Friday, December 28, 2012

Oakland Hires Famed Former New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton, But His Role Is Unclear

by Ali Winston
Fri, Dec 28, 2012 at 1:06 PM

One of the most prominent American policemen will try his hand at sorting out the Gordian Knot that is the Oakland Police Department. City officials announced yesterday they intend to hire William Bratton, a senior consultant with the risk management firm Kroll Associates and the former police commissioner of New York City and Los Angeles, as a consultant.

Bratton will be working to help OPD fight a spiking crime rate — but not to bring the department into compliance with its decade-old federally mandated reforms.

Bratton will be the third former police chief working as a consultant for OPD in recent years. His predecessors have not gotten along with city officials: Robert Warshaw, the former police chief of Rochester and current court-appointed monitor, has clashed repeatedly with City Administrator Deanna Santana, while former Baltimore police commissioner Thomas Frazier, who was hired to review OPD's response to Occupy Oakland last fall, strongly objected to Santana's efforts to censor a highly critical report prepared by his firm.

City officials say Bratton will be paid under a $250,000 agreement with Strategic Policy Partnership, a firm already retained by Oakland to review OPD's best practices and crime reduction strategies. Court documents show Oakland has spent just under $1 million on consultant contracts related to the consent decree in 2012, excluding the new deal that will bring Bratton to Oakland.

Civil rights attorney Jim Chanin — who along with the City of Oakland and fellow attorney John Burris, recently agreed to appoint a “compliance director” to speed up OPD's reform efforts — questioned the necessity of hiring Bratton, especially given the costs taxpayers are already shouldering for city-hired consultants. “I can't see any reason why they need to hire yet another consultant," he said.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

The Express Is Not for Sale

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Dec 21, 2012 at 11:28 AM

The SF Appeal, an online newspaper, posted a story this morning stating that the owners of the San Francisco Examiner may soon purchase either the SF Weekly or the East Bay Express. Although we’re unclear as to what is happening with the SF Weekly, Jay Youngdahl, president of the Express, told the staff this morning that our newspaper is “definitely not for sale” and that owners of the Examiner are not buying the Express.

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Broadway Shuttle, BART Offering Extended New Year's Eve Hours

by Nate Seltenrich
Fri, Dec 21, 2012 at 9:30 AM

So you're planning on staying out late in the celebrated Jack London/Downtown/Uptown neighborhoods of Oakland on New Year's Eve — maybe at the Fox (Erykah Badu and The Coup) or the New Parish (Rich Medina's thePeople NYE Ball). And you want to drink. (It's New Year's Eve, and the world didn't end.) Or maybe you just don't want to deal with parking. Fair 'nuff.

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Why Oakland Needs a Federal Gun Control Law

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Dec 21, 2012 at 8:15 AM

The recent school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut and the growing national debate over gun control may seem a bit foreign to many Oakland residents. After all, assault weapons are already banned in Oakland and throughout California. In fact, stores are prohibited from selling any kinds of guns in the city. Nonetheless, assault weapons and handguns that can be outfitted with extended clips are plentiful and cheap in Oakland. And they’re being used to kill numerous residents every year. In fact, the incredible proliferation of guns is one of the key reasons why the city’s homicide rate is so high.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Castlewood Country Club Workers Return to Picket Line

by Steven Tavares
Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 2:35 PM

Picketing near the frosty front nine of the Castlewood Country Club in Pleasanton, workers who were locked out for more than 900 days are demanding management pay them $1.8 million in back pay and benefits following a judge’s order ending the lockout earlier this year. The National Labor Relations Board in August declared Castlewood’s lockout of workers, which began August 10, 2010, was illegal and found the country club had engaged in unfair bargaining practices. The judge also ordered Castlewood to reimburse the 61 locked out service and hospitality workers — 45 of who returned to work October 16. The club, however, had failed to reimburse the workers and the workers are still seeking a new contract.

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Some Oakland Airport Workers May Go on Strike

by Darwin BondGraham
Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 1:31 PM

The Port of Oakland is scheduled to approve a new contract with its workers at today's board meeting, but the port — the total workforce of which is divided between the agency's own public employees, and the employees of numerous corporate contractors who run the maritime and airport operations — remains unsettled with serious labor disputes. One union is saying its workers could strike before December is over.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Oakland Council Passes Graffiti Ordinance

by J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 11:58 AM

With a coalition of San Pablo Avenue business owners urging approval and graffiti artist advocates asking for a delay while a better law is crafted, the Oakland City Council unanimously approved a new ordinance Tuesday night to enhance penalties for persons who tag properties in Oakland and for property owners who fail to remove them on a timely basis. The new ordinance was developed in the office of outgoing West Oakland Councilwoman Nancy Nadel and co-introduced by City Attorney Barbara Parker during Parker’s hard-fought election campaign this fall.

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East Bay MUD's Retreat on Green Energy Is a Call for Cities to Lead

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 11:20 AM

On December 11 East Bay MUD's board of directors decided to shelve the agency's plan for becoming an energy provider through community choice aggregation (CCA). While East Bay MUD's decision doesn't take the utility completely out of efforts to establish a CCA for the region, it is yet another costly delay that impedes a much-needed transformation of the Bay Area's economy.

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Lake Merritt Dog Park Decision Delayed — Again; Rockridge Safeway Expansion Approved

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 9:37 AM

A deeply divided Oakland City Council deadlocked last night on the question of whether to approve a controversial dog park proposed for a green space on Lake Merritt. The council’s 4-4 vote means that Mayor Jean Quan will have the final say on the dog park — and she said last night that she would not make her decision until January — when new councilmembers join the panel. Earlier in the evening, Quan asked the council to delay making a decision until April 15 to give her and city staff time to analyze alternative sites for the dog park.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Karl Rove’s Dark Money Group Promised IRS It Would Spend ‘Limited’ Money on Elections

by Kim Barker of ProPublica
Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 11:37 AM

In a confidential 2010 filing, Crossroads GPS — the dark money group that spent more than $70 million from anonymous donors on the 2012 election — told the Internal Revenue Service that its efforts would focus on public education, research and shaping legislation and policy. The group's application for recognition as a social welfare nonprofit acknowledged that it would spend money to influence elections, but said "any such activity will be limited in amount, and will not constitute the organization's primary purpose."

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