Monday, November 30, 2015

Monday Must Reads: OPD Still Disproportionately Targeting Black Residents; Judge Seeks Gov. Brown’s Emails in Nuclear Power Case

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Nov 30, 2015 at 9:52 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland Police Department is still disproportionately stopping and searching Black residents who have done nothing wrong, the Chron$ reports, citing OPD stop data. Police often cite “reasonable suspicion,’’ which is an extremely vague legal standard, for stopping and searching Black people in Oakland. Of those stopped by OPD for reasonable suspicion from September 2014 to September 2015, 70 percent were Black, even though African Americans make up 26.5 percent of the city’s population. In addition, the vast majority of those stops did not result in an arrest or the discovery of contraband.

2. A San Francisco judge is urging the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to turn over emails between Governor Jerry Brown and CPUC chair Michael Picker regarding a controversial deal to shut down the troubled San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California, the Chron reports. The deal has come under intense criticism because it allowed San Diego Gas & Electric Company to pass off to its customers 70 percent of the $4.7 billion costs associated with closing San Onofre. The CPUC, however, maintains that the email exchanges between the governor and Picker concerning the shutdown deal are not public.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Alameda County Sheriff's Union Asks for Money to Fight Bogus 'Wave of Violence' Against Police

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Nov 25, 2015 at 2:20 PM

A fundraising letter from the Deputy Sheriff's Association of Alameda County.
  • A fundraising letter from the Deputy Sheriff's Association of Alameda County.
In a recently mailed fundraising letter for the Alameda County deputy sheriff's union, Deputy Sheriff Tom Matheny claimed that police officers are being threatened by an "unprecedented wave" of violence and assassinations. Matheny also wrote that two recent California laws aimed at reducing mass incarceration and decriminalizing nonviolent crimes have been a "double punch" against police and public safety.

Neither claim is supported by facts. Official statistics show that police are safer on the job now than they have ever been. And experts studying the impacts of Prop 47 and AB 109 say it's too early to tell if they have caused noticeable increases in crime. The new laws have, however, reduced the prison population.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tuesday Must Reads: Prosecutors to File Murder Charges in Oakland Muralist Slaying; King Tides to Bring Flooding with Rainfall

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 10:01 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

Antonio Ramos. - AHC-OAKLAND.ORG
  • Antonio Ramos.
1. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office plans to file murder and robbery charges against a suspect today in the slaying of a muralist in Oakland in September, NBC Bay Area reports. Prosecutors will charge Marquise Holloway in the killing of 27-year-old artist Antonio Ramos of Emeryville. Holloway allegedly shot Ramos to death as Ramos was painting a large mural in West Oakland.

2. Unusually high tides — known king tides — will bring flooding to low-lying areas of the region along with today’s rainfall, the Chron reports. The Bay Area is expected to receive between a quarter- and a half-inch of precipitation today, and the cold weather front could dust Mount Diablo with snow and likely will bring snowfall to the Sierra.

3. Middle school science text books in California, including in Oakland and San Francisco, are falsely equivocal about human-caused climate change, the Chron reports, citing a new analysis from Stanford University. The textbooks make misleading statements — such as humans “may” be causing global warming — when the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community is that humans are definitely causing it. Part of the problem is that the textbooks are old and out of date.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Friday’s FTP Rally Shows Schaaf Has Abandoned Her Nighttime Street March Ban

by Darwin BondGraham and Erin Baldassari
Mon, Nov 23, 2015 at 5:05 PM

Roughly fifty demonstrators marched from Fruitvale BART on Friday night to Oakland City Hall in an anti-police rally called in response to the fatal shooting of Richard Perkins by Oakland police on November 15. But unlike protests earlier this year, police didn’t try to drive demonstrators onto the sidewalks to comply with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s policy banning nighttime street marches. The police department's actions strongly indicated that it's no longer enforcing the mayor's controversial ban.

Perkins was shot by four Oakland police officers at a gas station on the corner of 90th and Bancroft avenues. According to OPD, Perkins approached the officers with a “replica” pistol just before the officers shot him.

  • Erin Baldassari.
The demonstrators, many wearing masks or bandanas, marched down International Boulevard to Oakland City Hall with a “Know Ya Enemy” banner. Anti-police anthems were played from a mobile sound system built into a tricycle. There did not appear to be any arrests related to the demonstration, nor any property damage. Dozens of OPD officers followed the march and at some points surrounded the protesters on three sides.

One of the demonstrators, whose brother is currently incarcerated, said everyone at the rally on Friday had one thing in common. “We’ve all been abused by the police,” said Gerardo Gonzalez.

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Federal Lawsuit: Demonstrators Allege Police Misconduct in Black Lives Matter Protests in Berkeley Last Year

by Erin Baldassari
Mon, Nov 23, 2015 at 4:52 PM

Eleven people aged 20 to 62, representing city employees, residents, activists, and visitors to Berkeley, filed a lawsuit in federal court today alleging the City of Berkeley, Berkeley police, and mutual aid agencies broke the law when it used tear gas, batons, and less-than-lethal munitions against demonstrators during a December 6, 2014 Black Lives Matter protest.

“The Berkeley Police responded brutally, clubbing peaceful protesters and journalists, often from behind, some in the head, indiscriminately and unnecessarily; and using profligate amounts of teargas without justification,” the complaint reads.

Rachel Lederman of the National Lawyers Guild, one of the attorneys representing the demonstrators, said the plaintiffs didn’t rush to file the suit because they were hopeful that the city would respond to the complaints with a thorough review of its crowd control policies.

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Salmon Fishermen and Consumer Groups Criticize FDA Approval of Frankenfish

by Dan Bacher
Mon, Nov 23, 2015 at 11:56 AM

The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on November 19 approved genetically engineered salmon, called "Frankenfish" by critics, as “safe” for human consumption in spite of massive public opposition to the decision.

The Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA) announced that it was “disappointed” in the decision, joining a broad coalition of fishing groups, environmental organizations, tribes, and consumer groups in criticizing the approval of the first-ever genetically engineered animal for the dinner table.

The FDA approved the controversial AquaBounty Technologies’ application for AquAdvantage Salmon, an Atlantic salmon that reaches market size faster than non-GE farm-raised Atlantic salmon, claiming it is safe to eat, safe for the environment, and safe for the fish itself — despite a large amount of evidence provided by GMO opponents challenging this contention.

The company added a growth hormone-regulating gene from a Pacific Chinook salmon and a promoter from an ocean eel pout to the Atlantic salmon’s 40,000 genes, allowing the fish to grow year-round instead of only during spring and summer.

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Monday Must Reads: Giant Fissures in Bay Bridge Foundation; East Bay Adds 3,400 Jobs Last Month

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Nov 23, 2015 at 9:27 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Giant fissures in the foundation of the new Bay Bridge, which Caltrans decided to fill with industrial strength super glue, are allowing bay water to pour into the structure, thereby raising further concerns about its stability, the Chron reports. In 2007, Caltrans decided to use the glue to patch the fissures – some of which were ten feet wide – rather than replacing the structure, because the project was behind schedule. But the glue fix failed and water has been flowing into the foundation, and likely is corroding steel rods inside the structure.

2. The East Bay added 3,400 jobs in October as the region’s economy continued to surge, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. The Bay Area posted job gains of 17,300 for the month, while the state added 41,200 – twice as much as September.

3. Oakland city officials are declining to comment on an allegation by former Black Panthers leader Elaine Brown that she was assaulted by Councilmember Desley Brooks, the Chron reports. Police are investigating the incident, which reportedly took place on October 30 at Everett & Jones Barbecue in Oakland.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Big Climate Change March in Oakland This Saturday

by Jean Tepperman
Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 9:51 AM

  • Illustration by Don Button,
As world leaders prepare for the potentially historic UN Climate Talks in Paris, Bay Area activists are preparing for their own gathering this Saturday, November 21. The NorCal Climate Mobilization will call on governments to take “dramatic and rapid” action to protect the climate. The Oakland march and rally will be part of a worldwide series of demonstrations aimed at pressuring negotiators to ramp up their commitments on climate.

“We don’t expect [governments] to make adequate pledges without mass public pressure,” said rally organizer Steve Nadel of the Sunflower Alliance, which is part of the coalition of environmental and labor groups that initiated the mobilization. “Given the events in Paris, it now looks like the government there is going to ban demonstrations before and after the meeting,” he added, referring to the recent terrorist attacks. “That means it’s even more important for people outside France to be pressuring them to make the right decisions.”

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Thursday Must Reads: 49 State Parks Will Be Free on Black Friday; Berkeley Considers Landlords’ Tax to Fund Affordable Housing

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 9:27 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Save the Redwoods League, a nonprofit conservation group, has agreed to sponsor free admission to 49 state parks in California on Black Friday, NBC Bay Area reports. The donation was inspired by the decision by outdoor retailer REI to close on Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving — and urge its employees to spend time in nature. The free admission sponsorship was made available by an anonymous donor to Save the Redwoods League.

Laurie Capitelli.
  • Laurie Capitelli.
2. Berkeley is considering a new windfall profits tax on landlords of multi-unit buildings to raise funds for affordable housing in the city, the Trib$ reports. The proposal, authored by city councilmembers Jesse Arreguin and Laurie Capitelli, along with former city housing director Stephen Barton, would need voter approval to go into effect. Barton noted that Berkeley landlords are making big profits thanks to skyrocketing rents. The plan would raise between $4 million and $6 million a year.

3. Berkeley Councilmember Capitelli, meanwhile, has declared his candidacy for mayor next year, Berkeleyside reports. Arreguin has already announced that he plans to run for the office. Mayor Tom Bates is retiring.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Alameda Council May Remove Legal Loophole Allowing Mass Evictions

by Steven Tavares
Wed, Nov 18, 2015 at 6:17 PM

Tenants at Bay View Apartments in Alameda received eviction notices just days after the city council approved a moratorium on evictions. - STEVEN TAVARES
  • Steven Tavares
  • Tenants at Bay View Apartments in Alameda received eviction notices just days after the city council approved a moratorium on evictions.
A loophole in Alameda’s recently passed 65-day moratorium on rent hikes and evictions was quickly exploited by at least one landlord to evict 33 families from their apartments. As a result, the Alameda City Council may close the loophole at its next meeting, City Hall sources said Wednesday.

The council is set to schedule an agenda item for the December 1 meeting to propose removing the provision in the ordinance passed two weeks ago that allows landlords to serve eviction notices for the purpose of making capital improvements to the property worth eight times the current rent. The agenda item will likely become public on Thursday.

Just days after the urgency ordinance was approved, renters at the 33-unit Bay View Apartments at 470 Central Avenue on the island’s West End, received 60-day eviction notices. The building’s new owners, San Jose-based Sridhar Equities, Inc. used the capital improvements provision to justify evicting all of the tenants in the building.

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