Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Tenants Disrupt Landlords' Conference in Oakland

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 10:09 AM

Protesters blocked the front entrance to Scott's at Jack London Square, the location of the East Bay Rental Housing Association's conference. - DARWIN BONDGRAHAM
  • Darwin BondGraham
  • Protesters blocked the front entrance to Scott's at Jack London Square, the location of the East Bay Rental Housing Association's conference.
The East Bay Rental Housing Association’s economic and legislative forum was scheduled to begin today at 8 a.m. at Scott’s restaurant in Jack London Square, but protesters blockaded three doors to the restaurant in an effort to shut down the event. Landlords and real estate lawyers arrived looking confused, and the event’s hosts scrambled to find a way to sneak them through the lines of protesters.

The East Bay Rental Housing Association has 1,200 members who own and managed approximately 18,500 rental units in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. Scheduled to speak at today’s event were Ron Kingston, the chief state lobbyist for the EBRHA, and Daniel Bornstein, a lawyer with the Bay Property Group who specializes in landlord-tenant law, along with other landlords, brokers, and lawyers.

Activists say the EBRHA is pushing a policy agenda to weaken tenant protections in the East Bay. A group of protesters dressed in biohazard suits hoisted a banner above the front entrance to Scott’s stating that the landlords' agenda is a “public health hazard” for renters.

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Wednesday Must Reads: Amended Vaccine Bill Heads for Vote Today; State Considers Charging Higher Rates to People Who Cut Energy Use

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 9:58 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

Senator Richard Pan.
  • Senator Richard Pan.
1. The authors of legislation that would end the personal belief exemption for vaccines in California agreed to amend the bill to allow anti-vaxxers to home-school their children together, the Chron reports. The amendments by Democratic state Senator Richard Pan of Sacramento and Ben Allen of Santa Monica are designed to help the bill win enough votes today to pass a Senate committee. Members of the anti-vaxx movement descended on the capital last week, arguing that the bill would have denied their children a constitutional right to a public education. Senator Loni Hancock of Berkeley then voiced support for the anti-vaxxers’ argument.

2. In a move that could undermine California’s climate change goals, state energy regulators are proposing higher rates for people who have been conserving electricity, the Chron$ reports. Administrative law judges for the California Public Utilities Commission say that the current rate structure, in which people who have slashed energy use pay much lower bills, is unfair because the actual cost of delivering electricity to their homes is higher than what they’re paying.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tuesday Must Reads: Judge Calls OPD Discipline Probe ‘Shocking’; Appeals Court Overturns Higher Rates for Water Wasters

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Apr 21, 2015 at 10:01 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

Judge Henderson.
  • Judge Henderson.
1. Federal Judge Thelton Henderson, who oversees the Oakland Police Department’s reform effort, called a new report on the lack of police discipline in the city “shocking,” the Trib$ reports. Henderson ordered the probe because the city has repeatedly lost arbitration cases involving cops who engaged in misconduct. The report singled out City Attorney Barbara Parker’s office for failing to prepare for arbitration hearings and for assigning private attorneys to handle police misconduct cases at the last minute. The judge said the report shows that the city attorney has been “indifferent, at best” on the issue of police discipline.

2. A state appellate court has overturned higher rates for water wasters in California, ruling that they violate Prop 218, and are, in effect, an illegal tax, the SacBee$ reports. The court ruled that so-called tiered rate systems that charge higher fees for the more water you use violate Prop 218’s mandate that fees must reflect the actual costs of delivering water. Governor Jerry Brown called the court’s ruling a “straitjacket” on the ability of local water agencies to slash water use in the drought.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Lawmakers to Consider Bill Aimed at Improving Community Benefits of Nonprofit Hospitals

by Sam Levin
Mon, Apr 20, 2015 at 3:45 PM

Sutter Health protest in Oakland last week. - CALIFORNIA NURSES ASSOCIATION
  • California Nurses Association
  • Sutter Health protest in Oakland last week.
Last week, advocates urged Sutter Health not to close its Oakland-based residential drug and alcohol treatment center for adolescents, a vital program for low-income youth in the East Bay. Supporters of the Thunder Road Adolescent Treatment Center argued that Sutter Health — one of the largest nonprofit hospital systems in California, with a total income of $419 million last year — has an ethical obligation to provide this kind of community benefit and has the finances available to keep the doors open. 

This week, critics are citing this potential closure as further reason that California needs to pass legislation aimed at encouraging nonprofit hospitals to do a better job at providing community benefits and care for low-income and uninsured people. On Wednesday, lawmakers will host the first hearing on Senate Bill 346, a proposal from state Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) to establish stricter standards for the community benefit obligations of nonprofit hospitals.

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Monday Must Reads: State Officials Target Water Wasters; Experts Say Anti-Vaxx Legal Arguments Are Bogus

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Apr 20, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The State Water Resources Control Board issued revised regulations that target communities that have failed to adequately slash water use during the drought, the Mercury News$ reports. The new regulations also ease water cutback requirements for areas that have already been conserving water. For example, the state relaxed the cutback mandate for East Bay MUD from 20 percent to 18 percent. The Contra Costa Water District, by contrast, must slash water use by 28 percent, rather than the previous mandate of 25 percent.

vaccines_injection.jpg
2. Legal experts say the arguments made by members of anti-vaxx movement in opposition to a proposed law that would eliminate the personal belief exemption in California won’t stand up in court, the Mercury News$ reports. Anti-vaxxers have contended that the law, which would require students of public and private schools to be vaccinated unless they have a medical waiver, would deprive their children of the constitutional right to a public education. But legal experts say the state has the legal right to protect the health of the rest of the student population from those who choose not to be vaccinated.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Oakland Police Co-Developing a Statewide Racial Bias Training for Cops

by Darwin BondGraham
Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 3:42 PM

JAMIE SOJA/FILE PHOTO
  • JAMIE SOJA/FILE PHOTO
California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced today the results of a ninety-day internal review of the Department of Justice’s trainings on racial bias and use of force. The review included eight findings, one of which is the announcement that the Department of Justice will establish the first certified “implicit bias” training for law enforcement officers. The training will be made available to all California police officers later this year. Helping develop this training is the Oakland Police Department.

That last part might come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the Oakland Police Department’s recent history. OPD has struggled for years to address evidence of racial profiling by its own officers.

See also: OPD Still Appears to be Targeting Blacks
See also: Oakland’s ‘Unacceptable’ Stop Data, By the Numbers
See also: OPD Struggles to Recruit Non-White Officers, Especially African Americans

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Friday Must Reads: California Almond Growers Expand Acreage in Drought; Governor Says Stopping Them Would Be a ‘Big Brother Move’

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 10:08 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

almond_stuff.jpg
1. As California’s record-setting drought intensifies, agribusinesses are planting more water-intensive almond trees in the Central Valley, the SacBee$ reports. Almonds use huge amounts of water, but economists say that the crop remains highly profitable. The amount of California farmland devoted to almonds has doubled in the past two decades, and has continued to increase in the drought.

2. Governor Jerry Brown said he strongly opposes any proposal to incentivize farmers to stop planting water-intensive crops, calling it a “Big Brother move,” the SacBee$ reports. ‘“Agriculture is an important pillar of California,’ Brown said, ‘and I think we have to be very slow to be starting to pick’ between crops with policies favoring one over another.”

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Updated: Court-Appointed Investigator Slams Oakland’s “Broken” Process for Dealing with Bad Cops

by Darwin BondGraham
Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 5:16 PM

BERT JOHNSON
  • Bert Johnson
A federal court-appointed investigator released a scathing report today that called the City of Oakland’s process for disciplining police officers accused of wrongdoing “a broken and inadequate system that has evaded the public’s scrutiny for too long.”

Edward Swanson, a private attorney appointed by Judge Thelton Henderson to conduct an investigation of the city’s disciplinary process for officers accused of misconduct, reviewed thousands of pages of emails, case files, and transcripts, related to 150 disciplinary hearings and 26 arbitrations involving Oakland police officers.

“There has not been a culture of accountability regarding police discipline in Oakland,” concluded Swanson. “The Oakland City administration – the Mayor, the City Administrator, and the City Council – has not held anyone to account for these failures. The City administration has done nothing to demand or enforce an effective discipline system.”

Swanson’s report references multiple problems with Oakland’s police officer disciplinary system covered by Express contributor Ali Winston.

See also: Why Oakland Can’t Fire Bad Cops
See also: Oakland Police Department Could Take a Hit

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Building Homes and Jobs Act Would Generate Possibly as Much as $720 Million for Housing

by Darwin BondGraham
Thu, Apr 16, 2015 at 1:50 PM

California State Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins.
  • California State Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins.
California isn’t building enough housing, especially affordable housing. The lack of supply to accommodate demand is one of the greatest market failures in modern history. As a recent Legislative Analyst Office report concluded: "A shortage of housing along California’s coast means households wishing to live there compete for limited housing. This competition bids up home prices and rents."

And when the state dissolved redevelopment in 2011, California's cities lost one of the main sources of public funds to build new homes. A bill recently introduced in Sacramento would go a long way toward raising new public funds to help alleviate California’s housing crisis.

AB 1335, the Building Homes and Jobs Act, would impose a fee of $75 on the recording of real estate instruments used to buy and sell property. The law would exempt recordings involving the transfer of owner-occupied homes and commercial real estate. In other words, the fee will target real estate transactions of housing investors who buy and sell rental properties.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wednesday Must Reads: EBMUD Establishes 25% Drought Surcharge; Experts Say Drought Likely Will Not Hurt State’s Economy

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Apr 15, 2015 at 9:35 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

watering_lawn.jpg
1. The East Bay MUD board of directors voted to establish a drought surcharge of up to 25 percent, beginning July 1, in an effort to meet the governor’s mandate for slashing water use, the CoCo Times$ reports. In addition, the board approved a general 8 percent rate increase, voted to limit garden watering to two days a week, and agreed to slap penalties on water guzzlers who use more than 984 gallons of water a day.

2. The state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says the drought likely will not harm California’s economy — mainly because agriculture only represents 2 percent of the state’s economic activity, even though it uses 80 percent of the available water, the LA Times$ reports.


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