Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Tuesday's Briefing: Gilroy shooter used AK-47-style firearm; Barbara Lee visits Ghana

Prosecutors offer closing arguments in Ghost Ship trial

by Steven Tavares
Tue, Jul 30, 2019 at 4:00 AM

Oakland Rep. Barbara Lee - STEVEN TAVARES
  • Steven Tavares
  • Oakland Rep. Barbara Lee

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

1. The gunman alleged to have killed three people at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Sunday was carrying an assault rifle-like AK-47 bought legally in Nevada, CNN reports. The type of firearm, however, is illegal to be purchased in California.

2. East Bay Rep. Barbara Lee is in Ghana attending the 400th anniversary of the slave trade from Africa to the U.S., the Voice of America reports. Lee is part of a congressional delegation that includes Speaker Nancy Pelosi

3. A new Public Policy Institute of California poll shows Sen. Kamala Harris leading the California presidential primary race with 19 percent, Calmatters reports. Another poll earlier this month showed Harris topping Joe Biden, but this new poll shows Biden dropping to fourth behind Harris, and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

4. Hayward Councilmember Aisha Wahab’s campaign for Rep. Eric Swalwell congressional seat appeared tenuous after he quit his run president earlier this month. On Monday, Wahab suspended her progressive campaign for the 15th District, but did not elaborate on what suspend means, the East Bay Citizen reports.

5. Ghost Ship trial: Alameda County prosecutors made their closing arguments in the deadly Oakland warehouse fire that killed 36 people in December 2016, saying Derick Almena and Max Harris, the two men charged with involuntary manslaughter were negligent when they failed to procure various permits for the building, the Associated Press reports.

6. A Marin county supervisor wants to consolidate Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and Associated Bay Area Governments (ABAG) into one regional mega-board, the Marin Independent Journal reports. In 2016, MTC and ABAG agreed to merge their staffs. But consolidation could lessen the power of elected officials in Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Francisco Counties.

7. NIMBYs have been derided by many in the Bay Area for exacerbating the housing crisis. "The scale of this problem has fractured the voters of this largely progressive region, pushing Californians of varying political stripes into rival camps that don’t neatly subdivide along the usual left-right lines." CityLab offers a more nuanced view of both sides of the debate.

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Monday, July 29, 2019

Monday's Briefing: Gunman kills three at Gilroy Garlic Festival; Kaiser employees may call for a strike

U.C. Berkeley kicked off Best U.S. Colleges list

by Steven Tavares
Mon, Jul 29, 2019 at 4:00 AM

If approved by Kaiser nurses, a strike could take place in October. - SAM LEVIN
  • Sam Levin
  • If approved by Kaiser nurses, a strike could take place in October.

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

1. A gunman killed three and wounded at least 15 people at the Gilroy Garlic Festival Sunday evening, the Associated Press reports. Police are searching for a second possible suspect. Initial reports said the firearm used by the gunman was a rifle.

2. Kaiser Permanente workers affiliated with the Service Employees Union International will vote today on whether to authorize a strike, KQED reports. If approved, the labor stoppage could start in October. Nurses have been without a contract since September 2018.

3. Oakland Coucilmember Noel Gallo’s crusade to improve the quality of life in Oakland and his Fruitvale District continues and this time it’s hitting home. Gallo told the San Francisco Chronicle that his car was broken into for the fifth time last week. In addition, he’s been the victim of smash and grab twice at City Hall. $$

4. Meanwhile, former state Senate pro tem Don Perata is also tired of the lawlessness in Oakland stemming from sideshows. He told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Phil Matier that the city should aim fire hoses on the illegal revelers. $$

5. Another fire at an Oakland construction site late Thursday night is attracting scrutiny from Oakland fire investigators and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, SFGate reports. The building in North Oakland was slated to become live-work lofts, along with two residential units.

6. Granted, the optics may be problematic at first glance, but some mayors in the East Bay want the recently closed Glen Dyer Jail in Oakland to be converted into a homeless shelter, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

7. U.C. Berkeley’s football and men’s basketball teams know a lot about being unranked, but now the entire university knows the feeling after the U.S. News & World Report's popular Best Colleges list removed the school’s number two ranking, SFGate reports. Cal was downgraded to unranked after it “greatly overstated” its contributions from alumni.

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Friday, July 26, 2019

Friday’s Briefing: Peralta Community College District nearing insolvency? Port officials said employees did not aid ICE at the Oakland Airport

Oakland chef wins Food Network's "Chopped"

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Jul 26, 2019 at 4:00 AM

The Peralta Community College District has faced fiscal uncertainty for several years. - MERRITT COLLEGE
  • Merritt College
  • The Peralta Community College District has faced fiscal uncertainty for several years.

News you don't want to miss for July 26-28:

1. A state resource created to help struggling school district with managing their finances has determined the Peralta Community College District is at “high risk of insolvency,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

2. Nobody seems to be copping to whether they knew U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement was deporting thousands of immigrants out of the Oakland Airport over the past the eight years. KTVU reports Port of Oakland officials said none of their employees assisted ICE agents over the years.

3. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Thursday that will provide $130 million annual to help poor communities provide clean water to their residents, the Fresno Bee reports. The state will use money set aside for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. $$

4. Berkeley will start a pilot program this September to support reusable cups at various cafes in the city, SFGate reports. The stainless steel coffee cups are scanned at the register. But if you don’t return them within five days, you will harshly judged. Sorry. Uou will be charged for the cup.

5. BART named Bob Powers to be its next general manager, the San Francisco Examiner reports. Powers is a former deputy general manager. He replaces Grace Crunican, who announced her retirement last April.

6. The rate of homeownership in the Bay Area is at a seven-year low, the East Bay Times reports. $$

7.Rashad Armstead, the owner of Oakland’s Grammie”s Down-Home Chicken & Seafood, won the top prize on the Food Network’s “Chopped” last Tuesday. SFGate reports Armstead held an after party in Oakland to celebrate the victory and sample some of his creations from the show.

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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Richmond City Council Haplessly Fires City Manager

by John Geluardi
Thu, Jul 25, 2019 at 9:35 AM

Carlos Martinez
  • Carlos Martinez

Without much ceremony, the Richmond City Council canceled City Manager Carlos Martinez’s contract Tuesday night less than a year after hiring him.

The narrow, 4 to 3-vote took place during closed session and had the feel of spontaneous palace coup. The four councilmembers who voted to cancel Martinez’s contract apparently had not thought through their action because they did not have a interim city manager ready to takeover and the one person who they put forward to be acting city manager, Community Services Director Rochelle Polk, refused the position when she found out about it Wednesday morning.

Martinez’s firing leaves open what is perhaps the city’s most important critical position in terms of making decisions on the variety of critical issues that a mid-sized city faces on a daily basis. There are immediate prospects to fill the temporary and permanent position.

Mayor Tom Butt has called for a special meeting Saturday to make a plan for filling the job, but it is uncertain if he will be to get the required four councilmembers to put schedule the meeting. One councilmember observed that the offhanded firing makes the city look unstable and mercurial, two characteristics that will make it more difficult to find a qualified replacement.

Councilmembers Demnlus Johnson, Nat Bates, Eduardo Martinez, and Melvin Willis voted to fire Martinez. Mayor Tom Butt and councilmembers Jael Myrick, and Ben Choi voted to retain him.

“It took us eight months to find Carlos Martinez and now we have no acting city manager no plan for recruiting a new one and we have pay Martinez, $350,000, money we don’t have,” Butt said. “And we’re going to have to start the recruitment process all over again.

The firing was driven by the city’s five unions, which were angry with Martinez over negotiations and alleged labor law violations. In the past two or three weeks, union leaders put heavy pressure on councilmembers to oust the city manager. But Martinez was facing a $7 million budget deficit, which he inherited. The city council passed a budget earlier this month, which was described as “balanced,” though some city employees call that term a bit “magical.”

Martinez did not do himself any favors with his public relations style, which amounted to no public relations at all. During his nine months in Richmond, he did not give one media interview nor did he make his case to the public about the difficult decisions that had to be made in order balance the budget. His total lack of public profile helped, in part, to make him appear vulnerable to union pressure.

None of the four councilmembers who voted to fire Martinez returned calls from the East Bay Express.

Thursday’s Briefing: SFMTA chief to become Oakland assistant city administrator; Richmond city manager is out after less than a year

Visas for Chinese students and scholars at U.C. Berkeley are being delayed by Trump

by Steven Tavares
Thu, Jul 25, 2019 at 4:00 AM

Ed Reiskin is joining the Oakland city administrator's office. - SFMTA
  • Ed Reiskin is joining the Oakland city administrator's office.

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

1. San Francisco’s soon-to-be-ex leader of its Municipal Transportation Agency is taking a job at Oakland City Hall, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Ed Reiskin will become an Oakland assistant city administrator. $$

2. Richmond City Manager Carlos Martinez is out after less than a year on the job, Radio Free Richmond reports. The Richmond City Council narrowly voted, 4-3, this week to terminate Martinez’s contract. The former East Palo Alto city manager was facing opposition from labor unions upset over cuts to personnel.

3. The Guardian looks to get to the bottom of why there seems to be so many freeway shootings in recent years. One theory is displacement due to the ongoing housing crisis.

4. Growing suspicions about China in the realm of science and technology by the Trump administration is affecting university research at U.C. Berkeley and other U.C. schools, the Los Angeles Times reports. Chinese students and professors are facing delays in securing visas, along with greater interest in their activities at the universities. $$

5. “Latinos, Asian Americans and women are underrepresented among applicants for the 2020 commission that will draw California congressional districts,” the Sacramento Bee reports. In 2010, 30,000 people applied. This time around the number is at 7,500, leading some to urge for the deadline to be extended. California could lose a congressional seat after 2020 and the contraction could be in the East Bay. $$

6. A lawsuit is arguing California’s open primary system is anything but when it comes to those registered as independents, Calmatters reports. The complaint said No Party Preference voters is unconstitutional because it disenfranchised some voters, particularly those who receive Democratic vote-by-mail ballots, by locking them out of each party’s primaries. The workaround for independents is they have to register with a party in the primary.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Wednesday’s Briefing: Emeryville repeals small-business minimum wage exemption; Homeless cleared from East Oakland Home Depot

Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center renovation begins in early 2020

by Steven Tavares
Wed, Jul 24, 2019 at 4:00 AM

Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center will be renamed the Oakland Civic. - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center will be renamed the Oakland Civic.

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

1. Emeryville repealed an ordinance that exempted some small businesses from paying employees the city’s minimum wage, which was raised to $16.30 an hour on July 1, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The amendment was approved by the Emeryville City Council last May. Emeryville has the nation’s highest minimum wage. $$

2. A homeless encampment near the Home Depot in East Oakland was cleared Tuesday, KTVU reports. Oakland Councilmember Noel Gallo had said the hardware retailer was threatening to close the store in his district because of blight from RVs and reported thefts.

3. Homelessness is not only surging in Oakland, but the entire Bay Area. SF Curbed lays out the numbers, including Alameda County, which has an estimated 8,022 homeless individuals, a 42.5 percent increase over two years ago.

4. The renovation of the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center near Lake Merritt will begin construction in early 2020, the East Bay Times reports, and be renamed “Oakland Civic.” If all goes well, the new facility could open in 2021. $$

5. Sen. Kamala Harris introduced legislation Tuesday that would decriminalize cannabis at the federal level and expunge related convictions, the Daily Beast reports. Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta successfully carried similar legislation last year at the state level.

6. Hayward tapped San Francisco assistant police chief Toney Chaplin to head its police department, the San Francisco Examiner reports. Chaplin was once in line to be police chief in San Francisco. He's lived in Hayward for more than a decade.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Tuesday's Briefing: Oakland's rate of homelessness is skyrocketing; Shooting shuts down a portion of Interstate 880

Warriors are worth $3.5 billion, according to Forbes

by Steven Tavares
Tue, Jul 23, 2019 at 4:00 AM

Oakland has an estimated 4,071 unsheltered homeless individuals. - JOSE ANGEL JUAREZ
  • Jose Angel Juarez
  • Oakland has an estimated 4,071 unsheltered homeless individuals.

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

1. Oakland's rate of homelessness increased 47 percent in the last two years, according to a point-in-time count performed by the county, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The estimated number of unsheltered individuals in Oakland rose from 2,761 to 4,071, the largest increase in the state. $$

2. Northbound Interstate 880 near 98th Avenue in Oakland was shut down Monday evening after one person was shot on the freeway, NBC Bay Area reports.

3. The odds of incoming freshmen getting accepted to the U.C. system is a tad better this fall, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. More than 108,000 freshman were accepted, a 62 percent rate. In 2018, 59 percent were admitted. $$

4. Alameda's two-year city manager scandal was worsened, Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft said, because her predecessor, Trish Herrera Spencer, lacked strong leadership skills, the East Bay Citizen reports. Spencer called Ashcraft's comments immature.

5. Did President Trump's dislike of Oakland motivate the U.S. Department of Justice to file a motion earlier this month to intervene in the city's lawsuit against the National Football League and the Raiders over the team's move to Las Vegas? Daniel Kaplan writes in The Athletic that the motion seems peculiar, according to a legal expert. $$

6. The Golden State Warriors are the ninth most valuable sports franchise in the world, according to Forbes. The team's valuation increased 13 percent over a year ago to $3.5 billion. The Dallas Cowboys, at $5 billion, topped the annual rankings.

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Monday, July 22, 2019

Monday’s Briefing: ICE used Oakland Airport to deport 43,000 undocumented immigrants since 2010; USS Hornet celebrates the lunar landing anniversary

Lawsuit to keep Raiders name and logo in Oakland appears dead

by Steven Tavares
Mon, Jul 22, 2019 at 4:00 AM

ICE discontinued use of Oakland Airport in October 2018, according to the East Bay Times. - CREATIVE COMMONS
  • Creative Commons
  • ICE discontinued use of Oakland Airport in October 2018, according to the East Bay Times.

News you don’t want to miss for July 22:

1. Undocumented immigrants were ferried out of Oakland Airport at an astonishing pace from 2010 to last October, the East Bay Times reports. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents used the Oakland Airport to deport more than 43,000 undocumented immigrants during the time frame. $$

2. The USS Hornet in Alameda helped celebrate the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing last weekend, NBC Bay Area reports. The aircraft carrier picked up the Apollo 11 astronauts after their capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean.

3. Oakland’s lawsuit to keep the Oakland Raiders name and colors after the franchise moves to Las Vegas in 2020 appears in serious trouble. A federal court judge gave the plaintiffs 45 days to amend the complaint to specifically detail why the team’s move represents an anti-trust violation, KGO-TV reports.

4. The East Bay Regional Park District became the latest government body to ban the use of the weed killer Roundup, the Mercury News reports. Several lawsuits in the state have yielded large payouts to individuals who have proven the weed killer causes cancer. $$

5. The sequel to last year’s “BBQing while black” party was a success, the East Bay Times reports. A large gathering at Lake Merritt celebrated diversity in the face of the viral video two summers ago of a woman harassing black partygoers. The incident gave birth to the hashtag #BBQBecky. $$

6. Oakland’s Mahershala Ali will reprise the role of "Blade," the vampire-killer played by Wesley Snipes, SFGate reports. The surprise announcement was made over the weekend at Comic-Con in San Diego.

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Friday's Briefing: Oakland Police Commission called for firing of officers involved in fatal shooting; Berkeley councilman disses Tucker Carlson

Hog's Apothecary is closing

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Jul 19, 2019 at 4:00 AM

Joshua Pawlik was fatally shot by Oakland Police in March 2018. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MARY HOWE
  • Photo courtesy of Mary Howe
  • Joshua Pawlik was fatally shot by Oakland Police in March 2018.

News you don’t want to miss for July 19-21:

1. Oakland’s Police Commission called for the firing of five Oakland police officers involved the shooting of Joshua Pawlik in March 2018, according to documents obtained by the Mercury News. The commission made the determination last month. It matches a similar recommendation by the OPD’s federal court monitor. Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick had given the officers lighter punishments. $$

2. A day after the Berkeley City Council voted to remove “manhole” from it municipal code and replace it with “maintenancehole,” a producer for Fox News’ wanted to book Berkeley Councilmember Rigel Robinson for the Tucker Carlson show. Robinson declined the invitation, calling Carlson a “white supremacist goblin,” The Hill reports.

3. San Leandro Police released audio and body-worn camera video of the June 11 fatal shooting of 56-year-old Anthony Gomez, KPIX reports. Gomez was first seen wielding a machete in the street. Later, after being confronted by police Gomez appeared in the video to aim an object at officers, who then opened fire. The object was determined to be a piece of wood painted black.

4. Warriors star Stephen Curry and Ayesha Curry unveiled “Eat. Play. Learn,” a foundation that aims to help Oakland children focus on healthy eating, recreation, and education, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

5. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg believes the state should enact a “right to shelter” requirement to ensure cities can provide enough shelter for its homeless populations, the Sacramento Bee reports. The idea is modeled after New York. The cost of such a plan could run up to $1-2 billion a year.

6. Officials are investigation a flaring incident that occurred Wednesday at the Chevron refinery, the East Bay Times reports. Black smoke could be seen over some parts of the East Bay.

7. Hog’s Apothecary in Temescal is closing Sunday, SF Eater reports. The beer and sausage joint was suffering from a number of issues affecting its bottom line, including rising rent and wages.

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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Thursday’s Briefing: Berkeley says, so long to manholes; Alameda City Council agrees that its councilmembers violated the charter

Poll: Kamala Harris takes the lead in California

by Steven Tavares
Thu, Jul 18, 2019 at 4:00 AM

Call them "maintenanceholes." - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Call them "maintenanceholes."

News you don’t want to miss for July 18:

1. Berkeley’s municipal code will no longer made reference to “manholes” after the City Council voted to remove the term and replace it with the gender-neutral phrase “maintenanceholes,” Curbed SF reports.

2. The Alameda City Council agreed with a recent Alameda County civil grand jury report that found two councilmembers violated the city charter by pressuring the city manager to hire a candidate for fire chief that was backed by the local firefighters’ union, the East Bay Citizen reports. Councilmembers Jim Oddie and Malia Vella recused themselves from the discussion to pen responses to the grand jury’s findings.

3. A state auditor’s report described Information Technology security for 21 of 33 government entities in California as having “high-risk deficiencies,” the Associated Press reports. The report comes at a time when some local government IT departments, particularly on the East Coast, have been hacked and had their data held for ransom.

4. Sen. Kamala Harris is leading a new Quinnipiac poll in her home state, Politico reports. On the heels of Harris’s successful debate appearance, she has risen to the top in the delegate-rich state with 23 percent of the survey. Joe Biden dropped five points from a similar poll in April to 21 percent.

5. A resolution calling for the impeachment of President Trump on Wednesday was tabled by the House of Representatives, essentially killing it with the help of 139 House Democrats. Rep. Barbara Lee supported the resolution, the East Bay Citizen reports, but what about Alameda County’s two other members of Congress?

6. Fremont residents turned out in droves to protest a proposed navigation center for the city’s growing homeless population, KTVU reports The decision for placing the navigation center in the Decoto neighborhood of Fremont or behind City Hall was not on the agenda at Tuesday night’s council meeting and won’t be decided until later this year.

7. Pumpsie Green, a native of Richmond and graduate of El Cerrito High School, who became the first African-American to play for the Boston Red Sox, died Wednesday, USA Today reports. He was 85. Although baseball had long been integrated by 1959, the Red Sox were the lone holdout for signing African-American ballplayers. Green was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame last year.

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