Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Marvin X's Confidential Notes from BAMBD Planning Session and Council President Lynette McElhaney's Response

BAMBD News Update
confidential message
BAMBD planner Marvin X and Oakland City Council President,  Lynette McElhaney

Dr. Ayodele Nzinga, lead planner of the BAMBD, founder and director of the Lower Bottom Playaz, in residence at the Flight Deck Theatre, 1540 Broadway, downtown Oakland.

Maestro Marvin X, a founder of the National Black Arts Movement, chief planner of the BAMBD, Oakland CA. Maestro reads from his play Salaam, Huey, Salaam, about his last meeting with Black Panther co-founder Dr. Huey P. Newton in a West Oakland crack house. The play was performed coast to coast, from Oakland to Brooklyn at Sista's Place, Bed-Sty. It was also performed in Newark, NJ at the home of Amina and Amiri Baraka.
photo Alecia Mason

Oakland Post News Group Publisher, Paul Cobb, and Marvin X have been friends since childhood, growing up in West Oakland. Paul grew up on 7th and Pine, Marvin at 7th and Campbell. Marvin decries and mourns the fact that Paul Cobb knows more about his father than Marvin does. See Marvin's BAM classic Flowers for the Trashman. photo by Walter Riley, Esq.

BAMBD executive planners met this morning to work out the details on a comprehensive benefits package for a joint  meeting with the key developers in the BAMBD.  During the course of the meeting, chief architect, Dr. Ayodele Nzinga, attempted to retire from the project, just as her mentor Marvin X tried to do when he passed the baton to her. But BAMBD co-founder Paul Cobb and Marvin X rejected her proposal to step down. Marvin X found  the BAMBD task overwhelming and Dr. Nzinga came to the same conclusion after working with one developer on benefits for BAMBD. The task is immense due to the myriad forces at play, e.g., developers, lawyers, politicians, artists, planning commission, business persons, chamber of commerce and the people in general who are, like those mentioned above,  often opportunistic, greedy and self-serving. On her way to the meeting, Ayodele said a little voice told her to get back to her art which is theatre. As he has done many times after passing the baton to his star student, Marvin informed her this is the theatre of life. War is often called a theatre. And BAM philosopher-mystic Sun Ra said, "The Creator got things fixed: if you don't do the right thing, you can't go backward or forward, you just stuck on stupid." Paul encouraged Ayo to come forward and continue the mission we have started. He congratulated her of the progress she made and asked forgiveness for not being able to attend meetings with developers and other Oakland cultural district planners who are in a united front with severe reservations about those persons in cultural districts who think their plan should be a template for all other cultural districts, especially those representing cultural districts dominated by white supremacy hipsters such as the Uptown District.

We are so thankful to have Paul Cobb's political and activist wisdom to draw upon. Ayo offered to resign her post as the public face of BAMBD after Paul explained the need for a grand vision. "When we forced the City of Oakland to include the word Movement in the name, we were serious that BAMBD must be a social and cultural movement that represents the heart and soul of our people. And w are taking a stand for our equity in the City of Oakland. "

Cobb reminded us in the planning session this morning. "We must stake our claim to this turf and not be punked," he said, using street language he and Marvin X learned from growing up on 7th Street in West Oakland's cultural and economic district. He reminded Marvin that his father, Owendell Jackmon, was in a meeting at Paul's grand- father's house when West Oakland's North American Africans organized to prevent the destruction of our community when the Cypress freeway was planned circa 1954.As we know, the freeway collapsed during the last earthquake and is now Mandela Parkway.

At the Oakland City Council meeting tonight, Paul Cobb will address the Marijuana initiative that he demands must include equity for BAMBD, including a trust fund so we can at least have a 10% share in the economic benefits of the initiative so BAMBD and all Oakland's North American Africans can benefit, including all those persons convicted of drug crimes for selling marijuana. We need a trust fund that does not go into Oakland's General Fund but is reserved for BAMBD and related North American African cultural groups. If it takes $250,000 to open a Cannabis Club, we want a fund so our people can enjoy the economic benefits, rather than suffer jail time for selling cannabis after they buy it from legal clubs operated by white boys and girls. Yes, as we write, our brothers and sisters are still being jailed for buying legal cannibis from the white children at clubs.

Dr. Nzinga has requested letters of understanding from all non-profit groups seeking benefits from developers.We oppose benefits directed to City Hall as President of Oakland City Council, Lynette McElhaney has suggested. We reject the City of Oakland's decision to have benefits submitted as impact fees. We demand a seat on the planning commission so we can keep abreast of all planning requests submitted to the City of Oakland. We are thankful to have City of Oakland watchdog, Gene Hazzard, on our side. And we also list Donald Lacy of the Love Life Foundation as a key supporter. We informed him this afternoon that the BAMBD Newsletter shall include the official City of Oakland's motto: Love Life on the masthead of our newsletter The Movement.
Response from Oakland City Council President, Lynette McElhaney


I am saddened by your message and disappointed that you chose to provide misinformation to your readers rather than contact me or my staff directly to address your concerns.  Be that as it may,  here is a reminder of where we are on the process and timeline that I've presented to my Black Culture Keepers work group:

1) Budget. There is no established budget for the District.  Business Improvement Districts are funded by separate assessments that the property owners undertake voluntarily.  Cultural Districts do not yet have an identified source of funding.  My staff is researching concepts from around the country that we will share with the Black Culture Keepers group.  We anticipated coming back to the group in December with a report on what we've identified.  As of now there are no funding sources that are under Council control for any project and there is not one established for the BAMBD.

2) Banners. The banner implementation was directed to the City Administrator.  As you will note the Administration has not been able to advance all of the proposals adopted by the Council including the implementation of the Love Life theme.  The Council will request updates but this has not been prioritized over the time-sensitive work needed to get Renter Protection, Police Oversight and other measures before the voters.  My staff and I have also asked the City Administrator to provide guidance on a process that would allow the City to prioritize the selection of an Oakland artist for the design.  As we shared with the Black Culture Keepers, standard bidding procedures have often resulted in the lowest responsible bidder being someone who may not be from Oakland.  I will resume my efforts on getting this back in cue should I be fortunate to be re-elected.

3) Street Vendors. The street vendor proposal is included in the downtown specific planning process.  

In addition to the issues you cited, the Black Culture Keepers made two specific projects priority; namely the rehabilitation of the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Performing Arts ($5-$10 Million for full restoration and upgrade to the theater + upgrades to the residential units and offices) and the expansion of hours and programming at the African American Museum and Library.  Both of those efforts are underway and we've worked diligently to secure funding commitments from developers that are bringing projects to the corridor.  The Malonga artists are meeting regularly and I am delighted that they have secured technical assistance to fund their on-going participation in the rehabilitation efforts.

Lastly, we have made strong commitments to the businesses in the District to work with them to expand their participation in Visit Oakland and to assess additional supports for building improvements, loans and grants to support their businesses.  We're behind on bringing the businesses together but have had early meetings, particularly with the Black-owned tech businesses that are located in the District.

Be well, Lynette

Monday, November 7, 2016

Town Business: Judge Orders Council President McElhaney to Hand Over Records in Ethics Case

By Darwin BondGraham

  Lynette Gibson McElhaney.
  • Lynette Gibson McElhaney.
Superior Court Judge Kimberly Colwell issued a tentative ruling last Thursday requiring Oakland City Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney to comply with a subpoena for records issued by Oakland's Public Ethics Commission.

McElhaney can still object to Colwell's ruling, but Colwell wrote that under the Oakland City Charter the PEC has the authority to compel her to hand over records.

McElhaney is accused of using her council office to interfere with a townhouse project that was going to be built next to her personal home. An investigation by the Express last year uncovered emails showing that McElhaney had her chief of staff draft an appeal against the project, and that she enlisted the help of the city's planning and building director to force the developer and his architect to redesign the project. The developer ultimately gave up and blamed McElhaney for interfering.

The Alameda County Grand Jury carried out its own investigation over the past summer and confirmed that McElhaney violated ethics rules and had a conflict of interest.

In October, members of the public attempted to schedule a censure hearing against McElhaney — several times. But McElhaney cancelled two of the Rules Committee meetings at which the censure items were to be discussed. The council president also skipped council meetings. According to McElhaney, she was sick with bronchitis, but during the October 19 council meeting McElhaney was spotted attending a party held in honor of Barbara Lee. Members of the rules and legislation committee ultimately decided to hold off on censure and wait for the PEC to complete its review of the matter.

But on October 5, the Oakland Public Ethics Commission filed a lawsuit against McElhaney, alleging that she has ignored subpoenas for records and stonewalled their investigation.

Judge Colwell's tentative ruling sides with the PEC. A hearing in the case will be held on today. The ruling gives McElhaney until November 23 to comply with the PEC's subpoena.

McElhaney, a first-term councilmember, is running for reelection this year. She recently formed a “legal defense fund” according to records on file with the Oakland clerk.

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