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Re: “Why are Oakland's City-Worker Unions Making it Harder to Fire Bad Cops?

Some background on binding arbitration: All City of Oakland employees covered by union contracts have the right to choose to go to binding arbitration to contest discipline imposed by management for violation of work rules that were set by contract negotiations. Alternatively, the employee could choose to go to court and pay big legal fees and court costs.

Binding arbitration does a good job protecting employees from arbitrary, capricious discipline that could be imposed on police officers as much as on City Parks maintenance employees, etc. But typically, arbitrators "split the baby in half" in their decisions. Since it is impossible to half fire someone, terminated police officers invariably get re-instated.

Regardless of a charter amendment, any change to arbitration would not take effect until expiration of current police contract, two years from now.

In addition, Police and Fire sworn personnel also get binding arbitration to resolve contract deadlocked negotiations. No other City unions get that.
Two years ago Palo Alto repealed that type of binding arbitration for police and fire. They promptly reduced fire and police pay by 5%. Police and fire fighters are prohibited by state law from striking.

Binding arbitration for all city employees including police for discipline matters is common in big cities. SF is one of the few big cities that does not allow binding arbitration for serious discipline matters of police and fire.
For discipline matters, the arbitrator is selected by a process of elimination by City Attorney's office staff and the union's attorney (or equivalent) from a pool of arbitrators certified by a state body. Arbitrators who are partial to either management or employee end up without work if both sides are on the ball and exercising their veto power in the selection process.

Everyone except the police union agrees that the discipline binding arbitration process make it very difficult to fire bad cops. There is no consensus on how to fix that without going to the other extreme and eliminating it entirely for at least serious discipline charges. Not simple to fix in an equitable way. For example, if there's a police officer disliked by brass because she/he went to the press to disclose problem within OPD and brass brought bogus charges against them, it wouldn't be good to force the accused cop to file a lawsuit if an arbitrator would do the right thing.

As the article described, the nonpublic safety unions see any reform of police discipline binding arbitration as an attack on binding arbitration for all city workers.

Will T. asked which Council Members refused to approve the amendment with even a mild reform to the method of selecting the arbitrators (which probably would have no effect on the outcome of their decisions). I'd say all of the council members other than Kalb and Gallo.

Personally, I favor a variation of the SF approach combined with an independent Police Commission (SF's is not very independent) where binding arbitration is repealed only for police and only for serious offenses.

But it's more important to establish a strong, politically independent Police Commission none of whose members are chosen directly by any Mayor, with broad oversight and subpoena powers and scope, with its own staff attorney, then to fail approval because of insistence on reforming binding arbitration.

If this charter amendment is approved by voters in November we will have two years until the police contract expires to evaluate whether the Commission is able to fire bad cops and effectively discipline other officers and their supervisors. If we see most of the officers and their supervisors who were complicit in the cover-up of the statutory rape, get off with the usually binding arbitration letter of reprimand plus full back pay and restoral of rank, then we have to come back to Council to repeal binding arbitration for police serious discipline matters.

Regardless of future binding arbitration reform, we have to insist on transparency of all future contract negotiations with the OPOA (police union) so that whether we change arbitration or not, that we make sure the City has negotiated hard for clear enforceable standards of behavior for all police officers, including the brass. Without such rules, it is always going to be difficult for either an arbitrator or a court to uphold a disciplinary action.

Len Raphael, CPA
(opinions expressed are my own)

Posted by Len Raphael on 07/16/2016 at 11:59 PM

Re: “Time for White Americans to be Part of the Solution, Not the Problem

This is an insightful commentary with a dire warning. I think all Americans need to take heed and step up to individual responsibility. I KNOW most black Americans don't want blood shed just by their patience and willingness to work with system for decades. By the current status of America on race relations with black Americans, I KNOW that a large majority of white Americans DON'T CARE about race relations with black Americans as an important issue in their daily lives. I KNOW THIS FOR A FACT.....a great portion of white America can come together with other races and elect a black president for two terms, when they think its to their individual benefit but cannot come together in 250 to 300 years over racial injustice to a major racial sect. A major sect of people carrying various degrees of the white blood line too, with a skin color shades deeper. It is my opinion that a large majority of white Americans DON'T WANT TO BE PART OF THE SOLUTION. Racial divisiveness continues go be perpetuated in the homes by parents, in the schools by teachers, in the workplace by employers and corporations, in the politic by power grabbers and authority enforcers. So even when Black Americans follow all the rules, rise to the top, wait on the nod or favor of someone in power, they are still disrespected....i.e. President Obama called a liar by a congressman during a State of the Union speech in front of the joint House of Congress and the SCOTUS. When black Americans, white Americans, all Americans, the world, witnesses this behavior....come on, what's next....

Posted by cynthia1948 on 07/16/2016 at 11:56 AM

Re: “Black Lives Matter Now: Short Essays by Express Readers on Racial Injustice in America

We can't hide from the headlines anymore and people from all over the world are now waking up. The European power structure with their religious jargon is now falling on deaf ears. Minorities all over the world are now being awakened.

From my first visits to Cuba, Central America, and Africa, you could feel the change and global revolution among the people worldwide within the air. That's why it's so imperative for people of color to learn their history and to be properly educated on who they are and their history of greatness.

And now I can compare the Black lives matter movement to the civil rights movement of the late 50s and early 60s. Both movements are equally powerful. Whenever I would compare their struggles, I've always thought the civil rights movement was more dangerous because of the lynching.

But now I can sadly say we are still witnessing lynching in 2016 by the same crooked cops, which has sparked the Black lives matter movement all over the world and equally placing both organization's struggles on the same page.

Pretty much we've been treading in shallow waters and nothing has changed. But it's just something special about this generation. I remain hopeful and optimistic that this generation will be victorious in our struggles.
#Blacklivesmatter

Derrick Newton

Posted by Derrick Newton on 07/16/2016 at 4:52 AM

Re: “Why are Oakland's City-Worker Unions Making it Harder to Fire Bad Cops?

Mary, this goes beyond how bad or not OPD is, beyond how straight or not OPD's IA which is supposed to determine and act on how bad that is, beyond any oversight, to the fact that any judgements any overseeing authority have are HIGHLY unlikely to be acted on due to a systematic bias in favor of officers, REINFORCED AND PROTECTED BY ORGANIZED LABOR. I am very appreciative of recent strides local unions have been making to (yay!) keep coal out of the port, but this behind-the-scenes lobbying to protect BAD COPS, that everyone, including not just the federal overseers, but the OTHER COPS (!!!) agree are bad, is f#*ing disgusting. I'd like to know exactly WHICH city councilmembers have been persuaded that it is a good idea to coddle, placate, PAY and honorably retire these f#*ing scumbags.

Posted by Will T 1 on 07/15/2016 at 7:49 PM

Re: “Why are Oakland's City-Worker Unions Making it Harder to Fire Bad Cops?

The Ortiz case supports my suspicion since the June scandal started-----it's not just the cops who had encounters with Celeste Guap and Ms. Guap is not the only Oakland sex worker or trafficking victim to have been victimized by OPD officers. Keep digging til we know whether the OPD officer-sex worker scandal is limited and or whether OPD IA is a straight-shooting internal watchdog/professional standards organization or instead is using the same playbook as the Catholic church in Boston...

And the next time the Mayor, OPD reps or other City officials say stuff like "it's just the rookies"...."it' will all be fixed by auditing and revising screening and training", call them on that. Some of the officers in the sex and cover-up scandals were rookies, but some were not. The OPD supervisors who cover stuff up (Holmgren, home invasion case) are not rookies/recent recruits and are at the center of OPD's bad culture. Obviously, an officer who has used lethal force, cost the city millions in a settlement, has had his discipline overturned in arbitration and then offends again shows that OPD management spends more time bemoaning arbitration, little if any time correcting any management mistakes that led to the arbitration loss and zero time retraining the subject, formerly fired officers ......

Posted by Mary Vail on 07/15/2016 at 3:20 PM

Re: “Why are Oakland's City-Worker Unions Making it Harder to Fire Bad Cops?

This is all small potatoes.

Remember that our Mayor successfully fired one of the recent new police-chiefs-for-a-day because he might have had an affair a decade ago.

No need to worry about the small stuff. Our Mayor is doing a great job keeping OPD in line.

Posted by Hobart Johnson on 07/15/2016 at 9:38 AM

Re: “Black Lives Matter Now: Short Essays by Express Readers on Racial Injustice in America

While I am honored to have had my piece selected, I'm quite disturbed that it was edited down. The call out was for up to 500 word essays and what I submitted was under that amount...yet the following was edited out. WHY? You asked for perspective, why would you limit mine when the lives of our brothers and sisters of color are on the line? Engage, especially if it makes us uncomfortable. PARTICULARLY if it makes us uncomfortable.

"I say that this impacts OUR community because these are our brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews who are dying, being locked up, and terrorized by people unwilling to interrupt and examine our personal bias as well as laws and policies that disproportionately harm our family of color.
When my black sister is curled up in a ball for days on end after seeing another video of an unarmed black man murdered by police.
When my black brother is numb and hides out in his house to avoid having to talk to anyone after another white man walks free after murdering a black person.
When my black niece makes videos about the pain of black girls not fitting in and it resonates with millions of cis and trans black women.
When my black nephew rehearses with his parents EVERY DAY before he leaves the house what to do if he encounters a police officer knowing that it may very well be an exercise in futility…#PhilandoCastille.
When any of my black family and friends have to weather a breaking point again and again and again….and then be expected to show up in service of curious white people (their boss, the person buying coffee in front of them, their landlord) who want to talk about these horrific events from a voyeuristic curiosity and be re-traumatized again and again and again.

I will NOT be silent while this country does this to my family. YOUR life matters, black family.
White family, if you see, you are EXPECTED to raise your voice and be in action with us. If you don’t see, you are EXPECTED to open your eyes. The atrocities we see (when we choose to look) on our own soil by far outweigh the smoke and mirrors our government and media will have you believe about "outside terrorism" coming in. Scared of ISIS? Try being black in any city in America. ISIS is not the priority. The liberation of our family being terrorized right in front of our closed eyes is the priority. Look, listen, learn, engage, stand up…..you know full well you’d burn the courthouse down if this was your brother or sister. Well, it is. Light the match, family.

#blacklivesmatter #noneofusarefreeuntilweareallfree"

Maureen Benson,
Oakland, CA

Posted by shakingmyheadindisbelief on 07/14/2016 at 10:28 PM

Re: “Black Lives Matter Now: Short Essays by Express Readers on Racial Injustice in America

Poignant, but, no, emphatically no, it is NOT always the same race. Use some facts once in a while too. (directed at Cuffs and Coffins above) That any killing of any person anywhere is a tragedy is a given. People of all races are treated in all kinds of horrific ways. Do not hallucinate within your racial being. WE all can do this: Chinese, Irishmen, Sudanese and American blacks. Try using some facts too. Finally, leadership from the top has been horrid in the USA. A total bust. Can these things above be said and still feel empathy. Of course. It is for each individual to explain how he feels. I can't speak for you and you can't speak for me.

Posted by Ken White on 07/14/2016 at 12:42 PM

Re: “Three Days in July: On Why Racial Justice in America Shouldn't Require Debate.

By reposting these images of oppression and murder (my word), we are not "…willingly spam(ing) each other with these bloody scenes…" but exposing the 'truth' of our experience in a culture that refuses to accept the evil among us. It teaches. It indicts. It reiterates solidarity. What does trifle it however, is lazy journalism.

Posted by phlpshoh on 07/13/2016 at 8:18 PM

Re: “Time for White Americans to be Part of the Solution, Not the Problem

Again it is time for whites to wake up if they want to save the nation. For almost 100 years after the Civil War, whites in the south extended slavery in a de facto way with racist Jim Crow laws. At the same time, whites ignored these racist laws and terrorist tactics of the KKK along side State and local Police. Even JFK in his early Presidency was reluctant to get involved in the southern quandary, despite pressure from MLK and other civil rights groups. The Feds easy default was to let the States handle their own problems in their own way despite evidence that they had no intention of complying with the law. It took the murders of white freedom riders in Mississippi to awaken the country to the level of terrorism Blacks lived under every day. Only then did we have Federal legislation in the passing of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. Both were reflective of the fact that 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Blacks were not free and had never been treated as full citizens. In the last two weeks we saw film of 2 Black men murdered by white cops in Baton Rouge and St Paul. Even after Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Ferguson Missouri, Eric Gardner and others, unarmed Black men continue to be killed by law enforcement with no consequences. We also saw cops murdered in Dallas by an armed maniac fed up with the corrupt Police culture. White America needs to once again wake up and get involved. The entire criminal justice system needs reform. When you have local Police funding their own jobs on the backs of poor people of color and you have a prison system motivated by profit, their is a systemic problem. The Dallas event should put America on notice that Black people are tired of marching, praying and going to funerals. Mark my words, these young kids who grow up in neighborhoods terrorized by cops, with no dreams of a future other than oppression, incarceration and death will turn to violence. Whites need to get involved and pressure politicians to get off their asses and do something about gun control legislation and
changes to the criminal justice system. Do not allow Police unions and idiots like Rudy Guiliani to defend the status quo by racist distraction and victim blaming. Those are exactly the people who need to shut up, go away and make room for change. If they don't there will be more events like Dallas in our future.

Posted by Gary Patton on 07/13/2016 at 4:52 PM

Re: “Alameda Poised to Become Next California County to Ban Fracking

Great article to get citizens proactive in the PREVENTATIVE fight. Not easy to do when people are working multiple jobs just to pay high housing costs. And so sad after the dirty industry gets its way and is making people fatally sick.

Posted by Boudicca Hot-toddy Todi on 07/13/2016 at 1:36 PM

Re: “California Traffic Tickets Amnesty Program Leaves Many Behind

I've got a bit of bad news for the direction this is going. It is NOT a black thing that this is happening to. I am a white female, and I have been thru exactly what this article states happened to this gentlemen. It doesn't matter what color you are. These corrupt police and policy makers direct law enforcement to stalk its prey because giving tickets is a huge revenue for this twisted counties that participate in this unjust way of policing. Thank god I have every piece of document saved so that one day when I connect with the right person, I'll be ready to expose all the fraud and document tampering traffic courts routinely practice. Along with their side kicks Alliance One who is just as guilty as the courts.

Posted by Andrea Dgeorge on 07/13/2016 at 11:45 AM

Re: “Three Days in July: On Why Racial Justice in America Shouldn't Require Debate.

Those like Bratton, Guiliani, national Police union representatives and others who live to defend the extreme illegal actions of Police are exactly where the problem resides. These out of touch, racist defenders of the Blue Line, despite incident after incident caught on video, distract from the country moving forward by their refusal to acknowledge the obvious. There is a national problem with how Police do their jobs when it comes to communities of color. It is not a new phenomenon and whites are only now becoming aware that something is and has been seriously wrong. The two media images most seared into the subliminal footprint of every American is the skinny blonde blue eyed woman as the icon of beauty and the handcuffed Black man getting into the back of a squad car. The impact of that imagery in both cases causes serious damage to people of color. Until the criminal justice culture is changed, nothing will change. You can't just change the Police Chief. It is the command staff,, the Captains, Lieutenants and Seargents who are the internal defenders of this sick and twisted culture. They are vested in it and charged with indoctrinating the new officers. When you change the Chief in an attempt to change the culture, this group just calls on the union to help circle the wagons and waits them out. They know that when there is no change or it does not come fast enough, the politicians have no choice but to fire the Chief. The Chiefs have to have the power to fire command staff and tell these unions to go pound sand. These Police defenders are just distractions preventing the nation from getting to the heart of the problem and making long overdue changes.

Posted by Gary Patton on 07/13/2016 at 4:18 AM

Re: “East Bay Environmentalists at Odds Over Future of Eucalyptus Trees

*Mudslides: live tree roots hold the soil in place. Why not move to Pacifica?
Grassfires: at least as bad as forest fires. One of the many reasons you don't live in So Cal.
*Homeless tree rats in your attic: remember the deluge of rats after the '91 fire?
*Unknown amounts of Roundup and Garlon over a large area for an unknown length of years: you eat organic, so why would you want Roundup and Garlon in your environment?
*Desertification: those hills were always forest. Now they will be desert, degrading the environment, reducing the air quality, altering your microclimate.

Posted by Holly Harwood on 07/13/2016 at 2:00 AM

Re: “The Collapse of Berkeley Health Center

Just another organization Gwen rowe Lee ran into the ground, much like AMHI or giving contract to friends at EM cleaning (Elijah Mohammad). giving jobs to family and friends. Keith Carson got hip to her doings and gov't funding began to evaporate. AMHI was guilty of double dipping. Getting two grants of say $40,000 but only half went to AMHI.

Like the East Bay AIDSWALK (kicked my org Friends of Ugandan Orphans out) She packed board of overseer: East Bay AIDS Advocacy Foundation which had not met in 2 years just to throw me out over objections from now Summit Director Steve O'Brien, Hazel Wesson and Steve Chase, formerly of Walgreens. If Steve was not there getting Walgreens to help out (1/2 the walkers). Gloria Cox Cowell, Adreinn Mc Call are bellicose opportunists (much like Black Agenda Reports' Glen ford spoke of Susan Rice. Deanna roberts totally incompetent as $1000s of $ specified for a certain org went to the general walk in2012? sometime around there. No walk in 2015, the 2016 wALK WAS in March. No 990s ever sent to me. robert and sam, yet another AIDS org to examine! John Iversen Free Leonard Peltier! co-founder Occupy AIDS, Act Up East Bay, both berk and Oak needle exchanges, worked 30 years alongside Maudelle Shirek (RIP 101.75--exemplary life for sure! If anything Sam was easy on her as he did not know her previous philandering, double dipping, nepotism, cronyism

Posted by John Tango Iversen on 07/13/2016 at 12:14 AM

Re: “East Bay Environmentalists at Odds Over Future of Eucalyptus Trees

The “studies” Mr. Sigg refers to were done well after the decision was made. California State Parks announced it was going to remove the eucalyptus forest from Angel Island and then contracted to have a study done to justify that action. People writing environmental impact statements can’t stay in business if their studies contradict the plans of the agency hiring them. Even so, it is notable that the Angel Island study found lots of wildlife using the eucalyptus forest.
A genuine scientific study was done in the East Bay Hills directly comparing the species diversity in eucalyptus forest with that in oak forest. Invasion Biology Professor Dov F. Sax found, “Equal diversity in disparate species assemblages: a comparison of native and exotic woodlands in California.” (Global Ecology and Biogeography (2002) 11 p.49-57)

The claim that wildlife needs native plants has been repeated over and over for 30 years. But that’s just a romantic story. On-the-ground scientific study tells a different story.

Mr. Sigg is “grateful” to the Sierra Club. Perhaps he didn’t notice that the Sierra Club said, “This [East Bay tree destruction] is not about us wanting to have native vegetation.“

Posted by Keith McAllister on 07/11/2016 at 3:28 PM

Re: “East Bay Environmentalists at Odds Over Future of Eucalyptus Trees

The “studies” Mr. Sigg refers to were done well after the decision was made. California State Parks announced it was going to remove the eucalyptus forest from Angel Island and then contracted to have a study done to justify that action. People writing environmental impact statements can’t stay in business if their studies contradict the plans of the agency hiring them. Even so, it is notable that the Angel Island study found lots of wildlife using the eucalyptus forest.

A genuine scientific study was done in the East Bay Hills, directly comparing the species diversity in eucalyptus forest with that in oak forest. Invasion Biology Professor Dov F. Sax found, “Equal diversity in disparate species assemblages: a comparison of native and exotic woodlands in California.” (Global Ecology and Biogeography (2002) 11 p.49-57)

The claim that wildlife needs native plants has been repeated over and over for 30 years. But that’s just a romantic story. On-the-ground scientific study tells a different story.

Mr. Sigg is “grateful” to the Sierra Club. Perhaps he didn’t notice that the Sierra Club said, “This [East Bay tree destruction] is not about us wanting to have native vegetation.“

Posted by Keith McAllister on 07/11/2016 at 3:16 PM

Re: “Thousands of Black Lives Matter Activists Shut Down Oakland Freeway, Vandalize Police Headquarters

Nick Miller describes the first ones to run out on the freeway to be "brave." We now have a new synonym for "stupid."

Pedestrians walking or running onto a freeway is against the law for good reason, beyond the good sense that they are made for motorized vehicles. It is dangerous and people have died from this.

I am waiting for someone to get killed with this activity. Putting the Darwin Award aside, we'll see how these protesters feel when this happens. They will be filled with excuses and rationalizations why it is Ok for someone to get hit by a car and die. They will look for a way to blame the police for not protecting them. Will it be OK for the motorist to have to live with it for the rest of his/her life? Or, what about the pregnant woman or sick person that doesn't make it to the hospital in time?

Libby Schaaf should have any and all of these people that attempt to march on a freeway in jail. Protest in front of City Hall all you like. No one is about to turn you into 65 mph road kill there.

Posted by Michael Good on 07/11/2016 at 12:49 PM

Re: “East Bay Environmentalists at Odds Over Future of Eucalyptus Trees

In the late 1980s, California State Parks did thorough studies regarding potential impacts of removing the Tasmanian blue gum plantations--note, not forests--on Angel Island. The studies were extensive and covered all aspects of natural history. Their findings were unsurprising: there were more plant and animal species and more of them in the areas where the tree plantations had not yet invaded.

The studies should not have been needed, as the point has been proven over and over that native wildlife need the plants that they are familiar with. We should cherish our native wildlife--they, like the plants, help to create a sense of place that is like no other place in the world. As for the danger of catastrophic fire, it beggars understanding that people invite a 1991 rerun.

Whenever anyone talks about the need of removing blue gum plantations they are accused of unworthy motives, of being a tree-hater. I love the blue gum and have written several articles on it; you can find some in the September, October, and December 2015 issues of San Francisco's Westside Observer (westsideobserver.com). I have urged San Francisco's park department to plant more of them in developed parks where they can be irrigated and where they can't displace wildlife habitat. Climate warming and droughts are taking a toll on these plantations, and it is only a matter of decades when most of them will die out from lack of adequate rainfall.

I am grateful to the Sierra Club for its intelligent stand and for the courage to not be intimidated by the whipped-up fervor of ill-informed people.

Jake Sigg
San Francisco

Posted by Jake Sigg on 07/11/2016 at 9:49 AM
Posted by Will Hall on 07/11/2016 at 8:45 AM

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