Friday, May 31, 2019

Friday's Briefing: Alameda County deputy may have broken the law, but case was not referred to DA

California Democratic Party Convention in SF this weekend

by Steven Tavares
Fri, May 31, 2019 at 6:00 AM

Richmond's Kimberly Ellis nearly won the state Democratic Party chair race in 2016 and is a leading candidate for the position this weekend. - CLAYTON J. MITCHELL
  • Clayton J. Mitchell
  • Richmond's Kimberly Ellis nearly won the state Democratic Party chair race in 2016 and is a leading candidate for the position this weekend.


News you don't want to miss for May 31-June 2:

1. The Alameda County Sheriff's Department did not pass along a case where one of its deputies was found to have taken prescriptions from crime scenes for his own personal use, even though the department's internal affairs concluded the officer had broken the law, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

2. Ghost Ship trial: The defense again raised the possibility Thursday that the December 2016 deadly warehouse fire in Oakland was caused by arson, KQED reports, while also suggesting investigators did not fully explore all leads as to the cause of the fire.

3. Democrats from across the state, along with half of the gargantuan presidential field, will begin the party's state convention today through Sunday in San Francisco, CalBuzz reports. Aside from the presidential aspirations on display this weekend, Democrats will elect the next chair of the state party. Richmond resident Kimberly Ellis, Los Angeles labor leader Rusty Hicks, and party vice chair Daraka Larimore-Hall are the leading contenders.

4. There are more signs the Bay Area housing market is cooling, or, at least, witnessing a brief plateau in housing prices, Kathleen Pender writes in the San Francisco Chronicle. While median home prices rose by 2.4 percent in April over the previous month to $850,000, the figure was unchanged from a year ago. $$

5. Legislation that would have placed a statewide moratorium on charter schools and another to place a cap on charter schools hit road blocks Thursday after failing passage out of their houses of origin, the Los Angeles Times reports. $$

6. A bluegrass band from Baltimore has created a catchy tune inspired by Oakland's "Pothole Vigilantes," a growing group of residents who fill potholes by the light of moon, SFGate reports.

7. The Warriors dropped Game 1 of the NBA Finals to the Toronto Raptors Thursday night, 118-109, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Sunday evening in Toronto. $$

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Thursday's Briefing: Assembly approves legislation to help renters and freelance workers

Warriors begin quest for their third straight title tonight

by Steven Tavares
Thu, May 30, 2019 at 6:00 AM

A flurry of bills were approved in the state legislature Wednesday.
  • A flurry of bills were approved in the state legislature Wednesday.


News you don't want to miss for May 30:

1. The California Assembly approved a rent-cap bill, but only after a compromise deal was reached. It now heads to the state Senate. "Under the deal, the measure would limit annual rent increases to seven percentage points above the regional change in the cost of living, rather than the five percentage points plus inflation that [Assemblymember David] Chiu originally proposed," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

2. "California residents working for companies like Lyft and Uber would get the rights of employees entitled to a minimum wage and workers compensation under a law the state Assembly passed on Wednesday," the Associated Press reports. Some industries would be exempt under AB 5, such as physicians and insurance agents.

3. BART officials ascribed to the notion that "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste" after using the huge traffic snarl on the Bay Bridge Wednesday to to make the case that Congress needs to move forward with their application for $1.25 billion in federal transportation funds, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

4. The Adeline Corridor Specific Plan in Berkeley was presented to the public Wednesday night, Berkeleyside reports. The proposal could add up to 1,450 new housing units--50 percent which could be affordable--over the next 20 years around Adeline Street and Shattuck Avenue.

5. Eric Swalwell’s underperforming presidential campaign may get the boost they have been looking for this Sunday when the East Bay congressman is featured in a CNN town hall at 6 p.m, The Hill reports.

6. A study by the pro-business Bay Area Council estimates the Oakland Athletics’ proposed Howard Terminal ballpark project will generate $7.3 billion in economic benefits to the city, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The estimate accounts for the decade after the entire ballpark district is completely built out with retail, restaurants, office space, and other businesses. $$

7. The Warriors begin their quest for a third consecutive championship and fourth in the last five years as the NBA Finals begin tonight. The Warriors and Toronto Raptors tip-off at 6 p.m. Sports Illustrated has a preview.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Wednesday's Briefing: Schaaf unleashes 'Pothole blitz' to repair Oakland streets; Police use-of-force bill passes state Senate

Hayward councilmember calls for independent investigation of police shooting

by Steven Tavares
Wed, May 29, 2019 at 6:00 AM

Friends of family of Agustin Gonsalez calling for an independent investigation of Hayward Police during a Hayward City Council Tuesday night. - STEVEN TAVARES
  • Steven Tavares
  • Friends of family of Agustin Gonsalez calling for an independent investigation of Hayward Police during a Hayward City Council Tuesday night.


News you don't want to miss for May 29:

1. A few weeks after so-called pothole vigilantes repaired Oakland streets like Batman with hot asphalt, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf unleashed a "pothole blitz" Tuesday aiming to fill up 7,000 potholes over the next three weeks, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

2. "The California Senate approved legislation Tuesday requiring officers across the nation's most populous state to be trained in ways to avoid using deadly force, one of two measures intended to deter shootings by police," the Associated Press reports. The bill heads to the Assembly for consideration.

3. A week after an Alameda County District Attorney's investigation found insufficient evidence to prosecute two Hayward police officers in the November 2018 shooting death of Agustin Gonsalez, the family heavily criticized the report for a number of inconsistencies and slammed the city for a lack of transparency, the East Bay Citizen reports. Hayward Councilmember Aisha Wahab said she will formally ask the council to open an independent investigation of the incident at next week's council meeting.

4.Ghost Ship trial: The mother of a Ghost Ship resident testified Tuesday that Derick Almena, the master tenant charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter, laughed when she urged him to make safety improvements to the warehouse during a meeting in 2013, NBC Bay Area reports.

5. Kamala Harris said at an MSNBC town hall on Tuesday that she would protect abortion rights by requiring the Justice Department to approve any restrictions enacted by states on access to abortions, Politico reports. The proposal is based on the Voting Rights Act and would focus on states with a recent history of undermining abortion rights.

6. Striking New Haven school district teachers from Union City and Hayward enter their second week of walking the picket lines, KPIX reports. After lengthy Memorial Day weekend negotiations, the teachers' union dropped its contract demands from a 10 percent raise to 7 percent over two years, while the school district raised its offer from 1 percent to 2 percent, and a 3 percent bonus.

7. A backlash against the Dublin City Council's decision last week to turn away a plan to fly the LGBTQ Pride flag at city hall continues to build. Emeryville will raise two Pride flags at city hall on June 8 - one for Emervyille, one for Dublin - and some Dublin councilmembers who voted against the flag raising are taking heat on the political front, the East Bay Citizen reports.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Tuesday's Briefing: Oakland City Council committee eyes decriminalization of 'magic mushrooms'

Elizabeth Warren is coming to Laney College this Friday

by Steven Tavares
Tue, May 28, 2019 at 6:00 AM

Sen. Elizabeth Warren visits Oakland on Friday for a town hall at Laney College. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren visits Oakland on Friday for a town hall at Laney College.


News you don't want to miss for May 29:

1. The Oakland City Council Public Safety Committee is discussing a resolution to decriminalize psychedelic drugs, such as "magic mushrooms later today, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The resolution gives direction to the city's law enforcement to stop investigating and prosecuting those using the drugs. $$

2. The Washington Post offers an outsiders view of Oakland's Ghost Ship trial, describing the tragedy that killed 36 people a poignant moment for a city that is undergoing a construction boom while that some see as progress, while others see it as risking the loss of its soul. $$

3. A bill that will create a regional housing authority in the Bay Area cleared the state Assembly Friday, the East Bay Times reports. The legislation authored by San Francisco Assemblymemer David Chiu would give the regional body the power fund affordable housing projects by raising taxes. $$

4. Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton, in an effort to limit wrongful convictions, has created a so-called "conviction integrity unit" that will review criminal cases where misconduct by attorneys, law enforcement, and errors are suspected, the East Bay Times reports. $$

5. Progressive Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is holding a town hall Friday evening at Laney College in Oakland, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Bernie Sanders is also holding a rally in San Francisco Saturday, while a number of other candidates will be holding court at the California State Democratic Party Convention this weekend in San Francisco. $$

6. Berkeley's world-famous progressives values were seriously challenged after a City Council action this spring to curtail overnight parking in RVs, The Washington Post reports. "Faced with sharp criticism from a changing population, city leaders have banned people from living in recreational vehicles here, proving that even the most accepting of cities is not immune to the demands that often accompany wealth and gentrification." $$

7. Your Oakland Athletics beat the Los Angeles Angels Monday afternoon for their 10th consecutive victory, the East Bay Times reports. It's the team's longest streak since 2006. Meanwhile, Cal and Stanford were selected for the NCAA baseball tournament. Cal will hit the road to play Arkansas, while Stanford meets Fresno State in Palo Alto, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

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Friday, May 24, 2019

Friday's Briefing: BART proposes 16% fare increase over 6 years; Oakland owner-occupied duplex, triplex exemption is gone

Lonely Island spoofs the "Bash Brothers" in new Netflix comedy

by Steven Tavares
Fri, May 24, 2019 at 6:00 AM

Andy Samberg and Lonely Island's Netflix comedy "The Unauthorized Bash Brothers," was released Thursday to an unsuspecting public and features numerous East Bay references. - NETFLIX
  • Netflix
  • Andy Samberg and Lonely Island's Netflix comedy "The Unauthorized Bash Brothers," was released Thursday to an unsuspecting public and features numerous East Bay references.


News you don't want to miss for May 24-26:

1. BART Board of Directors on Thursday proposed a 3.7 percent fare increase every two years starting in 2022 and running through 2028, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The board may also install new entry gates to ward against chronic fare evasion. $$

2. "Owner-occupied duplexes and triplexes will no longer be exempt from Oakland’s rent control and tenant protection laws. City Council members voted early Wednesday morning to end the exemption, which tenants rights’ activists called a “loophole” often abused to drive up longtime tenants’ rents or force them out," the East Bay Times reports. $$

3. The bill for Kamala Harris's presidential kickoff rally in Downtown Oakland is now due. The San Francisco Chronicle reports the city sent Harris's campaign an invoice for Oakland Police service that was $187,000 alone. $$

4. The police lobby in Sacramento is surrendering to legislation that would raise the standard for when law enforcement can use lethal force from a reasonable fear of imminent danger to necessary use, the Associated Press reports.

5. Dublin's population increased by 4.5 percent from 2017 to 2018, making the Tri-Valley city the fastest-growing in California and 11th fastest-growing in the U.S., the East Bay Times reports. Dublin's high rate of housing construction, however, has mostly excluded affordable housing. $$

6. Lonely Island, the comedy troupe featuring Berkeley natives, including Andy Samberg, released a surprise Netflix special Thursday night spoofing the "Bash Brothers," the late 1980s era Oakland Athletics home run-hitting duo of Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, A.V. Club reports. Spoiler: The comedy also features other East Bay landmarks and references.

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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Thursday's Briefing: Oakland approves funding for paving streets; Dublin rejects flying LGBT flag

Draymond and Klay honored for their stellar defense

by Steven Tavares
Thu, May 23, 2019 at 1:24 AM

Pothole relief is coming to Oakland. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Pothole relief is coming to Oakland.


News you don't want to miss for May 23:

1. "Oakland City Council voted Tuesday to begin spending the first $35 million of a $100 million project to repave city streets," the San Francisco Chronicle reports, "a compromise reached after city leaders clashed over whether to include more city workers and delay completion by four years." $$

2. Ghost Ship trial: A survivor of the warehouse fire who suffered brain damage and extensive burns to his body, testified Wednesday that he thought he was going to be burned alive, KRON reports.

3. Twenty-eight affordable housing units at 4868 Calaveras Avenue in Oakland were added to the rental market recently, SFGate reports. More than 4,000 people applied for a chance to become a tenant.

4. Amid a number of crude comments by members of the public, the Dublin City Council voted against a proposal to celebrate its LGBT community by raising the Pride flag over city hall, the East Bay Citizen reports. "“Not supporting flying the flag does not mean we don’t support the LGBT community,” said Dublin Mayor David Haubert. “It means we may have other ways to do it.”

5. Sen. Kamala Harris has missed nearly one-quarter of her votes in the U.S. Senate since beginning her bid for the White House earlier this year, the San Francisco Chronicle reports $$

6. NBA championships are usually built on a stingy defense. Two Warriors, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, were named to the All-Defense second team Wednesday, Yahoo Sports reports. Green earned the honor for the fifth time in his career, Thompson for the first time.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Wednesday's Briefing: Newsom names homeless task force in Oakland; OUSD loses its new CFO

Fire marshal refutes claim that Ghost Ship fire was an act of arson

by Steven Tavares
Wed, May 22, 2019 at 6:00 AM

Homeless camp under Interstate 880 in Oakland. - DARWIN BONDGRAHAM
  • Darwin BondGraham
  • Homeless camp under Interstate 880 in Oakland.


News you don't want to miss for May 22:

1. Gov. Gavin Newsom was in Oakland Tuesday to announce the formation of a homeless task force, along with $1 billion in funding to help solve the problem, the Associated Press reports. Newsom named Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas as co-chairs of the task force.

2. Dollars and cents have never been the Oakland Unified School District's strong suit. Now, after recently eliminating its chief business officer position, the beleaguered school district is losing its newly hired chief financial officer, EdSource reports.

3. Alameda resident Greg Barron believes the six-story edifice on his property is art. The city says it's a building that requires proper permits, SFGate reports. In the meantime, the object, which was featured at Burning Man, has racked up more than $20,000 in fines from the city.

4. "The Oakland City Council passed a resolution Tuesday calling for an independent audit of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office budget after a number of inmate deaths at the county jail, complaints by pregnant inmates and revelations that deputies had illegally recorded juveniles," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

5. California sued the Trump administration for the 50th time Tuesday. This time to prevent it from canceling nearly $1 billion in federal funding awarded in 2010 for the state's high-speed rail project, Reuters reports.

6. Ghost Ship trial: Last week, defense attorney Tony Serra asserted the December 2016 warehouse fire that killed 36 people in Oakland was an act of arson. The East Bay Times reports an Oakland fire marshal strongly refuted the claim in court Tuesday. $$

7. Speaking at a pro-choice rally in Washington, D.C., East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell said the decision to have children belonged to his wife, the Washington Free Beacon reports. In recent weeks, Swalwell's presidential stump speeches have deferred to women. For example, he pledges to choose a female running mate, if he wins the Democratic presidential nomination.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Tuesday's Briefing: Desley Brooks files lawsuit, blames city attorney for costing her re-election

Warriors are heading to their fifth straight NBA Finals

by Steven Tavares
Tue, May 21, 2019 at 6:00 AM

Former Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks filed a lawsuit against the city in Alameda County Superior Court. - STEVEN TAVARES
  • Steven Tavares
  • Former Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks filed a lawsuit against the city in Alameda County Superior Court.


News you don't want to miss for May 21:

1. Former Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks lost her re-election by a large margin last November. Most political observers viewed the defeat as a referendum on Brooks' role in an altercation involving former Black Panther Elaine Brown in 2015 in which the city was ordered by a judge to pay damages of $2.2 million to Brown. In a lawsuit filed by Brooks in Alameda County Superior Court, the San Francisco Chronicle reports, Brooks claims the city attorney's handling of the case cost her re-election to her council seat and is asking for reimbursement of the nearly $80,000 she was ordered to pay Brown. $$

2. The NBA Finals is coming to Oakland for a fifth straight year after the Warriors defeated the Portland Trailblazers in overtime Monday night, 119-117, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The Warriors swept the Trailblazers, 4-0, in the series and will face either Milwaukee or Toronto for a chance at a three-peat starting on May 30. $$

3. Ghost Ship trial: A former resident of the Ghost Ship testified Monday that Child Protective Services and Oakland Police had been inside the warehouse in the months prior to the December 2016 fire that killed 36 people, ABC7 reports.

4. Berkeley's Disaster and Fire Safety Commission is recommending the city quickly procure and install an outdoor warning system to alert the public of wildfires and earthquakes, Berkeleyside reports. Oakland, Richmond, and U.C. Berkeley have warning systems.

5. A judge ruled Monday that the parents of a West Point cadet from Concord who died in a skiing accident can use his sperm to produce a child, the Associated Press reports. The family has not indicated, though, whether they will do so.

6. "Across California, at least 20 companies providing care for the elderly, disabled and mentally ill continue to operate illegally after being cited for failing to pay their workers more than $1.4 million in back wages and penalties," Jennifer Gollan reports for Reveal.

7. The Trump administration is threatening to cut federal funding to California fire departments at a time when wildfires are becoming more frequent and more deadly, the Sacramento Bee reports. The threat comes after the U.S. Forest Service accused the state of over-billing the federal government. $$

8. Randy's Donuts, the iconic Southern California chain that features a 32-foot donut atop one of its locations, is expanding to the Bay Area, including one store in Berkeley, SF Eater reports.

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Monday, May 20, 2019

Monday's Briefing: Measles at Berkeley Bowl; Richmond cop involved in Celeste Guap scandal got his job back

Trump's tariffs helping Central Valley garlic industry

by Steven Tavares
Mon, May 20, 2019 at 6:00 AM

Employee at Berkeley Bowl. Shoppers at Berkeley Bowl may have been exposed to measles on May 7. - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • Employee at Berkeley Bowl. Shoppers at Berkeley Bowl may have been exposed to measles on May 7.


News you don't want to miss for May 20:

1. "A Berkeley resident may have exposed shoppers at Berkeley Bowl to measles, officials announced Friday", SF Gate reports. "The infected individual visited Berkeley Bowl, at 2020 Oregon St., on May 7 between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., Berkeley Public Health said in a press release."

2. A Richmond cop who was involved in the Celeste Guap police misconduct scandals in 2016 was reinstated to his job despite the protests of the city manager, the East Bay Times reports.

3. President Trump's tariffs are causing great concerns for many U.S. industries, but not Gilroy's Christopher Ranch, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The garlic producer has long been losing ground to cheap garlic from China. Trump's 25 percent tariff on Chinese garlic is boosting the company's hopes. $$

4. A bill introduced earlier this year by San Mateo state Sen. Jerry Hill attempted to inoculate PG&E ratepayers from paying for damages related to wildfires caused by the utility. That bill was placed on hold by a budget subcommittee, the Sacramento Bee reports. PG&E's rates are set by the California Public Utilities Commission, but Hill's legislation would have added legislative oversight to the process. $$

5. A report by the California Energy Commission said a reason for the state's inflated gas prices may be "market manipulation," the Associated Press reports. Large gas retailers like Chevron, Shell, Exxon, Mobil, and 76 have doubled their gas prices over that of smaller retailers and unbranded stations even though they all sell basically the same product.

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Friday, May 17, 2019

Friday's Briefing: Oakland Police raid arrests 16 gang members; SB50 is dead for this year

Alameda County homeless count is up 43 percent

by Steven Tavares
Fri, May 17, 2019 at 6:00 AM

FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
News you don't want to miss for May 17-19:

1. A large-scale raid led by Oakland Police on a "super cell" of three Oakland gangs led to the arrest of 16 people suspected of causing an increase in violent crime in North Oakland, KRON reports. In addition, to Oakland, raids occurred in five other East Bay cities: Antioch, Hayward, Richmond, San Leandro, and Vallejo.

2. Ghost Ship trial: "Defense attorney Tony Serra on Thursday accused fire officials of attempting to shield the City of Oakland from liability in a civil lawsuit" over saving the lives of those inside the fiery warehouse, KQED reports.

3. SB50, the high-profile legislation to spur the approval of housing construction near transit hubs met its surprising demise Thursday after the state Senate Appropriations Committee voted to designate the legislation as a two-year bill, essentially mothballing the effort until 2020, Cal Matters reports.

4. Even though the housing crisis is on the radar of every Alameda County city, the rate of homelessness is not slowing. According to new data gathered last January, there are 8,022 homeless people in Alameda County, an increase of 43 percent over the previous year, the Mercury News reports.

5. Brian Hofer, the Oakland paralegal who has led the fight against the rise of the surveillance state in the East Bay, is profiled in The New York Times. This week, San Francisco approved a ban on facial-recognition technology that was advocated by Hofer, and Oakland is likely to soon follow. $$

6. New DNA evidence in a 44-year-old Bay Area cold case led to a suspect living in Hayward, ABC7 reports. John Getrue was arrested for the 1974 murder of Janet Taylor after DNA on the victim's clothing linked him to the crime.

7. The plant-based burger patty made by Impossible Burger, which is produced in Oakland, is partnering with Burger King, but Tara Duggan in the San Francisco Chronicle reports on the ethical quandary the company is facing by rapidly expanding with a chain known for some unsavory business practices. $$

8. After trailing by as much as 15 points in the third quarter, the Warriors came from behind to beat the Portland Trailblazers, 114-111, to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven NBA Western Conference Finals, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

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