Friday, August 18, 2017

Friday’s Briefing: Kevin Durant Won’t Go to White House, Says Teammates ‘Agree’; Oakland Firefighter Fatally Shot, Another Injured

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Aug 18, 2017 at 7:38 AM

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

1. Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant told ESPN that he will not visit the White House if the NBA champions are invited, saying “I don’t respect who’s in office right now,” reports Mike Lerseth of the San Francisco Chronicle$. The NBA Finals MVP also said he also doesn’t think his teammates will go to the White House as long as Donald Trump is president: “I know my guys well enough, they’ll all agree with me.”

2. One rookie Oakland firefighter was shot to death and another was badly injured at a food and music event in San Jose last night, reports Jason Green of the Bay Area News Group$. The two young firefighters had recently graduated from Oakland’s fire academy. Other Oakland firefighters held vigil outside Valley Medical Center, where the injured firefighter was reported as being in stable condition.

3. Two powerful water agencies that would benefit from Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to build giant tunnels underneath the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta are scheduled to vote in September on whether they will pick up most of the project’s $17 billion tab, the Sacramento Bee$ reports. Metropolitan Water District, which serves Los Angeles, is expected to greenlight the project, but it’s uncertain whether Westlands Water District, which represents agribusinesses in the dry San Joaquin Valley, will do so. Environmentalists and Delta farmers and residents strongly oppose the tunnels.

4. California’s three chapters of the ACLU have broken with longstanding tradition and are refusing to represent neo-Nazis who engage in violent rallies, saying “white supremacist violence is not free speech,” reports Matt Pearce of the LA Times$. The American Civil Liberties Union has a long tradition of representing people who espouse hate speech, but the California chapters say the First Amendment does not apply to those who engage in violence.

5. Despite widespread opposition in Richmond, the U.S. Postal Service has shuttered the historic downtown post office in the city and plans to sell it, reports Tom Lochner of the East Bay Times$. The art-deco style post office in downtown Richmond was built in 1938. The Postal Service has been selling off historic post offices in recent years throughout the nation.

6. And in response to the deadly Islamic State terrorist attacks this week in Spain, President Trump pushed a false and debunked century-old story about U.S. Gen. John J. Pershing killing captured Muslim rebels in the Philippines in 1913 by shooting them with bullets dipped in pig’s blood, The New York Times$ reports. Trump claimed on Twitter that Pershing’s actions stopped terrorism, but no part of the story is true.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Kyle "Based Stickman" Chapman Charged with Possession of Leaded Stick by Alameda District Attorney

by Darwin BondGraham
Thu, Aug 17, 2017 at 5:26 PM

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

The Alameda County District Attorney filed a felony charge against Kyle Chapman yesterday for possession of a leaded stick. The charges stem from a melee between Trump supporters and anti-fascists in Berkeley on March 4. Chapman was seen carrying a long baton into several fights and was filmed cracking the weapon over the heads of a masked antifa and other counter-demonstrators.

Berkeley police arrested Chapman on March 4 for suspicion of felony assault. He was also arrested in Berkeley on April 10 after another fight.

If convicted, Chapman would be ineligible for probation and would have to serve time in state prison, as opposed to a jail sentence, due to his prior convictions.

According to charging documents on file in Alameda County State Superior Court, Chapman was arrested and convicted of felony grand theft in San Diego County in 2001 and received a prison term. He was also convicted of felony robbery in Travis County, Texas in 1993 and served a term in state prison. Alameda prosecutors are therefore charging Chapman under sections 1170.12(c)(1) and 667(e)(1) of the penal code.

Following the March 4 attacks in Berkeley, Chapman was given the nickname "Based Stickman" by his followers in the white supremacist and pro-Trump movements. He's given speeches at white nationalist rallies, and become the subject of propaganda memes.

Berkeley police officer Darrin Rafferty wrote in court documents that Chapman was observed in several videos wielding the stick, but that "it was unclear if he hit anyone as the camera did not stay focused on him during the entirety of this altercation."

The Express reached out to Chapman for comment over Facebook, but he did not respond.

On Facebook, Chapman is listed as one of approximately 280 people who plan to attend another right-wing rally in Berkeley on August 27. He has implored his followers to return to San Francisco and Berkeley, calling the East Bay city "the most important Battle ground in the country."

Thursday’s Briefing: Trump Admin. Overturns Plastic Water Bottle Ban; Far-Right Anti-Google Protest Postponed

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Aug 17, 2017 at 7:52 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Aug. 17, 2017:

1. The Trump administration has overturned an Obama-era rule that allowed national parks to ban the sale of plastic water bottles, reports Kurtis Alexander of the San Francisco Chronicle. Park officials have long noted that plastic bottles litter lakes and forests, but the beverage industry lobbied fiercely to roll back the rule approved by then-President Obama in 2011.

2. Far-right demonstrators who planned to protest at Google in Silicon Valley on Saturday have postponed their rally in the wake of last weekend’s deadly white supremacist rally Charlottesville, Va., the LA Times$ reports. The anti-Google protesters, who do not appear to be connected to the neo-Nazis at Charlottesville, planned to demonstrate against the firing of a Google engineer who claimed that the lack of women in tech is due to biological differences.

3. A Berkeley electrician has become the second white supremacist from the East Bay to lose his job after participating in the violent rally at Charlottesville, reports Jill Tucker of the San Francisco Chronicle. “John Ramondetta, known as Johnny Monoxide on white supremacist and neo-Nazi social media sites, was a union electrician working in the Bay Area on a project for Rosendin Electric, a national outfit.” Earlier this week, an employee at Berkeley’s Top Dog lost his job after taking part in the Charlottesville march.

4. Yvette Felarca, a Berkeley middle school teacher who was arrested for punching a neo-Nazi at a Sacramento protest last year, said in court that charges should be dropped against her, the Huffington Post reports, citing a news story in Al Jazeera. “Standing up against fascism and the rise of Nazism and fascism in this country is not a crime,” said Felarca, a member of the radical leftist group, By Any Means Necessary. “We have the right to defend ourselves.”

5. National Park officials are reconsidering their decision to grant a permit to far-right protesters for an Aug. 26 march at San Francisco’s Crissy Field, reports Kurtis Alexander of the San Francisco Chronicle. Park officials have said that they can’t deny permits based on political speech, but they can cancel an event over public safety concerns. San Francisco political leaders have lobbied the park service to rescind the permit.

6. Cities and statehouses around the nation are starting to remove Confederate monuments after the Charlottesville violence, the Washington Post$ reports. City officials in Baltimore removed four Confederate monuments on Wednesday.

7. And Steve Bannon, a senior Trump advisor who many liberals consider to be a white nationalist, revealed in an interview with the American Prospect that he considers white nationalists to be “clowns.” “Ethno-nationalism—it's losers. It's a fringe element.”

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wednesday’s Briefing: Downtown Oakland Retailers Struggling; 83% of Bay Area Renters Plan to Leave

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 10:05 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Aug. 16, 2017:

1. Some downtown Oakland retailers are struggling despite the hype that the area is undergoing an economic resurgence, reports Will Callan of Hoodline Oakland. Some merchants say they’re on the verge of going out of business, including Luan Strauss, owner of Laurel Bookstore in downtown, who recently sent an email to customers, pleading for help. Merchants say the downtown area lacks the foot traffic needed to sustain retailers.

2. About 83 percent of San Francisco Bay Area renters say they plan to leave the region, with 63 percent of renters blaming the extremely high cost of housing as their main reason for wanting to move elsewhere, reports Riley McDermid of the San Francisco Business Times$, citing a new study from the real estate firm Apartment List. The extreme housing shortage in the region has been causing rents to soar.

3. BART is considering a plan to delay service each weekday by one hour to 5 a.m., reports Michael Cabanatuan of the San Francisco Chronicle$. Transit agency officials say they need the extra time each night to complete $3.5 billion of modernization projects approved by the region’s voters last year.

4. Two whistleblowers have sued the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, alleging that they were fired because they spoke out about the destruction of thousands of pages of air pollution records, including from East Bay refineries, reports Angela Ruggiero of the East Bay Times$.

5. San Francisco politicians are trying to block a planned white supremacist rally at the Presidio, scheduled for Aug. 26, reports Matier and Ross of the San Francisco Chronicle$. Mayor Ed Lee, along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, expressed outrage that the National Park Service granted a permit for the rally at Crissy Field. Meanwhile, Berkeley officials say white supremacists have yet to request a permit for a planned rally there for Aug. 27.

6. President Trump reversed himself and once again blamed “both sides” for the deadly neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The president also called some of the white supremacist demonstrators “very fine people.” White supremacists hailed Trump’s remarks.

7. And the president’s unexpected remarks on Charlottesville overshadowed an executive order he signed, overturning an Obama-era rule that required public agencies to take sea-level rise into account when building infrastructure, The New York Times$ reports.

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Oakland Police Assist Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents in Early Morning Arrest

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 9:52 AM

Homeland Security Investigations agents arrest an individual in Oakland today. - DAVE ID VIA TWITTER
  • Dave Id via Twitter
  • Homeland Security Investigations agents arrest an individual in Oakland today.

At around 7 a.m. this morning, federal police with the Department of Homeland Security's Homeland Security Investigations unit (HSI) served a warrant at 715 27th Street in West Oakland.

Several Oakland police officers assisted the federal agents by blocking off traffic and creating a perimeter.

OPD was involved despite a directive from the city council last month rescinding the department's authorization to work under the terms of a recently signed agreement between the agencies. It's unclear, however, if OPD's involvement conflicted with the council's wishes.

James Schwab, spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement's San Francisco office confirmed the joint operation, telling the Express in an email that, "Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) are executing a federal search warrant this morning as part of an ongoing criminal investigation."

Schwab called it an active investigation and wrote that he could not provide any further details at this time.

HSI is the investigative branch of ICE. They enforce laws against drug and weapons smuggling, human trafficking, fraud, and other transnational crimes, as well as undocumented immigration.

Neighbors who witnessed the operation said it involved about a dozen federal agents in plain clothes, some wearing what appeared to be body armor.

At least one Oakland police officer was stationed on 27th Street at West Street to block traffic. Another OPD officer was stationed in front of the house where the warrant was served.

OPD Public Information Officer Johnna Watson confirmed in an email that OPD "conducted traffic control while HSI conducted a follow up criminal investigation this morning."

Watson did not provide further information about the nature of the operation and said HSI is the primary agency in charge.

On Twitter, the operation was documented by Dave Id:

Another witness named Jesse, who lives nearby, said he could briefly see inside the house where the warrant was served and that he saw several people were in handcuffs. He asked that we not use his last name.

Jesse said the residents of the home are Latino, possibly from Guatemala.

"One person was taken away in handcuffs by homeland security agents," Jesse added. Two other people were also allowed to leave the house on their own and drove away from the area.

Last month, the Oakland City Council voted to rescind authorization for OPD to work with ICE and HSI investigators under the terms of existing agreements. OPD has signed at least two memorandums of understanding with ICE in the past allowing Oakland cops to work as task force agents under ICE's supervision, and also to allow OPD to be reimbursed when its officers assist ICE agents in investigations and arrests.

OPD and ICE signed an agreement in June of 2016, and another agreement was signed in January of this year to allow Oakland to be reimbursed by ICE when OPD provides "resources to joint operations/task forces."

The council's action revoked OPD officers ability to be deputized as HSI task force agents and prevents OPD from being reimbursed for joint operations involving OPD personnel. It does not appear to bar OPD from working with ICE in other ways, however.

OPD officials said in an emailed statement that the traffic control and perimeter they established for today's ICE operation was not in conflict with the city council resolution.

The City of Oakland has yet to respond to a recently filed Public Records Act request seeking a copy of the notice terminating the agreement between ICE and OPD.

The Oakland Police Department released the following statement after the operation today:

"Today, August 16, 2017, at approximately 6:30 a.m., Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) served a federal criminal search warrant in connection with human trafficking of juveniles in our city ( 700 block of 27th Street).

HSI is conducting a criminal investigation, not a civil immigration or deportation action. This branch focuses on Transnational Gangs, Human Trafficking, Human Smuggling, Child Exploitation and Narcotic Enforcement.

Yesterday, HSI headquarters in San Francisco contacted Oakland Police Chief Anne E. Kirkpatrick and requested two police officers to assist with traffic control. Chief Kirkpatrick gave strict instructions to the commander and officers that they may not assist HSI with any enforcement efforts. The officers’ only role was that of traffic control and neighborhood safety.

Although the Oakland Police Department no longer has a contract (MOU) to actively participate in investigations with HSI, the Department may assist our local, state, and federal agencies when requested as it pertains to traffic control, community safety and officer safety.

HSI is the primary investigating agency."

ICE officials declined to release information about who was arrested today, and what they are charged with. A request for a copy of the arrest warrants was also declined.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Alameda County Sheriff's Retweet of White Supremacist Press Conference Goes Viral

by Brian Krans
Tue, Aug 15, 2017 at 11:23 AM

The Alameda County Sheriff's Twitter feed became the center of controversy late Monday night after a sergeant using the account retweeted a link to a press conference featuring two prominent white supremacists.

At about 10:40 p.m., the sheriff's account retweeted a press conference held by Richard Spencer, the alt-right's poster boy who has said in numerous interviews that he wants an all-white country. Also featured in the video is Nathan Damigo, founder of the California-based white supremacist group Identity Evropa.

Both men took part in the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend that resulted in the death of three people, including two state troopers and a woman who was struck by a vehicle driven by a white supremacist who attended the rally.


The retweet immediately drew questions and accusations.

Sergeant Ray Kelly, who operates the @ACSOSheriffs Twitter account responded to an Express reporter that the tweet was a "total accident" and the post had been removed.

"You'll have to understand that I was following a news link and it led to that press conference. I was trying to close out the screen and I somehow hit the retweet button at the bottom of the page," Kelly messaged the Express. "It was accidental and I hope you understand that. It has been removed and I am much embarrassed."

But the tweet remained up for more than an hour as Kelly frustratingly struggled to have the tweet removed from the office's feed. He told the Express during those attempts that the retweet wasn't appearing on their page while it was still visible to the public.

"I'm not a social media guru by any means," Kelly said.

It's not the first time the sheriff's social media has drawn criticism. In May, a photo of a deputy sheriff arresting a fruit vendor went viral, and then the sheriff's Facebook post about the event also went viral, with many accusing the sheriff's office of unfairly targeting immigrants.

Screenshots of the sheriff's retweet went all over the internet, as Twitter users and others questioned how it was accidentally retweeted, who was responsible for it, and why the sheriff's office was watching Spencer's press conference in the first place.

In a phone call to the Express, Kelly said the department's social media activity had investigative purposes.

Kelly said he was researching Damigo, a white supremacist who was featured in a KQED report yesterday as having played an instrumental role in organizing the Charlottesville rally. Damigo told KQED that he is planning on another rally with Spencer in Berkeley.

Damigo is known for punching a woman in the face during the April 15 "Battle of Berkeley," the violent and bloody clash between the alt-right and antifa protestors. He has not been charged yet with a crime, however.

Various alt-right, Nazi, white supremacists, and other hate groups are planning another rally in Berkeley on Aug. 27.

Kelly said he and other area law enforcement officers are concerned about the possibility of more violence, especially after the deadly events in Charlottesville, which included a white supremacist ramming his car into a crowd and killing Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal.

As to the content of Spencer and Damigo's message, Kelly said, "Our department doesn't support that kind of bullshit."

Four More Picked for Oakland's Powerful New Police Commission

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, Aug 15, 2017 at 9:58 AM

From left to right: selection panel members Jim Chanin, Candice Jesse, and Tal Klement deliberate over police commission candidates.
  • From left to right: selection panel members Jim Chanin, Candice Jesse, and Tal Klement deliberate over police commission candidates.

Barring reversal by the city council, Oakland now has the first seven members of its new police commission. They will be able to investigate and discipline police officers for misconduct, fire the police chief, and help set policies for the department.

Last night, members of a special selection panel picked a slate of four individuals, plus one alternate, to serve on the commission. The four new commissioners will join three other commissioners already selected by Mayor Libby Schaaf.

The city council still has to accept the panel's picks, but the council can only reject them as a slate. The council must also approve Mayor Schaaf's picks but can individually reject them.

The selection panel winnowed its selections down from a list of more than 140 applicants to just 28 finalists who were interviewed last week. At Monday night's meeting, the panel further refined the list to just eight individuals.

But one of them required no debate and was unanimously voted in: Jose Dorado.

Dorado is a long-time city resident and community leader who lives in City Council District 6 and has a business in the Fruitvale.

To pick the remaining three full commissioners and one alternate, the panel grappled with questions of race, gender, youth, and representation.

The eight finalists were Maureen Benson, Ahmed Mubarak, Ginale Harris, Tara Anderson, Gay Plair Cobb, Melvin Cowan, Mike Nisperos, Onyinye Alheri, and Elan Lambert. Oakland developer Phil Tagami, whose candidacy for the police commission stirred controversy last week, was not among the finalists.

Panelist Tal Klement advocated strongly for Mike Nisperos because of his legal background and history in helping to strengthen the Oakland Citizens Police Review Board in the mid-1990s. Klement said Nisperos will be “able to cut through the crap and see things for what they really are,” and help his fellow commissions understand complicated legal issues.

Panelists Candice Jesse, Jim Chanin, and Mary Vail agreed and strongly recommended a spot for Nisperos, even though he only received four votes initially, ranking him seventh overall.

Panelist Jone Jones advocated for younger people having a seat on the board. Sarah Chavez Yoell echoed Jones, saying it is important to appoint young people or someone who works directly with youth to the commission.

Jones also said he would pick Leigh Davenport, but he felt she was removed from the list of finalist because of her affiliation with the Anti-Police Terror Project, a group that has organized protests against OPD and even took a stand against the police commission because some in the group felt it wasn't strong enough.

“It's easy to marginalize based on perceived associations,” said Jones about Davenport. But he said there is a difference between hating the police and hating police brutality.

Ginale Harris received strong support from several panelists.

“She was the most impressive,” said panelist Arnold Perkins. However, panelist Sarah Chavez-Yoell raised concerns that Harris lives in the same district as several of the mayor's picks, calling into question geographic diversity of those of the board. But Perkins said it was more important to him to have a strong commission than balance out the spots on the board by city council district, a position to which Chanin and Jesse agreed by nodding their heads.

Jean Blackshear said she was concerned about having no resident from District Seven on the commission.

When the panelists finally voted, it was Ahmad Mubarak, Ginale Harris, Mike Nisperos, who made the cut. After some debate about whether the commission would be balanced enough in terms of gender, the panel chose to make Maureen Benson the alternate, meaning that she won't be a full commissioner, but instead will serve when a commissioner is absent, or if a full commissioner steps down or is removed.

Who's on the commission?

Jose Dorado (picked by the panel) is a Latino who was born and raised in Oakland's Fruitvale District. He runs a tax and bookkeeping business. Since 1996, he has led the Maxwell Park Neighborhood council, one of Oakland's neighborhood crime prevention councils that works closely with OPD to address public safety problems. Dorado was appointed by Mayor Jean Quan to the Measure Y oversight committee and has served in numerous other civic roles.

Ginale Harris (picked by the panel) is a mixed-race Black, Latino, and white woman who lives in deep East Oakland. She currently works as a San Francisco deputy court clerk. She has worked for years as a probation and parole advocate helping formerly incarcerated people navigate the justice system. She served on SFPD Chief Greg Suhr's violence prevention committee in 2012.

Mubarak Ahmad (picked by the panel) is a 28-year Black Oakland resident with six children and six grandchildren. He coaches little league baseball and is a basketball coach for Montera Middle School. He works for AC Transit.

Mike Nisperos (picked by the panel) is a Filipino-American who was raised in Oakland. He has worked as an Alameda County prosecutor, an Air Force JAG officers, a criminal defense attorney, an associate in the John Burris law firm where he focused on police misconduct cases, as a public safety analyst, and he authored the Oakland Mayor's 2001 Public Safety Plan which called for a transition toward community policing tactics. In 1997, he helped revamp the Citizens Police Review Board after the council expanded its jurisdiction and authority. He has been arrested by OPD four times.

Maureen Benson (picked as an alternate by the panel) is a white, 17-year Oakland resident. She previously worked as an OUSD teacher and principal.

Edwin Prather (picked by Mayor Schaaf) is an Asian attorney with law offices in San Francisco. He was an attorney with the Asian Law Caucus civil rights group, and also worked as an attorney in the San Francisco Public Defender's Office.

Thomas Smith (picked by Schaaf) is a Black Oakland resident who serves as the political action chair of the Oakland NAACP. He previously worked as a management consultant for McKinsey and Company. He helped establish the Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy charter school in Massachusetts and was on the board of directors for the Conservatory of Vocal Arts charter school in Oakland.

Regina Jackson (picked by Schaaf) is a Black woman who serves as the president and CEO of the East Oakland Youth Development Center and has served on several Oakland youth and education task forces.

Andrea Dooley (picked as an alternate by Schaaf) is a white attorney and an arbitrator who previously worked at Kaiser Permanente. She advises unions and employers on employment laws.

Correction: the original version of this story misquoted Tal Klement as saying an attorney on the police commission would reduce the commission's reliance on outside counsel and the Oakland city attorney. He did not say this.

Monday, August 14, 2017

White Nationalists Plan Yet Another Brawl in Berkeley

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Aug 14, 2017 at 5:23 PM

Trump supporters face off against anti-fascists on April 15 in Berkeley. - BRIAN KRANS
  • Brian Krans
  • Trump supporters face off against anti-fascists on April 15 in Berkeley.

In the wake of deadly clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, a coalition of neo-Nazis, white nationalists, alt-righters, and white supremacists are returning to Berkeley with the stated purpose of provoking street fights.

The groups, which also include fascists, Islamophobes, homophobes, Trump supporters, anti-semites, xenophobes, conspiracy theorists, and other bigots and reactionaries are converging for a demonstration on August 27 called "No to Marxism in America," which, according to the event's Facebook page is a "chance to speak out and expose the plan of purging our nation from a free nation to a communist nation."

Berkeley has become a symbolic target of protest for the far-right because of its Free Speech Movement history and liberal reputation.

Previous right-wing rallies in April turned violent as anti-fascists clashed with racists in the streets, resulting in numerous arrests.

Among those who say they'll attend the August 27 rally is Kyle "Based Stickman" Chapman, a self-described nationalist and member of the far-right Proud Boys group who complains that there is a "war on whites." Chapman has been arrested for battery at previous white supremacist rallies in Berkeley, but he has yet to be charged with any crime in relation to these events, according to court records.

Several days ago, Chapman tweeted eagerly about the "Battle of Berkeley 3," including a soundtracked motivational video that shows white nationalists and Trump supporters fighting counter-protesters.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Chapman justified the Charlottesville, Virginia attack on Friday when a car plowed through a group of protesters killing one person and wounding many. Chapman wrote that "Antifa terrorists" had attacked the car before it plowed through a group of people "in an effort to get away."

The man arrested and charged with murder and malicious wounding, James Alex Fields Jr., attended the Unite the Right rally and according to The New York Times, had expressed racist views in the past.

Chapman didn't respond to a Facebook message seeking more information about his group's plans in Berkeley.

Other members of the Proud Boys Bay Area group plan to attend to the Berkeley protest.

The group's members advocate violence in the streets to advance an agenda of "Western chauvinism."

Sergeant Andrew Frankel of the Berkeley Police Department told the Express that BPD is aware of a number of different rallies planned for August 27, from different political perspectives, and that BPD plans to "staff accordingly."

"We realize there are potentially a number of people coming to fight," said Frankel.

He confirmed that no organization or person has yet applied for an event permit with the city.

Frankel also said that BPD will likely continue to use the same tactics it has at previous protests.

"We’ve attempted to be surgical," he said. "We’ve taken action at a time when it’s not going to jeopardize the safety of other people who are there expressing their first amendment rights."

But Frankel added that BPD has multiple ongoing investigations into violence at the previous protests and that video and other evidence is still being analyzed to identify perpetrators.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Only Six Percent of Housing Under Construction in Oakland Is Affordable

by Darwin BondGraham
Fri, Aug 11, 2017 at 4:48 PM

11th and Jackson, one of the few affordable housing developments built recently in Oakland.
  • 11th and Jackson, one of the few affordable housing developments built recently in Oakland.
According to a new City of Oakland report, there are 18,793 housing units in the city's development pipeline, and 2,781 of these homes are already under construction.

But only 170 of the under-construction homes — 6 percent of the total — are being developed using tax credits or other financial tools to keep rents at affordable levels.

Meanwhile, the average market-rate rent for a one bedroom apartment in Oakland has risen to $2,400 per month, a level that's only considered affordable for people who earn upwards of $86,000 per year.

Half of Oakland's households earn just $54,618 per year, according to the U.S. Census.

While Oakland's thousands of soon-to-be-built market-rate homes should help address the region's supply-demand imbalance, it won't do much to help low-income renters who rely on subsidized housing for shelter.

The report notes that things could get worse due to uncertainty about the federal tax credits used by developers to finance affordable housing. According to the report, "the tax credit market has been volatile due to pending tax reform efforts since the change in national leadership. The value of credits is decreasing, thereby creating a financing gap."

The city report, which is an update to Mayor Libby Schaaf's 2016 Oakland at Home report, does list a number of accomplishments, however, that have helped preserve affordable housing, protect tenants against displacement, and create new funds for development.

For example, the city's Rent Adjustment Program office has a new, more user-friendly website. According to the report, materials on the old RAP website were written only so that someone with a post-graduate education could understand them. Now they're written so that people with an 8th grade reading level can understand the rules and what resources are available.

The city's recently approved infrastructure bond also will create millions in funding for affordable housing. The report states that the first bonds will be issued later this summer and will be used to help nonprofits acquire and rehabilitate hundreds of housing units.

The full report can be downloaded here:

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Oakland Police Commission Candidates Face Questions of Experience, Bias, and Conflicts

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Aug 9, 2017 at 8:49 AM

Tagami during last night's interview with the police commission's selection panel.
  • Tagami during last night's interview with the police commission's selection panel.

Ten of 28 finalists vying for the first seats on Oakland's newly established police commission were publicly interviewed last night by a selection panel.

The selection panel's members tried to gauge the potential biases of the would-be commissioners and inquired about their work and life experiences, and the candidates' vision for how the new oversight board can improve police-community relations.

Among those interviewed was real estate developer Phil Tagami. He touted his experience as a former member of the state medical board, state lottery commission, and the city's port commission, and said he can bring discipline and order to the job.

When asked about his experiences with the Oakland police, Tagami said they have at times been "less than pleasant."

But some selection panel members said Tagami could be a distraction as a commissioner. "You are the only individual people responded strongly to," said selection panel member John Jones about public comments received in response to Tagami's application. Jones noted a large number of people have opposed Tagami's candidacy.

Selection panel member Mary Vail asked Tagami about why he once stood in the lobby of the Rotunda Building with a shotgun during Occupy Oakland. "Why should we support someone whose most vocal public safety statement was to stand in front of a building with a shotgun?" she asked him.

Tagami said it was an extreme situation in which he feared for his property, and that although protesters had broken windows of buildings up and down the street, the Oakland police refused to disperse them.

"I would much rather have had OPD provide crowd control," answered Tagami. "Had I not done that they would have taken over our building and I would be out of business."

During a public comment period, others said Tagami should be disqualified from serving on the commission because he is trying to build a coal export terminal in West Oakland, and he's gone so far as to sue the city to overturn a health and safety ordinance banning coal.

Tagami, however, had 22 letters of support from various friends and business associates, and said he's proud of his accomplishments in Oakland.

One letter was from Joe Sarapochillo of the construction company SK Builders. Sarapochillo is also a board member of the developer lobbying group Oakland Builders Alliance.

Sarah Chavez-Yoell, the chair of the selection panel that will determine whether Tagami and others are picked to serve on the police commission, also happens to be the director of the Oakland Builders Alliance, and according to recent disclosure filings with the Oakland Public Ethics Commission, Chavez-Yoell also has worked as a lobbyist for Tagami's companies, including the California Capital Investment Group and the Oakland Bulk Oversized Terminal, the latter of which hopes to build a coal terminal in West Oakland.

Chavez-Yoell — who is also married to ex-Oakland police officer Michael Yoell — was picked for the selection panel by Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney.

These relationships were not disclosed during last night's meeting.

Other candidates for the commission also faced tough questions.

Leigh Davenport and Elliot Hosman both applied to the commission and listed their association with the Anti Police Terror Project as a qualification. But some commissioners noted that the APTP did not support the new police commission when it was placed on last year's election ballot, calling it "ultimately toothless."

Selection panel member Jim Chanin, asked both Davenport and Hosman, whether they could possibly side with police officers in disciplinary hearings if the evidence supported the cops, and then abide by the commission's strict confidentiality rules, and state law, which would prevent commissioners from disclosing the facts they learn when adjudicating a misconduct case.

"You would have to go back to your community and say you sided with the police and you would not be able to tell them why," said Chanin. "Could you find for the police if the evidence pointed that way and go back to your community and take the heat?"

Both Davenport and Hosman answered “yes.”

But Vail asked whether they were truly committed to helping the new commission succeed. She pointed to what she said was a posting on Davenport's Facebook criticizing the police commission ballot measure, Measure LL.

Davenport said she never posted anything fitting that description on her Facebook, and that Vail was probably referring to a social media post by the APTP which she did not author. But Davenport did say she is "very concerned" about whether the commission will succeed if police officers can still appeal disciplinary rulings under binding arbitration and have the commission's decisions overturned.

When asked about their experiences with the Oakland police, the ten candidates responded with dramatically different answers.

Tara Anderson, a North Oakland resident who currently works as the director of policy in the San Francisco District Attorney's Office, wrote in her application that she has largely had "positive experiences interacting with OPD," but that this can be attributed to her "privileged status including income and race and ethnicity." Anderson, who is white, noted this is not the case for all Oaklanders.

Mike Nisperos has had a very different history with OPD.

He told the selection panel that his first encounter with the Oakland police was when he was 12 years old. He and some friends sneaked into the pool at Bret Harte Elementary School. A group of older boys came while they were swimming and broke into the school's snack bar and took money from the registers. Neighbors called OPD, and when the cops showed up they arrested the younger boys who were still half-naked and in the water.

"OPD put us in the patrol wagon," said Nisperos. "Then the cops went and grabbed snacks from the snack bar. That's how OPD was back then," he recalled.

Many years later, his son, who was in law school, was pulled over on Piedmont Avenue because a police officer said he flicked an ash off a cigarette out of his car window. "I don't think he would have [stopped him] if he weren't brown," said Nisperos, who is Filipino.

Vildred Tucker-Dawson told the selection panel that her experiences with the Oakland police have been positive and negative.

She spent most of her time talking about the negative.

According to Tucker-Dawson, who is Black, in March the Oakland police "raided" her home while searching for a firearm that they alleged belonged to one of her grandchildren. She claimed that the police refused to produce a warrant until ten minutes before they left, and that they found no gun, and the grandson in question didn't live at her home.

"I felt my life was in jeopardy," she said, due to the fact that she is a longtime and well-known member of the organization PUEBLO, which has pushed for reform measures, including the creation of the police commission.

Selection panelist Tal Klement asked Tucker-Dawson if she thinks it would be a conflict of interest to be both a leader of PUEBLO, which occasionally helps people file complaints against the police, and also a police commissioner who would have to impartially resolve complaints brought against officers. Tucker-Dawson said she didn't see it as a conflict of interest.

Selection panel member Candice Jesse noted that "some might say PUEBLO is anti-police. Does that affect your personal outlook? Can you be fair?"

"I understand not all police officers are bad," said Tucker-Dawson. "There's a lot of good officers. Unfortunately the bad ones take away from the good ones, but you have to be unbiased."

The selection panel will continue to interview candidates for the commission tonight and Thursday night at City Hall.

Also last night, Mayor Libby Schaaf announced her three picks for the police commission. They include San Francisco Attorney Edwin Prather; Regina Jackson of the East Oakland Youth Development Center; and Thomas Smith, the political action chair of the Oakland NAACP.

Correction: the original version of this story identified Mike Nisperos as a Latino. He is Filipino.

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