Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday Must Reads: Berkeley Council Okays New Rules Targeting Homeless; Ex-County Supervisor Mary King Dies

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Nov 18, 2015 at 9:48 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. In a move backed by local businesses but strongly opposed by advocates for the homeless, the Berkeley City Council early this morning voted 6-3 to approve a set of new rules targeting street behavior, the Trib$ reports. The new rules include a ban on urinating and defecating in public and taking up more than two square feet of space on a sidewalk with personal belongings. The council also voted to move forward with a plan to increase the number of public bathrooms and to create storage bins for homeless people — but did not allocate funds to do so.

Mary King.
  • Mary King.
2. Mary King, a former Alameda County supervisor and ex-general manager of AC Transit, has died of a chronic illness, the Trib$ reports. She was 69. In 1988, King was the first African-American woman elected to the board of supervisors, and was reelected two times and served as president of the board. She was known for her advocacy for low-income residents and social services and for working to improve local transportation and protect open space.

3. The Oakland City Council agreed to pay $37,000 to settle a lawsuit over the city’s decision last year to close the balcony of the council chambers and block citizens from attending council meetings, the Chron reports. The suit was filed by the public employee union, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 21. The city closed the balcony after demonstrators took over a council meeting last spring to protest the illegal sale of public land near Lake Merritt to a luxury housing developer.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tuesday Must Reads: Richmond Police Chief Magnus Takes Tucson Job; Gov. Brown Says He’s Still Going to Paris for Climate Talks

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Nov 17, 2015 at 9:41 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

  • Joseph Schell/File photo
  • Chris Magnus.
1. Chris Magnus, the Bay Area’s most progressive police chief — and its most successful — has decided to become the police chief of Tucson, Arizona, the CoCo Times$ reports. In Richmond, Magnus eschewed tough-on-crime policies like stop-and-frisk in favor of community policing and improving relations between cops and residents, and the results were dramatic: The city experienced huge drops in crime in the past several years. Magnus, the first openly gay chief in the region’s history, also made headlines last year when he publicly embraced Black Lives Matter. Magnus said he's looking forward to a new challenge in Tucson.

2. Governor Jerry Brown said he plans to attend the historic UN climate talks in Paris next month — despite the recent terrorist attacks there, the LA Times$ reports. Brown also broke with the hard line taken by other governors in the wake of the Paris attacks, and said that the United States should continue to accept Syrian refugees — as long as they undergo a thorough vetting process, the SacBee$ reports.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Sideshows Rip Oakland Streets; OPD Officers Shoot and Kill Man Who Had ‘Replica’ Gun

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Nov 16, 2015 at 1:03 PM

Oakland police blockade International Boulevard at 54th Avenue on Sunday night to disrupt a sideshow that involved 150 vehicles. - DARWIN BONDGRAHAM
  • Darwin BondGraham
  • Oakland police blockade International Boulevard at 54th Avenue on Sunday night to disrupt a sideshow that involved 150 vehicles.
Several massive sideshows took over Oakland's streets this weekend, and Oakland police officers shot and killed a man on Sunday evening at an East Oakland gas station. Details about the shooting and the sideshows are just beginning to emerge.

At a press conference this morning, Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent said officers had "developed information" about a group of motorcyclists who planned to gather in the city on Sunday. Officers tracked the motorcyclists as they rode through city streets. Police eventually cornered some of the bikers at a gas station at 90th and Bancroft avenues. While attempting to confiscate motorcycles from the riders, four Oakland police officers fatally shot a 39 year-old man. But Whent said the man did not appear to be associated with the motorcyclists. Police produced a picture of a “replica” airsoft gun they said the man pointed in the direction of the officers before the shooting. Several people who said they witnessed the shooting told me they heard between ten and fifteen shots.

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Monday Must Reads: Oakland Police Kill Man After Massive Sideshow; ALCO Deputies on Leave After Brutally Beating Man

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Nov 16, 2015 at 9:53 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

OPD fatally shot a man at 90th and Bancroft avenues. - DARWIN BONDGRAHAM
  • Darwin BondGraham
  • OPD fatally shot a man at 90th and Bancroft avenues.
1. Oakland police officers last night shot and killed a man whom police said pointed a handgun at officers towing cars from a massive sideshow, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. Police later said the handgun turned out to be a replica. The huge sideshow on the streets of East Oakland on Saturday night drew some seven hundred cars, police said.

2. Two Alameda County sheriff’s deputies are on leave following the release of a video that showed them brutally beating a man in San Francisco after they had chased him from the East Bay, the Chron reports. Alameda County Public Defender Brendan Woods is urging prosecutors to pursue criminal charges against the deputies.

3. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said her administration is also considering selling Coliseum property to a developer or agreeing to a longterm lease as a way to help pay for a new stadium for the Raiders on the site, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. The mayor said last week that she’s also considering lease revenue bonds as a financing tool.

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Friday, November 13, 2015

Schaaf: I’m Not Proposing to Put Taxpayers’ Money at Risk with Raiders Stadium

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Nov 13, 2015 at 5:01 PM

In a lengthy statement released Friday afternoon, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf pushed back against a news report suggesting that she is reversing a long-standing position against using taxpayer money to build a new stadium for the Raiders.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on Friday that Schaaf’s presentation earlier this week to National Football League owners included a proposal for the city examine the possibility of using lease revenue bonds to help pay for a stadium. The news report also noted that Schaaf is considering the use of tax increment proceeds as a stadium financing tool.

In the past, Schaaf has consistently ruled out helping the Raiders build a new stadium on the public’s dime, although she has pledged up to $120 million for improving the infrastructure surrounding the future stadium.

“Since I took office I have been nothing but clear about how I believe Oakland can responsibly keep its sports teams without publicly subsidizing stadium construction. My position is unchanged. The San Francisco Chronicle’s suggestion that I would be willing to put public money at risk is simply not true,” said Schaaf in a 685-word statement.

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Friday Must Reads: Schaaf Floats Idea to Use Public Bonds for Raiders Stadium; Caltrans to Blow Up Bridge Pier Tomorrow Morning

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Nov 13, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

Libby Schaaf.
  • Libby Schaaf.
1. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said her administration will consider the possibility of using “lease revenue bonds” to help finance a new stadium for the Raiders, the Chron reports. The public bonds would be paid back by revenues generated by the stadium, but the proposal raises questions as to whether taxpayers would be on the hook if the needed revenues fail to materialize. Schaaf has repeatedly vowed not to use public funds to build new facilities for Oakland’s professional sports teams.

2. Caltrans plans to blow up the last remaining underwater pier from the old Bay Bridge tomorrow morning, the Chron$ reports. Transportation officials plan to close the new bridge during the demolition, which is scheduled to take place between 6:45 and 7 a.m. BART will also shut off service to and from San Francisco through the Tube as crews detonate 600 charges of dynamite — totaling 20,000 pounds. The massive underwater explosion is expected to kill numerous marine species, including nearly 2,000 endangered Longfin smelt.

3. The Berkeley City Council this week voted to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018 for larger businesses with more than 55 workers, Berkeleyside reports. Small business owners, who spoke out strongly against hiking the minimum wage, will have until 2020 before raising it to $15.

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Legal Battle Over Coal in Oakland Is Heating Up

by Darwin BondGraham
Thu, Nov 12, 2015 at 1:54 PM

Opponents of coal gather outside of Oakland City Hall in September. - DARWIN BONDGRAHAM
  • Darwin BondGraham
  • Opponents of coal gather outside of Oakland City Hall in September.
Attorneys representing developer Phil Tagami and the City of Oakland want Alameda County State Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo to throw out an environmental lawsuit that aims to prevent the export of millions of tons of coal from the Oakland waterfront.

Environmental groups, including Communities for a Better Environment, the Sierra Club, San Francisco Baykeeper, and the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, filed suit last month to block the coal export plan. The groups are arguing that the city must conduct a new environmental analysis before permitting the shipment of coal through Oakland. Specifically, the groups contend that environmental impacts, from coal dust blowing off trains into residential neighborhoods to CO2 emissions from burning coal, were not analyzed when the city conducted its original environmental studies in 2002 and 2012. The groups believe that the impacts would be so harmful as to justify banning coal exports.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Express Wins Journalism Excellence Award

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Nov 11, 2015 at 11:40 AM

Express Arts & Culture editor Sarah Burke won a first-place award last night in the 30th Annual Excellence in Journalism Awards of the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter. Burke’s award came in the Arts & Culture category for her October 15, 2014 cover story, “Moral Combat.” Her piece explored Gamergate, the vicious harassment campaign that’s been chasing women out of the video game industry. Her report also looked at how East Bay female developers have been trying to reclaim the video game art form.

The SPJ said Burke’s story “captures nuances about gaming and the kinds of voices that are trying to break into a world that is fighting to keep them out.”

Burke’s award was in the print/small division for newspapers of less than 100,000 circulation. The Express was the only alt weekly to win an award in this year’s contest.

Alameda County Traffic Court Eliminates Harsh License Suspension Policy That Punished The Poor

by Sam Levin
Wed, Nov 11, 2015 at 11:04 AM

  • Bert Johnson / file photo
  • Clive Salmon.
In April, California civil rights groups documented the many ways in which the state's traffic courts trap people in poverty with exorbitant fines for minor infractions and punitive license suspensions when they miss a single payment or court date. In response, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law an "amnesty program" that began in October and is designed to provide some relief to low-income people suffering from insurmountable debts and license suspensions. But as I outlined in this week's paper, legal aid groups say the program is significantly flawed and inaccessible to many of the state's most vulnerable residents — particularly in Alameda County, which has adopted a number of harsh policies. 

Last week, after I told Alameda County Superior Court Executive Officer Chad Finke about the case of Oakland resident Clive Salmon — who has been unable to reap any benefits from the governor's amnesty program — Finke said the court would revisit its policies. Now, Finke said, officials have decided to eliminate one of its overly punitive rules that has blocked Salmon from taking advantage of the amnesty initiative. 

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Wednesday Must Reads: Disney CEO Iger to Run Raiders’ LA Stadium Plan; California Already $1 Billion Over Revenue Projections

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Nov 11, 2015 at 9:29 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

Bob Iger.
  • Bob Iger.
1. Disney CEO Bob Iger has agreed to head up the venture to build a new stadium in Southern California for the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers, the AP reports (via SFGate). The hiring of Iger could give the $1.7 billion Carson stadium plan a big boost – especially considering the fact that Disney owns ESPN. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is in New York City today to make a pitch to the NFL to keep the Raiders in Oakland.

2. The State of California has already brought in about $1 billion more in tax revenues than projected for the 2015-16 fiscal year, Capital Public Radio reports (h/t Rough & Tumble), citing a new report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office. October was a particularly good month for tax revenues: The state pulled in about $200 million more than projected.

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