Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Listen To East Bay Express Reporters Discuss the Oakland Police Sex-Crime Scandal on Local Radio

They appeared on KQED and KPFA this week.

by Nick Miller
Tue, Jun 14, 2016 at 4:58 PM

logo-forum-podcast-300x300.jpg
Darwin BondGraham and Ali Winston's investigation into the Oakland Police Department's sex-crime scandal revealed previously unreported details that sparked explosive discussions both here in the East Bay and nationally.

That conversation continued this morning on local radio, when the duo appeared on KQED's "Forum" program to discuss the sexual misconduct of officers and botched investigations. Listen here.

Mayor Libby Schaaf appeared on the show — in a previously recorded interview! — and reiterated her outrage and anger with the misconduct. For the first time, she conceded that some of the police behavior happened while officers were on-duty. She still stood by her statement this past Friday that former police chief Sean Whent resigned for "personal reasons," however.

BondGraham and Winston also appeared on KPFA's "Upfront" segment to discuss the investigation. 

Look for more reporting on the OPD's sexual exploitation and trafficking of a teenager in tomorrow's issues of the Express.

City of Oakland Unions United Against Police Reform Proposal

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, Jun 14, 2016 at 10:30 AM

BERT JOHNSON/FILE PHOTO
  • Bert Johnson/File photo
On Monday, Oakland's biggest city employee unions announced they're united against a key part of a police reform ballot measure that would remove arbitration for cops disciplined for misconduct. The unions' opposition to the reform proposal comes amidst a shocking police sex trafficking scandal that has shaken trust in the Oakland's police force.

In a joint letter addressed to Public Safety Committee Chair Desley Brooks, unions representing most city employees, including SEIU 1021, IBEW Local 1245, IFPTE Local 21, IAFF 55 and the Oakland Police Officers Association (OPOA), said that they are "strongly opposed" to the removal of binding arbitration for Oakland cops. The unions say that the push to get rid of binding arbitration would promote an anti-labor agenda.

Under Oakland's current rules, police officers who are disciplined for violating department rules can appeal the city's penalties before an arbitrator. In recent years, Oakland cops have frequently prevailed and overturned discipline. Police reform activists say that the system has undermined public trust in the police, and hampered the department's reform efforts because bad cops have been able to win their jobs back and make a joke of discipline imposed by the city.

In response to concerns expressed by OPOA and the city's firefighter union IAFF Local 55, councilmembers Dan Kalb and Noel Gallo recently added an alternative reform proposal to their ballot measure. The alternative would alter the arbitration system for police officers so that only a proposed civilian-run police commission would have the ability to select the panel of arbitrators who decide whether police discipline was warranted or not.

But the unions are opposed to this alternative too. “We believe the proposed language seriously undermines labor union rights,” the unions wrote about both proposals. “We are opposed to any language that modifies or eliminates the right to binding arbitration.”

The unions were previously supporting an alternative ballot measure being sponsored by Annie Campbell Washington, Abel Guillen and Larry Reid that would have retained arbitration. But over the weekend, the three councilmembers announced that they were “horrified, shocked and sickened” by new details being made public about the police scandal. As a result, they withdrew their ballot measure from consideration, saying that they would supported the Kalb-Gallo measure instead.

The ballot measure, including its controversial proposal to remove or modify binding arbitration for cops, will be debated at the Public Safety Committee meeting today at 4 p.m.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Town Business: Cop Crisis, but Don't Forget Coal and Housing

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Jun 13, 2016 at 6:31 AM

From left to right: Oakland City Administrator Sabrina Landreth, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, and interim OPD Chief Ben Fairow at the press conference last Friday announcing Fairow's appointment. - DARWIN BONDGRAHAM
  • Darwin BondGraham
  • From left to right: Oakland City Administrator Sabrina Landreth, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, and interim OPD Chief Ben Fairow at the press conference last Friday announcing Fairow's appointment.
Cop crisis: Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf still maintains that Police Chief Sean Whent resigned abruptly last week for "personal" reasons, but Whent's ouster was clearly the result of a metastasizing scandal involving multiple police officers — from OPD and other East Bay police agencies — who abused a sexually exploited youth. Independent Monitor Robert Warshaw — the court appointed official who oversees a 13-year-old court reform effort — made the call to eliminate Whent after realizing the department's investigation into the scandal was suppressed.
At this point it's not clear if the city controls its police department any longer.
And Whent's dismissal is just the first consequence of the scandal.
Another consequence is that the the city council is now angry with the Mayor and the Police Department. Councilmembers were left completely in the dark about the sex misconduct and existence of an investigation until it was made public in media reports last month. And Mayor Schaaf did not tell councilmembers about Chief Whent's resignation until after it was reported in the media.
Last night Oakland Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington released a statement on Facebook saying that she is "horrified, shocked and sickened" by new details being made public about the police scandal. As a result, she and Councilmembers Abel Guillen and Larry Reid are withdrawing their version of a ballot measure to create a police commission. Instead they're throwing their support behind a similar, but stronger measure drafted by Councilmembers Dan Kalb and Noel Gallo.
The Kalb-Gallo measure has been praised by police accountability activists because it would give a civilian commission extensive powers over the police department.
But unions have criticized the measure because it would remove the right for police officers to take disciplinary decisions to binding arbitration. Unions fear a slippery slope in which other employees of the city could lose the right to arbitration.
The Kalb-Gallo measure will be heard at a special meeting of the Public Safety Committee on Tuesday afternoon. Activists say they're mobilizing, so the meeting will probably crowded. It's likely the public safety committee meeting will also be a forum for people to speak out about the scandal.

Dont forget coal: The council is scheduled to vote whether or not to ban coal exports from the Oakland Bulk Oversized Terminal on June 27. The health and safety report regarding coal, drafted by the consulting firm ESA for the city, is scheduled to come out by June 24.

Don't forget housing: As if Oakland needed more crises; housing was already the big, intractable issue for Oakland before the police department blew up.
The council's Finance and Management Committee will consider a $600 million infrastructure bond on Tuesday. About $100 million of the bond could be used for anti-displacement programs and affordable housing.
And also on Tuesday, the Community and Economic Development Committee will hear a report on proposals to change Oakland's system of rent control to require landlords to petition to for certain types of rent increases on rent-controlled units. Currently landlords are not required to file petitions for rent increases for any purposes, and it is the tenant's responsibility to know Oakland's rent control laws and petition to stop illegal rent increases.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Updated: Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent Reportedly Being Fired

Departure comes on heels of sex-scandal revelations.

by Darwin BondGraham and Ali Winston
Thu, Jun 9, 2016 at 9:37 PM

Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent.
  • Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent.
Multiple sources in City Hall and the Oakland Police Department say that Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent is being dismissed. The announcement is expected to be made tomorrow.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf did not immediately respond to a phone call requesting comment.

Whent, a 19-year veteran of the department, became OPD chief in May of 2014 after Howard Jordan abruptly retired under a cloud of criticism.

For years, Whent led OPD's Internal Affairs Division, the unit in charge of investigating police officer misconduct.

During his brief tenure as chief, Whent was praised repeatedly by Independent Monitor Robert Warshaw, the court-appointed official in charge of overseeing mandatory departmental reforms. But recently, Warshaw and the federal court became concerned about the handling of an internal affairs investigation concerning the sexual exploitation of an underage woman who is the daughter of an Oakland police dispatcher by multiple Oakland cops.

In March, US District Judge Thelton Henderson, who is overseeing OPD's compliance with the negotiated settlement agreement, wrote in a stern and unprecedented order that "irregularities" and "violations" in the sex misconduct investigation called into question OPD's willingness and ability to hold its own officers accountable and make sustainable reforms.

The Express was unable to reach Whent for comment.

Update, 10:41 pm: According to several sources, BART Police Deputy Chief Benson Fairow will serve as the interim police chief for Oakland while a national search is conducted to replace Whent.
And Chief Whent will be allowed to resign for "personal reasons" rather than be formally terminated.

East Bay Affordable Housing Disappearing Faster Than Anywhere in Country

Oakland, Fremont and Walnut Creek lead the nation in fewest listings.

by Nick Miller
Thu, Jun 9, 2016 at 10:49 AM

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Real-estate website Trulia dropped a new study this morning with mostly bummer news for affordable housing in Oakland.

So ... let's begin with something good news: Trulia also says rent prices are down, if just a tick, in the country's 25 most popular markets, including the East Bay, between April 2015-16.

It's worth noting that this was before the moratorium on rent hikes in Oakland, which was implemented just more than 60 days ago.

But then ... the bad news: Listings for affordable housing are vanishing — and the East Bay is leading the entire country.

Trulia reports that affordable-housing listings dipped from 66 percent in April of last year to 46.2 percent in 2016. That 19.8 percent plummet leaves most other regions across the country in the dust (for instance, Orange County came in second with only a 10.8 percent dip).

Ouch.

When you drill down in the East Bay, the city of Fremont saw the most affordable-housing listings go away; it lost 23.9 percent last year. Walnut Creek is second, and Oakland is third. 

Basically, that means you've got to flee a lot farther to find a cheapish apartment.

Trulia defines affordable housing as studio to two-bedroom units listed at 30 percent of the median gross household income. Or, in other words, something that doesn't really exist.

Trulia is considered a reputable resources for renters, sellers, homeowners and real-estate agents.

Look fore more on affordable housing in the Bay in next week's Express.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Sleepy Election Night in East Bay Sees Few Surprises

Zzz ...

by Nick Miller
Wed, Jun 8, 2016 at 7:55 AM

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Hillary Clinton made some kind of history last night, sort of. But otherwise it was a sleepy elections evening.

Bernie Sanders didn't perform as well as pollster anticipated in California, where he took in only 43 percent of the vote to Clinton's 55 percent. The candidate remained defiant, however, referring to his campaign as a "movement" and vowing to take its "struggle" for social, economic and racial justice to the Democratic National Convention next month.

Were there more Sanders voters in Oakland than San Francisco? It remains to be seen, although Sanders performed better in Alameda County than San Francisco, and in Congressional district 13 than 12..

In other local races, Nancy Skinner (47 percent) and Sandré Swanson (33 percent) will face off in November runoff to take the ninth district state Senate seat.

And also in Alameda County, incumbent Nate Miley secured another four years at the board of supervisors, easily beating well-funded and aggressive challenger Bryan Parker, 61 percent to 37 percent.

Over in Richmond, voters shot down two high-profile ballot measures backed by a contentious developer. One would have side-stepped the Richmond planning department and approved a waterfront development of single-family homes (voters pummeled that one), and the other would have put a cap on the city manager's salary. The latter, Measure O, was a tight one, going down 50.97 percent to 49.03 percent.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Did the Express Get its Rent-Control Reform Ballot Measure Story Wrong? Hell No. Here's Why ...

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, Jun 7, 2016 at 5:29 PM

City Attorney Barbara Parker. - CITY OF OAKLAND
  • City of Oakland
  • City Attorney Barbara Parker.
Tenant advocates claim Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker delayed and obstructed their effort to put a measure on the November ballot. Their goal is to strengthen rent control and just-cause eviction protections. I wrote a story about this controversy last week.

Now, the city attorney's spokesman is saying I've misrepresented what actually happened, and left out important details.

So, in the spirit of transparency, here's additional backstory — and reasons why the City Attorney's office is wrong.

One of the obstruction tactics that tenant advocates say the City Attorney used involved the word count of their measure's title and summary. When members of the public file a ballot measure for an Oakland election, the City Attorney is supposed to write an unbiased title and summary so that voters understand what they’re voting on. The combined word count of the title and summary, according to state law, isn’t supposed to exceed 500 words.

According to the tenant activists, the City Attorney typed up a ballot title and summary that ran over the 500-word limit. Attorneys representing the tenant advocates wrote to Parker that her title and summary jeopardized the ballot measure's legal status and exposed it to a legal challenge by opponents, or rejection by elections officials.

In multiple interviews, tenant advocates told the Express that this was just one of several actions Parker took that delayed and obstructed their ballot measure. I highlighted this example in the article and left other examples out (ironically, because my article had a 750-word limit).

Before I published, I asked the city attorney's spokesman, Alex Katz, about the tenant activists' claims. He confirmed that Parker wrote more than 500 words, but he denied that there was any attempt to delay or obstruct the ballot measure.

In an email, Katz also wrote that the City Attorney's Office has routinely exceeded the 500-word limit for other ballot measures. He explained this is because Oakland is a charter city, and it can follow its own laws instead of the state elections code. His implication was that the 500-word limit doesn't apply.

Well, I've searched through Oakland's municipal code and I can't find any section that gives the city attorney authority to write a title and summary more than 500 words.

So, in my story, I quoted Katz saying there was no attempt to delay the measure. I reported that, upon receiving a strongly worded letter from the activists' lawyers, the city attorney promptly re-wrote the ballot title and summary. Simple, right?

But Katz commented in the online version of my article that I had misrepresented the city attorney's response to tenant advocates, and that my story was inaccurate.

In his comment, Katz elaborated on his explanation that the City Attorney’s office has routinely exceeded the 500-word limit for ballot measure titles and summaries. He also wrote that City Attorney Parker "immediately revised the summary to accommodate their concerns and filed it the day after they objected." He also affirmed that the city attorney supports tenants and renters.

I don't think that's false. But I asked Katz in a follow-up email to show where in Oakland’s municipal code the City Attorney has the authority to exceed the 500-word limit. Katz hasn’t responded to that email, even though I've re-sent it twice already seeking further explanation.

Meanwhile, tenant advocates tell me that they still believe the original 531-word title and summary written by Parker imperiled their measure's chances of legally qualifying for the ballot, and could have seriously delayed them.

So, did I misrepresent the story? Did I twist the facts?

No. Given my limited understanding of Oakland's election laws — and the fact that virtually every tenant advocate I spoke to told me that Parker has made multiple decisions hampering their effort to amend Oakland's rent control and eviction laws — the Express got the story right.

The other big tactic that tenant advocates say Parker is using to obstruct and delay rent control and just-cause reforms involves recusal. 

Parker has pushed to have Councilmember Abel Guillen — considered by many a possible pro-tenant swing vote — recused from voting on, or even discussing, matters having to do with rent control and just-cause eviction laws. This is because Guillen owns a condominium that was built in 2006. According to Parker, Guillen needs to recuse himself because the ballot measure would extend just-cause protections to his unit. Therefore, according to Parker, Guillen has a direct economic interest in the outcome of the law.

Abel Guillen leaving the council chambers before a vote to schedule the rent control and just cause measure during the June 2 rules committee meeting. - DARWIN BONDGRAHAM
  • Darwin BondGraham
  • Abel Guillen leaving the council chambers before a vote to schedule the rent control and just cause measure during the June 2 rules committee meeting.
As a result, Guillen had to walk out of two recent rules-committee meetings, where a report and legal analysis for the rent-control and just-cause measure was scheduled for future council committee hearings.

But Parker is also a landlord. Parker owns a single-family home located in East Oakland, which she rents to a tenant. Katz told me in his original email reply that Parker has no conflict of interest because her unit, unlike Guillen's, is already covered by the just-cause ordinance.

But it's not that simple.

In addition to extending just-cause eviction protections to units built after 1980, the ballot measure that Parker wrote the 531-word title and summary for, and which she has pushed to have Guillen recused from voting on, would also amend Oakland's Just Cause Ordinance in ways that would impact Parker's rental unit. Specifically, the measure would remove three current grounds for tenant eviction, making it harder for landlords to evict tenants.

Should Parker also be recused from anything having to do with the rent control and just cause ballot measure?

I asked Katz that question in my followup email, but he hasn't responded.

In the spirit of full disclosure, here's a copy of the emails, starting with the most recent.
From: Darwin BondGraham
6/6/2016 at 10:32 AM
Hi Alex,
Do you plan to respond to these two questions? I just want to be sure before I write an update to the article.
And is the City Attorney’s Office also pushing for Councilmember Desley Brooks to recuse herself from rent control and just cause matters? If so, why?
Thanks,
Darwin

—-

From: Darwin BondGraham
6/3/2016 at 9:07 AM
Any chance of getting an answer to these two questions today?

—-

From: Darwin BondGraham
6/1/2016 at 10:37 AM
Hi Alex,
Thanks for this response, and for the comment you left on the article. I have two questions.
1. You wrote that City Attorney Parker's rental property "is already covered by the just cause ordinance," and therefore "there is no conflict [of interest]" regarding her involvement in this issue.
But wouldn't the proposed Measure, if approved by voters, amend the Just Cause Ordinance in several ways that would impact City Attorney Parker's financial interest in her property?
I'm wondering specifically about the following change, as described in the March 18 Title and Summary as prepared by the City Attorney:
"[the measure would] eliminate three current grounds for tenant eviction - refusal to execute a lease renewal; destruction of peace and quiet; and use of the property for an illegal purpose. This measure adds the ground that tenant committed or permitted a nuisance in the unit."
Could you explain how this amendment to the Just Cause Ordinance would not impact the City Attorney's interest in her rental property?
2. You wrote in your comment on the EBX web site that it has been the City Attorney's practice for a decade to write a 500 word summary plus a title, resulting in a combined title and summary of over 500 words.
Can you point me to the section of the Oakland Municipal Code authorizing the City Attorney to do this? It's not that I don't believe you. I just want to be clear that this authority is stated in the city's law, because if it isn't, wouldn't the state's law relating to elections in general law cities apply?
Thanks,
Darwin

—-

From: Alex Katz
5/26/2016 at 3:32 PM
Mr. Bond Graham:
With respect to the ballot measure:
There’s no attempt to delay. We followed the same practice the City has followed for decades of applying the 500-word limit to the summary. Oakland is a charter city, meaning the City can follow its charter and ordinances. We revised the summary after the proponents objected to accommodate their concerns.
We issued the original title and summary on March 18. The proponent's letter objecting to the word count is dated March 23. We issued the revised title and summary on March 24th, one day after the proponents objected.
As to your question about advice to Councilmembers:
The City Attorney is bound by attorney-client privilege. We are legally and ethically barred from releasing confidential advice to clients. We cannot even confirm whether or not we provided advice. However, the client who holds the privilege can share advice with you if s/he chooses to do so.
I also understand that you are asking about the City Attorney's rental property? Her property is already covered by the just cause ordinance, therefore there is no conflict.
Thanks, Alex

—-

From: Alex Katz
5/25/2016 at 1:23 PM
Darwin,
I’ll respond shortly.
Thanks,
Alex

—-

From: Darwin BondGraham
5/25/2016 at 5:29 PM.
Hi Alex,
The attached letter from Richard Maidich, representing the proponents of a rent control and just cause ballot initiative, claims that the City Attorney’s office issued a title and summary that was over the legal word count. The proponents of the ballot initiative say this resulted in an unreasonable delay. Some are claiming the City Attorney’s office purposefully went over the legal word limit in order to delay or disrupt the measure’s proponents from gathering signatures.
I’d like comment from the City Attorney regarding the claims made in the letter, and regarding claims made by some proponents that there was an effort to delay the ballot measure. Why was the title and summary over the word limit? How long did it take to correct? Who in the City Attorney’s Office directly worked on the ballot measure language?
Also, it’s my understanding that the City Attorney advised Abel Guillen and Desley Brooks that they had conflicts of interest requiring them to recuse themselves from any votes on rent control and just cause changes. What exactly did Parker advise the councilmembers?
Specifically, why is Guillen recused?
I’m at 510-879-3733.
My deadline is 3pm tomorrow.
Thanks,
Darwin

Mercury News Editor Stands Behind Columnist Who Blamed Victim in Stanford Rape Case

Not a good look.

by Nick Miller
Tue, Jun 7, 2016 at 10:44 AM

Convicted rapist and former Stanford University student Brock Turner.
  • Convicted rapist and former Stanford University student Brock Turner.
I've got a ton of respect for nearly all fellow journalists, so I don't take lightly calling one out.

But when Mercury News columnist Scott Herhold wrote last week that campus drinking was the "unindicted co-conspirator" in the much-discussed Brock Turner/Stanford University rape case, implying that the victim was at least partly to blame for her own rape because she was drunk — well, damn, I had to shoot off a quick email to the Merc's executive editor:
Scott Herhold’s column from yesterday stunned. And not just because he lobbied for a lesser sentence, and all the white-privilege implications that come with making that argument.

It was also Herhold writing that the judge had a “chance to send a message” to colleges and student about binge-drinking, “the unindicted co-conspirator here.”
Wow, did he really just write that?

The implication, whether intentional or not, is clearly that the victim is partly to blame. It’s virtually the same as writing “She was hammered, she had a role in this incident, too, and college kids need a lesson on binge-drinking.”

I’m reminded of such awful statements as: “She wore a short skirt, she deserved it.”

I have a lot of respect for your reporters and team, and call some of them good colleagues and even friends. But I can’t believe this column made it to print.

I must ask whether you stand by it?
Executive Editor Neil Chase, a pro, was quick to reply:
Nick, thanks for writing. I was about to answer your tweet, but I’ll take this chance to use more than 140 characters to share my thoughts.

Scott’s column, the probation officials’ recommendation and the judge’s decision were all, as you say, stunning. It’s not up to me to stand by an opinion columnist’s opinion, but rather to stand by his right to express himself and launch discussions. Even if the opinion seems extreme. Even if it disagrees with what we said in our editorial today. Even if I disagree.

Are there limits to that freedom? Sure. Just as there are limits to legal freedoms. But if I shut down a columnist because I know many people will disagree, I’m shutting down the conversations that should occur in our society. Frankly, I expected that the sentence would be more severe. The fact that it matched the judge’s eventual ruling makes that conversation even more necessary. 
I appreciated his thoughtful response. And, for sure, we're somewhat on the same page: It’s crucial that newspapers foster conversations about contentious public issues . And it’s our roles, as editors, is to stand by our columnists, etc.

But ... I want to be clear: Herhold waded deep into extreme and inappropriate waters. It’s his coded victim-blaming, the way he denigrates women with his “unindicted co-conspirator” argument — and his suggestion that a rape victim has a lesson to learn, too. That the judge too needs to send her “a message” as well. I'm not sure how that conversation is ever necessary, that it should occur in society. It's outrageous.

Mercury News readers seemed to agree, as they leveled the newspaper in its Letters section. Ditto social media. And national media is just catching on to the Herhold column, as well.

And now, reports are making the rounds that no women editors looked at Herhold's contentious column before it went to print. That's not good ... for the Merc newsroom.

But it is good that people are outraged about the chain of command in the newsroom and whether women editors are involved if you care about ending a rape culture of victim-blaming.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Bill Clinton Block Party Overtook Telegraph This Morning

Take a picture!

by Nick Miller
Mon, Jun 6, 2016 at 4:35 PM

Bill Clinton block party out front of the Fox Theater this past Monday. - PHOTO BY NICK MILLER
  • PHOTO BY NICK MILLER
  • Bill Clinton block party out front of the Fox Theater this past Monday.
Monday during lunch was T-shirt weather. And, conveniently, in the middle of Telegraph Avenue there was a man hawking some with the words “Fuck Trump” emblazoned on the front.

That’s right: It was a Hillary Clinton rally, starring her silver-fox husband, Bill Clinton, in front of the Fox Theater just a few clicks past noon. Some five hundred supporters circled a white pickup truck with Mayor Libby Schaaf perched in the bed. She hyped the crowd and stayed mostly positive, only gently dabbling in the art of Donald Trump dissing — he’s “disconnected from reality” — before helping president No. 42 into the Ford (or was it a Chevy?).

His wife’s campaign jingle, that incongruously soppy “Fight Song” anthem, blasted as everyone snapped an obligatory photo.

Unlike some of his more unleashed appearances during the 2008 presidential campaign, Bill was a dutiful messenger on Monday. He reminisced about the Fox Theater back when he was visiting (un-buddy) Mayor Jerry Brown. And he avoided, at first, even speaking Trump’s name, opting instead to take down the entire GOP ethos (“our party might be the only one that believes in science”).

Bill didn’t mention Sen. Bernie Sanders once during his approximately thirty-minute stump. Yet the Bern loomed large, as the president could have filled a chalkboard with what he had to say about higher education. “College debt is the only loan in America you can’t refinance,” he explained. (I cringed at the thought of Wall Street pulling the wool over recent grads with various re-fi schemes.) But some of Hillary’s policy, which Bill sugarcoated with his elevator-pitch charm, appealed, such as public service to pay off your student-loan debt. “You can move out of your parents’ house,” Bill joked.

He became serious, however, later when finally addressing Trump by name. He blasted his former elbow-rubbing chum for “politics of division and wall-building.” And for his mantra Make America Great Again.
“That’s a code word, folks,” Bill warned. “I grew up in a part of the country where people talk like that.”

But he promised that his wife, presumably the nominee (short of an indictment), would not run her campaign on Trump’s verbal miscues. (That’s why there are super PACs.)

The take home? Say what you want about draconian Clinton-era policies (and don't get me started), but the dude still can win over a crowd. He held court in the bed of that maybe-Ford/maybe-Chevy for minute, shining in his Navy suit, his Southern twang more gravely than yesteryear, but still charming.

As Bill stepped down from the truck bed and posed for selfies, it was clear that Trump, let alone any Republican nominee, will find it difficult to overcome the Bill-Hillary-Obama stump trifecta. That’s a big three more terrifying than Curry, Thompson, and Green.

A wild card for a Hillary cake-walk, however, is those pesky young voters. Consider: A teenager in a maroon dress wiggled to the front of the crowd during Bill’s speech and raised a “Feel the Bern” sign above her head. She stood there for a few minutes, then retreated to her friends with a mischievous grin. Don’t forget: In 2008, 66 percent of under-30-year-olds chose Obama. And these younger voters don’t bump “Fight Song” on their playlists.

My point: Hillary and Co. will torch Trump — so long as the millennial voters don’t Bern out.

Town Business: $72 Million for Affordable Housing, 'Right of Return,' Police Mental Health, and Another Subsidy

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Jun 6, 2016 at 10:01 AM

Camino 23, an affordable housing development planned for 23rd Avenue that was recently funded with state cap-and-trade money. - SAHA
  • SAHA
  • Camino 23, an affordable housing development planned for 23rd Avenue that was recently funded with state cap-and-trade money.
$72 Million for Affordable Housing: Oakland is in the running to get $72 million in state funds to build affordable housing. The money comes from California's cap-and-trade program — essentially a tax on polluting industries — and is used to build below-market housing in urban centers near transit. The program aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from urban workers who will live closer to their jobs.

"Right of Return":
Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney and Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington want to give displaced Oakland residents and current Oakland residents first shot at renting new affordable housing units and obtaining subsidized loans to purchase homes.
Gibson McElhaney's proposal (amended by Campbell Washington last week) would bump anyone displaced from Oakland in the last 8 years due to a no-fault eviction to the top of the waiting list for new affordable units built with city funding, and the city's first-time homebuyer program. Second in line would be anyone who currently lives one mile from a new affordable housing development (in the same neighborhood). And finally, people who currently live and work in Oakland would have preference over those who don't when it comes to leasing or buying new affordable homes.
Gibson McElhaney's proposal solves a problem pointed out to the council back in March when they approved higher income limits for the city's first time homebuyer program. Affordable housing activists objected to the higher income limits because most Oakland renters don't earn a lot, and the city had no way to ensuring that wealthier families wouldn't move here and take advantage of the program, furthering gentrification.
But not everyone is happy with Gibson McElhaney's proposal. Councilmember Larry Reid said the preferences could have the effect of reinforcing segregation in Oakland by not providing people who live in his district's neighborhoods, predominantly Black and Latino areas of deep East Oakland, the same opportunities to move to wealthier neighborhoods like Montclair and Rockridge. That's because under Gibson McElhaney and Campbell Washington's rules, any affordable housing built in Oakland's wealthier neighborhoods would first be offered to current residents of those neighborhoods. Then again, not a lot of affordable housing is being built in Montclair and Rockridge, so the one-mile rule may not have an exclusionary impact.

Police Mental Health: the Oakland Police Department is asking for an additional $25,000 a year to strengthen its psychological counseling program for police officers. OPD recently established a Wellness Unit for its officers which is intended to provide counseling, substance abuse treatment and other services to Oakland cops in one easy to access location. The total cost of OPD's mental health services program is currently $75,000 a year.

Another Subsidy: Millions of city and federal taxpayer dollars have already been dedicated to transforming a blighted corner of Seminary Avenue and Foothill Boulevard, but so far the land, about 1.7 acres, remains an empty lot. Now the developer and city staff are asking for an additional $1.5 million in city money to keep the project afloat.
The project should already be under construction, but according to a staff report, construction costs have inflated so much in the Bay Area over the past two years that the developer, Sunfield Development, needs millions more than its original cost estimate. Banks and other private lenders won't hand over the extra cash without demanding repayment terms that make the project infeasible.
Sunfield Development has an agreement with Oakland to lease the city-owned land and build a retail complex on it. Last year Walgreens said they were interested in opening a store there, but the retail giant then tried to get Oakland to waive it's living wage requirements for the project. That didn't work.
Here's a rundown of all the subsidies Sunfield has gotten so far: $4.5 million spent by the Oakland Redevelopment Agency years ago to purchase and assemble eleven parcels of land; $6 million in federal tax credits; a 66-year ground lease of the city land in which Sunfield pays only $1 per year for the first  seven years; and last year the city council voted to increase the federal tax credits to $14 million.
Will the project every be built? At what cost to the public? Stay tuned.

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