African arts showcase at UC Berkeley

The spirit of Africa was alive at the African Arts Society's "Showcase" on November 20 at UC Berkeley.

Ready to Learn Fun Fair

Children enjoyed face painting, legos and storytelling at the Ready to Learn Fun Fair at Peralta Elementary School in Oakland.

Occupy Oakland calls for West Coast Port Shutdown

Organizers say Port owners are "1%." Port begs to keep the Ports Open for 99% workers.

Oakland Labor Day BBQ hosts good time for 'fam bam'

The "I am Oakland" collective hosted the Labor Day Fam Bam BBQ at Mosswood Park on September 6.

Protest against censorship of Palestinian Children's Art

In response to censorship of Palestinian children's art by an Oakland art museum, dozens came out to protest in Oakland.

RIP Peabo Wellington

College of Alameda student Jepeabo Wellington was murdered days before the school year began.

Students gain college acceptance at Black College Fair

Hundreds of young people attended the third annual Black College Fair at Laney College, the second year the Oakland community college has hosted the event.

Peralta Board of Trustees November 2010 Election Preview

Three of the Peralta Board of Trustees seven seats will be up for reelection on Tuesday, November 2. With three incumbents running, one trustee is running unopposed while the others each face one challenger.

In Area 3, two-term incumbent Linda Handy faces a challenge from Monica Tell.

Handy, who served as board president in 2006, defeated the embattled trustee Brenda Knight in 2002, with major support from Peralta’s labor unions.

“Despite diminished funding and other challenges, my absolute dedication to student success and our local community is producing results,” Handy said in her candidate statement. “While Board President, I demanded quality service delivery, accountability and employee acknowledgement; fought for transparency and standardized reporting systems; pushed for for an indepdent auditor, and instituted a Board civility policy.” She also cites her work at getting local businesses contracts from Peralta’s $390 million bond Measure A (2006) and Peralta’s Student Health Clinic.

Tell, a former aide for then-Assembly Member Don Perata, lists her occupation as a Public Relations Specialist and Community Liaison. She is currently employed by PG&E.

“The Peralta Colleges need to be critically reviewed and dramatically improved,” writes Tell in her candidate statement. “Earlier this year, the Alameda County Grand Jury criticized the Peralta College trustees and highlighted various concerns, including: inadequate management and oversight; wasteful spending; [and ] excessive travel and improper use of credit cards.” She pledges to “focus on fiscal responsibility, strict management accountability and improved educational services.”
Area 3 includes parts of the Laurel, along with the Fruitvale, Brookdale and Fairfax districts in Oakland.

Trustee Dr. William “Bill” Riley (Area 5) was first elected to the Board in 1998. He’s served as president twice and is currently board VP.

“When I was first elected, Peralta received adequate state funding to support every student enrolling in our colleges. Today, we’re challenged with serving 5,200 more students than the state pays for,” Riley writes.

“I pledge to continue monitoring District completion of Measure A’s $390 million expenditures for college improvements, improving fiscal accountability, fighting for local business participation in capital projects, collaborating to secure our fair share of state funding and mot importantly, strengthening student support services.”

The three-term incument Riley is being challenged for the first time, (unopposed in2002, 2006) by William J. Mattox, a human resources consultant.

“I am a candidate of reform,” writes Mattox. “I am determined to make sure this board is accountable to the community for fiscal responsibility, effective employee management, focus, vision, and purpose.” Mattox cites his experience in HR as sufficient for budget analysis and monitoring employee performance.

Area 5 includes Oakland’s Rockridge District and the City of Piedmont.

Incumbent Abel Guillen (Area 7), the current board president is running unopposed. His name will not appear on the ballot.

“We are on the frontlines of college access and career training in growing industries,” Guillen writes in his candidate statement. Guillen was elected in 2006, defeating two-term incumbent Alona Clifton with major support from Peralta’s labor unions. “I have fought to hold Peralta’s management more accountable through a series of financial reforms and cost-saving measures; and a national search for a new chancellor is under way to build upon these improvements.

Area 7 includes West Oakland, Temescal, Uptown, Lake Merritt and most of Oakland’s Chinatown.

The Peralta Federation of Teachers (PFT), representing the District’s faculty, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021, the union representing classified staff, have yet to make any endorsements for the contested positions. PFT endorsed Guillen in June.

Photo Credit: Peralta Colleges' SmugMug

Editors Note: This article is the first in a planned ten part series covering the Peralta Board of Trustees elections taking place Tuesday, November 2, 2010. Do you have questions for the candidates? Leave them in a comment below, or email us.

Video - Hal Linton's "Mind Control" - Music Monday

Back in April, debuted Hal Linton's "Mind Control" song for our Music Monday.

Last month, the Barbadian artist released an official video. Check it out below.

"Mind Control" by Hal Linton

Event - Caribbean Allstars benefit for Justice for Oscar Grant

Just one night after an amazing show at East Side Arts Alliance, another benefit for the Justice for Oscar Grant movement is taking place Friday, August 20 at the Humanist Hall in Oakland.

The event, titled, "Caribbean Allstars, a benefit for Justice for Oscar Grant," will feature spoken word and great food, organizers said.

Doors open at 6 p.m., music begins at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $10. The Humanist Hall is located at 390 27th Street, off Broadway. The program is sponsored by the New Year's Movement for Justice for Oscar Grant.

Justice for Oscar Grant Fundraiser at East Side Arts Alliance

The Holla Back Open Mic series will host a fundraiser for the Oscar Grant family and friends on Thursday, August 19 at East Side Arts Alliance.

The benefit concert will feature many local and also well known artists. Artists include: Ras Ceylon, Malika Ubaka, Do D.A.T., Buccet Belafonte and T. Killings, and the paid poet society.

The event will take place at 7 p.m. at East Side Cultural Center, 2277 International Blvd. For more information, email Holla Back is regularly held every Thursday at 8 p.m.

AC Transit outsourcing Oakland call center to Connecticut

By Reginald James Editor

If you call AC Transit’s Customer Relations for a question or a complaint, don’t be surprised to hear someone with a New England accent.

AC Transit plans on outsourcing its local Telephone Information Center to Connecticut based American Customer Care starting next month. The center is currently located at the District’s downtown Oakland headquarters.

“We can save about a million dollars by outsourcing,” said Kathleen Kelly, chief operating officer of the proposal. The projected costs for an internal staff are almost $1.3 million dollars, while the contact services would be under $300,000, according to documents.

AC Transit recently declared a fiscal emergency for the second time in two years due to a projected $56 million deficit.

A 60 day transitional period will take place from September through October, although it was anticipated that the call center would be in place already.

“We originally thought we’d have this together for July,” Kelly said. “Because we are not going to be able to do that, we still have current costs.” The delay and blended cost of internal staff and contract services will result in AC Transit going over its 2010/2011 budget.

AC Transit also acknowledges the loss of “market knowledge,” with the transition. Private call center employees in Connecticut will not know geography as well as current staff.

“This is less a concern as it would have been in the past since there’s Google Earth,” Kelly said. The call center will rely on technology like, Next Bus and Google Transit to assist riders. Still, the lack of familiarity will be a loss for AC Transit.

“Some of our people were operators. So they are able to say, “Remember where that old Chevron station was?’ That kind of knowledge, they (new call center) won’t be able to pick up,” Kelly said.

What will happen to the 14 people currently working in AC Transit’s Information Center?

“They would be laid off,” Kelly said. “Many of them are eligible for retirement. Many have already done that, or are planning to do so before October.”

This includes 13 information clerks and one supervisor. All of the clerks are members of AC Transit’s largest union, ATU, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192. ATU is currently in a labor dispute with management after the District voted to impose a contract in July. A judge ordered AC Transit to return to its previous work rules last week.

This move does not relate to the current labor dispute, Kelly said, as outsourcing the center was contemplated over a year ago.

Other companies that applied for the contract include Nebraska-based EMS, Inc.; Verizon and France’s multinational company Veolia.

The new call center will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

AC Transit will hold a Special Meeting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, August 18 (PDF) at its downtown Oakland headquarters at 1600 Franklin Street.

Editor's Note: Reginald James interned at AC Transit in the External Affairs Department from 2008-2010. He was laid off in May due to budget cuts.

Art & Soul Festival in Downtown Oakland

Looking for a fun weekend of live music, art and food? Head to downtown Oakland for the 10th Art & Soul Festival on Saturday, August 21 and Sunday, August 22.

Art & Soul features Oakland legend MC Hammer, Tony! Toni! Tone!, En Vogue, Lenny Williams of Tower of Power, Sheila E and her father Pete Escovedo and the Kev Choice Ensemble and the Mo' Rocking Project. Although there is no Hip Hop stage, there will be a gospel stage.

Admission is $15 for adults; $8 for seniors (65+) & youth (13-17); and FREE for children 12 and under. Downtown Oakland is accessible by downtown BART Stations at 12th Street and 19th Street and most downtown Oakland AC Transit bus lines. More information at

Event - Film Screening - Disappearing Voices: The Decline of Black Voices in Radio

Block Report Radio will host a screening of the film, "Disappearing Voices: The Decline of Black Voices in Radio" at the Black Dot Cafe in West Oakland on Tuesday, August 17.

Disappearing Voices is filled with interviews with prominent individuals in media and Black culture and features rare air checks by some of the most famous Black jocks of all time.

Whether they are students of media, radio history buffs or simply avid listeners, Disappearing Voices – The Decline of Black Radio is sure to take viewers on a visual and audio journey that will educate, inspire and provide more answers and solutions ...than any other documentary film about radio to date."

The screening will take place from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Black Dot. 1195 Pine Street in West Oakland. A Question and Answer with journalist and Hip-Hop Historian Davey D will take place afterward.

Peralta trustee Marcie Hodge running for Mayor of Oakland

Peralta Colleges trustee Marcie Hodge wants to be the next Mayor of Oakland, the Oakland Tribune reports.

Hodge is one of 13 candidates who filed nomination papers August 11 to succeed Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums -- who recently announced he would not be running for reelection -- in the Nov. 2 election. She said is unimpressed with the other candidates.

Hodge told the Oakland Tribune: “We need to usher in new faces, new ideas and people who are intrinsically concerned with the values of those who live in the city of Oakland.”

Last year, Hodge came under scrutiny for routinely using district credit cards for private expenses. She spent nearly $5,000 including a $600 she purchased in Las Vegas. Hodge later reimbursed the purchases when prompted to by district officials.

Photo Credit: Peralta Colleges.

Oakland mayoral candidates file, speak on proposed local currency

As Oakland mayoral hopefuls filed their nomination papers, the Oakland Community Action Network (Oakland C.A.N.) held a press conference August 11 for candidates to express support for a proposed local currency and present their platforms.

The proposed Alternative Currency for Oakland Residents and Neighbors, or ACORN – not to be confused with the now defunct human rights organization – would combine both a local debit card city ID card in order to promote the circulation of money in Oakland.

Half of the 13 candidates spoke at the press conference, in order of their arrival.

Greg Harland announced would not support a local currency. Instead, Harland favors improving parking and alleviating the fear of crime to bring in more shopping revenues to Oakland. Harland proposed increasing the Oakland Police Department to 1,050 officers, a proposal met with light jeering by the audience.

Joe Tuman stated he supported the concept of a local currency, but needed more details. He added, “I want to spend dollars in Oakland, especially in poorer parts of our city.” He called the current state of the city “unacceptable,” and said the widening gap between rich and poor “has to change.”

Don Mcleay, the Green Party’s candidate, supports the initiative hoping Oakland learns from other communities with local currencies and city ID’s.

“I think it will help our economy,” Mcleay said, “especially when we have a budget emergency and a worldwide financial crisis.”

Orlando Johnson, a member of Oakland CAN said he has long supported ACORN and organized for the local currency. Although citing his experience as a community organizer as his credentials, he announced he will be dropping out of the race. He will be supporting Mcleay.

“I don’t have what it takes to break the glass ceiling of the elitists and prejudice racist structure of Oakland,” Johnson said. “I look forward to the day when campaigns are not judged by how much money is raised, or by which developers support us.”

Councilwoman Jean Quan took a few jabs at former Don Perata for his efforts to stop Ranked Choice Voting and for spending most of his campaign war chest. She also criticized those who wanted to double campaign expense limits earlier this year.

“I’m not parachuting or using this position as a launching pad,” Quan said.” My family has been here 100 years. I want to be mayor of Oakland.” She cited her experience on the OUSD school board and efforts around community policing as her qualifications. After prodding by the moderator, she said had been working on ideas related to the municipal ID and “Buy Oakland” campaigns.

Terrence Candell stated he supported the local currency, and proposed that non-Oakland residents who work in the city pay a one per cent commuter tax. Candell also proposed a $100 million Mayor Summer Job’s Program in which workers get On-The-Job training in local small businesses. He also proposed longer hours for recreation centers, a roller skating rink and a bowling alley for youth. The proposals were met with cheers from children in the audience that attend his prepatory academy.

The final candidate to speak, Larry Lionel Young, Jr., stated he was reserving judgement on the local currency until he had more information. He supported Candell’s proposed commuter tax as well as increased funding for youth programs.

“I want Oakland to be the best place to live, work and vacation,” Young said.

Other mayoral candidates who have filed, but were not present are: Arnie Fields, Don Perata, Marcie Hodge, Niki Okuk, Rebecaa Kaplan,and Tim Brown.

For two years, a coalition of local organizations has been working on the ID/local currency card. So far, 29 organizations shave endorsed the City ID/Value Storage Card, according to Oakland C.A.N. The combination of a local currency on the ID card will defray implementation costs.

“This is about currency circulation,” said Wilson Riles, Jr., president of Oakland C.A.N. “This will be the first electronic local currency in the U.S.” Riles said ACORN will not solve all of Oakland’s problems, like poverty, institutionalized prejudice or past injustices, but it will contribute to the vision of Oakland as a model city.

Since many people who work in Oakland do not live in Oakland, after the employed leave work, they spend their dollars elsewhere, Riles said. The former city council man added that businesses fail to hire Oakland residents.

The card is supposed to benefit small businesses, as it can only be used in Oakland. Oakland residents will have an ID card combined with a debit card, while non-residents would be able to get the ACORN debit card.

Anyone who lives in Oakland would be eligible for the card, regardless of citizenship. In response to concerns about the card being used to invade people’s privacy, Riles said the ID card’s connection to the financial system requires more stringent privacy laws, and would not be applicable to Freedom of Information Act requests, for example.

There are over two dozen communities in the U.S. that have local currencies, Oakland C.A.N. said, over 60 at one time or another. In a press release, Oakland C.A.N. said, “During times of economic crisis, interest in local currencies increase because of their proven ability to relieve economic distress in a micro-economy.”

Three vendors have responded to the ID cards Request for Qualifications issued by the city in March. Riles expects that the council will select a vendor in September.

For more information about the ACORN currency and city ID, visit For more information about local currencies, visit the E.F. Schumacher Society at

Green Hip Hop FreshFest 2010 at Mosswood Park

Grind for the Green will host its annual Hip Hop concert at Mosswood Park on Saturday, August 14. Since moving to Oakland from San Francisco, the event is now the "Fresh Fest 2010."

The solar powered stage will be hosted by Boots (from the Coup) and feature performances by Erk tha Jerk, Do D.A.T., Nu Dekades and Holly Saucy.

Mosswood Park is located at Broadway and West MacArthur, and is accessible by AC Transit lines 40, 51A, 57 and is close to the MacArthur BART Station.

More info at

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