Tag Archives: Michael Lighty

Sean Sullivan: Standing against injustice in Oakland

18 Jan

This guest post was written by Sean Sullivan, an active Oakland resident who lives in the Clawson/Dogtown neighborhood where he is co-chair of his NCPC and represents the 3rd district on the Community Action Partnership and Community Development Block Grant board.  Sean was a director at Covenant House for over a decade and now works as an environmental health advocate.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

–        Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” 16 Apr. 1963

As we celebrate the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, we do so this year in full awareness that we have still yet to achieve true freedom and equality for all.   Right now we have both across the Bay and here in Oakland hearings and confirmations whose originations lie within the civil rights struggle.

Across the Bay in Federal Court, history is unfolding as Perry v. Schwarzenegger convenes discussing how Proposition 8 came to be passed and by it how gay and lesbian couples came to be shut out from equal protection promised in our state and federal constitution.

On this side of the Bay, the ramifications of the passage of Prop 8 are also still playing out in our beloved Paramount Theatre and may play itself out, not in the courthouse but in the city council chambers.  Before the council this Tuesday night, comes the nomination of Michael Lighty to the Port of Oakland Commission and Lorenzo Hoopes to the Paramount Board of Directors.

Mr. Lighty, a former Planning Commissioner sat with me and other Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Oaklanders following the passage of the discriminatory Proposition 8 that removed the right to marry from gay and lesbian couples. Our discussion was centered on how we could further demonstrate our leadership and visibility in the city of Oakland.  See, when more people know more Out Gay people, they are less likely to vote against lgbt rights and frankly, think there is anything wrong with lgbt individuals and families.  Indeed, we are the only minority group that needs to identify ourselves to be understood as a member of a minority group.

We believed strongly that members of the lgbt community who have so much to offer would be better served if members of our community held significant leadership positions in Oakland.  We also found it horrific that already appointed leaders of the community had played a leadership role in passing the discriminatory proposition.  The most prominent leader was Lorenzo Hoopes, a long-term servant of our city and the Paramount board, who was Oakland’s largest donor to Yes on 8 and fundraiser for the effort.

What these donations yielded and wrought are now being discussed in a San Francisco Federal Courtroom.  They include ads pitting gays against average families, old stereotypes of gays as pedophiles reinforced. These ads were funded by Mr. Hoopes’ contributions to Yes on 8.

Tomorrow, these issues converge in the appointments voted on by the city council.  As a response, fair-minded Oaklanders have created a movement to support the nomination of Mr. Lighty and ask for the rejection of Mr. Hoopes nomination.

This is not some kind of quota test.  Mr. Hoopes engaged in a campaign that is no less heinous than championing Jim Crow laws.  Had we now discovered he played a role in Japanese internment 60 years ago it wouldn’t take the Japanese American community to turn out and demand he not be appointed.  It simply would have never gotten to council.

However, discrimination against gays is still seen as an acceptable prejudice in California.  These current nominations are a test of whether it is still seen as an acceptable prejudice in Oakland.

To voice your opposition to the appointment of Lorenzo Hoopes, please join the Facebook group, “The Paramount-No Place for Homophobia” and/or come to the City Council meeting tomorrow evening at 7pm in City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

January 18-24 Oakland Political & Community Events

17 Jan

Monday, January 18th – Candlelight Vigil for Haiti Earthquake Victims

Congresswoman Barbara Lee in collaboration with the Haiti Action Committee will hold a candlelight vigil for Haiti earthquake victims. The vigil will be held, rain or shine, from 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm in the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building Courtyard, 1301 Clay Street. Please bring a candle.

Monday, January 18th – Martin Luther King Jr. Celebrations

There are several MLK Day celebrations happening throughout the city, too many to possibly list here. From service projects to concerts, there’s something for everyone. See Jean Quan’s thorough listing of MLK day events.

Tuesday, January 19th – Oakland City Council Meeting

It looks like it’s going to be another long and contentious Council meeting this weekend. Even the consent calendar has a contentious item about free parking for city employees, which several advocates plan to speak out against.  Then, Mayor Dellums, for the first time, will break a Council tie and appoint Michael Lighty to the Port Commission. Another mayoral appointment, to the Paramount Theater Board, will also be debated, as one of the proposed appointees, Lorenzo Hoopes, was a big donor and supporter of Prop 8. If the Council can make it past all of that, they’ll also be discussing a hiring freeze, appointing a Vice Mayor, the 2010 federal legislative agenda, a Measure Y report, and more. See the full meeting agenda and check out my post about how to watch and understand City Council meetings if you need some guidance on how or where to view the meeting. The non-ceremonial parts of the meeting start at 7pm in the Council Chambers in City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Wednesday, January 20th – Keep Barack Rollin’ Inauguration Anniversary Party

Last year’s Barack n’ Roll inaugural ball was such a success that East Bay Young Democrats decided to celebrate, again. Come join EBYD and our friends at Organizing For America to enjoy the beats of DJ Sake1 as we celebrate the one year since change happened– and what is still to come. $5-25 sliding scale, suggested donation; no one will be turned away for lack of funds. The party will take place from 7-10pm at Paradiso Lounge, 2272 Telegraph Avenue. Visit the Facebook event page for more info, to RSVP, and for public transit directions.

Wednesday, January 20th – Central Estuary Plan at Planning Commission

After months and months of public planning meetings, the Central Estuary Plan is making its way to the planning commission this week. It first went to the planning commission in December, but the commission asked for more information on economic assumptions and analysis to be brought back. The planning commission meeting will be held at 6pm in Hearing Room One, Oakland City Hall, One Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. For more information, read the staff report on this item.

Thursday, January 21st – Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee Meeting

Oakland’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meets monthly to discusses bicycle and pedestrian issues. This month’s agenda looks very exciting, including discussions of stops for the new downtown shuttle, Bike to Work Day, and the Alta Bates/Summit Hospital EIR. The BPAC is extremely inclusive – any Oakland resident who attends three consecutive meetings becomes a voting member of the committee – so if you’re interested in bike and ped issues, you should consider attending. The BPAC will be meeting from 5:30-7:30pm in Hearing Room 4 of City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Thursday, January 21st – Oakland Food Policy Council Meeting

The mission of the Oakland Food Policy Council (OFPC) is to establish an equitable and sustainable food system in Oakland, California. At OFPC’s first meeting of the year, they will set their course for the rest of the year. Each work gropu will give reports, there will be a discussion of the strategic planning process, and a guest presentation will be given on youth engagement. The meeting will be held from 5:00 – 7:30 pm at 150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, 4th Floor, Conference Room 1. Find out more about OFPC at their website and see the agenda here.

Thursday, January 21st – East Oakland Neighborhood BRT Meeting

Oakland is preparing its recommendation for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system running through the heart of the East Bay from San Leandro through Oakland to Berkeley. Throughout the month of January the city will be seeking the input of Oakland residents on what they want to see from the Bus Rapid Transit program and how they want this new service to run through their communities. This process will culminate in the submittal of Oakland’s Locally Preferred Alternative to AC Transit to be included in the range of options they consider when they build the BRT system. I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of Oakland’s plan at December’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meeting, and it’s pretty astounding, especially the significant pedestrian improvements. Tuesday’’s meeting is part of a series of seven meetings throughout Oakland, and I highly recommend attending at least one to see the plan for yourself and to ask questions.This meeting will be held from 6-8 PM at the East Oakland Youth Development Center, 8200 International Blvd. You can read more about the BRT proposal at dto510’s excellent post about this issue and at OaklandBRT.com.

Friday, January 22nd – State Controller John Chiang at Alameda County Budget Workgroup

State Controller John Chiang will be at the Alameda County Budget Workgroup meeting to discuss the state budget. The meeting will be held at 2:00 PM at the Alameda County Conference Center, 125 – 12th Street, 4th Floor. For more information, email caobudgetrsvp@acgov.org.

Sunday, January 24th – “Silence Please” at the Oakland Main Library

Via the library newsletter: “On Sunday, January 24, from 1 to 4 p.m., visitors to the Oakland History Room will be treated to an unusual art installation, called “Silence, Please.” And, no, it does not involve a shushing librarian. The Oakland History Room is on the 2nd floor of the Main Library, at 125 14th St. “Silence, Please” is a site-specific installation created by Chris Kubick for the Oakland Public Library. Drawing from time spent in locations around the city, Kubick has created a catalog of the names of “sounds which border on silence” – empty or unnoticed sounds which are often ignored or mistaken for silence. This catalog, written out on transparencies, attempts to represent peace, tranquility, and emptiness, but is inevitably a record of the disturbances and fantasies that interrupt the notion of silence. Visitors will be able to view and manipulate layers of these transparent silences on an array of light boxes in the Oakland History Room.”