In this Howard Terminal Ballpark post update, an observation about the completely obvious lack of direct black professional involvement. That fact became clear to me in reviewing the Century | Urban Howard Terminal Ballpark Project Fiscal Impact Analysis Document that came as an attachment to the City of Oakland’s Staff Report for the July 7th Special Oakland City Council Community and Economic Development Committee Hearing at 10 AM PST.
The Century | Urban document itself (posted at the end of this post) completely lacks any estimate of tax increment financing revenue for the entire project. Second, the land uses are presented without any degree of concern for the fact that we don’t know when they’re going to be built. So, it should come as no surprise that the document lacks a year-by-year spreadsheet of when the land uses like hotel, office, housing, etc., should come online.
In all, the document is nothing more than a straw-person example of what might happen at Howard Terminal, but has little basis in reality. If you don’t phase in a project with respect to time, you don’t show how price inflation impacts returns on, say, sales taxes.
So, the report is nothing more than garbage in – garbage out, for me.
So, in reading it, I wondered just who or what “Century | Urban” was? To cut to the chase, it is a white and Asian-owned San Francisco-based real estate development consulting firm that specializes in what we call “pre-development” related analysis. Basically, they are called to conduct an analysis of a proposed development project with respect to how much money that project will generate for a city or for the developer, or both.
So, why hire a white and Asian-owned San Francisco firm like Century | Urban, and another white firm Public Financial Management, for supposedly black-oriented Oakland? It’s not like there aren’t qualified Oaklanders who can serve as consultant to the City of Oakland in the area of economic development. Take me as one example.
What Century | Urban is doing is the kind of work I have done for clients as far back as 1989, when Oakland lawyer John Sharon hired me to provide an economic and fiscal analysis of bis planned Olivetto’s Style food market hall at the corner of Grand Avenue and Staten, in Oakland’s Adams Point. (Sadly, John could not get a reasonable deal with the landlord, and so the effort faded. It would have been a landmark, and better than what’s there now, 33 years later.)
It’s also the kind of work I have done since 1986, when I was hired to work as an intern for Domtar Gypsum America, a gypsum company with its headquarters at the Clorox Building. I was also a graduate student at UC Berkeley, earning my Master of City Planning Degree alongside my long-time-friend, the legendary Kofi Bonner, who’s CEO of Bedrock Development Company in Cleveland. https://oaklandnewsnow.com/kofi-bonner-to-be-ceo-of-bedrock-the-development-company-of-dan-gilbert-cleveland-cavaliers-owner/59302/
But what I did for Domtar and its CEO Bob Katz (at the time) was create a full economic and fiscal analysis of the firm’s planned port to be located in Antioch, California. I still have that document today, and it played a key role in the work I did as head of Zennie62Media and for and our content and reputation management client Insight Terminal Solutions on the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal Project.
The point is two-fold: First, I am not only familiar with the kind of work Century | Urban does, but also have many years of experience doing the same kind of work. Second, I am black, and so is Kofi. So, why can’t the City of Oakland find blacks professional consultants to work on Howard Terminal? Why has a city that was once known for its minority (read: black) consulting hiring requirements, so badly slipped in this area? Why is it that the only visible black professional male or female face in the Howard Terminal Project is my friend Taj Tashombe, who’s the Vice President, Government Affairs for the Oakland Athletics, yet there’s no one from the City of Oakland?
That this is the case in the wake of George Floyd points to a number of events that have occurred that created the environment that caused what happened to Mr. Floyd. While it’s estimated that 10 percent of all college graduates are black, less that one percent are corporate CEOs.
Blacks represent less than 1 percentage point (0.8 percent) of Fortune 500 CEOs. “With blacks making up 10 percent of college graduates, you would think there would be 50 black CEOs. But there are only four,” Jain-Link said, referring to Lowe’s, TIAA, Merck & Co., and Tapestry.
Only 3.2 percent of executives and senior manager-level employees are African American.
On average, 58 percent of blacks indicated they feel racism on their jobs, with the Midwest having the highest percentage at 79 percent and the Northeast the lowest at 44 percent.
Thirty-eight percent of black millennials say they are considering leaving their jobs to start their own company.
Moreover, the black millennials are more like me: Zennie62Media, Inc. is my second startup and my 4th corporate effort, profit or non-profit. I did that because of the racism I experienced, even in Oakland, and when Oakland Government was ran by African Americans. I’ll never forget being told I had three problems: I am young, gifted, and black, and by two of my African American co-workers in the former Office of Economic Development and Employment. And that was in 1987.
What we and American Society as reflected in Oakland, and even among us as black folks, have done is not insist that our young get hired for good jobs. Too often, and even in Oakland during what I call the time it was ran by black people, the folks elevated to positions of department head were white – and if you were black, you generally knew someone.
Racism Stops Blacks From Elevating In Oakland And America
I don’t want to write what feels like it could be a book, but the bottom line is the reason we do not generally get the employment positions that match our education and experience is racism: a racism among us as black folks that says someone white should get the job, which ads to the racism from whites and non-blacks which says the same thing.
Ask yourself why there’s an Emily’s List for women in politics, but no Tyrone’s List for black men to be in politics? And ask yourself how the City of Oakland could degenerate to a place where it gave a presentation to the County of Alameda where all of its representatives were white? And they gave a terrible effort on top of that?
Ask yourself how the two black Alameda County Board of Supervisors Members Nate Miley and Keith Carson could allow Oakland City Administrator Ed Reiskin to come before the County without diverse representation? Look, Nate and Keith are my long-time-friends, but because they’ve been there for some time, they have to shoulder some of the blame, not just my other long-time-friend Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. But the fact of the matter is that this problem is also the creature of what I called “The Hidden Racism of Some White Folks In Oakland” in 2013:
(In fact, search “Oakland racism” in The Bing Search Engine and the most consistent image that comes up in the “Images” search is that of me. It reflects the number of times I have vlogged about this problem, over the years. Considering that, it’s weird that I do not appear in Google – especially considering that I appear in “Oakland racism” image search results in Duc-Duc-Go, Yahoo, and AOL AKA America Online. This is something I have to take up with Danny Sullivan, the head of Google Search Outreach).
The City of Oakland must realign its thinking to not give that appearance ever again. Libby has to bring in people she knows (like myself) to help her, and stop this habit she has of coming up with bullcrap excuses to not bring in a person. As I write this, I’m in the Atlanta Metro Area for my elderly Mom. Being away from my place near the Lake for over a year now gives me more clarity on this subject: the United States has caught up to and surpassed Oakland in its concern for racial fairness in hiring. Oakland is in the place of playing catch-up.
One man who should be leading this matter of Howard Terminal for the City of Oakland is former Oakland City Manager / City Administrator Robert Bobb. Bobb’s also part of the African American Sports and Entertainment Group that’s working to bring the WNBA and NFL to Oakland, and head of his own Washington D.C. Consulting firm The Robert Bobb Group. Everyone has yelled and screamed for Robert to be in charge of Oakland’s sports development efforts. The Mayor has never pulled the trigger.
Ask Libby why she doesn’t bring in Robert Bobb? She should say “Good idea, we will do that right now” but bet ya credits to Star Trek Navy Beans she gives one of those responses of hers that amounts to a weak sauce, easily refutable, excuse.
And why doesn’t the City of Oakland have a constantly updated list of black professional consultants in different areas (and yes, a list for every representation, and noting firms where blacks and Latinos join up.)
Sorry Libby, your at the helm of my city, so you get the blame. Fix the problem, now. Stop this crap. Please.
In closing, ask yourself why we allow the existence of a white-ran media, so much to the degree that even Oakland black politicians give white media preference over black media, and don’t recognize us or feed us stories to cover? I get more outreach from white public relations firms representing tech products that anyone else. All of this makes me code my ass off with the objective of building a media network that serves as a kind of killer app. How do I combat racism? One word: tech.
In other words, the only way out of this racist mess is to build your platforms and companies. Remember that Facebook and Twitter were created by white guys and there’s no reason someone black can’t build their own online company. I am doing it. Blavity CEO Morgan DeBaun is doing it. Don’t let anyone talk you out of the fact that tech is the only real power that matters. We can’t make Oakland or America change, we simply have to re-program it. Hear me?
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