Monday, August 29, 2016

Online Poll Attacks Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, Claims False Endorsements for Peggy Moore

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Aug 29, 2016 at 6:00 PM

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Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan is crying foul over a voter survey that attacks her and falsely implies that one of her opponents has racked up two influential endorsements.

The survey, distributed via email to an unknown number of Oakland voters, contains eight statements "from supporters of Peggy Moore for Oakland City Council." Respondents are asked to rank whether or not the statements are "compelling" reasons to vote for Moore.

Moore, a senior advisor to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, is one of five candidates trying to unseat Kaplan for the at-large seat.

"For years, current councilmember Rebecca Kaplan has presided over a city that has become less and less affordable and livable," reads one of the statements. "As a longtime renter who understands the importance of keeping Oakland affordable, Peggy Moore will fight to increase affordable housing and sustainable, transit­-oriented development in Oakland."

The survey claims that Kaplan "has few real accomplishments to show from her 15 years as a politician."

The survey also states that Peggy Moore is "supported" by Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Assemblymember Tony Thurmond.

But both Barbara Lee and Assemblymember Tony Thurmond deny endorsing Moore.

Rebecca Kaplan. - BERT JOHNSON
  • Bert Johnson
  • Rebecca Kaplan.
"It is wrong to lie to the voters and pretend to be conducting a neutral poll when what you really are doing is circulating a hit piece attacking one candidate to support another," said Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan.

The Moore campaign confirmed that they paid for the survey.

But Christman Bowers, Moore's campaign manager, told the Express that they had no part in writing the questions. Bowers said it's common for candidates to commission these types of polls in order to see what kinds of messaging works with voters. He characterized the statement claiming Moore is supported by Lee and Thurmond as a "hypothetical."

"We don’t have the support of Congresswoman Barbara Lee, yet, or the assemblymember," he said. Bowers added it was not Moore's intention to mislead any potential voters.

Ruth Bernstein of EMC Research, the firm that is conducting the survey for Moore's campaign, told the Express that they sent out a follow-up message to people who completed the survey clarifying that Moore doesn't have the endorsement of Congresswoman Lee or Assemblymember Thurmond.

"It may not have been worded clearly enough and we will probably be doing some clarification," Bernstein said. "Unfortunately, that sometimes happens in the rush of a campaign."

Kaplan, however, asserted that the survey amounts to campaign activity like an advertisement, not a scientific poll. She said the survey should have included information about who paid for it. Kaplan worries that some Oakland voters might have been misled about who has won the endorsement of Lee and Thurmond.

"We are on pretty sure footing that this was a poll that was commissioned," said Christman. "It’s not a robo-call, a canvas, or a door-knock and the number of people the poll was sent to pales in comparison to rising to the occasion of being considered voter engagement."

Bernstein and Christman would not say how many people received the poll, but Christman said it was in the hundreds.

Oakland Police Union Writes $1,400 Check to Unseat Councilmember Noel Gallo

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Aug 29, 2016 at 11:18 AM

Noel Gallo.
  • Noel Gallo.
The Oakland Police Officers Association made a maximum $1,400 campaign contribution to Viola Gonzalez last week, according to a disclosure form filed with the city clerk. Gonzales is running against incumbent Noel Gallo for the Oakland City Council District Five seat.

Gallo first ran for city council in 2012 on a law-and-order platform that included strengthening the city's police force. At a public forum last week, Gallo said hiring more cops is still a major priority for him. He wants to increase the number of sworn police officers from the current 744 to as many as 850.

But the police officers' union appears to be upset with Gallo because of his support for a sweeping police reform measure.

Gallo is co-author of a ballot measure that would establish an independent civilian police oversight commission. If approved by voters in November, the new commission would be able to investigate police misconduct and impose discipline on officers.

OPOA strongly opposed the police commission ballot measure when it was being considered by the city council earlier this year. The union successfully lobbied to have some features gutted. Even so, if voters approve creation of the commission, it would be one of the strongest civilian oversight bodies in the nation.

OPOA has spent large sums in previous elections in attempts to unseat city officials who cross swords with them. In 2012 OPOA spent tens of thousands in an unsuccessful effort to topple Rebecca Kaplan from her at-large council seat, and to prevent Barbara Parker from remaining in the city attorney's office.

More recently, OPOA spent $17,583 to help Anne Campbell Washington win her District 4 seat.

The Express was unable to reach Noel Gallo and the Oakland Police Officers Association for comment this morning.

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Sen. Hancock's Ban on State Funds for Coal Projects

by Darwin BondGraham
Fri, Aug 26, 2016 at 2:43 PM

State Senator Loni Hancock opposes using public funds to subsidize the coal industry. - BERT JOHNSON
  • Bert Johnson
  • State Senator Loni Hancock opposes using public funds to subsidize the coal industry.
State Sen. Loni Hancock's bill to ban the use of funds for coal-related projects was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown today. The new law makes it all the more difficult for coal companies to find a route through California to overseas markets.

More …

Thursday, August 25, 2016

More Details on Those Rumored Oakland Raiders Coliseum Renderings and Images

by Graham Womack
Thu, Aug 25, 2016 at 6:54 PM

Images of a possible Raiders dome stadium in Las Vegas.
  • Images of a possible Raiders dome stadium in Las Vegas.

Yesterday, the Express reported that the Oakland Raiders “have new and unreleased rendered images of what a Coliseum stadium might look like at 66th Avenue.”

More information has emerged about these images.

Scott McKibben, executive director of the Oakland-Alameda County Joint Powers Authority, told the Express today that he saw the drawings during a meeting with the Raiders nearly a year ago. 

"These were just a couple of drawings that were on easel boards in the conference room as we were having a meeting with the Raider ownership and management," he explained. "They were more to show to us what was their view of what the stadium would look like in certain geographic parcels of our property.

"One of them is football-only. One is with football on the south side and a baseball facility on the north side, and so on. These are nothing more than I'm sure the Raiders saying, 'Okay, there's 125 acres of land there. We need approximately 80 to 85 acres for parking, the arena's gonna stay, so where are we thinking about putting our stadium? What might that stadium look like with that being 55,000 seats?'"

The team has yet to publicly release these images. Raiders spokesperson Will Kiss didn’t immediately respond to an email to discuss or release the images.

"To the best of my knowledge, those drawings have never left the conference room of the Raiders center," McKibben said.

Zennie Abraham, an Oakland video blogger who has extensively covered the Raiders’ stadium saga, told the Express that the rumored drawings "are at Raiders headquarters. They're not renderings that somebody has on a PDF or a JPEG that are on some file that somebody's holding at the city.

"Because I can guarantee you, if they were, one of those city people would have leaked them.”

Meanwhile, the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee released renderings this morning for a Raider stadium in Las Vegas, just before it met for five hours to discuss the plan. Forbes reported that the Raiders filed for a trademark of “Las Vegas Raiders” on August 20.

McKibben said he most recently spoke with Raiders owner Mark Davis six to eight weeks ago. McKibben remains optimistic. “We've got a great relationship with the Raiders,” he said. “We just had training meetings with them all week. We're just kind of now waiting for an appraisal to get done on the property and for prospective developers and people that are interested in teaming up with the Raiders of putting a package together for a new stadium.”

Look for a cover story on the Raiders before the NFL season begins.

Berkeley City Council Will Meet Tomorrow to Vote on Minimum Wage Compromise

by Darwin BondGraham
Thu, Aug 25, 2016 at 12:44 PM

Members of the Berkeley for Working Families coalition outside Berkeley City Hall in April. - COURTESY OF SEIU 1021
  • Courtesy of SEIU 1021
  • Members of the Berkeley for Working Families coalition outside Berkeley City Hall in April.
Tomorrow at 11:30 a.m., the Berkeley City Council will convene a special meeting to try one more time to reach a compromise on the minimum wage.

All sides sound optimistic. But it's been a long, hard road.

More …

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Oakland-Alameda Authority Confirms Unreleased Renderings of Possible Raiders Stadium at Coliseum Site

by Graham Womack
Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 11:37 AM

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Tomorrow morning, the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee will meet to discuss the Oakland Raiders relocating to Las Vegas.

By now, Oakland fans are probably well aware that team officials have been openly flirting with the Sin City for months. Relocation might seem like a foregone conclusion, with Raiders owner Mark Davis saying at a news conference April 28 that he wanted to turn Nevada "into the silver and black state."

But don't count Oakland out just yet.

The Express recently learned that behind-the-scenes action is moving forward insofar as conversation between the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority and the Raiders.

JPA executive director Scott McKibben has made no secret of wanting to get a new stadium built for the Raiders in Oakland.

And he told the Express this month that the JPA and the Raiders have new and unreleased rendered images of what a Coliseum stadium might look like at 66th Avenue.

McKibben declined to provide these images to the Express, though he said owner Mark Davis remains committed to Oakland.

"Mark Davis has told me a number of times that his first option is to stay in Oakland," McKibben said. "I take Mark at his word. I believe him."

McKibben added: "I do know that he feels that it's his responsibility to his team and his family and his shareholders to look at other opportunities if in fact Oakland doesn't materialize."

We'll know more about these other options tomorrow. Look for an Express cover story on the Oakland stadium issue and possible Raiders relocation before the NFL season begins.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Landlord Pledges to Repair Bathrooms at Oakland Chinatown SRO

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 4:53 PM

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A group of investors who recently purchased an Oakland residential hotel — and who have been accused of harassing the tenants to drive them out of their homes — pledged in court today to immediately repair demolished bathrooms in the building.

"Construction will start immediately," said Kate Morrow, an attorney representing the investor group that purchased the building last year.

More …

Mining Company Behind Oakland Coal Terminal Withdraws IPO Plans, Bogged Down in Lawsuit

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 11:29 AM

ILLUSTRATION BY HIEDIE SIOTECO
  • Illustration by Hiedie Sioteco
Bowie Resource Partners, the Kentucky-based coal company that was quietly backing plans by Oakland developer Phil Tagami and former Port of Oakland Executive Director Jerry Bridges to build a massive coal export terminal at the foot of the Bay Bridge announced yesterday that it's canceling a planned IPO.

The announcement is yet another sign that plans to ship millions of tons of coal through Oakland are dead in the water.

Bowie executives cited "market conditions" as the reason for withdrawing their IPO.

The public offering would have raised $100 million for Bowie, money that could have been used to expand its coal mining operations in western US states, including Utah, where Bowie already has several operating mines. Some of the funds could have also been used to help finance construction of the Oakland coal export terminal. The terminal had an estimated price tag of $275 million.

More …

Friday, August 19, 2016

UC Berkeley Police Lieutenant Allegedly Sent Racist Email to Chief

by Darwin BondGraham
Fri, Aug 19, 2016 at 12:01 PM

UC Berkeley Police Lieutenant Lee Harris apparently sent an email to his Chief Margo Bennett in 2015 depicting a Black man holding a sign reading "no mother should have to fear for her son's life every time he robs a store." The lieutenant wrote above the picture, apparently an internet meme making fun of Black Lives Matter protesters, "thought this would make everyone smile."

The email was first reported by the Daily Californian. The Express also obtained a copy of the email from an anonymous source. The Daily Californian confirmed from the university that the email was sent by a "police officer," but the University would not confirm his identity.

The Express was unable to reach Bennett by telephone today. The department's public information officer was also not in her office. University spokesperson Janet Gilmore told the Daily Californian that Bennett "verbally reprimanded" the lieutenant for sending the message.

But university records show that Bennett also promoted Harris to captain after receiving the email. Harris currently is in charge of "administration and community outreach" for the department.

Harris did not answer his phone when called.

Last year, Bennett had her department gun stolen from her vehicle after parking it in Richmond. Bennett was appointed chief of the campus police department in 2013.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Alameda Superior Court Judge: Landlord Acting "Unbelievably Callous" in Chinatown SRO Harassment Case

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, Aug 16, 2016 at 6:16 PM

524 8th Street. - DARWIN BONDGRAHAM
  • Darwin BondGraham
  • 524 8th Street.
Residents of an Oakland Chinatown SRO won some relief in court today against their landlord who they accuse of engaging in a campaign of harassment to drive them out of their homes.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman ordered the landlord to immediately restore certain services that had been removed, and to quickly repair bathrooms that have been completely demolished and left inoperable for six months.

"This problem is gonna get fixed, and fixed quickly," Seligman told the landlord's attorney about the bathrooms. "It's completely intolerable and unacceptable that the bathrooms have not been operating since last February."

About a dozen of the building's residents, all Chinese immigrants who speak little or no English, sat in the courtroom today watching the proceedings.

"This can't happen. What is in this record is simply not tolerable," Seligman said about the landlord's actions.

The building, a three-story residential hotel located at 524 8th Street, was purchased last year by the Green Group, LP, an investment company. James Kilpatrick, who helped Green Group purchase the building, and who owns a five percent stake in the company, told the San Francisco Business Times that he and his business partners plan to upgrade the 38-unit SRO and rent it out to students and tech workers.

Tenants in the building alleged that Kilpatrick and his colleagues have engaged in a campaign of harassment to drive them out. The tenants sued in June with help from the Oakland City Attorney, the Asian Law Caucus, and attorney Robert Salinas.

According to court records, after purchasing the building, the Green Group issued new rules that barred the building's residents from keeping personal belongings in the kitchen and other common areas, as many had traditionally done. Then on February 8, the beginning of the Chinese New Year Festival, the landlord's property manager went through the building and ripped down scrolls, tangerines, and other decorations tenants had placed in their doorways to celebrate the holiday.

Then the landlord's contractor demolished four shared bathrooms that served many of the building's residents. The contractor also tore out a communal kitchen, leaving only three bathrooms and one kitchen for all of the building's residents. In statements filed with the court, residents said the demolitions have made the building close to uninhabitable.

The landlord also installed surveillance cameras in the kitchen and other common areas within the building.

Salinas told Judge Seligman that it would have been a reasonable security measure to install surveillance cameras at the building's entrance or outside, but the landlord instead placed the cameras inside the building to watch the tenants. Salinas said the residents have a right to privacy in their homes, and they shouldn't have to worry that they're being watched by their landlord while they're in their kitchen, or walking to their bathroom.

The landlord also offered $2,000 to residents if they would waive their rights and move out of the building, according to court records.

Kate Morrow, an attorney representing the Green Group, told the judge that the cameras were not being constantly monitored by the landlord.

She also said the six month-long delay in repairing the demolished bathrooms was the fault of the city's planning and building department, which isn't allowing the landlord to proceed with restoration work.

The judge didn't appear to buy the landlord's arguments. 

"It is unbelievably callous in the court's view that any landlord would have twenty-five units down to one bathroom," said Seligman, who added that he will personally visit the building to ensure the bathrooms and other services are quickly restored.

Another hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday to make a final ruling in the case.

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