City Documents Bolstering Save Pete’s Harbor Obtained
SPH Says: “Start Over with the Community”
REDWOOD CITY - Save Pete’s Harbor (SPH) members and their supporters have obtained documents from the City of Redwood City that show quite clearly that the City is well aware that former Colorado State Senator Paul Powers (R) has amended his planned development permit for the historic Pete’s Harbor area. As stated by the city’s planning manager Blake Lyon at the October 30, 2012, Planning Commission meeting where the proposal was approved, any significant amendments to the development proposal would require that the entire process be scrapped and then restarted.
A March 4, 2013 e-mail from city manager Bob Bell to the City Council indicates clearly that “Paul Powers has amended his project.” This document is of critical importance to SPH because it acknowledges what SPH has maintained all along: that a plan to keep a commercial marina at the outer portion of Pete’s Harbor would constitute a major change to the original development proposal, where the original intent was to shut down the commercial marina permanently and to privatize publicly owned waters and the boat slips on them for the exclusive use of the planned development’s future residents.
(NB Dock, Pete’s Harbor, 31 January 2013)
Since Paul Powers communicated to the California State Lands Commission (SLC) on February 19 that he intends to have a commercial marina be part of his development, SPH has maintained that the planned development approval process with the City of Redwood City needs to start over. Amending his plan to include a commercial marina with far more public access needs constitutes a significant, major change to Powers’ development proposal. Mr. Bell admits as much himself in the March 4 communication, saying he will write to the SLC about ”the importance of interconnectivity of the marina and land side.”
Any truly viable commercial marina in Smith Slough at the site of the outer portion of Pete’s Harbor requires more shoreside amenities than the Pauls Corporation’s original proposal to privatize the docks acknowledges. Amenities that a viable commercial marina would need include but are not limited to closer parking and more parking spaces, loading and unloading zones, pathways that provide access not just to people but to rolling dock carts, an eatery and/or a vending machine location, and proper trash and recycling facilities.
However, to this date it is clear that neither the City nor Paul Powers has done enough to address the needs that a commercial marina would have. Other communications obtained from between Paul Powers and the City show that the City is willing to overlook the parking requirements the development plan would need to be compatible with a truly viable commercial marina.
For these reasons, SPH strongly asserts that changing course and expressing an intent to develop a commercial marina instead of privatizing publicly owned submerged lands is a significant amendment to the development proposal. SPH declares that the only responsible thing for the City of Redwood City to do is to stay the process and rescind the planned development permit that was issued so that the Pauls Corporation may start the development process over.
Another internal City communication, sent the day before the City announced a postponement of SPH’s appeal hearing, makes it clear that the city has known for some time that changes have been in the works for the proposed development and that the planned development permit isn’t likely to avoid a significant amendment.
James Lee, Secretary for SPH, said, “With this new information coming to light, many SPH members and supporters are now more concerned than ever about the city’s behavior. These internal communications show that the city is eschewing its leadership role and putting the Redwood City community through unnecessary division and turmoil by letting this drama play out when they know full well that they will have to go back to square one once someone notices.
“The City is going to try as hard as they can to justify pushing this development through even though there are clearly a lot of changes to the development plan that need to be made. What I am hearing in the community is that many who are following this issue are now concerned that the City Council will try to use the appeal hearing as the venue to push through these amendments without having to start the planning process over as they should. This marina property development should have never been approved without inclusion in the Inner Harbor Precise Plan or another Precise Plan of its own.
“Save Pete’s Harbor is calling on the government of Redwood City Council to do the right thing: Stop the shell game and tell Paul Powers to start over, this time with the community included in the planning process.”
On 12 February 2013, ORWC and OSJ went down to speak out in favor of marriage equality at San Jose City Hall:
To show support for equal marriage rights, councilmember Ash Kalra (with members Don Rocha, Kansen Chu, and Xavier Campos) proposed that San Jose sign on to and join in San Francisco’s argument to the United States Supreme Court that the same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional.
Passive-aggressive maneuvering by the City Council’s Rules Committee, engineered by anti-gay mayor Chuck Reed, meant that this issue was heard last on the agenda, at the end of the meeting, after a loooong list of other items. This meant that all the people who showed up at 1 PM to speak ended up not speaking ’til about 7 PM, or not at all. Many people left because they had other commitments they could not miss. The huge crowd of people who had turned out to support marriage equality dwindled down to about twenty people when finally, the agenda item was ready to be heard.
Despite this maneuvering, the remaining few spoke passionately, and ORWC and OSJ folks in particular called out the council and the mayor for their heartless attempt to push back the agenda item and delay it until few people were left to speak. Occupiers involved with Peninsula Direct Action spoke out directly at the City Manager Deb Figone, referencing the group’s media event outside her house that highlighted her attack on union workers and public safety in San Jose.
One Occupier spoke passionately about his experience as “a queer, Asian person” living on the Peninsula and said he drove down from Redwood City because he wanted Redwood City to follow San Jose’s lead in being willing to hear matters like these. Other Occupiers spoke just as urgently and highlighted the importance of supporting locally issues of national importance that affect people everywhere in the country.
The motion passed, by a surprising 9 to 1 vote (with one abstaining). The lone no vote was by the anti-gay mayor, Democrat Chuck Reed. Shameful vote by Reed, considering that even the conservative Republican Pete Constant voted yes on the grounds that he did not think he should impose his Greek Orthodox religious beliefs on others.
P.S. One bit of gossipy news: When ORWC and OSJ folks tried to speak to the representative for BAYMEC (an LGBT elections organization) after the meeting, he literally RAN from us from inside an elevator we were all in right as the doors were closing! Pretty rude considering we were just making small talk and wanted to connect with his group after speaking in solidarity with him during the meeting. Was he afraid he would catch Occupy cooties?
P.P.S. The representative for the South Bay Labor Council was far nicer to us and thanked us for coming.
(Current and former members of ORWC, OSJ, and Peninsula Direct Action, as well as a whole host of other allies joined striking Hyatt workers back on the picket line in Santa Clara! Over a hundred people turned out for this inspiring action. After the demo, we headed back to the offices of Unite Here! Local 19 for an intimate reception with our friends and comrades. Lots of peeps were out and representin’. SOLIDARITY!)
As of April 5, 2013, ORWC is now posting updates for OSJ. To read all OSJ updates, go here.
Evidence has come to light recently thanks to sleuthing by TechDirt that our friends at Occupy San Jose (OSJ) were spied on by the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) back during its inception. Below is sample text from some of the documents obtained showing that DHS were taking some notes on OSJ:
Snippet (p. 246-247):
+1 (877) 437-7411 Emergency Dispatch
Sent: wednesday, October 19, 2011 15:2~
subject: FW: occupy wall Street protestors
FYI-Sounds like all is OK in San Jose.
Sent from my BlackBerry wireless Handheld
Federal protective service - Region 9
Northern District / oakland & San Jose
subject: RE: occupy wall Street protestors
AS I write this, they have moved along to the next corner and the KGO-TV truck has
gone also. I have a clear view from my office.
Sent: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 1:43 PM
Obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund
subject: occupy wall street Protestors
I received a call from
employee in san Jose informing me that at
approximately 1:30 today the occupy wall Street protestors showed up at the San Jose
office in our open air lobby area. She thinks there are about 20 - 25 protestors on
site. Also, channel 7 news media is on site.
Pretty creepy stuff! An excerpt from the article is below.
New Evidence: Homeland Security Spied On Peaceful Protestors; Worried About Protests Getting News Coverage
(Read the full article and peruse the obtained documents here.)
The Partnership for Civil Justice has released some new DHS documents it received via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, showing that DHS regularly spied on peaceful demonstrators and activists. Because exercising your First Amendment rights must make you one of them there “anti-government” Americans, which means the DHS is free to spy on you.
Functioning as a secret political police force against people participating in lawful, peaceful free speech activity, the heavily redacted documents show that the DHS “Threat Management Division” directed Regional Intelligence Analysts to provide a “Daily Intelligence Briefing” that includes a category of reporting on “Peaceful Activist Demonstrations” along with “Domestic Terrorist Activity.” (p. 68)
The PCJF has obtained thousands of pages of documents pursuant to its Freedom of Information Act demands and made them available for public viewing. The newly obtained documents show coordination and intelligence monitoring by the DHS, the FBI, the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies of “Occupy-type” protests.
The documents show the routine use of Fusion Centers for intelligence gathering on peaceful demonstrations as well as the use of DHS’ “Mega Centers” for collection of surveillance information on demonstrations.
And it’s not just the big cities. The new documents show that DHS is involved in spying on peaceful protesters and activists around the country. It also shows that DHS helped local law enforcement “crack down” on the various Occupy gatherings. But the key thing is that DHS seems to have no qualms at all about spying on anyone who disagrees with the prevailing positions of today’s federal government. And it’s clearly not because they’re trying to protect others from any threat of actual harm. They seem to be focused on spying to further the goal of preventing the administration fromlooking bad:
The documents show a Department of Homeland Security that appears obsessed with the question of whether any and all protests that are being surveilled receive media attention and coverage. Reporting within the DHS on media coverage of First Amendment protected activities, even in the smallest places, appears to be a routine part of DHS intelligence reports. None of the documents explain why media coverage of peaceful demonstrations is of interest to law enforcement or concerns “homeland security” in any way.
That’s because it doesn’t concern “homeland security” at all. It concerns the job security of those employed by Homeland Security.
Nice to know our tax dollars are being wasted on surveilling peaceful protesters! Solidarity and love to OSJ from your friends at ORWC.
As of April 5, 2013, ORWC is now posting updates for OSJ. To read all OSJ updates, go here.
Note that the SLC letter vindicates Save Pete’s Harbor’s position that the Outer Harbor must remain open as a commercial marina and that the Pauls Corporation’s proposed development is not fit for approval from the SLC. The SLC also states that the Pauls Corporation has not even submitted an application for lease transfer to them…
…so why were tenants evicted so quickly?
Interestingly, the datestamp on the SLC letter shows that the City of Redwood City received the letter on January 28 during normal business hours. Later that same day, the City Council voted to delay the appeal ’til May.
Blake Lyon, the City’s Planning Manager, wrote in a correspondence to an ORWC member that:
On Monday, January 28, 2013 the City received a response email from SLC with a pdf attached letter dated Friday, January 25, 2013.”
Had Save Pete’s Harbor known about this letter, perhaps they could have advocated during the council meeting that the appeal be heard, since the SLC letter basically vindicates Save Pete’s Harbor’s position and sends a strong message that the city should affirm the appeal and tell the Pauls Corporation to try again with a different planned development permit.
Paula Uccelli Hires PR Firm Paid to Defend
Crimes Against the Environment and Tenants
REDWOOD CITY-WOODSIDE - As the remaining and former tenants of Pete’s Harbor gather today at noon at the historic Pioneer Saloon in Woodside to fundraise for their cause, ORWC is shocked to uncover the depths to which Paula Uccelli, harbor landlord, and the Pauls Corporation have gone to protect their image against Ms. Uccelli’s tenants, who are simply fighting to save their homes and to keep the state-owned “outer harbor” portion of Pete’s Harbor open to the public as a commercial marina in keeping with the state’s intended public trust use of that land.
Photo by James Hensperger.
(Please contact ORWCMedia at Gmail.Com to arrange for an in-person or phone interview with harbor tenants who will be at the Pioneer Saloon in Woodside today fundraising for their cause. The Pioneer Saloon is located at 2925 Woodside Road in Woodside.)
Ms. Uccelli’s newest paid defender in the press is Zennie Abraham, a pro-Chevron blogger who was “let go” from the San Francisco Chronicle in November of 2011 for multiple conflicts of interest, mostly around his connections to Sam Singer, a Chevron media consultant based in San Francisco. In 2009, Julio Prieto, a lawyer representing 30,000 residents of the Ecuadorian rainforest against Chevron and their 26 years of toxic waste dumping into Amazonian waterways, said of Sam Singer:
“Paying so-called independent bloggers to post is just one part of a wide-ranging fraud designed by Chevron to cover up the company’s enormous exposure in Ecuador.
“Singer is an unabashed Chevron mercenary. It can be a lucrative business if you’re willing to accept fees to cover up the dumping of billions of gallons of toxic waste [in Ecuador].”
Ms. Uccelli in recent days has hired Sam Singer’s PR firm Singer Associates, Inc. to manage whatever damage she perceives has been caused to her image by the Uccellis’ non-payment on Pete Uccelli’s state lease for 28 years, or by her tenants’ truthful public testimonies of their experiences at Pete’s Harbor during the recent attempted eviction and sale process by Ms. Uccelli. Despite denying being a “Chevron shill” in 2009, Abraham’s connections finally caught up with him two years later when the Chronicle ended their relationship with him.
But Ms. Uccelli’s paid defenders at Singer Associates have not only shilled for corporations that destroy land in other countries. They have also been paid to produce positive press right here in San Mateo County, against tenants in East Palo Alto trying to save their homes from Page Mill Properties:
In 2009, news came to light about Zennie Abraham’s connection to Singer Associates as a pro-development defender for Page Mill Properties. According to the Mercury News Page Mill evicted hundreds of people in East Palo Alto and at one point was serving unlawful detainers on at least ten percent of their tenants: one in ten people. By contrast, eviction rates of about one or two percent were fairly common for the area. Page Mill and East Palo Alto were also involved in about ten lawsuits over rent hikes and other issues.
Page Mill hired PR “fixer” Sam Singer, who said in a prepared statement that Page Mill had only evicted twenty residents, and that the data that is being provided by a local tenants group was false. But when a local fair rent coalition then published the county’s actual case numbers for the unlawful detainers filed by Page Mill, Singer Associates’ claims were proven to be a pack of lies. Page Mill in fact achieved a vacancy rate of approximately 25% in their units in East Palo Alto, a rate that was about eight times the historic 3% vacancy rate of these apartments.
While Adam A. Alberti has been Singer Associates’ public face for Paula Uccelli in the last week, Zennie Abraham of Chevron and Page Mill Properties fame has been one of the only sources of Paula Uccelli’s press releases–press releases that serendipitously use the same wording and spin that Alberti and Singer Associates have been using to defend the harbor landlord. These stories include false narratives of harassment by Save Pete’s Harbor against Ms. Uccelli and Ms. Uccelli’s “overpayment” on the 28-year balance on Pete Uccelli’s state lease.
James Lee of ORWC stated, “I’ve known of Zennie Abraham ever since he stated blatant mistruths about a peace rally I attended in San Francisco a couple years ago and have followed his connection to Chevron and Page Mill since before our struggle to preserve Pete’s Harbor for the public trust and community good. Abraham is not to be trusted, and it’s shocking to see that Ms. Uccelli would hire such a profoundly dirty firm like Singer Associates to try and burnish her image.
“Abraham’s past connections with Singer Associates are clearly ongoing, and Ms. Uccelli is clearly paying Singer to benefit from that connection. ORWC calls on Ms. Uccelli to fire Singer Associates and to manage her image with a firm that has true values and exemplifies the type of empathy and respect-building that she has been lauded for by our community.
“We think it is only sensible that if Ms. Uccelli wants to protect her image at a time when she is trying to aid in the development of the Redwood City waterfront after evicting close to two hundred people, hiring a firm that has defended some of the worst environmental and housing criminals in recent years is perhaps not the wisest choice.”
(Please call ORWCMedia at Gmail.Com to arrange for an in-person or phone interview with Occupiers or harbor tenants who will be at the Pioneer Saloon in Woodside today fundraising for their cause. The Pioneer Saloon is located at 2925 Woodside Road in Woodside.)
Since joining the fight to stop their evictions, many of the liveaboard tenants at Pete’s Harbor have experienced harassment and deception from the harbor landlord Paula Uccelli, harbormaster Giorgio Garilli, and other members of Uccelli’s hired staff.
One liveaboard tenant is a lady who was away from her boat at the harbor because she was going through chemotherapy. Although she had provided the harbor with her contact information before leaving, she came back to find her boat padlocked, stripped of valuable items, and for sale.
Below is a chronicle of interactions that harbor tenants had with Uccelli’s staff in October alone. The list of interactions show that Paula Uccelli’s hired workers have little to no sympathy for the tenants whose rents were funding their livelihood.
Almost all of the harbor tenants listed below are referred to by letters as opposed to their actual names. The fear of retaliation is so strong among many tenants that they have no wish to name themselves publicly.
- Occupy Redwood City
Monday, 8 October:
Harbor staff Jill and Manuel photograph harbor residents entering and attending the City Council Meeting and write down their names. They are referred to below as liveaboards A through P.
Wednesday, 10 October:
Harbormaster Giorgio Garilli yells at liveaboard A, telling him to clean off his boats.
Wednesday or Thursday, 10 or 11 October:
Harbor staff Manuel and Timo are confirmed walking around G Dock, checking out the water supply next to the boats.
RV resident Alison Madden says that trucks have been slowly and regularly driving around her Airstream. One black truck stopped right in front of where she usually parks and idled for a minute.
Giorgio says to liveaboard B, “I like you, B. You should stay away from these [Save Pete's Harbor] people. They are doing this the wrong way.”
Thursday, 11 October:
Giorgio calls liveaboard C, yells at him, tells him that his shut-off valve to the water supply is a modification that cannot be made. But liveaboard C walks the docks and discovers that other residents have done the exact same thing.
Sunday, 14 October:
Giorgio tells RV resident D that “those that are fighting this are going to pay dearly.”
Monday, 15 October:
Giorgio asks liveaboard E if he has found a place to put his boat yet.
Wednesday, 17 October:
Following the 10/16/2012 Planning Commission meeting at which tenant F spoke, Giorgio leaves a voicemail message for subletting liveaboard F saying that he is not a tenant, that G and H (who own the boat) are the tenants, and that Giorgio will have to make this clear at the 10/30/2012 Planning Commission meeting. Note that a subtenant is a tenant legally and it was an approved situation, so the same force should be given to tenant F’s viewpoint and experience as to any other tenant’s.
Thursday, 18 October:
RV resident Alison Madden, one of the tenants at the forefront of the Save Pete’s Harbor fight, suddenly has internet connectivity issues.
Friday, 19 October:
Non-liveaboard I says that Giorgio called him and told him he had to move his boat. He says that Giorgio told him, “Paula’s shutting down the thing.”
Giorgio calls non-liveaboard J and tells him he needs to move his boat ASAP.
Giorgio calls liveaboard K and asks if she “has a place to go yet.” He tells her he has a list of marinas and she should come and get it. When she asks how soon, he tells her she should hurry.
Harbor staff Jill sees liveaboard L (her husband M had a boat at the harbor for over thirty years) in the parking lot and tells her that she is “not taking this seriously” and that they “should look for a place to live.”
Harbor staff places yellow caution tape around empty slips, something that has never done before based on the recollection of the long-term tenants.
Monday, 22 October:
When liveaboard K calls the office about rent, harbor staff Jill asks if she has called Pillar Point Harbor yet, says that Pillar Point said she hadn’t called them, and that “you better hurry up before the crab boats get back.”
Harbor staff places yellow caution tape around additional empty slips. When liveaboard N asks harbor staff Manuel and Timo what the tape is for, Manuel says, “it’s just tape.” When liveaboard O asks about the tape, Giorgio tells him it’s to show where empty slips are.
Liveaboard B discovers his automobile has a large dent NOT made by a vehicle, in the left back panel. He feels strongly it is the result of his being quoted in a recent article about the harbor.
Tuesday, 23 October:
When liveaboard K went to pay the rent, Giorgio asked, “Have you found a place to go, K?” and she responded, “We were going to wait until the sale is signed.” Giorgio then said under his breath, “I was afraid of that.”
Saturday, 27 October:
RV resident Alison Madden notices two new large dents in her Airstream. No vehicles are authorized to be near the space where the dents would have been made.
About a week ago, our friends at Save Pete’s Harbor filed a “Complaint for Declaratory Relief.” The document states, among other things, that:
Mr. Uccelli began including the following clause in some, but not all, liveaboard leases: “Since the marina is up for sale and no more live-aboards are being admitted, the live-aboard status was granted to you as a favor. I, [Name] agree to leave the slip when this will be required by the marina (with notice from owner).” Some leases do not have this clause, others are unsigned. The clause generally appears on the reverse side of the second sheet of the lease, with only that clause on the page, titled “Amendment to Live Aboard Status”. Some leases are not signed, Mr. Stone did not have this clause.
Individuals were not advised individually or collectively in July about any [planned developement] permit application, there was no posting on the property, in the office, in the restaurant hallways, or on the website operated by a Tenant who also operates a commercial business and hosts a website on behalf of Pete’s Harbor with the permission, but not the oversight, of Defendants. As such, Tenants were misled into detrimental reliance, not having the summer months to work on, prepare or move their boats.
[S]everal tenants with special needs, special use cases and/or hardship due to detrimental reliance over the years and with boats that needed repair work to enable them to move, have approached Defendant [Paula] Uccelli and have been told in clear terms that no additional time will be granted.
ORWC and Save Pete’s Harbor
“Occupy the Dream Home” with OBAU
MENLO PARK, TODAY (10 AM) - Occupy Redwood City (ORWC) is proud and excited to announce that together with members of Save Pete’s Harbor (SPH) we will join Occupy Bay Area United (OBAU) and other anti-foreclosure and anti-eviction activists at an “Occupy the Dream House” press conference and speakout.
Photo by James Hensperger.
The event will take place at 3 Patricia Place in Menlo Park, the site of a $4.1 Million Silicon Valley dream house that is to be raffled off to a lucky winner. ORWC, OBAU, other foreclosure fighters, and local Silicon Valley residents like those of SPH who just want to reclaim the American dream of stable home ownership without threat of eviction are gathering the day before the raffle winner is chosen to bring attention to economic injustice and call on local communities, elected officials, and government agencies to do more to help their neighbors stay in their homes.
(To arrange interviews with members of ORWC or residents of Pete’s Harbor, please contact James Lee at the phone number above. Press photos of Pete’s Harbor can be downloaded for general use as long as credit is given to photographer James Hensperger.)
The “Occupy the Dream House” action will demonstrate the stark contrast between our hardworking neighbors at Pete’s Harbor who are trying to save their homes, and the rich, uncaring landlord of Pete’s Harbor, Paula Uccelli. After making hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent from her tenants over the past several decades, Uccelli is colluding with an out-of-state developer known as the Pauls Corporation and her friends in Redwood City government to fast-track the eviction of her tenants, despite the fact that the outer portion of the harbor is leased from the state under the condition that it be maintained as a commercial marina, a type of place that includes liveaboard tenants. Ms. Uccelli only recently paid less than half of the $400,000+ balance due on this state lease after having neglected to pay the state for almost thirty years, and the outer harbor is public land that she is in no position to give away.
Despite the clearly complicated nature of the land in question, and despite the fact that the Pauls Corporation may not be the right developer to build on a shoreline area at high risk of flooding and liquefaction, Ms. Uccelli and city officials have been deaf to pleas to slow the development process and hold off on evictions until all these concerns are resolved. Instead, the City Council unanimously approved a consent agenda item at a November meeting limiting public input and restricting the ways in which land use appeal hearings like the one filed by SPH will be managed.
“Dream house raffles for opulent homes like 3 Patricia Place serve as distractions from the realities of life in the Silicon Valley,” said James Lee of Peninsula Direct Action. “In reality, we have the influx of high-tech industry employees to the Peninsula creating an economic boom that has hurt the hard-working people of our communities. The rising demand for luxury housing is encouraging unsympathetic local governments like the City of Redwood City to build high-end luxury condos in the path of sea level rise at the expense of a sustainable floating community like Pete’s Harbor.
“Pete’s Harbor is one of the Peninsula’s last affordable housing communities. In contrast, the City of Redwood City has over a thousand new housing units in their development pipeline and none of those units are set aside for affordable housing. Thanks to the actions of landlords like Ms. Uccelli who have profited off their tenants and elected officials who care more about property tax revenues than creating communities where you can build a life regardless of your income level, hard-working everyday people are being pushed out of Silicon Valley.”
Jess Hansen of ORWC added, “We’re really happy and excited to be working closely with other Occupiers from SF and across the Peninsula in this action. The problems of the 99% are all around us. We are excited to send a message to underwater homeowners and people living under threat of eviction that they are not alone! We are ready to help them fight back.
“We also want to send a message to lawmakers that they have to do more to protect the working- and middle-class people in their communities. Colluding with rich landlords and out-of-state developers at the expense of their own constituents is a shameful practice, and it shows that our political culture needs to change. We are excited to go to Menlo Park and demand that change, and we invite the public to come join us.”
Local photographer James Hensperger has taken some gorgeous photos at Pete’s Harbor. Please take a look below to see the type of beauty that is within this community at our local, public access commercial marina.
Pete’s Harbor is one of the last bastions of affordable housing on the Peninsula. It is a community that matters, and the people who live there are part of the 99%. They are a community worth fighting for.
Fore more information, check out Save Pete’s Harbor (SPH) or “Like” Voters4Boaters on Facebook! More details on how you can help this community of homeowners in danger of eviction are on the Facebook page and the SPH website.
(Many thanks to James Hensperger for his lovely photos!)
As some of you know, ORWC endorsed and attended the Unwelcome Obama action in Oakland last week Monday, standing in solidarity with anti-war/anti-torture peace activist group World Can’t Wait. An ORWC member who was at the protest has contributed a personal report back below.
- – - – -
It was quite an inspiring time! I got to Oscar Grant/Frank Ogawa Plaza shortly before 4 PM, where hundreds of medical pot activists had been rallying for hours protesting Obama’s betrayal of his 2008 promise not to raid medical pot clubs. Oakland as many of you may know is home to a strong medical pot presence and the city has been the subject of harsh crackdowns from the feds, disenfranchising countless legitimate PATIENTS suffering from pain and representing yet another move in the ongoing, constant criminalization of Oakland’s population. People of color are disproportionately arrested, fined, and jailed for marijuana use/possession.
Activists had created an impressive piece of chalk art at the Plaza:
After checking out the Plaza I headed over to the barricades blocking off the nearest intersections leading to the Fox Theater where Obama was due to speak. Pro-Obama and anti-Obama supporters were already gathering.
One nice thing about this event is that, unlike the February protest of Obama in SF that some ORWC and OSJ members went to, and unlike the May protest of Obama in RWC that ORWC endorsed, this event had very few, if any Tea Partiers or other racist/fascist protesters in attendance. Back at the Feb. and May events the racists and the anti-choice folks and other right-wing folks definitely seemed to outnumber the protesters on the left and the Occupiers present.
By contrast, the dissent in Oakland on Monday was thoroughly dominated by those of us on the other side: environmentalists demanding that Obama reject Arctic drilling; medical pot activists calling out Obama for his broken promises; Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, and World Can’t Wait calling out the president for the continued operation of Gitmo and continued presence of 1,000s of troops in Iraq and the escalations of civilian killings via drone strikes in Af/Pak; Courage to Resist calling for the freedom of Bradley Manning; DREAM Act supporters marching against continued deportations under Obama; Occupy Oakland and other locals pissed that Obama had the gall to show up in Oakland after making no supportive comments about the Oscar Grant tragedy or the continued police violence in Oakland against people of color or the crackdown on OO protesters; anti-capitalists and black bloc protesters; and more.
So we rallied at the barricades, and despite corporate media claiming that there were only 50-60 people present, there were well over 100-150, swelling to nearly 200 at some points, and that is a conservative estimate on my part. The crowd was large enough that we naturally filled up the large thoroughfare intersection of 19th and Broadway right by the barricades closest to the Fox and the line of Obama supporters going in. We claimed the intersection and shut down traffic without even really meaning to – I know some in the crowd were hoping it would happen but it seemed to happen organically and not in any planned way.
By about 5:30 – 6 PM many of us were getting bored of standing around in the intersection, especially since now that traffic was blocked no one was driving by and really seeing our signs or our impressive numbers. We got together, started discussing a march, and after taking some turns speaking out on World Can’t Wait’s megaphone we all took off.
We marched around the perimeter of the Fox Theater, taking the streets and stopping traffic, chanting “whose streets? Our streets!” and “Puff puff, pass pass, the President can kiss my ass!” (for the medical pot folk, lol!) and “1, 2, 3, 4/we don’t want your racist war!/5, 6, 7, 8/stop the killing, stop the hate!” We stopped to rally at various intersections and barricades, shutting down traffic as we went and blasting our message out to the onlookers hoping to catch a glimpse of the president. Many people were pissed at OPD and used the points where the march stopped at barricades to give the police officers gathered a piece of their minds. While a couple people were definitely exploiting the situation to be opportunistic and shout ~edgy~ insults at the PD, most of the yelling came from Oaklanders/OO folk who have had to put up with police violence and brutality for ages, and their pain and rage was fully justified.
After we were done marching we rallied at the last barricade and had another speak out. When we saw the doors to the Fox open up a little after 8 PM and the attendees start streaming out, we quickly rallied and marched to the exit point so that we could chant and rally and wave our signs as the people left. People were chanting “Four More Years” when they saw us but we chanted back “Four More Wars” and drowned them out. We managed to make enough of an impact that PD routed the guests to another intersection where they could exit: no matter, we just marched on down to that next exit point and did our thing again.
After that the march, which up until this point had been around 100-150 people, dwindled to about 40-50 of us as some OO folk and other radicals continued down past OG Plaza and headed down to OPD HQ to rally against police brutality/violence in Oakland. I marched with them for a while but had to duck out early, as it was close to 9 PM and I had to catch the next BART and get home.
My sign read “F*@# CRUISE MISSILE LIBERALS.” One of my favorite journalists uses the term “Cruise Missile Liberals” to describe folks who profess to be progressive and peace-loving but advocate hawkish, imperialist, and bloody ways to conduct foreign policy.
One “pacifist” organizer of the medical pot march got physical with a masked protester (who de-escalated by turning and walk away from the confrontation), shoving him and unfairly accusing him of carrying explosives. That organizer later said sorry.
There were a few snipers on the roofs of buildings. OPD and Secret Service were filming all the protesters, trying to record faces in particular.
There was a great moment in the middle of the march where we came across a large “Welcome to Oakland—99% Obamaland” banner. Naturally most of the marchers were pissed and one person used his huge picket to tear the “99% Obamaland” portion down:
Several of the pro-Obama folks rallying earlier in the day got aggressive and confrontational with us. One person waved his large, heavy Obama sign in a threatening manner in an Obama protester’s face every time the guy tried to speak and they nearly got into a fight.
It was unusually hard to get corporate media to pay attention to ORWC. Not a single journalist I talked to about ORWC, from Telemundo to KTVU to CBS to KGO-810, gave me the time of day. Usually I can get a few seconds of speaking time at events like these if I keep pressing journos for a short interview, but they weren’t having it. Phil Matier’s (KPIX) cameraman was an asshole: he literally told me to get lost before I could even say hi. Either MSM in Oakland isn’t used to dealing with friendly Occupiers who want to talk to them (I did get a few surprised looks, including from Phil, when I said I was an Occupier and would like to talk to them), and/or ORWC wasn’t important enough (in their eyes) to cover.
BellaEiko of OO was lovely. She remembered me from the #Occupride march in SF last month and took the time to say hi again and hang out for a minute. She’s a fantastic speaker as well and got into more than one confrontation with pro-Obama folks who were trying to silence her when she was speaking out:
- – - – -
More photosets are available at the links below. And while you’re at it, compare the report above (from our ORWC member) to the mainstream media reports in the Chronicle and Mercury below. They don’t come close to telling the whole story:
Univision 14 and ABC 7 both reported on our event as well! We have not yet been able to find video of our appearances on those channels so if you can find anything please let the media working group know (at ORWCMedia at Gmail.Com). What we heard from those who saw the broadcasts said that the pieces were actually pretty fair and decent.
Finally, our efforts to fight back against a new county jail are also covered by IndyBay HERE. ORWC’s Bastille Day protest is in fact currently a feature story on IndyBay’s front page!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ORWC TO WELCOME COALITION OF GROUPS AT RALLY
TODAY, Redwood City, 1 PM - In order to “Occupy Bastille Day,” Occupy Redwood City (ORWC) will be rallying at the site of the county’s newly approved future jail to protest its construction in our community (location: Maple and Blomquist Streets).
We are proud to be joined by our friends at Occupy San Jose (OSJ) at this rally, as well by representatives (or members) of many groups on the Peninsula and the wider Bay Area who have already been speaking out and leading the way on this issue, well before ORWC’s inception:
Some of the many groups that will be represented at today’s rally will include the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ), Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), Youth United for Community Action (YUCA), Silicon Valley De-Bug, ACLU Northern California, Nuestra Casa East Palo Alto, and Legal Services for Prisoners with Children.
Like us, these groups understand that our prison system is both a moral blight on our society and an overwhelming economic burden, taking away much needed resources from schools, health care, and affordable housing. They have long been organizing against the construction of a new county jail in favor of more cost-efficient and just alternatives that would provide greater long-term benefits for our county and for low-income communities and communities of color.
ORWC is proud and honored to have their support today as we join the cause, and we hope today’s event marks the beginning of a deeper collaboration with these groups that are also committed to true justice.
After attending an educational town hall organized by YUCA, ORWC passed a resolution at their last General Assembly to condemn the San Mateo County probation department’s continued practice of reporting arrested, incarcerated juveniles to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation. San Mateo County is one of the worst offenders in the state and the nation when it comes to the deportation of minors. ORWC stands with YUCA and other immigrant advocates who call on Stuart Forrest, chief of the county probation department, to put a halt to the practice immediately.
ORWC now rallies every Friday at 5 PM in front of City Hall in Redwood City, with General Assemblies commencing at 6 PM.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ORWC TO PROTEST, SPEAK OUT AGAINST NEW JAIL
SATURDAY July 14, Redwood City, 1 PM - On Bastille Day, Occupy Redwood City (ORWC) will be rallying at the site of the county’s newly approved future jail to protest its construction in our community (location: Maple and Blomquist Streets).
We are proud to be joined by our friends at Occupy San Jose (OSJ) at this rally and to be standing in solidarity with other groups on the Peninsula who have already spoken out and led the way in organizing against the construction of a new county jail in favor of more cost-efficient and just alternatives that would provide greater long-term benefits for our county and for low-income communities and communities of color.
At a recent General Assembly ORWC passed a resolution strongly rejecting the new jail for the following reasons:
Our county commissioned the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ) to do a study on our inmate population. The CJCJ strongly recommended that the county at least explore cost-effective, evidence-based ways to reduce that population before resorting to building a new jail to combat overcrowding.
For example, 72% of our inmates have yet to be convicted of a crime and are being held simply because they don’t have money for bail. Neighboring counties have adopted innovative programs that allow many of these people to be released until they have their day in court, and indeed, the CJCJ recommended alternatives to solve San Mateo County’s overcrowding problem such as pretrial release, expedited court processing and transfer, and expanded probation supervision. The Board of Supervisors rejected all these recommendations in favor of a new jail.
Our county is already cutting jobs and services. The new jail will cost the county $160 million to build and will create a new, annual $44 million operating expense for the county. While state government will pay a large share of the construction cost, it will not pay for future operations. A new jail will require more staff, locking in a larger fraction of the county budget spent on Sheriff’s deputies guarding the jail instead of on those intervention workers who would go out into communities to provide health, counseling, safety and other services that would mitigate the problems that lead to most crime in the first place.
Under the recent state “realignment” plans, more low-level offenders are being held by counties, rather than being sent to state prison. This is not a bad idea, but it will only lead to truly just outcomes for these low-level offenders if counties find them alternatives to incarceration. Unfortunately, as a response to the injustice of mass incarceration, San Mateo County is just building more jail space, and in doing so is missing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do the right thing by creating a more fair and humane justice system.
As in most other counties across the nation, it is young men from low-income communities and communities of color on the Peninsula who are disproportionately incarcerated in San Mateo County jails. We do not need to spend our public money and go into further debt building more jails to house people from these communities. The millions of dollars allotted for this new jail should be going to programs in these communities instead to provide critical, valuable services.
Local building trades unions have fought for a new jail in San Mateo County because they were guaranteed these construction jobs, and as people who stand in solidarity with the labor movement as a whole we respect the right of labor to organize for their interests. However, we think a new jail represents a missed opportunity for our community. A jail that is projected to be as costly to our county as this one is will result in chronic budget shortfalls that will require our county to continue cutting services and to continue laying off good public sector union workers. We ask our labor sisters and brothers who are advocating for this jail to consider the harm it will do to other union jobs down the line, and to work with the county on other projects that will benefit the entire community, instead of on one construction project that will cause unnecessary long-term damage.
ORWC rejects the argument that the new jail will be beneficial to the community because it will have a focus on rehabilitation, job training, and other programs to reintegrate inmates into society. We know that such services are the first thing to get cut during deficit years and lean budgets, and in light of the $44 million additional annual operating expense that the jail represents we are not optimistic that these programs will be permanent fixtures in the new jail. We also demand that if the county is so concerned about promoting such services, they can and should be funding them within the communities that need them before spending millions in public funds building jails to house these programs.
These are just some of the reasons ORWC will be demonstrating our opposition to this misguided project, for which the first $16 million has already been approved, and we hope to stop this senseless misallocation of our resources. The storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 as part of a people’s uprising against the monarchy is now recognized as the spark that ignited the French Revolution. ORWC will be speaking out at the new jail site, connecting this past history to our current culture of incarceration and systematic mistreatment of low-income people and people of color.
Our prison system is both a moral blight on our society and an overwhelming economic burden, taking away much needed resources from schools, health care, and affordable housing. The prison system is corrupting our society and making us less safe, rather than protecting us as its proponents claim. It is a system built on fear, racism, and the exploitation of poverty, and it has no place in a society that aspires to liberty, justice, and equality for all.
We invite all like-minded people to join us on Saturday and show their opposition to the new jail!
ORWC is proud to join groups like the CJCJ, Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), Youth United for Community Action (YUCA), Silicon Valley De-Bug, ACLU Northern California, and many others in opposing a new jail in San Mateo County, and we appreciate the messages of support and promises of attendance that we have already received from some of these groups for our Bastille Day rally.
ORWC continues to rally every Friday at 5 PM at Courthouse Square in Redwood CIty, with General Assemblies commencing at City Hall at 6 PM.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ORWC TO PUT THE PRIDE BACK IN PRIDE
June 24 (SAT), San Francisco, 10 AM - Occupy Redwood City (ORWC) passed a resolution at their June 8 General Assembly to put the PRIDE back in SF PRIDE and Occupy during the festivities with Occupy San Jose (OSJ), OSF, OO, and other like-minded groups who will come together as OccuPride.
ORWC is NOT protesting to attack the SF Pride parade or its organizers, nor are we attempting to disrespect any ongoing work of members of our community. We are taking a stand and attacking the commercialization of the parade and the attempted co-opting of our community by corporations who only care about their bottom line.
The Pride celebration has become increasingly taken over by corporate interests that use our struggle for liberation as a market for commodities and as a way to boost profit. Sponsors of SF Pride include corporate criminals like Comcast/Xfinity, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Clear Channel:
Whether it’s foreclosing on the poor and people of color, censoring progressive views, spending millions on right-wing politicians or lobby groups that work on anti-gay legislation, cutting healthcare and pensions for their rank-and-file workers, investing in prison-building companies, or lobbying for harsher immigration penalties for the undocumented while same-gender bi-national couples live in fear of separation and deportation, these corporations have no problem spending millions of dollars on policies that hurt the most vulnerable members of the queer and trans communities, particularly the poor, homeless, people of color, and the undocumented.
“These companies come to SF Pride and throw a paltry fraction of their marketing budget at the parade to have their logo plastered all over the festivities for one day, while working against the LGBTQIA community 365 days a year,” says ORWC member James Lee. “We do not accept this paradigm and say that this profiteering off our community must stop.”
The queer and trans communities are more than the affluent: we are also the disenfranchised, the homeless, the sick, and the sufferers of discrimination and violence. We will Occupy Pride to honor and reclaim its radical roots in our fight for full liberation for the 99%: women, people of color, immigrants, the disabled, all the oppressed and marginalized. We intend to celebrate our forgotten histories and those of us excluded from Corporate Pride.
Together we will remind people of the origins of Pride: a march for the liberation of all oppressed peoples! From housing to healthcare, living wages to protection from discrimination: human rights are queer rights and queer rights are human rights!
Join us as we Put the Pride Back in Pride!
ORWC continues to rally every Friday at 5 PM at Courthouse Square, with General Assemblies held an hour later at City Hall.
(Univision video en Español – desplácese hacia abajo.)
Huge thanks to everyone who made it out to our Obama protest earlier this week! While we were hoping for more Occupiers to show up, we still had a good clutch of people and when it came to media coverage and outreach our event was a HUGE success!
Occupy Redwood City was covered all over the place in the news this week. Some of us were texted by friends of ours while we were still out protesting in earnest and they let us know that we had already been featured on the news.
Now, we should point out that many of us think that corporate media coverage is hardly ever any good, and our reservations were borne out by some of the poor coverage we got. ABC 7 in particular did a poor job of representing our message, cutting our words into soundbites that made it sound like we were just protesting the fact that the fundraiser wasn’t a free event:
As our press release stated clearly, we were protesting the bipartisan legitimization of civil liberties abuses, escalation of wars and killings abroad, assassinations of US citizens (including minors) without due process, and the deaths of innocent civilians from drone strikes. We were calling out President Obama’s false claim that the war in Afghanistan would come to an end under his leadership in 2014. We were protesting the fact that Obama has deported over a million people of color since taking office, far more than Bush did during his two terms put together.
We were protesting the fact that Obama continues to hold queer whistleblower Bradley Manning in prison and deny Manning a fair trial, while at the same time exploiting the LGBTQIA community during fundraising season with lip service to equal treatment. We decry the fact that Obama has made no move to nationalize same-gender marriage rights even as long-term binational couples live in fear of deportation and separation. We oppose Obama’s recruitment to his administration architects of the financial crisis like Tim Geithner and Clinton-era hawks like UN Ambassador Susan Rice who argued ten years ago that Iraq had WMD.
So we have definite reservations about the coverage we got. However, we felt that on balance being covered extensively was important to increase our visbility to a wider group and help us with our outreach. And much of the coverage we got was decent.
On top of that, thanks to the excellent flyers produced by a stalwart member of our media team we had great materials to hand out and do effective one-on-one outreach without involving any TV cameras. Lots of good conversations were had and we already have new recruits who said they would be coming to one of our GAs sooner or later. Awesome!
So below for your pleasure is a quick round up of videos from mainstream media sources that did an adequate or decent job in representing our views, plus some raw video from the lovely gentleman behind For a Bit More Context, who is a great friend of and journalist for ORWC.
From KRON 4 – Shaunn of OSJ, Joseph Rosas of OSJ, and James of ORWC are the last three speakers in the clip:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OCCUPIERS TO MEET AGAIN TO DEFEND HOMES FROM FORECLOSURE
MAY 9, 11:30 AM (WED) San Mateo County Courthouse, Marshall St and Hamilton St
Redwood City - After their successful shutdown of all foreclosure sales in San Mateo County for one day last month, Occupy Redwood City (ORWC), Occupy San Jose (OSJ), members of other local Occupy groups, State Assembly candidate Joseph Rosas (District 24, Independent) and other concerned members of the 99% will converge on the San Mateo County Courthouse once again to stop the sales of homes in foreclosure. ORWC invites members of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), People Acting in Community Together (PACT), and other like-minded groups who are working to defend homeowners to join them for this action.
ORWC is outraged to have learned that two real estate investors have been found guilty after investigations by the federal Department of Justice of rigging public foreclosure auctions at the courthouse in Redwood City. We are glad they are now being prosecuted for colluding to keep sale prices low, damaging the local real estate market and defrauding buyers expecting a level playing field.
ORWC believes that foreclosures in our community contribute to blight and a decrease in property values and local tax revenues. In this way the foreclosure crisis contributes directly to cuts in funding to local governments and services for those in need. Until laws around foreclosure practices and the blight they cause in our neighborhoods are reformed, the auctioning of homes is an unethical practice hurting our community and we are proud to once again disrupt it and shut it down.
ORWC is proud to have endorsed state legislation like AB 1602/SB 1470, which would put an end to the process of “dual tracking” that Redwood City residents like Gloria Takla are currently experiencing. Ms. Gloria Takla is a retired widow whose Redwood City home was originally set to be foreclosed on December 14, 2011. Due to the repeated direct action of ACCE, Occupiers and others at Chase branches in Redwood City and San Jose, Gloria is still in her home and in a position to make permanent her trial loan modification. Yet because of the shockingly poor nature of our current foreclosure laws and homeowner protections, realtors were knocking on her door last month and demanding to be shown around her property because her home was still listed on the county’s roster of foreclosures.
ORWC calls on the Redwood City Council to protect residents like Gloria and consider introducing city ordinances like the one introduced by Councilmember Jane Brunner in Oakland that would make banks register, inspect and maintain defaulted homes. Defaulted homes are properties on which the bank hasn’t yet foreclosed but the owner has fallen months behind on the mortgage. Such a bill would aid our community’s effort to clean up blight and speed up recovery in the housing market. The Council could also consider a housing registry where banks are forced to register every home on which they foreclose or face a $5,000 fee. The City could also require banks to inspect and maintain vacant properties, or risk additional penalties. Banks would also have to keep the utilities on if an owner walks away but tenants stay.
Roger Brina of ORWC says, “Redwood City’s government has repeatedly expressed their concerned over the loss of state redevelopment funds. We need to strengthen our communities for the future, and passing strong ordinances that will protect our residents from foreclosure and hold banks financially accountable is an ideal way to bring needed funds to the city.”
ORWC is proud to once again be bringing attention to these important issues affecting our community with an action at the site of daily foreclosure sales. Until our elected officials in both city and county government begin showing some leadership and use their power to give our residents the peace of mind they deserve, we will continue taking action to disrupt the harm being done to our families and communities every day by the banks and investors.
*** ORWC continues to rally every Friday at 5 PM in Courthouse Square, with General Assemblies starting at 6 PM. At their most recent General Assembly, the group passed a resolution to protest against President Obama’s upcoming visit to Redwood City.
We just got a call from Occupy SF. They are requesting support from other local Occupy groups on behalf of an Occupier who has been detained in jail for a week now. There are concerns that this Occupier is being targeted for being an integral part of their group:
“Pirate” Mike is being held in jail for misdemeanor trespassing charges, for being a vocal and outspoken voice for the un-housed and the disenfranchised. Mike is an Army veteran and has been integral to the founding and building of the Occupy San Francisco movement. He is also a hero: Mike bravely put his safety on the line to keep other Occupiers out of harm’s way at a recent direct action. The reward for his heroism: being targeted and held by the SFPD to languish in jail for a political action. To help free this political prisoner please donate to his bail fund if you can.
If you cannot donate, please at least spread the word via Facebook, Twitter, or other means.
(According to our phone contact, Nick Shaw, the other detained Occupier, has already been released.)