Alameda City Manager Debra Kurita abruptly quit her job yesterday -- although it's not clear why. According to the Alameda Journal, Kurita said that she decided to resign after meeting with the city council. She said that although she and the council "share many goals for the future of this city, we do differ in the manner in which to achieve these goals." Strange. Kurita was well-liked and respected. The city is facing numerous financial problems, but many of them originated before she arrived three-and-a-half years ago.
Alameda cops are corrupt too? The head of the city's internal affairs division was arrested on charges of trying to steal people's presciption medicine. The cop, Ronald R. Jones, 48, had been on the force for 26 years. He formerly was head of APD's narcotics and vice division. According to the Alameda Journal, Jones allegedly told the family members of deceased residents that police were offering a service to dispose of medication. APD has no such service.
It's official -- Howard Jordan is taking over for Oakland Police Chief Wayne Tucker on an interim basis. Jordan, a veteran Oakland cop with a mixed record, has been the assistant chief of the department for the past few years.
More evidence that the Obama Administration is bringing some sanity to our federal government. Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the feds will no longer conduct raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in California. About time. The DEA's ridiculous raids during the Bush and Clinton administrations made a mockery of California law, and the legitimate use of pot as medicine. Holder noted that the new policy reflects the president's campaign pledge. Wow, a politician who keeps his promises. That's change we can believe in. Holder's announcement also is a good sign for the new effort to legalize marijuana in California.
The chance that the Oakland A's will end up in San Jose is almost zero. The reason: the San Francisco Giants own the territorial rights to the South Bay, which means all other major league baseball teams are prohibited from moving there. There's been some suggestion that the A's could work out a deal with the Giants, just as the Baltimore Orioles did with the Washington Nationals, but that's highly unlikely for some very specific reasons.
I'm not suggesting that we go back to pre-Prop. 13 laws -- only that we need to kill the failed experiment and come up with something that works. Our property tax system is blatantly unfair, as commenter Jane Powell rightly pointed out in my previous post. Moreover, Prop. 13 destroyed our public schools, which were once the envy of the nation. Most of the rest of the country has nothing like Prop. 13, so what's our problem?
I haven't taken a position for or against BRT, but I think this is one of the better arguments I've heard in opposition. Money quote:
"We are in a serious global crisis. We need serious change now - not later. With regard to driving, that change is going to come in the aggressive retirement of the internal combustion engine in favor of electric cars. That is the big show in the immediate picture. Mode shift to public transit is a part of the picture yes, but we have to see it in its proper place. It will play a smaller role in the immediate future and a gradually larger role decades from now, even for BRT systems that are good ideas for their particular locality, which this is not. In the meanwhile, BRT systems which are not well thought out and create significant congestion will actually make matters worse, and harder for us to meet aggressive emission reduction targets."
Three years after El Cerrito High graduate Juan Carlos Ramos was fatally stabbed at a high school party in the Berkeley Hills, police finally arrested a murder suspect, nineteen-year-old Berkeley High alum Justin Michael Johnson. The suspect, who was apprehended in South Carolina and now awaits extradition to Alameda County, is accused of Ramos' murder and also faces three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, for stabbing three other teens, reports the Trib. The party, which was widely publicized on MySpace.com, drew a crowd of roughly 100 kids from Berkeley, Albany, and El Cerrito -- including many who were not invited. Police blame reticent, uncooperative witnesses for the four-year lag in solving Ramos' murder, which was the impetus for last year's Express story on violence at teen parties. -- Rachel Swan
Jack O'Connell, the state superintendent of public instruction and the man who ultimately oversees Oakland schools, plans to raid the district's financially strapped accounts and give the money to charter schools. O'Connell was disappointed that Measure N, a parcel tax that would have helped charter schools, failed in the November election. So he plans to just take $484,000 from OUSD, which is more than $80 million in debt, and give it to charter schools. And it doesn't seem like anyone can stop him.
O'Connell spokeswoman Hilary McLean told the Trib it's an "equity issue," noting that charter schools don't receieve money from Oakland parcel taxes. She's right; they don't. But that's because Oakland voters didn't approve funds for charter schools when they ok'd the parcel taxes in the first place. If O'Connell wants parcel taxes to fund charter schools, then he should sponsor a new measure. Measure N would have accomplished what he wanted, but it came up short. O'Connell, a big charter school backer, who has received loads of campaign cash from charter school supporters, needs to come to grips with that fact.
It looks like Assistant Police Chief Howard Jordan will take over as interim police chief on Sunday after Chief Wayne Tucker leaves office. We predicted it nearly three months ago, but let's hope Jordan's reign is short. Jordan is an accomplished cop who knows Oakland well, but his unwavering loyalty to everything OPD makes him the wrong choice to lead the department permanently. OPD needs fresh ideas, not a police chief who blindly defends incompetence -- or even corruption.
Jordan's absurd defense of Sgt. Derwin Longmire, the cop who badly screwed up the murder investigation of slain journalist Chauncey Bailey, is a prime example. After the Chauncey Bailey journalism project and the San Francisco Chronicle revealed how messed up Longmire's investigation was, Jordan put out an official department statement, maintaining that Longmire had done nothing wrong -- even though Longmire is under investigation by the department's internal affairs division, the state Attorney General's Office, and the FBI.
Jordan is also guilty of negligence. As head of the criminal investigations bureau, he kept Longmire as the lead detective on the Bailey murder case even though he knew that Longmire had an extreme conflict of interest. As the Chron first pointed out, Longmire had a longtime friendship with Your Black Muslim Bakery CEO Yusuf Bey IV, the likely mastermind of Bailey's murder. Jordan should have pulled Longmire off the case as soon as he learned that fact. His failure to do so makes him unfit to command the entire department.
Oh yeah, and Trib reporter Kelly Rayburn, who broke the news about Jordan's imminent promotion to interim chief, also reported that Tucker predicts a 10 percent drop in crime this year. Area command should help lower crime, and let's hope Tucker is right, but we'll believe it when we see it.