Thursday, January 14, 2016

Thursday Must Reads: BART Trains Equipped with Fake Video Cameras; Raiders Still Won’t Commit to Oakland

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Jan 14, 2016 at 10:33 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. BART police are having difficulty investigating a recent fatal shooting in West Oakland, because the video camera on the train was fake — like those on most other BART trains, the Chron reports. BART acknowledged its use of fake cameras this week, and sources told the newspaper that many of the actual cameras that the agency does have are broken.

2. Despite the NFL’s decision to deny the Oakland Raiders’ effort to move to Los Angeles, team owner Mark Davis is refusing to commit to staying in Oakland, the Chron$ and Bay Area News Group$ report. But Davis’ options are limited. In 2014, he expressed interest in moving the Raiders to San Antonio, but the owners of the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans are expected to vigorously oppose such a move. In addition, the NFL has offered the Raiders $100 million for a new stadium in Oakland.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Secretive Company Bought the Most Expensive East Bay Home

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Jan 13, 2016 at 4:33 PM

6889 Devon Way.
  • 6889 Devon Way.
Last week, news broke that an Oakland hills home sold for a record price of $20.5 million, making it the most expensive house in Alameda County. Real estate agents involved in the deal declined to disclose the identity of the purchaser, except to assert that the person is a "local."

But according to public records, the new legal owner is not a person and is not local. The extravagant house was bought by a shell company recently incorporated in the state of Delaware called Devon Bay, LLC. It's unclear who might be behind the shell company. Delaware law allows for the creation of limited liability companies that do not have to disclose the identities of their owners and board members.

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Wednesday Must Reads: Prosecutors Say PG&E Destroyed Gas Pipeline Records; Raiders to Stay in Oakland and Get $100 Million

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Jan 13, 2016 at 11:49 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Federal prosecutors in the criminal case against PG&E plan to call a former employee of the utility to testify that PG&E management ordered her to destroy pipeline records, the Chron reports. The ex-employee, Leslie Banach McNiece, also says that she found discarded records in a dumpster outside PG&E's gas operations center. Prosecutors are seeking up to $500 million in fines against PG&E in the criminal case, which stems from the 2010 deadly pipeline blast in San Bruno and the utility’s woefully bad recordkeeping.

Mark Davis.
  • Mark Davis.
2. The NFL rejected the Oakland Raiders’ request to move to Los Angeles, and said the team will receive an additional $100 million from the league to build a new stadium in Oakland, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. The league previously said that Raiders' owner Mark Davis will also receive a $200 million loan from the NFL for the stadium. NFL owners voted 30-2 yesterday to allow the St. Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles. The San Diego Chargers have one year to decide whether to join the Rams, and will receive $100 million if they choose to remain in San Diego.

3. A coalition of business and environmental groups is proposing a first-ever, Bay Area-wide tax measure to protect the region against sea level rise due to climate change, the Mercury News$ reports. The $13-a-year parcel tax, which is slated for the June election, would raise $500 million over 20 years to pay for levees and wetlands restoration.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tuesday Must Reads: UC Gets Record 200,000 Student Applications; Californians Back Stricter Gun Control Measures

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Jan 12, 2016 at 9:25 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The University of California received a record number of applications for next year, topping 200,000 for the first time, the SacBee$ reports. In all, 206,339 students applied for admission to one of the UC’s nine undergraduate campuses with UCLA being the most popular school. It received 119,326 applications, followed by UC San Diego with 102,692 and UC Berkeley with 101,655. Many students applied to more than one UC campus.

2. A large majority of Californians — 57 percent — say its more important to impose gun control restrictions than it is to protect the rights of Americans to own guns, the Bay Area News Group$ reports, citing a new Field Poll. And supermajorities of state residents support requiring background checks for ammunition purchases (80 percent) and banning people on the federal “no-fly” list from buying guns (75 percent).

3. Premier Cru, the Berkeley wine dealer accused of running a pyramid scheme, has filed for bankruptcy, listing $70 million in debts and up to 10,000 creditors, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. The wine store, which closed its doors before Christmas, is facing numerous lawsuits from customers who say the company took their money but never delivered their wine.

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Town Business: On the Oakland City Council's agenda for the week of January 11

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Jan 11, 2016 at 9:35 AM

  • Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz
This week, the Oakland City Council is grappling with big increases in garbage collection rates for apartment buildings, and questions about the impact of bank lending on low-income communities. The council will also consider a resolution that would establish a Black Business and Arts District. And the city is taking steps to establish a bike sharing program similar to San Francisco’s. The full agendas for this week are online here.

Not on the agenda: The council’s Community and Economic and Development Committee was supposed to hold a hearing on the proposed affordable housing impact fee on Tuesday, according to a city memo dated December 18, but the item has been moved to January 26 along with other important housing legislation.

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Monday Must Reads: Supreme Court Could Gut Public Employee Unions; Raiders’ Move to LA Increasingly Unlikely

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Jan 11, 2016 at 9:28 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The US Supreme Court will hear arguments today in a case that could deal a severe blow to public-employee unions nationwide, The New York Times$ reports. The case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, seeks to overturn a law that requires public employees who choose not to join a union to still pay union dues in exchange for unions representing them if they’re fired or disciplined and in bargaining for higher wages. Anti-union forces are financing the case to overturn the law on First Amendment grounds, and if they win, unions could lose substantial amounts of money, thereby lessening their political influence.

2. The odds of the Oakland Raiders moving to Los Angeles are looking increasingly slim, in light of the fact that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who is extremely influential in the league, has launched a campaign that would exclude the Raiders from moving, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. Jones is proposing that the St. Louis Rams and the San Diego Chargers share a stadium in Inglewood and that the Raiders remain in Oakland. Chargers’ owner Dean Spanos, however, has said repeatedly that he wants to build in Carson.

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Friday, January 8, 2016

Friday Must Reads: Raiders Likely Not Going to LA; Opponents Sue Warriors over SF Arena Plans

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jan 8, 2016 at 9:52 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. It appears increasingly likely that the NFL will not approve the Oakland Raiders’ application to move to Los Angeles and will instead allow the San Diego Chargers and St. Louis Rams to move there, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. As the Express noted this week, Raiders’ owner Mark Davis faces an uphill battle in his bid to move the team because he lacks the financial resources to build a new stadium and because he’s unpopular with fellow owners. The league is scheduled to vote on the issue next week.

2. Deep-pocketed opponents of the Golden State Warriors’ plan to build a new arena in San Francisco have filed suit to block the proposal, the Chron reports. The opponents, who are wealthy donors to UC San Francisco Medical Center, contend that the city failed to adequately address traffic and transportation problems that the new arena would create for the hospital. They also say the arena needs voter approval.

3. Governor Jerry Brown unveiled yet another conservative budget proposal that calls for using $2 billion in tax proceeds to greatly beef up the state’s rainy day fund reserve, the LA Times$ reports. The governor’s plan would provide more money for public education but would do little to repair the state’s shredded social safety net.

4. Brown also voiced strong opposition to November ballot measures backed by progressives and organized labor that would raise the minimum wage in the state to $15 an hour and extend tax increases on the wealthiest California residents, Capital Public Radio reports (h/t Rough & Tumble).

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Alameda’s ‘Landlord-in-Chief’ Accused of Wrongdoing

by Steven Tavares
Thu, Jan 7, 2016 at 4:11 PM

Don Lindsey, who is one of Alameda’s most powerful landlords and is a leader among property owners strongly opposed to rent control on the Island, is under investigation by the California Bureau of Real Estate for alleged financial improprieties. A state investigator is accusing Lindsey of failing to provide proper accounting for various tenants' fees, according to a complaint filed last month with the Bureau of Real Estate. If proven, the charges could result in Lindsey losing his real estate license, the complaint states.

The complaint, filed December 16, includes an allegation by a state investigator that Gallagher & Lindsey Property Management, the firm co-founded by Lindsey in 1967, collected $2,124 from three prospective tenants, but failed to deposit the proceeds into a trust fund or specific bank accounts as required by law.

And an audit of Lindsey Properties, Inc. in December 2014 found that bank accounts reported to contain property management fees charged to renters was $72,465 less than what it should be under the law. In addition, withdrawals were made from the accounts without proper consent given by the renters. The complaint also alleges Lindsey’s companies failed to place financial proceeds into a dedicated trust fund in the name of each tenant and that withdrawals were made from the account by two unlicensed individuals. In addition, Lindsey failed to provide copies of cancelled checks from the bank account to the investigator, according to the complaint, which was first reported by Indymedia.

In an interview, Lindsey said the allegations have been remedied and he denied any wrongdoing. “I have a thirty-year history of no complaints and a spotless history,” he said. “I know this makes good headlines, but it’s not true.”

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NRA Says It Will Sue Oakland Over New Gun Laws

by Darwin BondGraham
Thu, Jan 7, 2016 at 2:29 PM

Anne Campbell Washington.
  • Anne Campbell Washington.
The National Rifle Association and its state chapter, the California Rifle and Pistol Association, are threatening to sue the Oakland City Council to prevent implementation of new firearms safety laws.

Attorneys for the NRA and the CRPA notified the Oakland City Council in two separate letters dated January 4 that they intend to file lawsuits to stop implementation of the new laws. One would require firearms in people's homes to be secured in a locked container, or disabled with a trigger lock, while the other involves a citywide ban on gun magazines that can hold ten or more cartridges.

The Oakland City Council approved both laws on Tuesday at its regular meeting. Councilmembers also approved a new law that prohibits storage of unsecured firearms in vehicles parked on public streets.

"Adoption of such an extreme and unconstitutional law will result in litigation against the City to enjoin enforcement and have it declared invalid," attorneys for the gun lobbying organizations wrote in one of the letters sent to the council. The pro-gun groups argue that both laws infringe on gun owner's Second Amendment rights, and that both are preempted by state laws.

Councilmember Anne Campbell Washington, co-author of the laws banning high capacity gun magazines and the home gun storage rules, said she is confident that the new laws are constitutional and enforceable.

"We cannot be held hostage by gun radicals," Campbell Washington wrote in an email to the Express. "Not only do recent court decisions clearly support the power of municipalities to institute commonsense regulations regarding firearms, but responsible gun owners agree with these commonsense regulations."

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Thursday Must Reads: 49 Nurses Get Fired at Alameda County Jails; Legalized Pot Could Generate $1 Billion in Tax Revenues

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Jan 7, 2016 at 9:48 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Corizon, the private health care provider at Alameda County’s jails, has fired 49 nurses at facilities in Oakland and Dublin, forcing the remaining nurses to work double shifts and scramble to provide proper care to inmates, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. "According to the nurses in the jails, it's a disaster," Dennis Dugan, an organizer for the National Union of Healthcare Workers, told the newspaper. Corizon has come under intense fire for providing inadequate care at the jails and was blamed for at least two in custody deaths.

2. Legalizing marijuana in California for adult recreational use could generate $1 billion in tax revenues for the state and local governments, the AP reports (via KQED), citing new estimates by the Legislative Analyst’s Office and the state’s finance director.

3. The US Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that a widely used pesticide is threatening honey bee populations nationwide, the LA Times$ reports. The EPA’s determination could result in a ban on imidacloprid, a pesticide made by Bayer CropScience that is used on wine grapes, tomatoes, oranges, and cotton. Honeybee colonies have collapsed throughout the country in recent years.

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