Abel’s eNews: New money for libraries, homeless funding update, kudos for our schools

Voters Pass Measure to Fund Libraries
Measure D wins! Thank you to everyone who came out to vote for our Oakland Public Library! A special shout-out to all of the volunteers who campaigned to ensure the win. Thank you to my constituent Victoria Barbero, co-chair of Protect Oakland Libraries, and the entire team for your hard work and dedication!  

In Tuesday’s primary, Oakland voters approved Measure D by a 3-to-1 margin. Measure D will provide about $10 million annually for Oakland libraries for the next 20 years.

Students, young children and families across Oakland rely on their neighborhood library branches for after-school programs and reading programs. The new funding will help protect Oakland libraries, and allow them to stay open more days of the week and with extended hours.

Measure D funds can only be used for our libraries, and the measure includes tax exemptions for low-income seniors and very low-income households. Read more

Homelessness Funding: Update from Sacramento
I had a chance to talk with Gavin Newsom on Election Day, and I told him that Oakland needs more state funding to help meet our most pressing local issues of homelessness and the housing crisis. He said that will be his first priority if he is elected Governor this fall.

Many cities throughout California are hard-pressed to adequately address the homelessness crisis with local resources alone. Substantial state funding is desperately needed to bolster local services and programs for homeless residents.

With a nearly $9 billion budget surplus, Governor Brown and the Legislature have indicated a willingness to allocate one-time funding to help address homelessness. The mayors of California’s 11 largest cities – including Oakland – are pushing for a $1.5 billion proposal targeted at emergency responses that include funding for shelters, navigation centers and bridge housing. 

A $5 billion, four-year proposal has been introduced in the Senate that would allocate funds to homelessness and affordable-housing programs. The Governor’s May Revise Budget has also earmarked $250 million for local Homelessness Emergency Aid block grants.

The State Budget must be adopted by next Friday, June 15. The final negotiations on housing and homelessness funding proposals will take place between the Governor and legislative leadership over the next few days.

You can take action today to by urging Governor Brown and state legislators to allocate the maximum amount of funding for homelessness programs at the local level. Contact state leaders

Justice Jam: A Community Forum on Homelessness Strategies
Last week, I joined Pastors Jim Hopkins and Allison Tanner at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church for their “Justice Jam on Homelessness.” With more than a hundred residents participating, Pastor Robert Wilkins, Molly Turner (SPUR), Blase Bova (St. Vincent de Paul), Pastor Ken Chambers (West Side Missionary Baptist Church) and Elaine de Coligny (EveryOne Home) discussed a variety of topics related to the issue, including the root causes of homelessness and what the City and local partners are doing to address this growing problem through immediate, short-term programs and longer-term strategies.

Chambers also described the Tiny Homes Initiative to house homeless college students and encouraged other faith communities to participate in the project. 

The panelists urged the audience to help advocate for more state resources to fund affordable housing and wrap-around services.


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. 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

Saturday, June 9 | Meet and Greet Your Police Commissioners
1:00-2:30 pm | St. Elizabeth’s Elementary and Middle School, 1516 33 rd Ave.
Share your questions and concerns about the Oakland Police Department and the commission’s role in community oversight with members of the new police commission. Sponsored by the Coalition for Police Accountability. Spanish translation will be available. Light refreshments provided. RSVP For more info: Mariano Contreras, puralata1@gmail.com

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


Great Schools, Great Kids in District 2 | Edna Brewer, Cleveland Elementary, Bella Vista
Another District 2 school has received well-deserved recognition this spring: One of the most diverse schools in Oakland, Edna Brewer Middle School was voted “Best Public Middle School” in Oakland Magazine’s “Best of Oakland and the East Bay 2018.” Congrats to Principal Aubrey Layne and all the great teachers, staff, parents and students on this honor. Go Panthers!

Last month, Cleveland Elementary School was named a “California Distinguished School” – the only school in Oakland to receive this honor – an awesome accomplishment for Principal Peter Van Tassel, teachers, staff and students. Read more about what makes Cleveland Elementary great.

I also stopped by Bella Vista Elementary School to celebrate the work of Ryoko Tokuho and the bright 5th-grade students who dedicated themselves to the beautification project on Bella Vista’s staircases. The art and math symbols they painted memorialize the love for their school and teachers who have laid the foundation for their future success. These children, who are precious and full of potential, are why we do what we do – and I couldn’t be happier to have shared this moment with them. Thanks for the invite, Principal Linda Flynn, the teachers, staff and Andrew Park.


Snapshots of Diversity | First Friday in Oakland
Last Friday, I had the privilege of being invited to the Korean Culture Festival by my friends at KONO and the East Bay Korean-American Senior Services Center. It was great to see the participation of our Korean community across multiple generations to give us a glimpse of Korea’s rich 5,000-year-long traditions and history. 

Latinos Unidos at Oakland High School also invited me to their seniors’ graduation where we celebrated their rite of passage into adulthood. As they continue their journey to future accomplishments, I can’t help but feel hopeful about the future of our wonderful city and its young leaders. 

Events like these exemplify the rich diversity within Oakland that makes this a great place to live and the powerful inclusiveness that helps us grow stronger together. 


TechHire Oakland Connects Regional Companies to Local Talent
Launched three years ago to help close the talent gap in tech, Tech Hire Oakland has launched a new web resource – www.techhireoakland.org – to make its work accessible to a broad audience. The new site lists morethan 500 job postings at 80 regional companies as well as resources to help employers connect with and hire talent of color.

The goal of Tech Hire Oakland is to place 1,000 underrepresented Oakland residents in tech jobs by 2020. Oakland’s newest software-engineering education facility, the women-only Hackbright Academy, opens at OakStop this month. For more info: Tech Specialist Marisa Raya, mraya@oaklandnet.com