It was the final meeting before the council adjourned for its summer break. The agenda was packed, and so was the room as representatives came out to support or oppose two particular items on the agenda: Mayor Jean Quan’s proposed appointees for the Board of Port Commissioners, and a Bus Rapid Transit project that would extend 10 miles from San Leandro to Oakland and improve traffic conditions that will result in less wait time and more efficient passenger service throughout the area.

Quan has asked the council to confirm the reappointment of James Head and the appointment of Bryan Parker and Cestra “Ces” Butner to the board.

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For years, West Oakland residents have pushed government officials to do something about air quality in their neighborhood, which is sandwiched between three major highways and the Port of Oakland, and dotted with industrial sites. In particular, locals have pointed to the estimated 2,000 diesel trucks that drive in and out of the port several times each day. Diesel exhaust has been linked to increased cancer rates, premature deaths and respiratory illness, including asthma, among West Oakland residents.

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Jakada Imani has had to battle his entire life. As a child, he said, he was diagnosed with dyslexia, lived in a home with parents addicted to drugs, and was homeless for a brief period of time. He fought the odds to become a well-respected community leader, and strived to find ways to protect the rights of the disenfranchised. He said that was why he wanted to be a port commissioner – to fight for the people of West Oakland.

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Circled by three freeways, scattered with industrial factories and a stone’s throw from one of the largest ports in the United States, West Oakland has a high pollution rate. That’s why this neighborhood has become the centerpiece of a new partnership between a local environmental justice group and a high-tech research company to develop a cell phone that can measure pollution.

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After listening to more than a dozen passionate speakers, Oakland Port Commissioners last night approved a ban next year on trucks that don’t comply with new clean air standards. The ban on polluting trucks, goes into effect Jan. 1, will require seaport facility operators to deny entry to trucks with engine model years earlier than…

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