Oakland City Council Joins Fight Against Toxic Interest Rate Swaps

By Darwin Bond Graham

In 1997, the city of Oakland, California entered into an interest rate swap agreement with Goldman Sachs. The bank promised that the swap would provide savings and allow Oakland to better fund crucial services. But the swap became a toxic liability in 2008 when Wall Street’s greed crashed the economy and neither the bank nor the federal government helped the city unwind the deal.

Foreclosure Struggle Continues

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac demonstrations.   Courtesy of Causa Justa::Just Cause [2]

Campaign Wins Foreclosure Program in Oakland, Concessions in LA, Sets Sites on National Change

By Robbie Clarke

"I am taking an arrest to call attention to my demand for community control of housing,” says Nell Myhand. “As Ella Baker said about the courageous young people who sat in at lunch counters in the segregated South during the Civil Rights Movement to challenge unjust law, ‘it’s bigger than a hamburger.’” who went to jail fighting for their homes and for the homes of millions of other victims of the foreclosure crisis.

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Racialized Public Space

An Interview with Maya Wiley by Ron Shiffman

Maya Wiley is the founder and executive director of the Center for Social Inclusion. A civil rights attorney and policy advocate, Wiley was a senior advisor on race and poverty to the director of U.S. Programs of the Open Society Institute. She has worked for the American Civil Liberties Union National Legal Department, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Human Rights Watch, and the Council on Foreign Relations, among others. She currently serves on the Tides Network Board. Wiley was a contributing author to the National Urban League’s The State of Black America 2006. Ron Shiffman conducted this interview for publication in Beyond Zuccotti Park: Freedom of Assembly and the Occupation of Public Space, published by New Village Press. (See Research and Resources, page 87).Cover of Beyond Zuccotti Park, published by New Village Press. ©2012 New Village Press

 

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Advocates Compel Facebook to Like Affordable Housing

By Rene Ciria-Cruz

From left to right, Evelyn Stivers, Richard Marcantonio, Annie Loya, and Vu-Bang Nguyen at the BCLI Issues Advocates SpeakersFacebook’s decision last year to relocate its corporate headquarters from Palo Alto to Menlo Park gave social justice activists a welcome opportunity to challenge the affluent city’s long-standing neglect of affordable housing.

City officials were eager to accommodate the social networking behemoth because it promised jobs, prestige, and millions of dollars in capital projects and taxes to the city of 32,000. But affordable housing advocates said, “Not so fast!” Menlo Park many not proceed with new development initiatives until it had rectified years of violations around state housing laws. And city officials stopped and listened. What compelled them was the 2010 Superior Court decision in Urban Habitat et al., v. the City of Pleasanton et al. “We essentially shut down Pleasanton’s planning powers until they met their legally required obligation to plan for affordable housing,” explained Richard Marcantonio, managing attorney for Public Advocates who represented the affordable housing coalition that took Pleasanton to court. Now Marcantonio was poised to take on Menlo Park on behalf of a Silicon Valley-based coalition. Refusal to Permit Affordable Housing Challenged Like Pleasanton, Menlo Park at the eastern edge of San Mateo County has long been noncompliant with state housing laws.

All local governments have to zone for their share of regional housing needs at each income level. The requirement, known as the Housing Element in the local General Plan for development, is called for by the state’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA).

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Racial Equity: New Cornerstone of Transit Oriented Development

By Rebecca Saldaña and Margaret Wykowski

It’s just after dawn when Naravisaya “Al” Les flips on the lights at his restaurant. There’s a rhythm to his routine— the same one he watched his father play out 15 years ago. First, he kicks off his rain-soaked shoes on the front mat and walks across to the cash register. Next, he presses his palms down on the laminate counter and sighs deeply as he looks out at the cool grey Seattle morning before starting to count his cash.

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Who Plans Our Cities?

By Marcy Rein

Traditionally, residents of Richmond, California have had little voice in planning their city; the process being dominated by Chevron, real estate developers, and other corporations. But in the past six years, a community-based coalition—Richmond Equitable Development Initiative (REDI)—working with a constellation of community organizations and regional experts has successfully incorporated a solid set of community priorities into the new General Plan approved by the City Council in April 2012.

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Climate Transit Connection



Manuel Esteva is a San Franciso resident and mother of three; a child care worker, and a member of the community organization POWER. She joined POWER three years ago after hearing a presentation at her church. She was interviewed in the studio of Radio RP&E.

Clarke: Tell us why you are interested in climate change. Why does POWER connect transit and climate?
Esteva: (Tr.) The connection really started [with] the campaign for young people to be able to travel around the city without having to pay.
We started realizing that not only would this benefit youth, but we could also [help] the environment.

A lot more natural disasters are affecting people in cities, like the one that just hit New York. And this is caused by global warming. What cities like ours can do is take these small steps that, over time, can have a large impact on the climate.

San Francisco is a small city that can have a national and global impact. It’s a city that sees itself as a green city, always trying to make strides in terms of community health. We can serve as an example to other cities when we create policies that eliminate dependence on cars.  
We know that cars create 20-percent of the pollution in the city. When public transit is made accessible, people use it more. So we can achieve big things when we create [these] policies.

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