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Addressing ‘a never-ending flow of potholes that sort of keep reappearing’ on Oakland’s streets

Driving in Oakland can sometimes feel like a video game, swerving around potholes to avoid a flat tire or damage to the undercarriage of your car. Potholes have become one of the few apolitical issues that everyone, besides maybe the tire repair shop, can get behind.  “Potholes are an unnecessary added stress,” says Oakland resident Logan Marshall. Some are so deep, you can instantly pop a tire driving over them, he added.   According to a 2019 Metropolitan Transportation Commission…

‘They did what we expected them to do, though it was hurtful’: OUSD board rejects community attempt to save schools

After five months of heated meetings, tensions boiled over Wednesday as the Oakland Unified School board voted decisively against a resolution brought by the community to reverse the scheduled closures of seven schools.  Board President Gary Yee moved the meeting online after several community members protesting the vote approached the board’s table, a metal chair crashing to the floor as people in the audience moved. Security guards stepped in to maintain order.  “I think that they knew that the vote…

Can California forgive OUSD’s debt?

For nearly 20 years, the Oakland Unified School District has paid the consequences of relying on the state to bail it out of financial trouble.  During that time, it has slashed the budget, cut salaries, laid off staff and closed schools, as it tries to repay a $100 million emergency loan it borrowed in 2003, when the district fell under state receivership. And the cuts keep coming  — with 11 schools set to close, merge or downsize in the next…

Once a last resort, hunger strikes now used to pressure local officials in Oakland

Hunger striking may be most well known as a political tool used by suffragettes and Irish prisoners, which is why it caught some off-guard recently to see it being used in Oakland to influence a school board decision. Two Oakland Unified School District employees launched a hunger strike in response to proposed school closures in January, signaling that the once drastic measure may change the way communities protest local issues. “Oakland Unified now faces the prospect of many future hunger…

East Oakland foundry pollution spurs two lawsuits to protect community

The state of California and an Oakland-based environmental group are suing the pipe casting facility AB&I Foundry for reportedly emitting excessive levels of a carcinogenic chemical into East Oakland’s air.  Both lawsuits, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, accuse the foundry of violating California’s Proposition 65 — a law requiring businesses to warn people about significant exposures to harmful chemicals. The state’s lawsuit, filed by Attorney General Rob Bonta on Feb. 15, states that McWane Inc. operating as AB&I Foundry,…

OUSD board refuses to postpone school closings, prompting more to join hunger strike

Even after students threatened to join a hunger strike and community members promised backlash, the Oakland Unified School District board voted to proceed with the plan to close seven schools during an emergency meeting Friday night.  “This isn’t going to stop anything, this is the start of it,” said school director Mike Hutchinson, after a motion to postpone the closures for one year failed. “I warned you.” Under the plan, Community Day School and Parker K-8 will close at the…

More police patrols for East Oakland after homicides spike

This month, the Oakland Police Department will shift 48 officers to East Oakland and implement a new patrol plan in a section of the city that has been hit hardest by a sharp increase in violent crime. In a year-end news release, the department reported that it investigated 134 homicides in 2021, the most since 2012. Homicides were up 30% from 2020 and shootings were up 21%. “Many of the homicides and shootings involved gang and group members and conflicts,”…

‘A school library is so important’: Community effort to reopen and staff more OUSD libraries

Every day Samantha Solomon opens the Calvin Simmons Library to students at United Success Academy and Life Academy in Oakland. She greets each child by name as they file in during their lunch breaks to read, play games, do homework or converse with each other.  The library serves both schools, which share a building, and Solomon has been its teacher librarian since it reopened five years ago, after nine years of being closed.  “A special thing about libraries is that…