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Staff Editorial | Mayor Libby Schaaf, reorganization of job programs and further displacement of residents

(Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) Mayor Libby Schaff's recent actions around job programs have have been controversial.
(Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) Mayor Libby Schaff’s recent actions around job programs have been controversial.

Over the past few weeks there has been an uproar over Mayor Libby Schaaf’s recent actions, particularly towards her reorganization of Oakland’s job programs. According to an article from the Oakland Post, many people came to protest her Request for Proposal (RFP) about the reorganization at the city council meeting on Feb. 9, stating that there was no public input to this matter.

At the meeting, it was discussed that funding for those job programs have been cut, effective July 1 of this year, closing several neighborhood career centers in East and West Oakland in the process. At the same time, no one at the meeting was told which programs’ funding would be cut or what the programs were entirely. According to the Oakland Post, the proposal passed without a single vote from the Workforce Investment Board (WIB), an official policy body appointed by Schaaf.

According to the Oakland Workforce Investment Board’s (WIB) website, the city of Oakland has several workforce programs with the Workforce Investment Board that are delivered by the One Stop Career Centers in East and West Oakland

What does The Campanil think about all of this?

For starters, we share the sentiments of our fellow citizens concerning the lack of transparency between Schaaf and the Oakland community. The fact that this Request for Proposal (RFP) appeared without warning and community input is quite disturbing to us. This makes us question how Oakland’s city government really works.

Also, there are no clear meeting notes on the Community and Economic Development (CED) website about the proposal or even a history about it, which is troublesome. There is no paper trail, making anyone’s search for answers about this matter more difficult.

We also recognize Schaaf’s rocky relationship with the Oakland community, i.e. her first day in office, from Mills students protesting her appearance as commencement speaker at our 2015 commencement to her ban on nighttime protests after last year’s #SayHerName march, even down to the #ReclaimMLK protest at her doorstep in January.

What Schaaf has brought to the table as mayor implies her lack of care for the community that she grew up in. Instead, all we see is Schaaf making Oakland a “profitable” place to live, even down to supporting Uber’s decision to build headquarters here. As we have stated before, Oakland has a beautifully rooted past based on diversity and activism (i.e. people of color in the workforce during WWII and the Black Panthers).

All we have seen — even before Schaaf’s term in office — is the further gentrification and displacement of Oakland, its residents and its history. Cutting these programs will continue the displacement of residents (particularly those of color and formerly incarcerated), disturbing their daily lives and moving them all around the East Bay.

As community members and journalists, we have a right to know what is happening where we are living, working and attaining our education. Schaaf’s choice to reorganize job programs implies a lack of transparency between us and her. What Schaaf really needs to do is truly build a relationship with the Oakland community instead of breaking it apart with decisions like these.