Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Oakland Gun Control Laws Move Forward

by Steven Tavares
Wed, Dec 16, 2015 at 3:53 PM

The Oakland City Council Public Safety Committee on Tuesday greenlighted three gun control measures that were proposed following the massacre in San Bernardino and a rash of car burglaries in which guns were stolen. The full city council is scheduled to take up the measures on January 5.

Dan Kalb.
  • Dan Kalb.
The ordinances were authored by Councilmembers Dan Kalb, Annie Campbell Washington, and Rebecca Kaplan and would require licensed firearms in homes to be stored in a locker or fitted with a trigger lock, would forbid high-capacity magazine clips, and would ban unsecured firearms in unattended vehicles.

Kalb equated the proposed gun restrictions Tuesday evening to the increased use of automobile seat belts following legislation a generation ago requiring its use. “When a law is passed, more people will comply with them,” said Kalb. “Will everybody comply with this automatically? No. Will more people comply than otherwise? Yes. And if that means fewer guns are stolen from homes or fewer guns are picked up and shot off and hurt somebody, then great, we’ve done an awesome thing and thank god we’re taking action… If we save a few lives, then it makes it all the better that we do this as soon as possible.”

More …

Wednesday Must Reads: State Regulators Recommend Against Solar Penalties; Water Officials Back Off Plan to Save Salmon

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Dec 16, 2015 at 10:19 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. In a stinging defeat for PG&E and the state’s other monopoly power providers, the California Public Utilities Commission is proposing to reject a plan that would have penalized homeowners who install rooftop solar, the LA Times$ reports. The CPUC instead sided with the solar industry and is recommending a compromise plan that would establish modest fees for home solar. PG&E and other utilities wanted to steeply increase fees for home solar adopters, arguing that those customers are not paying their fair share for the power grid. But the solar industry said PG&E's plan would have devastated the growth of home solar in California.

2. State water officials have backed off a plan that would have required that more water be kept in Shasta Lake in order to protect winter-run Chinook salmon in the Sacramento River, the SacBee$ reports. Representatives of Big Ag strongly opposed the plan because it would have withheld water from Central Valley farms. Environmentalists have called for stricter protection for the winter-run salmon because it has endured two mass die offs in a row due to the lack of cold water in the Sacramento.

More …

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tuesday Must Reads: Big Oil Guzzles Big Water; Leading Enviro Group Gives State Poor Grades on Water

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Dec 15, 2015 at 10:08 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. East Bay oil refineries are the largest water hogs — by far — in the region, the Chron$ reports. The Shell refinery in Martinez guzzled an average of 11.1 million gallons of water per day last year, while the Martinez Refinery run by Tesoro used an average of 9.3 million gallons daily. Turning oil into gasoline is a hugely water-intensive enterprise. The Chevron refinery in Richmond was the largest water user in East Bay MUD’s jurisdiction.

The delta.
  • The delta.
2. The National Resources Defense Council gave the state poor marks for its handling of water conservation for agriculture — a D grade — and for failing to protect the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta — an F, the LA Times$ reports. The NRDC, one of the nation’s leading environmental groups, also gave the state a poor grade — a D — for its handling of stormwater capture and reuse. The state got better grades for urban water conservation and water recycling.

3. The same neurotoxin — domoic acid — that caused the shutdown of the state’s Dungeness Crab fishing season has also been making sea lions extremely sick along the California Coast, the Mercury News$ reports. A massive algae bloom in the ocean is producing the neurotoxin, resulting in sea lions being stranded on beaches, weak, confused, and trembling.

More …

Monday, December 14, 2015

Monday Must Reads: Judge Slams Oakland for Police Oversight; Oakland and Alameda County May Pay Off Coliseum Debt

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Dec 14, 2015 at 9:39 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Federal Judge Thelton Henderson strongly criticized the City of Oakland for its failure to implement reforms in police use-of-force incidents and set a deadline of December 21 for the city to comply, the Trib$ reports. Henderson, who oversees Oakland’s decade-plus police reform efforts, said the city, the police department, and the Oakland police union have been dragging their feet on instituting a reform plan developed by Independent Monitor Robert Warshaw. The judge said that if the city fails to meet the December 21 deadline, then Warshaw will unilaterally implement the reforms himself.

2. The City of Oakland and Alameda County are moving forward on a plan to quickly pay off the $100 million in remaining debt on the Coliseum site in order to speed up the process to build a new stadium for the Oakland Raiders, the Chron$ reports. Under the proposed deal, the county would pay off the debt — which was created by the remodel of the Coliseum to bring the Raiders back from Los Angeles in 1995 — and the city would then repay the county for its half during the next several years. The proposal would relieve the Coliseum site from indebtedness, thereby making it easier to develop.

3. In Southern California, meanwhile, Disney Chairman and CEO Robert Iger is continuing his push to build a stadium in Carson for the San Diego Chargers and the Raiders to share, the LA Times$ reports. Iger is heading up the Chargers and Raiders’ effort. NFL owners are expected to vote in January on which two teams will move to Los Angeles — the Chargers and Raiders or one of those teams and the St. Louis Rams.

More …

Friday, December 11, 2015

Friday Must Reads: PG&E Wants to Fine City Residents for Going Green; West Coast Sea Lion Pups Still in Trouble

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Dec 11, 2015 at 11:03 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. PG&E is seeking to penalize residents of cities that opt to create or join clean energy consortiums, the Chron$ reports. Critics contend that PG&E’s request to penalize residents is yet another attempt by the utility to maintain its monopoly over energy distribution and to dissuade cities from going green. The penalties, which still must be approved by state regulators, would force Marin Clean Energy’s customers, for example, including residents of Richmond, to pay $30.6 million. PG&E maintains that it needs to institute the penalties in order to remain viable.

2. The sea lion population off the California coast is still in bad shape — likely because of unusually warm ocean temperatures that are impacting the animals’ food supply, the Chron reports. Numerous emaciated California sea lion pups have been stranded on beaches, and the pups weighed 31 percent below their normal weight this fall — the lowest average in more than four decades.

3. A longstanding agreement to remove four dams on the Klamath River in order to free up more water for salmon is in jeopardy because of Republican intransigence in Congress, the LA Times$ reports.

More …

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Express Wins Thirteen Awards for Journalism Excellence

by Express Staff
Thu, Dec 10, 2015 at 2:00 PM

The Express won thirteen awards, including ten first-place honors, in the 38th Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards contest. The Express won the most first-place awards of any non-daily newspaper in the annual contest for journalism excellence, sponsored by the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club. The winners were announced last weekend, and the contest was for news reports published in 2014.

This story and the cover image both won awards. - PHOTO BY BERT JOHNSON/ILLUSTRATION BY ROXANNE PASIBE
  • Photo by Bert Johnson/Illustration by Roxanne Pasibe
  • This story and the cover image both won awards.
Senior staff writer Sam Levin won two first-place awards. He won in the serious feature category for his October 29, 2014 cover story, “When the Mind Splits,” which explored the impacts of dissociative identity disorder and the controversy surrounding the illness. Levin also won first place in the business/technology category for his January 8, 2014 cover story, “When Corporations Want Profits, They Don’t Ask for Permission,” which examined the recent trend of large retailing companies stealing the work of independent artists.

Food editor Luke Tsai won a first-place award in the feature columns category for his dining reviews, “Pop Rocks” (12/10/14), “The Other Noodle Soup” (7/30/14), and “What Numbs the Tongue Will Warm the Heart” (3/12/14).

Staff writer Darwin BondGraham won a first-place award in the best news story category for his May 28, 2014 feature, “The Strike Force that Never Struck,” which revealed the failures of California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ mortgage fraud task force.

More …

Community Activists Help Kill Big Oil Terminal in East Bay

by Jean Tepperman
Thu, Dec 10, 2015 at 11:29 AM

A planned project for a massive crude oil terminal in the East Bay is now dead after more than two years of community protest. Last month, WesPac Energy Group quietly withdrew its application to ship crude oil into the city and store it in rebuilt tanks located in a residential area near downtown Pittsburg in Contra Costa County. WesPac spokesperson Art Diefenbach told the Contra Costa Times that the company’s decision was the result of current low prices for oil, although he acknowledged that community opposition was also a factor.

Activists with the Pittsburg Defense Council demonstrate against the proposed WesPac oil terminal in 2014. - PITTSBURG DEFENSE COUNCIL/FILE PHOTO
  • Pittsburg Defense Council/File photo
  • Activists with the Pittsburg Defense Council demonstrate against the proposed WesPac oil terminal in 2014.
“I know the oil industry is taking a turn for the worse with the glut of oil,” said Pittsburg resident Lyanna Monterrey, a leader of the opposition to the project. “But we were a thorn in their side. We delayed it long enough for the downturn to happen.”

Like most residents, Monterrey learned about the proposed project more than two years after WesPac first filed its application to the city in summer 2011. The city council, she commented, “did not do a good job to let us know this was coming.”

More …

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Wednesday Must Reads: Muslim Americans Attacked at Lake Chabot; Berkeley Council Okays 18-Story Housing Tower

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Dec 9, 2015 at 11:15 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A group of Muslim Americans who were picnicking near Lake Chabot were attacked by an angry woman who hurled racist and religious slurs at them before throwing coffee in the face of one of the picnickers, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. Part of the attack was captured on video, and in it, the woman attacker screams at the group, “You are very deceived by Satan.” The East Bay Regional Park District police are investigating the attack.

211 Harrold Way.
  • 211 Harrold Way.
2. The Berkeley City Council approved an eighteen-story housing tower for the city’s downtown late last night, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. The mixed-use project, known as 211 Harold Way, will include 302 market-rate apartments and about 10,900 square feet of ground-floor commercial space. The developer will pay the city $17 million in community benefits, plus another $6 million in fees to the city’s affordable housing fund. The project also will include the refurbishment of the Shattuck Cinemas.

3. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors gave the final greenlight to the Golden State Warriors’ plans to build a new arena on the city’s waterfront, the Chron reports. Opponents of the project, however, plan to file suit to block it, contending that it will cause a traffic nightmare for UCSF Medical Center.

More …

Study: Oakland's Housing Affordability Crisis Is the Worst Among Major US Cities

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Dec 9, 2015 at 10:17 AM

Yet another survey was published today showing that rents in big cities are rising fast. But today's survey, conducted by SmartAsset, shows that since 2011 Oakland's fair market rent prices have far outpaced every other big US city, and that housing affordability in Oakland is slipping out of the hands of most of its residents. If the average Oakland renter had to move tomorrow into a market-rate rental apartment, they would need to pay a staggering 70 percent of their income on rent.

More …

Catholic Charities, Alameda County District Attorney to Create Safe Houses for Child Trafficking Victims

by Sam Levin
Wed, Dec 9, 2015 at 10:07 AM

  • Alameda County District Attorney
  • Nancy O'Malley (right).
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced a new initiative on Tuesday to create housing for child victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation. Her office is partnering with Catholic Charities of the East Bay to open up multiple local safe houses that will provide a range of services to youth who have been victimized. Catholic Charities, a local nonprofit, aims to open a first safe house, which would have capacity for twenty youth, by the end of 2016, according to O'Malley spokesperson Teresa Drenick.

The announcement comes as O'Malley's office and elected officials in Oakland have increasingly received criticism for promoting anti-trafficking measures that critics say do little to help child victims and instead further criminalize adult sex workers — a topic I covered in a recent news story. Sex worker advocates have long argued that police, prosecutors, and city officials conflate child trafficking with consensual adult sex work through overly broad enforcement efforts that result in increased arrests and police harassment of adult women and their clients. O'Malley's office in particular has faced pushback for its partnership with Demand Abolition, a nonprofit that advocates for the eradication of all sex work. As I outlined in my recent story, state data further shows that Alameda County has also continued the questionable tactic of arresting minors for "prostitution" even though all youth involved in sex trade are legally considered trafficking victims. 

More …

Most Popular Stories

© 2019 East Bay Express    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation