"For me, the most important lesson
[of the Freedom Movement] is that by respecting the fact that fellow activists could passionately disagree over strategy and tactics—yet remain allies—they strengthened SNCC and the Movement as a whole."
From Bruce Hartford's article in the current issue of Urban Habitat.
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Occupy Oakland and the Port of Oakland

After watching USA Today news videos of the Occupy Oakland Movement, I am disappointed that the "message" I get from these videos is:  Shut down the Port "to shut down capitalism!" ?????????????????

I would think the better message would be

Shut the port until the port pays its fair share of taxes to the city of Oakland; mitigate it's pollution footprint; and stop making real estate deals that harm the public good

Read an excellent analysis of all the issues surrounding the Port of Oakland by Urban Habitat
Dawn Phillips, organizer for Just Cause Oakland, points out that the Port isn’t looking out for the interests of Oakland residents. “The Port represents one of the less accessible and less accountable institutions, even by the generally low standards of Oakland government.” All too often, Port developments lead to “a net loss of jobs, a net loss of small, local, people of color–owned businesses in Oakland.”
Urban Strategies’ Smith point out that, “There [are] several hundred million dollars in reserve accounts over at the Port. And if we’re… looking at a revenue shortfall in the city of around $30 million… we need to think about getting the Port to give the money to the city to solve that problem.”

Ports around the country have varied relationships to their cities. Some, like Oakland, are semi-autonomous; others pay city taxes. Given Oakland’s current budget problems, there is no reason why old laws cannot be changed, say Oakland community activists. The Port, after all, is located on public land, and the pollution it creates is a public hazard. The community would like to see the Port be more of a city asset and less of a private business.

“[The Port] isn’t a business, it’s a public agency,” says Smith of Urban Strategies. “When someone in city [government] says, ‘Boy we’d really like to access some of that money to fix the fiscal crisis but there’s nothing we can do,’ they are wrong. There is something they can do. They can change the charter. And they can enter into agreements with the Port.”
Just Cause’s Phillips says, “The City Council and the Mayor lack the political will to take the Port on.   It will take community, labor, and neighborhood residents organizing vocal and strong challenges: demonstrations, media work, and legal suits. This isn’t an institution that is going to go quietly.”

1 comment:

Laarni said...

The message you suggested is a very good one. I only found out now that Oakland does not generate any revenue from the Port. With the port's environmental impact such as "truck pollution" I would have expected the Sierra Club or local environmental organizations to be all over this. Why hasn't attention been called to this issue before? and WHY is the city still not doing anything about it? I do agree that 'the city council and mayor lack the political will' or back bone to make the Port pay up. It's not like they can pack up and move else where (like Twitter in SF, it was granted tax breaks).

Here's another great article:

On Dec. 12 there is a planned occupation of ports in CA (LA, Long Beach etc)

In Oakland, "the blockade will begin with a 3 p.m. rally at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, followed by a 4 p.m. march to the Port of Oakland, Peller said. A separate group will gather at the West Oakland BART station at 5 p.m. before marching on the port"

The Port of Oakland wants "people to understand the impact on working people and our ability to create jobs," he said. "The port is where the 99 percent work."

A reference can be made to the civil rights movement when a member of the Occupy Oak. movement said that everyone has to make a sacrifice. But can people afford to not work?