Monday, June 23, 2014

Grand Jury Criticizes Oakland for Failing to Recover Revenues; Questions Charter Schools

by Steven Tavares
Mon, Jun 23, 2014 at 1:52 PM

A new Alameda County Grand Jury report is questioning whether the City of Oakland and its police department are receiving all the revenue they're due from a long-term towing contract. In addition, the report also said the Oakland Fire Department failed to recoup more than $1.4 million in fire inspection fees due to a faulty billing and records system and understaffing.

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Opinion: It’s Time for Civilian Oversight of OPD

by Susan Shawl and Robert Oliver
Mon, Jun 23, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Based on the most recent report issued by federal monitor Robert Warshaw, the Oakland Police Department will most likely require months of additional monitoring by the court — after eleven years of failure to comply with the Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA). No other city in the United States has required this length of time to bring its police department into compliance with a federal consent decree.

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"Human Trafficking" Legislation Would Further Criminalize, Endanger Sex Workers, Activists Say

by Sam Levin
Mon, Jun 23, 2014 at 11:54 AM

Legislation that purports to combat "human trafficking" in California would only serve to further criminalize, stigmatize, and endanger adult sex workers. That's the perspective of a group of sex workers' rights activists that is headed to Sacramento tomorrow morning to protest Senate Bill 1388, which would establish harsher fines and sentences for prostitution-related offenses. The bill, they say, would make their jobs more dangerous, lead to increased arrests and jail time for consenting adults, and would do nothing to stop child trafficking.

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Monday Must Reads: Kaplan Disbands Shady Ballot Measure Campaign; East Bay Cities May Collaborate on Minimum Wage Hike

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Jun 23, 2014 at 8:30 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, who is running for mayor this year, has disbanded a ballot measure committee that appears to have violated campaign laws, the Trib$ reports. In 2010, Kaplan used the committee — the Coalition for Safe Streets and Local Jobs — to pay staffers who were working on her mayoral campaign and not on the ballot measure campaign, in apparent violation of city and state election laws. Kaplan’s political allies pressured her to kill the committee out of fear that it would harm her 2014 mayoral bid.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Must Reads: Google and Microsoft Compromise on Kill Switches; State Prisons Performed Illegal Sterilizations on Women

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jun 20, 2014 at 10:31 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Google and Microsoft agreed to install kill switches on their smartphones in a compromise deal with law enforcement officials, the LA Times$ reports. The companies, however, stopped short of making the kill switches automatic — as law enforcement had requested — and instead will install them on phones, but make them optional for users. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, nonetheless, praised the decision by the industry giants, noting that thefts of iPhones have dropped since Apple installed similar optional kill switch devices.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thursday Must Reads: Oakland Council Votes to Ban Oil-By-Rail Shipments; Anti-Tunnels Activists Gear Up to Fight Water Bond

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland City Council voted this week to ban train shipments of crude oil, coal, and petcoke within city limits, the East Bay Citizen reports. The legislation is advisory, because only the federal government has the power to regulate the nation’s railways. But environmentalists hope that if enough cities oppose oil-by-rail shipments, it could prompt the feds to tighten regulations. Concerns over crude oil trains have heightened since one exploded in Canada last year, killing 47 people. Coal shipments, meanwhile, worsen air pollution. The council also urged the city to divest from publicly traded fossil fuel companies.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Oakland Animal Services to Face Major Reform Following Euthanasia Controversies, Chronic Vacancies

by Sam Levin
Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 2:07 PM

For months, Oakland Animal Services (OAS) has been plagued by a steady stream of controversies surrounding the shelter's chronic understaffing and repeated accusations of officials unnecessarily euthanizing animals. After an onslaught of negative headlines, a number of city council members in April proposed a substantial restructuring of the city-run shelter — with legislation that the full council approved last night. Most significantly, the passage means OAS, which is currently a part of the Oakland Police Department, is on track to become a standalone city department.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Whooping Cough Epidemic in California

by Ari Nussbaum
Tue, Jun 17, 2014 at 1:36 PM

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has declared a pertussis epidemic, reporting thousands of cases of the disease across the state. Pertussis, commonly known as “whooping cough,” is an extremely contagious bacterial disease spread through coughing. While it typically begins with a cough or a runny nose, whooping cough can ultimately be fatal, particularly for children and infants.

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Tuesday Must Reads: OPD Makes More Progress on Reforms; SoCal Lawmakers to Take Control of Legislature

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Jun 17, 2014 at 9:51 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland Police Department has achieved its highest-ever level of compliance with federally mandated reforms, the Trib$ reports, citing a new report from Court Monitor Robert Warshaw, who also is the compliance director of the department. Warshaw credited Police Chief Sean Whent for the department’s progress, noting that OPD is in compliance with all but six of 51 of the mandated reforms stemming from the infamous Riders scandal. Warshaw, however, cautioned that OPD still has work to do, and expressed concern about a recent department report that showed Oakland police officers are still disproportionately targeting African Americans in car stops and searches.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

UC Berkeley Hosts Panel Tonight on Bee Declines and Our Food System

by Sam Levin
Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 12:38 PM

My recent feature, "What's Poisoning the Bees," investigated the role of pesticides in the dramatic losses of honeybees in the United States. The declining health of bees not only poses a threat to the livelihood of commercial beekeepers across the country, but could also have a significant impact on our food system. That's because bees are critical pollinators that are responsible for roughly one-third of all food we eat — almonds, apples, blueberries, alfalfa that dairy cows depend on, and much more. Tonight, a number of experts on bees and pesticides are coming together at UC Berkeley to discuss the threats facing bees and what this means for our food supply. For those interested in pollinators and pesticides, the conversation today will be a good opportunity to hear from experts in the field, including several featured in my story.

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