Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Civilians Are Finally In Charge of Complaints Against Oakland Cops. Kind Of. Not Yet.

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, May 20, 2015 at 1:49 PM

Oakland police officers making an arrest. - DARWIN BONDGRAHAM
  • Darwin BondGraham
  • Oakland police officers making an arrest.
Last night, the Oakland City Council approved a long-awaited measure to centralize the intake of complaints against Oakland police officers with the Citizens Police Review Board, taking the crucial oversight role out of the hands of OPD’s Internal Affairs Division. The measure that passed, however, was very different from the proposal originally approved by the council in 2011, and from what the council considered again as recently as April of this year. Instead of providing five new staff positions to help CPRB handle complaints, the resolution passed last night only provides CPRB with one new position.

The back story to this reform is deep. Here’s a summary.

See also: Putting Citizens in Charge of Police Complaints
See also: Frazier Blocks Police Reforms


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Wednesday Must Reads: Raiders Make More Moves Toward Los Angeles; Steve Glazer Cruises to Victory in East Bay Senate Race

by Robert Gammon
Wed, May 20, 2015 at 10:26 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland Raiders continue to make moves toward relocating to Los Angeles, finalizing a land deal in Carson and hiring a well-connected lobbyist, UT San Diego reports (h/t Rough & Tumble). The Raiders and Charges put the finishing touches on a property deal that would allow them to build a $1.7 billion stadium in Carson. In addition, the teams hired Carmen Policy, a former San Francisco 49ers executive, to convince the NFL to approve their plans.

Steve Glazer.
  • Steve Glazer.
2. Steve Glazer, a centrist Democrat who openly courted Republican voters in the East Bay, cruised to victory in yesterday’s special state Senate election, defeating liberal Democrat Susan Bonilla, 54.6 percent to 45.4 percent. Glazer gained fame, and became a darling of conservatives, when he spearheaded an unsuccessful effort to ban BART strikes.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Contra Costa County Juvenile Hall to End Use of Solitary Confinement

by Sam Levin
Tue, May 19, 2015 at 2:33 PM

click image FILE PHOTO
  • file photo
The Contra Costa County Probation Department is ending its use of solitary confinement for youth detained in juvenile hall as part of a settlement agreement that East Bay disability rights' activists announced today. This policy change, which advocates said is an unprecedented move that could serve as a model for juvenile detention facilities around the country, settles a prolonged legal dispute surrounding county probation officials' treatment of youth with disabilities.

The original class-action lawsuit — which advocacy groups Disability Rights Advocates and Public Counsel filed on behalf of youth in Contra Costa Juvenile Hall — alleged that the county routinely locked young people with disabilities in small cells for up to 23 hours a day. The suit said that these cells barely had enough space for a bed and only had a narrow window that was the width of a hand. The organizations further contended that the youth confined to these cells were illegally denied access to education, including special education classes. 

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Oakland Police Threaten to Cite Residents for Barbecues by Lake Merritt

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, May 19, 2015 at 1:40 PM

An Oakland police officer patrolling Lake Merritt. - OAKLAND POLICE DEPARTMENT
  • Oakland Police Department
  • An Oakland police officer patrolling Lake Merritt.
For several weeks, the Oakland Police Department has parked multiple electric traffic signs on the eastern side of Lake Merritt warning that anyone barbecuing or drinking alcohol would be cited. The move is meant to cool down what has become one of Oakland’s hottest social scenes: picnics on the grassy knolls along Lakeshore Avenue, between El Embarcadero and East 18th streets. Thousands of people typically hang out there on weekends, often staying late into the night. 

But some of these partygoers have apparently been dumping charcoals in the bushes and lake. Others have been leaving behind piles of litter. (Admittedly though, the city hasn’t provided enough trash cans there). Neighbors who live up the hill in Cleveland Heights and on Lakeshore Avenue have complained to the city about the noise and garbage. Last month the city invited KRON’s Stanley Roberts to shame the litterbugs by filming the aftermath of one weekend’s revelry.

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Tuesday Must Reads: East Oakland Developer Wants $8 Million More in Subsidies; Californians Say Big Ag Should Save Water

by Robert Gammon
Tue, May 19, 2015 at 9:56 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The proposed developer of a strip mall in East Oakland is asking the city council for an additional $8 million in tax subsidies — on top of the $6 million that the council already approved, the Chron$ reports. Sid Afshar of Sunfield Development says he needs the extra funds because he’s had difficulty attracting tenants to the proposed project at Foothill Boulevard and Seminary Avenue and because his anchor tenant, Walgreens, is demanding a 33 percent rent reduction. Walgreens issued the demand, he said, after the company withdrew its request for an exemption to Oakland’s living wage law.

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2. A solid majority of state residents — 57 percent — say that California agriculture should be doing more to cut back on water use, including changing crops, the SacBee$ reports, citing a new Field Poll. To date, Governor Jerry Brown has refused to mandate water cutbacks on agribusinesses, despite the fact that they use 80 percent of the available water in the state. Californians also said they support the governor’s 25-percent mandatory water rationing for residents, but expressed concern that they won’t be able to meet the requirement.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Education Advocates Raise $100,000 for Oakland Schools, Rally for Prop 13 Tax Reforms

by Sam Levin
Mon, May 18, 2015 at 5:49 PM

click image RIDE FOR A REASON
  • Ride for a Reason
Education advocates raised nearly $100,000 over the weekend for Oakland public schools as part of a bike-ride fundraiser aimed at pressuring state officials to increase funding for public education. The Ride for a Reason event — which attracted 225 cyclists, who rode from Oakland to Sacramento on Saturday — has raised $97,000 so far though supporters can still donate online through June 12. The funds go to Emerson Elementary School, Claremont Middle School, Westlake Middle School, Edna Brewer Middle School, Oakland International High School, and Oakland Technical High School.

The fundraiser, in its seventh year, helps raise money for a wide range of initiatives, including music, art, and restorative justice programs.

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Monday Must Reads: Bay Bridge Leaks Worse than Feared; Two Base Jumpers Die in Illegal Stunt in Yosemite

by Robert Gammon
Mon, May 18, 2015 at 9:50 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Sleeves that house steel rods inside the new Bay Bridge keep filling up with salty water, a strong indication that water from the bay is leaking into the span’s signature tower. The Chron reports a steel rod that broke and is being tested for corrosion was standing in up to five feet of water with other rods. Saltwater is highly corrosive. ‘“You have all the ingredients for material failure here,’ said Lisa Fulton, a corrosion expert in Berkeley who has tested samples of apparent corrosion residue found on the span. ‘The fact that it’s flooded with saltwater basically guarantees corrosion,’ Fulton said. ‘You can’t go back and fix it, because the damage is already done.”’

Taft Point in Yosemite.
  • Taft Point in Yosemite.
2. Two daredevil base-jumpers died over the weekend while attempting an illegal stunt in Yosemite National Park, the LA Times$ reports. Dean Potter and Graham Hunt were killed while attempting to leap over “the notch,” a rocky ridge line on Taft Point, about 3,000 feet above Yosemite Valley. Base-jumping is unlawful in Yosemite because it’s considered too dangerous.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

California’s Thirsty Almond Acreage Grows By 150,000 Acres During Record Drought

by Dan Bacher
Fri, May 15, 2015 at 1:55 PM

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California growers continue to expand their almond acreage in the state during the drought while the Brown administration has mandated that urban families slash their water usage by 25 percent. 

California’s 2014 almond acreage was estimated at 1,020,000 acres, up 50,000 acres from the 2013 acreage of 970,000, according to a recent survey (PDF) conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). That is an increase of 5 percent in one year. 

At the beginning of our current drought, almond acreage was 870,000 acres, according to the respected blog, On the Public Record

When you subtract the 870,000 acres from 1,020,000 acres, you get an increase of 150,000 acres — again, all during a record drought.

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Friday Must Reads: Brown and Napolitano Reach Deal on UC Tuition Freeze; Senate Passes Mandatory Vaccine Bill

by Robert Gammon
Fri, May 15, 2015 at 9:50 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Governor Jerry Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano have reached a deal on funding for the University of California that will eliminate tuition hikes for in-state students for the next two years, the SacBee$ reports. In exchange for the tuition freeze, Brown agreed to increase funding to UC by $436 million over three years, along with an annual 4 percent hike. Thanks to much higher than expected revenues, K–12 public schools will also receive extra funding.

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2. The state Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation that would require all incoming kindergarteners in California schools to be vaccinated — unless they obtain a medical waiver, the Mercury News$ reports. The legislation, if approved by the Assembly, would eliminate the personal belief exemption for vaccines, although under a compromise agreement, currently unvaccinated students would be exempted until they enter the seventh grade.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Oakland Teachers Reach Tentative Contract Agreement With Salary Increases, Seniority Rights

by Sam Levin
Thu, May 14, 2015 at 11:05 AM

BERT JOHNSON / FILE PHOTO
  • Bert Johnson / file photo
After months of tense negotiations, the Oakland teachers' union announced today that it has finalized a tentative contract agreement with the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) — one that preserves seniority rights of instructors and establishes annual salary increases through 2016. The Oakland Education Association (OEA), the union, has just published a summary of the agreement for a three-year term through 2016-17.

In terms of the salary package, the contract agreement would give teachers an 8 percent guaranteed salary increase by January 2016. That comes from a 2 percent increase retroactive to July 1, 2014; a 1 percent increase retroactive to February 1, 2015; a 2.5 percent increase effective at the end of this school year; and a 2.5 percent increase effective January 2016 (which is tied to a thirty-minute increase in work hours per week that goes into effect during the 2016-17 school year). 

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