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Oakland bracing for Ferguson-inspired unrest

Oakland is bracing for what could be significant civic unrest following the decision of a grand jury in Missouri on whether to charge Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan issued an open letter to the community Tuesday morning, saying the recent events in Fergus “have touched us all” and “regardless of the verdict reached by the Missouri grand jury in the coming days or weeks, demonstrations could occur in Oakland.”

Various groups have called to gather at downtown’s Frank H. Ogawa Plaza beginning at 5:00 p.m. on whatever day the verdict is announced.

“The City of Oakland is committed to facilitating peaceful expressions and demonstrations,” wrote Quan, now a lame-duck mayor after losing her re-election bid to Councilwoman Libby Schaaf earlier this month. “Although we don’t anticipate problems to occur, keeping peace on our streets and protecting the safety of Oakland residents and businesses is our top priority and we will be prepared.”

Quan said the city is providing information “to raise awareness… not to alarm, and so that you may plan ahead.” Traffic likely will be disturbed, she said, advising residents, workers and employers to consult www.511.org or call 511 for up-to-date information.

The city is advising people and businesses to park cars in secure, off-street locations if possible; remove or secure trash cans; ensure businesses are well-lit and closed-circuit TV systems are working; lock and deadbolt all doors, with any gaps covered by steel plates; and leave cash drawers empty and open after business hours.

The city also is arranging for “Healing Centers … as safe alternative venues to engage in productive dialogue and healing around any emotions brought out by the Ferguson verdict,” to be open for two weekdays immediately after the grand jury’s decision. They’ll be at Youth Uprising, 8711 MacArthur Blvd.; the Youth Employment Partnership, 2300 International Blvd.; and at the Health Communities/Healthy Oakland sites at 2580 San Pablo Ave. and 1485 8th St.

Quan said the Oakland Police Department “has significantly improved the ways it handles demonstrations in our city,” with extensive re-training and improved practices since the Occupy unrest of 2011.

“At the same time the department has neared full compliance with our court-ordered reforms, dramatically reduced use-of-force incidents and required officers to wear chest-mounted body cameras on their uniforms,” Quan wrote. “We have successfully facilitated more than 70 demonstrations this year throughout Oakland, and we know that with continued cooperation from our community and the high level of professionalism of our officers, we will continue doing so.

“Our hearts are with Mike Brown’s family and with every Oakland family touched by violence,” Quan wrote. “I am grateful for the work we have done together to make Oakland a safer place and to heal our collective wounds. We still have much to do, but I am confident that we will continue making this important progress with compassion and peaceful determination.”

The statement falls far short of what an “Occupy Oakland Riot Prevention Working Group” demanded of Quan and Schaff. In a news release issued earlier Tuesday, that group had demanded that the mayor and mayor-elect issue the following statement:

The City of Oakland shares in the grief of the family of Michael Brown for his untimely death. We, elected representatives of the people ofOakland, empathize with those who fear that justice will not be served in this case. We know full-well that, without the respect of residents, law enforcement is not effective. And we know that, as leaders of our community, we must do all we can to assure our fellow-residents that the law is color-blind and that we will not shield those who overstep their prerogatives as law enforcement officers from accountability.

Therefore, I insist that the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office do all it can to bring about an indictment of Darren Wilson for the wrongful death of Michael Brown. Further, I call upon the Attorney General of the United States to indict Darren Wilson on federal civil rights charges. The course of justice must not be blocked by official policy that tolerates the use of excessive force against people of color by law enforcement or by a culture of racism infecting government. All those who seek protection in a democratic society must see the agents of justice working transparently and tirelessly to assure that law enforcement is even-handed. Indictments are not convictions. No harm can be the result of a fair trial of Darren Wilson, but, if Wilson is not tried, a tragic miscarriage of justice will have been perpetrated, the ramifications of which could be felt many years into the future for our country.

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Commerce Secretary attends Oakland forum

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker joined Rep. Barbara Lee and other officials Monday for a regional economic development forum at Oakland International Airport, focused on creating more jobs and growing businesses in the East Bay.

Penny Pritzker“The Department of Commerce has tremendous resources in place in this region and around the country that allow us to partner with your businesses and entrepreneurs so they can compete and succeed,” Pritzker said in a news release issued by Lee, D-Oakland, after the event.

“Here in the Bay Area, we are working with companies large and small to sell their goods and services to the 95 percent of global consumers who live outside the U.S., helping to create the conditions for innovators and entrepreneurs to thrive, and supporting minority-and women-owned businesses through our Minority Business Development Agency,” she said, adding her department “is committed to helping your companies grow and thrive so they can create jobs – that is our mission and a core objective for President Obama.”

Lee said small businesses “are fundamental to the East Bay’s economic growth, especially women and minority-owned businesses.

“These businesses create jobs, contribute to our community and create opportunities into the middle class,” she said. “In order to ensure continued economic growth, we need to investment in sharing the available resources with these businesses and businesses owners to help them succeed.”

Other attendees included regional Small Business Administration Administrator Donna Davis; Minority Business Development Agency Director Alejandra Castillo; Overseas Private Investment Corp. Director of Corporate Development Alison Germak; Port of Oakland Aviation Director Deborah Ale Flint; Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson; and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.

Earlier Monday, Lee had hosted a roundtable discussion with Pritzker and East Bay business leaders to discuss economic development, supplier diversity and the importance of gender and ethnic diversity in corporate leadership.

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Oakland & Sac mayors met with Obama today

Oakland’s Jean Quan and Sacramento’s Kevin Johnson were among 18 U.S. mayors who met with President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder today at the White House to discuss strategies to reduce youth violence.

According to the White House’s readout of the meeting, Obama “reiterated that government alone can never fill the void that causes a child to turn to violence, but that we all have a responsibility to do our part to create safe communities and save lives.”

“The President applauded the mayors for their local efforts to combat violence, solicited their input about proven methods, and pledged his Administration’s partnership,” the White House reported. “He also vowed to continue doing everything in his power to combat gun violence through executive action and to press Congress to pass common-sense reforms like expanding the background check system and cracking down on gun trafficking.”

For the complete list of mayors at today’s meeting, follow after the jump.
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‘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.

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Labor VIP to manage Pete Stark’s campaign

A union heavyweight has signed on to manage Rep. Pete Stark’s re-election campaign as part of a post-primary staffing shakeup.

Sharon CornuSharon Cornu said Monday she has signed onto the effort to help Stark, D-Fremont, win a 21st term in Congress in the newly drawn 15th Congressional District. Stark is challenged by Dublin councilman and Alameda County prosecutor Eric Swalwell, also a Democrat.

Cornu, 53, of Oakland, served as executive secretary-treasurer of the Alameda Labor Council for almost eight years, with a leave of absence for seven months in 2010 to work as national field director for the AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C. She went to work for Oakland Mayor Jean Quan in January 2011 as a senior policy advisor and in April 2011 as deputy mayor, but resigned from Quan’s administration in November.

Also joining Team Stark is Michael Terris of San Francisco, who will serve as a general consultant. Cornu said Terris got his start in politics as an intern in Stark’s office in 1982, researching Social Security, Medicare and education issues.

Alex Tourk, who had run Stark’s primary campaign, is out of the picture. “Alex Tourk and the congressman made a mutual decision, and the congressman is very grateful for Alex’s help in the primary,” Cornu said Monday.

Stark hasn’t had any problems winning re-election in recent decades, but Swalwell came into the race counting on redistricting – which is forcing Stark to campaign on the east side of the East Bay hills, Swalwell’s home turf – and the top-two primary to buoy his challenge. Stark himself went a long way toward boosting Swalwell’s campaign by making a series of erratic, unfounded allegations this spring against Swalwell and others.

UPDATE @ 3:16 P.M.: Another sign of the increased labor focus of Stark’s re-election effort might be tomorrow’s news conference at Tri-CED Community Recycling in Union City, where Stark will be joined by current Alameda Labor Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Josie Camacho; Tri-CED CEO and newly appointed Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle; and local workers. Stark will be highlighting the Bring Jobs Home Act, HR 5542, for which he’s among 36 co-sponsors; the event is part of the AFL-CIO’s Bring Jobs Home campaign. Supporters say the bill would eliminate tax incentives for businesses that send jobs overseas and reward companies that bring jobs back to the U.S.

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San Francisco mayor’s race still up in the air

There’s a lot of “Ed Lee seems to be winning the San Francisco mayor’s race” verbiage out there this morning, but I’m not so sure just yet.

Yes, he’s in the lead after the initial tally, but ranked-choice voting means that’s not always conclusive.

In Oakland’s mayoral race last November, former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata had 33.73 percent of the vote in the first round of counting, with Councilwoman Jean Quan (the leading progressive alternative) in second place at 23.47 percent – a nine-percentage-point gap – in a field of 10 candidates. Perata continued to hold the lead until the third-place finisher – Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, another progressive – was eliminated and an overwhelming percentage of her supporters’ second- and third-choice votes catapulted Quan past him to victory.

Now in San Francisco, appointed incumbent Mayor Ed Lee has 31.38 percent in the first round, with Supervisor John Avalos (the leading progressive alternative) in second place at 18.67 percent – an almost 13-percentage-point gap – in a field of 16 candidates. The next-closest contender is City Attorney Dennis Herrera at 11.27 percent, followed by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu at 8.93 percent and state Sen. Leland Yee at 7.48 percent.

So I’ll be very interested to see how many of those top-of-the-backfield candidates’ supporters included Lee as their second or third choice; given Herrera’s, Chiu’s and Yee’s politics, I think it’s more likely their supporters would’ve picked Avalos over Lee.

Then again, Perata was a rather polarizing candidate – people generally either loved him or hated him, with little gray area between – who ran a campaign that deliberately ignored ranked-choice voting, making no effort whatsoever to solicit second- and third-place votes. Although Lee’s campaign had some difficulties in the final month, it’s hard to see him as another Perata.

We’ll know more this afternoon.

UPDATE @ 4:05 P.M.: Er, never mind, then. First RCV tally shows Lee with a convincing victory.