| Photo via HNU Facebook
Part XLI of the “Back-to-Basics Governance” Series
“It is sad that everything’s iconic in Oakland is disappearing. The new mayor is still in the honeymoon stage. To the credit of Libby as the previous mayor, she fought hard for and developed Oakland a lot.” — from a reader who studied for two years at the Holy Names College (now a closed university) but did not graduate there. The reader requested anonymity.
The reader referred to the Hon. Elizabeth (Libby) Beckman Schaaf (born November 12, 1965), an American politician. She served as the 50th mayor of Oakland, California, from 2015 to 2023. The Hon. Sheng Thao is the new mayor of the City of Oakland. She is only 37 years young. This columnist e-mailed her on May 17 a link to the first article of this mini-series. Confirmation was received from the Office of the Mayor. The e-mail said that this journalist would soon receive a formal response.
This column suggested earlier that Oakland’s public-and-private sectors request former city mayors — as spearheaded by Jerry Brown — to help incumbent Mayor Thao and the City Council — form a Public-Private Partnership (PPP). Yes, a PPP to acquire the now-closed Holy Names University (HNU) and reopen it as a cooperative institution. Yes, a co-op owned by the faculty, university employees, students, alumni, and their families. Other stakeholders with a historical link to the HNU, the City of Oakland, and Alameda County may also be allowed to buy shares.
Turning the HNU into a private cooperative will put to rest the reluctance of some elected public officials to help it. Some city, county and state officials do not like to use public resources to help a private university, especially a Catholic institution, survive the ill effects of the still-active pandemic, forest fires, and the resulting economic crisis, even if it is a 155-year-old institution of learning. Why? Apparently, because of the separation between church and state.
Last Wednesday, this column said it would feature his talks with Numeriano Bouffard today. He is the founder of the “Pueblo Filipino” project in the Colima State of Mexico, with a land area of 1,200 hectares (2,400 acres). The project will usher in a “Filipino Hispanidad Movement,” not only in Filipinas but also North America. Mr. Bouffard may be persuaded to make Oakland the headquarters of its planned ventures in the Western United States. He is based in Orlando, Florida, and is also the prime mover of the Philippine-American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida and the FPACC Foundation, Inc. The FPACC stands for the Federation of Filipino-American Chambers of Commerce.
The troika can champion the revival of the HNU. Hopefully, Mr. Bouffard can persuade the current national president of the FPACC, Marie Cunning, and its founder-president emeritus, Yolanda Ortega Stern. President Cunning hails from Arizona, while Ms. Stern comes from Northern California.
The entry of America’s Mexican, Hispanic, and Latino communities in the HNU revival has historical significance because the entire state of California was part of “New Spain,” the first European colony in North America and the Caribbean.
There are now more than 35 million Americans of Mexican descent. There are also close to 5 million Americans of Filipino descent. Both ethnic groups together earn collectively hundreds of billions of greenbacks every year. They can easily afford to purchase shares in a cooperative of a university. It is only a matter of formal negotiations among the entities that want to participate in the historic revival of a closed university and turn it into a public-owned cooperative.
In the Hispanic world, Mexicans and Filipinos are the closest among nationalities. They consider themselves like first cousins, as their friendship extends more than 458 years, annually celebrated in the Mexican State of Jalisco.
Reports say that controlling owners of the HNU have sold the campus to an alleged property developer. The City of Oakland can take over the campus because it has the eminent domain right. Reviving the HNU as a public-owned co-op carries a lot of public interest. Reviving a 155-year-old institute of learning and selling back the campus to the proposed co-op (or a PPP entity) is way better. Yes, a million times better — from the view of public relations. Why allow a private corporation to turn it into a concrete-and-asphalt jungle of condos and townhouses that only the wealthy can afford?