Friday, November 28, 2014

Activists Halt BART with Human Chain in Act of Civil Disobedience

by Sarah Burke
Fri, Nov 28, 2014 at 3:53 PM

In what may have been the most effective act of civil disobedience in the East Bay since the Ferguson grand jury verdict, members of an activist group called the BlackOut Collective, staged a protest on the morning of Black Friday at the West Oakland BART station, shutting down the station and service to San Francisco. At approximately 10:30 a.m., a member of the group used a bike lock to secure himself — by the neck — to a stopped train. Four others then formed a human chain secured by another member locked to a bench on the platform. Police arrived shortly after to clear and lock down the station.

  • Bert Johnson
Outside, about 200 protesters gathered for a peaceful rally. Most had heard of the gathering through a Facebook event called "The Fire This Time; END THE WAR ON BLACK PEOPLE." Participants mainly stood in a circle chanting, singing, and sharing words of solidarity. A table placed in the center held candles and a poster of Mike Brown's face. 

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tuesday Must Reads: Massive, Mostly Peaceful Protests in Oakland; Tens of Thousands Local Immigrants May Benefit from President’s Actions

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 9:59 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Thousands of protesters demonstrated in Oakland last night, in a mostly peaceful reaction to a Missouri grand jury’s decision to not indict white police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Mike Brown. Oakland protesters shut down Interstate 580 for a time, shouting “Shut It Down for Mike Brown.” Later, some demonstrators broke a few windows in downtown, but there was no significant damage or vandalism in the city.

2. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan estimated that tens of thousands of local immigrants will benefit from President Obama’s actions on immigration reform, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. The Pew Research Center reported last week that the president’s new immigration policy would help about 925,000 people in California.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Must Reads: Hottest Year on Record for California; East Bay MUD to Consider Drought Surcharge

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 9:08 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. California is on track to smash the record for the hottest year ever recorded, with the average temperature running a whopping 4.2 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average for the first ten months of 2014, the LA Times$ reports. This year is expected to also be the warmest ever recorded for the planet. And despite last week’s rainstorms, California is still below normal for precipitation in the 2014-15 season.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Must Reads: Berkeley Greenlights Gas Pump Warning Labels; UC Regents Approve Tuition Hikes

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Nov 21, 2014 at 10:03 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Berkeley City Council this week moved forward with a new law that would require climate-change warning labels to be placed on gas pumps in the city, the Trib$ reports. The council voted 7-2 to direct the city attorney to craft language for the proposed law. The proposal will then come back to the council for final approval.

Jerry Brown.
  • Jerry Brown.
2. Despite protests by students and by Governor Jerry Brown, the UC Board of Regents approved a plan that could raise student tuition by 28 percent over five years, the LA Times$ reports. Some regents blamed Brown for the tuition hike, noting that he had vetoed $50 million in spending earmarked for the University of California system, the SacBee$ reports.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Oakland Zoo Expansion Passes City Council, Knowland Park Project to Move Forward

by Sam Levin
Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 10:44 AM

Proposed interpretive center. - COURTESY OF ZOO / FILE PHOTO
  • Courtesy of zoo / file photo
  • Proposed interpretive center.
After years of debate and controversy, the Oakland Zoo passed its final governmental hurdle last night in its efforts to expand into Knowland Park, with the Oakland City Council approving the last critical part of the project proposal. Following hours of heated debate that extended until around 12:30 a.m., the council voted 6-2 to greenlight the zoo's plan to close off roughly 53 acres of public parkland. State and federal regulators required the zoo to have an environmental conservation plan to make up for the impact of the zoo's expansion project; the city, which owns Knowland Park, also had to approve the proposal.

To critics of that plan, the vote means the East Bay Zoological Society, the private nonprofit agency that runs the zoo, will be moving forward with an environmentally harmful project that will irreversibly destroy rare habitat and permanently take away open space from the public at the East Oakland hills park. For Zoological Society officials, it means the zoo can finally execute its long-term vision of significantly growing its attractions in Oakland. 

Councilmembers Dan Kalb and Rebecca Kaplan were the only ones to vote against the proposal. 

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday Must Reads: California Ranks Among Worst in Nation in Housing Kids; Tribes Seek to Build Casino in Vallejo

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 9:44 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. California ranks near the bottom nationwide in its treatment of homeless children, placing above only Mississippi and Alabama, the Chron reports, citing a new study by the National Center on Family Homelessness. California ranks third from last in the number of homeless children per capita. And the report ranks the state 49th for its ongoing failure to adequately help homeless kids and their families.

2. Two Pomo Indian bands are competing to build a casino in Vallejo on the former Navy shipyard on Mare Island, the Chron reports. It would be the biggest casino complex in Northern California. But the proposal faces an uphill battle because California voters just rejected Proposition 48, which would have allowed a similar off-reservation casino in the Central Valley.

John Pérez.
  • John Pérez.
3. Governor Jerry Brown appointed former Assembly Speaker John Pérez and Eloy Ortiz Oakley, president of Long Beach City College, to the UC Board of Regents in advance of a meeting this week, in which the regents will consider raising student tuition again, the LA Times$ reports. The governor opposes the tuition hike and his two new appointments are expected to vote against it.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday Must Reads: UC Fails to Disclose Finances; Plastic Bag Industry Pushes for Statewide Referendum

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Nov 17, 2014 at 10:01 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

Janet Napolitano.
  • Janet Napolitano.
1. The University of California this week is considering raising student tuition again, even though the UC has failed to comply with a state law that requires it to fully disclose its finances, the Chron reports. The UC was supposed to publicly disclose the information by October 1, but President Janet Napolitano said it will take a least six weeks longer to comply with the law. Meanwhile, Napolitano is asking the UC Regents to approve annual tuition increases for the next five years.

2. The plastic bag industry has pumped $2.75 million into a signature gathering effort that seeks to overturn California’s ban on single-use plastic bags, the Chron reports. Plastic bag manufacturers are concerned that other states will follow California’s lead and ban plastic bags. The referendum, if it gathers enough signatures, would go on the November 2016 ballot.

3. As the drought deepens, the number of water thefts in California is on the rise, the Chron reports.

4. State Treasurer Bill Lockyer’s Office states that Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to build the $25 billion water tunnels project will result in higher property taxes for residents throughout the Bay Area, the Chron reports.

5. And the governor has failed to appoint a state Supreme Court justice to replace Joyce Kennard, who retired in April, the Chron reports.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Oakland Zoo's Proposed Expansion Into Knowland Park Heads to Final Council Vote

by Sam Levin
Fri, Nov 14, 2014 at 3:04 PM

  • Bert Johnson / file photo
The Oakland Zoo's controversial expansion into city-owned Knowland Park — the subject of the Express' September cover story, "Zoo Gone Wild" — is headed to a final vote at the Oakland City Council next week. On Tuesday, November 18, the council will vote on what is effectively the last hurdle for the zoo's so-called "California Trail" project — a proposed collection of new exhibits that make up a roughly 56-acre expansion near the existing zoo in East Oakland. Environmental activists and neighbors have been fighting the project for years, arguing that it would result in the loss of access to critical open space and the permanent destruction of rare East Bay habitat (an ironic consequence given that the zoo plans to build an artificial exhibit featuring animals that no longer live in the East Bay due to habitat loss).

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This Week in Photos

by Bert Johnson
Fri, Nov 14, 2014 at 2:41 PM

The elections may be over, but the news never stops. This week, the Express covered everything from the finest grimy garage rock to the best pupusas in the East Bay, plus the scrappy new stars of public radio.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Lori Droste Edges to a 16-Vote Win in Berkeley Council Race

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Nov 13, 2014 at 12:00 PM

According to the final results (although still unofficial), Lori Droste has won the Berkeley City Council District Eight contest, defeating George Beier by sixteen votes in ranked-choice balloting. Droste finished with 50.19 percent compared to Beier's 49.81 percent, in what turned out to be the closest election contest in the East Bay this year.

Droste ended up with 2,072 votes compared to Beier's 2,056. Droste also received the most first-place votes. She will take over for Councilmember Gordon Wozniak, who is retiring.

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters has finished counting all the ballots in this year's election. But it has yet to officially certify the results. Under state law, it must do so by December 2. Countywide voter turnout was 45.04 percent.

Council District 8: (first-place votes only)
Lori Droste: 29.15%
George Beier: 26.46%
Mike Alvarez Cohen: 25.80%
Jacquelyn McCormick: 18.41%

Council District 8 (ranked-choice voting)
Lori Droste: 2,072 votes; 50.19%
George Beier: 2,056 votes; 49.81%

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