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As San Francisco Public Utilities Commission officials focus on developing a new property at Evans Avenue and Third Street in the Bayview, its facility at 1800 Oakdale Ave. sits in virtual suspense, putting in jeopardy the hard-won benefits intended to compensate for expanding sewage treatment facilities in the neighborhood since the 1970s. The handsome building at 1800 Oakdale, opened in 1987, exists only because community leaders demanded it be built in exchange for the community’s reluctant agreement to the City’s plan to treat 80 percent of San Francisco’s sewage in its Blackest neighborhood.
My 67-year-old friend is not violent, but California would beg to differ. At his sentencing, the judge told him, “You are a Vietnam trained killer,” and then sentenced him to 68 years to life. His crime? One day my friend broke into an unoccupied house. After he was caught and tried, he was convicted of burglary and sentenced under California’s Three-Strikes law. We call him Cadillac. He was really excited by the passage of Proposition 57 last November.
December is a big month for the jail fight. We have got to make our voices heard loud and clear: This jail is bad for our community and ill-informed policy. The mayor and his conservative allies on the Board of Supervisors are under pressure to push the jail plan through as soon as possible. They know we have been gaining strength, and that once January comes, with changes in the board composition, we will have the numbers to defeat this project. Let’s defeat it soundly.
The Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless has made good on its plan to help feed the homeless people it serves through an organic rooftop garden, involving bees and a rainwater collection system. The garden is so successful an expansion is planned. Residents at the shelter, located in downtown Atlanta’s Peachtree and Pine Streets, will gain real life work skills removing the old roof and laying the new roof.
Following a mass hunger strike by prisoners in California last year, some state legislators promised to reform the use of Security Housing Units (SHU). This week, Assembly Bill 1652, passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee. It now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. If the bill becomes law, prisoners would only be sent to SHU for specific serious rules violations that come with determinate SHU sentences.
Unemployment in the African-American community is double and in some places triple the national average. You know it doesn’t have to be that way.
The MAGIC Back-to-School Celebration and Backpack Giveaway, the largest of its kind in San Francisco, will kick off the academic year by distributing 5,000 new backpacks stuffed with school supplies to kids and teens tomorrow, Aug. 22, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at two locations: Bayview Opera House, 4705 Third St., and the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center, 1050 McAllister St.
As an African-American farmer, I am calling on the first African-American president of the United States to lead us quickly away from this deepening crisis. Demand, President Obama, that Congress and your own administration begin without delay the process of reforming our farm and food policies. Start now by correcting the omission in your economic stimulus and recovery act that prevented significant spending on creating new and sustainable jobs for the poor in our urban centers as well as rural farm communities.
My call last month for an end to the lockout of Blacks from construction is catching fire. This month, let's get some work! Everyone who wants to work construction, pack the BART board meeting Thursday, Jan. 8, 9 a.m., Kaiser Center, Third Floor, 344 20th St., Oakland. Dr. King taught us, "Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability but comes through continuous struggle."