California

How Racial Equity Can Make Cities Richer

10/23/14
Image
Income gaps between different race groups are bad for the economy. (Flickr/mSeattle)

What would happen if everyone in America—black, white, Hispanic, Asian—was on a level playing field?

For one, our cities would be richer.

"As America becomes a majority people-of-color nation, racial inclusion isn't just the right thing to do—it's an absolute economic imperative," says Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and CEO of PolicyLink, which has released new research showing the economic potential of racial equity.

The brief presents a universe where everyone has the same access to education, career paths, and opportunities, says Sarah Treuhaft, deputy director of PolicyLink and one of the authors of the brief. The study examines what the 2012 economic output would have looked like if incomes of all race groups were lifted to the average income of the white population. (Data note: They didn't assume that everyone had the same income, just that the average income distribution adjusted by age didn't differ for different races.)

The result? In the 150 largest metro areas, total GDP hikes up by 24 percent. Cities such as Portland and Maine that are 90 percent white only show a 2 percent increase. Brownsville, Texas, where people of color make up 88 percent of the population, doubles its growth—it shows a 131 percent increase. Basically, any city with a diverse population stands to gain.

How much different city economies would gain.

In fact, the whole country's GDP climbs up 14 percent, because metro economies drive national growth.

Those cities with more people of color have more to gain economically. (PolicyLink)

The argument that equity is a driver of growth is gaining traction everywhere, says Manuel Pastor, professor for Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at University of Southern California. The two biggest drags on sustainable growth are income inequality and racial segregation, he says.

The study pinpoints the problem areas in the country. Lower wages and higher unemployment widen the income gap; which of these is more of a contributor depends on the city. In Flint, Michigan, the income gap is solely due to unemployment, but in Santa Barbara, it's because of low wages for people of color.

Income gaps depend on high unemployment and low wages.  (PolicyLink)

The nature of industry plays into it. In the Midwest and Northeast, for example, people of color face barriers to employment because the cities here have struggled to revamp their job markets in the post-industrial era, the report says. The coastal and sunbelt cities, on the other hand, employ their large immigrant populations in the service sector, paying them extremely low wages.

The restaurant industry is a great example of an industry where the problem of low wages is visible. It's the nation's second-largest private employment sector, with almost 11 million workers. It's also the lowest paying employer of people of color, says Saru Jayaraman, director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California at Berkeley. Two million of these jobs actually pay well, she says. These fine-dining and bartending jobs are almost exclusively held by white men. In general, white workers earn four dollars more per hour than employees of color in this industry.

To combat racial inequity, the researchers recommend growing new jobs in industries such as infrastructure development, raising the minimum wage, and removing barriers to employment. Many cities have already started, Glover Blackwell says. In the Twin Cities, improving transit is being seen as a way to improve accessibility to opportunities. New Orleans is trying to boost employment among African-Americans. Other cities interested in following suit can take advantage of PolicyLink's new data tool, she says.

These and other recommendations may improve the quality of life for people of color. Latinos and African Americans, for example, could earn an income more than 70 percent higher than they currently are if racial gaps are bridged. But really, everyone is going to be a little bit better off.

How much race groups will gain on elimination of income gaps between races. (PolicyLink)








How Racial Equity Can Make Cities Richer

10/23/14
Image
Income gaps between different race groups are bad for the economy. (Flickr/mSeattle)

What would happen if everyone in America—black, white, Hispanic, Asian—was on a level playing field?

For one, our cities would be richer.

"As America becomes a majority people-of-color nation, racial inclusion isn't just the right thing to do—it's an absolute economic imperative," says Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and CEO of PolicyLink, which has released new research showing the economic potential of racial equity.

The brief presents a universe where everyone has the same access to education, career paths, and opportunities, says Sarah Treuhaft, deputy director of PolicyLink and one of the authors of the brief. The study examines what the 2012 economic output would have looked like if incomes of all race groups were lifted to the average income of the white population. (Data note: They didn't assume that everyone had the same income, just that the average income distribution adjusted by age didn't differ for different races.)

The result? In the 150 largest metro areas, total GDP hikes up by 24 percent. Cities such as Portland and Maine that are 90 percent white only show a 2 percent increase. Brownsville, Texas, where people of color make up 88 percent of the population, doubles its growth—it shows a 131 percent increase. Basically, any city with a diverse population stands to gain.

How much different city economies would gain.

In fact, the whole country's GDP climbs up 14 percent, because metro economies drive national growth.

Those cities with more people of color have more to gain economically. (PolicyLink)

The argument that equity is a driver of growth is gaining traction everywhere, says Manuel Pastor, professor for Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at University of Southern California. The two biggest drags on sustainable growth are income inequality and racial segregation, he says.

The study pinpoints the problem areas in the country. Lower wages and higher unemployment widen the income gap; which of these is more of a contributor depends on the city. In Flint, Michigan, the income gap is solely due to unemployment, but in Santa Barbara, it's because of low wages for people of color.

Income gaps depend on high unemployment and low wages.  (PolicyLink)

The nature of industry plays into it. In the Midwest and Northeast, for example, people of color face barriers to employment because the cities here have struggled to revamp their job markets in the post-industrial era, the report says. The coastal and sunbelt cities, on the other hand, employ their large immigrant populations in the service sector, paying them extremely low wages.

The restaurant industry is a great example of an industry where the problem of low wages is visible. It's the nation's second-largest private employment sector, with almost 11 million workers. It's also the lowest paying employer of people of color, says Saru Jayaraman, director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California at Berkeley. Two million of these jobs actually pay well, she says. These fine-dining and bartending jobs are almost exclusively held by white men. In general, white workers earn four dollars more per hour than employees of color in this industry.

To combat racial inequity, the researchers recommend growing new jobs in industries such as infrastructure development, raising the minimum wage, and removing barriers to employment. Many cities have already started, Glover Blackwell says. In the Twin Cities, improving transit is being seen as a way to improve accessibility to opportunities. New Orleans is trying to boost employment among African-Americans. Other cities interested in following suit can take advantage of PolicyLink's new data tool, she says.

These and other recommendations may improve the quality of life for people of color. Latinos and African Americans, for example, could earn an income more than 70 percent higher than they currently are if racial gaps are bridged. But really, everyone is going to be a little bit better off.

How much race groups will gain on elimination of income gaps between races. (PolicyLink)








ExxonMobil and Apartheid South Africa have ‘no right to exist,’ Gitlin says

10/23/14

The Doctoral Students’ Council of the City University of New York is considering a resolution to endorse academic boycott of Israeli institutions. The body will take that up tomorrow afternoon.

A couple weeks ago, the university posted this video of a panel opposing that resolution. One of the speakers was Todd Gitlin, the author and activist who right now is fasting in an effort to get his alma mater Harvard University to divest from fossil fuels. At 26:30 or so, Gitlin sought to explain his standard for divestment from ExxonMobil, South Africa, and Israel:

I’ve spent a good deal of the last 25, going on 30 years involved in divestment campaigns. I was in the mid-1980s a leader of the faculty for full divestment at the University of California, we were divesting from corporations with dealings in South Africa. And I was also the head of Harvard-Radcliffe alumni and alumnae…against apartheid, campaigning to elect pro divestment representatives to the Harvard board of overseers.

And over the last year and a half probably my prinicipal political activity has been involvement as an alumnus in the Divest Harvard movement, which seeks to get Harvard University to divest from fossil fuel corporations.

I suppose I could be tasked with just picking and choosing my reasons for divestment. Well yes, but I have a reason. The state of South Africa, the apartheid State of South Africa was an illegitimate state, it had no right to exist. And the position of the African National Congress and those of us who supported it was not that the Boers should be driven back to Holland and the Brits back to Britain and the Indians back to India, but that there should be a unitary multinational, multiracial democratic state. And that happened.

The position of the divest Harvard fossil fuel campaign now in progress is that the fossil fuel corporations like Exxon Mobil and Shell and so on are illegitimate, they have no right to exist, no right to use the– it’s more than the public atmosphere, it’s the global atmosphere, it’s the intergalactic atmosphere for the refuse, the murderous refuse, the destabilizing refuse that is the product of their economic operations undertaken for the sake of profit.

In all those cases, the divestment is aimed at institutions that have no right to exist.

This is my challenge to the BDS movement– is to be honest. They are essentially saying that the state of Israel is like the Apartheid State of South Africa and like Exxon Mobil, that it has no right to exist. They should come out and campaign for that, that’s really what they want.

I’d point out that no one in the BDS movement has called on Jews to leave Israel/Palestine. Most I know in that movement are very openly for a multiracial multinational democracy, which Gitlin wanted for South Africa. Also, most I know in that movement regard the idea of a Jewish state as discriminatory and illegitimate. Although ascertaining an entity’s “right to exist” seems like a high bar to set when deciding whether to sell some stocks, I wonder whether Israel doesn’t meet Gitlin’s own standards.

Why Do People Move: Jobs or Housing?

10/23/14
Image
TheMuuj/Flickr

Why do people move? Is it for jobs or is it for housing?

It’s often assumed that people move to get better jobs.  But Census data show the main people reason move is to gain access to better housing. The issue is sometimes posed as a chicken-and-egg question: What comes first, people or jobs?

A new study published in the journal Urban Studies takes a close look at the connection between these two types of moves – moving for jobs versus moving for housing.  The study, by University of California, Irvine, social ecologist Jae Hong Kim, used American Community Survey (ACS) data and data from the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) to get at the interplay between the two.  His data cover 342 metropolitan areas and span two periods, before the Great Recession (2005-2007) and during (2008-2010), to deal with the effects of the economic crisis on mobility. Kim ran a series of statistical analyses to sort out the relationships between job and residential mobility.

The upshot: the two are more closely related than we might think. Moving for a job is associated with moving to find new housing, though the reverse is less common.

The first chart below shows the connection between job and residential mobility for the 2005-2007 period, before the recession. The line slopes upward and to the right, indicating a linear relationship, and the correlation is .322. According to Kim’s more detailed statistical analysis for this period before the Great Recession, residential mobility was influenced by a region’s job mobility, but job mobility was not as affected by residential mobility.

(Kim)

Kim’s analysis further found demographics to play a role in determining residential mobility in this 2005-2007 pre-recession period. Not surprisingly, younger cohorts 15 to 34 years old, more highly educated people and white people were more likely to move during this period. The price and age of housing also had an effect on mobility, with lower rates of mobility in metros with pricier and older housing. Regions with larger businesses and more low paying, less skilled jobs in construction and service businesses experienced higher rates of mobility before the recession. Interestingly, Kim finds commuting time to have no statistically significant relationship to mobility during this period.

Kim finds the effect of residential mobility on job mobility to be less significant. As he writes:Job mobility during the 2005–2007 period (i.e. before the recession) is also found to be affected by residential mobility, although the significance and the magnitude of this effect are much weaker than those in the opposite direction.”

The second chart shows the relationship between job and residential mobility during the recession years, 2008-2010. Again the relationship is positive and statistically significant, though not quite as strong, with a correlation of .274.

(Kim)

Residential mobility in this recession period was again influenced by job mobility and also by the age and cost of housing, according to Kim’s analysis. But it was not statistically associated with younger age groups. This is likely the consequence of the economic downturn. According to Pew Research, 21.6 percent of adults ages 25 to 34 lived in multi-generational households in 2010, up from 15.8 percent at the turn of the millennium, indicating that fewer young people had the means to move during that period.

In an even more significant shift from the previous years, Kim finds the effect of residential mobility on job mobility to disappear during this 2008-2010 period. This is a likely result of the recession, when, as Kim writes, “workers tried to hold their jobs during these years given the extraordinarily tough job market situation, even when they needed to or wanted to change their living places.”  This could also be the result of workers in these places being unable to sell their homes.

The third chart looks at the relationship between the change in job and residential mobility over the entire 2005-2010 period. It indicates a positive, though relatively weak relationship, between the two.

(Kim)

The big takeaway: Changing your job appears to influence whether you move more than changing where you live influences changing your job. This makes sense after all. In many cases, you can change jobs without changing where you live. And finding a new place to live is, in most cases, a far more expensive proposition than finding a new job. The pattern is affected by economic circumstance, with people less likely to leave jobs or be trapped in place by their housing during economic downturns.

Instead of trying to shore up or bailout the housing market during downturns, say by keeping mortgage rates low, it may make more sense to help people move to places with better job opportunities.








Why Do People Move: Jobs or Housing?

10/23/14
Image
TheMuuj/Flickr

Why do people move? Is it for jobs or is it for housing?

It’s often assumed that people move to get better jobs.  But Census data show the main people reason move is to gain access to better housing. The issue is sometimes posed as a chicken-and-egg question: What comes first, people or jobs?

A new study published in the journal Urban Studies takes a close look at the connection between these two types of moves – moving for jobs versus moving for housing.  The study, by University of California, Irvine, social ecologist Jae Hong Kim, used American Community Survey (ACS) data and data from the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) to get at the interplay between the two.  His data cover 342 metropolitan areas and span two periods, before the Great Recession (2005-2007) and during (2008-2010), to deal with the effects of the economic crisis on mobility. Kim ran a series of statistical analyses to sort out the relationships between job and residential mobility.

The upshot: the two are more closely related than we might think. Moving for a job is associated with moving to find new housing, though the reverse is less common.

The first chart below shows the connection between job and residential mobility for the 2005-2007 period, before the recession. The line slopes upward and to the right, indicating a linear relationship, and the correlation is .322. According to Kim’s more detailed statistical analysis for this period before the Great Recession, residential mobility was influenced by a region’s job mobility, but job mobility was not as affected by residential mobility.

(Kim)

Kim’s analysis further found demographics to play a role in determining residential mobility in this 2005-2007 pre-recession period. Not surprisingly, younger cohorts 15 to 34 years old, more highly educated people and white people were more likely to move during this period. The price and age of housing also had an effect on mobility, with lower rates of mobility in metros with pricier and older housing. Regions with larger businesses and more low paying, less skilled jobs in construction and service businesses experienced higher rates of mobility before the recession. Interestingly, Kim finds commuting time to have no statistically significant relationship to mobility during this period.

Kim finds the effect of residential mobility on job mobility to be less significant. As he writes:Job mobility during the 2005–2007 period (i.e. before the recession) is also found to be affected by residential mobility, although the significance and the magnitude of this effect are much weaker than those in the opposite direction.”

The second chart shows the relationship between job and residential mobility during the recession years, 2008-2010. Again the relationship is positive and statistically significant, though not quite as strong, with a correlation of .274.

(Kim)

Residential mobility in this recession period was again influenced by job mobility and also by the age and cost of housing, according to Kim’s analysis. But it was not statistically associated with younger age groups. This is likely the consequence of the economic downturn. According to Pew Research, 21.6 percent of adults ages 25 to 34 lived in multi-generational households in 2010, up from 15.8 percent at the turn of the millennium, indicating that fewer young people had the means to move during that period.

In an even more significant shift from the previous years, Kim finds the effect of residential mobility on job mobility to disappear during this 2008-2010 period. This is a likely result of the recession, when, as Kim writes, “workers tried to hold their jobs during these years given the extraordinarily tough job market situation, even when they needed to or wanted to change their living places.”  This could also be the result of workers in these places being unable to sell their homes.

The third chart looks at the relationship between the change in job and residential mobility over the entire 2005-2010 period. It indicates a positive, though relatively weak relationship, between the two.

(Kim)

The big takeaway: Changing your job appears to influence whether you move more than changing where you live influences changing your job. This makes sense after all. In many cases, you can change jobs without changing where you live. And finding a new place to live is, in most cases, a far more expensive proposition than finding a new job. The pattern is affected by economic circumstance, with people less likely to leave jobs or be trapped in place by their housing during economic downturns.

Instead of trying to shore up or bailout the housing market during downturns, say by keeping mortgage rates low, it may make more sense to help people move to places with better job opportunities.








Feminist scholars call on Obama to drop the torture-based charges against Rasmea Odeh

10/23/14

An Open Letter to President Obama and the United States Department of Justice

In 2004 award-winning filmmaker Buthina Canaan Khoury made the documentary Women in Struggle about 4 Palestinian women who were former detainees. In her research and through interviews with the women, she documents the physical, mental and sexual torture women experienced during interrogations that led to forced confessions. Rasmea Odeh was one of those women. According to her testimony, she was brutally coerced into confession and served 10 years in an Israeli prison before her release. She was exiled from her Palestinian homeland and eventually immigrated to the United States from Jordan in 1994 as a legal resident where she tried to put her memories of torture behind her. She later became a naturalized citizen.

Rasmea Odeh

Rasmea Odeh

In the US, Rasmea settled in Chicago where she became the associate director of the Arab American Action Network, a social service and community organization in Chicago. There, she established the Arab Women’s Committee, a grassroots collective that promotes leadership among Arab immigrant women, challenges systems of oppression that impact Arab women’s lives, and secures a positive and safe political, economic, social, and cultural environment for Arab women and their communities. In 2013, the Chicago Cultural Alliance granted Rasmea its Outstanding Community Leader Award in recognition of her devotion of “over 40 years of her life to the empowerment of Arab women.”

Now, Rasmea is being persecuted again for not giving account of her time in jail after her torture 45 years ago on her naturalization application in 2004.

On October 22, 2013, the US Department of Justice arrested Rasmea Odeh at her home in the Chicago Suburbs. The Department of Justice alleges that Odeh failed to disclose on her naturalization application that she had served time in Israeli jail — even though her sentence was based on a confession she made in the midst of 45 days of physical torture while in detention. Rasmea faces up to ten years in US prison, fines up to $250,000, and potential deportation and denaturalization.

The Israeli state avoids any blame for the politically motivated abuse and imprisonment of Rasmea. The criminal charges she faces for alleged immigration fraud in the US are also politically motivated. They are based upon naturalization papers she filed ten years ago in 2004 and sprang from an illegal federal investigation of 23 Palestinian and anti- war activists that violates First Amendment rights. They are also connected to a long history of federal authorities using fear and repression to silence Palestinian American activists and intimidate immigrant women from participating in social justice movements.

Rasmea Odeh has suffered enough already. When the Israeli military arrested her, they also arrested her family members shortly after her arrest and destroyed her family’s home. Odeh’s 1969 conviction in Israel was determined by a court system that systematically abuses Palestinians’ due process rights, has a record of torture and sexual abuse of Palestinian women, men, and children, and convicts Palestinians at a rate of 99.74 percent.

As feminist scholars, we call on the Department of Justice to drop the charges against Rasmea Odeh. We extend our deepest support to Rasmea in the face of injustice. We recognize her as a leader in the international struggle to empower women and end violence against women. We recognize the pain and suffering she endured in Israeli prisons and we honor her for testifying before a United Nations Committee in Geneva as a survivor of sexual torture. We honor her decades of feminist activism on behalf of Arab and Muslim immigrant women living in poverty in Chicago. Rasmea built the Arab Women’s Committee and its base of nearly six hundred Arab immigrant women from scratch when she went door to door as a recent immigrant herself and made phone calls to house-holds with Arabic-speaking names from the white-pages. She developed an infrastructure for disenfranchised Arab immigrant and refugee women to obtain social services and support and she established English as a Second Language courses through which immigrant women perform plays, write their immigration stories, and form deep friendships, sisterhood, and solidarity. Because of Rasmea’s work, immigrant and refugee women who came to the US from countries facing war and political crises–like Iraq, Palestine, Yemen, Syria, and beyond—now have a place to seek support, gain empowerment and community, and call their home.

Rasmea’s story encompasses some of the most urgent feminist struggles of our times– violence against women and the use of sexual violence as a tool of colonization and war; the impact of racism and anti-immigrant policies upon women; the criminalization of women of color; and the use of intimidation to thwart feminist activism.

Rasmea’s trial is set to begin November 4, 2014, in Detroit, Michigan.

We call upon all feminist movements to stand with gender justice and centralize Rasmea Odeh’s struggle within all of our movements.

We call upon President Obama and the United States Department of Justice to drop the charges against Rasmea Odeh.

Sincerely,

  1. Sarah Abboud, Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania
  2. Stéphanie Latte Abdallah, Researcher, CNRS (IFPO)
  3. Diya Abdo, Associate Professor, Guilford College
  4. Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, Associate Professor, San Francisco State University
  5. Lila Abu-Lughod, Professor, Columbia University
  6. Fida J. Adely, Associate Professor, Georgetown University
  7. Jocelyn Ajami
  8. Nadje Al-Ali, Professor, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
  9. Dina Al-Kassim, Associate Professor, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  10. Deborah Al-Najjar, University of Southern California
  11. Lori Allen, Lecturer, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
  12. Paul Amar, Associate Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara
  13. Anjali Arondekar, Associate Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz
  14. Barbara Aswad, Professor Emerita, Wayne State University
  15. Sa’ed Atshan, Postdoctoral Fellow, Brown University
  16. Elsa Auerbach, Professor Emerita, University of Massachusetts Boston
  17. Kathryn Babayan, Associate Professor, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  18. Paola Bacchetta, Associate Professor, University of California, Berkeley
  19. Joanne Barker, Professor, San Francisco State University
  20. Janet Bauer, Associate Professor, Trinity College
  21. Leila Ben-Nasr, Ohio State University
  22. Sherna Berger-Gluck, California State University, Long Beach
  23. Amahl Bishara, Assistant Professor, Tufts University
  24. Elizabeth Bishop, Associate Professor, Texas State University
  25. Jennifer Brier, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
  26. Victoria Brittain, Journalist and Author
  27. M. San Pablo Burns, Associate Professor, University of California, Los Angeles
  28. Louise Cainkar, Associate Professor, Marquette University
  29. Piya Chatterjee, Scripps College
  30. Julia Chinyere Oparah, Professor, Mills College
  31. Andreana Clay, Associate Professor, San Francisco State University
  32. Maria Cotera, Associate Professor, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  33. Ephrosine Daniggelis
  34. Angela Davis, Distinguished Professor Emirita, University of California, Santa Cruz
  35. Lara Deeb, Professor, Scripps College
  36. Christine Taitano DeLisle, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign
  37. Gina Dent, Associate Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz
  38. Lisa Duggan, Professor, New York University
  39. Zillah Eisenstein, Distinguished Feminist Scholar, Ithaca College
  40. Omnia El Shakry, Associate Professor, University of California, Davis
  41. Nada Elia, Independent Scholar
  42. Hoda Elsadda, Professor, Cairo University
  43. Anita Fábos, Associate Professor, Clark University
  44. Roderick Ferguson, Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
  45. Ellen Fleischmann, Professor, University of Dayton
  46. Cynthia Franklin, Professor, University of Hawai’i
  47. Rosa Linda Fregoso, Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz
  48. Nancy Gallagher, Research Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara
  49. Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Professor, Graduate Center, City University of New York
  50. Sherna Berger Gluck, Emerita Faculty, California State University, Long Beach
  51. Layla Azmi Goushey, Assistant Professor, St. Louis Community College
  52. Marame Gueye, Associate Professor, East Carolina University
  53. Elena Gutiérrez, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
  54. Elaine C. Hagopian, Professor Emerita of Sociology, Simmons College
  55. Sondra Hale, Research Professor, University of California, Los Angeles
  56. Hala Halim, Associate Professor, New York University
  57. Najla Hamadeh, Independent Researcher
  58. Michelle Hartman, Associate Professor, McGill University
  59. Nadia Hijab, Author and Human Rights Advocate
  60. Grace Kyungwon Hong, Associate Professor, University of California, Los Angeles
  61. LeAnne Howe, Professor, University of Georgia
  62. Constantine Inglessis
  63. Jacqueline Khayat Inglessis
  64. Joyce Inglessis
  65. Bushra Jabre, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  66. Lynette Jackson, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
  67. Amira Jarmakani, Associate Professor, Georgia State University
  68. Suad Joseph, Distinguish Research Professor University of California, Davis
  69. Mohja Kahf, Professor, University of Arkansas
  70. Ronak Kapadia, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
  71. Kehaulani Kauanui, Associate Professor, Wesleyan University
  72. Laleh Khalili, Professor, School of Oriental and African Studies
  73. Sharon Heijin Lee, Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow, New York University
  74. Pardis Mahdavi, Associate Professor, Pomona College
  75. Lisa Suhair Majaj, Writer and Editor
  76. Jean Said Makdisi, Writer
  77. Harriet Malinowitz, Lecturer, Ithaca College
  78. Rania Masri, Associate Director, American University of Beirut
  79. Victor Mendoza, Assistant Professor, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  80. Hasna Mikdashi, Arab Women’s Studies and Research, NOUR, Cairo
  81. Maya Mikdashi, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Rutgers University
  82. Minoo Moallem, Professor, University of California, Berkeley
  83. Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Distinguished Professor, Syracuse University
  84. Scott L. Morgensen, Associate Professor, Queen’s University
  85. Norma Claire Moruzzi, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
  86. Susan Muaddi Darraj
  87. Nadine Naber, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
  88. Margo Okazawa-Rey, Professor Emerita, San Francisco State University
  89. Jennifer Olmsted, Professor, Economics, Drew University
  90. Geeta Patel, Associate Professor, University of Virginia
  91. Suvendrini Perera, Professor, Curtin University
  92. Jasbir Puar, Associate Professor, Rutgers University
  93. Michelle Raheja, Associate Professor, University of California, Riverside
  94. Aneil Rallin, Associate Professor, Soka University of America
  95. Barbara Ransby, Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
  96. Robin L. Riley, Assistant Professor, Syracuse University
  97. Eleanor Roffman, Professor Emerita, Lesley University
  98. Judy Rohrer, Assistant Professor, Western Kentucky University
  99. Rachel Rubin, Professor, University of Massachusetts Boston
  100. Rosemary Sayigh, Researcher and Visiting Professor, Center for Arab and Middle East Studies, American University of Beirut.
  101. Susan Schaefer Davis, Independent Scholar
  102. Laurie Schaffner, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
  103. Malini Johar Schueller, Professor, University of Florida
  104. Sarita See, Associate Professor, University of California, Riverside
  105. May Seikaly, Associate Professor, Wayne State University
  106. Sima Shakhsari, Assistant Professor, Wellesley College
  107. Simona Sharoni, Professor, State University of New York, Plattsburgh
  108. Setsu Shigematsu, Associate Professor, University of California, Riverside
  109. Irene Siegel, Assistant Professor, Hofstra University
  110. Andrea Smith, Associate Professor, University of California, Riverside
  111. Samera Sood
  112. Ahdaf Soueif, writer
  113. Rajini Srikanth, Professor, University of Massachusetts Boston
  114. Maria Francesca Stamuli, National Library of Naples
  115. Neferti X. M. Tadiar, Professor, Barnard College
  116. Kim TallBear, Associate Professor, University of Texas, Austin
  117. Sunera Thobani, Associate Professor, University of British Columbia
  118. Miriam Ticktin, Associate Professor, The New School for Social Research
  119. Judith E. Tucker, Professor, History, Georgetown University
  120. Karyn Valerius, Associate Professor, Hofstra University
  121. Sherry Vatter, California State University, Long Beach
  122. Maurice L. Wade, Professor, Trinity College
  123. Lee Ann Wang, Assistant Professor, University of Hawaii
  124. Jessica Winegar, Associate Professor, Northwestern University

For more information, visit: Facebook page, Drop the charges against Rasmea now.

 

 

California Prisons To End Policy Of Racially Segregated Lockdowns Following Lawsuit

10/23/14

California prisons will end a policy of imposing racially based lockdowns following a class-action lawsuit brought by inmates.

In the aftermath of riots, corrections officers in the state's prisons have, in the past, locked down all inmates from a particular racial group involved in a violent incident, and that went for individuals who may not have been involved in the incident. 

Oakland Can Now Order Landlords to Evict Sex Workers

10/22/14
Image
Ben Margot/AP

Residents and reporters in Oakland watched closely on Tuesday night as the Oakland City Council took up legislation designed to protect tenants from landlords seeking higher rents. Against the backdrop of rapidly rising housing costs as well as stories of Ellis Act–style evictions creeping in from across the Bay, the Oakland City Council passed the Tenant Protection Ordinance.

Yet before the debate began over tenant protections, the Council granted the city broad new powers to evict residents over certain illegal "nuisance" activities, including prostitution. By unanimous vote, the Oakland City Council passed a bill that gives the city the power to evict sex workers "associated" with a property—and to require their landlords to do the same.

According to Oakland journalist and illustrator Susie Cagle, who tweeted about the extraordinary measure from the Council meeting last night, this bill wasn't on Oakland's radar. It was overshadowed in the press by the Tenant Protection Ordinance, which has commanded headlines in San Francisco and Oakland.

Yet the amended Nuisance Eviction Ordinance is a big deal. Here's how it works, and how it happened.

Ten years ago, Oakland enacted the Nuisance Eviction Ordinance (NEO), a measure that enables officials to pursue evictions against tenants based on drugs or weapons charges. The local legislation was modeled after a state-level pilot program launched in Los Angeles in 1997. (More on that later.) From the start, the nuisance eviction bill was controversial in Oakland.

"It's horrible. It's unconscionable," said Anne Omura, then a managing attorney at Oakland's Eviction Defense Center, in a 2004 interview with the Los Angeles Times. "We feel that it just really tramples on the rights of tenants and doesn't give them a lot of due process."

On Tuesday night, the Oakland City Council expanded the boundaries of nuisance or unlawful detainer evictions in several ways. The definition of nuisance was enlarged to include gambling, prostitution, and solicitation, in addition to possession of illegal weapons and substances. While the original NEO invests the City Administrator with the power to pursue evictions, the new amendment—which was penned by City Attorney Barbara Parker—also grants extra-judicial eviction powers to the office of the City Attorney.

The amended bill further stipulates that a landlord who fears for his or her safety may ask the newly invested City Attorney to carry out the eviction (on the landlord's dime). Finally, the city can go after the landlord for not taking action against a tenant "after being apprised by the City that the tenant has engaged in illegal activity."

"Landlords already have the power by state law and by local ordinance to remedy conduct that the ordinance describes as public nuisance," says Marc Janowitz, supervising attorney at the East Bay Community Law Center. "The addition of the city’s muscle exaggerates an already extreme imbalance in power between landlords and tenants generally."

Here's what the amended nuisance eviction bill does not do: set forth any protections for due process. The bill does not require that charges or a warrant be brought against a tenant in order for the landlord (or the City Attorney) to initiate eviction proceedings against a resident. There's no clear definition for what "engaging" in illegal nuisance activities even means.

"As far as the tenant is concerned, it’s really just like any other eviction action," says Supervising Deputy City Attorney Richard Illgen. "If there’s evidence to show the tenant is engaging in a nuisance activity, they can be evicted without our involvement at all. They do have the right to have a full jury trial on whether or not they engaged in the action constituting the nuisance. So they have full due process rights in court if they choose to contest the eviction."

The bill does not describe what burden of proof the city needs to meet in order to "apprise" a landlord that a tenant has "engaged" in said illegal activity. Nor does the bill stipulate how or whether this evidence (presuming some is required) is to be shared with the tenant.

In fact—when it comes to sex work, at least—a tenant does not need to have committed any crime to be evicted for that crime. "The crime solicited need not actually be committed for solicitation to occur," the amended bill now reads.

"It provides a terribly coercive environment in what is already a very difficult legal system for—let’s face it, we’re talking about poor tenants, poor people, to exist in and to remain housed in," Janowitz says. "I’m afraid that this will only be used as further devices to evict the more vulnerable populations of our city."

* * *

On Sept. 15, California passed a state law reinstating its nuisance-eviction pilot program, the one that first enabled L.A. to evict residents based on arrests for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. The new bill, AB 2310, reinstated the pilot program in Los Angeles as well as other cities that had been added over time, including Long Beach and Sacramento. The bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown—over the fierce opposition of the National Rifle Association—also expanded the state law to include Oakland.

According to the Los Angeles Register, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer sent out 85 eviction notices between 2010 and 2013 under powers set forward by the pilot program (now renewed by state law). "More than 30 percent of the tenants left after the letters were received," the Register report reads. "Of the cases that remained, property owners filed cases against a quarter of the individuals."

While this unlawful detainer pilot program has been greeted by supporters as a tough measure for cracking down on illegal firearms, the NRA has objected strenuously on due-process grounds. In a June letter to the California State Senate Judiciary Committee, NRA director of state and local affairs Charles H. Cunningham complained about the standard for evictions:

Accordingly, anytime [sic] a California resident is arrested for one of the above offenses, he or she could be evicted from his or her home—a conviction requiring proof beyond a reasonable doubt or guilty/no contest plea is not necessary. Simply an arrest based on probable cause is enough evidence to initiate an unlawful detainer proceeding. [emphasis original]

On Sept. 16, the day after the state passed the bill expanding its pilot program to include Oakland, City Attorney Parker issued her office's recommendation to the Oakland City Council that Oakland's local NEO be amended accordingly.

"The City Attorney takes very seriously protection of tenants from evictions. Our concern with a lot of the action we take is for the protection of people in the rental units and the surrounding community," says Supervising Deputy City Attorney Illgen. "We’ve heard from a number of tenants who are happy we’re doing this, because they’re scared to death of other tenants on their property."

The amended NEO passed into law by Oakland on Tuesday night goes further than the powers set forward even at the state level—by targeting sex workers "associated" with properties. The relation is left vague: For example, the City Attorney's recommendation claims that a sex worker could be evicted for contact made with clients off-premises. Were a sex worker to meet a client and take home her earnings to her home, she could theoretically be evicted by her landlord merely for keeping her earnings on the premises.

Moreover, the City Attorney could take action against a sex worker or that person's landlord based on evidence that the City Attorney's office isn't obligated to share with either the landlord or the tenant. Illgen says that the amended ordinance will largely target commercial motel operations based on police reports. "There’s parts of Oakland that engage in a lot of prostitution," he says. "We also are very sensitive to the issue that the women who engage in these activities are very much the victims here."

Regarding the state law AB 2310, the NRA objects that arrests based on probable cause fall short of a fair standard for unlawful detainer (eviction) proceedings. The Oakland law now sets the same ambiguous standard for "engaging" in illegal nuisance activities—but for a broader range of suspected crimes.

* * *

Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker (Office of the City Attorney)

Oakland keeps its public records searches and results online; back in April, someone requested records, documents, and communications regarding AB 2310. Records request #3756 turns up a handful of documents, among them emails that portray concerns that Oakland might abuse broader eviction powers, if granted them.

Originally, the language of AB 2310 would authorize Los Angeles and two other cities, Long Beach and Sacramento, to continue with the L.A. pilot program on unlawful detainer. Oakland was not in the running for state-authorized eviction powers (although it had its own nuisance ordinance on the books). So the Oakland City Council and City Attorney's Office asked Townsend Public Affairs, a registered lobbyist organization employed by Oakland, to get Oakland on the bill.

In an April email (greeting: "Hello Team Oakland"), a Townsend lobbyist observed that California State Assembly Member Sebastian Ridley-Thomas had some issues about adding Oakland. The state representative from Los Angeles and author of the pilot-program reauthorization bill in question (again, AB 2310) was worried about what Oakland would do with it. "The chief of staff stated Assembly Judiciary committee staff repeatedly reached out to the City (?) but to no avail," the lobbyist writes. "The Chief of staff [sic] also mentioned potential concerns that this law could be used to help clear out buildings that then become gentrified."

So City Attorney Parker responded with an April letter to Assembly Member Ridley-Thomas to mollify his office. In that letter, she explains that if Oakland were added to the state-level pilot program, the city could expand its powers to pursue unlawful detainer on behalf of landlords. "Including Oakland in AB 2310 will allow the City Attorney's Office to bring an eviction action if the landlord does not," she writes.  

Eight days later, the lobbyist from Townsend delivers: Assembly Member Ridley-Thomas would include Oakland in the bill—with one catch. "Here is the only caveat; we will need to use this tool as they will be keeping annual data and if we don’t use it, and they see that, we won’t have much empathy… just passing this on."

"Thanks to you and to all who assisted in gaining this result," the response from City Attorney Parker reads. "I understand the caveat."      

* * *

In the June complaint that he issued on behalf of the NRA over the state-level law, Cunningham questioned how California officials could possibly expand its unlawful detainer pilot program, given its mechanism for reporting successes and failures. Or rather, the lack thereof. Cunningham:

[The law] does not require the California Research Bureau to report when an individual's case is dismissed, never filed, found not guilty at trial or received a finding a factual innocence. AB 2310 is not designed to report potential abuses of the system, only how "effective" the process is. Accordingly, when making the decision to expand AB 2310, California lawmakers will not have valuable information concerning the abuses of the system and how many people lost their home despite never being convicted of the underlying offense.

Indeed, the California Research Bureau made the same complaint, according to an analysis from the California State Senate Judiciary Committee, also issued in June. In its most recent findings (as of June 2014), the CRB found that "few unlawful detainer actions were actually filed in court by city attorneys under previous unlawful detainer pilot programs." The CRB reported that mandatory demographic data about evicted tenants were either unavailable or not verifiable. The Senate Judiciary Committee report continues:

This lack of demographic information is troubling because it precludes the Legislature from assessing the broader impacts of unlawful detainer pilot programs. Information received by the Committee indicates that, for at least some jurisdictions, city attorney or city prosecutor initiated eviction actions tend to cluster in specific districts and neighborhoods. Given the demographic makeup of California cities, this trend raises the possibility that these pilot programs may be having a disparate impact on certain racial or ethnic communities, or on certain socio-economic classes.

So it was with some suspicion that the unlawful detainer pilot program could be abused—and with the specific suspicion that unlawful detainer might be abused in Oakland—that the state passed a law that enabled Oakland to expand its eviction powers. The powers invested by the state come with an asterisk: Oakland would need to use them or lose them. One day after the state bill passed, the City Attorney wrote an amendment formalizing new eviction powers for her office and expanding them to target sex workers "engaged" in crimes.

"There’s some major social and cultural arguments to be made about whether the conduct should be illegal," Janowitz says. "But given that it’s already illegal, it smacks to a degree of political posturing for the city to be involved in the private relationship between landlords and tenants."

In one respect, the amendment does unambiguous good: Possession of marijuana was struck as a category of controlled substance that could lead to eviction. "Oakland has a strong policy of not going after marijuana users as an enforcement priority," Illgen says. During our interview, he also noted that Oakland has some of the strongest tenant protection policies in the country—including, now, the Tenant Protection Ordinance passed on Tuesday night.

"Let’s face it, we’re talking about lower-income tenants who are most vulnerable, who have least access to legal services," Janowitz says. Oakland's tenant protections might have been strengthened by one council vote on Tuesday night, but not for necessarily for all classes of tenants.

"By the city getting involved, it can only exacerbate an already very difficult situation for this population," Janowitz says. "I would be very surprised if the ordinance had any noticeable effect on diminishing the conduct at which it’s directed."








Oakland Can Now Order Landlords to Evict Sex Workers

10/22/14
Image
Ben Margot/AP

Residents and reporters in Oakland watched closely on Tuesday night as the Oakland City Council took up legislation designed to protect tenants from landlords seeking higher rents. Against the backdrop of rapidly rising housing costs as well as stories of Ellis Act–style evictions creeping in from across the Bay, the Oakland City Council passed the Tenant Protection Ordinance.

Yet before the debate began over tenant protections, the Council granted the city broad new powers to evict residents over certain illegal "nuisance" activities, including prostitution. By unanimous vote, the Oakland City Council passed a bill that gives the city the power to evict sex workers "associated" with a property—and to require their landlords to do the same.

According to Oakland journalist and illustrator Susie Cagle, who tweeted about the extraordinary measure from the Council meeting last night, this bill wasn't on Oakland's radar. It was overshadowed in the press by the Tenant Protection Ordinance, which has commanded headlines in San Francisco and Oakland.

Yet the amended Nuisance Eviction Ordinance is a big deal. Here's how it works, and how it happened.

Ten years ago, Oakland enacted the Nuisance Eviction Ordinance (NEO), a measure that enables officials to pursue evictions against tenants based on drugs or weapons charges. The local legislation was modeled after a state-level pilot program launched in Los Angeles in 1997. (More on that later.) From the start, the nuisance eviction bill was controversial in Oakland.

"It's horrible. It's unconscionable," said Anne Omura, then a managing attorney at Oakland's Eviction Defense Center, in a 2004 interview with the Los Angeles Times. "We feel that it just really tramples on the rights of tenants and doesn't give them a lot of due process."

On Tuesday night, the Oakland City Council expanded the boundaries of nuisance or unlawful detainer evictions in several ways. The definition of nuisance was enlarged to include gambling, prostitution, and solicitation, in addition to possession of illegal weapons and substances. While the original NEO invests the City Administrator with the power to pursue evictions, the new amendment—which was penned by City Attorney Barbara Parker—also grants extra-judicial eviction powers to the office of the City Attorney.

The amended bill further stipulates that a landlord who fears for his or her safety may ask the newly invested City Attorney to carry out the eviction (on the landlord's dime). Finally, the city can go after the landlord for not taking action against a tenant "after being apprised by the City that the tenant has engaged in illegal activity."

"Landlords already have the power by state law and by local ordinance to remedy conduct that the ordinance describes as public nuisance," says Marc Janowitz, supervising attorney at the East Bay Community Law Center. "The addition of the city’s muscle exaggerates an already extreme imbalance in power between landlords and tenants generally."

Here's what the amended nuisance eviction bill does not do: set forth any protections for due process. The bill does not require that charges or a warrant be brought against a tenant in order for the landlord (or the City Attorney) to initiate eviction proceedings against a resident. There's no clear definition for what "engaging" in illegal nuisance activities even means.

"As far as the tenant is concerned, it’s really just like any other eviction action," says Supervising Deputy City Attorney Richard Illgen. "If there’s evidence to show the tenant is engaging in a nuisance activity, they can be evicted without our involvement at all. They do have the right to have a full jury trial on whether or not they engaged in the action constituting the nuisance. So they have full due process rights in court if they choose to contest the eviction."

The bill does not describe what burden of proof the city needs to meet in order to "apprise" a landlord that a tenant has "engaged" in said illegal activity. Nor does the bill stipulate how or whether this evidence (presuming some is required) is to be shared with the tenant.

In fact—when it comes to sex work, at least—a tenant does not need to have committed any crime to be evicted for that crime. "The crime solicited need not actually be committed for solicitation to occur," the amended bill now reads.

"It provides a terribly coercive environment in what is already a very difficult legal system for—let’s face it, we’re talking about poor tenants, poor people, to exist in and to remain housed in," Janowitz says. "I’m afraid that this will only be used as further devices to evict the more vulnerable populations of our city."

* * *

On Sept. 15, California passed a state law reinstating its nuisance-eviction pilot program, the one that first enabled L.A. to evict residents based on arrests for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. The new bill, AB 2310, reinstated the pilot program in Los Angeles as well as other cities that had been added over time, including Long Beach and Sacramento. The bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown—over the fierce opposition of the National Rifle Association—also expanded the state law to include Oakland.

According to the Los Angeles Register, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer sent out 85 eviction notices between 2010 and 2013 under powers set forward by the pilot program (now renewed by state law). "More than 30 percent of the tenants left after the letters were received," the Register report reads. "Of the cases that remained, property owners filed cases against a quarter of the individuals."

While this unlawful detainer pilot program has been greeted by supporters as a tough measure for cracking down on illegal firearms, the NRA has objected strenuously on due-process grounds. In a June letter to the California State Senate Judiciary Committee, NRA director of state and local affairs Charles H. Cunningham complained about the standard for evictions:

Accordingly, anytime [sic] a California resident is arrested for one of the above offenses, he or she could be evicted from his or her home—a conviction requiring proof beyond a reasonable doubt or guilty/no contest plea is not necessary. Simply an arrest based on probable cause is enough evidence to initiate an unlawful detainer proceeding. [emphasis original]

On Sept. 16, the day after the state passed the bill expanding its pilot program to include Oakland, City Attorney Parker issued her office's recommendation to the Oakland City Council that Oakland's local NEO be amended accordingly.

"The City Attorney takes very seriously protection of tenants from evictions. Our concern with a lot of the action we take is for the protection of people in the rental units and the surrounding community," says Supervising Deputy City Attorney Illgen. "We’ve heard from a number of tenants who are happy we’re doing this, because they’re scared to death of other tenants on their property."

The amended NEO passed into law by Oakland on Tuesday night goes further than the powers set forward even at the state level—by targeting sex workers "associated" with properties. The relation is left vague: For example, the City Attorney's recommendation claims that a sex worker could be evicted for contact made with clients off-premises. Were a sex worker to meet a client and take home her earnings to her home, she could theoretically be evicted by her landlord merely for keeping her earnings on the premises.

Moreover, the City Attorney could take action against a sex worker or that person's landlord based on evidence that the City Attorney's office isn't obligated to share with either the landlord or the tenant. Illgen says that the amended ordinance will largely target commercial motel operations based on police reports. "There’s parts of Oakland that engage in a lot of prostitution," he says. "We also are very sensitive to the issue that the women who engage in these activities are very much the victims here."

Regarding the state law AB 2310, the NRA objects that arrests based on probable cause fall short of a fair standard for unlawful detainer (eviction) proceedings. The Oakland law now sets the same ambiguous standard for "engaging" in illegal nuisance activities—but for a broader range of suspected crimes.

* * *

Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker (Office of the City Attorney)

Oakland keeps its public records searches and results online; back in April, someone requested records, documents, and communications regarding AB 2310. Records request #3756 turns up a handful of documents, among them emails that portray concerns that Oakland might abuse broader eviction powers, if granted them.

Originally, the language of AB 2310 would authorize Los Angeles and two other cities, Long Beach and Sacramento, to continue with the L.A. pilot program on unlawful detainer. Oakland was not in the running for state-authorized eviction powers (although it had its own nuisance ordinance on the books). So the Oakland City Council and City Attorney's Office asked Townsend Public Affairs, a registered lobbyist organization employed by Oakland, to get Oakland on the bill.

In an April email (greeting: "Hello Team Oakland"), a Townsend lobbyist observed that California State Assembly Member Sebastian Ridley-Thomas had some issues about adding Oakland. The state representative from Los Angeles and author of the pilot-program reauthorization bill in question (again, AB 2310) was worried about what Oakland would do with it. "The chief of staff stated Assembly Judiciary committee staff repeatedly reached out to the City (?) but to no avail," the lobbyist writes. "The Chief of staff [sic] also mentioned potential concerns that this law could be used to help clear out buildings that then become gentrified."

So City Attorney Parker responded with an April letter to Assembly Member Ridley-Thomas to mollify his office. In that letter, she explains that if Oakland were added to the state-level pilot program, the city could expand its powers to pursue unlawful detainer on behalf of landlords. "Including Oakland in AB 2310 will allow the City Attorney's Office to bring an eviction action if the landlord does not," she writes.  

Eight days later, the lobbyist from Townsend delivers: Assembly Member Ridley-Thomas would include Oakland in the bill—with one catch. "Here is the only caveat; we will need to use this tool as they will be keeping annual data and if we don’t use it, and they see that, we won’t have much empathy… just passing this on."

"Thanks to you and to all who assisted in gaining this result," the response from City Attorney Parker reads. "I understand the caveat."      

* * *

In the June complaint that he issued on behalf of the NRA over the state-level law, Cunningham questioned how California officials could possibly expand its unlawful detainer pilot program, given its mechanism for reporting successes and failures. Or rather, the lack thereof. Cunningham:

[The law] does not require the California Research Bureau to report when an individual's case is dismissed, never filed, found not guilty at trial or received a finding a factual innocence. AB 2310 is not designed to report potential abuses of the system, only how "effective" the process is. Accordingly, when making the decision to expand AB 2310, California lawmakers will not have valuable information concerning the abuses of the system and how many people lost their home despite never being convicted of the underlying offense.

Indeed, the California Research Bureau made the same complaint, according to an analysis from the California State Senate Judiciary Committee, also issued in June. In its most recent findings (as of June 2014), the CRB found that "few unlawful detainer actions were actually filed in court by city attorneys under previous unlawful detainer pilot programs." The CRB reported that mandatory demographic data about evicted tenants were either unavailable or not verifiable. The Senate Judiciary Committee report continues:

This lack of demographic information is troubling because it precludes the Legislature from assessing the broader impacts of unlawful detainer pilot programs. Information received by the Committee indicates that, for at least some jurisdictions, city attorney or city prosecutor initiated eviction actions tend to cluster in specific districts and neighborhoods. Given the demographic makeup of California cities, this trend raises the possibility that these pilot programs may be having a disparate impact on certain racial or ethnic communities, or on certain socio-economic classes.

So it was with some suspicion that the unlawful detainer pilot program could be abused—and with the specific suspicion that unlawful detainer might be abused in Oakland—that the state passed a law that enabled Oakland to expand its eviction powers. The powers invested by the state come with an asterisk: Oakland would need to use them or lose them. One day after the state bill passed, the City Attorney wrote an amendment formalizing new eviction powers for her office and expanding them to target sex workers "engaged" in crimes.

"There’s some major social and cultural arguments to be made about whether the conduct should be illegal," Janowitz says. "But given that it’s already illegal, it smacks to a degree of political posturing for the city to be involved in the private relationship between landlords and tenants."

In one respect, the amendment does unambiguous good: Possession of marijuana was struck as a category of controlled substance that could lead to eviction. "Oakland has a strong policy of not going after marijuana users as an enforcement priority," Illgen says. During our interview, he also noted that Oakland has some of the strongest tenant protection policies in the country—including, now, the Tenant Protection Ordinance passed on Tuesday night.

"Let’s face it, we’re talking about lower-income tenants who are most vulnerable, who have least access to legal services," Janowitz says. Oakland's tenant protections might have been strengthened by one council vote on Tuesday night, but not for necessarily for all classes of tenants.

"By the city getting involved, it can only exacerbate an already very difficult situation for this population," Janowitz says. "I would be very surprised if the ordinance had any noticeable effect on diminishing the conduct at which it’s directed."