another tragedy—weapons of war don’t belong on our streets or in our theaters, shopping malls and, most of all, our schools.

“I hope and trust that in the next session of Congress there will be sustained and thoughtful debate about America’s gun culture and our responsibility to prevent more loss of life.”

“But today we mourn for those who have been killed and the families that have been devastated.”

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“My heart breaks over this senseless tragedy that took so many innocent lives. My prayers go out to their families and to all those who were injured.

“This touches us all so deeply, and it is long past time that we enacted sensible gun laws and school safety legislation.”

From Gov. Jerry Brown:

“We all mourn the heartbreaking loss of those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. We pray for their families and loved ones.”

From Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom:

“For those calling for the postponement of any discussion of gun and mental health policy in America – you are wrong.

“Just WRONG!

“We postponed after the President and his press secretary, James Brady were shot more than 30 years ago. We postponed after the tragedy in Columbine 13 years ago. We postponed after Virginia Tech five years ago. We postponed after Representative Gabriel Giffords was shot in 2011. We postponed in July when a mentally disturbed James Eagan Holmes opened fire in a crowded movie theatre. And earlier this week, people said it was too soon to talk about gun and mental health policy when a gunman opened fire at a crowded mall in Oregon.

“Today, President Barack Obama addressed the nation from the White House briefing room named for James Brady and now we turn to our political leaders to finally and decisively act.

“Prayers are important. We are a nation that always prays at times of great tragedy. But prayer is not enough as we learn in James 2 14-26, ‘What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works…Faith without works is dead.’

“Today is a clarion call to all leaders, regardless of political party, to act purposefully. Senseless gun violence is not simply about gun control. It must also include meaningful discussion of mental health policy in America. Political parties must be realistic – Democrats can’t draw the line in the sand at banning all guns and Republicans can’t dig in on the status quo.

“The NRA and the gun lobby are not supportive the President and now is the time for him to give them a real reason. The President must call the question. Put the gun lobby on the bench. Call on every member of congress to step out from behind the money and power of the gun lobby and act before we are lulled back into a false sense of security and forget to have the conversation again until the next tragedy. There are families in Connecticut, Oregon, Virginia, California, Arizona, Colorado, Wisconsin and every other state that have suffered loss due to gun violence and they do not want a postponement this debate any longer.

“How many more people have to die before we decide the time is right to have this debate and take action? Now is a time for prayer…and leadership.”

Lots more, after the jump…
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Posted on Friday, December 14th, 2012
Under: Barbara Boxer, California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, Dianne Feinstein, George Miller, gun control, Jackie Speier, Jean Quan, Jeff Denham, Leland Yee, Mike Honda, Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 9 Comments »

‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ + ‘The West Wing’ in Oakland

Just start cringing now.

From Deadline.com:

ABC has put in development City Hall, a political drama executive produced by Bob Sertner. Written by Gideon Yago (HBO’s Newsroom), the project is being described as St Elmo’s Fire meets The West Wing set in the East Bay of San Francisco. It follows the mayor of Oakland and her irreverent City Hall staff of twenty- and thirtysomethings who take on the political and social establishment of a city in crisis while trying to maintain their own personal and social lives. Sertner will executive produce with former MTV host Yago for for ABC Studios.

What they don’t realize about Oakland is that it is – ALWAYS – stranger than fiction.

UPDATE @ 2:30 P.M.: My favorite responses so far to my tweet of this blog item:

Sprinkle in some “Mad Max” and you’re probably closer to the real thing.

“Dumb and Dumber” meets “Lord of the Flies” would be more realistic

UPDATE @ 2:38 P.M.: I’m sure I’m not the only one who recalls that the commonality between “St. Elmo’s Fire” and “The West Wing” is Rob Lowe; clearly he needs to be cast in “City Hall.” He’s a little old for the part, but perhaps he could play Sean Maher.

Posted on Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
Under: Oakland | 6 Comments »

Oaklander is a White House ‘Champion of Change’

The White House today announced it’s welcoming Dana Harvey, executive director of Oakland’s Mandela MarketPlace, as one of 11 “Champions of Change” who have committed themselves to strengthening food security in the United States and around the world.

“Today’s champions are examples of the groundbreaking work being done to tackle hunger at home and abroad. These individuals are making improved access to healthy food a reality for millions of individuals in need,” Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said in a news release. “Establishing global food security isn’t just critical for those now suffering from hunger. It is also vital to our long-term economic prosperity. We applaud the champions for their efforts to empower families and communities and to reduce the depth and severity of hunger around the world.”

The Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative; each week, a different sector is highlighted and groups of champions are recognized for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities. President Obama is not at the White House today; he’s in Charlotte, N.C., where he’ll be accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination to run for re-election.

Harvey, 55, of Oakland, has spent the last decade in nonprofit management and development in areas of environmental justice, food security, education and economic development, according to the White House.

At Mandela MarketPlace, she’s building a community-led food system that combines increased access to healthy foods with economic development to build community health and wealth. Harvey led a campaign resulting in the June 2009 opening of Mandela Foods Cooperative to address West Oakland’s longtime status as a food desert, and since then has helped catalyze and grow other successful food enterprises in the area.

Posted on Thursday, September 6th, 2012
Under: Oakland, Obama presidency | 7 Comments »

Lee offers bill to stop medical pot asset seizures

A Bay Area congresswoman’s new bill would bar federal prosecutors from filing civil lawsuits to seize property from landlords whose tenants comply with states’ medical marijuana laws.

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“The people of California have made it legal for patients to have safe access to medicinal marijuana and, as a result, thousands of small business owners have invested millions of dollars in building their companies, creating jobs, and paying their taxes,” Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, said in a statement issued Friday by Americans for Safe Access.

“We should be protecting and implementing the will of voters, not undermining our democracy by prosecuting small business owners who pay taxes and comply with the laws of their states in providing medicine to patients in need,” she said.

U.S. Attorneys for more than a year have been threatening landlords of medical marijuana dispensaries with civil asset forfeiture proceedings if they don’t kick their tenants out – more than 300 such letters have gone to property owners in California, Colorado and some of the 15 other states with medical marijuana laws.

The civil asset forfeiture law affords property owners a chance to retrieve seized property in civil court, but they’re not afforded many of the constitutional rights granted to criminal defendants, such as the right to an attorney and a jury trial. And the burden of proof is on the property owner to show their innocence rather than the government having to prove their guilt.

Lee’s HR 6335 would prohibit the Justice Department from using civil asset forfeiture to go after properties so long as the medical marijuana tenants comply with state law; those in violation of state law would still be fair game. Among the bill’s eight original cosponsors are Rep. Mike Honda, D-Campbell, and Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont.

Relatively few of the prosecutors’ threats have led to actual civil asset forfeiture cases, but the pressure has caused many landlords to force dispensaries to close.

HarborsideBut Melinda Haag, the U.S. Attorney for California’s Northern District, did serve an asset forfeiture lawsuit last month against the landlord of Oakland’s Harborside Health Center, a dispensary in Lee’s district. This wasn’t the first federal attack on Harborside: The dispensary already had appealed an Internal Revenue Service’s finding that it owed $2.5 million in back taxes because it can’t deduct standard business expenses such as payroll and rent while violating the federal ban on marijuana.

Haag has threatened civil asset forfeiture actions against landlords of several other Bay Area dispensaries as well. In San Francisco this week, local officials joined a “funeral procession” to Haag’s office to mark the closing of two more dispensaries that were forced to close due to her pressure on their landlords.

Posted on Friday, August 3rd, 2012
Under: Barbara Lee, marijuana, Oakland, U.S. House | 7 Comments »

Fourth POTUS pool report: The Fox Theater event

Motorcade departed Piedmont residence at 6:21 p.m. en route to the Fox Theater on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland’s “Uptown” district; arrived there 6:37 p.m.; among supporters nearby was someone with a Ron Paul banner. Visible in a window on Telegraph Avenue was a “Free Beer for Obama” sign.

Press was placed in holding room while POTUS did photo reception; tickets to that cost $7,500, plus $2,500 per additional person in the photo. Other tickets for Fox event cost $100, $250 and $1,000. About 2,000 people attended.

Press was brought into theater at 7:40 p.m. PT in time to hear Obama campaign California political director Peggy Moore introduce Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif. “What a difference three and a half years makes,” Lee said, during her seven minutes of remarks. The nation has seen 28 consecutive months of private-sector job growth on the president’s watch, she noted: “America prospers when we’re all in it together.”

POTUS took the stage at 7:56 p.m. to a deafening, standing ovation. Though he’d worn a jacket at the Piedmont dinner, he appeared here in a white shirt, sleeves rolled to just below the elbow, and dark tie. After two minutes of cheering from the crowd, POTUS joked, “Alright, thank you!” and took a few steps away from the podium as if to leave.

MUCH more, after the jump…
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Posted on Monday, July 23rd, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama, Oakland, Obama presidency | 4 Comments »

Third POTUS pool report: At the Piedmont dinner

Co-host Wayne Jordan thanked the guests for committing so much to the campaign, and spoke briefly about how POTUS’ decisions are fundamentally affecting and improving the lives of all Americans. Co-host Quinn Delaney presented POTUS with an “I Hella (heart) Oakland” t-shirt, saying, “We’re so glad you’re here in the East Bay.”

POTUS began speaking at 5:30 p.m. PT, noting that “because this is a more intimate setting, I’m not going to make a long speech.” He said that while in Aurora, Colo., yesterday, he’d “spent time with the families, the medical staff, the first responders,” and while it’s “easy for us to slip into despair” at such times, they showed strength and grace that “would make you extraordinarily optimistic about America.”

“Americans are strong and they’re resilient and they’re optimistic about their futures and their kids’ futures,” he said, although they know of and are concerned about dysfunction in Washington, D.C., and a sluggish economy. “All they want to see is that their leadership shows the same decency and common sense that they try to apply every day in their own lives.”

With jobs added and even the housing market starting to rebound, “we are in a much better position now, in part because of the work my administration has done,” he said. “The bad news is, we still have some headwinds.”

Too many people remain out of work or underwater on their mortgages, POTUS said, and the middle class still needs help.

“Right now we’ve got as clear a choice as we’ve seen in our lifetimes,” he said.

He said the GOP platform calls for tax cuts for the rich and stripping away regulations from Wall Street and corporate polluters. “It’s a theory we’ve tested for a decade and it didn’t work.”

“This debate plays itself out across the board, on almost every issue,” he said, noting that California isn’t a battleground state so many in the audience haven’t seen the attack ads that are flying back and forth elsewhere in the country. “I’m comfortable that the American people will make the right choice.”

“This is going to be a close race … but I’m as invigorated and determined as ever to win,” he said. He finished his remarks at 5:39 p.m. PT, and reporters were ushered out before a Q&A session began.

Renowned chef Alice Waters prepared a meal of grilled jumbo prawns over heirloom tomatoes, avocados and basil; dry-aged beef tenderloin with demi-glace, sweet-pea risotto and carrots; and a chocolate-cherry bombe. Prawns accompanied by Keenan 2010 Chardonnay, beef by Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon, both from Napa Valley.

Among those in the dinner crowd: Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif.; prominent Bay Area attorneys Bob Van Nest and Steve Kazan; Ask.com founder and Alta Partners Garrett Gruener; philanthropists and clean-tech investors Jim and Gretchen Sandler; and real estate investment manager Dorine Streeter.

Posted on Monday, July 23rd, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama, Oakland, Obama presidency | 16 Comments »

First pool report: Obama arrives at OAK

Air Force One touched down at Oakland International Airport at 2:34 p.m. Pacific Time; POTUS exited the plane at about 2:43 p.m.. First in the greeting line was Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., followed by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson.

Also in the greeting line were retired AT&T worker Evelyn Moses; Alameda Labor Council executive secretary-treasurer Josie Camacho; salon owner Pamela Thomson; retiree Dezie Woods-Jones; CREDO Action new media director Andrew Cully; Association of Bay Area Governments communications director Janet Cox; self-employed caregiver Cathye Leonard; and fitness trainer Sue Mittleman.

POTUS then moved to greet a small crowd of campaign supporters with a hearty “How are you doin’ today?” One woman responded, “We’ve got your back.” After working the rope line there, he entered the car and motorcade departed via Airport Drive, 98th Avenue and Interstate 880, bound for the Scottish Rite temple near Oakland’s Lake Merritt, where he’ll do a closed-press roundtable with tech leaders for which tickets cost $35,800 per head.

Arrived at Scottish Rite temple at 3:12 p.m.

Posted on Monday, July 23rd, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama, Oakland, Obama presidency | 2 Comments »

Obama to hold event at Oakland’s Fox Theater

One of President Obama’s July 23 fundraising events will be at Oakland’s Fox Theater.

Tickets for the 4:30 p.m. reception cost $100 for balcony seating; $250 for general admission seating; $1,000 for VIP seating; and $7,500 for event-sponsor status, which includes admission to a photo reception. Sponsors can then bring additional guests to the photo reception for $2,500 each.

The Fox Theater, on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland’s revitalized Uptown district, seats up to 2,800 people, although some areas almost definitely will be set aside for security purposes, news media and so on.

UPDATE @ 9:55 A.M. TUESDAY: The incomparable Doug Sovern of KCBS tweeted last night that afterbefore the Fox Theater event will come a high-rollers fundraising dinner at the Piedmont home of progressive activist/attorney Quinn Delaney & her husband, real estate developer Wayne Jordan.

UPDATE @ 10:05 A.M. TUESDAY: Delaney and Jordan have hosted fundraisers for Obama before. In June 2007, they hosted a luncheon for the then-Senator for which tickets cost $2,300 per person. And in November, they hosted a reception with White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, at $5,000 a couple. The Center for Responsive Politics lists Jordan as Obama’s third-largest bundler, having brought almost $1.5 million to the campaign.

UPDATE @ 12:35 P.M. TUESDAY: The $100 seats have already sold out…

Posted on Monday, July 9th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama, campaign finance, Oakland, Obama presidency | 5 Comments »

Marijuana bill advances, Oaksterdam U mulls fate

California medical marijuana’s situation again still seems stuck in neutral as a regulatory bill advances even while an Oakland institution prepares to announce its fate.

The Assembly Public Safety Committee voted 4-2 on Tuesday to pass AB 2312 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, which would create the first statewide regulatory framework for the medical marijuana industry. The bill now goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

“Only by regulating medical cannabis will California be able to regain control and ensure safe access for patients,” Ammiano said in a news release. “Effective regulation benefits everyone – patients, providers, doctors and law enforcement. Passing AB 2312 is an opportunity for the Legislature to defend Prop. 215 by regulating and controlling an industry that has the clear support of the people of California.”

AB 2312 would create a nine-member Board of Medical Marijuana Enforcement with the Department of Consumer Affairs to enact and enforce regulations on growing, processing, manufacturing, testing, transporting, distributing and selling marijuana and marijuana products for medical purposes; the board. It also would authorize local taxes on medical cannabis up to 2.5 percent.

Don Duncan, California director of Americans for Safe Access, said police, lawmakers and patients “want clarity about what is legal under state law. AB 2312 answers their questions and provides a path towards the sensible, well-regulated medical marijuana program the voters wanted when they approved Proposition 215.”

Yet even if the Legislature passes this bill (where others, including earlier ones by Ammiano, have failed), it would put California further at odds with federal law’s total ban on marijuana.

Federal agents raided Oaksterdam University a few weeks ago, casting doubt upon the future of this and other marijuana-related businesses founded and owned by Richard Lee, who largely bankrolled an unsuccessful 2010 ballot measure to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Lee will hold news conferences tomorrow – live at the school at 11 a.m., and then a national press call at 1 p.m. – to discuss his plans and the fate of his businesses.
Besides Lee, those scheduled to speak include former state Sen. John Vasconcellos, who helped draft the state’s current regulations; Americans for Safe Access Executive Director Steph Sherer; United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 International Vice President Ron Lind; and representatives from local elected officials’ offices.

It’s a run-up to a national day of action this Friday, April 20, which will include an 11:30 a.m. protest outside the federal building on Oakland’s Clay Street.

Posted on Tuesday, April 17th, 2012
Under: Assembly, marijuana, Oakland, Tom Ammiano | No Comments »