Monday, September 19, 2016

Town Business: New Renter Protections; New Privacy Commissioners; Solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Sep 19, 2016 at 7:05 AM

New Renter Protections: The really big proposals to change Oakland's landlord tenant laws are on the November ballot as Measure JJ, the "Renter Protection Act." We'll write more about this before you go to the polls.

In the meantime, several city council members are trying to tweak some of Oakland's housing laws. On Tuesday night Dan Kalb, Lynette Gibson McElhaney, and Abel Guillen's package of landlord-tenant laws is up for discussion. The three councilmembers are proposing the following:

1. Requiring landlords who move into a two or three unit apartment building to prove they've lived there for at least two years before they can exempt their building from rent control. Currently it's one year. This is an important shift because owner move-in evictions are sometimes used by landlords to remove tenants who are otherwise protected by rent control and just cause. After getting rid of the older tenants, a landlord can increase rent on the units by as much as they want.

2. Require landlords who want to increase rent by more than the consumer price index-adjusted amount to petition the rent board for permission to do so. Currently landlords can do whatever they want, and it's up to a tenant to know their rights and file a petition within 60 days if they think their landlord has increased their rent by more than the allowable amount which is set each year by the rent board, and which can only be exceeded under special circumstances. The new rules being proposed by Kalb, McElhaney, and Guillen would also increase the amount of time a tenant has to petition the rent board from 60 to 90 days.

The councilmembers’ proposal would also prevent landlords from "gold-plating" housing units with fancy, unnecessary improvements to drive up the rental price, and require that landlords spread the costs of capital improvements over the useful life of the improvement, rather than pass the expense on in one or several large rent increases.

New Privacy Commissioners: Mayor Libby Schaaf and Councilmember Larry Reid are each making an appointment to the Oakland Privacy Commission.

Schaaf's appointee is UC Berkeley Associate Professor at the School of Information Deirdre Mulligan. With a degree from Georgetown University, dozens of publications, roles advising global companies like Intel and Microsoft, Mulligan is a heavy hitter in some of the exact fields that the city's new privacy commission will have to grapple with.

Reid's appointee is Robert Oliver, an executive of two companies that run residential treatment programs. Oliver also used to work as an Oakland police officer and is knowledgeable about the department.

Standing Rock Sioux: The Standing Rock Sioux have been leading a fight against the construction of a 1,100 mile oil pipeline that will cross 209 rivers and creeks, and impact sacred tribal territory. The City of Oakland is offering the Standing Rock Sioux its official support. 

"The City of Oakland, which sits on native lands of the Ohlone Tribe, continues to appreciate diversity of its community, their culture, and beliefs," reads a staff report accompanying the resolution. Oakland's resolution supporting the Standing Rock Sioux would notify the federal government that the city doesn't want the Dakota Access Pipeline built.

The Oakland City Council recently banned the storage and handling of coal inside the city, and has previously passed resolutions against oil trains and other fossil fuels projects.

Correction: the original version of this story stated that the Oakland city council stripped the gold-plating and useful life capital improvement cost sections from the ordinance they’re considering tomorrow. The council in fact retained these parts of the legislation. Also, the council will vote on a requirement that landlords petition to increase rent above the CPI-adjusted amount, not above five percent.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Thirteen Unlucky Observations from Oakland Raiders Disappointing Home Loss to Atlanta

by Nick Miller
Sun, Sep 18, 2016 at 5:04 PM

Jack Del Rio is coaching like the Raiders are already in Las Vegas.

This week, "Black Jack Del Rio" made another dice-roll call during a crucial moment in the game. The Raiders found themselves fourth and goal on the two-yard line, in the final quarter — and Del Rio gave his offense the green light to go for it.

And, just like last week, the coach was rewarded with a Derek Carr-to-Michael Crabtree strike. This touchdown notched Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons at a 21-21 tie with 12 minutes remaining.

And then it all fell apart.

The Raiders much-hyped defense had zero answer for Atlanta's run-pass attack, which racked up 531 total yards in its 35-28 road victory in Oakland.

Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman bruised the Raiders front line for a combined 139 rushing yards. Matt Ryan went air for 396. The Falcons owned the middle of the field, with Ryan repeatedly finding Jacob Tamme and Julio Jones on slant routes.

The Falcons also got the big breaks. In the fourth quarter, on third and goal, a Ryan pass was deflected, only to land in wideout Justin Hardy's hands, which put Atlanta up 35-21.

The Raiders didn't go down quiet, however, and clawed within seven. But the defense again couldn't lock in one single stop, and the Falcons converted a first down to seal the victory.

A few thoughts:

1. Raiders came out the gate cold, racking up just 33 yards of offense in the first quarter and an underwhelming 167 by the half. That's not going to cut it at home. Coordinator Bill Musgrave's schemes are again too predictable this year, and his play calling too timid early in the game.

2. Derek Carr tossed three TDs and didn't turn the ball over, but he also didn't move the ball deep. Need those big plays.

3. I actually embrace the Raiders RB-by-committee, and the guys put up a varied attack on the ground, going for 155 yards. Latavius Murray had a solid game, with 101 total yards and a TD.

4. The defense was completely lost all day, giving up multiple third-and-long conversions and a significant number of yards on the ground, including 53 yards in the opening fifteen minutes. They also clearly can't defend the middle, and teams are certainly going to pick at this weakness.

5. Amari Cooper was quiet (four catches, 55 yards), except for a fantastic 25-yard aerial grab in the second quarter.

6. The Raider defense was devoid of a meaningful pass rush. Part of this was because Matt Ryan would drop back deep, in some cases 15 yards. But mostly it was his quick release on cutting routes, such as the 21-yard slant pass to Julio Jones in the second: Jones practically skipped into the end zone and put the Falcons up 10-7.

7. Back to that Raiders first half: It was ugly, and reminiscent of some of the worst Raiders teams in the past ten years. They were fortunate to be down only 13-7.  (They could have only trailed by three points, were it not a muffed field-goal attempt by Sebastian Janikowski — granted, from 58-yards.)

8. The only turnover of the day for both teams was when David Amerson made a clutch pick in his own end zone, to stave off another surging Atlanta drive. This was a much-needed moment for the Raider secondary — but it was fleeting.

9. This game was very Vegas. In addition to the Del Rio call and the ridiculous Ryan TD pass to Hardy, there were also some cirque de soleil catches that converted third downs for the Falcons.

10. File under bad calls: Carr hit Cooper for a huge 70-ish yard touchdown, but it was taken back, because the official said No. 89 went out of bounds. Upon replay, however, it was clear that he did not intentionally go out of bounds, but was pushed by a defender. This non-call, non-TD changed the game.

11. But no matter: Raiders are not a good team. Yet. They still need a pass rush (shockingly), a secondary that doesn't give up big plays (that 48-yarder to Jones in crunch time!), and they absolutely must do better to curb opponent's run attack.

12. Giving up 35 points at home — you'll never win.

13. It's worth noting that, before the game, Raider Nation guitarist Craig Chaquico performed one of the more "interesting" national anthem renditions I've ever seen. Very Jimi Hendrix:

No players took a knee during the anthem, at least from my view in the press box.

Friday, September 16, 2016

UC Berkeley Suspends Controversial Israel-Palestine Course Amid Complaints

by H. Graph Massara
Fri, Sep 16, 2016 at 3:27 PM

A flier used to promote a contentious course on Palestine, which administrators suspended this week.
  • A flier used to promote a contentious course on Palestine, which administrators suspended this week.

UC Berkeley administrators suspended a student-run course on Palestine this week amid accusations that it was politically one-sided and inappropriate.

But its removal led some students to question the campus’ commitment to academic freedom within the student-led course program known as DeCal.

The one-unit course, led by student Paul Hadweh and sponsored by Ethnic Studies professor Hatem Bazian, was titled "Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis."

An online description said it would have focused on “key historical developments that have taken place in Palestine from the 1880s to the present, through the lens of settler colonialism." A flier advertising the class (see above) also stated that the course would "explore the possibilities of a decolonized Palestine."

Forty-three organizations submitted a letter of complaint to Chancellor Nicholas Dirks this past Tuesday, alleging that course materials included anti-Israel bias and violated the university’s ban on classes promoting “political indoctrination.” The course was suspended that same day.

The university says that the course didn't meet academic standards and didn't comply with review procedures.

Josh Woznica is president of Bears for Israel, one of the groups who signed the complaint. He said there are places for this type of discussion. “But when it’s this extreme and comes in an academic context … it’s not an appropriate thing for [UC Berkeley] to officially offer for academic credit,” he said. 

Hadweh’s course, however, had generated significant student interest. He said that 31 students showed up for what was originally a 24-seat class.

Those who did manage to get in published an open letter on Thursday, which decried the suspension, calling it “discriminatory and a violation of (their) academic freedom.”

Jewish Voice for Peace, an Israel-Palestine peace advocacy group, has also begun circulating an online petition to reinstate the course. It has been signed by several prominent UC Berkeley faculty members, among others.

Cristian Alejandre, who had enrolled in the class, said he felt there is a broader “attempt to censor or erase Palestine within academia,” and found the idea of taking a UC Berkeley class on the subject “spectacular.”

“(But it) was a very short-lived opportunity,” he added.

Hadweh rejected criticisms that his class curriculum and materials amounted to “indoctrination,” or were inappropriate because they were critical of the state of Israel.

He said he hopes to reinstate the class — and to receive an apology from the university.

“This course is more about asking questions than providing answers,” Hadweh said in a statement released by he and an attorney on Wednesday. “I think it would be valuable to study this and clearly many of my peers at UC Berkeley do too.”

There are specific requirements for a student-run course at UC Berkeley to receive approval. Each DeCal course must be sponsored by a member of faculty, and green-lit by both the relevant campus department chairperson and also an Academic Senate committee.

Hadweh maintains that these requirements were satisfied. He added that administrators did not discuss any concerns with him before pulling the course.

But campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said that the course needed to be vetted by a dean, as well. 

But based on DeCal's website, it is unclear as to whether dean approval is actually needed for all classes.

Carla Hesse, executive dean of the College of Letters and Science, wrote in an email, which Mogulof shared with the Express, that Hadweh’s class “did not undergo required academic review.”

According to its website, the DeCal program is meant to allow students to teach their peers about a wide variety of subjects, “many of which are not addressed in the traditional curriculum.” Popular selections include classes on everything from female sexuality to Pokemon. Others touch on more topical or political themes, such as prison reform.

Other UC campuses have comparable student-led educational programs. Last year, UC Riverside officials received similar complaints about a student-led class at that campus, originally titled "Palestine & Israel: Settler-Colonialism and Apartheid." After administrators reviewed the class, it was given a revised title, "Palestine Voices," and allowed to proceed.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Richmond Rent Increase and Eviction Moratorium Blocked by Mayor Tom Butt and Two Councilmembers

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Sep 14, 2016 at 11:06 AM

A proposed 45-day moratorium on rent increases and evictions to protect Richmond renters failed to pass last night after Mayor Tom Butt and councilmembers Nathaniel Bates and Vinay Pimplé voted against it. The emergency law required a supermajority vote, at least six of the seven councilmembers and mayor, to pass.

Similar moratoriums have been implemented in Oakland and Alameda to slow the displacement of low-income tenants due to drastically rising rents.

Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin, the sponsor of the moratorium, said it was necessary to stem evictions in advance of the November elections when Richmond voters will decide whether or not to enact permanent rent control and just cause eviction protections.

Multiple tenants told the council last night that their landlords seem to be preemptively evicting them before the November vote so as to be able to raise rents to the maximum amount, even if the new renter protections are approved.

"I question the motives of why they're putting us out right before the ballot," said Vincent Justin, a Richmond renter who told the council he was recently served with an eviction notice and hasn't been able to find a new apartment he can afford.

"Please implement this urgent moratorium to give us a little more time," pleaded Sharon Brown, a 65 year-old renter, who said she moved from Oakland a few years ago because it became unaffordable. In Richmond, she found a church to join and started feeling like the city was her home, but she was recently served by her landlord with a 60-day notice to move out for no cause.

Jill Broadhurst, director of the East Bay Rental Housing Association, a landlord's group, said that if Richmond passes rent control many landlords might not be able to afford simple upgrades like patching a roof. As a result, the city's housing stock will decline in quality, she claimed.

"Anecdotes, while compelling, do not constitute an emergency," Broadhurst said in response to the testimony of dozen-plus tenants like Brown and Justin who told the council about their recent evictions.

Just before the vote, Mayor Tom Butt objected to the moratorium and said that rent control was like "throwing water on a grease fire."

"It's a supply and demand problem," said Butt, who also accused several members of the city council of blocking housing construction.

"Rent control will slow down gentrification," countered McLaughlin.

Councilmember Jael Myrick pointed out that both Alameda and Oakland have passed similar moratoriums. "This is not a radical thing," he said.

But when the vote came, Butt, Bates, and Pimplé refused to change their long-standing positions against rent control and eviction protections.

Bates even called the moratorium a "charade," accusing his fellow councilmembers and tenants of "interrupting the tranquility of the city" by continuing to press for renter protections after several previous failed efforts.

One member of the audience shouted back at Bates, "this is a democracy, you clown!"

The meeting ended with dozens of Richmond residents chanting "shame" after the vote as Butt, Bates, and Pimplé exited the room.

Councilmember Jovanka Beckles called her three colleagues "disgusting."

Correction: the original version of this story erroneously stated that there are nine Richmond city councilmembers. There are in fact six and the mayor.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Richmond Police Sex-Crime Scandal Investigation Finds Officers Didn't Break the Law

by Darwin BondGraham and Ali Winston
Mon, Sep 12, 2016 at 5:49 PM

An internal Richmond Police Department investigation into sexual misconduct by multiple officers concluded today. In a public report summarizing the investigation, Richmond Chief Allwyn Brown wrote that officers from his department engaged in sexual misconduct and other wrongdoing, and that he will terminate some and recommend counseling for others.

But the report doesn't name any officers who will be disciplined, or say how many face termination or suspension. Eleven current and former officers were investigated by Richmond's Office of Professional Accountability.

The investigation began after news media contacted RPD with evidence that some of its officers had sexually exploited a teenager, known as Celeste Guap, who reportedly was abused by more than thirty Bay Area officers. Some allegedly committed statutory rape against her when she was seventeen. Others violated numerous laws and department rules.

Last week, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley announced she intends to charge seven East Bay officers with crimes varying from statutory rape to illegal use of a police computer system. O'Malley didn't name any Richmond police officers among those she intends to prosecute.

According to Brown, none of his officers broke any laws. He wrote that the misconduct uncovered constituted "[I]ndividual, unconnected, non-criminal engagements and other activities that violate multiple Department policies and the professional Code of Ethics on the part of several RPD officers."

Brown also used his report to accuse unknown parties of violating the Public Safety Officers' Procedural Bill of Rights Act, a state law that shields the personnel records of cops from public scrutiny. "The names of five (5) RPD officers subject to our investigation have already been leaked, and then outed by the news media on July 30, 2016," Brown wrote. He said that violation of this law is punishable by a $25,000 fine.

The Express first reported on RPD officers misconduct on that date

No one leaked the names of Richmond cops to the Express. Instead, reporting was informed by interviews with Guap, and information from social media, which was used to identify the police officers who allegedly solicited her for sex.

Brown also used his report to try to deflect criticism that his department shipped Guap out of state at exactly the same time it was investigating eleven of its own cops for misconduct.

"Representations that we 'sent' this teenage witness away or had her 'removed' to Florida distort reality," Brown wrote. "We found no conspiracies."

But Brown admitted in the report that his department's Domestic and Sexual Violence Unit did work to secure state Victims Compensation Program funds to pay for Guap's plane ticket to Florida, and to pay for the rehab center, where she was arrested last week after allegedly biting a security guard.

Town Business: Diversifying the Police; Honoring Bessie Coleman; Taxing Uber Drivers

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Sep 12, 2016 at 7:35 AM

Diversifying the Police: Only 9 percent of Oakland's cops live in the city. Many commute in from the suburbs and have no ties to the community other than patrolling the streets and locking people up. A lot of people don't trust the police. They're seen as outsiders. And many of Oakland's cops don't understand the communities they're patrolling. As a result, there's a rift between the police and the people.

At the Public Safety Committee meeting on Tuesday night, the Oakland City Council's ad hoc working group on police recruitment will present its recommendation for how to diversify OPD. Recommendations include marketing OPD jobs more intensively to Oakland residents; offering housing incentives so that OPD employees can afford to live here; and possibly adopting a local hire policy that would give Oaklanders a leg up in the recruitment process.

Currently OPD has 768 sworn officers, according to the city's most recent recruitment report. Only 18 percent of them are Black, while 40 percent of OPD officers are white. Only 12 percent of Oakland's cops are women. Not enough Oakland cops speak Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, and other languages commonly heard in the city. In terms of diversifying the police so that they better understand the communities they're working in, the city has a long way to go.

Honoring Bessie Coleman: In 1920 Bessie Coleman journeyed from the hardscrabble Texas cotton belt via Chicago all the way to France and earned her wings. She became the first first Black and Native American woman to hold a pilot license.

Back in the US she toured as a stunt pilot, regaling spectators with daredevil loops and last second recoveries from death-defying nose dives. She became a respected pilot despite the rampant racism and sexism of her time, but tragically, at the age of 34, she died after being thrown from her plane during a test flight.

The City of Oakland will honor Coleman by re-naming Airport Access Road after her.

Taxing Uber Drivers: According to Oakland's Revenue and Tax Administrator Margaret O'Brien, anyone who drives for a transportation networking company like Uber and Lyft, and who picks up or drops off fares in Oakland, is subject to the city's business tax. That's a flat fee of $72 a year for the privilege of running a transportation business in Oakland.

Traditional taxi companies already pay business license tax, but tracking down the hundreds of Uber and Lyft drivers plying Oakland's streets, and getting them to pay their share is easier said than done. That's because Uber and Lyft drivers don't work for Uber and Lyft as employees. Instead, they're classified as independent contractors. They run their own businesses. It's unclear how many have self reported to the city and paid for a business license, but many haven't.

According to a new report by city staff, "currently, TNCs such as Uber and Lyft do not provide the City with the names of their contractors operating in the City." In other words, the city doesn't know how many TNC drivers are out there, who they work for, and how frequently they drive Oakland's streets.

To track down all these drivers, city staff want to issue an administrative subpoena to Uber and Lyft to make them turn over the names of drivers working in Oakland. Whether Uber and Lyft will comply isn't clear. And how the drivers will respond is anyone's guess.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Raiders Let It Ride With Game on Line, Win Opening Day for First Time in Five Years

Coach Del Rio clowns ESPN with Tweet

by Nick Miller
Sun, Sep 11, 2016 at 10:07 PM

  • Courtesy of the Raiders
The Oakland Raiders' rumored move to Las Vegas isn't reality yet, but on Sunday coach Jack Del Rio let it ride with the game on the line — and his team delivered.

The Raiders trailed the New Orleans Saints 33-34 with 47 seconds remaining. They'd just scored a touchdown. The extra point would've tied it. The odds? Kick the extra point, go into overtime, at least according to ESPN:
But Del Rio, with his team on the road, made the audacious call to go for a two-point conversion. If the team failed, they'd surely be calling him an idiot.

Del Rio hit the jackpot.

The call was for WR Michael Crabtree on an out route, and QB Derek Carr put the ball where only Crabs could wrap it up, which he did, and the Raiders won for the first time on opening day in five years, 35-34.

But this is the Raiders we're talking about, so of course the team nearly blew it after this incredible moment.

Ill-advisedly, Crabtree celebrated by launching the football into the sky, and quickly was penalized after his game-winning snatch. This set up the Saints with a 61-yard field-goal attempt for the win. The boot actually had the distance, but it was wide left.

After the game, Del Rio threw shade at ESPN for questioning his decision to go for two on Twitter:
At one point in the game, the Raiders trailed 24-10. But Carr and Co. racked up 22 points in the fourth to squeeze out the win, including two clutch two-point conversations in that final quarter.

Highlights of the game included a sack by Bruce Irvin in the first quarter, which caused Saints QB Drew Brees to cough up the rock. This lead to the first points of the game, and the Raiders went up 3-0.

The top play for the Raiders was a 75-yard touchdown sprint by Jalen Richard, which along with a two-point conversation connection of Carr to Amari Cooper tied up the game.

Low moments included the repeated brutalization of the Silver and Black secondary by Brees and his receiving corps.  From Reggie Nelson's missed tackle of Willie Snead in the second quarter to DJ Hayden looking like, well, DJ Hayden, it was a painful day. Brees threw for more than 400 yards and four touchdowns.

The face-palm moment came when Sean Smith got torched by Brandin Cooks for a record-setting 98 yard TD sprint. Ouch.

Ultimately, though, it was an impressive W for Raider Nation. The team could've easily gave up after falling behind on the road and having zero answer for Brees' offense. But the guys kept grinding.

Sure, there were all sorts of boneheaded penalties, in particular the various pass-interference calls. And this is not to mention the numerous occasions where the team appeared undisciplined or confused — including a coaching staff that appeared to lack control over players.

That said, I keep going back to the dive Carr made for a first down in the first half. It's that kind of gritty determination that has me thinking this year's squad is different. We'll find out more next week for the home home opener.

Watch the game's highlights here.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Alameda County Prosecutor Can't Charge Seven Cops in East Bay Sex Crime Case Because Victim Sent to Florida by Richmond Police

Not a single police officer has been arrested or charged with a crime yet. Key witness Celeste Guap is stuck in a Florida jail. Alameda County DA O’Malley says she can’t prosecute officers until Guap returns.

by Darwin BondGraham and Ali Winston
Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 5:58 PM

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley announced today that she intends to charge seven East Bay police officers for exploiting a teenage girl who calls herself Celeste Guap. The crimes include felony statutory rape, obstruction of justice, illegal use of a criminal justice computer system, and engaging in acts of prostitution.

Former Oakland Police Officer Terryl Smith may be charged with illegally using a law enforcement computer.
  • Former Oakland Police Officer Terryl Smith may be charged with illegally using a law enforcement computer.
Three of the cops identified for prosecution are current Oakland police officers: Giovanni LoVerde, Brian Bunton, and Warit Uttapa. One of the Oakland officers resigned from the department in May: Terryl Smith. Another retired earlier this year: Sergeant LeRoy Johnson. The two other East Bay cops are Ricardo Perez, a Sheriff’s deputy in Contra Costa County who recently resigned, and Livermore police officer Dan Black, who left his job yesterday.

But O'Malley’s office has yet to file any charging papers for the individuals she named earlier this afternoon. None have been arrested, and there are no warrants out for their arrest.

"If we don’t have a witness, we can't prosecute these cases," O'Malley said.

A search of the Alameda County State Superior Court’s criminal case files today confirmed that none of the named officers have been charged.

O’Malley said she cannot bring charges until the victim and key witness in the case, the 19-year-old woman who calls herself Celeste Guap, returns to California.

"Officers have not been taken into custody," said O’Malley. "We need to get the witness back to this state."

Former Livermore Police Officer Dan Black may be charged with engaging in an act of prostitution and lewd acts in a public place.
  • Former Livermore Police Officer Dan Black may be charged with engaging in an act of prostitution and lewd acts in a public place.
O'Malley added that her office had no part in sending Guap to Florida, and that she understands the public outcry about the teenager's secretive removal from California by another police agency whose officers are also under investigation for exploiting Guap.

The Richmond Police Department flew Guap to Florida and had her checked into a rehabilitation center on August 26, using state Victims Compensation Program funds. The Contra Costa County District Attorney helped process the application for VCP funds to send Guap out of state, according to a spokesman for the office. Guap was arrested on August 29 after allegedly attacking a security guard at the rehab center. She is currently being held in a Martin County Jail on a $300,000 bond.

David Lustgarten, an assistant state attorney in Martin County Florida, said his office hasn't yet decided whether to charge Guap with aggravated battery. He has viewed video of the incident and interviewed witnesses, and said a decision will be made early next week. He confirmed that Alameda County Chief District Attorney Inspector Robert Chenault contacted him earlier this week to ask about the status of Guap's case. But Lustgarten said Alameda County prosecutors haven't submitted a request to send her back to California.

Oakland Police Sergeant LeRoy Johnson is being charged with failing to report a crime.
  • Oakland Police Sergeant LeRoy Johnson is being charged with failing to report a crime.

Critics have characterized RPD's actions as possible witness tampering and obstruction of justice. Multiple Richmond cops are still under administrate investigation by their own department for sexual misconduct involving Guap.

Richmond Police Chief Allwyn Brown and department spokesman Lieutenant Felix Tan both did not respond to requests for comment today.

O’Malley said her investigation — spanning three months, examining 2,899 Instagram posts, 76,472 pages of Facebook communications, and 59,960 text messages — uncovered evidence of criminal conduct that took place outside of Alameda County. However, prosecutors in other counties said they aren't conducting criminal investigations.

OPD Officer Giovanni LoVerde faces a felony for oral copulation with a minor.
  • OPD Officer Giovanni LoVerde faces a felony for oral copulation with a minor.
Earlier this year the Contra Costa County DA's office announced that it had cleared Oakland police officer Terryl Smith of statutory rape against Guap, which allegedly occurred in a Richmond park. The Contra Costa DA's office told the Express yesterday that they do not have a chargeable case they can bring against any officers.

No charges have been brought against any officers in San Francisco County and San Joaquin County, where investigations by the press uncovered other possible crimes. For example, text messages and Instagram posts between federal police officer William Johnson and Guap appeared to show Johnson proposing to become Guap's exploiter in order to sell her to others for sex.

San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Robert Himelblau said that while they haven't brought charges against any officer yet, they do have an open investigation.

Sergeant Michael Andraychak of the San Francisco police said his department has an open internal affairs investigation, but no criminal investigation.

At the press conference, O’Malley also said that her office did not examine allegations that former Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent and possibly other commanders obstructed the initial OPD investigation.

However, O'Malley said Oakland officials failed to timely notify her office of suspicions of criminal misconduct by police. According to O'Malley, OPD's federal consent decree and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Brady v. Maryland require police departments to inform prosecutors as soon as they suspect an officer has broken the law.

"We are working to get Ms. A back here," she said, referring to Guap by a different name. "If the agency that sent her doesn’t pay her airfare, we will pay to bring her back."

O'Malley said that victims of sex crimes like Guap need to be in a "supportive environment" in order to recover.

"Ms. A is a victim of crime in this county," said O'Malley. "For these reasons we opposed her being removed to Florida."

If and when Guap returns to California, O'Malley plans to charge Ricardo Perez with one felony, oral copulation with a minor, and two misdemeanor counts of engaging in a lewd act in a public place. OPD officer Brian Bunton faces one felony charge of obstruction of justice and engaging in an act of prostitution, a misdemeanor. OPD Officer Warit Uttapa faces one charge of conducting an unauthorized search of a criminal justice database, a misdemeanor. Former OPD Officer Terryl Smith faces four misdemeanors for unauthorized use of a criminal justice database. Former OPD Sergeant LeRoy Johnson faces charges of failing to report a crime. OPD Officer Giovanni LoVerde faces a felony for oral copulation with a minor. Dan Black, a Livermore cop who quit yesterday, faces two misdemeanors for engaging in acts of prostitution and two more misdemeanors for engaging in lewd acts in a public place.

But if Guap is convicted of felony aggravated battery in Florida, she faces a mandatory prison sentence of up to fifteen years.

Correction: the original version of this article spelled Officer Warit Uttapa's last name incorrectly as Utappa.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Oakland Disciplines Twelve Cops in Sex Crime Case

Internal Affairs investigation of Celeste Guap abuse case concludes. Seven Oakland cops suspended, four terminated, one sent to counseling.

by Darwin BondGraham and Ali Winston
Wed, Sep 7, 2016 at 7:14 PM

At a late afternoon press conference, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced the conclusion of the city's investigation into allegations of sex crimes and other misconduct by numerous police officers. Twelve cops face discipline, but Schaaf said state law prevents the city from disclosing any information that could identify the officers.

Most of the officers will be suspended without pay and will return to the force. Schaaf and the Oakland Police Department did not state the lengths of the suspensions. And the officers have the right to contest their discipline through arbitration.

The city cannot bring criminal charges against any officers, and Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley has yet to charge anyone.

“This was an exhaustive and expansive case,” OPD Deputy Chief John Lois said.

Internal affairs investigators interviewed Guap eleven times, in addition to fifty additional witnesses, and scoured through reams of electronic data, including more than 28,000 text messages and 80,000 pages of social-media records.

According to the offenses detailed by Schaaf this evening and the Express' prior reporting, former rookie officers James Ta'ai and Terryl Smith are among the four officers terminated by OPD. The mayor said some of the officers terminated by the city have already left the department. Ta'ai and Smith resigned in May.

Guap told the Express that Smith used confidential law enforcement databases to access her previous criminal history, and attempted to rape her on one occasion. Ta'ai allegedly had sex with Guap when she was underage, and along with Smith allegedly lied to investigators during interviews with investigators.

The list of offenses disclosed by the city does not include anything that would specifically apply to supervisors who oversee officers. Several city sources said they doubted any supervisors were disciplined, and Schaaf did not respond when asked whether anyone other than low-ranking cops were punished.

“You've got to go straight up the line,” said a former Oakland police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “If you don't hold the supervisors accountable, the arbitrators will look at that."

This former officer cited dozens of recent cases where discipline against lower-ranking officers had been overturned after arbitrators found fault with supervisors or commanders.

The conclusion of Oakland's investigation comes just a week after Guap was arrested in Florida on charges of aggravated battery. The Contra Costa DA's office told the Express today that Guap was sent to Florida by the Richmond Police Department using state victims compensation funds.

When asked about RPD's decision to send Guap to a Florida rehab center, Schaaf voiced displeasure. “We are not happy about this,” she said, adding that Oakland officials offered Guap services over the past few months.

Civil rights attorney John Burris, who along with Jim Chanin is one of the plaintiff attorneys in Oakland's federal consent decree, voiced approval of Oakland's decision to discipline police officers. He said the onus is now on Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley to prosecute the responsible cops.

“I always thought criminal charges should be filed,” Burris said. However, he added that he was “not optimistic, since members of the district attorney's office were involved.”

DA Inspector Ricardo Orozco, a former Oakland Police captain, was fired by O'Malley earlier this summer for contacting Guap via social media.

Burris said he believes that California Attorney General Kamala Harris should intervene with regard to a criminal investigation of Guap's abuse.

In addition to disciplining officers, Schaaf and City Administrator Sabrina Landreth said that OPD will also enact a series of policy changes, including training for how officers handle sex trafficking victims, auditing the use of confidential law enforcement databases, and creating additional training for social media.

Attorneys Travel to Florida to Help Celeste Guap, Victim of Bay Area Police Sex-Crime Scandal

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Sep 7, 2016 at 2:26 PM

The young woman who calls herself Celeste Guap is getting some help from two Bay Area attorneys. Pamela Price and Charles Bonner announced today that they are traveling to Florida, where Guap has been held in Martin County Jail since August 29.

"I am literally on my way to Florida right now," said Price during a brief phone call today.

Guap is accused of committing aggravated battery against a security guard at the Treasure Coast Recovery Center in Stuart County, Florida. She was sent to the rehab center two weeks ago by the Richmond Police Department and possibly other Bay Area law-enforcement agencies.

Both the Richmond police and Alameda County District Attorney have refused to say if they paid for, or helped coordinate, sending Guap to Florida. But the Contra Costa County District Attorney's office confirmed today that the Richmond police obtained funding from the state Victims Compensation Program to pay for the rehabilitation services in Florida.

The Bonner & Bonner law firm confirmed to the Express that they are hoping to help get Guap released from jail and to represent her in court.

Price and Bonner have also set up a crowdfunding page to raise money for Guap's legal and medical expenses.

In May, it was revealed that Guap had been sexually exploited by several Oakland police officers when she was 17 years old. One of the officers who allegedly raped Guap, Brendan O'Brien, shot and killed himself in September of last year. He left a suicide note that sparked an internal OPD investigation, but Oakland police appear to have tried covering up the sex crimes.

Since May, cops from multiple agencies have been implicated in the sex-crime scandal, including several Richmond officers and an inspector from the Alameda County DA's office.

But, so far, not a single officer has been charged with a crime.

In a previous interview, Price questioned why police sent Guap across the country to Florida, given the fact that she is a key witness to possibly dozens of crimes committed by multiple officers. "From a legal perspective it looks a whole lot like witness tampering to any lawyer," Price said.

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