Stevie Wonder in Oakland: ‘Black Lives Matter’

The incomparable Stevie Wonder played the final regular date of his 11-city “Songs in the Key of Life” tour Friday night at Oakland’s Oracle Arena, and he was a powerhouse.

After performing the landmark 1976 album in its entirety, he performed an encore of several more of his hits, playfully baiting the crowd between songs. But after playing the first few notes of “Living for the City,” from 1973’s Innervisions, he stopped abruptly and told the audience there’s been “some bullshit” going on in this country lately – two glaring failures to indict, clearly references to the “no true bill” decisions rendered by grand juries for the police officers who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and who killed Eric Garner on Staten Island, N.Y.

My colleague, Jane Tyska, captured most of the rest of his words on video:

Note his comment that “right around here, there was a movie about it” – a reference to “Fruitvale Station,” which dramatized the 2009 shooting death of Oscar Grant at the hands of BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle.

He had made a similar statement Wednesday night in Seattle, though without leading the crowd in a chant before launching into the song.

A boy is born in hard time Mississippi
Surrounded by four walls that ain’t so pretty
His parents give him love and affection
To keep him strong, movin’ in the right direction
Living just enough, just enough for the city

His father works some days for fourteen hours
And you can bet he barely makes a dollar
His mother goes to scrub the floors for many
And you’d best believe she hardly gets a penny
Living just enough, just enough for the city

His sister’s black but she is sure enough pretty
Her skirt is short but, Lord, her legs are sturdy
To walk to school she’s got to get up early
Her clothes are old but never are they dirty
Living just enough, just enough for the city

Her brother’s smart, he’s got more sense than many
His patience’s long but soon he won’t have any
To find a job is like a haystack needle
‘Cause where he lives they don’t use colored people
Living just enough, just enough for the city

His hair is long, his feet are hard and gritty
He spends his life walkin’ the streets of New York City
He’s almost dead from breathin’ in air pollution
He tried to vote but to him there’s no solution
Living just enough, just enough for the city

I hope you hear inside my voice of sorrow
And that it motivates you to make a better tomorrow
This place is cruel, nowhere could be much colder
If we don’t change, the world will soon be over
Living just enough, stop giving just enough for the city


Lee to host ‘Fruitvale Station’ screening in D.C.

Rep. Barbara Lee will host a screening of “Fruitvale Station,” the critically acclaimed movie about the last day of BART Police shooting victim Oscar Grant, with other lawmakers next week in Washington, D.C.

Fruitvale_Station_posterLee, D-Oakland, is organizing the event in conjunction with the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

“It is an especially timely film considering the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin and resulting verdict,” Lee wrote in an invitation.

Lee’s office says Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson, is planning to attend.

The screening is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. next Tuesday, July 30; the invitation says lawmakers will be offered transportation from the Rayburn House Office Building at 7 p.m. or immediately after the day’s last votes.


Ammiano to hold hearing on BART Police

Assembly Public Safety Committee Chairman Tom Ammiano announced today that he’ll hold an informational hearing on how the BART Police department is progressing with implementing new civilian oversight and management audit recommendations made last year.

“With three deaths in three years, we need to ensure that BART police are properly trained and following procedures,” Ammiano, D-San Francisco, said in his news release. “I urge the SFPD and BART to be transparent and share the results of their investigation into the death of Charles Hill with the public as soon as possible.”

Hill was shot and killed July 3 in San Francisco’s Civic Center station; it since has been reported that he was armed with a bottle and two knives.

Ammiano said the hearing date will be announced shortly, likely in mid-August at the State Capitol.

Ammiano in 2009 reacted to the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant by BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle by introducing AB 312, which would’ve created an Office of Citizen Complaints for the agency. Instead, the Legislature passed and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB 1586 – by Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda – into law last year, creating a Civilian Review Board and Independent Police Auditor for the BART Police.


East Bay candidacy and campaign odds and ends

Although many expect former Assemblywoman Wilma Chan to seek and probably win the Alameda County Board of Supervisors Distrct 3 seat (to which incumbent and former Chan aide Alice Lai-Bitker won’t seek re-election), it doesn’t mean the field will be clear: Alameda City Councilwoman Lena Tam filed a candidate intention statement for the seat Jan. 25. District 3 includes the cities of Alameda and San Leandro; the San Lorenzo, Ashland and Hillcrest Knolls unincorporated areas; and Oakland’s Fruitvale, San Antonio and Chinatown districts.

The Democratic primary race for the 20th Assembly District seat (from which incumbent Alberto Torrico is term-limited out, and running for Attorney General) seems pretty evenly matched, moneywise. Fremont City Councilman Bob Wieckowski reported raising $50,810 and spending $13,132.81 in the latter half of 2009, leaving him with $95,672 cash on hand and $7,905 in debt ($87,767 unencumbered) at year’s end. Ohlone College Trustee Garrett Yee reported raising $70,864 and spending $42,663 in the latter half of 2009, leaving him with $126,660 cash on hand and $53,188 ($73,472 unencumbered) at year’s end. But there isn’t much happening on the Republican side: GOP candidate Adnan Shahab reported raising $1,455 – of which $1,350 seemed to come from him and his family – and spending $1,232 in the latter half of 2009, leaving him with $223 cash on hand and no debt at year’s end.

If Republican Jeff Wald of Fremont is going to give incumbent state Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, a run for her money this November, he’d better start finding some money of his own. Wald reported having raised $400 and spent $225.50 in the latter half of 2009, leaving him $174.50 cash on hand at year’s end; the 48-year-old computer network specialist, who challenged but lost to Torrico in 2008, received $100 from Sondra Wald of Henderson, Nev., and $300 from himself. Meanwhile, Corbett raised $80,505 in the latter half of 2009, leaving her with $227,368 cash on hand and $2,179 in debts at year’s end.

Three candidates have emerged so far for the one vacant Alameda County Superior Court seat on June’s ballot. Administrative Law Judge Victoria Kolakowski of Oakland, who ran unsuccessfully for a Superior Court seat in 2008, filed a new candidate intention statement Jan. 29. Criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor Louis Goodman of Hayward has filed papers as well. And Deputy District Attorney John Creighton confirmed to me this afternoon that he’s running; the 25-year veteran of the DA’s office was in the headlines for a while about a year ago as he handled the early phases of prosecuting Johannes Mehserle, the former BART Police officer charged with murder in the death of Oscar Grant.

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley isn’t up for re-election to a fourth term in his District 4 seat until 2012, but that didn’t stop him from raising $26,362 in the latter half of 2009. Of that amount, $1,000 is came from the “canna-business” sector supporting medical marijuana and total legalization: $500 from Tax Cannabis, the committee supporting the legalization measure expected to be on this November’s ballot; $250 from the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative, now known as the Patient ID Center; $200 from the Berkeley Patients Group; and $50 from medical marijuana attorney/activist Robert Raich of Oakland. And as in the past, Miley has kept some of his campaign spending in the family, paying $2,000 to his son, Chris, of Alameda.


Rocky hearing ahead for proposed DA appointee?

As reported here earlier, Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff announced his resignation this week, urging the Board of Supervisors to appoint Chief Assistant District Attorney Nancy O’Malley as his replacement as soon as this coming week. This, of course, would let O’Malley have more than nine months as in incumbent before she must win an election to keep the post next year.

But at least one local official isn’t comfortable with what some have called an “appoint-and-annoint” succession. I just received a note said to have been forwarded from Oakland City Councilwoman Desley Brooks, urging people to come out and be heard on this.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors will appoint a new District Attorney Tuesday, September 15, 2009, at 9:00 am. The item is #8A on their agenda. They appear set to appoint Nancy O’Malley at the request of Tom Orloff.

This is an elected position. While the Board has the authority to appoint; it should only do so pursuant to a public process. In the instant case they are making an appointment with less than a week’s public notice and without a public process.

We need to pack the Board chambers on Tuesday and demand a public process for the selection process. Please help turn out as many people as you can. This position is too important for them to make this appointment in secret.

Let me know what you can do to help.

Thanks so much.


Brooks was among a few local officials who have rallied with those protesting the New Year’s Day slaying of Oscar Grant III by then-BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle; Orloff took heat from those protestors for waiting two weeks after the shooting to charge Mehserle with murder, and is still under fire from some for not also charging Officer Tony Pirone, who also was involved the fracas that led up to the shooting. I see Brooks attended at least one meeting at which an effort to recall Orloff was discussed; it’s not surprising she wants to slow down his hand-picked successor’s appointment.

UPDATE @ 9:17 P.M. FRIDAY: Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan concurs, according to an e-mail I received from her about an hour ago.

I also agree, that it is essential that there be a rational and fair process to fill the position of Alameda County District Attorney. Particularly given that the D.A. is an elected position, and also how important the role of the DA is, for our ability to improve public safety and restore public trust of police and prosecutors here in our city, and ensure protection from crime.

My view, in support of a fair process, is NOT based on supporting, or opposing, any particular potential candidate for the job — but rather, given the extreme importance of this job, it seems essential to at least have a selection procedure that is fair and coherent.

We are talking about giving someone a job in which they literally hold the power of life and death over people — surely choosing someone for such a role should require NO LESS of a process than is required to get a job — any job. To just appoint someone on Tuesday, with no process, and without allowing anyone to apply, would mean someone is chosen for a role of incredible importance and responsibility without even as much process as it takes to get a job at Burger King — and without even as much process as it takes to get an endorsement from a political club when running for office.

In terms of Solutions to this problem, I could envision two options:

1) Like with Senator Kennedy’s seat, appoint a “caretaker” for the interim, on the basis of it being a person who WILL NOT RUN for the seat, and therefore, this would allow an open and fair election next year.

2) If option 1 doesn’t seam viable, then AT LEAST if the Board of Supervisors is going to take their Power to Select someone for this incredibly important position, there should at least be a reasonable application and selection process. People must be allowed to apply, be interviewed, etc, and then a selection made on a fair basis.

FOR EXAMPLE: When AC Transit Board fills a mid-term vacancy (as recently happened when I left AC Transit to join the Oakland City Council) there is a process which includes an application period and application packet and interviews, etc. This should be the least we should expect in the process of selecting a D.A.


BART wants your cell phones to work better. Really.

Does anyone else see the irony in BART soliciting input from riders about how better to interface with their mobile and wireless technology? Like, maybe, cell phones? With cameras?

From: BART Updates
Date: Tue, Jan 27, 2009 at 3:51 PM
Subject: Survey: BART mobile/wireless applications
To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Dear BART rider:

We’re looking for ways to improve BART mobile and wireless applications and we’d like to hear from you! Please take a moment to complete this survey to help us better understand your mobile trip planning needs.

Note: You’re receiving this email because, when downloading the mobile BART QuickPlanner from www.bart.gov, you provided this email address and gave us permission to contact you. To unsubscribe or modify your subscription, please use the links below.