Thursday, July 12, 2018

Thursday’s Briefing: Oakland to Pay $2.2 Million Settlement to Ex-Black Panther; Berkeley to Vote on Affordable Housing Bond

by Kathleen Richards
Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 10:11 AM

Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks - PHOTO BY STEVEN TAVARES
  • Photo by Steven Tavares
  • Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks

The City of Oakland will pay $2.2 million to settle a claim by ex-Black Panther leader Elaine Brown, who was injured in 2015 after Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks punched and pushed her. (AP)

Berkeley voters will consider a $135 million affordable housing bond this November. If passed, the measure would increase property taxes by $23.27 per $100,000 of assessed value each year, which the city would then use to acquire, improve, preserve, or build affordable housing. (East Bay Times)

Bay Area residents — including staff of the Express — have been receiving anti-Semitic robocalls on behalf of a Concord businessman running for Congress. John Fitzgerald denied his involvement with the calls, but his website is full of headlines that attack Jews and people of color. (KTVU)

The new movie Blindspotting, which is set in Oakland and was written by and stars East Bay natives Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, premiered at the Grand Lake Theatre last night. The movie officially opens July 20. (KGO)

Officials at the Contra Costa Event Park canceled the XO Music Festival amid controversy about the event just days before the three-day festival was to be held in Antioch, saying promoters did not fulfill “contractual obligations.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

East Bay resident Marshaunte Farris and her boyfriend Shamiek Sheppard filed a report with the CHP after a white woman yelled racial slurs at the couple while driving on Interstate 80 from Richmond to Emeryville on Monday. (East Bay Times)

UC offered admission this fall to more transfer students than it has at any point in its history. Nearly all of the admitted transfer students from California come from community colleges. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Plans have been scrapped for what would have been Oakland’s tallest building. The Planning Commission decided not to vote on the proposed 36-story highrise at 1261 Harrison St. in order to give the developer more time to redesign the project, which had been criticized for being too tall and for requiring the demolition of a historic building. (San Francisco Business Times)

Is there a white raccoon lurking around Lake Merritt? (NBC)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

OP-ED: The Alameda County Civil Grand Jury Is an Important Watchdog, but Its Members Are Almost Always Too Old, White, and Wealthy

The grand jury has a serious structural problem.

by George Strait
Wed, Jul 11, 2018 at 2:13 PM

alameda_county_superior_court.jpg
I have just completed two years’ service on the Alameda County Civil Grand Jury — a remarkable civic gem. This Civil Grand Jury does not indict people for crimes; instead, it is a citizen’s watchdog group that identifies waste, mismanagement, and process failures in county and government agencies and then recommends fixes.

For instance, a few years ago the grand jury warned that fire inspections of warehouses and other big structures were lax. After the tragic Ghost Ship fire, officials lamented that the grand jury’s recommendations were not followed. Among its other reports, this year the Grand Jury sounded two more alarms: impending insolvency in Oakland’s public schools and the fact that Oakland is short $860 million to cover benefits for future retirees.

Despite its important work, the grand jury has a serious structural problem: It doesn’t reflect the vibrancy and diversity of the county. Its members now and for most of its history are basically old, white, and wealthy. Most jurors are retired professionals who have the time and financial resources to give 10 to 20 hours a month to this year-long endeavor. Last year there were two African Americans on the jury, one Asian American (who resigned), and no Hispanics. In the 2017-2018 grand jury just concluded there were two African Americans, one Hispanic, and no Asian Americans. (According to the most recent Census data, Alameda County is 34 percent white, 25 percent Asian American, 22 percent Hispanic or Latino, and 12 percent Black.)

During my time on the jury, the consequences of this lack of racial, age, and economic diversity included: a tendency to support management-centric solutions to employment and fiscal problems and give less credence to union-centric solutions; a willingness to be less critical of law enforcement points of view; and a lack of appreciation and understanding of racial sensitivities.

In fact, the grand jury has faced criticism from African American politicians and agency heads for being quick to criticize alleged misdeeds by African American leaders and community organizations but comparably slow to drop the hammer on whites for similar conduct.

What gets investigated, how issues are investigated, and what recommendations get made are determined through a privileged lens. This is not to denigrate the quality or fairness of the investigations or jurors who conducted them, but we are all products of our experiences, habits, and biases.

By law, the grand jury has 19 members who are chosen by lot. Because the members are picked randomly from a pool of varying size, it’s important for that pool to be large and diverse.

Technically, the jury division of the superior court is in charge of jury recruitment. Because its budgets have been cut by nearly 40 percent over the past decade, recruitment efforts have suffered. That task has fallen to the two-person grand jury legal staff from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. In the last three years, they have worked hard at it. Every elected official gets a letter seeking applicants. Letters are sent to churches, social clubs, and newspapers. Judges are encouraged to find applicants and interview the resulting applicant pool. Last year, retired jurors were recruited to start a local chapter of the state grand juror’s association with the intent, in part, to recruit a more diverse pool of applicants.

The results are mixed. Eight years ago, only about 30 people applied to be grand jurors. In the 2018-2019 grand jury just impaneled, there were 79 applicants, but the final jury again has only one African American, two Hispanics, and one Asian American.

I would think that the county’s politicians and agency heads who are the most likely subjects of a grand jury investigation would want the most diverse and representative jury possible. I would think that they would demand and support resources to develop a comprehensive and coordinated strategy to recruit more representative good government watchdogs. I would hope that the district attorney and superior court judges would eagerly join in making that strategy successful.

Part of any serious strategy would include a discussion about how much jurors get paid. One untapped potential pool of applicants is the growing number of people who don’t go to an office every day and work remotely. They often have more flexible schedules that could bend to the needs of the grand jury. One hurdle for these people and others is remuneration. Grand jurors are “paid” $15 a day. That figure has remained the same for decades. The penal code sets the rate for juror pay but the Alameda County Board of Supervisors can supplement that amount. I think any effort to diversify the juror pool should include a raise, say, to $50 per day — hardly a king’s ransom.

Most people cringe when they get a jury summons, but this jury is different. If you care about why your water bill goes up even when you use less water, wonder what happens to those free Warriors and Raiders tickets that politicians get, are concerned about secret backroom dealing done by councilmembers, or are concerned about the safety of the jails in our communities, then joining the grand jury should be a priority for you.

Wednesday’s Briefing: Alameda County Considering Another Child-Care Tax Measure; Appeals Court Rejects Effort to Drain Hetch Hetchy

by Kathleen Richards
Wed, Jul 11, 2018 at 10:27 AM

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir
  • Hetch Hetchy Reservoir
Alameda County Board of Supervisors are mounting a second attempt to pass half-cent sales tax increase to fund child care and early education programs this November after a nearly identical effort, Measure A, was defeated in June by just a few hundred votes. (EB Citizen)

President Trump retweeted a post that falsely claimed Oakland residents protested federal agents as they broke up a child sex-trafficking ring last August. The protest was actually in response to an ICE raid for alleged labor trafficking but led to no criminal charges. (SFGate)

A California appeals court has rejected an effort by environmentalists to drain Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park, which provides water for 2.6 million Bay Area residents. The Fifth District Court of Appeal in Fresno upheld a lower court decision by a Tuolumne County judge two years ago, which rejected arguments that the reservoir violates California’s constitution. (East Bay Times)

Berkeley’s new Pathways navigation center for homeless residents, which can house 45 people, is already full, according to the city, and permanent housing has been found for some clients. (Berkeleyside)

XO Music Festival, which is scheduled to take place this weekend in Antioch and feature more than 100 music acts, is drawing criticism as artists are dropping off the bill and sponsors are claiming fraud. (San Francisco Chronicle)

The City of Vallejo released officer body camera footage showing the final moments of an August 2017 police chase before five Vallejo officers shot 45-year-old Benicia resident Jeffrey Barboa 41 times, killing him. (East Bay Times)

The Berkeley City Council approved a petition to rename the Ashby BART station after local Black activist Mable Howard. If the effort is successful, it would mark the first time in BART history that a station would be renamed based on public advocacy. (Daily Cal)

Oakland Council Ignores Warning from City Administrator and Votes for 'Strong' Police Commission Ordinance

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Jul 11, 2018 at 9:41 AM

Sabrina Landreth.
  • Sabrina Landreth.
City officials in Oakland have been engaged in a power struggle for months now over the question of who will control key staff of the new police commission created by voters in 2016 through a ballot measure. Last night, the city council voted to finalize an enabling ordinance that puts the issue of who's in charge to rest, for now. But the vote was not without one final and highly unusual display of division.

[Read related: "Oakland Officials Wrestle for Control Over New Police Commission Staff Positions"]

Just before voting on the ordinance, Oakland City Administrator Sabrina Landreth told the city council that it was her belief, and City Attorney Barbara Parker's opinion, that the councilmembers were about to "violate" and "erode" the city charter by not allowing the city administrator to have direct control over commission staff.

"The legal advice provided to all of us by the city attorney and by outside counsel, and made public in at least one briefing and posted on the city's website, opines that the enabling ordinance, as written, and before you for final adoption tonight, contains provisions that violate the city charter as it relates to administrative functions," Landreth said.

She then went on to compare the city council's actions to those of the Trump administration, saying that "as we are all living through what is happening at our national level of government, we should tread very carefully and not willfully ignore the rule of law."

Landreth and Parker have both taken the position that the police commission's new inspector general must be under Landreth's direct supervision.

According to a legal analysis prepared by an outside lawyer hired by Parker, "under the Charter, the City Administrator must be the appointing authority for the Inspector General, and will have the ability to discipline and dismiss the person who holds that office."


But activists with the Coalition for Police Accountability, one of the organizations that spearheaded the creation of the new police commission, believe that giving the city administrator this power will undermine the commission's independence.

Activists point out that the city administrator is the police chief's boss, and that in the past, police chiefs have been directly implicated in covering up misconduct by OPD officers — including the sex trafficking scandal of 2016.

Landreth herself was actually the acting police chief for a brief period that year. And the city administrator's office has other duties that may present a conflict of interest when it comes to holding the police department accountable and criticizing its policies and practices, as the commission'greys inspector general will be tasked to do.

The enabling ordinance passed last night places the inspector general under the supervision of the commission — not the city administrator.

If, however, Landreth and Parker are correct that the enabling ordinance violates the city charter, it's unclear what the consequences could be or whether some party will file a lawsuit.

Councilmember Dan Kalb voted for the ordinance last night, despite Landreth's warning. He said that because the ballot measure and ordinance contain a "severability" clause, it's his belief that any provision that might be in violation of the charter could be nullified without throwing the entire commission and its legal underpinnings into disarray.

"In the law, there's always room for disputes and gray areas," said Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan in response to Landreth's comments. "But the will of the voters was for independent oversight."

Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney called the council's actions a "good faith effort" to enact what the voters wanted for the police commission.

Only Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington voted against the ordinance. "Unfortunately, it's not possible for me to vote for something that's in violation of our city's charter," she said.

"The adoption of the enabling legislation reflected the council’s understanding that the intent of the ballot measure was to ensure that the oversight of the police would be under the authority of a citizen body that was independent of the city’s administrative structure, which had failed for decades to rein in the abuses of its police department," said Rashidah Grinage, an activist with the Coalition for Police Accountability.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Tuesday’s Briefing: Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office to End ICE Contract, Say Sources; Bay Area Republican Congressional Candidate Is a Holocaust Denier

by Kathleen Richards
Tue, Jul 10, 2018 at 9:27 AM

Protesters outside Richmond's West County Detention Facility in June. - PHOTO BY DREW COSTLEY
  • Photo by Drew Costley
  • Protesters outside Richmond's West County Detention Facility in June.

The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office is expected to announce today that it will cancel its multimillion-dollar federal contract to detain undocumented immigrants at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond, according to a knowledgeable source within the county. That would mean the closest detention facility would be the Yuba County Jail in Marysville. (East Bay Times)

The Republican Party has rescinded its endorsement of John Fitzgerald, a candidate in the 11th Congressional District, which includes portions of Contra Costa County, after learning that he’s a Holocaust denier. Fitzgerald received 23 percent of the votes in June’s primary. (The New York Times)

The wildfire season in California is off to its worst start in a decade. As of yesterday morning, 196,092 acres have burned in the state since the beginning of the year. (East Bay Times)

After being evicted from a parking lot at Hs Lordships restaurant, a group of about 26 homeless people and 8 children living in 13 RVs moved to another location at the Berkeley Marina — across the street from the DoubleTree Hotel, where the city had kicked them out of in May. (East Bay Times)

According to a study by financial advice site Walletwyse, San Francisco has the most expensive rents in the world, with an average of $3,500 per month. Three other Bay Area cities ranked in the top five: in third place is San Jose ($2,500), fourth is Oakland ($2,450), and fifth is Berkeley ($2,400). (Sacramento Bee)

Oakland developers are offering a $300,000 reward in hopes that it will help solve the series of arsons at housing projects under construction in the East Bay. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Construction has started on a 16-story hotel in downtown Berkeley. Located at Shattuck Ave. and Center St., the Residence Inn, part of the Marriott Hotel chain, is expected to be completed in the spring of 2020. (Berkeleyside)

Monday, July 9, 2018

Hate Crimes Increased Significantly in 2017 in the East Bay and Statewide

Anti-Black hate crimes remain the single largest category.

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Jul 9, 2018 at 5:09 PM

Within Alameda County, Berkeley was the city reporting the highest number of hate crimes.
  • Within Alameda County, Berkeley was the city reporting the highest number of hate crimes.

Hate crimes were up sharply in 2017 in the East Bay and California, according to a report released today by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

Statewide, there were 1,093 hate crime incidents in 2017, a rise of 17.3 percent from the previous year. And in Alameda County, hate crimes jumped from 59 in 2016 to 89 in 2017.

The annual hate crimes report is based on data collected by law enforcement agencies and isn't a scientific sampling. According to the Attorney General's office, the report may not include incidents in which the victims didn't feel comfortable reporting to law enforcement. The numbers also depend on each particular police agency's competency and willingness to identify hate crimes.

In fact, last year the state auditor criticized law enforcement agencies for underreporting hate crimes. Still, the numbers for 2017 show a substantial rise.

Crimes motivated by racism, ethnicity, or national origin accounted for 55 percent of all hate incidents last year, and anti-Black crimes were the single largest category.

Statewide, there were 302 anti-Black hate crimes reported.

Crimes against gay men were the second-largest single category, with 172 incidents reported.

And among crimes based on gender bias, trans people were by far the most likely to be victimized — 27 of the 33 total gender bias crimes targeted trans people.

Within Alameda County, Berkeley was the city reporting the highest number of hate crimes. Oakland, whose population is three-and-a-half times larger than Berkeley, reported 18 hate crime incidents while Berkeley saw 23 incidents.

Data provided by the Berkeley police showed that there were five anti-Black hate crimes, and five anti-homosexual (gay and lesbian) hate crimes last year, the highest of any categories.

Some counties reported far fewer hate crimes than Alameda, despite having larger populations or being of a comparable size. For example, Orange County, with a population of 3.2 million, reported only 35 hate crime incidents last year. Riverside County, with a population of 2.4 million, reported only 27 hate crimes.

The report also summarized prosecutors' efforts to file hate crimes charges.

According to the report, 61 hate crimes incidents were referred to Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, and her office ended up filing charges in 12 of the cases. Only Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco's DAs filed more hate crimes cases.

Monday's Briefing: Peralta Colleges Facing Huge Budget Cuts; #BBQBecky Spurs Revitalization at Lake Merritt

by Kathleen Richards
Mon, Jul 9, 2018 at 10:09 AM

Laney College is one of four campuses part of the Peralta Community College District.
  • Laney College is one of four campuses part of the Peralta Community College District.

The Peralta Community College District is facing an estimated $7.3 million shortfall in its tentative 2018-19 budget. Administrators are proposing cuts in discretionary spending, freezing vacant positions, and rescinding recent raises. (San Jose Mercury News)

[Read related: "Local Radio Station KGPC Threatened with Closure Due to Budget Cuts"]

Newly amended legislation would allow PG&E to use state-authorized bonds to settle Wine Country wildfire lawsuits costing billions of dollars, and those bonds would be paid off by the utility’s customers. (San Francisco Chronicle)

The #BBQBecky incident has spurred revitalization at Lake Merritt, with young, predominantly African American entrepreneurs setting up shop at the lake every weekend. (KTVU)

A group of activists that have been camped outside San Francisco’s ICE offices were arrested overnight. The encampment began last week, part of a national “Occupy ICE” effort protesting ICE and President Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy. (San Francisco Chronicle)

The Bay Area’s first urban BMX park will open this week. Dirt World, located in Richmond and accessible by BART, is a 2.1-acre park featuring jumps, a half-pipe, a mountain biking race course, a pump track, outdoor seating, and gathering spaces. (East Bay Times)

A 500-acre grass fire burned around Interstate 580 at the Altamont Pass, shutting down the freeway in both directions for several hours Sunday evening. Both lanes have since been reopened. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Newly released state data reveals that water from a Berkeley High School fountain contained dangerously high levels of lead, but the school district says no students were exposed to the contaminated water because the fountain was taken out of service weeks earlier. (Berkeleyside)

Friday, July 6, 2018

Higher Pay, Smaller Classes, Housing Perks in West Contra Costa Unified School District’s Plan to Attract Teachers

by Theresa Harrington
Fri, Jul 6, 2018 at 2:02 PM

Thirty-six students sit at 10 tables in a chemistry classroom at El Cerrito High. A new United Teachers of Richmond contract with West Contra Costa Unified caps core classes in middle and high schools at this amount. - THERESA HARRINGTON FOR EDSOURCE
  • Theresa Harrington for EdSource
  • Thirty-six students sit at 10 tables in a chemistry classroom at El Cerrito High. A new United Teachers of Richmond contract with West Contra Costa Unified caps core classes in middle and high schools at this amount.

As a way to stem high teacher turnover, one San Francisco Bay Area district has taken a daring leap to boost teacher salaries and address escalating housing costs that drive teachers away.

But the pay raises come with potential risk, as the West Contra Costa Unified school district will have to cut from some programs and find other savings to pay for the $37 million in salary increases for all employees over three years.

The pay raises, which also include salary boosts for non-teaching staff such as administrators, secretaries and bus drivers, commit the district to drastic cuts through 2020-21 that the board has not yet identified.

The Contra Costa County Office of Education warned that the district could be unable to pay for the raises if it continued deficit-spending. To ensure that the district could afford the union contracts, the board agreed to adopt a resolution requiring it to identify spending cuts in 2019-20 and 2020-21 that would show it will have enough money to pay for the increases.

“It is our expectation that this and any future salary settlements will include expenditure reductions necessary to maintain a balanced budget without structural deficits for the current and two subsequent fiscal years,” wrote Bill Clarke, the county office of education’s associate superintendent of business and administrative services in a letter to the district.

Teachers are slated to get a 17 percent boost through 2020, which includes a 5 percent raise that began in March. The substantial hike will increase the salary of a beginning teacher from $44,152.20 before the March raises to $50,921.72 by July 1, 2020. It also puts West Contra Costa teachers at the top of the teacher pay scale in Contra Costa County over the next three years for beginning teachers with 30 additional educational units, as well as for more experienced teachers.

The higher pay is just one part of a district strategy to attract and keep teachers. Other features include four days of intensive training for all new teachers before school begins and the possible development of new housing for teachers and other employees on surplus property.

“Our efforts to increase compensation and find solutions to the housing challenges are among the solutions we believe will be most effective to recruit and retain the most highly qualified educators for our students,” said Superintendent Matthew Duffy.

The teachers’ contract also includes caps on class sizes, more paid time for teachers to collaborate on lessons and a more generous maternity/parental leave program in the district, which serves about 28,000 students in Richmond and surrounding communities.

In response to the county’s concerns about the district’s ability to afford the pay increases, the board voted 4-1 to approve a resolution on June 27 that requires it to identify by Dec. 31 spending cuts of $10 million for 2019-20 and $3.5 million the following year. Clarke had assured the district that his office would agree that West Contra Costa Unified would be able to pay for the salary hikes “with the approval of this resolution.”

Board President Valerie Cuevas said district leaders are allocating more discretionary money to schools, giving them greater spending autonomy. This means the board may cut some programs it has paid for districtwide – such as the Playworks recess program and Graduate Tutors – but individual sites could still fund them.

The board made these budget tradeoffs to prioritize “investment in people,” Cuevas said.

The salary increases are part of a larger plan aimed at keeping 80 percent of teachers for five years or more by 2022. District leaders see a stable teaching force as a way to improve student achievement, which is far below state averages on standardized tests.

To reach the teacher retention goal, school board members on June 27 approved a “Roadmap 2022” that includes five areas of focus for staff: competitive compensation, extra support for new teachers, exploring the development of employee housing, cutting down on duplication in programs or services and launching a “Teach West Contra Costa” website and social media campaign to attract more teachers.

To enable more teachers and other staff members to live in the district, the board also agreed to continue exploring the idea of converting surplus property into workforce housing. The district hired a commercial real estate firm to evaluate four district-owned properties to determine whether they would be appropriate development sites. After DCG Strategies determined that two sites warranted further study, the board directed the firm to continue analyzing their suitability for district-developed rental housing or sale to an outside developer to raise money for workforce housing.

A district survey returned by about 25 percent of staff reveals that 70 percent of employees who are renters have considered leaving the district due to high housing costs and 62 percent are interested in living in a district-owned rental unit at below market rents.

Of those renters, 51 percent pay more than 35 percent of their incomes toward rent, including 12 percent who pay more than 55 percent of their income to rent.

“It’s a critical issue,” said board member Madeline Kronenberg. “We’ve raised salaries, but we’re all aware that we’re in a housing crisis. If it weren’t for that, we wouldn’t even be thinking of this.”

The district has also partnered with a San Francisco-based for-profit startup company called Landed to provide down payment assistance to employees, which must eventually be repaid. And Duffy has testified in Sacramento in support of AB 2788 by Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, which would help establish a California School Employee Housing Assistance Grant Program.

The district’s added support for new teachers includes four days of in-depth training before school begins that helps educators “prepare for the rigors of the year,” according to a board presentation on teacher retention earlier this year. The district has also created a “new teacher collaborative” that meets monthly and offers two one-day workshops throughout the year on topics of interest to the group.

Cuevas said the programs are aimed at helping teachers feel welcome and connected to the district. In addition, she said the district is focusing more attention on “school culture and climate” to help build inviting environments for teachers that will encourage them to stay.

The district’s strategy to attract and keep teachers seems to be paying off. Already, teacher retention appears to be “really much stronger going into next year,” Duffy said during the June 27 board meeting. Pleased by the progress Duffy has made in shifting district priorities since he was hired two years ago, the board unanimously extended his contract through June 30, 2021 and gave him a $5,000 a year raise based on his “above satisfactory” job performance.

Demetrio Gonzalez, president of United Teachers of Richmond, and teacher Jesus Galindo said they have seen a “culture shift” in the district that includes more teamwork and the encouragement of new ideas to meet students’ needs. But Gonzalez said at the June 27 board meeting that teachers need more training in dealing with behavior issues related to child trauma to help students who are foster youth, or who have experienced violence or other traumatic incidents.

Galindo, who just finished his fifth year teaching in the district at Lincoln Elementary, said he is committed to “creating a counter-narrative in Richmond” that contradicts the negative perceptions some people hold about the abilities of low-income, children of color to achieve.

Jesus Galindo, 27, has taught in West Contra Costa Unified for five years. - THERESA HARRINGTON FOR EDSOURCE
  • Theresa Harrington for EdSource
  • Jesus Galindo, 27, has taught in West Contra Costa Unified for five years.

The only way to improve students’ education, Galindo said, is for teachers to keep coming back each year, sharing their expertise with each other and improving their own abilities. At Lincoln, he said teachers now work as a team and turnover has dropped from 17 educators leaving after his first year to virtually the entire staff planning to return next year.

“It’s only when you stay a long time that you really start to punch the gut of the status quo,” Galindo said. “I want teachers to stay for a really long time because that’s what makes a difference.”

Galindo said he appreciates the raises and saved up enough money to purchase a home 5 minutes away from his school, which has enabled him to become part of the community and to feel more connected to his students and their families. Because he is now spending more than 33 percent of his income on housing, Galindo said he doesn’t own a car and rarely buys new clothes.

Union members overwhelmingly approved the contract with 85 percent voting in favor, Gonzalez said, adding that teachers feel especially fortunate to get such large increases – which will put them at top salary ranges in Contra Costa County over the next three years – while unions in other parts of the state including nearby Oakland are having trouble negotiating pay raises.

“Most people seemed very happy with the deal,” Gonzalez said.

Comparison data provided by the union shows that first-year West Contra Costa teachers with 30 additional educational units earned $47,485 annually before the most recent raises – 6th from the bottom countywide. With the new raise, that salary will jump to $52,452.95 for 2018 (second from the top), then to top in the county at $55,107 in 2020-21. Similarly, the highest salaries at the maximum level for veteran teachers with master’s degrees will rise from $90,000 before the raises to nearly $103,800 by 2020, also top in the county.

This story was originally published by EdSource.

White Nationalist Kyle "Based Stickman" Chapman Arrested for Felony Assault with a Deadly Weapon

The alleged assault took place one year ago in Austin, Texas. For the past four months, Chapman has been a fugitive from justice.

by Darwin BondGraham
Fri, Jul 6, 2018 at 1:52 PM

Kyle "Based Stickman" Chapman. - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • Kyle "Based Stickman" Chapman.

Kyle Chapman, a prominent member of the far-right who lives in the Bay Area, was arrested in Oakland on July 3 and is being held in Alameda County's Santa Rita Jail without bail on charges that he assaulted a man in a Texas bar fight one year ago.

A Travis County judge issued a warrant for Chapman's arrest in March of this year following an investigation of the bar fight. Since then, Chapman has been a fugitive from justice.

Chapman rose to prominence following several violent protests in Berkeley in March 2017. During one of the rallies, Chapman was videotaped hitting several people over the head with a large wooden cane. After the attack, his followers nicknamed him "Based Stickman," and Chapman has turned his violent reputation into a profitable brand by selling his own line of clothing and appearing at pro-Trump and anti-immigration rallies around the country.

Last August, the Alameda County District Attorney charged Chapman with possession of a leaded cane for his actions in Berkeley. He has pleaded not guilty to the felony allegation.

On July 1 last year, Chapman was in Texas for the "Texans for America Freedom" rally at the State Capitol in Austin. Chapman was a featured speaker at the event.

After the protest, Chapman ended up at the Dirty Dog Bar, one of many nightclubs on Austin's busy 6th Street party district.

According to court records, at about 1:30 in the morning, Chapman was shoving people in a "mosh pit" when he got into an altercation with another bar patron. An Austin police detective wrote in a affidavit that Chapman punched the other man and then hit him across the face with a wooden bar stool.

The detective interviewed a witness who described Chapman's behavior at the bar as an "attempt to instigate" a fight. The witness said he saw Chapman punch the victim, and a second unidentified man who appeared to be with Chapman threw another punch.

The detective also reviewed surveillance video from the bar and was able to see a man fitting Chapman's description shoving people and then getting into an argument with the victim. According to the detective's description of events:

"Kyle intentionally shoves a patron and victim is seen approaching Kyle. They have a conversation and Kyle shoves [the victim] and then punches him in the face. Kyle grabs a large wooden bar stool and hits the victim in the forehead causing him to fall to the ground."

Chapman also made a drink purchase at the bar using his wife's credit card, and after the fight, he left the card behind. The credit card was later seized by the police and is being held as evidence.

According to court records, the victim, Collin Kruse, had fractures to his face and hemorrhaging in his brain and required surgery.

Chapman discussing his habit of carrying a kubaton weapon in a video posted last year to his Facebook page. - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • Chapman discussing his habit of carrying a kubaton weapon in a video posted last year to his Facebook page.

Chapman has a violent history. In August 2017, an Alameda County judge barred him from possessing weapons of any type. But in November, he posted videos to his Facebook account bragging of carrying a kubaton, a small, sharp metal weapon.

"This is what I carry on my keychain, guys," Chapman said in the video, which was later quoted in court documents during a bail hearing. "Antifa, just so you know. Very fuckin' deadly," he said, referring to anti-fascist protesters who he has repeatedly confronted at protests.

In December, Chapman and a friend were arrested by federal parks police in San Francisco's Fort Funston for driving off-road on the beach while playing loud Christmas music. When he was searched, officers discovered a kubaton on his keychain. Upon review of the incident, an Alameda County judge increased his bail.

The Express was unable to reach Chapman for comment.

Friday's Briefing: Giant Office Complex Proposed Near 19th Street BART; Berkeley to Vote on Fines for Vacant Buildings

by Kathleen Richards
Fri, Jul 6, 2018 at 10:01 AM

Oakland has the tightest market for downtown office space in the country, according to brokerage CBRE.
  • Oakland has the tightest market for downtown office space in the country, according to brokerage CBRE.

Developers are proposing to build a giant office complex in Oakland
that, if approved, would be larger in square footage than San Francisco's Salesforce Tower. Called Eastline, the 1.57 million-square-foot project at 2100 Telegraph Ave. is two blocks away from the 19th Street BART Station. It's scheduled to go before Oakland's Planning Commission on July 18 and then would need to be approved by the City Council. Construction could begin next year. (San Francisco Chronicle)

The Berkeley City Council will vote Tuesday on whether to adopt an ordinance that would amend the city's municipal code to levy fines for residential buildings vacant for more than 120 days. The proposal is intended to help curb the city’s housing affordability crisis, as there are more than 100 vacant buildings in the city. (Daily Cal)

A public health advisory was issued today in Martinez and Pacheco after an early morning “upset” at the Shell oil refinery in Martinez. A Shell spokesperson said there is potential for eye, skin or respiratory irritation and for odors to reach outside of our refinery boundary. (San Francisco Chronicle)

A new $20 million ferry terminal in Richmond opening this fall is being viewed as a trigger for economic development. But there are also concerns that the transportation hub will usher in gentrification. (SFGate)

A Bay Area golf coach has been arrested this week on suspicion of sexually assaulting multiple girls who were his students. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said detectives arrested Ki “Kenny” Kim, 52, of Fremont on suspicion of eight felony counts of sexual assault on minors. Kim worked as a golf coach at several Bay Area golf facilities, including the former Country Drives Golf Center in Sunol. (East Bay Times)

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