Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tuesday Must Reads: Two Developers Vie to Refurbish Oakland’s Kaiser Center; BART Eliminates Wi-Fi Service

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Dec 30, 2014 at 9:57 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

The Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center.
  • The Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center.
1. Two development teams are vying for the rights to refurbish the long-shuttered, publicly owned Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center on Lake Merritt in Oakland, the Chron reports. The developers — Orton Development of Emeryville and Creative Development Partners of Oakland — would lease the historic building from the City of Oakland, and both submitted plans to restore the landmark Calvin Simmons Theater inside the Kaiser Center.

2. BART yesterday abruptly eliminated its Wi-Fi service, which had been available in downtown Oakland and San Francisco, the Chron reports. But the service provider, WiFi Rail, claims that BART violated its contract.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Waterfront Advocates, Local Regulators Fight for Marsh Restoration at Brooklyn Basin

by Sam Levin
Mon, Dec 29, 2014 at 12:32 PM

click image Brooklyn Basin rendering.
  • Brooklyn Basin rendering.
Environmental activists have long pushed for a marsh restoration at the Oakland waterfront where Brooklyn Basin, a massive development project, is currently beginning construction. Those efforts, however, were recently thwarted when federal regulators took steps to block a proposed habitat restoration project, a major setback for environmental groups. But now, waterfront advocates have a strong ally — the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), the local government agency charged with protecting the bay and approving waterfront development plans.

I wrote about this fight last month when activists with Waterfront Action, a local environmental advocacy group, learned that Brooklyn Basin's planned marsh habitat restoration on the Oakland shoreline was in jeopardy because of last-minute, convoluted legal concerns that federal regulators had raised. Now, BCDC has issued a strongly worded letter urging regulators to come up with a solution that would allow the waterfront habitat project to continue as planned. 

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Monday Must Reads: California Plastic Bag Ban to Be Put on Hold; Amount of Toxic Chemicals in Bay Plummets

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Dec 29, 2014 at 9:29 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

plastic-bag-in-tree.jpg
1. California’s historic ban on single-use plastic bags will likely be put on hold because the plastic bag industry appears to have gathered enough signatures for a ballot measure contesting the ban, the Orange County Register$ reports (via Rough & Tumble). Under state rules, a law cannot take effect if a referendum challenging that law qualifies for the ballot. The plastic bag ban was supposed to take effect on July 1, 2015. But it now likely will be on hold until after the November 2016 election.

2. The amount of toxic chemicals in San Francisco Bay wildlife has plummeted thanks to government regulations that have gradually phased out the use of flame retardants during the past decade, the Chron reports, citing a new study in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Monday Must Reads: AG Harris Not Interested in Prosecuting Cops Who Kill; Bay Bridge Contractor Screwed Up Other Big Project

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Dec 22, 2014 at 9:30 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

Kamala Harris.
  • Kamala Harris.
1. California Attorney General Kamala Harris expressed no interest in a proposal to create a team in her office to prosecute police officers who kill people, the Chron reports. Harris thinks the current system, in which local district attorneys preside over investigations involving officer-involved fatalities, does not need to be changed. Harris’ position contrasts with that of a growing number of legal experts who argue that local district attorneys have inherent conflicts of interest with the police agencies they work with – a system that makes it impossible for them to be fair and independent in cases involving killings by cops.

2. ZPMC, the Chinese company that made numerous welding mistakes during the construction of the new Bay Bridge, also made thousands of bad welds while fabricating a massive wind farm that was erected off the coast of Great Britain, the SacBee$ reports. However, in that case, ZPMC’s partner construction firm Fluor, which also worked on the Bay Bridge, absorbed $400 million in penalties for the bad welds. On the Bay Bridge, taxpayers footed the bill for the welding errors.

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thursday Must Reads: OPD Says It Didn’t Know About Armed Undercover CHP Officer; ALCO Public Defenders Demonstrate for #BlackLivesMatter

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Dec 18, 2014 at 9:46 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Oakland Police Department officials said they were unaware of an undercover CHP operation last week in which a California Highway Patrol Officer pointed his loaded gun at protesters and journalists, the Chron reports. The assertion by OPD contradicts a claim last week by CHP officials that Oakland police knew about the operation. OPD officials noted that undercover operations can be dangerous; in 2001, an Oakland undercover cop was shot and killed by fellow police officers who were unaware that he was undercover.

Brendon Woods. - STEPHEN LOEWINSOHN/FILE PHOTO
  • Stephen Loewinsohn/file photo
  • Brendon Woods.
2. Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods, along with other attorneys from his office, held a #BlackLivesMatter protest this morning in Oakland, NBC Bay Area reports. It was the first such protest by a county public defender’s office in the state.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Knowland Park Advocates Launch Referendum to Block Oakland Zoo Expansion

by Sam Levin
Tue, Dec 16, 2014 at 11:44 AM

Proposed interpretive center. - COURTESY OF ZOO / FILE PHOTO
  • Courtesy of zoo / file photo
  • Proposed interpretive center.
Though the Oakland City Council last week finalized its approval of the Oakland Zoo's controversial expansion into Knowland Park, environmental groups say the fight is not over yet. The coalition that has long opposed the zoo's efforts to build new exhibits in the city-owned park in East Oakland announced today that it is launching a referendum drive aimed at overturning the council's approval of the final piece of the zoo's plan.

The Save Knowland Park advocates would have to collect signatures over the next thirty days from roughly 21,000 people — ten percent of Oakland voters — to get the measure on the ballot. If successful, voters would have an opportunity to directly weigh in on the zoo's project, which is slated to feature exhibits with wolves, grizzly bears, mountain lions and other animals, along with a restaurant, an interpretive center,  a visitors' building, and a gondola ride. 

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Tuesday Must Reads: Judge Orders Oakland City Attorney to Hand Over Confidential Documents; Richmond Police Chief Says He Would Hold Black Lives Matter Sign Again

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Dec 16, 2014 at 9:54 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

Judge Thelton Henderson.
  • Judge Thelton Henderson.
1. Federal Judge Thelton Henderson ordered Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker to hand over confidential documents related to police misconduct cases, the Trib$ reports. Henderson has appointed a special investigator to probe why the City of Oakland keeps losing arbitration cases in which it has tried to discipline cops accused of wrongdoing. Parker had refused to hand over some documents related to the arbitration cases, arguing that they contain information protected by attorney-client privilege. But the city attorney indicated that she will obey Henderson’s order because it includes a mandate that the documents not be made public.

2. Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus told the Chron that he has no regrets about holding a #Black Lives Matter sign during a recent anti-police-brutality protest — and would do it again. Magnus has come under fire from the Richmond police union for his actions, but the chief said he also has received numerous messages of praise.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

City Announces Free New Year's Eve Shuttle Rides in Oakland

by Sam Levin
Mon, Dec 15, 2014 at 6:32 PM

click image b_shuttle_bus_art2.gif
Here's one more reason to leave your car at home on New Year's Eve this year. Oakland's free Broadway Shuttle will run from 7 a.m. on December 31 through 1 a.m. on January 1, the city announced today. The bus typically runs every ten to fifteen minutes along Broadway from Jack London Square to Grand Avenue. On New Year's Eve, between 7 p.m. and 1 a.m., it will run every twelve minutes between Jack London and 27th Street. 

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Monday Must Reads: Protesters Lock Themselves to OPD Headquarters; State Needs At Least Five More Hellastorms

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Dec 15, 2014 at 9:55 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

The Millions March drew about 3,000 protesters to downtown Oakland on Saturday. - BERT JOHNSON
  • Bert Johnson
  • The Millions March drew about 3,000 protesters to downtown Oakland on Saturday.
1. Anti-police-brutality protesters chained themselves to the Oakland Police Department headquarters in downtown, SF Gate reports. The morning demonstration caught police by surprise. The protest followed the huge Millions March protest on Saturday, which drew about 3,000 peaceful protesters to downtown during the day, before the demonstration turned ugly again at night when a small group of protesters started vandalizing businesses.

2. California needs at least five to six more so-called hellastorms like the one that struck last week in order to emerge from the drought, the SacBee$ reports. Although last week’s big storm brought plenty of rain to the state, it didn’t snow as much as weather forecasters had hoped in the Sierra because of warm temperatures.

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Millions March in Oakland

by Bert Johnson
Sun, Dec 14, 2014 at 4:37 PM

On Saturday, activists from the BlackOut Collective, who shut down the West Oakland BART station, Black Brunch and other East Bay community activism groups organized a demonstration called Millions March in Oakland. Events bearing the same name also happened in San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C. The march started at Frank Ogawa Plaza, then moved to the steps of the Alameda County Superior Court where demonstrators gave speeches and recited poetry that indicted racial injustice in the U.S. and advocated for reform. After the speeches, the protest wound its way back and forth through downtown, Old Oakland, and West Oakland, as demonstrators unsuccessfully attempted to gain access to the 880 and 980 freeways.

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