Friday, January 29, 2016

Signs Reveal Discrimination Practices at Pappy’s Grill & Sports Bar in Berkeley

The Berkeley sports bar targeted only English speakers for front-of-the-house work and only Spanish speakers for back-of-the-house jobs.

by Sydney Johnson
Fri, Jan 29, 2016 at 12:57 PM

Brownyn Harris was walking down Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley last Friday when she noticed two pieces of paper inside the window at Pappy’s Grill & Sports Bar that forced her to stop and take a photo. They were two hiring signs. One was in English, and it asked for cashiers and bartenders. The other was in Spanish, and it asked for dishwashers.

Hiring signs at Pappy's Grill & Sports Bar in Berkeley - BRONWYN HARRIS
  • Bronwyn Harris
  • Hiring signs at Pappy's Grill & Sports Bar in Berkeley
Harris, who is a non-native Spanish speaker, said she went back to double-check that she had read the signs correctly, and even looked up the words for reassurance. She took a photo of the signs and sent it to her friend Elma Rico Kastning, who grew up speaking Spanish at home, and confirmed what the business was asking for.

“Bronwyn sent me the full picture and what took me by surprise was that the dishwasher was only in Spanish,” Rico Kastning said. “That’s what sparked my disgust.”

Feeling more upset about the signs as she walked, Harris posted the photo to the restaurant’s Facebook page. As it turned out, she wasn’t the only one looking to the business’s social media presence for answers.

The signs, which were taken down later that day, were widely criticized on the restaurant’s Facebook page by Berkeley locals and other passersby who noticed and were offended.

Online, Marissa Martinez wrote, “Do Spanish speakers have to sit in a different section? Que mal.” Another commenter, Gloria Gamberg, simply said, “Awful.”

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CoCo County Moves Closer to Green-Energy Plan that Would Replace PG&E

by Jean Tepperman
Fri, Jan 29, 2016 at 10:26 AM

Contra Costa County took another step toward taking control of its electricity service away from PG&E this month. All sixteen eligible cities voted to provide information on the amount of electricity they use and participate in a feasibility study for a Contra Costa County “community choice” energy system, in which a county agency would become the electricity provider for county residents. In addition, eight of the cities voted to contribute to the cost of the feasibility study.

Similar community choice energy systems (CCAs) already operate in Marin and Sonoma counties. San Francisco is set to launch one soon, and other Bay Area counties, including Alameda, are on the way toward creating their own. The desire to switch to clean sources of electricity initially motivated the push toward CCAs, but advocates say they can also save ratepayers money and contribute to local economic development.

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Friday Must Reads: State Regulators Protect Rooftop Solar; BART Okays Affordable Housing Policy

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jan 29, 2016 at 9:45 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The California Public Utilities Commission rejected a request by PG&E and the state’s other utilities to implement steep rate hikes on homeowners who install rooftop solar. The Chron reports that the CPUC voted 3-2 to keep the current rooftop solar rates in place. Environmentalists and solar industry officials, who had accused PG&E of trying to snuff out the rooftop solar industry in California, praised the CPUC’s decision.

2. The BART Board of Directors approved a new policy that requires 20 percent of new housing units built on agency property to be affordable, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. Affordable housing advocates had pushed hard for the new policy. In an effort to reduce greenhouse gases emissions from cars, the state has earmarked funding for more housing next to BART stations and other mass transit hubs.

3. California’s cap-and-trade fund has about $1.6 billion in unspent money, because Governor Jerry Brown and the Democrat-controlled state legislature can’t agree on how to spend the funds, the LA Times$ reports. The fund receives revenues from the sale of carbon credits — a program that is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — and the money is supposed to be used expand programs that help fight climate change.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Dozens of Renters Lose Homes as City Closes 1919 Market Street Warehouse in Oakland

The building's closure is forcing dozens of residents onto the street, including some who say they have nowhere to go.

by Darwin BondGraham
Thu, Jan 28, 2016 at 5:27 PM

1919 Market Street.
  • 1919 Market Street.
Residents of the sprawling two-story warehouse at 1919 Market Street in West Oakland were given orders to vacate the property today by City of Oakland building inspectors who have determined it is unsafe for habitation. Residents have until 11:59 p.m. on January 31 to vacate the property. The building's closure is forcing dozens of residents onto the street, including some who say they have nowhere to go.

Joy Newhart, a dancer who moved into the building in 2013, said that her spacious loft was the perfect live-work environment for her creative profession. Newhart currently has two roommates who sublet from her and several cats.

"I don't have anywhere else to go," said Newhart. "This building used to house over one-hundred low-income artists. We’re down to thirty or forty now. It’s devastating an artists community."

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Opponents of Crude-by-Rail Project Score a Key Victory

by Jean Tepperman
Thu, Jan 28, 2016 at 10:08 AM

The Phillips 66 refinery in San Luis Obispo County.
  • The Phillips 66 refinery in San Luis Obispo County.
The statewide protest movement against plans to ship tar sands oil by rail (see “Crude-by-Rail Projects Face Key Votes”) scored a key victory this week when the San Luis Obispo County planning department recommended a “no” vote on a proposal by the Phillips 66 refinery there. Phillips 66 wants to build a rail spur to connect its refinery to the major north/south rail line along the California coast so it can import tar sands crude oil from Canada to its San Luis Obispo refinery.

Staffers recommended that the county planning commission turn down the proposal when it meets on February 4. Their report cited the findings of the county’s final environmental impact review, which concluded that the project would increase air pollution and risk de-railings, oil spills, and explosions. The project, the review found, would harm and endanger environmentally sensitive areas, agriculture, human health, the economy, water quality, the climate, and the overall quality of life in the county. Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), one of the organizations that has been fighting the project, also noted, “The final environmental review document admits that our communities were correct: The Phillips 66 Santa Maria Rail Spur Extension Project is a project to deliver tar sands by rail.”

The project is actually worse than the environmental review found, said CBE scientist Greg Karras, because it considers only the harm from shipping the crude oil by rail. In addition, he said, refining this type of oil produces more greenhouse gases and more locally harmful pollution than refining other kinds of crude.

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Thursday Must Reads: Warriors Sell SF Arena Naming Rights to Chase; Californians Want Stricter Gun Control Laws

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Jan 28, 2016 at 9:48 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Golden State Warriors have sold the naming rights to their planned San Francisco arena to JP Morgan Chase bank for an undisclosed sum, the Chron reports. Under the deal, the Warriors’ new home, which is to be built on the San Francisco waterfront, will be called the Chase Center. The naming rights deal is an indication that the Warriors and Chase think the team will prevail in two lawsuits filed against the new arena by UC San Francisco Medical Center donors who contend that the facility will create a traffic nightmare for the hospital. The lawsuits have delayed the planned opening of the arena until at least 2019.

2. A large majority of Californians — 62 percent — say the government does not do enough to regulate guns, the SacBee$ reports, citing a new survey by the Public Policy Institute of California. The poll also found that 82 percent of state residents think undocumented immigrants should be able to stay in the United States legally if certain requirements are met, and “68 percent, a record-high number, say immigrants are a benefit to the state because of their hard work and job skills.”

3. Governor Jerry Brown unveiled a statewide ballot measure for this November that seeks to offer prison inmates more chances to be released from custody if they’ve been rehabilitated, the LA Times$ reports. The measure also would require judges to decide whether juveniles should be tried as adults — rather than prosecutors.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Opinion: Let’s Make Solar Accessible to All Californians

by Rep. Barbara Lee
Wed, Jan 27, 2016 at 11:02 AM

Congressmember Barbara Lee.
  • Congressmember Barbara Lee.
Fighting climate change is a moral imperative that requires leadership and a clean vision for our nation’s energy future.

NASA recently released data showing that the Earth’s surface temperatures for 2015 were the warmest on modern record. It is clear that the threat of climate change is no longer a theory but a clear challenge to our society, national security, and way of life.

For more than a generation, California has been leading the charge for innovative solutions that tackle the threat of climate change. Recently, our Public Utilities Commission issued their preliminary decision, which establishes a clear commitment to making solar energy accessible and affordable to all Californians.

Now is the time to finalize these critical rules for rooftop solar to provide certainty to businesses and consumers.

Sadly, many long-time polluters are trying to divide our community over this issue, but we cannot allow that to happen. We must stand, united, for a more sustainable future that includes green energy access for all.

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Federal Judge Reinstates Court-Appointed Investigator to Examine Oakland’s Police Officer Discipline System

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Jan 27, 2016 at 10:05 AM

Concerned that the City of Oakland hasn’t taken meaningful steps to fix problems within its police officer discipline system, federal Judge Thelton Henderson reappointed an outside attorney yesterday to investigate the Oakland Police Department and the city attorney’s handling of officer misconduct cases.

See: Court-Appointed Investigator Slams Oakland’s “Broken” Process for Dealing with Bad Cops
See: Why Oakland Can't Fire Bad Cops

Edward Swanson.
  • Edward Swanson.
Henderson had previously appointed Edward Swanson, a private attorney, to investigate why the City of Oakland was for years unable, or unwilling, to impose meaningful discipline against bad cops. Last April, Swanson issued his report, based on the review of thousands of pages of city records and emails, and interviews with top city officials. Swanson characterized Oakland’s police discipline process as “a broken and inadequate system that has evaded the public’s scrutiny for too long.” Swanson laid blame on both OPD and the City Attorney’s Office for conducting tainted investigations of officer misconduct, and bungling arbitration hearings so that officers were often able to overturn disciplinary measures.

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Wednesday Must Reads: Sierra Snowpack Highest in Four Years; Gov. Brown’s Water Tunnels Get Cold Reception

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Jan 27, 2016 at 9:53 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The snowpack in the Sierra Nevada right now has the highest water content in four years, and is at 115 percent of the historical average, the Chron reports, citing new data from the California Department of Water Resources. However, California still has a long way to go before it emerges from the drought. State officials say the snowpack will need to be at least 150 percent of normal by April 1 before they even consider declaring the drought to be over.

2. Governor Jerry Brown’s controversial plan to build two giant water tunnels underneath the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta got a cold reception in the South Bay yesterday, with officials there expressing serious doubts about the proposal, the Mercury News$ reports. Five of the seven members of the Santa Clara Valley Water District, an agency that had expressed support for the tunnels plan, voiced skepticism about it during a forum with three members of Brown’s administration. The South Bay officials are concerned that the tunnels will destroy the delta and that the plan is designed solely to benefit Big Agribusiness in the San Joaquin Valley.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday Must Reads: Judge Orders State to Justify Withholding Brown’s Emails; Experts Question Whether Raiders’ Oakland Plans Will Work

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Jan 26, 2016 at 9:35 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A San Francisco judge has ordered the California Public Utilities Commission to legally justify its refusal to release emails involving Governor Jerry Brown and the shutdown of a nuclear power plant in Southern California, the Chron reports. Consumers’ attorneys are seeking the emails to determine whether Brown’s office was involved in illegal backchannel talks with Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric Company, co-owners of the shuttered San Onofre nuclear facility. Consumer advocates are upset about the shutdown deal because it forces ratepayers to cover 70 percent of the costs. The CPUC maintains that only state appellate courts have the right to order the release of the governor’s emails.

2. Some real estate professionals question whether the Oakland Raiders’ plans for building a new stadium at the Coliseum will pencil out, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. The experts say the 120-acre site is not large enough to accommodate both the Raiders’ demands for huge amounts of surface parking and the ancillary development that the team wants to build to make up its $300 million financing shortfall.

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