Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wednesday’s Briefing: Prop. 6 Gas Tax Repeal Surges in Polls; Kidney Dialysis Industry to Spend at Least $99 Million on Prop. 8

by Express Staff
Wed, Oct 17, 2018 at 10:07 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Oct. 17, 2018:

1. Proposition 6, a Republican-led effort to eliminate California’s new gas tax, is leading comfortably in the latest poll, 58 percent to 29 percent, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune, which commissioned the Survey USA poll. Opponents of Prop. 6 note that, if it passes, it will kill hundreds of transit projects around the state.

2. The kidney dialysis industry has raised a stunning $99 million to defeat Proposition 8, which seeks to regulate dialysis clinics in California, reports Chris Nichols of Capital Public Radio. Prop. 8 “would cap what clinics can spend on overhead and administrative costs, versus actual care.”

3. Hundreds of sea lions off the California coast have been stricken with a deadly bacterial infection — the second-largest outbreak “since state officials began keeping track of the infectious disease in 1970,” reports Peter Fimrite of the San Francisco Chronicle$. Some scientists believe that the outbreak of leptospirosis bacterial infections could be related to warming ocean waters.

4. California regulators have fined PG&E $5 million for two gas leaks in Northern California in 2016 and 2017, reports Melia Russell of the San Francisco Chronicle$. The California Public Utilities Commission “issued a $4.05 million citation to PG&E stemming from a 2016 incident in Deer Park” a $1 million fine for a leak in Yuba City last year.

5. ICYMI: Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and three nonprofits announced a $9 million, privately financed pilot program earlier this week that is designed to help prevent people from becoming homeless, reports Gwendolyn Wu of the San Francisco Chronicle$. The funding through nonprofits, East Bay Community Law Center, Catholic Charities of the East Bay and Bay Area Community Services, comes from a grant by Kaiser Permanente and a large anonymous donation to the San Francisco Foundation.

6. And recreational cannabis is now legal in Canada, Bloomberg reports.

$ = news stories that may require payment to read.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Opinion: Why I’m Supporting Mya Whitaker for Oakland Council District 6

She is that once-in-a-generation candidate who has the power to engage and empower the most disenfranchised and underrepresented people in her community.

by Philip Green
Tue, Oct 16, 2018 at 7:01 PM

Mya Whitaker.
  • Mya Whitaker.
My name is Philip Green. I was born and raised in Oakland, I am a partner in entertainment collective Blackball Universe, and I co-manage Oakland Grammy-winner Fantastic Negrito. I am writing to share why, in a race with several candidates with similar platforms, I support Mya Whitaker for City Council in East Oakland. The choice is clear.

I first met Mya in 2016 at the screening of Fantastic Negrito’s new video In the Pines at Red Bay Coffee. The screening also included a community conversation about gun violence and police and community trust — or lack thereof.

At the end of screening, Mya spoke about losing several friends to gun violence — and about the almost impenetrable apathy and hopelessness among her peers. “They just don’t believe,” she said at the time. “They don’t see the jobs. They don’t believe there are Black-owned businesses like this (Red Bay Coffee) that are willing to invest in people who have been in the system. They don’t believe anyone cares.”

That moment the room went quiet. Everyone knew she was right. And hearing Mya speak with such undeniable honesty, our team knew that from that day forward, we would do whatever we could to support this young woman and her community.

Little did we know that two years later, she would decide to run for Oakland City Council. And we are thrilled she made the choice. Here’s why:

Simply put, Mya is that once-in-a-generation candidate who has the power to engage and empower the most disenfranchised and underrepresented people in her community — particularly young people of color.

Why? Because Mya is one of them. She is “from the soil,” as she likes to say, she is still their peer, and she speaks to them on their terms. If you've followed her campaign, you will see she is a tireless worker who doesn't just show up to take pictures and shake hands. She stays ’til the end. She goes to the deepest parts of East Oakland and engages everyone.

These are just some of the many reasons why Mya was the first — and youngest — African-American female candidate for Oakland City Council endorsed by the California Young Democratic Party.

Last year, Mya confided to me that some important people in Oakland suggested she not run because she was “too young.” It’s precisely because she is young and has so much to offer her community that we are supporting her. She’s not waiting around and asking for approval. She knows what her community is capable of, and she’s making it happen. Now.

As Mya likes to say of East Oakland: “We are not asking to be saved. We got this.”

Opinion: I’m Running for AD 15 on a Bold, Progressive Platform

I believe that corporations and billionaires win when we let bigotry divide us.

by Jovanka Beckles
Tue, Oct 16, 2018 at 4:51 PM

Picture this: You’re elected to your city council, running on a platform of taking power back from the wealthiest corporations and returning it to working people. Then, at meeting after meeting, you’re asked to sit quietly as people stand up to say things like:
“There goes a girl, trying to be a man.”

And: “You’re just a little girl trying to be a boy, and don't even have the tools for it.”

And: “I’m going to keep coming up here and tell you how gays have no morality. ... You’re filth. You’re dirt.”

All of this because you’re not just an advocate for dignity and equality — you’re also the first out lesbian to ever hold the office.

Unfortunately, I don’t have to imagine it. I lived it as a Richmond city councilmember, day after day, since first elected in 2010. And not just from the people in the audience: Some of the hate came from my fellow councilmembers. They were more than happy to echo, ignore or excuse the bigotry from right next to me on the dais. My sexuality, my race, my heritage: nothing was off-limits.

If you’ve ever experienced a toxic workplace, you understand just how frustrating and helpless it can be. It’s even worse for Black women, who are subjected to a brutal false choice: We can stay silent and get pushed around, but if we ever push back, we’re stereotyped as an “angry Black woman.”

And sometimes I did push back. City council politics are unique — our meetings at 440 Civic Center Plaza are a world away from the plush carpets of D.C. think tanks and consulting firms. Every day, we deliberate on real issues that affect real people’s’ lives, and they can — and do — tell you to your face that they’re hurting. So it’s perhaps no surprise that tempers sometimes flared on both sides of the dais.

Nonetheless, I did my best to stay calm and effective, and to fight for the values that led voters to choose me in the first place.

As a woman, a lesbian, a dark-skinned black Latina, and an immigrant, I’ve been subjected to bigotry and hate my whole life. That part wasn’t a surprise. What did surprise me was in 2014, when my reform-minded colleagues on the council and I were targeted by a slate of candidates backed by Chevron, which spent over $3 million on billboards and mailers attacking us.

After all, Chevron boasts that “diversity and inclusion are cornerstones of our corporate values,” and sponsors floats at Pride every year. Chevron had the opportunity to put their money where their mouth was and stand against the bigotry I’d been facing for years — instead, they threw in their lot with the haters.

Now, that’s not the same as saying that Chevron is racist or homophobic. But it does mean that they’ll abandon their professed values of “diversity and inclusion” the minute that something threatens their bottom line. And as a longtime member of the Richmond Progressive Alliance — a grassroots organization dedicated to people-powered, corporate-free politics — I clearly posed a threat to Chevron’s ability to exploit the working people of Richmond in pursuit of profit. If dividing up Richmonders by gay and straight, Black and white and Brown, immigrant and native-born helped them continue to exploit and pollute, why would they lift a finger to stop it?

Fortunately, we out-organized Chevron and won. And we were able to collect an extra $114 million in taxes from Chevron, putting that money towards community services and a scholarship for every Richmond high school graduate to attend college. That’s not all: We raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour, banned the box for city hiring, passed the first rent control laws in California in over thirty years, and more.

Now, I’m running for Assembly District 15 on a bold, progressive platform that puts people over profit. I’m calling for affordable social housing for all; a single-payer, Medicare for All healthcare system; fully funded public education from preschool through college; and more. I fully expect to be attacked with many of the same dog whistles and smears that have been deployed against me in the past: you’ll likely hear that I’m “angry,” or “lazy,” or “erratic,” or even all three. An avalanche of ads and mailers, funded by over half a million dollars of outside spending, will make sure that you hear these attacks every day between now and Election Day.

I believe that politics can be better than that. I believe that corporations and billionaires win when we let bigotry divide us. When we stand together in solidarity, we can defeat the forces of hatred and greed, and build a California that works for the many, not just the few.

Oakland’s Tuff Shed Program, by the Numbers

Before opening each Tuff Shed camp, the city conducted a census of unsheltered people living nearby. Here's what the data shows.

by Darwin BondGraham and Daniel Lempres
Tue, Oct 16, 2018 at 2:46 PM

Oakland's Northgate Avenue Tuff Shed camp before it opened.
  • Oakland's Northgate Avenue Tuff Shed camp before it opened.

To address its homelessness crisis, the city of Oakland has established three Tuff Shed camps at which social workers help unsheltered people seek long-term housing while they reside in converted garden sheds. Mayor Libby Schaaf raised much of the money for the program from private donations.

Each of the three Tuff Shed camps opened near an already existing homeless encampment and in advance of their opening, the city conducted a “census” of the unsheltered people who live in the immediately surrounding area. After the city’s Tuff Shed camp opens, the nearby homeless camps are ordered closed, and camping is banned.

In order to better understand the impact of the Tuff Shed program, the Express requested copies of the city’s official census records. Here’s what the census records show.

Northgate Camp

The census for the Northgate camp reveals the severe racial disparity evident in Oakland’s homelessness crisis. Before the Tuff Shed camp opened, there were 101 homeless people who lived near the intersection of Northgate Avenue and 27th Street. According to the census, 90 of these people, or 89 percent, were Black. Seven respondents, or 6 percent of the area’s homeless residents, were Latinx, and three did not state a race. There was one white person among Northgate’s homeless.

The county’s official survey conducted last year found that 68 percent of Oakland’s homeless are Black, even though just 24 percent of the city’s total population is Black.

Inside an unfinished Tuff Shed at the Northgate camp. The city added insulation, windows, and other fixtures.
  • Inside an unfinished Tuff Shed at the Northgate camp. The city added insulation, windows, and other fixtures.

Just over a third of people living in the Northgate camp were women. Ages ranged from 24-60. And over 97 percent of the Northgate camp residents have spent more than a year on the streets.

22 people disclosed that they suffered from a mental or physical disability and 16 people disclosed that they have criminal records which have been a barrier to getting jobs and stable housing.

Every person in the Northgate camp told the census takers that they were “interested” in the Tuff Shed program. The Northgate Tuff Shed camp has room for 40 residents at a time.

The census information doesn’t show how many people who lived in the existing Northgate camp ultimately chose not to participate in the Tuff Shed camp, and therefore left the area to camp in another part of the city. In fact, the city hasn’t tracked this information for any of the three areas where it has opened Tuff Shed site and subsequently banned camping.

“Everyone on the list who was locatable has now been offered a space and has either decided to participate or not,” Lara Tannenbaum, the community housing services manager for the city of Oakland wrote in an email to the Express. “Expressing interest at the time of the census does not mean that all people chose to move in at the time they were invited.”

The Northgate site also expanded its “invitation zone” to include homeless people living on Martin Luther King Junior Way from 27th Street to Grand Avenue, Tannenbaum said. This means that there were ultimately more and different people who were offered a space in the Tuff Shed camp than the original census of 101 counted.

Castro Street and Lake Merritt

Similar census counts were conducted in the areas surrounding the Castro Street and Lake Merritt Tuff Shed camps before they opened, but these surveys don’t include the same amount of information as the one conducted for the Northgate Avenue camp. For example, the Castro area and Lake Merritt surveys do not provide information about people’s race, gender, time spent homeless, or interest in participating in the Tuff Shed program.

Tannenbaum said these counts were conducted faster, resulting in less detail.

A pink "no camping" notice on a fence outside the Castro Street Tuff Shed camp shortly after it opened.
  • A pink "no camping" notice on a fence outside the Castro Street Tuff Shed camp shortly after it opened.

The Castro street census counted 45 people, while the Lake Merritt survey counted 72. The Castro area and Lake Merritt Tuff Shed camps can also accommodate 40 people at a time. Camping bans are being enforced in the surrounding areas.

Again, the census doesn’t track how many people chose not to participate in the Castro Street camp and therefore relocated to another part of the city.

The Lake Merritt camp just opened and city officials say they plan to phase in the no encampment zone around the lake starting first with the large camp that existed at Peralta Park next to the old Kaiser Center.

Some homeless people who lived across the channel from the new Tuff Shed camp are protesting the impending camping ban with signs reading “stop evictions now,” and “Homes: yes! Tuff Sheds: no thanks!” But others are taking the city up on the program and moving in.

Some residents of the existing homeless camp near the new Lake Merritt Tuff Shed site don't agree with the camping ban Oakland plans to enforce.
  • Some residents of the existing homeless camp near the new Lake Merritt Tuff Shed site don't agree with the camping ban Oakland plans to enforce.

As with the population that lived in the encampments around Northgate Avenue before the city opened its Tuff Shed site there, many living around Lake Merritt described a mixture of health problems and other barriers to finding stable housing.

For example, 24 people reported suffering from mental health problems and physical disabilities. 13 reported addiction to alcohol or narcotics. 11 had criminal records, which poses a major barrier to finding jobs and housing. 2 disclosed having HIV/AIDS.

Oakland's census count for the Lake Merritt homeless community found that many unsheltered people have chronic health problems and addictions, in addition to criminal records, which can be barriers to employment and housing.
  • Oakland's census count for the Lake Merritt homeless community found that many unsheltered people have chronic health problems and addictions, in addition to criminal records, which can be barriers to employment and housing.

These figures are similar to what advocacy organizations know about homelessness in Oakland, said Anita de Asis Miralle, program director at the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute. According to de Asis Miralle, the disproportionate number of homeless African-American men is due to gentrification, labor market inequalities, and housing discrimination facing men of color. At the same time, there tends to be more shelter services available to women.

Many people experiencing homelessness use drugs as a coping mechanism, de Asis Miralle said. “The longer you are out in the streets, the more vulnerable you are to drug use, drug addiction and drug dependency,” she said. “Also the longer you are out on the streets the more vulnerable you are to other mental health issues above and beyond addiction.”

Some homeless people choose to participate in the Tuff Shed program. Those who don't are ordered to leave camps nearby.
  • Some homeless people choose to participate in the Tuff Shed program. Those who don't are ordered to leave camps nearby.

Tuff Shed Outcomes

The Express also requested copies of the “exit matrix,” which tracks when and how homeless residents of the Northgate and Castro camps left the Tuff Shed program. The city’s goal is to help participants obtain transitional or long-term affordable housing.

According to the matrix, 75 people had participated in the Castro Tuff Shed camp as of Sept. 21, and 31 of them are still current residents.

Because the city’s original census of the Castro camp counted 45 people in the area before the Tuff Shed site opened, this means that 30 people participated in the program who weren’t part of the original census. This is because after exhausting its census list, the city expanded the “invitation zone” to a wider area.

So far, 15 people have exited the Castro camp into permanent housing. Another 17 have exited into transitional housing.

Five people abandoned their beds while seven people have been kicked out for violating the rules, but the matrix doesn’t describe the exact nature of the rules violations.

At Northgate, 52 people have been sheltered in the Tuff Shed camp. Seven residents have successfully completed the program and transitioned into permanent shelter, according to the city’s exit matrix. Five residents of the camp were kicked out for “violent behavior,” while four lost their spot after being arrested and incarcerated. Two people forfeited their spaces by abandoning their beds.

The remaining 34 residents who have taken part in the Tuff Shed program at the Northgate camp still live there.

Ultimately, the city’s census counts and exit matrix contain limited information about who was living in the areas where the Tuff Shed camps opened, who chose to participate, and who didn’t. “We do our best to capture all individuals,” Tannenbaum said about the accuracy of the census counts. “But certainly not all people will choose to share information to be placed on a census.”

The exit matrix also doesn’t contain details about what kinds of transitional and permanent housing a person obtained, and where it’s located. It’s unclear then how many of the Tuff Shed residents have been able to remain in Oakland and how many moved away to other cities in order to get housing.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Monday’s Briefing: Council Candidate Charlie Michelson Drops Out of Race; PG&E Shuts Off Power to 60K to Avoid Fires

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Oct 15, 2018 at 9:52 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Oct. 15, 2018:

1. In a surprise move, Oakland City Council District 4 candidate Charlie Michelson ended his campaign on Sunday, citing personal reasons. Michelson, who was backed by Mayor Libby Schaaf and retiring councilmember Annie Campbell Washington, had been considered a frontrunner in the race.

2. PG&E shut off power to about 60,000 customers in 12 counties on Sunday in order to avoid sparking fires from downed powerlines during hot, dry, windy weather conditions, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The unprecedented move affected residents of Napa, Sonoma, El Dorado, Lake, Amador, and Calaveras counties.

3. Disgraced restaurateur Charlie Hallowell, who was accused by dozens of female employees earlier this year of sexual harassment and misconduct, announced that he’s returning to having more of a hands-on role in running his operation after undergoing a 12-step treatment program, reports Tracey Taylor of Berkeleyside. Hallowell sold two of his Oakland restaurants earlier this year — Penrose and Boot & Shoe Service — but still is co-owner of Pizzaiolo and is going forward with the opening of a new eatery in downtown Berkeley.

4. House GOP Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s family “won more than $7 million in no-bid and other federal contracts at U.S. military installations and other government properties in California based on a dubious claim of Native American identity by McCarthy’s brother-in-law,” the LA Times$ found in an investigation.

5. And Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and plans to close 142 stores by the end of the year because of staggering losses, reports Anne D’innocenzio of the Associated Press.

$ = stories that may require payment to read.

Charlie Michelson Abruptly Withdraws from Oakland's District 4 City Council Campaign

But Michelson's name will still be on the ballot and some have already voted.

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Oct 15, 2018 at 8:53 AM


Oakland City Council District 4 candidate Charlie Michelson abruptly withdrew from the Nov. 6 election yesterday afternoon when he sent a surprising email to his supporters. He cited "deeply personal reasons" for his decision.

Michelson didn't describe the exact reason for his exit, and he didn't respond to an email seeking clarification.

But in his message, he wrote that it's the "right decision for me and my family."

Michelson was among the seven candidates vying for the seat of outgoing Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington.

Michelson was endorsed by Campbell Washington, as well as Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, but in a hint that something was wrong, a Laurel District campaign event for Michelson that was supposed to feature Schaaf was cancelled on Saturday.

Asked about Michelson's departure from the campaign, Schaaf's campaign issued the following statement: "As soon as Mayor Schaaf was apprised of allegations concerning Charlie Michelson, she immediately withdrew her endorsement of his candidacy for Oakland City Council, District 4."

Schaaf did not describe the allegations that caused her to drop her endorsement.

Michelson is the second candidate backed by Schaaf and Campbell Washington to suddenly drop out of the District 4 race. Earlier, Chris Young dropped out after facing criticism for misrepresenting his status as an attorney. On Monday morning, the campaign for candidate Pamela Harris announced that Campbell Washington had now solely endorsed Harris.

Michelson managed to win the endorsement of the East Bay Times because, according to that paper's editorial board, he has "an awareness that the budget challenges can’t be solved by piling more taxes on homeowners."

The retired executive of West Coast Ship Supply, Michelson sold the company, which he owned an equity stake in, several years ago.

Michelson had already raised $90,334 for his campaign as of Sept. 26. In his statement, he said he would work to refund the unspent portion of his contributors' money.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Oakland Review Agency Exonerates Police Chief Over False Statements Regarding ICE Raid

While trying to review the investigation, the police commission was told they're not allowed to inspect their own civilian investigative agency's police misconduct case files.

by Darwin BondGraham
Fri, Oct 12, 2018 at 11:08 AM

Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick being sworn in by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. - FILE PHOTO BY D. ROSS CAMERON
  • File photo by D. Ross Cameron
  • Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick being sworn in by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

According to Oakland's Community Police Review Agency, Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick did nothing wrong when she made multiple false and inaccurate statements about an ICE raid that OPD officers assisted in August 2017.

CPRA Executive Director Anthony Finnell closed the case and informed the Oakland Police Commission at its meeting last night about his findings.

But several commissioners expressed frustration with the results because of Finnell's refusal to explain exactly why he cleared Kirkpatrick, despite the existence of video in which the chief made false statements.

Commissioners also questioned why it took a year to complete the investigation.

And in a surprising revelation, Finnell also told police commissioners last night that they're not allowed to look at the contents of CPRA investigative files, even though they're tasked with reviewing cases and approving the CPRA's findings — and determining whether Finnell and his investigators are doing their jobs correctly.

"Why did it take a year to get here, and why are we getting it on the eve of 3304 when there’s almost nothing we can do about it?" Police Commissioner Andrea Dooley asked Finnell.

Under Section 3304 of the California Police Officer's Bill of Rights, cops can't be disciplined for misconduct unless the official investigation is completed within one year. By presenting findings in the Kirkpatrick case as this statute of limitation was running out, there was no possibility for the police commission to question the outcome or ask for further investigation.

In fact, Finnell's presentation of the case to the police commission fell one day before the one-year deadline state law requires misconduct investigations to be completed in.

Finnell, who reports to the police commission, defended the time it took to complete the investigation and his agency's findings.

"We interviewed several individuals and had to review a large volume of documents and sift thought those, so it wasn’t a simple case that could have been closed quickly," he told the commission.

But even if the commission wanted the CPRA to do more, it's unclear how the commissioners would know what to ask for. That's because Finnell contends that the commissioners are not allowed to inspect the contents of CPRA case files. This limitation, which Finnell explained last night  to the commissioners, came as a surprise to many.

And it actually means that in some ways, Oakland's new Police Commission, approved by voters in 2016, is weaker and has less access to information than the old Citizens Police Review Board that it replaced. The CPRB was able to inspect case files in closed session meetings to determine whether their civilian investigators conducted an adequate investigation.

"It never occurred to us that the commission would have less ability to scrutinize the investigations and investigative reports than their predecessors on the CPRB board," said Rashidah Grinage, a member of the Coalition for Police Accountability, the group that pushed for creation of the new police commission — through the 2016 ballot initiative known as Measure LL.

Although LL is silent on the question of whether police commissioners are allowed to examine investigative files in closed session, Finnell has interpreted LL to deny commissioners that ability. State law prohibits the discussion of investigative files in public — a fact that no one disputes.

Brian Hofer, chair of Oakland's Privacy Advisory Commission, filed the original complaint against Kirkpatrick regarding her statements about the ICE raid, and he called Finnell's CPRA investigation inadequate.

"By waiting until the statute of limitations expired, Mr. Finnell ensured that Chief Kirkpatrick would escape any punishment for her wrongdoing," said Hofer.

See previous coverage: Oakland Police Chief Made False Statements About ICE Raid

The August 2017 ICE raid targeted a house in West Oakland where federal immigration agents arrested one man and subsequently initiated a deportation case against him. Kirkpatrick assigned several Oakland police officers to help the ICE agents by blocking off the streets to through traffic. Mayor Libby Schaaf later defended Kirkpatrick's decision, before ultimately deciding that OPD should sever all ties with ICE.

OPD's assistance ignited a controversy because Oakland's sanctuary policies bar the police from working with federal agents to enforce immigration laws. (At the time, OPD was authorized to work with ICE in criminal investigations, however). In response to the incident, the Oakland City Council passed a resolution clarifying that any and all forms of assistance to ICE are prohibited.

But in the days and weeks after the ICE raid, Kirkpatrick claimed that OPD's assistance wasn't a violation of Oakland's sanctuary policy because ICE was carrying out a warrant in a "human trafficking" case. She repeatedly claimed the ICE raid was a criminal matter not involving civil immigration enforcement.

Several weeks later at a public event hosted by Councilmember Abel Guillen, Kirkpatrick again claimed that the raid was a criminal case involving human trafficking, and she specifically stated, on a video recorded by the Express, that "only one person has been charged with a crime, and there is not a deportation matter in this case."

In fact, at the time Kirkpatrick made this statement, no criminal charges had been filed against anyone as a result of the raid. The man who was arrested by ICE, Santos de Leon, was never charged with a crime. Instead, ICE had filed papers to deport him due to an alleged civil immigration violation, contrary to Kirkpatrick's claim.

Several Oakland residents asked the CPRA to investigate Kirkpatrick for making three specific statements about the ICE raid.
  • Several Oakland residents asked the CPRA to investigate Kirkpatrick for making three specific statements about the ICE raid.

Kirkpatrick also stated inaccurately in a press release that her department had severed its agreement with ICE before the Aug. 16 raid. But according to the city's own records, OPD didn't provide notice to ICE that it was withdrawing from the agreement until Aug. 25, and the agreement was in effect for another month because it had a 30-day notification clause.

In response to all of the false and inaccurate claims made by the chief, Hofer and several Oakland residents filed their complaint against Kirkpatrick with the Community Police Review Agency, the authority that works under oversight of the police commission to investigate police misconduct and recommend discipline.

The CPRA investigators concluded that Kirkpatrick was justified in providing false information in one instance, and that the other allegations against her were "unfounded."
  • The CPRA investigators concluded that Kirkpatrick was justified in providing false information in one instance, and that the other allegations against her were "unfounded."

Finnell informed the police commission last night that they found Kirkpatrick to be "exonerated" in one of the instances and that it was "unfounded" that Kirkpatrick made two other false statements about the ICE raid.

The "exonerated" decision likely pertains to Kirkpatrick's claim that OPD no longer had a formal agreement with ICE, known as an MOU, when the raid happened. Finnell's investigators concluded that "the act or acts which provided the basis for the complaint occurred; however, the acts were justified, lawful and proper and not violations under law and/or departmental policy."

Finnell did not specifically explain why the acts were justified and lawful, even though they amounted to the spreading of false information by the police chief. It's also unclear why Kirkpatrick made the statement that OPD's agreement was severed with ICE before the raid — when she had nonetheless decided to assign OPD officers to help in the raid. (Kirkpatrick later admitted that the OPD agreement with ICE was still in effect at the time of the Aug. 16 raid.)

The second and third complaints in the case pertained to Kirkpatrick's claims at Guillen's town hall event that one person had been criminally charged as a result of the raid, and that there was no deportation matter resulting from the ICE raid.

Despite the existence of video in which Kirkpatrick made these false claims, Finnell reported to the commission last night that there is "sufficient evidence to determine that the conduct did not occur."

The CPRA may have reached this conclusion based on the possibility that Kirkpatrick genuinely believed that ICE was conducting a criminal investigation and not an immigration raid and therefore wasn't willfully lying, but Finnell again declined to provide any specifics.

"At the time of our complaint's filing, no facts pertaining to the ICE raid in West Oakland were in dispute," Hofer said in response to Finnell's conclusions. "Indeed, the chief had admitted prior to our filing that the MOU with HSI/ICE was not terminated as she claimed. Mr. Finnell demonstrates his lack of credibility by saying none of the three claims were substantiated, when they were so easily and publicly proven."

"This information is useless," Police Commissioner Ginale Harris told Finnell at last night's meeting.

Under Oakland's police oversight laws, if the CPRA, which works for the civilian police commission, and OPD's Internal Affairs Division agree on findings in a case, the case is closed without further action. But if CPRA and IAD disagree, the case can end up coming before the commission's discipline committee for a review and action. Only in these instances would three police commissioners who serve on the discipline subcommittee get a chance to look at the contents of a case file, according to Finnell's interpretation of Measure LL.

"The cases are closed," Finnell said about the complaint against Kirkpatrick, indicating no disagreement with IAD.

Finnell also closed a separate case last night involving an Oakland police officer trainee who was arrested while driving drunk across the Bay Bridge last month. That officer faced no discipline because the cop resigned. The officer's identity and details about the case are confidential, per state law.

Frustrated with the lack information about why CPRA closed Kirkpatrick's case, the commissioners voted last night to explore a possible legislative change that would allow them to review detailed contents of cases in closed session meetings.

Hofer said after the meeting in an email to the Express that the whole controversy could have been averted had city officials simply acknowledged making a mistake.

"Neither the Mayor, City Administrator, or Chief Kirkpatrick have apologized to the innocent immigrant family for assisting ICE in the raid, and for slandering them as 'sex traffickers' of children," he said.

Friday’s Briefing: DA Investigator Admits Corruption; Gas Tax Repeal Would Halt Transpo Projects

Plus, BART fined $1.3 million for track worker deaths.

by Express Staff
Fri, Oct 12, 2018 at 9:58 AM

Harry Hu, left, confessed to corruption charges. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Harry Hu, left, confessed to corruption charges.

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Oct. 12, 2018:

1. Alameda County District Attorney investigator Harry Hu has pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from his longtime informant in exchange for helping him avoid prosecution, the East Bay Times$ reports. Hu, who is also a former Oakland police officer, confessed to receiving from informant Wing Wo Ma free trips to Las Vegas and Reno and paid escorts. “Hu also admitted that he knew about the informant’s connection to a 2013 double murder in Mendocino County and that he lied to the FBI about his relationship with the informant.”

2. Proposition 6, a measure on the November ballot that would repeal California’s gas tax increase, would likely halt hundreds of transportation projects in the Bay Area and throughout the state if it passes, including the planned BART extension to San Jose and the extension of Caltrain into the Transbay Transit Center, reports Rachel Swan of the San Francisco Chronicle$.

3. BART was fined $1.3 million by the California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday “for safety violations that resulted in the deaths of two track workers who were struck and killed by a train in 2013,” reports Rachel Swan of the San Francisco Chronicle$. “For the time being, the transit agency would only have to pay half of the fine: $650,000. The commission put BART on a three-year probation and will require the agency to pay the rest of the fine if it commits any safety violations during that period.”

4. A sexual abuse survivor is accusing the Catholic Diocese of Oakland of sheltering the priest who assaulted her, reports George Kelley of the East Bay Times$. Joey Piscitelli, a member of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, won a lawsuit against that priest, the Rev. Steve Whelan. Earlier this week, the diocese announced that it was commissioning an independent investigation into clergy abuse.

5. Zachary’s Chicago Pizza plans to open a new outlet in Grand Avenue in Oakland at the spot that Camino restaurant is vacating in December, reports Justin Phillips of the San Francisco Chronicle.

6. And Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry may host a PGA Golf Tour event in Alameda next year at the newly remodeled Chuck Corica course, reports Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle$.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Opinion: Will Berkeley Make Its Sanctuary City Status Real?

The Berkeley City Council is on the verge of enacting a law that will prohibit the city from doing business with vendors that help ICE target immigrants.

by Brian Hofer, Sameena Usman, Miya Sommers, and Malena Mayorga
Thu, Oct 11, 2018 at 11:02 AM

On Oct. 16, the Berkeley City Council is scheduled to vote on the Sanctuary Contracting Ordinance as proposed by the city’s Peace and Justice Commission. If implemented, the ordinance will prohibit the awarding of city contracts to vendors supplying ICE with data or extreme vetting services.

Unfortunately, American businesses are often far too eager to put profit over values. For example, companies like Palantir, Vigilant, and data behemoths like Thomson-Reuters use more powerful technology to enable ICE to carry out President Trump’s hate-driven ideology.

Local governments must join the tech workers’ revolts happening around the country and align with sanctuary and immigrants’ rights groups to have enough impact to change these harmful business strategies and counteract federal monies.

Berkeley’s Peace & Justice Commission reviewed the ordinance after it was referred by the city council and unanimously recommended its adoption. The ordinance is sponsored by Councilmembers Kriss Worthington, Kate Harrison, and Cheryl Davila. The city of Richmond enacted a similar law earlier this year.

Candidate Trump repeatedly called for surveillance of mosques and considered the idea of compiling a national database of American Muslims. As president, he has not wavered in his desire to intimidate and oppress immigrants. His proposed use of “extreme vetting” analytics tools against immigrants, including recently changed rules allowing the targeting of those who have already obtained a green card or naturalized citizen status, demonstrate that his xenophobia knows no limits.

By joining Richmond and other Bay Area cities that are now considering this same ordinance, our combined municipal purchasing power can be leveraged to have a real impact that will lead to meaningful change. This concept is only in its infancy, and yet it has already cost Vigilant multiple contracts and a million dollars.

It has become clear that in the Trump era, protection of our civil liberties must occur at the local level. Comments made by Trump and his cabinet members, and his executive orders targeting sanctuary cities and immigrants, make it more critical than ever that the Berkeley City Council do everything in its power to defend these targeted members of our community. By adopting a strong ordinance, Berkeley can take a step closer to being a City of Refuge.

Brian Hofer - Member of Oakland Privacy and the #DeportICE coalition, and author of the model sanctuary contracting ordinance. Sameena Usman - Government Relations Coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations – San Francisco Office, member of the #DeportICE coalition. Miya Sommers - Coordinator for Nikkei Resisters, member of the #DeportICE coalition. Malena Mayorga is the Director of Immigrant Defense at Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA), and a member of the Alameda County Immigration Legal & Educational Partnership (ACILEP), member of the #DeportICE coalition.

Thursday’s Briefing: Hurricane Michael Lashes Florida; El Niño Grows in Pacific

Plus, Oakland’s biggest landlord puts a bunch of properties up for sale.

by Express Staff
Thu, Oct 11, 2018 at 10:10 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Oct. 11, 2018:

1. Hurricane Michael, a category 4 storm packing 155 mph winds, lashed the Florida panhandle on Wednesday, leveling homes and business and killing at least two people, The New York Times$ reports. The massive storm, one of the largest to ever strike the United States, caused widespread damage, leaving much of coastline in Panama City and Mexico Beach in ruins.

2. It’s looking increasingly likely that California will experience an El Niño winter this year as the Pacific Ocean continues to warm, reports Paul Rogers of the Mercury News$. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration now estimates a 70 to 75 percent probability of an El Niño winter. El Niños are often accompanied by wetter than usual weather, although scientists cautioned that this one appears to be somewhat weak.

3. Oakland’s biggest landlord, CIM Group, is putting at least six buildings up for sale in the city, hoping to cash in on The Town’s red hot commercial property market, reports Hannah Norman of the San Francisco Business Times$. CIM Group is selling the commercial buildings 1 Kaiser Plaza (534,423 square feet); 2101 Webster St. (471,337 square feet); 1901 Harrison St. (280,610 square feet); 1333 Broadway (251,155 square feet); 2100 Franklin St. (216,828 square feet); and 2353 Webster St. Parking Garage.

4. A large warehouse in East Oakland that was occupied by a paint company was destroyed by a massive fire on Wednesday, the East Bay Times$ reports. The warehouse was to be torn down anyway to make room for an affordable housing project. No one was injured in the blaze.

5. ICYMI: A former inmate at Santa Rita Jail sued Alameda County and “four former sheriff’s deputies for ‘despicable’ attacks that included a plot to repeatedly douse him with feces and urine,” reports Megan Cassidy of the San Francisco Chronicle. “Fernando Miguel Soria accused the deputies of excessive force during his time in lockup, denial of medical attention, and a conspiracy to violate his civil rights.”

6. And House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco said Democrats would seek the release of President Trump’s tax records if they win back the House in November, reports John Wildermuth of the San Francisco Chronicle$. Trump has steadfastly refused to reveal his tax returns — unlike previous presidents — and is expected to mount a legal battle to keep them secret.

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