Friday, May 11, 2018

Friday’s Briefing: Brown Proposes Spending $96 Million to Fight Wildfires; Audit Shows California Colleges Fail to Disclose Crimes on Campus

By Kathleen Richards
Fri, May 11, 2018 at 9:50 AM

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Gov. Jerry Brown wants to spend $96 million next year to help fight wildfires and climate change in the state. An executive order issued yesterday includes plans to double the land currently managed for vegetation thinning, controlled burns, and reforestation.  (Los Angeles Times)

The state auditor said a number of California colleges are not in compliance with federal law that requires the disclosure of crimes at or near their campuses. Berkeley City College, for example, failed to publicly disclose a rape and a stalking that occurred in 2016. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Researchers at UC Berkeley found that hidden commands undetectable to the human ear can be embedded into recordings of music or spoken text played through Amazon’s Echo and Apple’s Siri. “So while a human listener hears someone talking or an orchestra playing, Amazon’s Echo speaker might hear an instruction to add something to your shopping list.” (New York Times)

A landmark state court ruling in January ordered judges to consider alternatives for criminal defendants who couldn’t afford their bail. Now that decision will be tested as defense attorneys for Derick Almena and Max Harris — the two men being blamed for the 2016 Ghost Ship fire — ask a judge to dismiss their case and free them through the duration of their trial, which is scheduled to begin July 16. (East Bay Times)

Speaking of bail, the “Black Mamas Bailout” rally yesterday called for an end to cash bail. Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods said the average bail amount in California is $50,000 — five times higher than the national average — and that low-income people of color are spending more time in jail because they can’t afford to pay bail. (East Bay Times)

A group of housing activists filed a complaint with the Oakland Public Ethics Commission against Councilmember Abel Guillen, alleging he accepted campaign donations from those with ties to the developers of a controversial housing project near Lake Merritt, in the same period he voted for the project. (East Bay Express)

Plans for a tiny house village for homeless and low-income youth in a lot owned by Ohmega Salvage in Berkeley have been scrapped after the owner decided to sell the land. The project’s organizers, Youth Spirit Artworks, say they’re looking for a new location for their 25 tiny homes. (Berkeleyside)

Can software help solve discrimination in the tech industry? A group of veterans from the tech industry thinks so. Their Oakland-based startup tEQuitable has created software that can act as an independent, confidential mediation service to address bias, discrimination, and harassment at work. (San Francisco Business Journal)

The Skylyne at Temescal tower is now under construction near MacArthur BART and is slated to open in the summer of 2020. When completed, the 25-story tower will include 403 apartments and 13,000 square feet of retail space. (East Bay Times)

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