Friday, March 15, 2019

Friday's Briefing: Some Oakland teachers receive layoff notices; East Bay legislators fighting for renters

Future sea-level rise in the East Bay worse than previously thought

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Mar 15, 2019 at 6:00 AM

News you don't want to miss this St. Patrick's Day weekend:

1. First, there was two years of labor negotiations between Oakland teachers and the school district, a 7-day strike, an new contract with raises for teachers, then budget cuts. The East Bay Times reports some Oakland teachers received layoff notices this week. $$

2. The Berkeley school board voted to cut $2 million from its budget, Berkeleyside reports.

3. East Bay legislators like state Sen. Nancy Skinner and Assemblymembers Rob Bonta and Buffy Wicks have been doing their part to alleviate the regional and state housing crisis with a number of bills that, if approved, will benefit renters, SF Weekly reports.

4. No surprise here, but the BART Board of Directors approved a resolution in support of SB 50, KPIX reports. The bill authored by state Sen. Scott Wiener would foster high-density housing projects near transit hubs, like BART stations. A similar bill nearly became law last year, but with a new governor, there's growing consensus it may succeed later this year.

5. What if another year of devastating wildfires engulfs California? What if evidence points to PG&E again being liable for the firestorms? The Wall Street Journal reports the judge overseeing the utility's bankruptcy fears the scenario will greatly worsen PG&E's financial prospects. $$

6. Sea-level rise could greatly affect shorelines between Alameda and Oakland; San Leandro to the marshlands in Hayward and Fremont more than previously believed, according to a study by the U.S. Geological Survey, KQED reports.

7. Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley wants to allow 12-15 homeless individuals to use a portion of the Fairmont Hospital's parking lot to continue living in their cars, the San Leandro Times report.

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Thursday's Briefing: Man who killed McElhaney's grandson convicted of murder; Oakland isn't building enough affordable housing

Berkeley to study ferry service

by Steven Tavares
Thu, Mar 14, 2019 at 6:00 AM

News you don't want to miss for Mar. 14:

1. It's been a trying week for Oakland Councilmember Lynette McElhaney, who lost her son in a tragic shooting last weekend. But she received some closure on another front after a jury convicted a Vallejo man who shot and killed Torian Hughes in 2015, the 17-year-old who McElhaney referred to as her grandson, of first-degree murder, NBC Bay Area reports.

2. Oakland's building boom is undeniable. Just look at all the cranes downtown. But lost in the numbers is the fact Oakland is failing to build affordable housing, the East Bay Times reports. $$

3. Ferry service may be coming to Berkeley in a few years, Emilie Raguso reports in Berkeleyside. The Berkeley City Council approved a public planning process for ferry service possibly at a rebuilt Berkeley pier or other locations.

4. Oakland continues to study the feasibility of a public bank that could also include other East Bay cities and Alameda County. The San Francisco Examiner reports that a bill introduced this week in the state Assembly could pave the way for such an institution that could offer local residents and business owners low-interest loans, and other banking instruments.

5. Alameda County Sheriff's deputies fired on a vehicle at a thrift store in unincorporated Ashland, near San Leandro, killing one suspect and injuring another, KRON reports.

6. Alameda named Yibin Shen as its next city attorney, the East Bay Citizen reports. Rental housing activists in Alameda may view the selection in a favorable light. Just last week, the Santa Monica City Attoney's Office, which Shen is a part of, celebrated three legal victories against short-term rental scofflaws.

7. Participants in the Oakland Marathon on Mar. 24 will compete for a portion of the race on the Bay Bridge's new pedestrian pathway, SFGate reports.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Wednesday's Briefing: Alameda County Board of Supervisors approve reforms to Urban Shield, but will it lose funding?

Gov. Gavin Newsom to take 737 prisoners off Death Row

by Steven Tavares
Wed, Mar 13, 2019 at 6:00 AM

News you don’t want to miss for Mar. 13:

1.Oakland Councilmember Lynette McElahaney spoke to reporters for the first time Tuesday afternoon, just days after the death of her son, Victor McElhaney, by a gunman in Los Angleles, the East Bay Times reports. $$

2. Alameda County Supervisors approved a lengthy list of reforms to Urban Shield, the controversial annual law enforcement disaster training event, the East Bay Citizen reports. But the future of the event and vendor show remains in doubt as Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern maintains some of the recommendations violate terms of the $5.5 million federal grant, and therefore, means the loss of funding.

3. Gov. Gavin Newsom is effectively ending the death penalty in California after announcing a moratorium that will take 737 prisoners off death row, NPR reports. Newsom's executive order will also close the execution chamber at San Quentin Prison.

4. Berkeley, like many East Bay cities, has historically used zoning codes to segregate white, wealthy neighborhood from the poor and minorities. Jesse Barber in Berkeleyside takes a look at a series of proposals coming later this month to the Berkeley City Council that could bring density and affordable housing to some of these once exclusive neighborhoods.

5. Numerous studies and surveys find a large number of college students identify as homeless. A bill introduced in the Assembly would allow students to use campus parking lots to sleep in their cars, according to the California Health Report.

6. Coliseum Joint Powers Authority boardmembers will vote this Friday morning on a one-year lease agreement for the Raiders to play the 2019 season in Oakland, the Associated Press reports. The on-again-off-again-on-again deal is worth $7.5 million for this year with a $10.5 million option for 2020.

7. St. Mary's became the Bay Area's first and likely only school to qualify for the NCAA Tournament after upsetting Gonzaga, the top-ranked men's basketball team in the nation, in the West Coast Conference tournament final, CBS Sports reports. March Madness begins Mar. 21. Fill out those brackets!

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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Tuesday's Briefing: No affordable housing, no gas tax money, says Newsom

East Bay teacher is lead plaintiff in complaint over teachers' union dues

by Steven Tavares
Tue, Mar 12, 2019 at 6:00 AM

News you don't want to miss for Mar. 12:

1. Gov. Gavin Newsom has an idea to help spur unwilling local communities to start building affordable housing. There doesn't appear to be a carrot here, just a stick. According to the Sacramento Bee, Newsom's plan includes withholding gas tax funding for streets and transportation if the cities don't begin complying in advance of 2023. $$

2. A Fremont teacher is the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against the California Teachers Association, alleging a violation of First Amendment, reports the East Bay Citizen. Four other plaintiffs, inluding a teacher from Hayward, say they chose to rescind their membership in the teachers union out of political concerns, but union dues were continually deducted. The case follows the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Janus v. AFSCME.

3. A San Leandro solar company is being accused of having a policy against serving customers of Middle Eastern or Indian ancestry, SFGate reports. A lawsuit was filed in federal court on behalf of a former employee at Fidelity Home Energy.

4. A locked safe in West Berkeley containing $93,000 in pot was burglarized, Berkeleyside reports. The incident occurred last August. Two men have been charged.

5. "California is enjoying a projected $21.4 billion surplus. Three-quarters of the state believes any new revenue increase should be for voters to decide," Judy Lin write in CalMatters. State leaders are cautioning against any new tax legislation, but whether "Democrats got the memo, however, isn’t clear."

6. It's not the news opponents of President Trump want to hear. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not down with impeachment, SFGate reported. "I've been thinking about this, impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there's something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don't think we should go down that path because it divides the country. And he's just not worth it."

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Monday, March 11, 2019

Monday's Briefing: Oakland Councilmember Lynette McElhaney loses son in tragic shooting in LA

Desley Brooks paid off damages to Elaine Brown, but may still owe more

by Steven Tavares
Mon, Mar 11, 2019 at 6:00 AM

News you don't want to miss for Mar. 11:

1. Oakland and the East Bay political world is mourning the death of 21-year-old Victor McElhaney, the son of Oakland Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney. NBC Bay Area was the first to report the tragedy, which occurred early Sunday morning in Los Angeles. Victor McElhaney was fatally shot during a failed robbery attempt. He was a student at U.S.C. An outpouring of support quickly rushed all over social media for McElhaney, her family and friends.

2. California lost more acreage to wildfires in 2018 than any other year in its history, the Los Angeles Times reports. Last year 1.8 million acres of the state burned. What is now the second-most? The year prior. $$

3. "A proposed law that would phase out diesel trucks in California was introduced Friday in an ongoing effort by state legislators to control pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, but it will likely face major opposition from trucking companies and other businesses that transport products in big rigs," Peter Fimrite writes in the San Francisco Chronicle. The bill is authored by East Bay state Sen. Nancy Skinner.

4. YouGov, an Oakland company that will charge you up $94.95 to save you the hassle of waiting in notoriously long DMV lines by doing it for you, is receiving push back from a state assemblymember, the San Jose Mercury News reports. $$

5. Former Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks paid $79,623 in punitive damages to civil rights icon Elaine Brown last January, the East Bay Times reports. But Brown's attorney is still seeking $139,000 from Brooks for attorney fees and other costs. $$

6. San Francisco Chronicle columnist Otis. R. Taylor, Jr. takes a look at the problems that still exist even after the end of the week-long Oakland teachers strike. $$

7. A rough stretch for the Golden State Warriors continues after the woeful Phoenix Suns beat the world champs for the first time in more than four years. Klay Thompson blamed the fans. Meanwhile, the Oakland (Las Vegas) Raiders reportedly acquired All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown from the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for two draft picks.

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Friday, March 8, 2019

Friday Briefing: Bankrupt PG&E wants to give $235 million in bonuses; Rain is quenching California's thirst

Daylight-savings time starts this weekend

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Mar 8, 2019 at 6:00 AM

News you don't want to miss for Mar. 8-10:

1. Still reeling from the likelihood PG&E was the cause of the devastating Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif., the utility is stoking more outrage after it asked a judge to approve $235 million in bonuses for thousands of its employees, KPIX reports.

2. San Francisco Assemblymember David Chiu is introducing a bill that would create a new Bay Area housing agency that could then offer up tax measures to fund affordable housing, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The bill would maintain land-use decision at the local level. Nonetheless, it's sure to be viewed with skepticism from East Bay local officials who worry about the loss of local control. $$

3. "Soaked by relentless storms, California as of this week has less land area in drought status than at any time in the last seven years," Paul Rogers report in the East Bay Times. $$

4. One of the big losers in the recent Oakland teachers strike was charter schools, and the state Legislature appears intent on heaping more regulations on them. CalMatters asks, "‘Common sense regulations’ or ‘an extended middle finger’—how far will California go on charter schools?"

5. East Bay Reps. Barbara Lee, Eric Swalwell, and Ro Khanna voted for lowering the federal voting age to 16.

6. An Los Angeles Times columnist's piece on East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell running for president with the title, "Why the heck not?" received much attention Thursday. Vanity Fair, though, takes a look at the now-highly probable run with an East Coast bias, of course.

7. South Bay Assemblymember Kansen Chu continues his quest for year-round daylight savings time, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Chu has failed with similar bills in prior years. So, this is good time to remind you to turn your clocks one hour forward when you go to bed Saturday night. $$

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Thursday, March 7, 2019

Thursday's Briefing: Court-appointed monitor is critical of OPD; Hayward approves emergency just-cause ordinance

Three Oakland girls high school basketball teams in state finals

Thu, Mar 7, 2019 at 6:00 AM

News you don’t want to miss for Mar. 7:

1. Robert Warshaw, the court-appointed monitor for the Oakland Police Department, was critical of the Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick's handling of the investigation into the killing of Joshua Pawlik by OPD in March 2018, calling it "deficient," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

2. With the rental housing crisis hitting Hayward with full force, the city council unanimously approved an emergency just-cause ordinance to shore up roughly 7,000 units, including single-family home rentals, that did not previously have the protections under the current ordinance, the East Bay Citizen reports. Some city leaders worried landlords would raise rents and evict tenants while the city works on amendments to its rent stabilization ordinance coming this summer.

3. A U.S. District judge ruled against the Trump administration’s push for inclusion of a citizenship question on the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census, citing the request as unconstitutional, The Hill reports. The lawsuit was led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Oakland and Fremont were two of the cities that offered support for the lawsuit.

4. The Raiders return to Oakland for at least one more year is again on shaky ground, David DeBolt of the East Bay Times tweeted.
5. More on the Raiders: Veteran NFL reporter Jason Cole writes in Fansided that the league is showing great apprehension toward Raiders owner Mark Davis’s handling of the stadium situation and other instances of ineptitude. The article highlights a long-rumored belief that NFL owners will one day attempt to force Davis to sell the team.

6. Alameda is believed to be the first city council in the state to approve a resolution in support of AB 31, the 'no tampon tax' bill currently being debated in the state Legislature, the East Bay Citizen reports.

7. The kids are doing alright. Three Oakland girls high school basketball teams heading to the state finals this weekend in Sacramento.
8. Tuition for in-state University of California undergrads will remain flat, KTVU reports. It's the seventh time in the last eight years that tuition has been unchanged. The last increase was 2017.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Wednesday's Briefing: Raiders lease agreement vote delayed; San Leandro leaves mobile home tenants on hold

Bonta is tops among digital influencers in East Bay politics

by Steven Tavares
Wed, Mar 6, 2019 at 6:00 AM

Stories you don't want to miss for Mar. 6:

1. The Coliseum Joint Powers Authority's approval of one-year lease agreement for the Raiders to play the 2019 season in Oakland is delayed for now, the East Bay Times reports. The lease proposal is believed to be worth $7.5 million, with an option for 2020. $$

2. Struggling San Leandro mobile home owners will have to wait for tenant protections after the City Council put a proposed rent stabilization ordinance on hold at the behest of the city's mobile home park owners, who offered a self-imposed 90-day moratorium on rent increases. the East Bay Citizen reports.

3. Oakland Police continues to do a pretty good job of keeping crime down despite a perception its ranks are too low. Scott Morris in The Bold Italic, reports on OPD has done it in recent years.

4. "Gov. Gavin Newsom should immediately allow the thinning of vegetation on almost 94,000 acres of state land in a bid to keep more than 200 communities safe," including Orinda in the East Bay, according to a report authored by state fire officials, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

5. Who are the top digital influencers among the East Bay's Legislative Caucus? A new report finds Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta's Twitter account possesses the most sway, but overall, his score and the rest of the East Bay caucus is quite middling.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Tuesday's Briefing: Oakland Unified cuts budget by $22 million; California Supreme Court rules on pensions

Trump praises Cal Young Republican who was attacked on campus

by Steven Tavares
Tue, Mar 5, 2019 at 6:00 AM

Stories you don’t want to miss for Mar. 5:

1. The California Supreme Court chiseled away somewhat at public employee pensions in a ruling, reports the Los Angeles Times, but the decision maintains that public employee pensions remain the ironclad contract, known as the "California Rule." $$

2. A day after ending the Oakland teachers strike, the other shoe dropped when Oakland Unified School District trustees approved $22 million in budget cuts for the 2019-2020 year, reports NBC Bay area. The vote was 4-3.

3. Louis Freedberg, writing in EdSource, takes at look at the similarities between the recent teachers' strikes in Oakland and Los Angeles and what they may mean for the future of the movement in the state.

4. Oakland's Pacific Boychoir Academy received a donation of four Chinese paintings, which they believed were worth $2.8 million, Jill Tucker reports in the San Francisco Chronicle. But after the school already began borrowing against the value of the paintings, an appraisal found they were fakes. $$

5. President Trump’s extremely long-winded speech last weekend at the Conservative Political Action Committee takes some time to boil down. But in it, Trump referenced the alleged attack last week of a U.C. Berkeley Young Republican named Hayden Williams and vowed to sign an executive order requiring college and universities to declare support for free speech on campus in order to receive federal funding, CNN reports.

6. "Heads up commuters, Caltrans is planning a major rebuild of the MacArthur Maze that may require parts of the heavily traveled East Bay interchange to be shut down for months, with some traffic rerouted onto surface streets," Phil Matier writes in the San Francisco Chronicle. $$

7. Here's another angle to the growing problem of homelessness and how to help solve it: Allow homeless invdividuals to bring their pets to shelters, Elizabeth Castillo reports in CalMatters.

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Monday, March 4, 2019

Monday Briefing: Oakland teachers are back at work; Peralta chancellor cuts early retirement deal

OUSD Trustee apologizes for putting her hands on teacher's throat

by Steven Tavares
Mon, Mar 4, 2019 at 6:00 AM

Stories you don't want to miss for Mar. 4:

1. Oakland Unified School District and the teachers union reached a tentative agreement Friday to end the 7-day strike. On Sunday night, the teachers union ratified the agreement, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The deal includes an 11 percent wage increase for teachers over the next 3 years and 3 percent bonus received after ratification of the contract. $$

2. News of the resolution last Friday did little initially to tamp down on the contentiousness of the week-long strike. Members of the teachers union attempted to block OUSD trustees from a board meeting last Friday night. In the tussle, School Boardmember Jumoke Hinton Hodge was seen on video with her hand on the throat of a kindergarten teacher. Hodge later apologized, NBC Bay Area reports.

3. The contract Oakland teachers successfully negotiated is just another in a growing line of large school districts around the country winning public support for their cause and gaining beneficial deals, Nico Savidge reports in the San Jose Mercury News. $$

4. Peralta Community College Chancellor Jowel Laguerre will receive an early retirement package equal to 10 months of his $300,000 annual salary and a year and a half of benefits, Phil Matier reports in the San Francisco Chronicle. $$

5. The California presidential primary is one year away. Melanie Mason in the Los Angeles Times looks at what has "been gnawing at the state’s psyche. When it comes to presidential politics, we’re more backbencher than behemoth."

6. Oakland District 7 Councilmember Larry Reid was hospitalized for three days last week after undergoing a procedure on his heart and it is once again raising questions whether the 22-year council veteran is nearing the end of his long career, the East Bay Citizen reports.

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