Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Opinion: Why I’m Voting for Cat Brooks for Mayor of Oakland

She is a longtime community activist and organizer, has run organizations as an executive director, and is deeply committed to serving the people of Oakland.

by Rebecca Kaplan
Wed, Oct 31, 2018 at 12:11 PM

Cat Brooks.
  • Cat Brooks.

Oakland is a city with a population that is engaged, diverse, and active, and shares many progressive values. We are facing real challenges, from affordable housing and our worsening homeless crisis to the lack of police oversight and trash on our streets. Oaklanders need an administration that treats people with respect and provides for basic public needs.

In this election, we have an opportunity to vote for dedicated leadership to protect the needs of all of Oakland’s communities. In ranked choice voting, each of us gets to list our first-, second-, and third-choice candidates. If no one wins a majority of first-choice votes, then our second-choice (and possibly, third-choice) votes will determine the winner.

We need a mayor who is deeply committed to the well-being of the people of Oakland, who will hire and retain good people, make sure basic steps are taken, like pro-active dumping prevention and removal, stopping displacement, providing public land for affordable housing, and making sure none of our communities is left behind in providing public services.

That is why I am voting #1 for Cat Brooks for mayor of Oakland. Brooks is a longtime community activist and organizer, has run organizations as an executive director, and is deeply committed to serving the people of Oakland. She has shined in this campaign, speaking with depth and thoughtfulness at candidate forums, and releasing a video that shows her history and her heart for the people. It’s the most powerful campaign video I’ve ever seen.

It's titled, “I love you, Oakland.”

Brooks has a long track record of experience working in some of the areas in which Oakland most needs improvement — including police accountability and providing effective and compassionate solutions to the rising displacement and homelessness crisis. We can have leadership that respects and supports the independence of the police commission, and which makes sure funding for renter assistance and displacement prevention is timely provided.

Her campaign has also mobilized hundreds of volunteers and included extensive community engagement, in the kind of grassroots participation that is important for our community and our democracy. Respected organizations, like the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club and Democracy for America (DFA), have endorsed Cat Brooks for mayor.

Lift your voice, your vote, and our opportunity to strengthen and heal our community.

Please join me in voting for mayor of Oakland:

1. Cat Brooks

2. Pamela Price

3. Saied Karamooz

Rebecca Kaplan is the Oakland City Council At-Large member.

Wednesday’s Briefing: Oakland Council OKs Three More Tuff Shed Shelters; Alameda Teachers at Impasse With District

by Express Staff
Wed, Oct 31, 2018 at 10:14 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Oct. 31, 2018:

1. The Oakland City Council voted last night to finance the creation of three more Tuff Shed encampments and to lease land for four RV parks for homeless people, using an $8.6 million state grant, reports Ali Tadayon of the East Bay Times$. The plan will increase the number of Tuff Shed shelters, which serve as temporary housing for homeless people so they can receive county services, to six total in the city. The RV parks are designed to accommodate about 150 people.

2. Alameda teachers are at an impasse with the Island’s school district over raises, reports Peter Hegarty of the East Bay Times$. Alameda teachers, who are among the lowest paid in the region, and the district have agreed to a 5-percent pay bump this school year, but the district said it cannot guarantee raises next year.

3. The owners of the Ghost Ship warehouse are pinning much of the blame for the horrific 2016 fire that killed 36 people on an electrician who did extensive work on the building, reports David DeBolt of the East Bay Times$. In court documents stemming from a case filed by victims who are suing for wrongful death, Ghost Ship owner Chor Ng and her children, property managers Kai and Eva Ng, accused electrician Benjamin Cannon of fraud. Cannon has refused to answer questions in the case.

4. Oakland officials also finished purchasing a 70-unit building to serve as temporary housing for homeless people, reports Kimberly Veklerov of the San Francisco Chronicle. The three-story property at West Grand Avenue between Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Northgate Avenue will house 90 people for four- to six-month stays.

5. And the kidney dialysis industry is on track to shatter the state record for election spending, pumping $111.4 million into the campaign to defeat Proposition 8, which would tighten regulations on dialysis clinics in California, reports John Woolfolk of the Mercury News$.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Tuesday’s Briefing: Warriors Ordered to Pay $40M to Oakland and County; Bay Area Couple From India Die While Taking Yosemite Selfie

by Express Staff
Tue, Oct 30, 2018 at 9:51 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Oct. 30, 2018:

1. An arbitrator ordered the Golden State Warriors to pay $40 million to the city of Oakland and Alameda County to pay off the remaining debt on Oracle Arena when the team leaves for San Francisco next year, reports Megan Cassidy of the San Francisco Chronicle$. The Warriors had contended that they weren’t responsible for the remaining debt, but the arbitrator agreed with city and county officials who argued that the team’s lease agreement required the Warriors to pay. The debt was incurred in 1996 at the Warriors’ request to refurbish the Arena.

2. Authorities say a Bay Area couple from India fell to their deaths from a cliff in Yosemite while taking a selfie, reports Paul Rogers of the Mercury News$. “Yosemite National Park officials on Monday said the young married couple — Meenakshi Moorthy, 30, and her husband, Vishnu Viswanath, 29 — both born in India, but living and working in the Bay Area, were the two who died last week in a fall from Taft Point, a scenic overlook located 3,500 feet above Yosemite Valley.”

3. The so-called MAGAbomber, Cesar Altieri Sayoc Jr., who sent bombs to more than a dozen prominent critics of President Trump, including the Obamas and the Clintons, kept lists suggesting that he had more than 100 targets, including people in California, reports Richard Winton of the LA Times$. “The FBI has warned that other devices may still be in the mail system.”

4. President Trump says he will sign an executive order to try to eliminate birthright citizenship in the United States, but legal scholars say such a move would clearly be unconstitutional, the Washington Post$ reports.

5. And “local and national officials are declining to appear with President Donald Trump on Tuesday when he visits a grieving Pittsburgh, where funerals for slain congregants at the Tree of Life synagogue are set to begin,” CNN reports. “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi were all invited to join the President but were not planning to take part in the visit, according to two congressional sources. Through their offices, McConnell and Ryan both cited scheduling conflicts.”

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Monday, October 29, 2018

Monday’s Briefing: Fires Expected to Jack Up Housing Prices; Oakland’s Pot Equity Program Going Up in Smoke

by Express Staff
Mon, Oct 29, 2018 at 10:02 AM

  • Photo courtesy of KTVU
Stories you shouldn’t miss for Oct. 29, 2018:

1. Housing experts say recent fires that have destroyed housing projects in Oakland and Emeryville likely will increase prices in the area, reports Marissa Kendall of the Bay Area News Group$. The devastating fires, which have gutted five major housing projects in the past two years, are expected to increase insurance costs, making housing more expensive to build, and will delay the completion of housing developments, thereby intensifying pressure on the already over-heated housing market.

2. Oakland’s equity cannabis program, touted by some as a national model for helping right the wrongs of the Drug War, is on the brink of collapse, reports Otis R. Taylor Jr. of the San Francisco Chronicle. The program, which was supposed to help Black and Brown residents in certain areas of the city, has been mostly a failure, with startup cannabis businesses unable to get the funding and support they need to survive.

3. The National Weather Service is forecasting dangerous fire conditions beginning tonight in the East Bay and North Bay hills, reports Mark Gomez of the Bay Area News Group$. Dry conditions with high winds are expected to last until Wednesday.

4. The Berkeley Zoning Board approved an eight-story student-housing project on Bancroft Way, reports Emilie Raguso of Berkeleyside. The project, between Telegraph Avenue and Bowditch, will feature 301 bedrooms and 330 beds.

5. The Berkeley Zoning Board also greenlighted an 18-story, 274-unit housing project in downtown, reports Emilie Raguso of Berkeleyside. The “Shattuck Terrace Green Apartments at 2190 Shattuck Ave., at Allston Way, will bring $10.1 million to the city’s Housing Trust Fund,” to be used for affordable housing in the city.

6. “Black and Latinx UC workers are more likely to be fired and get smaller raises when they are promoted,” reports Alexa Vanhooser of the Daily Cal, citing a new study by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, Local 3299.

7. And in the wake of the horrific mass-shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday during which 11 congregants were killed by a right-wing terrorist, area Jewish leaders are telling President Trump that he’s not welcome until he denounces far-right nationalist and anti-Semitic groups, the Washington Post$ reports.

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Friday, October 26, 2018

Former Oakland Building Inspector Accused of Shakedowns, Bribery, and Colluding with Landlords to Displace Tenants

Accused by department leaders in 2016 of colluding with a landlord to displace tenants, Thomas Espinosa now faces over $1 million in penalties for alleged corruption.

by Darwin BondGraham
Fri, Oct 26, 2018 at 5:32 PM


Oakland Public Ethics Commission investigators are accusing a former city building inspector of receiving several hundred thousand dollars in bribes and other illicit payments from landlords and hiding these illegal payments while he was employed by Oakland.

Thomas Espinosa, a specialty combination inspector employed by the city from 2005 to 2016 is being charged with 47 violations of Oakland's Government Ethics Act.

PEC staff are recommending he be ordered to pay $1,151,737 in penalties.

Espinosa resigned after department officials tried to fire him in 2016 for colluding with a landlord to push tenants out of a West Oakland building. He was suspected of taking kickbacks from the property owner for his assistance.

But according to PEC investigators, Espinosa's corrupt behavior was much more far-reaching than just a single building. He used his position as an inspector to shake down at least one property owner for money while he colluded with others in order to help them pass inspections, or dismiss code violation cases. He also illegally worked as a contractor on properties that he was also inspecting. He hid this illegal income from the city and never reported it on his conflict of interest disclosure forms.

In one case, Espinosa assisted landlord Elizabeth Williams in closing out complaints about dangerous and uninhabitable conditions at several of the 15 West Oakland apartments and houses she owns, according to PEC investigators.

In 2009, the city took legal action against Williams and made to enter into an injunction requiring that she maintain safe and sanitary rental housing. Espinosa was initially assigned as the official inspector for these properties to ensure Williams was complying with the injunction.

But by 2015, Espinosa was being paid personally by Williams while looking the other way regarding complaints, and helping her dismiss new complaints, according to PEC staff. Williams also hired him as a contractor to perform work on the properties, despite the obvious conflict of interest.

According to PEC inspectors, in 2014 other inspectors in the building department verified violations at one of Williams properties, located on 24th Street in West Oakland, and opened a code enforcement case against her.

But Espinosa intervened, accepted payments of $112,000 from Williams, and then in October 2015 he closed out the code enforcement case against her.

In another case, Espinosa coerced Alexandre Machado, the owner of a single family home on Valley View Road, by slapping a stop work order on Machado's property, which was being remodeled. Espinosa then personally asked Machado to pay him to lift the order.

In total, Espinosa made Machado pay him $12,850 to legalize building permits.

In yet another case, Espinosa had a real estate broker meet him outside of Oakland City Hall where the two discussed ways of addressing building code violations on a single family home that was listed for sale. According to PEC investigators, Espinosa asked the broker, Bill Charman, to write him a personal check for $1,500 to resolve the code violation case. Charman wrote the check, which Espinosa deposited in his personal bank account, PEC investigators wrote in their report. Espinosa then waived fees for Charman and changed the status of the code violation case to "abated" without inspecting the property.

Espinosa is also being charged with misusing city vehicles, a computer, printer, and cell phone to conduct personal business.

PEC investigators are requesting that Espinosa's case be referred to an administrative hearing comprised of three members of the Public Ethics Commission.

Espinosa could not be immediately reached for comment.

The PEC will consider the case at their Nov. 5 meeting.

Oakland Police Chief: OPD Has Never Asked Recruits if They Have Been Sexually Assaulted

by Darwin BondGraham
Fri, Oct 26, 2018 at 3:56 PM

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf directed Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick to delete reference to "sexual assault" in the waiver, but OPD. like other police departments, will still obtain police records that pertain to sexual assaults when backgrounding job applicants.
  • Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf directed Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick to delete reference to "sexual assault" in the waiver, but OPD. like other police departments, will still obtain police records that pertain to sexual assaults when backgrounding job applicants.

At last night's meeting of the Oakland Police Commission, OPD Chief Anne Kirkpatrick pushed back against the San Francisco Chronicle's recent front page story that concluded that police officer applicants were being asked to disclose whether they have ever been sexually assaulted.

Kirpatrick said the Chronicle's story engaged in "spin" that created a public misperception about the department's hiring practices. She said the story unfairly made it appear that OPD is doing something that other department's aren't doing.

In fact, other major police departments also obtain law enforcement records in which job applicants are named as suspects, witnesses, and victims of crimes, and these records sometimes include information about sexual assault.

"The Oakland Police Department does not, and has not, under my tenure, asked applicants the question, 'have you been a victim of sexual assault,'" Kirkpatrick told the commissioners.

The first sentence of the Chronicle story, published last Sunday, begins "The Oakland Police Department, which has long struggled to recruit women, asks all officer applicants to disclose whether they have been sexually assaulted[.]"

"The OPD, along with every other law enforcement agency I know in this country, including the top 10 cities referenced in the Sunday [Chronicle] article, use waivers releasing confidential records," Kirkpatrick said.

The waiver at the center of the Chronicle's story is similar to the form other departments use to obtain applicants' confidential records. But in OPD's case, the one major difference is that Oakland appears to have included more information than other departments about the kinds of records that a person is authorizing the police department to obtain and review.

In other words, the section of the OPD waiver authorizing OPD to obtain all kinds of records, "including if I have been a victim of sexual assault," serves as a transparent notice to applicants that very sensitive and confidential information, including history of sexual assault, could be obtained by OPD as part of the hiring process.

Other departments don't provide this same kind of blunt warning on their hiring forms, but they do obtain the same types of law enforcement records about applicants, which can disclose if a person has been a victim or perpetrator of sexual assault, or whether they have been a victim, witness, or suspect in any other type of crime.

Kirkpatrick told the commissioners last night that even though OPD isn't doing anything materially different from other departments, OPD still immediately scrapped the language on the waiver mentioning sexual assault.

The decision to delete the mention of sexual assault from the waiver was made after Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf ordered it be scrapped, in response to public uproar created by the Chronicle's story.

But the decision to delete the language from the waiver doesn't mean that OPD will now no longer be able to obtain police records indicating that a person was a victim of sexual assault. Like all other police departments, OPD will still obtain this information.

In other words, the Chronicle's story and Schaaf's reaction to it means that if an Oakland police recruit were a victim of sexual assault, OPD would still have access to that information (like other police departments do), but the applicant would not know that police would be accessing those records.

Kirkpatrick declined to discuss her comments further after she left the police commission meeting last night.

But after Kirkpatrick spoke, members of the police commission expressed frustration about Schaaf's reaction to the Chronicle story about the waiver.

Commissioner Mike Nisperos said the mayor "had no right" to order the police chief to immediately scrap the language in the waiver without consulting with the commission. He called the mayor's order a "flawed and political" decision due to the fact that we are weeks away from an election.

Without saying they supported the waiver's specific request that applicants allow OPD to examine confidential records which could include sexual assault reports, other commissioners also criticized Schaaf's order.

Commissioner Ginale Harris said Kirkpatrick was put in a bad situation due to the controversy and the mayor's response to it. "It's not fair to the chief," said Harris.

"It's not fair for any person to serve two masters," said Nisperos.

Opinion: Loitering Laws and the Oakland Housing Authority Police Must Go

by Zachary Norris
Fri, Oct 26, 2018 at 2:35 PM

  • Photo by Victoria Jackson
  • Zachary Norris.
Imagine if standing in your yard, talking to your neighbor resulted in armed, uniformed police officers approaching and questioning you. Imagine being frisked, handcuffed, then cited and maybe fined $250 for ‘loitering.’ Imagine if you were harassed by the police so often that you and your children feared spending time outside in your yards, sidewalks, and the streets where you live. Would you think you were being treated unconstitutionally?

Darren Mathieu thinks so. Mathieu is a resident of the Oakland Housing Authority’s Lockwood Gardens Apartments, and he’s filed a lawsuit in federal court to overturn the OHA’s anti-loitering ordinance. While Mathieu has never been cited with loitering, he’s been stopped by the Oakland Housing Authority Police Department (OHAPD) more than 60 times, even handcuffed, for simply being outside his apartment.

That’s why a coalition including the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, the ACLU Foundation of Northern California, East Bay Community Law Center, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and King & Spalding LLP, is supporting Mathieu and former Lockwood resident Edward Jackson as they challenge the constitutionality of the Oakland Public Housing loitering ordinance. The lawsuit against the city of Oakland and the OHAPD asserts that the loitering ordinance violates residents’ due process rights guaranteed by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and that OHAPD has been using the ordinance to harass and intimidate public housing residents.

On Oct. 16, 2018, Oakland City Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney introduced a motion for the council to repeal the unjust OHA loitering ordinance. This is a positive move forward that accounts for the racist history of loitering laws in the United States. Enacted in 1983, the loitering law is similar to loitering ordinances that emerged after the abolishment of slavery to ensure that newly freed African Americans remained controlled and restricted. Today,
you can easily see the historic legacy of this anti-black legislation; African Americans make up the majority of Oaklanders stopped by police despite being only 28 percent of the population.

City officials will vote to repeal OHA’s unconstitutional loitering law on Oct. 30, but they should also consider the larger problem: the OHAPD, an auxiliary police force that uses Oakland’s scarce affordable housing resources to subject the residents of public housing to constant surveillance and intrusion into their lives for non-criminal conduct.

According to the OHAPD’s 2015 Annual Report, less than 25 percent of their work was in response to requests for help from the community, with the vast majority of time spent on “self-initiated” activities, such as enforcing non-criminal infractions, vague “lease violations,” and parking and traffic violations that extract $70,000 a year in fines on top of what Oakland traffic enforcement collects from these low-income residents. Not surprisingly, Lockwood residents often regard the OHAPD more as prison guards than protectors.

According to research by the New York City Department of Investigation Office, aggressive policing of non-criminal conduct like “loitering” does not increase community safety. In contrast, the East Bay city of Richmond experienced a 66-percent reduction in firearm assaults causing injury or death between 2010 and 2017 by successfully developing community responses to harm through the Office of Neighborhood Safety. Created in 2007, the ONS is a city initiative that invests in strengthening community-based outreach, resources, and advocacy services, with law enforcement intervention utilized only as a last resort.

The success seen in Richmond shows that community-driven strategies create safe, healthy neighborhoods, not harassment by a supplemental police force. Repealing OHA’s loitering law is a step in the right direction; abolishing the OHAPD should be next.

Zachary Norris is the executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland.

Oakland Firefighters Warned of 'Lax Security' at Construction Site Six Months Before Tuesday's Fire

by Darwin BondGraham
Fri, Oct 26, 2018 at 12:31 PM

The "Ice House" project in April 2018, when Oakland firefighters warned the construction site lacked adequate security. - GOOGLE MAPS
  • Google Maps
  • The "Ice House" project in April 2018, when Oakland firefighters warned the construction site lacked adequate security.

Oakland firefighters warned their department's leaders six months ago that the Ice House townhouse project, which burned on Tuesday morning, was poorly secured. They asked if more could be done to "compel" the developer to prevent a devastating fire at the site, but it's unclear whether much was done to follow up on the warning.

After putting out a small fire inside one of the unfinished buildings at 1:41 a.m. on April 29, a firefighter sent an email to OFD Capt. Erik Logan and multiple other OFD commanders warning of "lax security at a building that is in its most vulnerable stage of construction," and requesting help resolving the issue.

The firefighter didn't say in the email, which was obtained by the Express, whether they felt it was caused by arson or accident. But an onsite security guard provided information that indicated the fire might have been accidentally caused by "squatters" taking shelter in the building.

The guard, according to the firefighter's email, "echoed our concerns at the lack of a more hardened or protected site," and he acknowledged that "he was the only guard on duty and that there is an ongoing issue with unauthorized persons coming and going from the area and possibly squatting."

The guard added that the building "had no fire protection in place," despite the exposed framing making it vulnerable to ignition by arson or accident. The guard also told OFD firefighters that there were no heat or motion detecting devices in use, and no security cameras visible, and furthermore that the 6-foot fence around the perimeter was not topped with razor wire, making it easy to climb over.

Views of the construction from April available on Google Maps confirm that the fence had no razor or barbed wire topping. There are also no security cameras visible, nor signs warning of security and surveillance, as is common at other construction sites.

Little security is evident at the construction site, according to views on Google Maps from April 2018.
  • Little security is evident at the construction site, according to views on Google Maps from April 2018.

"Given the recent history of 'total loss' fires in buildings that were in the same phase of construction, and our obvious desire to prevent such an incident from happening again, is there any way to compel the developers, either through our fire prevention department, the building department or the city attorneys office, to do a better job at securing their site?" the firefighter asked OFD commanders in the email.

Phil Kerr, CEO of City Ventures, the Ice House's developer, told the Chronicle earlier this week that security cameras were installed in April, but he couldn't say whether it was before or after the smaller fire.

Federal and local investigators have yet to say what caused Tuesday's morning's fire, but Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf called it an "attack" on new housing, alluding to a possible political motive.

Ray Roundtree, who leads the San Francisco division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, which is heading up the investigation, said in a press release yesterday that "ATF approaches these scenes without any preconceptions about what may have happened, and we allow the evidence to guide us to a conclusion."

The Ice House fire is not only the latest suspicious fire at a construction site in recent years, it's also the latest fire to consume a building where firefighters had previously warned their own command that something more should be done to avert a disaster.

For example, firefighters previously responded to two fires at the Miller Avenue Library building, which was completely destroyed by a third fire in February. The city did not fully secure the site, and as a result, it was completely destroyed. Firefighters also attempted to warn fire inspectors city officials about safety problems inside the San Pablo Avenue halfway house that burned in March 2017 over a year before a fire erupted there, but little was done. The March 2017 fire killed four inside the San Pablo halfway house.

Friday’s Briefing: Florida Man Arrested in Package Bomb Probe; Anheuser-Busch Cans Temescal Beer Garden Plan

by Express Staff
Fri, Oct 26, 2018 at 9:52 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Oct. 26, 2018:

1. A Florida man has been arrested in the investigation of package bombs sent to prominent critics of President Trump, the Washington Post$ reports. "The man has been identified as Cesar Sayoc, 56, according to a law enforcement official. Florida records show that Sayoc has a lengthy criminal record in the state, including a 2002 arrest for a bomb threat and others for larceny and fraud." This week, package bombs were sent to at least 12 high-profile anti-Trumpers, including former President Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton, and actor Robert De Niro.

2. Authorities say a suspicious package was also delivered to the Sacramento office of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-CA, the Sacramento Bee$ reports. In addition, package bombs were also discovered today addressed to U.S. Sen. Corey Booker, D-NJ, and James R. Clapper Jr., former director of national intelligence. Harris, Booker, and Clapper also have been tough critics of Trump.

3. Anheuser-Busch In Bev, the beer-making giant, has killed its controversial plans to open a beer garden — Golden Road — in Oakland’s Temescal district, reports Sarah Han for Berkeleyside. Local brewers had strongly objected to the Golden Road proposal to open on 40th Street, arguing that it was part of an effort by Big Beer to put them out of business.

4. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg has pumped another $10 million into his $100 million effort to elect Democratic candidates around the country, CNN reports. The former mayor of new York City also has specifically targeted House races in California to unseat Republicans.

5. And the stock market continued its plunge today, with another huge selloff of tech stocks, as the Nasdaq continues to suffer its worst month in 10 years, the Washington Post$ reports.

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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Thursday’s Briefing: Prop. 10 Is Getting Pummeled in Polls; Bombs Sent to Biden and De Niro, Too

by Express Staff
Thu, Oct 25, 2018 at 9:39 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Oct. 25, 2018:

1. Proposition 10, which would allow cities like Oakland and Berkeley to enact stricter rent control laws in order to help stop displacement of longtime residents, is trailing badly in the latest statewide poll, 25 percent to 60 percent, reports Liam Dillon of the LA Times$, citing a new survey from the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). As the Express noted this week, landlords groups have pumped more than $70 million into defeating Prop. 10.

2. Package bombs were also sent to former Vice President Joe Biden and actor Robert De Niro, as the attacks against leading Democratic voices intensifies, CNN reports. Bombs also have been sent to former President Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, liberal billionaire George Soros, former CIA chief John Brennan (at CNN headquarters), former Attorney General Eric Holder, and Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

3. Gavin Newsom and Dianne Feinstein have double-digit leads in their respective races for California governor and U.S. Senator, reports John Wildermuth of the San Francisco Chronicle$, citing a new poll from the PPIC. Newsom leads Republican John Cox 49 to 38 percent, and Feinstein is beating a fellow Democrat, state Sen. Kevin de León, 43 to 27 percent.

4. The new PPIC poll also shows that Proposition 6, a Republican-led effort to repeal California’s new gas tax increase, is trailing, 41 percent to 48 percent, reports Melody Gutierrez of the San Francisco Chronicle$. If it passes, Prop. 6 would kill hundreds of transportation projects around the state.

5. And Spenger’s Fish Grotto, a Berkeley institution that opened 128 years ago, closed abruptly on Wednesday, and it appears that another restaurant will take its place, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. “A public notice was plastered on another window of the seafood spot announcing that the parent company of Joe’s Crab Shack, known as KRG JCS, LLC, had applied to open a restaurant at the location. The notice was posted by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.”

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