Wednesday, December 30, 2015

UC Berkeley Researchers: Oakland's Homeless Camp Policies Are Contradictory, Harmful

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Dec 30, 2015 at 5:16 PM

A homeless camp under the 880 Freeway in downtown Oakland. - DARWIN BONDGRAHAM
  • Darwin BondGraham
  • A homeless camp under the 880 Freeway in downtown Oakland.
A report by UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy researchers prepared for the City of Oakland last May found that Oakland's method for dealing with homeless encampments does more harm than good, and that the city's various departments don't have a coherent strategy to help the homeless. The result is that the city's homeless population continues to struggle to find safe spaces to exist.

According to the report, each city department approaches the problem of homeless encampments with its own goals.

"These often contradictory approaches became problematic when one department’s definition of a successful outcome directly undermined another’s," the Berkeley researchers wrote.


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Wednesday Must Reads: Schaaf Stands Firm on No Public Subsidies for Raiders; Castro Valley Woman Banned from Park for Anti-Muslim Rant

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Dec 30, 2015 at 10:03 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

Libby Schaaf.
  • Libby Schaaf.
1. In a letter to the National Football League, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf stood firm in her commitment to not spend public dollars on a new stadium for the Raiders, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. Schaaf has repeatedly vowed not to publicly subsidize new facilities for Oakland’s professional sports teams. Raiders owner Mark Davis, who wants the city to give his team more than 120 acres of free land at the Coliseum, decried Schaaf’s letter, saying that Schaaf and her administration “just don’t want to play with us.” Schaaf has pointed out that it would be illegal for the city to give the Raiders taxpayer-owned property.

2. A Castro Valley woman who hurled anti-Muslim epithets at a group of Muslim Americans and threw coffee in the face of a Muslim-American man who filmed her has been banned from Lake Chabot Regional Park, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. Denise Slader, who works for the state corrections department, also was ordered by a judge to have no contact with Rasheed Albeshaeri, the man she threw coffee at. Slader is charged with misdemeanor battery and hate crime charges.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tuesday Must Reads: Raiders Demand Free Land from Oakland; 58 Million Trees in California at Risk of Dying

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Dec 29, 2015 at 10:07 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

mark-davis-oakland-raiders.jpg
1. Oakland Raiders’ owner Mark Davis is demanding that the City of Oakland give the team 169 acres of public land for free at the Coliseum site and the surrounding area, the Chron$ reports. Davis said former Mayor Jean Quan offered the land to the team in 2013, even though giving away public property is illegal in California. Current Mayor Libby Schaaf is refusing Davis’ demands. Davis also said he has no interest in Schaaf’s idea for a bond deal in which the bonds would be repaid by revenues generated by the new stadium. Davis said he needs those revenues to repay a separate loan from the NFL.

2. Up to 58 million trees in California are at serious risk of dying because they’ve experienced significant water loss due to the drought, the Chron$ reports, citing a new study by the Carnegie Institution of Science. Earlier this year, the US Forest Service estimated that 12 million trees in California had already died because of the drought.

3. A controversial plan by the Metropolitan Water District, which represents Southern California, to buy large swaths of land in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta has run into a snag — legal restrictions that are designed to protect the fragile land, the SacBee$ reports. The move by Metropolitan to buy the land was widely viewed as an attempt to speed up Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to build two giant water tunnels in the delta in order to send more Northern California water to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.


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Monday, December 28, 2015

Monday Must Reads: Oakland Pitches More Sites for A’s Ballpark; City Likely Will Miss NFL Deadline for Raiders

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Dec 28, 2015 at 9:19 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The City of Oakland is pitching four sites for a new ballpark near downtown for the A’s, including the Howard Terminal spot near Jack London Square, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. Besides Howard Terminal, the sites include the US Postal Service site in West Oakland, a spot on the Laney College campus, and one in the Brooklyn Basin development on the Estuary. The city prefers that the A’s be closer to downtown, thereby leaving the Coliseum site for the Raiders. The Howard Terminal spot, just west of Jack London Square, appears to be the most viable.

oakland_raiders_stadium2.jpg
2. The city, meanwhile, likely will miss the NFL’s December 30 deadline for coming up with a concrete financial plan to keep the Raiders in Oakland, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. The city does not have the financial wherewithal to meet the Raiders’ request that taxpayers pay for about half of a new $1 billion stadium. However, the city is hopeful that the Raiders do not have the votes among NFL owners to move to Los Angeles.

3. Prosecutors say the pipe bomb made by a Richmond man who threatened Muslim Americans earlier this month
was a fake, the LA Times$ reports. The man, William Celli, 55, is charged with a felony count of making criminal threats with a hate crime enhancement.


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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wednesday Must Reads: Fremont Muslim Terror Suspect Denied Bail; Police Failed to Act on Anti-Muslim Bomb Suspect for 11 Days

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Dec 23, 2015 at 10:06 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A judge denied bail for a Fremont Muslim American who is charged with supporting an Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group in Syria, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. Even though 22-year-old Adam Shafi did not target any Americans or make threats against US citizens, federal prosecutors are vigorously pursuing a legal case against him that could put him behind bars for up to twenty years. And federal Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim said Shafi is ineligible for bail because she said he’s too dangerous and too much of a flight risk.

William Celli - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • William Celli
2. Meanwhile, police in Richmond and Calaveras County failed to act for eleven days on bomb threats made against Muslim Americans by a white Richmond man, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. Even though 55-year-old William Celli had yelled “I’m going to kill you all” to members of a Richmond mosque and had posted a photo of himself on Facebook with a pipe bomb and made threats against Muslim Americans in early December, police failed to target Celli until late last week. Prosecutors also have not yet charged Celli as a terrorist, despite the fact that he targeted American citizens.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Updated: Oakland Spent $72K Closing 162 Homeless Camps in 2015

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, Dec 22, 2015 at 3:15 PM

A homeless camp under the 880 Freeway in downtown Oakland. - DARWIN BONDGRAHAM
  • Darwin BondGraham
  • A homeless camp under the 880 Freeway in downtown Oakland.
Since January, the City of Oakland spent $72,212 to close 162 homeless encampments and to dispose of garbage and the belongings of homeless people who are living on the city’s streets and in its parks, according to city records.

The Public Works Department closed 66 homeless camps at locations all around the city, but mostly at locations in the flatlands near freeways, along street medians, and on sidewalks in industrial areas. The Parks and Recreation Department closed another 96 homeless camps in parks, again mainly located in the flatlands of East and West Oakland and downtown. Many of the camps targeted for closure were reoccupied immediately after the city attempted to remove them.

See also: Caltrans and CHP Oust Homeless from Camp in Pouring Rain in Oakland
See also: Living on the Streets of Oakland

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Tuesday Must Reads: State May Ease Water Restrictions for Hot Areas; UC Divests from Private Prison Industry

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Dec 22, 2015 at 10:01 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

watering_lawn.jpg
1. California regulators are proposing to ease water restrictions for hot inland areas of the state and for fast-growing regions, the LA Times$ reports. Those areas have complained loudly about the state’s water cutback requirements. Overall, the proposal, if approved next month, would reduce the mandated water cuts from 25 percent to about 22 percent in California. The plan to ease restrictions is not related to the recent rainstorms.

2. The University of California has decided to sell off its $25 million investment in the private prison industry following an outcry from students, the SacBee$ reports. Last month, the Afrikan Black Coalition launched a campaign to get the university system to divest from private prisons, and UC acquiesced after meeting with the student group.


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Monday, December 21, 2015

Monday Must Reads: Richmond Man Who Planned to Bomb Muslims Arrested; Castro Valley Corrections Official on Paid Leave for Hate Crime Against Muslims

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Dec 21, 2015 at 10:03 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Police arrested a Richmond man over the weekend for allegedly making bombs with the intent of targeting Muslims, KPIX reports. A bomb squad removed a suspected explosive device from the home of 55-year-old William Celli and detonated it. Celli wrote on his Facebook page that he would follow Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump “to the end of the world.”

2. A state corrections official who was charged with committing a hate crime against a group of Muslim Americans at a Castro Valley park earlier this month has been placed on paid administrative leave, the Chron reports. Denise Slader threw coffee in the face of one Muslim American at Lake Chabot Regional Park and hurled bigoted epithets, including “Allah is Satan.”

Greg Suhr.
  • Greg Suhr.
3. A group of San Francisco police officers who sent virulently racist and homophobic texts cannot be disciplined by the department because San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr waited too long bring charges against them, the Chron reports, citing a judge's tentative ruling. Suhr’s department learned of the texts in December 2012, but did nothing until earlier this year, and thus blew the one-year statute of limitations deadline for disciplining the offending cops.


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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Air Board Okays New Refinery Rules, But Does Not Block Tar Sands

by Jean Tepperman
Thu, Dec 17, 2015 at 10:40 AM

Measures that many hope would keep tar sands out of the Bay Area are still in limbo after Wednesday’s meeting of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. In that meeting, however, the air district board did approve three plans to reduce toxic emissions from specific processes within oil refineries.

Phillips 66 refinery in Rodeo.
  • Phillips 66 refinery in Rodeo.
Last month, the board decided to remove a scheduled vote on more comprehensive regulations of refinery emissions from its December 16 agenda, to give staff more time to meet with stakeholders. Controversy over the proposed rules has been ongoing since the rulemaking process started more than four years ago. When the board postponed the vote, it did not adopt a new timeline, but there was discussion of setting one in December. The agenda for Wednesday’s meeting, however, included no mention of this item.

Despite that omission, members of community and environmental organizations flooded the meeting, filling the boardroom and all three available overflow rooms. About seventy people gave public comments urging the board to act quickly to cap refinery emissions at their current level. That would make it impossible to refine oil from Canadian tar sands, which generates much higher levels of pollution and greenhouse gases.


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Thursday Must Reads: PG&E Lacks Safety Records on 1,000 Miles of Pipeline; DMV Wants Drivers in Driverless Cars

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Dec 17, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

Federal investigators have said PG&E shoddy record keeping was a factor in the deadly 2010 San Bruno pipeline blast.
  • Federal investigators have said PG&E shoddy record keeping was a factor in the deadly 2010 San Bruno pipeline blast.
1. PG&E lacks federally required safety records for 1,000 miles of natural gas pipeline in Northern California, the Chron reports, citing a new filing by the watchdog arm of the state Public Utilities Commission. The CPUC’s Office of Ratepayer Advocates is recommending a $163 million fine for PG&E’s “intentional misrepresentation” of its pipeline safety records. Federal investigators in the deadly 2010 San Bruno blast have blamed PG&E’s shoddy record keeping as a factor.

2. The California Department of Motor Vehicles has proposed draft regulations for driverless cars made by Google and other companies that would require the vehicles to come equipped with steering wheels and to have licensed drivers, the Chron reports. Google strongly criticized the draft rules.

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