Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wednesday’s Daily Briefing: Brown’s Tunnels Plan Suffers Big Setback; East Bay Housing Prices Soar Even Higher

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Sep 20, 2017 at 10:17 AM

delta-california_department_of_water_resources_web.jpg

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Sept. 20, 2017

1. Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to build two giant water tunnels suffered a serious setback when the state’s largest irrigation district voted to oppose the plan, saying it would cost too much, reports Bettina Boxall of the LA Times$. The influential Westlands Water District, which includes large agribusinesses in the dry western San Joaquin Valley and would be one of the main beneficiaries of the tunnels project, voted 7-1 against it. Environmentalists who oppose the tunnels hope the Westlands' decision will kill the project, but the Brown administration says it plans to still push forward with it.

2. East Bay housing prices continued to skyrocket in August, with the median home price in Alameda County reaching $867,500—11.9 percent higher than last year, reports Richard Scheinin of the Mercury News$, citing a new report from the California Association of Realtors. The median price in Contra Costa County jumped 10.2 percent to $627,860. Experts blamed the out-of-control prices on the extreme housing shortage in the region.

3. A 7.1 earthquake in central Mexico has killed more than 200 people and leveled buildings in Mexico City, the LA Times$ reports. The big quake struck 32 years to the day after another major temblor devastated Mexico City in 1985.

4. Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico early today as a powerful Category 4 storm, packing maximum sustained winds of 140 mph, The New York Times$ reports. Maria is expected to inflict severe damage on the U.S. territory.

5. ICYMI: The Alameda County Superior Court has reversed its controversial decision to force north county defendants to be arraigned in Dublin and instead will reinstitute arraignments in Oakland, reports Jessica Lynn of the Express.

6. California organized labor has emerged as a powerful force against environmental legislation that is designed to address climate change, reports Chris Megerian of the LA Times$. Labor has defeated several pieces of climate change legislation this year, contending that it would harm union jobs.

7. Alameda Unified School District may sell Lum Elementary School, which closed earlier this year because of earthquake safety risks, reports Peter Hegarty of the East Bay Times$. The district has assembled a panel to decide Lum’s future.

8. And the latest version of Trumpcare would severely punish Democratic states like California and New York, while financially rewarding Republican ones, the Washington Post$ reports.

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'Lightning Rod' Developer Removed from Conference Panel Following Concerns from Oakland Mayor and Tenant Activists

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Sep 20, 2017 at 9:03 AM

Danny Haber was scheduled to speak on the event's developer panel immediately following Mayor Libby Schaaf. - HTTP://NEWS.THEREGISTRYSF.COM/
  • http://news.theregistrysf.com/
  • Danny Haber was scheduled to speak on the event's developer panel immediately following Mayor Libby Schaaf.
After Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf quietly expressed her concerns to the organizers of a real estate industry conference scheduled for Thursday, the organizers removed a controversial developer from a panel of speakers.

The conference, branded as "Oakland Rising," is sponsored by The Registry, a real estate industry news magazine. Schaaf is providing the keynote address. The mayor was to be followed by a panel of four industry insiders, including Danny Haber, the founder of The Negev, Owow, and several other companies active in Oakland and San Francisco.

Some tenants and attorneys contend that Haber is responsible for displacing renters from Oakland's Hotel Travelers, and that he took advantage of renters at the former 1919 Market Street warehouse, which was demolished last year following its red-tagging by city inspectors. Haber is currently being sued by some former tenants of both buildings who allege that he and his team harassed them in a concerted campaign to remove them.

"The mayor is aware of citations, complaints, and a lawsuit filed against Haber [regarding] properties he’s engaged in developing," Schaaf's spokesperson Justin Berton explained in an email. "The mayor was concerned about the seriousness of the allegations against Haber and shared them with the organizers. The organizer decided to remove Haber from the panel."

The Registry did not return requests for comment for this report.

The mayor's move followed a flurry of emails and phone calls from tenant activists.

"You've made a big show of being anti-displacement in the wake of Ghost Ship, and Haber is the undisputed leader in live/work tenant displacement," wrote Jonah Strauss of the Oakland Warehouse Coalition in an email to Schaaf.

Strauss also wrote that "Oakland Rising" also happens to be the name of a well-known Oakland nonprofit and that the conference organizers use of the name could be confusing for Oakland residents.

"They’re co-opting with our name with an agenda of everything we stand against," said Jessamyn Sabbag, executive director of Oakland Rising. "When they talk about Oakland rising, they’re talking about rising profits. We’re talking about working class communities of color trying to defend Oakland against big developers."

Haber and his defenders contend that he's being demonized unfairly and that the displacement of tenants at the Travelers and 1919 Market was due more to the past decisions of former landlords and the city.

Edward Higginbotham, an attorney who represents some of the former tenants of 1919 Market wrote a letter to Oakland Deputy City Attorney Erin Bernstein in June defending Haber (see below). He described the 1919 Market Street warehouse as unsafe and wrote that its former owner and manager, Seth Jacobsen and Madison Park Financial, "reaped the benefits of packing in as many tenants into the warehouse as possible."

Later, after Haber became the manager of the property, the city red tagged the building, forcing everyone out. Haber purchased the building and eventually demolished it.

"Throughout this process, the only helpful individual(s), were Danny Haber and his team," wrote Higginbotham.

But other attorneys say Haber's actions have caused displacement in Oakland.

"Haber’s business model is based on displacing long-term Oakland residents and replacing them with young newcomers to the area," said Laura Lane, an attorney with the East Bay Community Law Center. "He is explicit, intentional, and unapologetic about this modus operandi."



Alameda County Superior Court Policy Change Will Allow Oakland Defendants To Be Arraigned in Oakland

by Jessica Lynn
Wed, Sep 20, 2017 at 8:55 AM

Oakland defendants will no longer be arraigned at the East County Hall of Justice in Dublin. - D. ROSS CAMERON
  • D. Ross Cameron
  • Oakland defendants will no longer be arraigned at the East County Hall of Justice in Dublin.

The Alameda County Superior Court has reversed its controversial decision to move all in-custody felony arraignments to a new courthouse in Dublin, amid criticism that the change denies court access to low-income people of color.

Beginning Sept. 25, in-custody defendants facing felony charges for crimes that occurred in Northern Alameda County will once again have arraignments at Oakland’s Wiley Manuel Courthouse, rather than about 30 miles away at Dublin’s East County Hall of Justice.

The Alameda County Superior Court began moving all in-custody arraignments from Oakland to Dublin in July because of the newly opened East County Hall of Justice’s close proximity to Santa Rita Jail, where the majority of pre-trial detainees are held.

The decision was an attempt by Alameda County Superior Court to cut costs and reduce transportation times for in-custody defendants, according to Alameda County Superior Court Executive Officer Chad Finke. Finke gave a rough estimate that late buses from Santa Rita Jail cost the court about $200,000 each year in overtime costs alone.

But for in-custody defendants from Northern Alameda County, including Oakland, Berkeley, and Alameda, the superior court’s decision to move in-custody arraignments to Dublin meant that family members were often unable to attend their court hearings, said Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods, in an interview with the Express.

“You’d be in court and you would see maybe one family member in the afternoon,” he said.

Not only did the change impede on family members’ ability to know what was going on with their loved one, Woods added, but it also hurt the accused’s defense, because lawyers often depend on information from relatives to make arguments in court.

Family members who did make it to court, Woods said, often had to pay for child-care costs or miss out on their wages for the day on top of paying for transportation.

And he stressed that low-income people were disproportionately impacted by the change. People who were able to pay bail could have their arraignments in Oakland, whereas those who stayed in custody had to be arraigned in Dublin.

Alameda County Superior Court ultimately agreed to move North Alameda County felony arraignments back to Oakland as a “compromise,” according to Finke. The decision was made after several Alameda County agencies agreed to join the court system in requesting that the Board of Supervisors take steps to start housing North Alameda County detainees at the Glenn Dyer Jail in Oakland, rather than Santa Rita Jail.

“That’s the way the system is supposed to work,” Finke said. “You should have the place of incarceration as close to the place of arraignment as possible.”

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tuesday’s Briefing: Bay Area Traffic Intensifies; Audubon Society Opposes A’s Ballpark Site

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Sep 19, 2017 at 10:30 AM

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Stories you shouldn’t miss for Sept. 19, 2017:

1. Traffic on major Bay Area freeways has worsened by 80 percent since 2010, reports Erin Baldassari of the East Bay Times$, citing a new report from Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Traffic has become much worse as more people have moved to far-flung suburbs in search of housing and then drive to work.

2. The Audubon Society’s Golden Gate chapter announced its opposition to the Oakland’s A’s plan to build a new ballpark next to Laney College and near Lake Merritt, the San Francisco Chronicle$ reports. The influential environmental group says that Lake Merritt, which is an inland estuary, is home to numerous bird species that could be impacted by a new ballpark nearby. But Oakland business and labor leaders said they support the plan.

3. Millions of Californians could be on the hook for Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to build two giant water tunnels—regardless of whether they support the proposal, the Associated Press reports. The Brown administration contends that water agencies serving millions of Californians will have to pay for the tunnels even if they vote against the plan—unless they sign contracts with other agencies to buy their water allotments from the tunnels.

4. Hurricane Maria strengthened to a monster Category 5 storm and is expected to plow through Puerto Rico today after it devastated the island of Dominica, The New York Times$ reports.

5. And GOP Senators are continuing their drive this week to repeal Obamacare, Politico reports. The Republican plan would replace the Affordable Care Act with block grants to states and is expected to result in millions of Americans losing their health insurance.

$ = news stories that may require payment to read.


Unions and City of Oakland Remain Far Apart in Contract Talks

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, Sep 19, 2017 at 9:38 AM

Oakland City Hall. - BERT JOHNSON/FILE PHOTO
  • Bert Johnson/File photo
  • Oakland City Hall.
Bargaining has been underway between the City of Oakland and the two largest unions representing some 3,000 city employees since May, but significant disagreements over pay and working conditions remain and it's unclear when they might sign new contracts.

Workers represented by SEIU Local 1021 and IFPTE Local 21 told the Express that the city initially proposed a new contract that did not include a cost of living salary adjustment to help workers keep up with inflation. Like everyone else, city workers say they're having a hard time affording the Bay Area's high rents. Furthermore, pay in Oakland remains behind other comparable cities, they claim, causing many people to quit for better jobs elsewhere, leaving vacancies and making jobs here more difficult.

"We're insulted by the city's refusal to provide guaranteed raises," said Renee Sykes, a city employee and Oakland vice president of IFPTE Local 21, which represents 890 city workers. "They don’t look at us a valuable assets."

Another city worker, Felipe Cuevas, who is the Oakland chapter president for SEIU Local 1021, said his union struck a decent contract two years ago, but that pay still lags behind other cities due to sacrifices employees made almost a decade ago during the recession.

"We’re still down," said Cuevas. "And inflation is over 3 percent a year, according to the city, but they’re only offering 2 percent increases per year, and it’s not guaranteed."

City Administrator Sabrina Landreth said that the city is "in an atmosphere of many financial uncertainties," warranting fiscal caution.

Although she said the city is unable to publicly discuss specific proposals made at the bargaining table, her office remains optimistic that a fair deal will be struck.

"The parties have been engaged in a good faith effort to arrive at mutually beneficial agreements," said Landreth.

The unions sound more pessimistic, however, and it's not just wages and benefits they're haggling over.

Cuevas said city workers are also asking Oakland to spend more money aiding the homeless, especially to provide temporary housing and sanitation facilities. He said city cleaning crews are being exposed to health and safety hazards when they're asked to pick up garbage around the camps. More homeless services would cut down on the number of times sanitation crews are called to clean around homeless camps — a practice that is controversial because it sometimes results in displacement of the homeless and trashing of their belongings.

Another major issue for SEIU 1021 members concerns temporary and part-time employees. According to the union, there are about 1,100 temporary and part-time employees represented by 1021 — about half its total Oakland chapter membership of just over 2,000. These employees receive no benefits, but according to the union, many of them are actually doing jobs that should be classified as full time.

In 2015, the city agreed to convert some of these positions into full-time jobs, but the union said only about 95 positions actually switched over.

"They’re trying to fix real big city problems with a part-time solution," said Cuevas.

Local 21 officials say their members work in crucial departments that also face staffing shortages due to the city's inability to hire and retain employees. In Oakland's Fire Department, there are too few positions filled in the dispatch center, said, Jessica Bowker, a Local 21 staff member.

"Vacancies in the existing positions at OFD Dispatch have serious implications for both workers and the community," Bowker said. "Without enough staff, workers are regularly required to work mandatory overtime in order to meet minimum staffing levels, sometimes more than 16 hours a day."

Bowker said this could result in missed calls and mishandled radio traffic, and that achieving full staffing in fire dispatch is crucial.

"We have people who are preforming the jobs of 3-4 people," said Sykes, due to a large number of vacant positions in the city. The vacancies are caused, claimed Sykes, in part by the low pay and benefits Oakland offers comparable to other cities where many employees leave to go work.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday’s Briefing: Asbestos Halts Rockridge Retail Development; Republicans Try Again to Repeal Obamacare

Plus, UC Berkeley’s right-wing “Free Speech Week” is in doubt.

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 10:01 AM

Workers found asbestos in the old Chase bank building while tearing it down. - LISA FERNANDEZ/COURTESY OF KTVU
  • Lisa Fernandez/Courtesy of KTVU
  • Workers found asbestos in the old Chase bank building while tearing it down.

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Sept. 18, 2017:

1. A large retail development in Oakland’s Rockridge district has been halted indefinitely because of the discovery of asbestos in an old Chase bank building that was being demolished, reports Lisa Fernandez of KTVU. Crews discovered the cancer-causing fibers earlier this year at the project at Broadway and Pleasant Valley Avenue. The high costs of remediating the asbestos also has the developer, TRC, rethinking its plans for the project, especially in light of the downturn in the retail industry. City officials say they would prefer housing on the site.

2. Senate Republicans are trying one more time this month to repeal Obamacare and are pushing forward with a revised health-care plan, The New York Times$ reports. Under the GOP bill, “millions could lose coverage, Medicaid would see the same magnitude of cuts that earlier repeal bills extracted, and insurers in some states could charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions.”

3. The right-wing “Free Speech Week” planned for next week at UC Berkeley is in doubt because college conservative organizers failed to pay the required deposits for event facilities on campus, reports John King of the San Francisco Chronicle$. The event speakers were scheduled to include far-right firebrands Milo Yiannopoulos, Ann Coulter, and Steve Bannon.

4. Donald Trump would be ineligible for the 2020 presidential ballot in California unless he makes his tax returns public, under legislation sent to Gov. Jerry Brown late last week, reports David Siders of Politico. However, it’s unclear whether Brown, who also has refused to disclose his tax returns, will sign the bill.

5. A federal appeals court reinstituted California’s ban on foie gras, but chefs vowed to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary, the LA Times$ reports. California’s ban on foie gras, which requires inhumane treatment of ducks and geese to make, was blocked by a federal judge in 2015 who ruled that the state law illegally interfered with interstate commerce. The Ninth Circuit, however, overturned that decision.

6. East Bay MUD officials told Alameda Point customers that they can resume drinking tap water after tests showed the water is clean, reports Peter Hegarty of the East Bay Times$. Officials had told Alameda Point customers not to drink tap water for a few days last week after it became contaminated.

7. And Hurricane Maria has strengthened into a powerful Category 3 storm and is on track to slam into Puerto Rico, CNN reports. Maria is expected to become a Cat 4 hurricane when it hits the U.S. territory in the Caribbean islands.

$ = news stories that may require payment to read.

Town Business: Who Is Lobbying Against Oakland's Flavored Tobacco Ban?

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 9:20 AM

click image Flavored blunt wrappers manufactured by New Image Global including "Chicken & Waffles." - NEW IMAGE GLOBAL
  • New Image Global
  • Flavored blunt wrappers manufactured by New Image Global including "Chicken & Waffles."
Who is lobbying against the flavored tobacco ban?: This week, the Oakland City Council will finalize its ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, vape juices, and blunt wrappers, except in dedicated tobacco stores.

Tobacco companies oppose this legislation because it will remove their products from convenience stores and corner markets. That's why tobacco companies have continued to lobby against the ordinance, despite the fact that it passed 7-0 on its first reading back in July.

Meanwhile, Oakland residents have been targeted with ads from a group called "Let's Be Real Oakland," claiming the tobacco ban will disproportionately harm people of color and create a vast black market where sketchy characters "willing to deal out of the back of a car won’t hesitate selling to kids."

click image Whoever is behind the website campaign against Oakland's flavored tobacco ban isn't saying. - LETSBEREALOAKLAND.ORG
  • letsberealoakland.org
  • Whoever is behind the website campaign against Oakland's flavored tobacco ban isn't saying.
It's unclear exactly who is behind the Let's Be Real Oakland group. Let's Be Real doesn't disclose on its website anything about who's funding the campaign.

The city's campaign disclosure website doesn't have any filings by any committee matching this name. Nor does Alameda County's campaign disclosure website.

But it appears that Let's Be Real Oakland is a project paid for entirely by the RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company.

That's the same RJ Reynolds company whose executive once argued that tobacco isn't addictive, and that waged a concerted marketing campaign in the 1980s and 1990s to entice kids to smoke.

Extensive disclosure of who's paying for ads against San Francisco's flavored tobacco ban. - LETSBEREALSF.ORG
  • letsberealsf.org
  • Extensive disclosure of who's paying for ads against San Francisco's flavored tobacco ban.
Across the Bay in San Francisco, there's a virtually identical campaign to the one in Oakland called Let's Be Real SF. It has an identical website and the same messaging. The only difference is that over in San Francisco RJ Reynolds disclosed its financial support for the campaign on the website targeting San Franciscans and filed campaign committee forms with that city's ethics commission.

In Oakland, the only trace that RJ Reynolds has been lobbying the city council and public against the flavored tobacco ban is a single disclosure form filed with the Public Ethics Commission by Marisol Lopez, a lobbyist with Platinum Advisors. She listed RJ Reynolds as a client, but didn't describe the work she's doing for them. Lopez is also on the advisory council for the Dellums Institute for Social Justice and served as chief of staff to Mayor Dellums.

Oakland's campaign and lobbying rules don't appear to require RJ Reynolds and its lobbyists to file disclosure forms with the city for the Let's Be Real Oakland web site.

The city council is expected to finalize the ban tomorrow night.

Shelter crisis: The Oakland City Council is considering declaring a shelter crisis. If passed, the declaration loosens some city and state rules and provides the city with more flexibility to address the homelessness crisis. City staffers hope the declaration will help them secure funding and approvals for another transitional housing facility.

This year, over 2,700 people were counted as being homeless in Oakland. City officials say rising pressures on rents are driving many people onto the streets.

The last time the city council declared a shelter crisis was in December 2015, but the city didn't do enough to reduce the number of homeless residents by securing new transitional housing facilities, according to a staff report.

Public bank study: Upset with the major banks that have traditionally handled the city's deposits and payroll, Oakland officials are considering spending $100,000 on a feasibility study for a public bank.

The cities of Richmond and Berkeley have both expressed interest in public banking and are considering contributing money to the study that Oakland is leading.

For more about the activist behind the public bank idea, check out this feature from March.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Oakland Police Report: No More Officers Will Face Discipline in Celeste Guap Police Sex Crimes Scandal

by Darwin BondGraham
Fri, Sep 15, 2017 at 6:02 PM

opd_pab.png
The Oakland Police Department
concluded in a report released today that "further discipline is not warranted" for the police officials who mishandled the internal investigations of criminal and ethical misconduct by Oakland cops in the Celeste Guap sex exploitation scandal.

The OPD report followed a highly critical one issued earlier this year commissioned by a federal judge.

According to the new OPD report, rather than being demoted or fired for their mistakes, senior police officials who prematurely shut down the internal criminal and administrative investigations were made to engage in "individual reflection" and a "roundtable" in which they discussed with Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, and with each other, how they bungled the cases.

Attorney Jim Chanin told the Express that the city and OPD appear to have made a good faith effort to figure out what structurally went wrong inside OPD. But Chanin was also critical of the city's lack of action to discipline the officers who mishandled the cases.

"I don’t think that they treated the command staff the same way that they treated the officers," he said, referring to 12 lower-ranking Oakland cops who were disciplined for misconduct in the Guap case last year. "I don’t think they would have had a roundtable if it was anyone other than the command staff. If you’re a low-ranking officer, you should get treated the same as a high-ranking officer.

"I have trouble seeing an even-handed standard," said Chanin.

Chanin also said he's troubled by the city's apparent assertion that because the officers who mishandled the cases may not have been intentionally doing so, they won't be punished.

"If there was intentional conduct, it should be punished by termination," said Chanin. "But from my understanding, performance of duty involves more than just intentionally blowing deadlines or engaging in misconduct, it also involves failure to do a good enough job under the circumstances."

Rather than discipline, the department's report states that problems are being fixed through changes in policies and procedures.

"Many members self-identified both individual and [d]epartment failings in the investigations and constructively discussed what changes to policy, training, and standard operating procedures were necessary to ensure better [d]epartmental performance and restore public trust," explains the report

The report also blames a "culture of face-to-face discussion" rather than written confirmations and procedures for many of the lapses in the Celeste Guap investigation.

"Some individuals involved in the investigations were not aware of the failures in the investigation until publication of the Swanson Report and, prior to reading it, had assumed that certain follow-up actions had been taken."

The city and plaintiffs attorneys head back to court on Oct. 2 to discuss the steps OPD has taken to shore up its internal investigations, among other reforms.


Legislature OKs Criminal Justice Reform Bills

The legislation would reduce prison sentences for nonviolent drug crimes and eliminate costly fees levied against youth offenders and their families.

by Ryan Lindsay
Fri, Sep 15, 2017 at 12:09 PM

Holly Mitchell.
  • Holly Mitchell.
California lawmakers have approved two bills that seek to reform the state’s criminal justice system by reducing prison sentences for nonviolent drug crimes and eliminating costly fees levied against youth offenders and their families. The bills are part of the #EquityandJustice package sponsored by state Sens. Holly J. Mitchell, D-Los Angeles and Ricardo Lara, D-Long Beach. Both houses of the legislature have approved the bills — SB 180 and SB 190 — and they now await action from Gov. Jerry Brown.

SB180, the Repeal Ineffective Sentencing Enhancement Act (RISE Act), seeks to repeal specified sections of Health & Safety Code 11370.2 to remove sentencing enhancements that can add multiple additional three-year terms of incarceration for each prior conviction of nonviolent drug offenses.

“What this bill is simply saying is, ‘If I committed a crime in the past, served my time in the past, I should not automatically, for a nonviolent drug offense have three-plus years added to my sentence when all of these other enhancements are currently on the books and the judge can use their discretion to currently augment my sentence for the current crime at hand,’” said Mitchell in a June Assembly hearing.

SB 180 does not impact sentence enhancements for selling drugs near schools and possession of more than 1 kilo. Currently, the base sentence for drug possession for sale is two to four years in jail.

“It’s a real relic of the war on drugs in the sense that the goal was to reduce drug use, to deter drug sales. All it succeeding in doing is locking up more people for longer,” said Maureen Washburn, a policy analyst at the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, a San Francisco nonprofit that works to decrease the need for incarceration. “We have overcrowded facilities and we’re underfunding what we know works for people suffering from substance abuse disorder, which is treatment and services within the community.”

On average, the California Department for Corrections and Rehabilitation spends $71,000 to incarcerate an inmate in prison each year. As of Wednesday, there are currently 183,326 inmates within CDCR facilities.

“Sentence enhancements have resulted in overcrowded jails and prisons, unjustly harsh sentences for nonviolent crimes, and have crippled both the state budget through the Department of Corrections as well as local budgets,” Mitchell added at the June hearing.

Emily Harris, state field director at the Ella Baker Center, said sentence enhancements are also often used “as a way to push people into taking plea deals.” Harris said that repealing this particular enhancement could “significantly reduce the amount of time that people are languishing in our county jails” and, in the long term, “reduce the jail population at Santa Rita” — the main jail in Alameda County.

“We think this will just be the next in line of those policies that the governor has been pushing forward and really approaching public safety in a new way so we’re hopeful,” Harris said.

Ricardo Lara
  • Ricardo Lara

SB 190, meanwhile, would discontinue the assessment and collection of administrative fees against families and youth within the juvenile justice system.

“Counties’ justification for charging these fees is not restorative, it’s not rehabilitative, it’s not to trying to help that young person do better,” Washburn said. “They’re spending lots and lots on the collection process itself and not generating all that much net revenue from it.”

Mitchell alleged that “some counties operate outside of the law in their assessment and collection assessment practices.” Even when youths are innocent, their families are still responsible for the cost that their children spent in juvenile hall. “For far too long, poor children and children of color are more likely to become victims of the juvenile justice system.”

Alameda County has charged youth and their families more $3 million in fees since 2010.

“There are so many fines and fees that are being stacked on families that are already often coming from low-income communities,” Harris said, “and experiencing additional financial challenges by having a loved one in prison or jail.”

Brown has until Oct. 15 to sign or veto the bills.

Right-Wing Extremist Group Had Booth at Urban Shield ‘To Explain Who They Are’

The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the Oath Keepers as an extremist anti-government group.

by Jessica Lynn
Fri, Sep 15, 2017 at 11:13 AM

A screenshot from a news report that aired on CBS SF Bay Area showed an Oath Keepers Booth at an Urban Shield event. - COURTESY OF CBS SF BAY AREA
  • Courtesy of CBS SF Bay Area
  • A screenshot from a news report that aired on CBS SF Bay Area showed an Oath Keepers Booth at an Urban Shield event.

The Oath Keepers, a right-wing extremist group, held a booth at the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office’s Urban Shield training program last week to “explain who they are,” according to an Oath Keepers spokesperson.

The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the Oath Keepers as an extremist anti-government group, whose organization revolves around “a set of baseless conspiracy theories about the federal government working to destroy the liberties of Americans.”

The Oath Keepers claim online to be composed of current and former military, police, and first-responders who have pledged to fulfill an oath to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

Nancy Larned, an Oath Keepers spokesperson, said that her organization set up the booth at Urban Shield to give more information about themselves “because a lot of people have misconceptions.”

In the past, members of the organization have been involved in several confrontations with the federal government over public land and have also shown up heavily armed at Black Lives Matter protests, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The appearance of the Oath Keeper’s booth at Urban Shield comes amid allegations from Bay Area activists that the training program for law enforcement and first-responders promotes police militarization and racialized police violence. In Berkeley, the city council’s June decision to continue participation in Urban Shield resulted in protests and two arrests.

Tracy Rosenberg, executive director of Media Alliance, a group that advocates against Urban Shield, said she saw a double standard in the fact that the Urban Shield training program, which has described itself as a “terrorism training exercise,” would allow an extremist group to have a booth there.

“This double standard reinforces biases that have been documented in law enforcement about who gets stopped, who gets violently encountered with, and who gets killed,” Rosenberg said.

The Oath Keepers booth was set up at Urban Shield’s disaster preparedness fair, which was open to the public and held in the parking lot of a church in Castro Valley. About 800 people attended the disaster preparedness event, and about 8,000 were involved with Urban Shield as a whole over the weekend, according to Alameda County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. Ray Kelly.

Kelly stressed that any community member can register to attend or have a booth at Urban Shield, but was unsure if the Oath Keepers had officially registered to have a booth or had set one up on their own at the event. He added that the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office didn’t differentiate between the Oath Keepers or any other group that came to Urban Shield.

“I’ll be honest with you I’ve never even heard of the Oath Keepers,” Kelly said. “I don’t know what they are.”

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