Abel’s eNews: In Support of Children at our Borders

In Support of Refugee Families at the Border - For Father’s Day weekend, I joined other elected officials from the Bay Area and around the state to denounce the Trump Administration’s disgraceful practice of separating young children from their families at the border and announce our support for Senator Feinstein’s Keep Families Together Act to halt this barbaric action. We must stop the inhumane, traumatizing separation of refugee children and demand healthy procedures for responding to families seeking asylum at our border.

Although President Trump is backing down from this practice (though exactly what his administration will do now is unclear), we will still likely need to mobilize against the consequences of Trump’s broader immigration strategies and this unconscionable, immoral and unAmerican behavior. Worse yet, the separation of asylum-seeking families does absolutely nothing to make our country safer and more secure. Using these children as political leverage to get billions of taxpayer dollars for a wasteful border wall is utterly beyond the pale of human decency.

Even without taking a position on “illegal” immigration, we should be offering them care – not callously locking them up in jails and detention camps.

On behalf of the City, Mayor Schaaf issued a letter of support for the Keeping Families Together Act, writing in part, “Such a ruthless, heartless, and ill-conceived change in policy is what one would expect from an authoritarian regime, not the nation that I love and respect. It does not reflect the sentiment of the people of this great land or the values of Oakland and for all which we stand.”

In Support of Refugee Families at the Border
For Father’s Day weekend, I joined other elected officials from the Bay Area and around the state to denounce the Trump Administration’s disgraceful practice of separating young children from their families at the border and announce our support for Senator Feinstein’s Keep Families Together Act to halt this barbaric action. We must stop the inhumane, traumatizing separation of refugee children and demand healthy procedures for responding to families seeking asylum at our border.

Although President Trump is backing down from this practice (though exactly what his administration will do now is unclear), we will still likely need to mobilize against the consequences of Trump’s broader immigration strategies and this unconscionable, immoral and unAmerican behavior. Worse yet, the separation of asylum-seeking families does absolutely nothing to make our country safer and more secure. Using these children as political leverage to get billions of taxpayer dollars for a wasteful border wall is utterly beyond the pale of human decency.

Even without taking a position on “illegal” immigration, we should be offering them care – not callously locking them up in jails and detention camps.

On behalf of the City, Mayor Schaaf issued a letter of support for the Keeping Families Together Act, writing in part, “Such a ruthless, heartless, and ill-conceived change in policy is what one would expect from an authoritarian regime, not the nation that I love and respect. It does not reflect the sentiment of the people of this great land or the values of Oakland and for all which we stand.”

Read the bill and sign the petition.

City Council unanimously passes mid-cycle budget adjustments
At its Tuesday meeting, the City Council unanimously approved a substantial package of mid-cycle adjustments to the FY 2017-19 biennial budget that I spearheaded to help address Oakland’s most pressing needs. These mid-cycle budget adjustments provide crucial funding to reduce homelessness, illegal dumping and sex trafficking and provide additional resources for job training, our parks, and healthy projects for our children and families.

HOMELESSNESS: With adoption of the amendments, the City allocated an additional $8.6 million in grants from the State’s latest revised budget to address Oakland’s homelessness crisis. The City will spend $1 million on immediate sanitation, health and hygiene services for unsheltered residents. The remaining $7.6 million will be used to implement the City’s comprehensive set of strategies to respond to Oakland’s homelessness crisis, including effective coordination of county, state and city investments that best leverage our resources at this critical time.

The Council also allocated $85,000 for a pilot workforce-development program to hire homeless residents to help green and clean the city.

ILLEGAL DUMPING: The Council approved more than $1.4 million to step up its efforts to stop illegal dumping and get trash off our streets. This total includes nearly $1 million to expand a proactive, zone-based pilot program to the most impacted neighborhoods, fund an additional four-person rapid-response crew and add two litter-enforcement crew members who will fine repeat offenders who deface Oakland’s communities.  

COMMUNITY WELLNESS: In the budget adjustment, the City will invest more than $4.4 million in playgrounds, pools and sports facilities in the most impacted neighborhoods, matching funds from Proposition 68 bond proceeds. 

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT: An additional $450,000 is being added to the budget to fund a comprehensive analysis of investments in Oakland's workforce-development programs and services including job training, job-preparation and placement-services programs. 

SEX TRAFFICKING: The budget adjustments direct $75,000 to address sex trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children, as a part of Measure Z spending plan for FY 2018-19. These efforts will include a diversion program to help trafficking victims, a “John School” program grant to reduce demand, and a prevention education program to serve Oakland Unified School District youth.

This has been one of my top priorities since I joined the Council, and funding these types of programs are essential in our fight to end this tragedy in our community.

I would like to thank my colleagues for unanimously supporting my amendments. I would also like to thank the East Oakland Congress of Neighborhoods, the Homeless Advocacy Working Group, Friends of the Oakland Animal Shelter, the Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax Community Advisory Board and all the advocates who came out to support our efforts during this budget process.

   

Street-Street Improvements for Trestle Glen
Public Works installed new stop signs and restriped the crosswalk to increase visibility at the Trestle Glen Rd. and Sunnyhills Rd. intersection this week. There is now a stop sign in each direction, creating an all-way stop. Several neighbors have requested these changes to improve pedestrian and neighborhood safety. Many children in the neighborhood cross this busy street as they head to and from Crocker Highlands Elementary School.

This is the latest street-safety improvement in District 2 neighborhoods. Other recent upgrades have included curb-and-gutter replacement in the Cleveland Heights neighborhood, improved sidewalks and crossing time at the crosswalks on Lakeshore Ave., and enhanced pedestrian-safety measures to make a safer route for kids to and from Garfield Elementary. 

State Emergency Funds to Help Cities Address Homelessness
Governor Brown and Legislature leaders reached a FY 2018–19 budget agreement that includes a one-time $500 million allocation to local governments for emergency aid for homelessness. The City of Oakland will receive $8.6 million this year, which the Council appropriated earlier this week.

The initial funding prioritizes immediate relief in the form of building shelters and expanding support services and emergency solutions to move people off the sidewalks and into services.

The funding for Homeless Emergency Aid Block Grants includes $250 million that can be accessed through the existing Continuum of Care process; $150 million in direct grants to cities with a population for more than 330,000 residents (which have the highest concentrations of the state’s homeless population); and $100 million allocated based on local homeless populations to the Continuum of Care.  

An additional $100 million will go toward existing state health, emergency and social-service programs that help homeless victims of domestic violence, the mentally ill and low-income senior citizens.

The final budget also includes action to place the No Place Like Home program (see SB 1206) on the November ballot to allow mental-health funds from Proposition 63 (2004) to be used to build 10,000 units of housing for mentally ill homeless residents.

Election Update: Measure for Childcare Funding Falls Short
Measure A narrowly missed the two-thirds vote required to pass, falling short by about 1,500 votes out of the 324,681 ballots cast (66.2%). The countywide measure would have helped provide a solution to our childcare crisis in Alameda County by improving access, quality, wages and oversight of our ailing childcare system.

Pediatricians tell us that 85% of a child’s brain development occurs by age 5. Children need quality childcare with trained, certified early educators to get a strong, healthy start in life. Yet 69% of working families can’t get access to that support. Read more

GET INVOLVED

Saturday, June 23 | Abel’s Office Hours at the Oakland LGBTQ Center
10:00 am-12:00 pm, 3207 Lakeshore Ave. (entrance on Rand Ave.)
I will be hosting my next community office hour at the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center this Saturday. The center’s founders, Joe Hawkins and Jeff Myers, will kick things off with a brief history and overview of the center’s services. I will then facilitate a town hall-style conversation, with a focus on Oakland’s LGBTQ community, followed by short, individual chats with constituents during the second hour.

Everybody is welcome, and those who identify as LGBTQ are especially encouraged to join us! RSVP and sign up for a 10-minute individual meeting: Pamela Erickson, perickson@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7023

Community Input on Infrastructure Funding | Meetings June 16-23
The City of Oakland is updating its process to identify and select capital projects for funding. Capital projects improve and maintain Oakland’s public facilities and infrastructure, and range from restoring aging fire stations to repaving broken streets to building new recreation centers.

In June, the City will host four community meetings for you to share your ideas to help build a process that produces an equitable and transparent Capital Improvement Program.

Information about the CIP, meeting schedule and details, and links to the CIP community survey (available in English, Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese) are online at www.oaklandca.gov/issues/capital-improvement-program.

CELEBRATE OAKLAND

Saturday, June 23 | World Refugee Day
9:30 am-2:00 pm | Think College Now, 2825 International Blvd.
“Lifting Our Stories, Reclaiming Our Humanity:” Join us for a powerful day of sharing stories and culture, and uniting our voices of hope. Free halal food, children’s activities, music, dance arts and crafts. We invite you to wear your traditional clothing and accessories. Hosted by the East Bay Refugee Forum. Transit access: Fruitvale BART station, AC Transit Lines 1, 40, 62.

Kudos for Grand Lake Theater
Assemblymember Rob Bonta has named the Grand Lake Theater as Small Business of the Year for Assembly District 18. The award recognizes this beautiful landmark’s interior and façade as well as the community contributions by Allen Michaan through “memorable messages of inclusion and hope on the marquee.”

The historic theater opened in 1926, and has been operated and lovingly renovated by Michaan since 1980. The sign atop the theatre is the largest rotary contact sign west of the Mississippi River. Congrats to Allen and the theater, our neighborhood treasure.

SERVICES IN THE CITY

Saturday, June 23 | Free Mattress Drop-off
9:00 am-3:00 pm | 8055 Collins Dr.
Drop off your used mattress and box springs (no futons or other bulky waste accepted). Help keep our streets clean and support the statewide effort to reduce mattresses in landfills. For more info: Beautification Council, 510-499-7379

Town Camp for Oakland Youth | Discounts Available Now
Registration Open: June 21-22, 11:00 am-3:00 pm | 250 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Suite 3330
Summer is right around the corner, but it’s not too late for your child to experience “Town Camp – An Oakland Youth Summer Experience,” which offers weekly programs running through August 3. 

The Oakland Parks, Recreation and Youth Development Department is offering a $20 discount on any Town Camp program.

Town Camp is a weekly theme-based summer program with curriculum designed to engage youth in activities to help them reach their highest potential. Community building and a fun reading-and-math morning program are followed by innovative themed activities and field trips. Check out “Summer at a Glance” for details about the weekly themes and field trips, and sign up at oaklandnet.com/parks.  

If you can’t attend the June 21-22 registration event, email parksandrec@oaklandnet.com to reserve your discount.