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A ‘reparations panel’ for Alameda County, whose largest city is Oakland, has demanded $5 million to come up with a plan for reparations over racism, and say it will take them two years to do it.

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley speaks during a community celebration of Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan and her legacy at the Oakland Museum of California in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2021. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

According to NPR affiliate KQED, the 15-member commission was assembled in March of 2023 to ‘study anti-black racism’ and come up with a plan to compensate allegedly harmed residents. We should note, the commission was supposed to have completed its work by this July. Instead, as KQED notes, “it has hardly started.” (plus the $5 million thing)

Nate Miley, president of the Board of Supervisors and author of the resolution that created the Reparations Commission, blamed the pandemic and a months-long recall process of Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price, which is set for a vote this November.

“I didn’t think it would take as long to get people appointed,” Miley told the outlet. “We do want to have a sense of urgency, and that’s why I was kind of looking at a year and a half, but maybe I might have been a bit ambitious.”

The committee was the combination of two resolutions by the Board of Supervisors from 2011 and 2020. The first apologized for slavery and racial segregation, while the second vowed to examine the role that Alameda county played in perpetuating discrimination against black residents, and then come up with a plan to show them the money.

“We are trying not to recreate the wheel,” said Debra Gore-Mann, president and CEO of Oakland racial justice organization the Greenlining Institute, who asked supervisors for a dedicated staff to complete their work, and a new deadline of June 30, 2026. Oh, and the $5 million.

The commission also asked for a budget of about $5 million, dwarfing the initial budget allocation of approximately $51,000. The requested budget would support research, public outreach and community listening sessions over the next two years. Commission members currently receive a $50 stipend for each meeting they attend. -KQED

“I think $5 million is a hefty amount of funding,” said Miley, who noted that the county’s budget deficit is projected to reach between $70 million and $100 million this year – and that even getting the board to respond and other support requests could take months.

Last year, Milley suggested that reparations was not a top priority.

“Quite frankly I think that’s not the lowest hanging fruit,” he said. “My feeling is, trying to get a check in the hands of African Americans is going to be a steep hill to climb.”

During an Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting in March of 2023, a vocal minority of residents stood vehemently opposed to the idea – calling reparations a “ponzi scheme,” a “robbery,” “an insult to the Black community,” “an insult to Martin Luther King,” “Marxist,” a way to “monetize the victim mentality” and even a path to “further enslavement.”

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