Thursday, November 10, 2016

Oakland Officials Describe Vandalism After Anti-Donald Trump Rally As Some Of Worst They've Seen

by Nick Miller
Thu, Nov 10, 2016 at 2:18 PM

"Fuck Trump."

These angry, powerful words also became a truism of downtown Oakland this morning: After last night's anti-Trump protest, vandals emblazoned it all over town — on dozens of local businesses and buildings, sidewalks, and windows.

A common sight this morning was also solemn workers abating graffiti and replacing shattered windows — too many to count — and shocked downtowners snapping pictures of the extreme damage.

The anti-Trump vandalism and destruction even spread to Chinatown and Old Oakland. Some city officials described it as the worst they'd seen in recent years.

The spree of destruction occurred after last evening's otherwise peaceful demonstration and march, where more than 7,000 otherwise activists took to downtown's streets to protest's Trump's election.

By 9 p.m., however, the march had splintered into several smaller groups. Police in "riot gear" and on motorcycles attempted to corral these activists as they ignited numerous trash fires in downtown's streets — and even some inside buildings. But there were too many to contain.

Protesters shattered windows of locally owned businesses and corporate banks alike. One would have to estimate that the vandalism caused several hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in dam

Oakland police reported thirty arrests last night. Officials also pointed out that only twelve of those cited were city residents — the argument being that Oakland has become a destination where agitators gravitate to inflict indiscriminate damage during protests and unrest.

This morning, at the intersection of Telegraph Avenue and Broadway, Mayor Libby Schaaf and other officials held a press conference to denounce the vandalism — but also empathize with the protesters anger and frustration.

Schaaf and council members pleaded with activists to remain peaceful during what is expected to be another protest tonight.

The mayor's remarks were delayed by young anti-Trump protesters from Aspire High School in East Oakland and other schools, who chanted and yelled directly at the mayor.

Last night, fourteen regional law-enforcement agencies converged on downtown to assist the Oakland Police Department, according to officials. Activists driving a large flat-bed truck intended to head to Jack London Square during the march, but law-enforcement blockades prevented the thousands of people from moving west of Eighth Street. Oakland police also walked parallel to the marchers during the procession and prevented the throng from entering the hospitality districts on Telegraph and east of Grand.

It's unclear how many protesters will return to the streets this evening. Facebook pages coordinating actions for November 10 show only a few hundred RSVPs, as opposed to more than 10,000 for events on Wednesday night.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Berkeley Progressives Win Big, but Lament Trump Presidency

by H. Graph Massara
Wed, Nov 9, 2016 at 4:46 PM

Berkeley Mayor-elect Jesse Arreguin. - COURTESY JESSE ARREGUIN
  • Courtesy Jesse Arreguin
  • Berkeley Mayor-elect Jesse Arreguin.
Led by mayor-elect Jesse Arreguin, progressives won three of the four Berkeley city council races last night. But for many, the victory was overshadowed by Donald Trump's clinching of the presidency and the apparent certainty of a Republican-controlled Congress.

Arreguin soundly defeated moderate-liberal challenger Laurie Capitelli, walking away with just under 52 percent of the vote.

District Six incumbent Susan Wengraf managed to hang onto her council seat, beating out co-challengers Fred Dodsworth and Isabelle Gaston.

In the wide-open District Three race, Ben Bartlett fended off three other candidates, drawing 56 percent of the vote.

And Sophie Hahn won in District Five.

A final result for District Two is still uncertain, but after three rounds of ranked-choice voting, Cheryl Davila pulled ahead of incumbent Darryl Moore and challenger-slash-ally Nanci Armstrong-Temple. At the time of this writing, the race still hasn’t been called, but in an interview with The Express, Davila said that while it “wasn’t a done deal,” she was cautiously optimistic.

“It’s almost bittersweet because the other election (gave me) a splitting pain in my stomach,” she said about Trump. “But I'm happy about how city council turned out.”

Arreguin and Hahn said they share this sentiment. Though Arreguin said he was “stunned and excited” by the wave of new progressive Berkeley councilmembers, he regrets coming into office in “very sobering times.”

“We have some dark days ahead of us, and Berkeley needs to be a beacon,” the mayor-elect said.

One of his first projects as mayor, he said, will be to assist those living in a South Berkeley homeless encampment across from City Hall — the same encampment where District Two city council candidate Armstrong-Temple was arrested during a protest last week.

Berkeley Progressive Alliance member Kate Harrison said she was “delighted” by the local election, despite unfortunate national trends. Tuesday’s results mean a progressive majority on the city council is all but certain, Harrison said, but she added she doesn’t want to see the race in terms of a progressive-versus-moderate contest.

“I think we’re going to see more thoughtful consideration of community comments and more thoughtful consideration of how to move forward with this town,” she said.

Oakland Celebrates Soda Tax Victory as 'Huge Win Over Corporations'

by Winston Cho
Wed, Nov 9, 2016 at 3:15 PM

Soda companies don’t want sugary drinks to be cast as the next tobacco. They spent millions in three Bay Area cities this November trying to prevent just that. But election results in Oakland, San Francisco, and Albany to levy a penny-per-ounce tax on sodas and sugary drinks indicate they have good reason to worry.

Measure HH in Oakland passed 61 to 39 percent. Proposition V also passed in San Francisco, as did Albany’s Measure O1.

The three regional cities—in addition to Boulder, Colo. — join Berkeley and Philadelphia as a small but growing coalition leading the charge against the beverage industry. Officials in other cities are expected to follow suit.

"We are being watched very closely by the entire country," said Oakland Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington, who helped write Oakland's Measure HH.

The councilmember said her office has been getting texts from other public officials across the nation who are interested in taxing soda to pay for public health programs designed to reduce sugar consumption.

With major victories in the Bay Area and Boulder, the beverage industry should expect to see soda taxes on several local ballots in the future. But if the amount of money poured into the Oakland and San Francisco measures by "Big Soda" are indicative of anything, it's that future cities that want to pass similar taxes are in for a dirty — and expensive — fight.

The American Beverage Association spent over $30 million to oppose the taxes in Oakland and San Francisco, while tax proponents, funded primarily by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, were able to put up over $20 million. Beverage companies like Pepsico and Coca-Cola attempted to brand the sugary drink tax a "grocery tax," and targeted ads to minority groups concerned about rising food prices.

But public health experts who have studied the impacts of Berkeley's soda tax say that food prices haven’t been increased there, and that the tax is having its intended effect.

"Our study was done in low income neighborhoods and we saw a larger decline that predicted," said Kristine Madsen, a doctor and professor of community health sciences at UC Berkeley who co-authored a study exploring the impact of soda tax legislation on soda consumption in Berkeley. "I think the tax will have the biggest impact in these communities. That means that people are responding to taxes by drinking less soda which means that they’re not paying the tax."

The Berkeley soda tax has also raised an estimated $2 million for public health efforts. The majority of that money went to Berkeley public schools for nutrition programs and community groups that work on public health issues such as the Ecology Center, Healthy Black Families, and the YMCA.

At least 12 cities and six states are seriously considering soda tax measures of their own, according to Healthy Food America.

Campbell Washington said the Oakland soda tax is projected to generate between $6 to $8 million per year to use for nutrition and wellness programs for young people.

"This is a huge win over big corporations," Campbell Washington said.

Berkeley Landlord Tax Easily Passes

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Nov 9, 2016 at 12:06 PM

Berkeley voters approved a landlord tax that will raise millions for affordable housing.

The measure, U1, passed with about 74 percent of the vote. A competing measure, which landlord groups placed on the ballot in an effort to undermine U1, was crushed, with 71 percent voters rejecting it. Under Berkeley's rules, the measure with the most votes prevails.

Under the new law, the city's existing business tax on residential landlords will increase by 1.8 percent. Supporters of the tax say it will claw back some of the increased profits that landlords have made due to the regional housing crisis.

The tax exempts Section 8 landlords. It also exempts landlords who haven’t used vacancy decontrol — when a tenant moves out of a rent controlled apartment, the new rental price can be increased to market rate due to the state law known as "Costa Hawkins" — to increase rents since 1999. Developers of newly built housing units are also exempted from paying the tax for twelve years in order to spur new construction.

A small group of Berkeley landlords associated with the Berkeley Property Owners Association threw a huge sum of money against U1.

According to campaign finance records, dozens of LLCs, many of them owned by the Lakireddy family, and properties managed by Charles Bettancourt of North Berkeley Properties, Franco Reggi of AP Management, and Sam Sorokin of Premium Properties, spent over $790,000 against U1.

Proponents of U1 filed a state Fair Political Practices Commission complaint against the the Berkeley Property Owners Association, alleging they broke the law by using anonymous LLCs to finance their opposition campaign and make it appear that a large group of landlords were opposing the measure, when in fact it was just a handful. The FPPC hasn't ruled on the complaint yet.

On their side, the landlords filed a lawsuit alleging that the city over-stated the amount of money Measure U1 will generate for affordable housing. The lawsuit alleged there were other "misleading" statements in Measure U1, and a judge partly sided with the landlords by ordering the city to revise several sentences in voter materials.

Even so, Berkeley voters went for the tax. Furthermore, a similar tax increase on landlords passed in East Palo Alto.

Stephen Barton, the former head of Berkeley's housing department who helped write Measure U1, said he expects the new tax will help build more affordable housing in Berkeley, thereby addressing the city’s crushing affordability crisis.

"With these overwhelming victories in Berkeley and East Palo Alto I hope other cities in the Bay Area will pay attention and move to create similar taxes," said Barton.

Krista Gulbransen, the executive director of the Berkeley Rental Housing Coalition, said the new law means that residential landlords will be squeezed further with a 166% increase in their taxes. "It also means that all landlords affected by this tax are now in the middle of assessing how these increased costs affect their ability to do things like repairs and upgrades," she added. "This just put a big squeeze on the older rental housing stock in Berkeley."

H. Graph Massara contributed to this report.

Correction: The original version of this article stated that Measure DD passed by 71 percent. It did not. Rather, Measure DD was rejected, with 71 percent voting no.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

ELECTION 2016 RESULTS: Live Updates, News, and Analysis

Here we go ...

by Nick Miller and Darwin BondGraham
Tue, Nov 8, 2016 at 11:31 AM

3:45 p.m.: More on the as-yet-undecided District 2 City Council race in Berkeley:

The race to represent West Berkeley is between incumbent Darryl Moore, and challengers Cheryl Davila and Nanci Armstrong-Temple (who, interestingly, was arrested recently at a homelessness protest).

Anyway, Moore received the most votes, 1,551. But this was only 40.13 percent of the total votes cast. So, since he did not get a majority, the race went to instant runoff.

Davila was second with 1,198.

Armstrong was third with 1,116 votes.

But, reminder, Berkeley has ranked-choice voting. So she was eliminated from an instant runoff, and her second-place votes were divvied between Moore and Davila.

And, after Moore obtained 245 and Davila 640, the race switched. It now stands at:

Davila: 1,838.

Moore: 1,796.

That's right: Davila is up by just 42 votes, as of early this morning.

And while 100 percent of precincts have reported, there are likely tens of thousands of ballots still remaining to be counted in Alameda County. Which means that D2 Berkeley is likely still close to call.

(This is where the Express apologizes for earlier suggesting that Davila will win the race; hey, I'm new to this RCV thing.) (Nick Miller)

Nov. 9, 3:32 p.m.: The Bay Area passes three of the nation's four new soda taxes yesterday. Learn more here.

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 12:11 p.m.: Despite an expensive opposition campaign, a tax increase on landlords in Berkeley easily passed with 74 percent of the vote. Funds raised by the tax will help pay for affordable housing projects. A similar tax also passed in East Palo Alto. More on the story here.

8:31 a.m.
: It was referenced on CNN, on live cable news, so its probably worth noting that Trump's victory sparked a protest in downtown Oakland last night.

Police estimate that some 250 individuals marched east on Broadway toward City Hall around midnight, leaving a path of vandalism in their wake. As of this morning, one arrest was made.
There was a fire in the middle of Broadway at 12th Street.

At one point, a protester attempted to knock my phone out of my hand (to their defense, I should've known better than to film Anti-Terro folk).

This same masked protester approached and yelled in my face. Then, they ripped the "I Voted" sticker off my sweater. "What did your vote accomplish?!" they asked.

I can't say much. But see below for some of the East Bay election results, and decide for yourself what it accomplished. (Nick Miller)

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 7:45 a.m.: Need an island getaway? Here we go ... to the City of Alameda:

Alameda City Council: Malia Vela and Marilyn Ashcraft won with 24 percent and 22 percent, respectively. Tony Daysog just missed out at re-election with 20 percent of the vote.

Rent control in Alameda: This was a big loss for renter-protection advocates. Their initiative, Measure M1, basically got clobbered, with 66 percent voting no. The California Apartment Association's IE committee sunk somewhere near $200,000 in ads to defeat M1, and activists say the CAA's campaign was fueled by lies and misinformation.

Meanwhile, Measure L1 — essentially the city's existing rent-control ordinance, which city council put on the ballot after grassroots activists secured M1 — passed with 55 percent of the vote. Activists criticize L1 because it doesn't put a cap on rents, or prohibit no-cause evictions.

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 7:40 a.m: Alameda County's Measure A1 needed two-thirds to pass, and north of 72% voted in favor of the $600 million-plus affordable-housing bond.

This could be big deal when it comes to helping those most in need acquire a home they can afford. It will spend nearly half-a-billion dollars on affordable rental-housing development. And it will also fund down-payment and home-loan programs.

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 7:31 a.m.: The progressive candidate took the mayorship of Berkeley.

Jesse Arreguin (51.94%) won a healthy victory over moderate-liberal rival Laurie Capitelli (37.18%).

A wild contrast to the rest of the country, this is a clear move to the progressive left by Berkeley voters.

There also was an interesting rank-choice-voting battle between incumbent District 2 Council member Darryl Moore and challenger Cheryl Davila. After RCV, Davila is leading Moore with 50.58 percent of the vote.

In other city council races: Ben Bartlett defeated three other candidates with 56% of the vote, Sophie Hahn won soundly with 61%, and same for Susan Wengraf.

UPDATE, 12:34: Alamedans rejected rent control. About 66 percent of voters voted no. The campaign in Alameda coincided with a push for rent control in Richmond, San Mateo, Burlingame, and Mountain View.

Voters also rejected rent control in Burlingame and San Mateo.

In Mountain View, voters approved a new rent control law.

Richmond voters also approved of a new rent control law by a 64-36 margin.

UPDATE, 12:21: There don't appear to be any surprises in Oakland's city council and school board races. Incumbents are on track to win in all.

For Oakland's At-Large council seat, Kaplan dominated against a field of four running against her, drawing 53 percent of the vote.

Dan Kalb prevailed over Kevin Corbett with 80 percent of the vote to remain District One's councilmember.

Lynette Gibson McElhaney fended off Noni Session, winning 58 percent of the vote.

Gallo keeps his District Five seat by beating Viola Gonzales with 57 percent of the vote.

And Larry Reid also has 57 percent of the votes, keeping his District Seven seat.

Jody London, Jumoke Hinton Hodge, Rosei Torres, and James Harris all won re-election to the Oakland school board. The only surprise here is that big spending by Great Oakland Public Schools in an effort to unseat Torres failed.

Vote totals will change as more precincts report. We'll have updated totals in the morning.

Update, 11:54 p.m.: Oakland now has a police commission.

With 60 percent of precincts reporting, Measure LL has garnered 82 percent of the vote. The commission will have powers to investigate police misconduct, impose discipline on cops, and hire and fire the chief of police, among other things.

In related news, Oakland Councilmembers Dan Kalb and Noel Gallo have won reelection. Kalb and Gallo were co-authors of Measure LL.

UPDATE, 11:45 p.m.:
 Donald Trump, a businessman who ran a campaign of xenophobia, Islamophobia, and who bragged of sexually assaulting women, is president.

UPDATE, 11:04:
Nancy Skinner is leading Sandre Swanson by a 60/40 margin and is on a path to take the state Senate's 9th District seat. About one quarter of precincts have reported.

UPDATE, 9:36 p.m.:
A quarter of precincts have reported, and so far, Oakland Unified School District board member Roseann Torres appears to be headed for re-election with about 39 percent of the vote.

The pro-charter schools organization Great Oakland Public Schools spent upwards of $79,000 in an attempt to unseat Torres, according to records filed earlier today. Torres, who didn't benefit from independent expenditures by any organization like GO Public Schools, reported spending $28,000 on her campaign.

Mike Hutchinson is running third with 16 percent of the vote, followed by Mike Hassid with 11 percent.

UPDATE, 9:23 p.m.:
Oakland's incumbent At-Large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan has a big early lead. Only 17 percent of precincts have reported, but Kaplan is leading her four challengers with 54 percent of the total vote. In second place is Peggy Moore with 19 percent, followed by Bruce Quan with 17 percent, Matt Hummel with 6 percent and Nancy Sidebotham with 0.3 percent.

UPDATE, 9:15 p.m.:
Early ballot counts are in, and in Oakland the police commission looks like it's going to be approved (Measure LL).

Oakland voters are also voting heavily in favor of strengthening rent control and eviction protection laws (Measure JJ).

And Oakland voters also look set to approve a soda tax (Measure HH).

Mayor Libby Schaaf's infrastructure bond (Measure KK) is also headed toward approval.

And, voters are turning out in favor of a measure that housing developers said was key to making affordable projects pencil out (Measure II). In fact, the early vote counts indicate that all of the city's ballot measures might pass.

All this could flip as only about 17 percent of ballot have been counted. But all the measures are being approved so far by substantial margins.

UPDATE, 3:09 p.m.:
Here's a quick link to all sources for state and local election returns:

1. For statewide ballot measures and races.

2. For Alameda County, plus cities of Oakland, Berkeley, etc.

3. Contra Costa County and the city of Richmond, etc.

4. SF. (If you're curious.)

UPDATE, 12:15 p.m.: Not a ton to report until the polls shut ... so let’s take a peek at the dough that drives democracy:

As of this morning here in the East Bay, special interests will likely end up spending well over $16 million on Measure HH, the Oakland “soda tax” initiative. Former-NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg dumped a fortune into that race — and also the Oakland school board contests (see below). By far the most spent on an East Bay race.

Also in the Town, City Council candidates Peggy Moore and Rebecca Kaplan together threw more than $200,000 at their at-large race. Moore's campaign is showing some five-digit debt going into Election Day, and it's unclear whether her campaign coffers will make a dent into the Kaplan brand.

As mentioned above, some serious money went into the Oakland school board races this year, more than a quarter-million dollars spent on five candidates alone, with independent-expenditure money directed by GO Public Schools. (Read Darwin BondGraham's recent news investigation into this.)

In Berkeley, front-running mayoral candidates both spent over $100,000 on their campaigns: Laurie Capitelli with $110,000 plus from his own coffers, and $16,000 from the Berkeley Police Association PAC; and Jesse Arreguin with $78,000 raised and $22,000 from a PAC backing him and other progressive candidates.

In the city of Alameda, the California Apartment Association’s IE has spent $170,000 as of deadline in hopes of trouncing renter protections. And nearly as much in the City of Richmond, where a CAA committee dumped $86,000 to impede Measure L.

And statewide, “Big Pharma” reported spending north of $109 million to defeat Proposition 61. “Big Tobacco” tried to smoke out Prop. 56 with $66 million in expenditures — and a total of $90 million was spent on that measure overall. Some $60 million went into Prop. 51. And it took more than $18 million to try to legalize pot and green-light Prop. 64.

All this is just a reminder that, sadly, Election Day is a pay to play game. Good luck, America. (Nick Miller)

Nov. 8, 11:33 AM: It's all happening ...

And, when polls close in the East Bay at 8 p.m., we'll be updating local races and measures right here on this blog.

Follow the Express team on Twitter for even more news, analysis, and updates:

Official Express Twitter account: @EastBayExpress
Editor-in Chief Nick Miller: @NickMiller510
Staff Writer Darwin BondGraham: @DarwinBondGraha

Miller will also be live on KALW Local Public Radio 91.7FM in San Francisco from 9 to 11 p.m., as the East Bay election analyst, so tune in!

And look out for more Election Day post-mortems on our website this Wednesday.

Correction: we mistakenly reported that the rent control measure M1 passed in Alameda by 66 percent in favor. In fact, 66 percent voted against the measure.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Raiders' Dominant Win Over Denver Last Night Proves Oakland Is For Real

by Nick Miller
Mon, Nov 7, 2016 at 11:04 AM

Latavius Murray owned the ground game, hustling for 114 yards and three touchdowns during last night's primetime smackdown of the champion Denver Broncos. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE RAIDERS
  • Latavius Murray owned the ground game, hustling for 114 yards and three touchdowns during last night's primetime smackdown of the champion Denver Broncos.

Silver and black was the new orange last night as the Raiders defeated the reigning champ Denver Broncos.

With the 30-20 win, Oakland now claims sole possession of first place heading into its bye week.

The team's dominance of the Broncos on both sides of the ball should silence the cacophony of Raider naysayers in the national media. The showdown was also a primetime Sunday Night Football matchup, something the Raiders haven't experienced in years. Or, when they had, they'd been dismantled (think Brett Favre after his father passed).

So, the takedown of the Super Bowl victors was perhaps the franchise's most critical statement win in a decade: a beginning-to-end, old-fashioned Raider domination win, done in the trenches, and against its No. 1 rival.

In a breakout game for its backfield, Oakland rushed for 218 yards.

And the defense, which basically has basically been a lit fart when it comes to stopping the run or defending the middle this season, held the Broncos ground game to just 33 yards.

Oakland also exhibited unprecedented discipline — only eight penalties and a couple bonehead plays. The team also owned time-of-possession (41 of the games 60 minutes), a true mark of a patient and confident offense.

There were of course a couple undulations along the way — D.J. Hayden's ill-advised pass interference, Kapri Bibbs' 69-yard TD scramble, Derek Carr's near-interception gift.  

But Raiders gonna Raider, as we've learned this season.

What's noteworthy about this latest home conquest, which brings the Raiders to 7-2, is how Oakland straight-up overwhelmed the champs during a quasi-high-stakes matchup.

The defense opened the game with four-consecutive three-and-out stops.

The offense converted 11 rushing first downs.

Denver's offense resorted to hopelessly airing the ball out early in the game, and the Donkeys' celebrated defense had no answer for the Silver and Black's diversified attack.

The evening was also a statement for a coalition of local fans hoping to keep the team in the Bay. Hundreds brought "Stay in Oakland" signs to the Coliseum, and hung banners in the parking lot proclaiming that, if owner Mark Davis builds a stadium in Las Vegas, they won't come.

Indeed, the NFL is now in a bind. Yes, there exists 750 million reasons to relocate the franchise to Sin City. But every NFL owners watched this Sunday night game on NBC — a sold-out bout featuring a passionate stew of fans inside the rundown Coliseum bowl. These billionaires aren't all heartless, and it will be difficult for them to pull the plug on that kind of loyalty, especially in this "high-stakes" (read: lucrative) Bay Area media market.

But back to the game. Some highlights and observations:

1. I was concerned early about missed opportunities — Seth Roberts slip that cost the Raiders a first-and-goal, Sebastian Janikowski's shanked field goal (again!). But the team showed poise and continued to grind over Denver despite early hiccups converting in the red zone.

2. Von Miller broke through first, with a beastly sack of Carr on a third down. But Khalil Mack won the battle of the pro-bowlers, what with his two sacks of Trevor Siemian, including a strip-sack in the fourth quarter that essentially sealed the win for the Raiders.

3. The Raiders' born-again defense started the game where it ended off in Tampa Bay, with four-straight three-and-out stops on Denver's opening possessions. Backed by the loudest Coliseum crowd since the game four of the 2013 ALDS series, the D executed unlike any other moment this season. Wha happened!?

4. But ... the Raiders also gave up some big plays. The first, a bomb to Demaryius Thomas, was eventually was ruled a drop — but it could have cost the team. It also exposed the liability that is T.J. Carrie. Yet the Broncos never went after Carrie subsequently. And to the team's credit, Siemian completed less than 50 percent of his passes.

5. The offense stalled out of the gates in the third quarter, and it looked that Denver might have a window to sneak back into the match. That said, the team exhibited championship poise — yes, championship — by locking down and disallowing a balanced Bronco attack to manifest in the second half.

6. On the fourth-quarter drive that resulted in Latavius Murray's third TD of the day, the Bronco DBs committed at least three pass-interference penalties. At one point, two of my friends (Denver fans) texted me to complain that the NFL was rigging the game to ensure an Oakland win — and give owners a reason to vote to keep the team in the Bay. Talk about tin-foil hats!

7. Anyway, it's worth pointing out that the Denver secondary did indeed bail the Raiders out on multiple occasions in the second half. And, to that end, there were more than a couple head-scratching goal-line pay calls by Bill Musgrave and Co. (those back-to-back out routes!)

8. Let's look back a few weeks ago, to the last Raiders last home game, when they were blown out by the Kansas City Chiefs. It was a shit day, and it felt like Mother Nature wanted the Raiders to move to Las Vegas: After another week of bad news for loyal Oakland fans, the team lost to the visiting Chiefs in a miserable, rain-soaked blowout — and it was a sunny, 83-degree day in Sin City.

Kansas City's schemes were far superior to those of the Raiders that afternoon, and the take-home was that the team lacked discipline, the coaches were more buddies than bosses, and the Silver and Black wasn't ready for the postseason.

Specifically, critics said that the team couldn't stop the run, gave up more big plays on defense than leaks in the Coliseum, didn't own the middle of the field or the trenches, and needed a couple more pieces on offense (a tight end and, because Murray was hurt that game, a run attack).

During the game, Carr hoisted an ill-advised freebie interception right out the gate, which led to a Chiefs touchdown to tie the game in the first quarter at 7 to 7. Was Carr regressing?

Washington and Cooper were slipping and sliding in the midfield mud, and didn't really have an impact in the second half. Could the big two be shut down so easily?

And the Chiefs benefitted early from favorable field possession, due to dumb coaching moves by Del Rio and Co., which they translated into two touchdowns. The Chiefs run attack also dominated.

Oh, what a difference three weeks make ...

Now, Murray is back and dominating the Raiders' three-headed-backfield monster. Carr is poised and looking like a seasoned veteran. The coaching staff has a achieved a unique Nation Zen, what with its truly Oakland blend of Black Jack Del Rio grit and risk, and classic run-pass attack.

But the best part is that the Raiders are acting as if they've been there before — even though it's been a helluva long time since an Oakland squad has performed anywhere near this level.

In the locker room after the big win last night, the mood was upbeat but by no means celebratory. Michael Crabtree left early, as usual. The guys dressed and hit the road in a very business-as-usual way, no loud tunes bumping or exhalatory shouts and high-fives. Del Rio took the podium and exhibited his typical level-headed nonchalance. It's like the Raiders actually get it:

They're 7-2 — and it don't mean a thing.

Town Business: Judge Orders Council President McElhaney to Hand Over Records in Ethics Case

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Nov 7, 2016 at 6:26 AM

Lynette Gibson McElhaney.
  • Lynette Gibson McElhaney.
Superior Court Judge Kimberly Colwell issued a tentative ruling last Thursday requiring Oakland City Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney to comply with a subpoena for records issued by Oakland's Public Ethics Commission.

McElhaney can still object to Colwell's ruling, but Colwell wrote that under the Oakland City Charter the PEC has the authority to compel her to hand over records.

McElhaney is accused of using her council office to interfere with a townhouse project that was going to be built next to her personal home. An investigation by the Express last year uncovered emails showing that McElhaney had her chief of staff draft an appeal against the project, and that she enlisted the help of the city's planning and building director to force the developer and his architect to redesign the project. The developer ultimately gave up and blamed McElhaney for interfering.

The Alameda County Grand Jury carried out its own investigation over the past summer and confirmed that McElhaney violated ethics rules and had a conflict of interest.

In October, members of the public attempted to schedule a censure hearing against McElhaney — several times. But McElhaney cancelled two of the Rules Committee meetings at which the censure items were to be discussed. The council president also skipped council meetings. According to McElhaney, she was sick with bronchitis, but during the October 19 council meeting McElhaney was spotted attending a party held in honor of Barbara Lee. Members of the rules and legislation committee ultimately decided to hold off on censure and wait for the PEC to complete its review of the matter.

But on October 5, the Oakland Public Ethics Commission filed a lawsuit against McElhaney, alleging that she has ignored subpoenas for records and stonewalled their investigation.

Judge Colwell's tentative ruling sides with the PEC. A hearing in the case will be held on today. The ruling gives McElhaney until November 23 to comply with the PEC's subpoena.

McElhaney, a first-term councilmember, is running for reelection this year. She recently formed a “legal defense fund” according to records on file with the Oakland clerk.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Contra Costa District Attorney Declines to Charge Nineteen Cops in Celeste Guap Sex Exploitation Scandal

by Darwin BondGraham
Fri, Nov 4, 2016 at 2:20 PM

Mark Peterson.
  • Mark Peterson.
Contra Costa District Attorney Mark Peterson acknowledged today that "several police officers had sexual relations with an admitted prostitute," but they won't be charged with a crime because "none of the sex was in exchange for money or anything of value."

Thirteen police officers and sheriff's deputies were investigated by Peterson's office for allegedly sexually exploiting the Richmond teenager known as Celeste Guap. Peterson said his office intends to file charges against only one of them: a retired Oakland police captain, because he paid money for sex.

According to a press release issued by Peterson's office, the rest of the "alleged interactions" between Guap and the police occurred when she was above the age of eighteen, were consensual, and didn't involve any payment.

Among the thirteen cops who were investigated for sexually exploiting Guap were two current Oakland cops and a retired captain, three Alameda County Sheriff's deputies, four Richmond cops, one Contra Costa Sheriff's deputy, and two San Francisco police officers. Another seven cops, all members of the Richmond Police Department, were also investigated for possible crimes related to the sex exploitation scandal, but they reportedly did not physically come into contact with Guap.

Peterson's decisions contrast sharply with those made Alameda County DA Nancy O'Malley who has already filed criminal charges against six cops in the Guap case, including three Oakland police officers, a Contra Costa Sheriff's deputy, and a Livermore police officer. Charges include felony oral copulation with a minor, illegal use of police computer databases, and leaking confidential information.

One of the Oakland cops Peterson declined to prosecute, Terryl Smith, was charged yesterday by O'Malley for illegally searching three law enforcement databases to obtain information about Celeste Guap. O'Malley also charged Contra Costa Sheriff's deputy Ricardo Perez with one count of felony oral copulation with a minor. Peterson says there isn't evidence to show Perez committed any crime against Guap or the public in his jurisdiction.

While Peterson declined to charge all but one former officer, he did call the scandal an "embarrassment to law enforcement." He claimed, however, that the sex exploitation scandal "involves an extremely small number of Bay Area officers."

And he repeatedly stated today that all but one of the officers who had sex with Guap did not commit a crime because they didn't exchange money or anything of value for sex.

Alameda DA O'Malley said at a press conference held in September that the crime of prostitution doesn't require merely the trading of money for sex, and that anything of value can be exchanged, including food.

Sex worker advocates and researchers told the Express in previous interviews that it is difficult, if not impossible for sex workers like Guap to consent to sex with a police officer because the threat of arrest is always incipient.

"Criminalization of sex work creates a situation where the police have a lot of power — information about sting operations, discretion to arrest or not arrest a sex worker, whether or not to call this ad on Backpage," said Katherine Koster of the Sex Workers Outreach Project. "It creates situations where a sex worker exchanges favors to shield themselves from charges or arrest."

Peterson acknowledged in his press release that Guap was a sex worker: "it's clear that several police officers had sexual relations with an admitted prostitute," he wrote.

"Once you have someone in a criminalized and stigmatized profession interacting with law enforcement, it becomes important for the police officer to refrain from sexual activity with that person," said Alexandra Lutnick, a researcher with RTI International. Lutnick said protection is often the thing of value traded between sex workers and the police.

Correction: this story erroneously identified two individuals who were investigated by the Contra Costa DA as being employees of the San Francisco Sheriff's Department. That was incorrect. They are employees of the San Francisco Police Department.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Alameda District Attorney Charges Another Oakland Cop with Crimes Related to Sex Exploitation Scandal

by Darwin BondGraham
Thu, Nov 3, 2016 at 5:28 PM

Oakland Police Officer Terryl Smith.
  • Oakland Police Officer Terryl Smith.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley filed criminal charges today against Terryl Smith, an ex-Oakland police officer who was investigated as part of the department's recent sex crime scandal.

Smith, who resigned from OPD in May, is being charged with five misdemeanor counts of unauthorized furnishing of a local criminal record.

According to a declaration filed by District Attorney Inspector Jim Taranto, Smith illegally searched three police databases for records related to the young woman who went by the name Celeste Guap. Smith conducted the searches between January and April of this year. Taranto wrote that Smith "had no apparent lawful purpose for accessing this information."

The Express first reported Smith's illegal use of police computer databases in June.

Guap previously told the Express that she had sex with Smith, sometimes in his vehicle while it was parked under the I-880 freeway in downtown Oakland near the police headquarters building. The Contra Costa DA also found evidence that Smith met up with Guap for sex in Richmond. Guap said that Smith and other Oakland cops knew she was a sex worker. The Contra Costa DA and Alameda DA, however, both appear to have found no evidence that Smith exploited Guap when she was under the age of 18.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Budget Cuts Hit Alameda Superior Court, Again

by H. Graph Massara
Wed, Nov 2, 2016 at 5:22 PM

  • Erika Pino
Starting next year, those who have business with the Alameda County Superior Court might want to get there early. Citing cuts in funding, the court announced Wednesday that it will reduce office hours of the clerk. Starting January 3, all clerks will cease operations at 2:30 p.m. Currently the clerk’s offices are open until 4:30.

Years of cuts to the court system, which began during the Great Recession, have made it hard for courthouses to keep their doors open.

Executive officer Chad Finke said in an interview that he expects the shortened hours will lengthen lines and further compound wait times, which he lamented were "already fairly long."

The changes are a result of Alameda’s designation as a "donor" court, one the state is defunding in order to support other courts in more historically underfunded areas.

But the Alameda court, Finke explained, already began this year with a more than $5 million deficit. To make ends meet, the budget for everything from office supplies to contract workers was cut. The court has also tried to prevent employees from accruing costly overtime hours. But that isn’t easy, Finke said, because certain situations — for example, someone coming in to file a last-minute restraining order — represent a legal emergency.

The reduction in court clerk office hours comes on top of a previous announcement that every courthouse in Alameda County, with the exception of the Wiley W. Manual courthouse in Oakland, will be closed from December 23 to January 3.

"We recognize that this is going to have an adverse impact on the public's ability to access the court," he said. “We’re hoping people will bear with us, and during the hours we are open, we will provide the best customer service we can."

The court plans to set up a drop box for afternoon filings that will be made available from 2:30 to 4.

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