Friday, June 28, 2019

Friday’s Briefing: Harris hassles Biden, scores points at Democratic debate; SCOTUS citizenship question from Census

Richmond, Livermore eyeing e-cig bans

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Jun 28, 2019 at 1:55 PM

News you don’t want to miss for June 28-30:

1. Sen. Kamala Harris came away as the big winner following Thursday’s Democratic presidential primary debate, a San Francisco Chronicle reporter concluded. Harris harangued the front-running Biden on his uneven record on African-Americans and comments he made last week touting his past working relationships with two segregationist senators. Rep. Eric Swalwell, though, got in the first jab at Biden, quoting him decades ago about “passing the torch” to the next generation. $$

2. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a question asking about citizenship on the upcoming Census cannot yet be included on the form, the Chron reported. The court said the Trump administration’s reason for including the question was “contrived.” The citizenship question risked the state and Alameda County losing significant federal funding with the likelihood immigrants might choose not to participate in count.

3. A canine influenza outbreak at the Oakland Animal Shelter is putting pressure on other East Bay shelters, including Berkeley’s, which is now at full-capacity, Berkeleyside reported. Nearly two-thirds of the dogs in the Oakland shelter have come down with the infectious flu.

4. The Twitterverse took aim at Mayor Libby Schaaf after she tweeted a photo of her recent group of young interns. Social media was critical of the lack of African-American representation in her mayoral office, the East Bay Times reported. $$

5. San Francisco’s move this week to ban the sale of e-cigarettes is already inspiring other local cities to possibly do the same, the Chron reported. Richmond and Livermore are contemplating their own local ordinances on the sale of e-cigarettes. $$

6. With California budget in the books, the state will spend $2 billion to fight the housing and homeless crisis during the next fiscal year, Calmatters reports. The 13 largest cities in the state will split $275 million funding out of $650 million total. The rest is allocated to counties and regional agencies.

7. It’s looking like a buyers’ market is on the horizon. Median home prices dropped by the largest percentage decreases in more than seven years, the Chron reports. Home prices dropped by 1.7 percent, following a trends in recent months. $$

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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Thursday’s Briefing: OPD releases internal affairs report on Celeste Guap scandal

Plus, ALCO Sheriff’s substation in San Leandro to be tested for radiation, and rent control measure in 2020?

by Steven Tavares
Thu, Jun 27, 2019 at 10:51 AM

News you don’t want to miss for June 27: 1. A heavily-redacted Oakland Police Department internal affairs report on the Celeste Guap police misconduct scandal was released Wednesday, KQED reports. Three-fourths of the 393-page report remains secret, including information on 12 police officers involved in the 2016 scandal. $$ 2. State housing activists are readying another bid to place a rent control measure on the 2020 ballot just seven months after 60 percent of California voters disapproved of Proposition 10, the Los Angeles Times reports. This new proposal would not overturn the Costa-Hawkins Act, but allow city to opt-in and allow them to enact rent increase caps on landlords. $$ 3. On the flip side, SF Curbed takes a deep dive into the miserable performance of a number of housing bills in Sacramento this spring. They include many that never even receive a vote despite rhetoric heard from the governor’s office and legislative leaders that fixing the housing crisis is a paramount concern. 4. The Berkeley City Council approved its fiscal-year budget, the Daily Californian reports. The budget includes $900,000 in aid for those struggling with the housing crisis. 5. “Radiation testing is scheduled for this week at the Alameda County Sheriff's Office Eden Township substation in San Leandro after at least five deputies were diagnosed with cancer, KTVU reports. 6. On Night One of the Democratic presidential debates, a number of candidates felt the compunction to break out their Spanish-speaking skills. Tonight’s second round of 10 candidates will feature the Bay Area’s Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Eric Swalwell. Meanwhile, Politico has sobering predictions for both: Harris may have peaked too early and Swalwell’s campaign may be weeks from folding.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Wednesday's Briefing: Oakland City Council approves contentious two-year budget; Councilmember's son sentenced

Oakland moves closer to banning facial recognition software

by Steven Tavares
Wed, Jun 26, 2019 at 6:00 AM

Oakland has a new two-year budget but labor troubles may follow. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Oakland has a new two-year budget but labor troubles may follow.


News you don't want to miss for June 26:

1. After seven hours of debate and acrimony between some councilmembers and city administration, the Oakland City Council approved a two-year budget early Tuesday morning, the East Bay Times reports. Amendments by Council President Rebecca Kaplan and Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas would have allocated up to $4.2 million in funding for city workers, but each failed, setting up the potential for labor strife on the horizon. $$

2. Following San Francisco's lead, the Oakland City Council Public Safety Committee moved forward legislation to the full council to ban the purchase of facial recognition software in Oakland, including the police department, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

3. Taj Reid, the son of Oakland Councilmember Larry Reid, was sentenced in U.S. District court to one year in prison for rigging a government bidding process in 2013 and bribery, SFGate reports.

4. The Alameda County grand jury report released Monday continues to take heat for a number of questionable assumptions and factual deficiencies. Add BART to the list. The transit agency said the percentage of fare evaders is 5 percent, not 15 percent as stated by the grand jury, which was critical of BART, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

5. Warriors forward Andre Iguodala, while promoting his book, said the team priced out true basketball fans in favor of wealthy Silicon Valley techies, SFGate reports. Iguodala also said the Warriors minority owner who pushed an opposing player during the NBA Finals showed his true colors and probably wouldn't have shoved the player if he was white.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Tuesday's Briefing: NCAA warns against passing Skinner's student-athlete bill; DHS agent seen at Berkeley City College

Alameda County grand jury reports on Alameda, Urban Shield, Santa Rita Jail

by Steven Tavares
Tue, Jun 25, 2019 at 6:00 AM

A Homeland Security agent was seen at Berkeley City College seeking student records. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • A Homeland Security agent was seen at Berkeley City College seeking student records.


News you don't want to miss for June 25:

1. A potential game-changing bill by East Bay state Sen. Nancy Skinner is being challenged by the NCAA, the governing body of college sports, USA Today reports. Skinner's bill would give student-athletes the ability to be compensated for their name, face, and likeness. The bill was approved last month in the state Senate. But NCAA President Mark Emmert sent a letter asking for an Assembly committee to postpone a hearing on the bill this Tuesday. Emmert suggested that if the bill is signed into law, universities in California would not be allowed to compete in NCAA championships like the popular basketball tournaments and football bowl games.

2. A Department of Homeland Security agent was spotted at Berkeley City College seeking student record information from the school, Berkeleyside reports. The scene comes amid heightened concern within immigrant communities following President Trump's warning that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents will soon be targeting undocumented immigrants for deportation.

3. The Alameda County civil grand jury released its annual report Monday. The 19-person grand jury mostly reiterated two previous investigations on Alameda's charter violation scandal, finding Councilmembers Jim Oddie and Malia Vella pressured the city manager to hire their preferred candidate for fire chief, the East Bay Citizen reports. But the grand jury also recommended no further actions other than urging the city to add greater specificity to its charter rules prohibiting council interference.

4. The grand jury also found "no significant issues" with the procedures for intake of prisoners at Dublin's Santa Rita Jail, the East Bay Times reports. The finding comes despite several fatal incidents at the prison recently and the birth of a child in the jail without medical supervision. $$

5. Meanwhile, the grand jury sharply criticized the Alameda County Board of Supervisors for mishandling the process that eventually led to loss of federal funding for the controversial Urban Shield police emergency training event, KPIX reports.

6. The future of BART is apparently a lot like its past and present. One of BART's new trains, dubbed the "Fleet of Future," broke down Monday between the Lake Merritt and 12th Street stations in Oakland forcing 400 passengers to exit through a dark tunnel, NBC Bay Area reports.

7. Oakland Council President is not only riding solo with her plan to eliminate the city's Department of Transportation, but also at home, according to the Bay Area Reporter. Kaplan's wife of five years responded to an article in the LGBT newspaper that described Kaplan as married, when in fact they are no longer together. Kaplan apologized for not being forthcoming about her marital status during a recent interview with the paper.

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Monday, June 24, 2019

Monday's Briefing: RV parking program for homeless open in Oakland; 341 area code joins 510 in the East Bay

Hall of Fame trainer banned from Golden Gate Fields after another horse dies in SoCal

by Steven Tavares
Mon, Jun 24, 2019 at 12:33 AM

Hall of Fame thoroughbred trainer Jerry Hollendorfer was banned by the owners of Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita racetrack in Southern California after a fourth of his horses was euthanized after a race. - GOLDEN GATE FIELDS
  • Golden Gate Fields
  • Hall of Fame thoroughbred trainer Jerry Hollendorfer was banned by the owners of Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita racetrack in Southern California after a fourth of his horses was euthanized after a race.


News you don't want to miss for June 24:

1. A six-month pilot parking program for people living in their RVs opened Friday in Oakland, KQED reports. The site is located on a city-owned property near the Oakland Coliseum and includes wash rooms and 24-hour security. The lot can hold between 30 and 50 RVs.

2. It might take some time for the 341 area code to catch on in terms of conveying a sense of East Bay pride like its brethren, the well-known 510 area code. The San Francisco Chronicle reports parts of western Alameda County and Contra Costa County will begin receiving the new 341 area code as remaining 510 prefixes run out. $$

3. Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Harriet Richardson to serve as inspector general to keep tabs on BART's finances and accountability for safety and cleanliness at its stations, Curbed SF reports. Richardson was previously an auditor for the city of Palo Alto. $$

4. A forthcoming Alameda County civil grand jury report will recommend against removing Alameda Councilmember Jim Oddie from office for violating the city's Charter, the East Bay Citizen reports. Earlier this month, the Contra Costa County civil grand jury started the process for potentially removing Assessor Gus Kramer for misconduct. The Alameda County civil grand jury report will be released to the public this week.

5. When it comes to federal funding for infrastructure projects, California had it good under President Obama, but not so munch since. Since 2017, the federal government under President Trump has sent the state less than the half the amount the Obama administration doled out in funding for infrastructure earlier this decade, the Sacramento Bee reports. $$

6. An 11-acre plaza next to the the Golden State Warriors new home in San Francisco, will reportedly fetch the team $295 million in naming rights fees from Kaiser Permanente, Phil Matier reports in the San Francisco Chronicle. Chase Bank paid $300 million over 20 years for naming rights to the new arena slated to open later this year. $$

7. Hall of Fame thoroughbred trainer Jerry Hollendoffer was dismissed from Golden Gate Fields in Albany and Santa Anita in Southern California after a fourth horse he trains died at a meet, Thoroughbred Daily News reports. Thirty horses total have died at meets in Santa Anita since last December, a staggering number that some believe could threaten the future of thoroughbred racing. Hollendorfer had three horses running last Saturday at the Pleasanton Fairgrounds.

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Friday, June 21, 2019

Friday's Briefing: Federal funding to improve the Transbay Tube is coming; CSU failed to disclose $1.5 billion surplus

Alameda County is projected to have an Asian-American majority-minority

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Jun 21, 2019 at 6:00 AM

BART's entire federal grant totals $1.2 billion. - ERIC FISCHER
  • Eric FIscher
  • BART's entire federal grant totals $1.2 billion.


News you don't want to miss for June 21-23:

1. The state auditor found California State University failed to disclose a $1.5 billion surplus, all the while raising tuition by 90 percent for its 480,000 students, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The state audit also criticized profligate spending by CSU for parking structures that did little to alleviate congestion. $$

2. BART will receive the first $300 million installment of a $1.2 billion Federal Transit Administration grant to improve the Transbay Tube, KQED reports. The grant will also go toward building a rail yard in Hayward.

3. Ghost Ship trial: A witness for the defense testified Thursday that Oakland firefighters had viewed the inside of the warehouse more than two years prior to the deadly December 2016 fire and failed to document any problems with the building, the San Francisco Chronicle report. $$

4. "A California Assembly committee backed new rules for vaccination exemptions on Thursday following a raucous, hours-long hearing in the midst of a national measles outbreak and renewed scrutiny of immunization policies," the Associated Press reports. The bill would call attention to the state public health department when a doctor authorizes more than five exemptions in a year in schools that have less than 95 percent vaccination rates.

5. The Assembly passed legislation Thursday to lower business tax write-offs, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The move could help pay for $1 billion in proposed tax credits for those earning less than $30,000 a year. The bill heads to Gov. Gavin Newsom's desk. $$

6. A proposed data center on the Alameda Point waterfront that would have used bay water to cool its servers was rejected by the Alameda City Council, the East Bay Citizen reports. Environmentalist said the project could adversely affect the bay by warming the water and potentially spurring on a toxic algae bloom.

7. The Asian-American demographic in Alameda County is now a majority-minority, based on a U.S. Census projection for 2019, SFGate reports. Santa Clara County also attained the same projection. Asian Americans in Alameda County make up 31.8 percent of its 1.6 million population. White/non-Hispanic follows with 31.1 percent; Latino/Hispanic, 22.4 percent; Black, 11.2 percent; two or more races, 5.3 percent.

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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Thursday's Briefing: Oakland city auditor knocks OPD's overtime spending; Ghost Ship defendant says back stairs were not blocked

Dating website ranks Fremont as one of the most unfaithful cities in the U.S.

by Steven Tavares
Thu, Jun 20, 2019 at 4:00 AM

Oakland City Auditor Courtney Ruby - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • Oakland City Auditor Courtney Ruby


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

1. Oakland City Auditor Courtney Ruby said overtime costs by the city's police department lack oversight, KRON reports. The Oakland Police Department has spent an average of $30 million on overtime costs over the past four fiscal years, according to Ruby's audit.

2. Ghost Ship trial: Defendant Max Harris testified Wednesday that he was mistaken when he told Alameda County district attorney investigators that the stairs at the back of the warehouse were blocked on the night of the December 2016 fire that killed 36 people, Bay City News reports.

3. Two weeks ago, a Contra Costa County civil grand jury determined that the county's elected assessor, Gus Kramer, should be removed from office because of misconduct. Kramer is requesting that the county's district attorney recuse himself from handling the case, the East Bay Times reports. Grand jury nerds take note: Alameda County's civil grand jury report will be released next week. $$

4. You already know living in the Bay Area is extremely expensive, but here's some additional context: According to an annual survey of the most expensive, or, "out of reach" counties in the U.S., the Bay Area dominated the list, SFGate reports. San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara Counties, among others, made up the top seven on the list.

5. Absent a remarkable showing in next week's Democratic presidential primary debate, East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell's campaign appears on the verge of winding down. Swalwell reiterated to the San Francisco Chronicle that if he does not qualify for the next round of debates in July, he will bow out and run for his seat in Congress. He has until early December to file for the March 2020 primary in the 15th District.

6. Now we know why they call it "Freakmont." According to the dating website Ashley Madison, Fremont ranks as the fifth-most unfaithful city in the U.S. Fremont landed three spots ahead of "Sin City," itself Las Vegas, according to Barstool Sports.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Wednesday's Briefing: Google pledges $1 billion for Bay Area housing; Newsom apologizes for 'genocide' of Native Americans in California

Fake news: Bridge tolls are not coming to Alameda

by Steven Tavares
Wed, Jun 19, 2019 at 6:00 AM

Alameda's Park Street Bridge. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Alameda's Park Street Bridge.


News you don't want to miss for June 19:

1. Google will invest $1 billion to help ease the housing crunch in the Bay Area that it helped exacerbate over the past decade, Reuters reports. The details are scant at this point, but Google will use $750 million to buy land and $250 million to encourage developers to build up to 5,000 new units near its headquarters and around transit hubs.

2. Gov. Gavin Newsom apologized for California's historical treatment of Native Americans, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. “It’s called a genocide. That’s what it was: a genocide. No other way to describe it. And that’s the way it needs to be described in the history books,” Newsom said. $$

3. Ghost Ship trial: An Alameda County prosecutor cross-examined defendant Max Harris Tuesday in an effort to highlight "untruths" in his previous actions and statements, the East Bay Times reports. Harris also admitted that he told police nobody lived inside the artist collective. $$

4. Either the rents are too high or she found the dearth of restaurants open after 9 p.m. unacceptable, but "Allie" the humpback whale has left the waters near Alameda, KPIX reports.

5. An off-hand remark during a recent Alameda City Council meeting about charging a $5 bridge toll in Alameda sparked outraged on the island, despite its "fake news" aspects. The comment was made during a discussion about reducing the city's greenhouse gas emissions. There is no imminent proposal, KGO-TV reports.

6. "The Alameda County sheriff’s deputy who said he was pushed and hit in the face by the Toronto Raptors’ president last week... sustained a concussion and is on medical leave from work, his attorney said Tuesday," according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Team President Masai Uriji was stopped by the deputy following the Raptors victory in Oakland last week because the executive did not have credentials for being on the court. $$

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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Tuesday's Briefing: Oakland declares impasse in labor negotiations with unions; Kaiser to build $900 million downtown headquarters

Schaaf implies in tweet to Trump that she would again warn of ICE raids

by Steven Tavares
Tue, Jun 18, 2019 at 6:00 AM

A rendering of the Kaiser Permanente Thrive Center on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland. - KAISER PERMANENT
  • Kaiser Permanent
  • A rendering of the Kaiser Permanente Thrive Center on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland.


News you don't want to miss for June 18:

1. A rift between Oakland officials and SEIU Local 1021 and IFTPE Local 21 has returned. City negotiators declared an impasse last week and SEIU Local 1021 filed a complaint with the Public Employment Relations Board against the city for unfair labor practices, arguing the Oakland officials did not allow the union to respond to contract offers, the San Francisco Chronicle. $$

2. Kaiser Permanente, Oakland's largest employer, said it wants to transform disparate lots on Telegraph Avenue near BART into one of the biggest buildings in the Bay Area, the San Francisco Chronicle. The new building would serve as Kaiser's headquarters, house 7,200 employees, and cost $900 million. $$

3. The City of Berkeley sued U.C. Berkeley last Friday alleging the university failed to appropriately assess the impact on city services with an influx of almost 48,000 additional students by 2022-23, Berkeleyside reports. The city still hopes to reach a settlement over the issue.

4. Ghost Ship trial: Max Harris, one of the defendants charged with 36 counts on involuntary manslaughter, testified Monday that he was in no way an authority figure at the Ghost Ship, just someone who received free rent for cleaning the warehouse collective and for being an artist, KQED reports.

5. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf implied in a tweet at President Trump Monday evening that if she receives information of a raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, she will again warn the public, the East Bay Citizen reports. Schaaf made national headlines in February 2018 when she alerted undocumented immigrants of impending raids.

6. The bill for Sen. Kamala Harris's campaign kickoff last February in downtown Oakland is due next week, the East Bay Times reports. The campaign owes Oakland more than $122,000 for city services, primarily for security. $$

7. In order for the state Legislature to boost the Earned Income Tax Credit by $1.2 billion in the next budget, they will have to conform with President Trump's 2017 tax cuts, the Associated Press reports. The state hopes to give those with an annual income of less than $30,000 up to $1,000 in state refunds.

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Monday, June 17, 2019

Monday's Briefing: Concord man arrested for making alleged threats against synagogue; Mother disputes shooting by San Leandro Police

New BART cars will be assembled in Pittsburg

by Steven Tavares
Mon, Jun 17, 2019 at 6:00 AM

A person was shot Sunday night while traveling through the Caldecott Tunnel. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • A person was shot Sunday night while traveling through the Caldecott Tunnel.


News you don't want to miss for June 17:

1. Concord Police, working with the F.B.I., arrested 23-year-old Ross Farca after he made threats against a Jewish synagogue, the East Bay Times reports. Farca made the comments in a video game chat room.

2. Anthony Gomez, 56, was fatally shot by San Leandro Police last week after mistaking a piece of wood in Gomez's hand for a firearm. Gomez's mother disputes the events police said led to the shooting, that he was wielding a machete beforehand and exposing himself to children, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

3.A motorist traveling westbound on Highway 24 was shot while driving through the Caldecott Tunnel, Bay City News reports. The incident occurred around 8 p.m. Sunday night.

4. Bombadier, the Canadian company creating BART's new rail cars, is opening a plant in Pittsburg, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. This means much of BART new fleet will be assembled in the East Bay. Bombadier hopes to hire 50 employees for the plant. Meanwhile, BART is phasing out paper tickets by the end of this year. $$

5. Why is California's deep blue politics giving progressives the blues? The state's Democratic supermajority has turned away legislation this session on charter schools, oil production, data privacy, e-cigarettes, soda, and renters' rights. CalMatters reports the moderates in the Legislature and big-time special interest lobbying still carries the day.

6. Hayward Councilmember Aisha Wahab received some national attention in The Washington Post this weekend. The first-ever Afghan American to win elected office in the U.S. is running for Rep. Eric Swalwell's seat as he runs for president. "A millennial with direct experience with America's foreign policy and its consequences would enter the House as a national figure," Dave Wiegel writes of Wahab. Swalwell, though, may come back to run for seat next year. $$

7. Sergio Taylor, 20, has been charged for impersonating a police officer three times within the past month. After a third arrest last week in Oakland, an Alameda County Superior Court judge released Taylor on $5,000 bail, despite the wishes of prosecutors who wanted him taken into custody, SFGate reports. Taylor was also arrested in Berkeley and San Leandro for the same offense.

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