Tag Archives: Sean Sullivan

Exciting news & Sierra Club City Council candidate forum

6 Jul

Last night my wife was cleaning out some boxes that we hadn’t looked through in years, and she found a box that was full of a bunch of papers from my high school years, including some sweet hand written letters from friends and my sisters. In this box I found several drafts of the personal statement I submitted to get into UC Berkeley, full of hand written notes (no tracked changes) from my mom and dad. Reading my personal statement made me realize that though I have changed quite a bit since my senior year in high school, my values were very similar. (My writing issues apparently haven’t changed much either – my dad’s notes on one draft say “too many commas” and “too many transition words”.)  Here’s one paragraph from a draft of the statement:

Once issue that I have felt strongly about since childhood is ecology. In elementary school, our classes held an annual fund-raiser to buy and preserve several acres of the rain forest. I also participated in my school’s ecology club during eighth and ninth grade. Each year we organized an ecology fair and disseminated information covering issues ranging from vegetarianism to fuel conservation. We also instituted a recycling program, which the school still uses.

Being a longtime environmentalist, I was so excited this week to receive the news that the Sierra Club had endorsed my candidacy for BART Board. The decisions made in the next decade at BART are crucial not just for BART, but also for the Bay Area’s environment for decades to come. I’m just as eager as I was in elementary school to address the environmental challenges we face.

The City of Oakland also faces a myriad of environmental challenges, and next year we will have at least two new city councilmembers to address these issues. The Sierra Club and the Oakland Climate Action Coalition (OCAC) recognize the importance of the open seat races in districts 1 and 3 so they’re holding a forum on Monday featuring nearly all of the candidates running for these seats (a few couldn’t make it). From the Facebook event description: Continue reading

Sean Sullivan: Winter is Optional

17 Feb

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 Neighborhood Association 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.

As I look to my friends digging themselves out around the country, I marvel at how lucky I am to live in Oakland with its 60 degree weather and mostly sunshine. However for all of it’s pluses, we all know Oakland has it’s challenges. Continue reading

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.

Vote for Oakland artists, businesses, and more in the East Bay Express Best of the East Bay Awards

14 Jun

I’m a bit late on this, but voting is still open for the East Bay Express 2009 Best of the East Bay awards. Last year, I urged readers to vote for V Smoothe at A Better Oakland for best local blogger, and she won! This year, you can once again vote for your favorite Oakland blogger and can vote for your favorite Oakland businesses, artists, musicians, and more. There are 136 categories in all and you have to to vote for at least 26 categories, but this shouldn’t take more than 10 or 15 minutes.

This year, I have a couple of recommendations. For best band, I enthusiastically voted for Damon and the Heathens, who I’ve written about here a couple times. They describe themselves as:

a six-piece punk soul band from Oakland, California. We combine the sounds of New Orleans brass bands with Detroit garage rock, blues, jazz, and funk to create a sound best described as horn-fueled Oakland grit. Known for a raucous live show and a tight sound, the only thing holding us back now is our bar tab.

They’re an incredibly fun ban to see live, and their lyrics often talk about life in Oakland, specifically Ghost Town.

Sean Sullivan at Join the ImpactFor rising political figure, I voted for Sean Sullivan, who ran for Oakland City Council last year. Sean lost that race but that has not stopped his involvement in Oakland community and politics. He is co-chair of his NCPC and represents the 3rd district on the Community Action Partnership and Community Development Block Grant board.  Sean recently wrote a guest post here about the need to think carefully about cuts to libraries, in order to protect libraries and services that are most needed by the community. He also helped with the fight to stop the surface parking lot in Uptown Oakland. Sean is dedicated to marriage equality and gave a moving speech about this movement at the Join the Impact rally last year, after the passage of Prop 8. Sean is already a prominent community leader in Oakland, and I look forward to the day that he further serves Oakland as a City Councilmember.

So go vote, now, because voting ends on Tuesday, June 16th.

Sean Sullivan: A Scalpel, not a Chainsaw

1 Jun

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, is now involved in the fight for marriage equality and does nonprofit consulting.

Our City Council is in the midst of reviewing the awful budget they have to deal with and start deciding on some of the cuts they must implement. Once again we will hear ad nauseum about how we will “all have to share the pain.”   With such a limited general fund, those items on the chopping block are easily predictable.  Something will have to be done, everyone, meaning every department, will have to feel some pain.  That does not mean however that all budgets and departments have to feel the same amount of pain.  Twenty percent across the board to some departments is manageable while to others it is a body blow and still to others it would decimate any practical impact they could have whatsoever. There are times when this equalizing practice actually hurts the city as a whole.  Times like the one we are in now magnify that even more so. Such is the case with our libraries.

The current plan is to take an across the board cut to all our libraries in cutting hours and services and also close our libraries on the weekends.  This might seem fair but is actually an unfortunate presentation of reality. Going about cutting in this matter actually belies a lot of the problems with our city.  Decisions are made, services are cut or in the past enhanced based on the suggested merit of spreading all resources fairly.

The Lakeview Library has one of the highest circulation and usage rates in our city.  Closing this Library and making it share services with the Golden Gate Library, another highly utilized branch, makes little sense.   Meanwhile, the Temescal Library is underutilized. Yes, its Tool Lending Library is popular, but there is no reason that needs to be site specific.  I am sure it would be popular in our West Oakland branch if we could find the space for it. Combining the Lakeview Library and Golden Gate Library to one rotation schedule, as is currently proposed, and not closing libraries that are closer to other branches makes little sense.

Also not making any sense is closing the libraries on the weekend.  Now I admit, I don’t have the complete data set in my arsenal but I do think that keeping branches open on Sunday would be a great idea even if this means closing them mid week.  I imagine that weekends are a most ideal time for parents to bring their children to the library whereas mid-week this becomes a challenge.  I am a strong believer that the schedules of our city services need be tailored around when our citizen-taxpayer can utilize them the easiest.  Certainly not every parent maintains a 9-5 work schedule but I would say a fair amount have more time on Saturdays and Sundays to take their children to the library.  The Library however, is not just a youth serving venture and in that is a great equalizer in terms of results for our tax investment.  Many adults utilize the library and for many working adults, the weekend is the time to go. The fact that Library closure times for all but two days is 5:30 makes little sense.  If you are going to close the libraries on more days at least make their hours extend more fully into night when working adults and families have better opportunities to utilize them.

So I hope it is understood here that I am not just criticizing but providing areas for cutting or just wholesaling closing branches that are underutilized.  While I am at it, I do hope the council revisits its decision in early 2007 to increase the staff over at the Mayor’s office.  Nothing personal folks but when even the mayor’s biggest defender in the media says the staff in that office don’t work, well, it isn’t such a great leap to make.  After all, we all have to share the pain, right?

It is understandable that all city services get a review. In this review and especially so around our library, I hope our council heeds the words of our great President Obama and approaches these matters “with a scalpel not a chainsaw”.

Pre-Valentine’s Day Parties

10 Feb

This week, there are a couple of pre-Valentine’s Day parties that would be great places to take your Valentine or to meet someone new.

On Thursday night, have a few drinks, meet politically engaged Oaklanders, and learn about marriage equality at Mix It Up East Bay. If you haven’t been to this monthly mixer, this is the month to check it. Reps from several Bay Area advocacy groups working on marriage equality will speak about the fight and tell you how you can get involved. Sean Sullivan, who ran for Oakland City Council, will be one of the speakers, representing Equality California.

Remember that Mix It Up has a new location, Shashamane on Broadway at 29th. The first Mix It Up of 2009 was held there, and the space worked perfectly. Drinks are nearly half the price of what they cost at Arsimona, Mix It Up’s previous location, and there aren’t TVs blaring in the background so you’ll actually be able to hear the speakers. You can find out all the details at the East Bay Young Dems’ new blog.

On Friday, take your Valentine to Cafe Van Kleef to celebrate Friday the 13th with Damon and the Heathens, who have a standing show there every Friday the 13th. Damon and the Heathens describe themselves as:

a six-piece punk soul band from Oakland, California. We combine the sounds of New Orleans brass bands with Detroit garage rock, blues, jazz, and funk to create a sound best described as horn-fueled Oakland grit. Known for a raucous live show and a tight sound, the only thing holding us back now is our bar tab.

I talked to Damon last night and he told me that their Friday the 13th shows were his favorites so expect high energy, incredible music, and the urge to get up and dance overtaking you.

An easy way to get involved with the California Democratic Party

7 Jan

UPDATE: Here are the results for the 16th AD election. Thanks to everyone who came out to vote!


Abel Guillen
Joel Freid
Wayne Nishioka (i)
Mark Briggs (i)
Dan Rush
Jakadi Imani


Sumi Marie Paranjape
Ronnie Caplane
Frieda Edgette
Alice Fried
Esperanza Tervalon-Daumont
Tara Marchant (i)

Cal. Dem. Party E-Board Rep.:
Mark Briggs (i)

(i) = incumbent

You may not have heard, but this Saturday, there’s a very important election being held. I know, you voted three times last year and were hoping for a bit of a break, but this election’s a bit different than the primaries and general election held last year. This is an election that could come down to just a few votes, and one of those votes could be yours.

What is this election? It’s the election for delegates to the California Democratic Party (CDP). Even if you’re not a hard core Democratic activist, as long as you’re a registered Democrat, I strongly recommend attending and making your voice heard. Though these elections are generally sparsely attended (relative to other elections), they’re extremely important. The delegates that are elected this Saturday will be voting on new party leadership, including a new Chair of the CDP. Delegates also vote on endorsements for ballot initiatives and candidates for state office.

All you have to do is arrive at Alameda Hospital on Saturday between noon and 2:00 to cast a vote. You can then leave immediately or wait around to hear the results. That’s it. It will take a couple hours of your time, and you’ll get to ride the bus through Oakland and see areas you probably often don’t visit.

If you’re still not convinced that this is the best way to spend your Saturday afternoon, let me tell you a little story about the importance and power of CDP delegates. Last year, at the CDP convention, there was a high profile fight between Senator Carole Migden and Assemblymember Mark Leno to get the CDP endorsement. Leno was doing what is seldom done – challenging a fellow Democratic incumbent for her Senate seat (he was termed out of the Assembly). Well, Migden won the endorsement vote among the delegates from her Senate district, but then Leno’s supporters went around the convention that evening and collected enough signatures (actually, double the amount they needed) to challenge Migden to a full convention vote among all CDP delegates. In the full convention vote, Migden did not receive enough votes to get the endorsement. Neither did Leno, which meant the Democratic Party did not endorse either candidate.

I believe that this vote sealed the deal for Leno. Though there’s a good chance he would have won against Migden anyway, without the official support of the CDP, there was no way for Migden to win. This is just one of many stories that demonstrate how important the delegate positions are and why it’s so important for the 16th Assembly district to elect delegates that support our values.

I hope you’ll join me on Saturday to vote and will support the following four candidates (you can vote for up to six women and six men):

  • Abel Guillen: Over the last two years, Abel has served as a Trustee for the Peralta Community College District. During this time it has become clear to him that we need to have a unified progressive voice that is grounded in the realities of working men, women, students and senior citizens. He is running for this position because he believes he can help champion these causes and continue to be an advocate for education.
  • Frieda Edgette: As President to East Bay Young Dems and a health policy strategist to more than 100 worker health campaigns, Frieda has diverse experience in local politics and strategic organizing skills that she will leverage to build a more inclusive and cohesive CDP. If elected, she will ensure that the CDP takes a committed and proactive approach to California’s progressive “bread ‘n butter” issues, such as restoring the Golden State’s promise for equitably funded education, clean energy alternatives, single payer healthcare, and marriage equality.
  • Richard Fuentes: As a Gay Progressive Latino, Richard is committed to ensuring that all those who cannot speak are given a voice to speak for them.  With more than 5 years of public service, advocate, volunteer, PTA member, School Site Council member, Neighborhood Association member, and loyal Democrat he stands steadfast to assure our democratic values and interest are the focus of our progressive agenda.
  • Sean Sullivan: As an LGBT Leader, Prop. 8’s passage, Sean is running to ensure our State Democratic Party leads in the fight to overturn this injustice. As former executive staff with Covenant House, he has advocated and will continue to stand for the homeless, youth, those disenfranchised and living at the margins.  During this difficult time our party must have more than a focus not on simply getting through but by building a sustainable state through transit oriented growth, green sector employment development, single earner jobs  and world class education.

If you want to meet many of the delegate candidates, stop by Mix It Up East Bay tomorrow (Thursday) night at its new location, Shashame on Broadway. Check the events page for details.

I hope to see you on Saturday:

When: Saturday, January 10th, 2009 from 12:00-2:00 pm
Where: Alameda Hospital – 2nd Floor, Meeting Room A, 2070 Clinton Avenue, Alameda, CA
More Info: http://www.cadem.org
Accessible by AC Transit lines 51, 50, and 63.