Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Carrying on the Struggle"

A Sobering Teach-In in Recognition of Dr. King's Legacy

 On April 4, 2012, the anniversary of Dr. King's assassination, The Oakland Coalition to Stop Goldman Sachs organized a teach-in, held at Allen Temple Baptist Church.

About fifty attendees listened intently during Reverend Daniel Buford's address as he spoke of the need to remember King's work while battling contemporary economic ills that plague our city.  All were stirred while viewing the documentary "Been to the Mountaintop." The film chronicled several of Dr. King's lesser known speeches, including radical commentary that he made before his death.  One attendee reported that she was moved to tears.

During the second portion of the event, Council Member Rebecca Kaplan addressed the crowd in a rabbinical role.  Kaplan drew from scripture and faith based allegories as she told the story of the toxic swap to which the city of Oakland is tied in its dealings with the nefarious Goldman Sachs.  Bursts of applause punctuated Kaplan's  speech as she informed the crowd of Goldman Sachs's unjust practices.

Deborah Santana and Yvonne Michelle presented a powerpoint presentation entitled "The Oakland Swap."  At the outset of the presentation, few people indicated that they were cognizant of the details of the interest rate swap. Several attendees were energized throughout the presentation as the story unfolded.  A spirited Question and Answer session at the end revealed a variety of strong concerns and pointed queries, some of which are paraphrased below:

  • What happens if we (the city of Oakland) don't pay (Goldman Sachs)?
  • What does Goldman Sachs do with our money?
  • Were there any financial experts involved in City Council's decision making making process when they agreed to enter the swap deal in 1997?

  • We need to hold our representatives accountable.
  • We need to go to Sacramento to let our concerns be known.
  • We can't let City Council sweep this under the rug.

One coalition member gave a very impassioned response during the discussion.  He ended it by saying, "We have to march on, as Dr. King said."

Millie Cleveland wrapped up the event with a kick-off of a letter writing campaign. Community members were encouraged to write postcards to the city council, encouraging them to get Goldman Sachs to DROP THE SWAP without penalty, and demand that Oakland monies be returned for desperately needed jobs, programs, and services.

Goldman Sachs Teach In

We believe the interest rate swap between Goldman Sachs and the City of Oakland is immoral. The residents of our city live with chronic unemployment, poverty, foreclosures, school closures, limited library hours, and many other hardships.

Our tax dollars should NOT go to Goldman Sachs, a greedy Wall Street Bank! Goldman Sachs is one of the financial institutions whose unethical business practices contributed to the financial meltdown and foreclosure crisis. They got bailed out by our tax dollars and NOW they are making billions on interest rates swaps with cities and other government agencies, including Oakland. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

Stand up for the Oakland!! Attend our teach-in!

On April 4, we will commemorate the anniversary of death of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King with a TEACH IN on the City of Oakland’s Interest Rate Swap with the Goldman Sachs.  Find out what you can do to help Oakland get out of this bum deal!

Location: Fellowship Hall at Allen Temple Baptist Church
8501 International Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94621

Date: April 4, 2012

Time: 1:30PM

Organized by.: Oakland Coalition to Stop Goldman Sachs (OCSGS)
This is a coalition of various community groups, and labor unions. Our coalition includes Seminary of the Street, Decolonize Oakland, R.O.O.T.S, Occupy Oakland Research Working Group, Block by Block Organizing Network, ACCE, SEIU Local 1021, and others.

-text from decolonize oakland

First Appearance Before City Council

by Ryan Phillips
In "Oakland North"
As soon as Reverend Daniel Buford took the podium in the council chambers at Oakland City Hall on Tuesday night, bright, hand-drawn, multi-colored signs with inscriptions like “Stop the Swap,” “Give the $ Back” and “Not another dollar to Goldman Sachs” popped up around the room.
Buford, a minister at Allen Temple Baptist Church on International Boulevard, began speaking about the city’s relationship with Goldman Sachs, and a rate-swap deal the city and the bank agreed to in 1997 relating to $187 million in city debt. The deal has already cost the city $26 million, and could cost up to $20 million more over the next 10 years as the debt is paid off.
“We implore you to get the City of Oakland out of this toxic relationship with Goldman Sachs,” Buford said to the city council during its meeting on Tuesday to rounds of applause.
Buford was speaking on behalf of a recently formed coalition of religious, labor, educational and activist leaders, including local SEIU and ILWU union members, as well as members of Oakland Community Organizations, Block by Block Organizing Network and the Decolonize Oakland Outreach Committee.
Buford said the coalition is demanding that the city end its relationship with Goldman Sachs and the bank pay back any money it has gained from the city since 2005.
“If Oakland has $5 million a year to throw into hole that is Goldman Sachs pocket, let’s use that money to build a clinic out in East Oakland, do job programs in West Oakland,” Buford said. “Let’s use that money for some constructive purpose, rather than to line the pockets of Goldman Sachs.”
Another speaker, Jemahl Amen, who was there on behalf of the Oakland chapter of the NAACP, added “It’s time to bail out the City of Oakland.”
More than 40 people got up to speak about the bond debt deal, though it wasn’t on the meeting’s agenda.

Our Coalition

The Oakland Coalition to Stop Goldman Sachs has come together to discuss economic questions that have come to light through the activism of the Occupy Movement.  The public awareness campaign of the OCSGS has been mounted to draw attention to the unfair terms of the Oakland Bond Swap with Goldman Sachs Company.  The concerns and demands are as follows:

  1. The City of Oakland should end its relationship with Goldman Sachs.
  2. Goldman Sachs should return all monies paid to the City of Oakland since 2005.
  3. The City of Oakland should use the monies paid to Goldman Sachs to restore jobs and vital city services that have been cut for budgetary reasons.
A dynamic group of individuals have united together to work in this coalition.  Members of the following groups are involved in the work, including: ACCE,  Block by Block Organizing Network, CAN, Decolonize Oakland, ILWU, NAACP, R.O.O.T.S., Occupy Research,  and SEIU.