Stories you shouldn’t miss:
1. Speaker John A. Perez rewarded politicians who raised the most funds to help elect more Democrats last year with prime jobs in the Assembly, the Center for Investigative Reporting reports. In all, Perez’s efforts pumped $5.8 million into campaigns to help Democrats win a super-majority in the Assembly. And then Perez handed out choice positions to the biggest fundraisers. San Diego Democrat Toni Atkins donated the most money — $282,000 — and Perez made her Assembly majority leader. Most of the cash raised by Democrats came from special interests with business in front of key committees in the Assembly.
Some news media have portrayed the rapid change in leadership at the Oakland Police Department this week as evidence that the city is in “crisis.” And while it’s clear that OPD has been in crisis for a long time, the selection of Deputy Chief Sean Whent to take over as interim police chief today, replacing Acting Chief Anthony Toribio just two days after he took over for retiring Chief Howard Jordan, is a smart choice. In fact, the mistake that Mayor Jean Quan and City Administrator Deanna Santana made was that they should have appointed Whent to the top job on Wednesday.
Stories you shouldn’t miss:
1. An overwhelming majority of Californians — 90 percent — supports a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants under certain conditions, the Bay Area News Group reports, citing a new Field Poll. The conditions include having been in the country for a number of years, having a job, and paying taxes. The Obama administration and Democrats also support the so-called path to citizenship but many Congressional Republicans are continuing to oppose such a plan.
Ali Winston, a freelance journalist who writes often for the Express, has won a Freedom of Information award from the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter. Winston has authored a series of investigative stories on the Oakland Police Department over the past few years, detailing misconduct within the agency and its inability to live up to court-mandated reforms.
The proposal to hire William Bratton, the former head of the New York and Los Angeles police departments, as a consultant to OPD has generated a firestorm of controversy in Oakland. Opponents of stop and frisk are worried that city officials will adopt the controversial police tactic at Bratton’s behest and justify their decision by pointing to Bratton’s nationwide reputation for fighting crime. And if the city were to do that — it would be a major mistake.
Two prominent East Bay residents are being touted as possible replacements for US Labor Secretary Hilda Solis who resigned Wednesday — Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Maria Echaveste, a lecturer at UC Berkeley law school who was President Clinton's deputy chief of staff. Echaveste also is married to Berkeley Law School Dean Christopher Edley Jr.
Clinton's labor secretary, Robert Reich, also teaches at Cal.
Oakland city leaders, including Mayor Jean Quan, made a big deal recently over the announcement that William Bratton, the celebrated former police chief of New York and Los Angeles, is to be a consultant to Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan. But while aspects of Bratton’s record suggest that he could bring a strong, positive influence to OPD, there are parts of his background that should make Oakland leaders wary. In fact, officials would be smart to not treat Bratton as some sort of savior, and to think carefully before adopting advice that he may give.
On Monday, members of the Oakland City Council will cast what may be one of their most important votes in the next two years — the selection of their council president. The vote will follow the swearing-in ceremony at City Hall of three new councilmembers: Dan Kalb, Lynette Gibson-McElhaney, and Noel Gallo. And the choice of who will be the council’s leader for the next two years likely will determine whether Oakland will continue to have a divided government that is fraught with petty bickering and infighting — as it has had for much of the past six years — or one that will work collaboratively to find viable solutions to the city’s many problems.
The proposed settlement agreement that would spare the Oakland Police Department from federal receivership, while forcing the City of Oakland to hire a court-appointed overseer represents an improvement over the current management structure at OPD, but it does not go far enough. The reason is that the proposed settlement between civil rights attorneys and the city may not be able to fix the deep dysfunction within OPD.
When Kayvan Sabeghi tried to make his way home through the darkened, tear-gas-filled streets of downtown Oakland on the night of November 2, 2011, he had no idea that the next five days would be some of the most tortuous in his life. In an incident that was recorded on another person’s cellphone, the 33-year-old Army veteran was attacked and severely beaten by an Oakland Police officer identified in April by the Express as Frank Uu. Sabeghi suffered a serious rupture of his splenic vein while being held at North County jail, but was not hospitalized until eighteen hours later. Following the incident, Uu retired from OPD in March of this year.