Friday, April 5, 2019

Friday's Briefing: Ghost Ship owners plead the Fifth; Berkeley Unified proposing to build housing for teachers

Swalwell presidential campaign to focus on gun safety

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Apr 5, 2019 at 6:00 AM

News you don't want to miss for April 5-7:

1. The owners of the Ghost Ship building appeared in court Thursday, the East Bay Times reports. Each took the stand, but refused to answer questions, instead, pleading the Fifth Amendment. $$

2. Berkeley is losing good teachers due to the city and region's high cost of housing. Berkeleyside reports the Berkeley Unified School District is eyeing a plan to build affordable housing for its teachers and the Berkeley City Council may soon be asked to help pay for pre-development costs.

3. An Alameda County Superior Court judge set a $2 million bail for David Xu, the Berkeley engineer who is accused of slowly poisoning his co-worker by placing cadmium in her water bottle, SFist reports. Xu has pleaded not guilty.

4. The Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department is not complying with requests under a new state law for the release of its police investigation records, citing a large number of files, the East Bay Times reports, along with the question, "Is the Contra Costa Sheriff's Department overwhelmed with problem officers?" $$

5. Swalwell switcheroo? Rep. Eric Swalwell's will focus his forthcoming presidential campaign on gun safety, not Russian collusion, The Atlantic reports. Swalwell will announces his campaign for president next week, reportedly on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. A local event is also scheduled for April 14 in Dublin.

6. One of Swalwell's future opponents, Sen. Kamala Harris, missed an important Senate vote on wildfire relief for California while she was fundraising this week in Sacramento, Politico reports.

7. Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin received a retraining order against perennial mayoral candidate Zachary RunningWolf, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The order was sought after RunningWolf posted a threatening message against Arreguin on Facebook. $$

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Thursday, April 4, 2019

Thursday's Briefing: Sweeping renters' protections in store for Alameda; PG&E names CEO

Fight over Richmond mayor's police commission pick continues

by Steven Tavares
Thu, Apr 4, 2019 at 6:00 AM

News you don't want to miss for April 4:

1. The Alameda City Council voiced strong support for enacting a number of new protections for renters, the East Bay Citizen reports. New regulations for the Ellis Act was approved Tuesday night, in addition, to a staff direction to return with a just-cause ordinance next month. A possible cap on annual rent increases could come back in early June.

2. Controversy over an appointment to the Richmond Police Commission continues after Mayor Tom Butt said he would not name another member unless the Richmond City Council supported his pick, Catherine Montalbo, SFGate reports. The council though called his bluff Tuesday night. Some Richmond residents say Montalbo is unfit for the appointment after previous social media comments against immigrants.

3. The embattled public utility PG&E named Bill Johnson as its new CEO, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Johnson was formerly the head of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

4. Nurses at Alameda Hospital and San Leandro Hospital briefly walked the picket lines Wednesday afternoon, SFGate reports. Nurses at both hospitals, which are part of the Alameda Health System, have been in contract negotiations for the past five months.

5. Following a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of seniors and the disabled, "a judge has ordered California elections officials to expand voter registration throughout the state to county welfare offices and student financial aid centers," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

6. A tight job market and rising wages is making it difficult for retail and housing developers to hire low-cost labor, The New York Times reports. In the East Bay, a number of projects have stalled in the past few years based on this premise. $$

7. The notorious Interstate 980 that cut off West Oakland generations ago from the rest of an otherwise vibrant city is on the list of North America's 10 Most Ill-Advised Urban Highways, CityLab reports.

8. "The world is just not fair," the rest of the NBA must be saying after The Athletic reports Golden State Warriors sharpshooter Stephen Curry rose to the status of the greatest shooter in NBA history... with blurry vision!. He now wears contacts and his shooting percentage has been torrid ever since.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Wednesday's Briefing: Ghost Ship trial begins; Oakland school is vandalized

BART Police chief is retiring

by Steven Tavares
Wed, Apr 3, 2019 at 6:00 AM

News you don't want to miss for April 3:

1. The Ghost Ship warehouse fire trial of Derick Almena and Max Harris began Tuesday, KTVU reports. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and a former fire marshal was subpoenaed by the defense.

2. The Manzanita Community School and Manzanita SEED Elementary on 27th Avenue in Oakland was vandalized, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

3. BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas announced his retirement after nearly two years on the job, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. His last day is May 6. $$

4. A state appeals court decided the intent of a police transparency law authored by East Bay state Sen. Nancy Skinner was to cover all police misconduct and use-of-force investigations, the San Francisco Chronicle reports, not just those created after Jan. 1, 2019, as some police unions had argued. $$

5. Done with worrying about the water drought? How about the earthquake drought the state is currently in? The Los Angeles Times reports the state hasn't been shaken by a earthquake of 6.0 or more on the Richter Scale since the Napa quake almost five years ago. $$

6. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued a ban on state-funded travel to South Carolina, CNBC reports, which has a state law that allows religious foster agencies to discriminate against members of the LGBT community.

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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Tuesday's Briefing: Massive warehouse fire in Oakland; Swalwell close to announcing presidential run

Tesla pays EPA fine for violations at Fremont plant

by Steven Tavares
Tue, Apr 2, 2019 at 6:00 AM

News you don't want to miss for April 2:

1. It took more than 60 Oakland firefighters to douse a massive fire in Oakland that destroyed an electrical and plumbing warehouse business on East 12th Street Monday morning, KGO-TV reports.

2. Carla Marinucci in the Politico California Playbook newsletter reports East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell was overheard telling guests at his fundraiser last Friday in San Francisco, "Don’t tell anybody, but I’m announcing in two weeks."

3. Tesla agreed to pay a fine to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for violations at its sprawling Fremont plant, The Verge reports. Tesla left hazardous waste to accumulate on the property for longer than the 90 days allowed by law.

4. A measles outbreak is raising concerns nationwide and the state with 16 cases already in California this year, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Last week, health officials feared an outbreak at a restaurant in Livermore. $$

5. Alameda voters will head to the polls April 9 for a special election featuring just two ballot initiatives, KTVU reports. Measure A asks voters to reaffirm the City Council's decision to allow zoning for a wellness center for homeless seniors near Crab Cove, along with other services for the homeless in Alameda. Measure B would nullify the act.

6. Similar to East Bay neighbors in Oakland, San Leandro elected officials and progressive activists demanded the city divest from Wells Fargo because of its support for the Dakota Access Pipeline. A direction to cuts ties with Wells Fargo as the city's daily banking services vendor came up empty, the East Bay Citizen reports, potentially angering progressives and environmentalists.

7. Nobody exudes style more than Alfred Twu, who ran for the Berkeley City Council last fall while rocking a prairie dress and floppy hat. Twu's creativity also translates to board games, including one based on housing and planning issue in Berkeley, Berkeleyside reports.

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Monday, April 1, 2019

Monday's Briefing: East Bay priest arrested for sexual misconduct with a minor

Chez Panise's yard sale is wildly popular

by Steven Tavares
Mon, Apr 1, 2019 at 6:00 AM

News you don't want to miss for April 1:

1. The Oakland Catholic Diocese is facing another alleged sexual misconduct case after a Fremont priest was arrested and charged with 30 counts of lewd acts with a minor, NBC Bay Area reports. Hector David Mendoza-Vela is an administrator at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Fremont, but the alleged acts occurred, starting in 2016, at St. John's Catholic Church in San Lorenzo.

2. Oakland has money and a plan to begin repairing its sea of potholes and now residents in the leafy Oakland Hills are miffed by a proposal to steer a larger portion of the funding to the lower-income flatlands, Rachel Swan reports in the San Francisco Chronicle. $$

3. It wasn't just any old yard sale in Berkeley Sunday morning, SFGate reports. Chez Panisse, the world-renowned restaurant founded by chef Alice Waters, held a yard sale that attracted a throng of customers, some maybe looking for a well-used ricer and a story tell to future dinner guests.

4. In addition to April Fool's Day, today is U.S. Census Day, which is being used as a starting point to kickoff federal, state, and local efforts to achieve an accurate count when questionnaires are sent out next year. Alameda County could face major reductions in federal funding, not to mention a potential loss of a seat in Congress. John Myers in the Los Angeles Times takes a look at what's at stake. $$

5. California is burning. A vast majority of the state's 20-worst wildfires have occurred since 2007. CalMatters explains what is going on and how it might get worse.

6. Stanford is one win away from the Final Four of the Women's NCAA Tournament, ESPN reports. The Cardinal meet defending champion Notre Dame tonight, and the Mavericks surfing competition in Half Moon Bay was called off this year due to puny waves, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

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Monday's Briefing: East Bay priest arrested for sexual misconduct with a minor

Chez Panise's yard sale is wildly popular

by Steven Tavares
Mon, Apr 1, 2019 at 6:00 AM

News you don't want to miss for April 1:

1. The Oakland Catholic Diocese is facing another alleged sexual misconduct case after a Fremont priest was arrested and charged with 30 counts of lewd acts with a minor, NBC Bay Area reports. Hector David Mendoza-Vela is an administrator at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Fremont, but the alleged acts occurred, starting in 2016, at St. John's Catholic Church in San Lorenzo.

2. Oakland has money and a plan to begin repairing its sea of potholes and now residents in the leafy Oakland Hills are miffed by a proposal to steer a larger portion of the funding to the lower-income flatlands, Rachel Swan reports in the San Francisco Chronicle. $$

3. It wasn't just any old yard sale in Berkeley Sunday morning, SFGate reports. Chez Panisse, the world-renowned restaurant founded by chef Alice Waters, held a yard sale that attracted a throng of customers, some maybe looking for a well-used ricer and a story tell to future dinner guests.

4. In addition to April Fool's Day, today is U.S. Census Day, which is being used as a starting point to kickoff federal, state, and local efforts to achieve an accurate count when questionnaires are sent out next year. Alameda County could face major reductions in federal funding, not to mention a potential loss of a seat in Congress. John Myers in the Los Angeles Times takes a look at what's at stake. $$

5. California is burning. A vast majority of the state's 20-worst wildfires have occurred since 2007. CalMatters explains what is going on and how it might get worse.

6. Stanford is one win away from the Final Four of the Women's NCAA Tournament, ESPN reports. The Cardinal meet defending champion Notre Dame tonight, and the Mavericks surfing competition in Half Moon Bay was called off this year due to puny waves, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

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Friday, March 29, 2019

Friday's Briefing: 1,000 Bay Area tech workers could get pink slips

PG&E again in Newsom's cross hairs

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Mar 29, 2019 at 6:00 AM

News you don't want to miss for Mar. 29-31:

1. More than 1,000 tech workers could be laid off within the next two months, the San Jose Mercury News reports. $$

2. California has added 15 million new residents since its last reservoir was built. A robust snowpack this winter begs the question whether the state's water infrastructure can do the job when all the ice melts this spring, the Washington Post reports.

3. The woman who accused Cal football players and staff of sexual harassment earlier this month spoke out Thursday on NBC's Today, SFGate reports. "It's not just in Hollywood. It's always been in sports. And now it's at Cal," she said.

4. Gov. Gavin Newsom slammed a plan to restock PG&E's Board of Directors with hedge fund managers instead of individuals with backgrounds as regulators and clean energy experts, the Associated Press reports.

5. A bankruptcy judge ruled PG&E can gain access to $5.5 billion in funding it previously secured from banks, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

6. A Hayward resident said American Airlines employees accused her of human trafficking while on flight to Sacramento because she didn't look like her family, NBC Bay Area reports.

7. Fans of Spenger's Fresh Fish Grotto who are aching for a reminder of the now closed venerable Berkeley restaurant can soon find it at The Kingfish Pub in Oakland, Berkeleyside reports.

8. Sen. Bernie Sanders has good taste in coffee. The San Leandro Times reports the presidential candidate caused a stir last Sunday when he unexpectedly dropped in at a coffee shop on Bancroft Avenue. Sanders's entourage was heading to a campaign rally in San Francisco.

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Thursday's Briefing: Oikos University killer dies in prison; Opening Day, Part II for the A's

Alameda County Board of Supervisors to reconsider 'mutton busting' ban

by Steven Tavares
Thu, Mar 28, 2019 at 6:00 AM

News you don't want to miss for Mar. 28:

1. The man who killed seven people at Oikos University in Oakland in 2012, has died in prison, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The number of murders was the second-worst in Bay Area history. $$

2. Animal rights activists thought they had convinced the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to take steps toward banning some rodeo events in the county. But one county supervisor wants to reconsider the potential ban, the East Bay Citizen reports.

3. Berkeley is moving ahead with its prohibition on overnight RV parking on its city streets, Berkeleyside reports. The council approved the second reading of the ordinance, 6-3. Enforcement, however, will have to wait while a three-month permitting process is created.

4. Rep. Barbara Lee sure has it in for U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Lee lambasted DeVos during a House Appropriations hearing for, among other issues, attempting to leave the Special Olympics unfunded, the East Bay Citizen reports. Lee jumped all over DeVos at the same setting almost exactly one year ago.

5. For those who have already attempted to get Real IDs, you have probably witnessed the long lines and confusion evident at the Department of Motor Vehicles. The Associated Press reports an audit by the state Finance Department found the DMV was unprepared for the rollout of the new IDs required for air travel starting in October 2020.

6. A Mega Million lottery ticket worth $994,000 was purchased in San Leandro, KRON reports. The ticket had five of six correct numbers. The winnings could buy you a nice home, at least in quasi-affordable San Leandro, and with a little cash left over.

7. Opening Day, Part II for the Oakland Athletics is today. The A’s open their home schedule this afternoon against the Los Angeles Angeles at the Coliseum. The A's started the season last week in Tokyo. The San Francisco Chronicle takes a look at Charlie Finley, the famously chintzy, yet innovative former A’s owner and his rollout of Opening Day in 1969. Meanwhile, The crosstown rival San Francisco Giants open their season down south against the new-look San Diego Padres. $$

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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Wednesday's Briefing: Berkeley approves overnight RV parking ban; 'ShakeAlert' test coming

Crab season to end three months early

by Steven Tavares
Wed, Mar 27, 2019 at 6:00 AM

News you don't want to miss for Mar. 27:

1. The Berkeley City Council approved a second reading late Tuesday night of a controversial ban on overnight sleeping in RVs on city streets, along with amendments inlcuding a short-term permitting process, according to Berkeleyside.
2. In an unusual move, Oakland Council President Rebecca Kaplan weighed-in on the Berkeley RV ban ordinance in a press release Tuesday afternoon, SFGate reports. Elected officials rarely interject themselves into the matters of neighboring municipalities.

3. This is only a test. Around 11 a.m. today, smartphone users in and around Downtown Oakland will receive a "ShakeAlert," KTVU reports. Some Alameda residents may also receive the earthquake early warning message, Alameda city officials said.

4. Anticipating East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell is about to announce a run for president soon, Casey Tolan reports in the San Jose Mercury News, that a list of potential successors is forming in the 15th Congressional District. $$

5. As the Trump administration continues to rollback environmental regulations, the Los Angeles Times details how state lawmakers are seeking to undermine the effort. $$

6. The crab season in California will end early in an effort to protect whales from being harmed by crabbing equipment, the Associated Press reports. The season will end April 15, three months earlier than usual.

7. An Alameda County Sheriff's deputy and sergeant was exposed to fetanyl, the powerful synthetic opioid, while on duty at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Both were given Naxolone to counteract the drug. $$

8. "I Got 5 on it," the hip-hop classic by the Oakland duo Luniz is receiving a revival thanks to the Jordan Peele's latest film, "Us," The New York Times reports. To fit the mood of the horror film, the song's beat was slowed to an ominous tone. $$

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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Tuesday's Briefing: Swalwell maintains Russian collusion, tells Trump to sue him

AG Becerra never reviewed police shooting of 16-year-old pregnant girl in Hayward

by Steven Tavares
Tue, Mar 26, 2019 at 6:00 AM

News you don't want to miss for Mar. 26:

1. Over the past two years, East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell has become one of the most visible faces of the resistance against President Trump, lodging allegations of Russian collusion on a daily basis. Some of his claims now appear tenuous, but Swalwell doubled down Monday, the East Bay Citizen reports, and even challenged Trump to sue him.

2. The killing of a 16-year-old pregnant girl by Fremont Police in Hayward became a highly-charged political affair after the Fremont Police Officers Association contributed $10,000 to Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley's re-election campaign. Critics howled with news of the contribution and O'Malley's decision not to charge the two Fremont cops. Now, the East Bay Times reports, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra never reviewed O'Malley's investigation, even though he said he would. $$

3. Earlier this month, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by San Francisco and Oakland that alleges oil companies have contributed to climate change. Bob Egelko reports in the San Francisco Chronicle that Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris are urging for reinstatement of the complaint. $$

4. San Francisco Chronicle columnist Otis Taylor, Jr. checks in with a Cal graduate student struggling to survive while living in a RV in Berkeley. $$

5. A 40,000-square-foot market hall is coming to Jack London Square, the Associated Press reports. The dining hall coming to 55 Harrison Street will include food and beer options.

6. Stanford advanced to the Sweet 16 of the Women's NCAA Basketball Tournament after defeating Brigham Young, 72-63, Reuters reports. Stanford meets Missouri State on Saturday. Cal, meanwhile was routed by top-seed Baylor, 102-63, Fox Sports reports.

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