Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tuesday Must Read: OPD Embraces Community Policing; Support for Gay Marriage Reaches Record Levels

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 9:48 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland Police Department launched a reorganization plan that will allow it to re-embrace community policing strategies, increase police accountability, and give residents a stronger voice on public safety issues. The Chron and Trib report that Police Chief Howard Jordan decided to divide the city into five geographic areas and hold the commanders of those areas responsible for crime trends in their regions. The plan also will allow officers to work more closely with community and neighborhood groups to tailor policing strategies for their areas. The department had previously tried a version of geographic policing, but then abandoned it under then-Chief Anthony Batts.

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Must Read: New Ferry Service Is a Bust; Grant for More Oakland Cops Comes with Strings

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 9:52 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The new ferry service between Oakland and South San Francisco, which cost $42 million in taxpayer funds to launch, is a bust so far and could be forced to shut down unless more commuters start using it, the Chron reports. Only about 130 passengers rode the ferry each day last month — less than one third of the original projection. The little-used service soaks up about $2.3 million a year in public subsidies from bridge toll revenues, meaning that at current levels, each ride costs about $100 to finance.

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

California Republican Group Pocketed Millions from Anti-Obama Campaigns

by Kim Barker of ProPublica
Sat, Mar 16, 2013 at 7:38 AM

In August 2008, as the right wing of the Republican Party grew increasingly disenchanted with the party’s direction, the men from Russo, Marsh and Associates sensed opportunity: They created a political action committee, Our Country Deserves Better, and in time launched the Tea Party Express. Russo, Marsh — an established California outfit of Republican consultants — was just getting started. The firm formed a second political committee, this one with a pro-military agenda. And eventually, seizing on the president’s unpopularity in certain circles, it opened a third, the Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Must Read: Home Prices Skyrocket in Bay Area; Governor Unveils Plan for Giant Water Tunnels

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 9:51 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Bay Area home prices jumped 24.6 percent in February compared to a year ago, as buyers engaged in bidding wars for a limited number of homes on the market, the Chron reports, citing a new industry analysis. The median sales price in February increased to $405,000, compared to $325,000 in the same month in 2012. However, the number of homes sold decreased by 6.1 percent. Real estate agents are reporting ferocious bidding wars over a small number of homes.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

New Poll Shows Statewide Support for Restoring Hetch Hetchy Valley

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 3:22 PM

San Francisco has long believed that it must be able to continue to destroy a magnificent valley in Yosemite National Park so it can have unrestricted access to water. And a new poll shows that the rest of California does not share that belief.

The poll shows that a plurality of California voters — 45.3 percent — say they would support legislation that would strip San Francisco of its Tuolumne River water rights unless Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park is restored by 2025. The poll showed that 38.4 percent of voters said they would oppose such a plan; 16.2 percent were undecided. A plurality of voters — 42.9 percent — also said they support a ballot measure initiative that would do the same thing.

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Toxic Turtles: Long-lasting Chemicals May Be Harming Sea Turtles

by Brett Israel of Environmental Health News
Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 10:57 AM

From the moment they are born, sea turtles fight to survive. Buried alive, they dig themselves out and evade hungry crabs and birds as they crawl to the ocean, where they begin a long and treacherous migration. One out of one thousand will survive into adulthood. And those that do will bear a toxic burden.

Scientists are discovering that sea turtles, long ignored by toxicologists who study wildlife, are highly contaminated with industrial chemicals and pesticides.

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Thursday Must Read: Foreclosure Activity Plummets; Solar Installations Soar

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Foreclosure activity in California plummeted again in February, plunging nearly 63 percent compared to one year ago — in yet another sign that a new law designed to help homeowners is working, the SacBee$ reports. Foreclosure activity also dropped 65 percent in January compared to the previous year. RealtyTrac, which reported the declines, attributed them to the California “homeowner’s bill of rights,” which went into effect on January 1 and is helping people stay in their homes.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wednesday Must Read: Berkeley Rents Skyrocket; Proposed Law Would Let Bars Stay Open to 4 a.m.

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Mar 13, 2013 at 9:59 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Rents have jumped sharply in Berkeley as people are outbidding each other for access to a limited supply of housing, the Trib reports. The median rent for a two-bedroom in the city was $1,850 in the final quarter of 2012, up 8.8 percent from the year before. The median rent for a one-bedroom was $1,325, an increase of 6 percent from 2011. As we noted in this week’s cover story, some anti-growth activists in Berkeley have been using the state’s primary environmental law to block the construction of new housing in the city.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tuesday Must Read: Another Innocent Oakland Man Is Exonerated; Chief Judge Warns that Justice System Is in Peril

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 9:52 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Another Oakland man who was wrongly convicted and sent to prison has been exonerated thanks to the Northern California Innocence Project at Santa Clara University, the Trib and Chron report. Johnny Williams, 38, spent fourteen years in prison after being wrongly convicted of sexually assaulting a young girl in Oakland in the 1990s. Williams was released in January after serving his full-term behind bars, and wasn’t exonerated in court until last Friday after the Innocence Project proved through DNA testing that he was innocent. Like the other recent case of an Oakland man who was exonerated by the Innocence Project last month, Oakland police and the Alameda County DA’s Office depended solely on a witness identification to obtain Williams’ conviction. As the Express has previously reported, witness IDs have proven to be among the least reliable forms of evidence. The news of Williams’ case also coincided with the revelation that OPD has been sued for putting an innocent man on its Most Wanted list.

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OPD Sued for Targeting Innocent Man

by Ali Winston
Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 9:00 AM

A San Leandro accountant is suing the Oakland Police Department for being placed on the city's Most Wanted list for six months, even though he was not being sought by authorities. In a federal lawsuit filed on March 5, Chau Van said that a friend called him on February 7 last year to inform him that KTVU-TV was airing a segment on Oakland's most wanted criminals and showed his name and photograph along with several other alleged felons.

Fearing for his safety, Van called San Francisco civil rights attorney Stuart Hanlon, who conducted his own investigation and learned that OPD did not have a warrant out for Van's arrest. A week later, Van turned himself in to Oakland Police on February 13 to try and clear his name. After being held for three days, he was released without charge.

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