Oaklandside Nonprofit News Doesn’t Reveal Donors But Fundraisers Draw Oakland City Councilmembers

Oaklandside Nonprofit News Doesn’t Reveal Donors But Fundraisers Draw Oakland City Councilmembers


Oakland News Now – video made by the YouTube channel with the logo in the video’s upper left hand corner. OaklandNewsNow.com is the original blog post for this type of video-blog content.

Oaklandside Nonprofit News Doesn’t Reveal Donors But Fundraisers Draw Oakland City Councilmembers, City Staff

Oaklandside is the north of two-year-old non-profit website that likes to push the idea that it practices objective journalism, uninflunced by politicians and the wealthy. It avoids posting a list of its donors yet routinely violates nonprofit tax law by writing about politically charged issues like the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal or attacking black men running for office like Derrick Johnson. Indeed, one of its editors, Darwin Bond Graham, wrote an email claiming to take an interest my (Zennie Abraham, CEO of Zennie62Media’s) explosive interview with former aide to Oakland District Four Councilmember and Oakland Mayoral Candidate Sheng Thao LeAna Powell, but really wanted to know how I met Powell, and who he thought was paying me and assumed that had something to do with the Powell interview.

This one:

Mr. Graham asked those and other questions but did not answer my questions regarding who Oaklandside’s donors are. One thing I learned from my interest in becoming a lawyer was never ask a question you don’t have the answer to. I knew the answer to my question, even as Mr. Graham had no idea that I did. You see, I was itching for that moment: I had long wanted to catch Graham and Oaklandside in the collective lie about itself. That one which pushes the idea that it practices objective journalism, uninflunced by politicians and the wealthy. The reality is just the opposite.

I have long known that because a friend of mine happens to be a local good guy donor (and he really is a good guy) named John Bliss. John Bliss is President and Senior Engineer at the SCI Consulting Group. He’s also a major league lover of all-things Oakland, and even jumped in to help me in the early-stages of getting what is now Zennie62Media, Inc. off the ground. I like John. This is not about him and had Darwin Bond Graham been completely transparent about what Oaklandside does and how it does it, there would be no need for this vlog / blog post. But there is.

See, to repeat a point, Darwin Bond Graham thinks there’s a link between Zennie62Media’s engagement with Californians For Safe Streets / De La Fuente For Mayor and my interviews (because another one’s coming) with LeAna Powell. Well, no. But then what donor and political relationships does Oaklandside have that could be interpreted as leading to the publication writing with a certain slant? As it turns out, a lot – but only if you know about them because they don’t tell you about them. And that’s where we turn back to John Bliss.

John and his incredible wife Kim Thompson held a fundraiser for Oaklandside on October 28, 2021. Why? Well, the word I got from a friend was that Oaklandside was running out of money and needed the help. The event attracted a number of people, and was described in this way:

As the Vice Chair of The Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce it gives me great pride to work along the side of this amazing man, John Bliss and his powerhouse wife, Kim Thompson who is a partner at PWC and a community advocate leader who is spearheading PWC fellows program called CEOs in Action to bring much needed resources to our Black Business community. I also want to mention their amazing smart and talented daughter, Mandela (Mandy) Bliss who was the most amazing hostest! Thank you both for all that you do to help make Oakland a better place and thank you for inviting me and my family to attend this amazing event to celebrate The first Anniversary of The Oaklandside. The night was young, fun, and filled with great food, great people who are supportive of keeping this news source alive and well!! We heard from The Oaklandside’s Editor in Chief, @ Tasneem Raja, Managing Editor Jacob Simas, Cityside CEO Lance Knobel and the rest of the Cityside crew, as they continue to cover the city we call home. (Cityside is The Oaklandside’s parent company and is a 501c3 non-profit committed to providing fair and comprehensive local news in local communities including Oakland and Berkeley.) Please support local journalism! Please support Oaklandside!

That event drew the following Oakland Councilmembers (by photos I gathered online) District One Councilmember Dan Kalb, District Two Councilmember and Oakland City Council President Nikky Fortunado Bas, District Three Councilmember Carroll Fife, and District Six and District Seven Councilmembers and Oakland Mayoral Candidates Loren Taylor and Treva Reid.

And if you’re asking “Where’s Sheng Thao?”, it’s not clear she was there, but Ms. Thao is a frequent visitor to John Bliss’ events and since Bliss is a major Oaklandside money-raiser, it’s no wonder why Sheng’s not been attacked by Graham. Bad stuff.

And in the case of Councilmember Taylor, he has attended more than one Oaklandside Fundraiser. I count the October 28th 2021 event and the June 29th 2021 gathering. I asked Loren about his attendance and apparent role as a supporter of Oaklandside and he remarked via text that “I’m not a donor. Perhaps, I paid to attend the event? I can’t recall. Definetely nothing more than an entrance fee for the event.” With that, Loren has received good coverage from Oaklandside – no attacks.

The bottom line is that Darwin Bond Graham lied about Oaklandside (by omission) and tried to paint private Zennie62Media, Inc., with a dark brush that easily applies to the news nonprofit. Moreover, he was egged on by a tiny set of Oaklanders like Jennifer Zillac (who delights in writing my name on Nextdoor, but never responds to any attempt I make to communicate). It was a complete, full example of white supremacy in media supported by an African American news editor who’s the boss over a white male reporter (Mr. Graham) working for white news ownership. A complete team assembled to try and make this media startup CEO look bad, not even thinking that I was more than capable of turning the arrow to them.

What all of this says to me is to look at Oaklandside’s coverage of Oakland politicians and wonder if that person’s a donor supporter. I know that people flamed by Oaklandside’s Mr. Graham (like Derrick Johnson during his 2020 run for the At-Large City Council Seat held by Rebecca Kaplan or Ignacio De La Fuente who’s running for Mayor of Oakland this year) are not donors at all. That means Oaklandside is anything but the holier-than-thou independent journalistic monolith it tries to make people think it is and very much in the pocket of Oakland elected officials and well-monied progressives.

Oaklandside Acting In Violation of Nonprofit Law With Partisan Political Posts

Oaklandside is in violation of 501(c)3 IRS nonprofit law according to this post by the IRS website:

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.

On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.

The law is clear. Unless Oaklandside stops its actions, CitySide / Oaklandside will receive large fines or lose its nonprofit status, or both.

Stay tuned.


Note from Zennie62Media and OaklandNewsNow.com : this video-blog post demonstrates the full and live operation of the latest updated version of an experimental Zennie62Media , Inc. mobile media video-blogging system network that was launched June 2018. This is a major part of Zennie62Media , Inc.’s new and innovative approach to the production of news media. What we call “The Third Wave of Media”. The uploaded video is from a YouTube channel. When the YouTube video search uploads a video from a search for Oakland City Council vlogs, it is automatically uploaded to and formatted automatically at the Oakland News Now site and Zennie62-created and owned social media pages. The overall objective here, on top of our is smartphone-enabled, real-time, on the scene reporting of news, interviews, observations, and happenings anywhere in the World and within seconds and not hours – is the use of the existing YouTube social graph on any subject in the World. Now, news is reported with a smartphone and also by promoting current content on YouTube: no heavy and expensive cameras or even a laptop are necessary, or having a camera crew to shoot what is already on YouTube. The secondary objective is faster, and very inexpensive media content news production and distribution. We have found there is a disconnect between post length and time to product and revenue generated. With this, the problem is far less, though by no means solved. Zennie62Media is constantly working to improve the system network coding and seeks interested content and media technology partners.

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