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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: News

Re: “#LibbyLeaks: Oakland Mayor Launches Investigation Against City and Police Whistleblowers

What I often question is if Oakland has been known for years as one of the top places in the nation for child/human trafficking, why has it never seemingly been of huge concern for the city and OPD? In my few (six years) of living here, I've never heard it about it from more than the non-profits that work directly with the victims themselves. Now it's a big deal (as it should be), as some of the fullness of despicable behavior is revealed (thank you EBX, Celeste Guap, other victims and folks) that come forward to investigate and speak the truth! Shame on man. I can't even add "kind" to the end of that. All politicians and people in positions of power should have grave consequences if they are not working for the people at large. Transparency is a must and provides quicker feedback for proper change.

Posted by Chantelle L on 06/22/2016 at 6:09 PM

Re: “When Landlords Target Tenants in Rent-Controlled Buildings

I moved to Oakland in 1977 and have been a landlord in Oakland since 1984. Some of the proposed changes in the rent ordinance will result in a continual decline of older rental property such as what I own.
I've had tenants challenge my earthquake retrofit efforts in order to keep their rent substantially below market. Does the City want owners to not retrofit their properties and create a potential disaster for the low and moderate income folks who will die, be seriously hurt and/or lose their homes in the next earthquake like those folks in the Marina in SF and Northridge in So Cal?
The bad guys, as discussed in this article, should be punished but no matter how the current rent ordinance is changed, the only way they can be punished is if tenants continue to take their bad landlords to court.
Lots of the current discourse is about newer properties that can charge very high rents and are NOT subject to the rent controls. Nothing can be done about that, unfortunately. The rest of us landlords continue to charge much lower rents than are charged in Berkeley and San Francisco. It's time that housing issues are addressed with a comprehensive analysis and not knee-jerk responses to particular bad guys that I hate, along with most all tenants.
As for the speculators who are screwing with everyone, I encourage tenants to take these folks to court and make their lives miserable.
This is from an old civil rights activist who marched with King and spent some time in Alabama's state prison system for that honor. Don't punish the good women and men who are landlords because there are a few total a-holes. Please

Posted by Mark Evan Slafkes on 06/22/2016 at 6:03 PM

Re: “#LibbyLeaks: Oakland Mayor Launches Investigation Against City and Police Whistleblowers

This effort is completely against every good government practice, a huge waste of resources, AND anti-worker.
Thanks for writing this, and I hope that there is an official investigation into their retaliatory efforts.

Posted by Gabriel Haaland on 06/22/2016 at 5:43 PM

Re: “#LibbyLeaks: Oakland Mayor Launches Investigation Against City and Police Whistleblowers

Remember the old saying, the cover-up is worse than the crime-enough!

Posted by Pamela Drake on 06/22/2016 at 4:51 PM

Re: “#LibbyLeaks: Oakland Mayor Launches Investigation Against City and Police Whistleblowers

Who could have predicted that instead of trying to solve the problem the powers-that-be in Washington, er, Oakland resolve to capture, er, discover and punish Edward Snowden, er the leaker(s) instead?

Posted by JP Massar on 06/22/2016 at 4:45 PM

Re: “Cheerfully Crippled

Dan Sorkin passed away this month -- he was perhaps the most famous radio personality in Chicago at one time, then was coaxed to Los Angeles as morning man at KHJ ... which shortly thereafter switched to Boss Radio. KHJ's owners moved him to co-owned KFRC in San Francisco ... then switched that station to The Big 610. Dan ended up at KSFO, at the invitation of Don Sherwood, perhaps the most famous radio personality in San Francisco history. Dan also "discovered" the comedian Bob Newhart, recorded a comedy album of his own, wrote a few books, flew around the world on his own, and was probably as interesting a fellow as you'll ever meet in several lifetimes.

Posted by David Ferrell Jackson on 06/20/2016 at 10:50 PM

Re: “Tenant Advocates Decry Court Move

Great Article. commentary - I was fascinated by the information - Does anyone know if my business might obtain a blank USDA OF-301 document to complete ?

Posted by Elli Fabs on 06/19/2016 at 8:18 AM

Re: “JP Morgan Chase's Home Loans in Oakland Mostly Went to White and Wealthy Residents

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Posted by Anjali Anju on 06/17/2016 at 10:37 PM

Re: “How the Oakland Police Underage-Sex Scandal Made Its Way onto Facebook and Instagram

Having just listened to the Mayor's press conference, I offer the following follow-up/leads in your reporting:

1) Mayor Schaaf says tonight that the sex scandal investigation is almost over....Not so much....it's not all about the officers involved with Ms. Guap...in plain sight, an obviously frustrated Councilman Gallo has made repeated public references (latest at 6/14 Council public safety ctee hearing) to service workers finding condums, often, in cop cars brought in for service/cleaning at International Blvd. car shops on International Blvd. This stuff has been going on with more than one sex worker. Dig for facts that would require the City to keep investigating.....because I'd say there's a 90% chance there's more, much more...

2) Mayor Schaaf also says that putting City Administrator in direct charge of OPD is "civilian oversight "of OPD. It's not---it's just more direct, temporary City Administration oversight of OPD, the status quo.....the CA already oversees OPD. Real, independent oversight is in a proposed Charter Amendment approved by Council Public Safety Committee.......

3) Throughout the last few weeks, the Mayor has been bemoaning how little she can say about personnel changes and investigationsdue to the Police Officers Bill of Rts, as expanded by CA Supreme Court in Copley v. Superior Court.....But our City leaders did nothing to support a bill changing that law (SB 1286, Leno) and the bill was quietly killed by Senate leaders on May 27 for political/election reasons. As a result our State and local government remains under the thump of police unions and they, are stiffled in holding police accountable and the public has no idea what police managers and city officials are doing, not doing. The Mayor can be frustrated about existing law, she should be embarrassed for doing nothing to support the Leno bill. I can only assume that the silence on SB 1286 is directly related to keep on good terms with the 800 llb. politicl gorilla of Oakland politics, the OPOA.....

4) Your story above about the officer who was relating to sex workers while heading up OPD's "special victims unit".....exhibit 1 of the wrong cop to be heading an SVU. Who's choosing/managing these people----the OPOA? their corrupt power subordinates? Time to circle back to your May (? ) 205 sexual assaul victim mistreatnebt by OPD story. (A little of the same happened in recent drunk home invasion cop case, too, when responding police supervisor reportedly asked one of the victims if she really wanted to pursue charges.) The 2015 Express story was about a sexual assault victim who was denied an investigation by OPD, discouraged by OPD for pressing for an investigation and ultimately filed a complaint with CPRB. Mayor says she first learned of the 2015 case situation from the EXpress and caused reforms to the OPD's procedures for handling such cases. Did she? How many sexual assault and domestic violence victims have had their cases mishandled by OPD since? How good were those new protocols when you have a toxic cop in charge of the OPD's SVU? Are those policies being violated, too?

5) How about some less generic and more pointed appreciation for female police officers following the rules and trying to do their jobs in a toxic, sexist , discriminatory work work environment????

6) After the quick and seamless Jordan to Torribio to Whent Chief change, which the Court Monitors owned and directed...compared to what's gone on this month at OPD, you need to dig further as to how closely the current Mayor consulted with Compliance Director Warshaw. This , weeks changes have come fast, chaotically and almost schizophrenically , each change in response to new scandal facts. We know that Mayor Quan, whatever her failings, formed a deep.respectful an complete collaboration with the Court Monitors regarding NSA compliance. We know the current Mayor is capable of free-lancing (her unilateral change of the Court-ordered OPD crowd control policy). The non-deliberative, rushed, chaotic series of changes just don't look or feel like changes made with an appropriate level of advance consult with the Federal Monitors. Please dig deep on this issue, too. I can believe that former Chief Whent lost the confidence of the Court Monitor----I can't see the Monitor going for first Interim choice, Farrow, when he had been in IA for years and the Court Monitors had had so many criticisms of IA's work product.

Mary Vail
Oakland, CA
Call or write--your Editors have my phone and email....

Posted by Mary Vail on 06/17/2016 at 8:34 PM

Re: “Alameda County DA Seeks Controversial Surveillance Device

The Harris "Triggerfish" is outdated equipment.
Easiest way to stop this is in court. Recently a judge told a DA and the FBI(paraphrasing) "You signed a non-disclosure agreement with Harris and others but NOT with The People of the United States, you didn't realize we're not subject or bound by such an agreement, let's have the info or dismiss."
The case was dismissed.
This is a joke because all the defendants in IMSI-catcher cases need to do is keep demanding the Stingray evidence and the DoJ will come in and quietly DROP THE CASE when challenged. Don't believe me? Look it up.. they'd rather let a drug thug go free before the cough up info on the equipment.
(Which ironically has been leaked by Harris insiders online including the softwares.)

Posted by Mario Pass on 06/17/2016 at 1:26 AM

Re: “Berkeley City Council Approves Ballot Measure to Tax Landlords and Create Affordable Housing Fund

Everybody knows it's dog eat dog and wealth never trickles down to the poor. So thank you, city council, for at least trying to fix a market failure.

Posted by Jane Christmas on 06/16/2016 at 10:42 AM

Re: “Berkeley City Council Approves Ballot Measure to Tax Landlords and Create Affordable Housing Fund

If society won't take the moral high ground and assert that no human being should have to pay another human being for access to geography (but should, rather, have to pay society for that access), then programs such as the Berkeley City Council has proposed will arise, predictably, and they may mitigate, though they can't remove, the transfer of earned income from producers to the mere land-holding aspect of landlords. The housing aspect of landlord income is legitimate, but as commonsense informs us, it is land values which rise disproportionate to the cost of the building.

Posted by Christian Ogg on 06/14/2016 at 4:55 PM

Re: “Tenant Advocates say Oakland Officials Delaying and Obstructing Rent Control Ballot Measure

East Bay Express continues to conflate Oakland rent control with State law (Costa Hawkins) that exempt anything built after 1995 from any type of rent control. Doing this is confusing and causes people to waste energy trying to change Oakland's laws which have no effect on state law.Don't go asking the Mayor about "new" construction being exempt from rent control. she'll just refer you to the Governor.

That said, expanding the rent control adjustment program from 12 to 17 FTE (full time equivalents) is what the analysis calls for. This is obviously sorely needed given the reports comparisons of Oakland's Rent Adjustment Program to those of other cities.
You can read the proposed legislation and the report cited here:

https://oakland.legistar.com/LegislationDe…

As for foot dragging, they may be waiting for the results of an audit of the rent adjustment program, currently underway. This is being done at the insistence of advocates on both sides of the issue. It is long overdue.

The proposed rules that compel property owners to petition for higher rents MAY reduce tenant petitions but will certainly increase petitions from property owners and will not help tenants with non-compliant landlords who will continue to ignore the laws no matter how strict they are.

Posted by Ilona Nesmith Clark on 06/12/2016 at 8:25 PM

Re: “Berkeley City Council Approves Ballot Measure to Tax Landlords and Create Affordable Housing Fund

Does the Berkley really think that this small change in taxes will stop the current speculation in land values? What is needed is a program of gradual conversion of local taxes to be place only on land values, no matter how many properties or bare sites are owned. Such a proposed program might scare off future speculators and REALLY make the cost of the sites affordable by home-makers and entrepreneurs.

Posted by David Chester on 06/12/2016 at 12:02 PM

Re: “Berkeley City Council Approves Ballot Measure to Tax Landlords and Create Affordable Housing Fund

This is a massive breath of fresh air. A modest tax on bigger landowners only.

No tax on renters, no tax on buyers. And funds channeled directly into affordable housing to keep our community stable and healthy.

Can anyone really claim that local landlords lifted a finger to create the double-digit % rental value increases of the last few years? They clearly do a lot, but just as clearly, they are cashing in on the whole world wanting to live here. Time to share this wealth - better than taxing my paycheck!

Posted by Jack Woodruff on 06/09/2016 at 8:08 PM

Re: “Tenant Advocates say Oakland Officials Delaying and Obstructing Rent Control Ballot Measure

Editor --

I have always been and continue to be a strong supporter of strengthening tenant protections and preserving housing affordability in Oakland. As a Councilmember, I would like to vote in favor of proposals to help achieve those goals. Now that I have been formally notified of an actual or potential conflict of interest in the matter of the Renters Upgrade Act, however, I don’t want to risk having the Council’s action overturned were I to vote on the matter.

Whether I personally agree or not about the legal validity of the conflict of interest is immaterial to the threat of having the Council action undone in a lawsuit (with damages) – I doubt that is an outcome that tenant activists want. In April, I was advised orally by the City Attorney before the scheduling of the Renters Upgrade item during the Rules Committee meeting that I had a financial conflict of interest, and was told that I could not vote on the scheduling of the Renters Upgrade Act brought by members of the public to the Council.

When it became apparent this matter would come before the City Council, I was advised, as were other employees, of a legal opinion about a potential conflict of interest. I asked the City Attorney to put her unsolicited oral opinion in writing for me. The City Attorney’s opinion is that my ownership of rental property (one apartment) poses a financial conflict of interest in voting on City legislation related to residential rental property.
I also sought a second opinion from the state Fair Political Practices Commission – which provided the same opinion. They concurred with the City Attorney’s opinion, which also required me to physically leave the Council Chambers and to not speak about the matter from the dais.
I am still exploring legal clarification that might allow me to vote for this measure.

The conflict of interest exists, I am told, and because I own one apartment that I’ve rented out since 2012. I previously occupied this unit in the Temescal neighborhood, which I purchased in 2004. The building was constructed after 1980, and is currently not subject to rent control.
As I understand it, the basis of the conflict of interest in this specific instance lies in the provision that would strike language that excludes rental units built after 1980 from the Just Cause ordinance. The change would bring property owners who have property built after 1980 under Just Cause. As a matter of law, it apparently doesn’t matter that my property ownership is very small, or that voting “yes” on the Council item would go against my property “interest.”

- Abel Guillen

Posted by Abel Guillén on 06/09/2016 at 2:37 PM

Re: “Berkeley City Council Approves Ballot Measure to Tax Landlords and Create Affordable Housing Fund

So Berkeley City Council members, concerned about the cost of residential rental rates in their city, just endorsed a ballot measure that will result in every residential renter paying MORE rent, as the tax is passed on in their future rental rates. Who but the Berkeley City Council could come up with a more perfect torture device for renters and a way to discourage the building of more rental housing in that city? Perhaps those who endorse this scheme will next propose taxing and taking every red cent of residential rental income so they can then decide if it is "fair" in their opinion of giving any portion of it back to the owners of those rental units. After all, in their minds, they are the supreme arbiters of what is "fair."

Posted by William H. Thompson on 06/08/2016 at 2:06 PM

Re: “Berkeley City Council Approves Ballot Measure to Tax Landlords and Create Affordable Housing Fund

For Ms. Pratt, non-residential rental property is not affected by either proposed measure.
Mr. Gross would be exempt under the Council-sponsored measure because the threshold specified is rental of five or more units, not ownership of five or more units.
Mr. Nesbitt's post correctly states the allowable increase while a tenant remains in place, but on vacancy the rent can be increased to whatever the market will bear. As a result, rents in Berkeley have increased much faster than the rate of inflation.

Posted by Stephen Barton on 06/08/2016 at 1:01 PM

Re: “Berkeley City Council Approves Ballot Measure to Tax Landlords and Create Affordable Housing Fund

To summarize: Berkeley's proposed solution to high rental costs is to increase taxes on rental units.

Posted by Tommy Katz on 06/08/2016 at 12:31 PM

Re: “Berkeley City Council Approves Ballot Measure to Tax Landlords and Create Affordable Housing Fund

This is a regressive tax that will be passed through on uncontrolled apartments and will be passed through on controlled units every time there is a turn-over of tenants. Barton and a small clique of tenant activists -- not a "broad coallition of renters" (they lie about that) have gotten a regressive tax on the budget. What will the regressive tax do? It will mostly put money in the pockets of very well paid "experts" that rely on government hand outs and use them to build wholly inadequate amounts of income-restricted housing. Corrupt, crony-capitalism, crap.

It's a huge scam that being pulled on Berkeley renters.

Posted by Thomas Lord on 06/08/2016 at 12:10 PM

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