Friday, April 29, 2016

Flag burning, hotel-lobby rappelling, 'Latinos for the wall'—welcome to Donald Trump's Bay Area appearance

by Nick Miller
Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 4:47 PM

A team of East Bay Express reporters will recap, analyze and riff on Donald Trump's big luncheon at today's California GOP convention in next week's issue. Be sure to pick it up. Until then, three lessons learned:

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

More Discriminatory Hiring Signs In Berkeley

by Sydney Johnson
Thu, Apr 28, 2016 at 4:27 PM

Hiring signs in the window of soon-to-be opened Berkeley Social Club at 2050 University Avenue. - PABLO TRAVERSO
  • Pablo Traverso
  • Hiring signs in the window of soon-to-be opened Berkeley Social Club at 2050 University Avenue.
Another set of hiring signs has Berkeley workers upset. According to photos sent to the Express, two signs were posted in the front window of the soon-to-be opened restaurant the Berkeley Social Club (2050 University Avenue), one of which was written in English and asked for kitchen staff and servers, while the sign, written in Spanish, mentioned only cooks and dishwashers.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

BART Police Quietly Installed License Plate Surveillance Cameras at Oakland Station

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Apr 27, 2016 at 4:25 PM

ALPR cameras the BART police installed in the MacArthur Station Parking Garage. - DARWIN BONDGRAHAM
  • Darwin BondGraham
  • ALPR cameras the BART police installed in the MacArthur Station Parking Garage.
The Bay Area Rapid Transit system’s police agency has already installed automated license plate reader surveillance cameras at a busy Oakland BART station, according to a memo BART Director Grace Crunican sent to the transit district’s board of directors in advance of their meeting tomorrow in Oakland.

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More than 10,000 activists threaten to protest Donald Trump's Bay Area appearance on Friday

by Nick Miller
Wed, Apr 27, 2016 at 9:23 AM

GOP frontrunner/blowhard supreme Donald Trump swept last night's almost-super Tuesday primary vote. This result was somewhat unexpected. But perhaps more surprising was his post-vote victory news conference. As Los Angeles Times Capitol bureau chief John Myers put it, his speech was "unprecedented moment in an unprecedented election year."

Trump declared himself the presumptive nominee. He scoffed at Sen. Ted Cruz, saying the race was done, over. He may have even dropped the term donezo (I had to tune out for a moment). Then, he blasted Hillary Clinton as "crooked" and unfit to be president. He went so far as to flip his switch to full-on misogyny mode, arguing that Clinton didn't have the "strength" or "stamina" to deal with foreign-policy matters, such as China. That she doesn't have the "energy" to be president. Yikes.

Anyway, his big win and subsequent bombast no doubt only fueled the outrage among activists planning to protest his Bay Area appearance this Friday. That's right: Trump will delivery the keynote lunch address at the California GOP's annual meeting in Burlingame at noon on April 27.

But there likely will be more haters than fans in Burlingame. More than 10,000 are either interested in or going to the big Trump protest.

East Bay Express will be on the ground, too. Look for more in next week's issue.

Illustration by Gage Skidmore

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

There's zero chance the Oakland Raiders move to Las Vegas (if they do, I'll sport a Mark Davis bowl cut for a week)

by Nick Miller
Tue, Apr 26, 2016 at 5:48 PM


Check out some of today's Google News headlines regarding the Oakland Raiders rumored getaway to Sin City:
"Raiders now seem more likely to move to Las Vegas than Los Angeles," from the Washington Post.
"The Oakland Raiders are one step away from moving to Las Vegas," from Fox Sports.
"Raiders-to-Vegas talk taking on greater reality?" from the Merc.
Get real. While its true that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn't below shady-ass dealings, and his league is by no means some bastion of virtue and clean fun, there's just no way pro-football goes to Vegas, let alone da Raiderrzz.

Chalk the rumor-mongering up to another case of Hysterical Clickbait Syndrome.

To the national media's defense, it's true that nearly every possible card on the table is basically screwing the silver and black. The team's rent just went up over in Alameda, from $975,000 to $3.5 million—that's nearly 4 million bucks a year to play at a stadium with bad plumbingOakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has (sort of) vowed nary a dime of public monies to subsidize a new stadium. And the Raiders were even the odd team out in their former Los Angeles stamping grounds.

Still, real talk: Mark Davis' plan is exactly the kind of nonsense a person might hatch up after one too many at P.F. Chang's.

Consider: The rumor is that billionaire GOP benefactor Sheldon Adelson (the guy who gave Newt Gingrich all that cash) and others are going to build Davis and the Raiders a $1.3 billion dome just off the Las Vegas strip on Tropicana Avenue. Really, an NFL team—da Raiderrzzz—are going to play on the strip?

The dome will be shared with the UNLV team. The Raiders and a college team in the same venue? Mmm hmm.

And this project would have to be approved by the Nevada Legislature, which apparently is never in session; they don't convene until February of next year (talk about a sweet gig).

Anyway, Davis will be in Vegas this Thursday to throw dice and stir the relocation-drama soup. And, according to the LA Daily News report that kickstarted all this nonsense, he's going to make a commitment to moving to Vegas after meeting with officials.

I don't buy it. In fact, if the Raiders somehow end up in Vegas, I'll tell my barber to give me a Mark Davis bowl cut and don it for a week. How's that for conviction?

In the meantime: Raiders definitely going to the Super Bowl next season!!!

Rebecca Kaplan Urges State Legislature to Remove Cannabis Industry Restrictions for Ex-Offenders

by Nastia Voynovskaya
Tue, Apr 26, 2016 at 3:48 PM

Rebecca Kaplan. - BERT JOHNSON
  • Bert Johnson
  • Rebecca Kaplan.
As I reported in my March 30 cover story, "Will Oakland's Legal Weed Industry Leave People of Color Behind?," one of the significant barriers that could disproportionately prevent people of color from profiting from California's booming medical cannabis industry is a stipulation in the statewide Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), which Governor Jerry Brown signed into law last October.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Town Business: Medical Weed Boom; Hotel Minimum Wage Controversy; Bicycle Master Plan

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Apr 25, 2016 at 9:05 AM

Medical Weed Boom: Oakland is poised to adopt a suite of new regulations that will dramatically expand the medical cannabis industry, creating new dispensaries, delivery services, factories, and labs, all while generating millions in new revenue for the city.
At the Oakland City Council finance and public safety committee meetings this week, city leaders will hear about various options to fertilize this budding economy. City staff is proposing to amend Oakland's existing medical cannabis laws to align with the recently passed state Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), which will bring parts of the industry such as cannabis cultivation and the manufacturing of THC-laced products out of a regulatory gray zone.
The city is considering licensing up to eight new medical marijuana dispensaries each year in Oakland on top of the existing eight shops. The city would also begin issuing licenses to cannabis transporters, a business enterprise that isn't currently regulated. By the city's own estimate, there are already a dozen cannabis delivery services operating in Oakland. Regulating delivery services will ensure quality and safety, while allowing Oakland to tax this industry segment. Oakland will also license cannabis cultivators and manufacturers of marijuana-derived products. Regulation of cultivators and manufacturers is expected to help reduce burglaries and robberies while ensuring that business owners maintain safe operations, reduce fire hazards, and treat their employees fairly.
The economic benefits of these new regulations for Oakland are going to be big. According to a city staff report:
"While staff cannot specify exactly how many new medical cannabis businesses will take advantage of this new permitting process, staff estimates issuing approximately 60 permits in 2016 based on inquiries from interested businesses, attendance at public meetings and industry trends. For some perspective, the City's eight licensed medical cannabis dispensaries contributed over $4 million in taxes in 2015."
Oakland is going in big on medical marijuana thanks to the MMRSA, but other East Bay cities are entering and expanding into the weed industry also. See our recent news story on Emeryville and San Leandro, for examples.
One big drawback to the the MMRA, however, is that it could allow the state licensing authority (in the process of being set up) to deny medical marijuana business permits to people with prior cannabis and other non-violent drug convictions hoping to enter the weed industry. Oakland officials hope that they can show state regulators a better path to take by rapidly updating the city's licensing regime with policies that don't shut out people who have been caught up in the drug war. See our feature story from March, “Locked Out of Legal Weed” for more details.

Hotel Minimum Wage Controversy: Councilmembers Abel Guillen and Dan Kalb want to update the Oakland Planning Code so that all proposed hotel projects have to obtain a conditional use permit (CUP) from the city. To obtain the CUP, hotel developers would have to show that the new employees they hire would be paid good wages with benefits, and furthermore that they will follow Oakland's minimum wage law, which requires paying $12.55 an hour and providing paid sick leave. Planning department staff and the planning commission would also be required under the Guillen-Kalb proposal to take into account the impact of new jobs generated by a hotel on public services like transit, or on the local housing market. If jobs at a proposed hotel would pay too low and have poor benefits, the city could reasonably reject an application to build a new hotel.
Guillen and Kalb's proposal comes amidst a controversy over a Hampton Inn hotel that was approved for construction by the planning department in March, despite the fact that city investigators found that the developers — Dhruv Patel and his parents Sima and Pravin Patel — had violated Oakland's minimum wage law at another hotel they own and operate near the Oakland airport. Planning department staff approved the new hotel on their own without a public hearing before the full planning commission conditional use permit aren't required for hotels under Oakland's current development rules, except under very specific circumstances.
Planning department staff said that they were not allowed to take into account issues such as the minimum wage investigation report as well as the wages and job conditions of employees at the applicant's other hotels when making their decision to approve the new hotel.
The union UNITE HERE 2850 disagrees and is appealing the planning department's decision and a hearing is scheduled for May 4.
But the amendment to the Planning Code would likely remove any ambiguity in the existing law and require city staff to consider minimum wage compliance and job conditions in the future for all hotel projects.
Meanwhile, the Patel family is disputing the findings of the city minimum wage investigation at their existing Holiday Inn Express hotel, and they have hired attorneys who are demanding that Oakland withdraw the final report concluding the city's investigation.

Bicycle Master Plan: Oakland already has a bicycle master plan, but the plan has to be updated every five years in order for the city to be eligible to get money from the Alameda County Transportation Commission. And with all the population growth, housing, and other investments lining up to transform Oakland, it only makes sense to re-draft the bike transportation plan.
According to the city, the number of bicycle commuters in Oakland has more than doubled since 2007, when the bicycle master plan was last updated. The city's bikeway network — streets, paths, and other infrastructure designed for bikes — has expanded by 40 percent. And bike sharing is coming to Oakland soon. To pay for the update to the bike plan, Oakland will apply for a $500,000 state transportation grant.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Another Oakland Cop Arrested in Violent Incident

by Darwin BondGraham
Fri, Apr 22, 2016 at 4:33 PM

  • Bert Johnson/File photo
Another Oakland cop is in trouble with the law. Matthew J. Santos, who was an Oakland police officer until he was terminated by the department recently, was arrested on February 17 by the Emeryville police on charges of felony kidnapping, false imprisonment, and a misdemeanor firearms charge, all in relation to an incident that occurred in a 40th street apartment building where Mr. Santos lived at the time.

The Emeryville Police Department denied a Public Records Act request seeking an incident report that would describe in detail the events leading up to the Oakland police officers’ arrest. But the Emeryville police provided a written description of the incident in an email. According to Emeryville's police, Santos pointed a gun at a painter who was working on the apartment building.

Court documents provide more details. Charges filed by the Alameda County District Attorney against Santos state that:
"Victim is a painter who was hired to paint the exterior front door of the defendant's apartment. Property management left a notice on the defendant's door making him aware of the front door of his apartment being painted approximately five days prior to this incident. Def. arrived to his apartment and the painter was painting the front door which was opened with an apartment security guard standing by. Defendant arrived at his front door and told the painter 'Hey, get away from my door.' The defendant was pointing a black pistol at the victim. The victim was scared and ran. The def. asked who opened my door and the victim stopped running. The def. placed the gun in his waistband once he entered the leasing office."
Officer Johnna Watson of the Oakland Police Department wrote in an email to the Express that officer Santos had been recently hired by OPD and that he was still on a probationary period of employment when the incident occurred. Santos has subsequently been terminated by the department.

Watson did not respond to a question about whether the gun Santos brandished was an OPD-issued weapon.

Attorneys for Santos did not respond to a phone call and email. Santos was hired by the department in April 2015. His next court appearance is May 23 in Hayward.

Oakland to Disclose Information on Police Misconduct

by Darwin BondGraham
Fri, Apr 22, 2016 at 9:45 AM

In a progress report submitted yesterday to a US federal court, Oakland city officials pledged to start making summary information describing police misconduct investigations and disciplinary proceedings available to the public.

The disclosures will be made in twice-a-year reports that summarize information on police discipline, including the total number of police misconduct cases accepted by OPD’s Internal Affairs Division, descriptions of alleged misconduct, and stats showing how cases were resolved — whether officers received discipline or were cleared of allegations.

The report will not include any details that could identify specific officers, however, because nearly all record related to officer misconduct are exempt from the California Public Records Act, and virtually no police agencies voluntarily disclose police personnel records.

Importantly, the report will include information about how many police discipline cases were taken to arbitration, and whether or not OPD’s efforts to impose discipline were upheld, reduced, or overturned in arbitration.

“The City does not claim to have the perfect police department, but we are nevertheless proud of the progress the City has made, including the steps it has taken to improve the disciplinary process for police officers,” wrote Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, City Attorney Barbara Parker, City Administrator Sabrina Landreth, and Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent in the status report.

The status report is the result of a court order in the Delphine Allen v. City of Oakland case, a 16 year-old lawsuit filed by attorneys John Burris and James Chanin that resulted in a negotiated settlement agreement (NSA) requiring the city to implement numerous reforms to address a pattern and practice of civil rights violations committed by the police.

Last April a special court-appointed investigator, Edward Swanson, issued a report slamming Oakland’s system of police discipline. Swanson singled out the arbitration process as particularly troubling because many Oakland police officers accused of serious misconduct have been able to overturn discipline imposed by the department, despite strong evidence that they violated department policies. Swanson’s report also took issue with the lack of discipline imposed on commanding officers who are sometimes responsible for causing police misconduct because they order officers to carry out actions that are outside of department policy.

In March, Swanson issued a second report finding that the city had made substantial progress addressing the failures he identified last year.

The Oakland mayor’s office will be in charge of producing the public report on police officer misconduct investigations and discipline outcomes. The first report is scheduled to be published no later than June 15.

Monday, April 18, 2016

$15 Minimum Wage Likely to Appear on Berkeley Ballot

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Apr 18, 2016 at 3:15 PM

Members of the Berkeley for Working Families coalition outside Berkeley City Hall today. - COURTESY OF SEIU 1021
  • Courtesy of SEIU 1021
  • Members of the Berkeley for Working Families coalition outside Berkeley City Hall today.
It appears that, on November 8, Berkeley voters will get to decide whether or not to adopt the highest minimum wage in the country.

A coalition of labor unions, elected officials, students, faith groups, and other activists announced today that they have collected more than 160 percent of the signatures necessary to qualify a $15 minimum wage for Berkeley's November ballot. At a press conference this afternoon, the coalition, called Berkeley for Working Families, delivered petitions with approximately 4,500 signatures to City Hall.

The ballot measure would increase Berkeley's minimum wage to $15 per hour by October 2017. Thereafter, the minimum wage would increase by inflation plus 3 percent each year until it is equal to Berkeley's official living wage, which is currently $16.37. (The Berkeley living wage is adjusted upward each year to account for inflation.)

Coalition members said they chose to gather signatures to place the minimum wage measure on the ballot following a string of city council decisions not to advance a similar minimum wage increase last year.

Berkeley's current minimum wage is $11 per hour and is set to increase to $12.53 on October 1.

Workers and unions have called the current Berkeley minimum wage inadequate given the region's high cost of living.

Berkeley city councilmembers Max Anderson, Jesse Arreguin, and Kriss Worthington have endorsed the coalition's initiative.

Correction: the original version of this article stated that the City of Berkeley has no subsequent increase planned for its current minimum wage of $11 an hour. On November 10 last year the council voted to approve “in concept” an increase of Berkeley’s minimum wage to $15 by the year 2020. However, the council has not taken action yet to make this proposal the law.

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