Thursday, April 13, 2017

Oakland Officials Want to Ban Flavored Blunt Wrappers, Two-Pack Cigars, And Vape Juice

The proposal is designed to prevent tobacco companies from marketing to kids.

by Darwin BondGraham
Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 5:47 PM

Oakland Councilmembers Annie Campbell Washington and Larry Reid want to ban your cherry-flavored blunts.

The officials are sponsoring legislation that would bar the sale of flavored tobacco products in Oakland, including possibly vape juice for electronic cigarettes, and also prevent the sale of cigars in single or double packages.

Their proposal is designed to prevent tobacco companies from marketing their products to kids. But it could spark a backlash from smokers, including folks who like to roll weed into blunts using sweetened cigar leaves.

Tobacco brands such as Zig Zag and Backwoods currently market wraps in flavors like "Wham Bam Watermelon" and "Honey Berry," which are sold in colorful packaging that resembles bags of candy. Popular cigarillos made by Swisher and Backwoods also come in fruit and candy flavors.

And there are literally thousands of vape flavors available for sale, according to public health researchers. Many have flavors like gummy bears or chocolate, which critics say is an effort to get kids to smoke and vape.

Candy and fruit flavored cigarettes are already banned by federal law. But there is no federal or state law regulating what kinds of flavors tobacco companies can infuse into cigars, smokeless tobacco, and vape oil.

Campbell Washington previously spearheaded Oakland's soda tax, a one cent per fluid ounce excise on sugar-sweetened beverages. The soda tax was also designed as a public health measure to reduce consumption and fund nutrition education programs. It was approved by Oakland voters by a wide margin.

But the tobacco products limits could be a harder sell due to the fact that flavored cigars and wraps are popular with adults, and tobacco is already heavily taxed and regulated.

The Oakland City Council will hold an initial hearing on the tobacco rules at the April 25 meeting of the Life Enrichment Committee.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

City Of Oakland's Top Budget Expert Says Trump's Threat To $130 Million in Federal Funding 'Should Not Be Taken Lightly'

by Gabrielle Canon
Wed, Apr 12, 2017 at 3:49 PM

A memo released yesterday by Oakland's Budget Administrator says that the federal government provided roughly $130 million to the city’s coffers this fiscal year — and a lot of it is in jeopardy under President Trump.

Though a full line-item budget from the Trump administration isn’t expected until next month, the President’s “skinny budget” — a draconian proposal that came out in March outlining how he plans to cut $54 billion to make room for a massive increase in defense spending — spells bad news for Oakland.

Coupled with Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ crackdown barring all sanctuary cities from applying for Department of Justice grants, Oakland stands to lose tens of millions of dollars for key programs.

This year's $130 million from the feds includes both reoccurring grants that roll over annually, and one-time awards that Oakland reapplies for every year.

Reoccurring federal funds to the city's Housing and Community Development Department and Human Services Department will be among the hardest hit. More than $10.5 million is slated to be cut from those departments, affecting programs that preserve access to affordable housing, provide early childhood development services to low-income families, and deliver support for seniors and adults with disabilities.

The city could also lose the ability to apply for one-time grants, like the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services grant, that provides close to $2 million for new hires to the police department.

Since 2013, Oakland has relied on that grant to hire 55 new officers and it was an important part of Mayor Libby Schaaf’s plan to fully staff OPD at 800 officers by the end of her term. The Department is currently staffed at 754.

Ultimately, it will be up to Congress to decide what parts of the President’s proposal will pass, and its likely that there will be pushback. Sessions’ actions against sanctuary cities are also being challenged in court by multiple city governments, and there are still legal obstacles the Administration will have to overcome before implementing any punitive actions.

Still, Oakland's budget administrator sees cause for concern, and warned that these cuts could have a drastic impact on the city’s operations:
“The cuts proposed by the Trump Administration are not bound by law and are merely a reference for the President’s priorities. There are many steps that will have to take place before any of these cuts are to make it through the appropriations process. However, since this budget includes serious policy directives from the incoming administration, these proposed cuts should not be taken lightly.”

Berkeley City Council Resorts to 'Nuclear Option' ... In Library Board Drama

by Emma Courtright
Wed, Apr 12, 2017 at 1:17 PM

In what was referred to as Berkeley city council’s very own “nuclear option,” Mayor Jesse Arreguin and five other council members voted last week to unseat two Board of Library Trustees members, President Julie Holcomb and Vice-President Jim Novosel.

And, in case you think this is merely humdrum library politics, “there’s no precedent in the history of Berkeley of this happening,” according to Linda Maio, Berkeley’s longest-sitting Councilmember.

The vote was the apex of a two-year-long battle be
tween the Board of Library Trustees — or BOLT, an independent public board that oversees all branches — and Berkeley’s Library staff.

Ultimately, Holcomb and Novosel were ousted, based on BOLT’s “failed management approach to employee relations,” according to Councilmember Kate Harrison.

Library staff and advocates have been aggrieved by BOLT’s policy to discard perfectly good books, retaliation against staff members who criticized trustee policy, and the trustee’s handling of renaming a branch after a civil-rights leader.

Library staff qualms with the Board started with what is now referred as the the “deep weed debacle.” In 2015, trustees switched to an automated sorting system, to determine what books should be “weeded” out of the library. Typically, librarians would control books that remain shelved, and ones that are removed.

Within six months of the automated sorting system’s arrival, some 39,000 books were discarded from the library’s circulation.

BOLT took action against staffers who criticized the weeding debacle, and their speaking out resulted in at least one termination. (The staffer in question has since been reinstated.)

The trustees’ retaliations against the whistleblowers resulted in a nine month long ACLU investigation in 2016, and a letter of no-confidence drafted and signed by 56 library staff members.

After “Deep Weed” incident, BOLT fought changing the name of the south Berkeley branch to Tarea Hall Pittman Library, after the civil-rights leader. BOLT eventually acquiesced — but again, many later criticized the trustees because once unveiled, library advocates argued that the actual size of the civil rights leader’s name was too small, and could barely be seen.

This past month, on March 22, Berkeley librarians and advocates descended to the front steps of the Downtown Public Library, in protest of BOLT. The term “McCarthyism” was thrown around, as were “harassment” and “retaliation,” in reference to the board’s staunch actions against whistleblowers. The protesters called for the formal removal of just Holcomb and Novosel, although the board constitutes five members.

Debbie Carton, a longtime Berkeley librarian, said that a request to remove all five trustees would have been “too politically upheaving.”

In front of the Council last week, Jim Novosel defended his tenure as board vice-president, stating BOLT “[had] broken no laws.”

But many say Novosel’s plea came two years too late. “The board members have had their chance. Give the staff a chance,” said Pat Mullan, a longtime Berkeley librarian.

Some city council members did not seem to think that a fresh start was in BOLT’s best interest. “I don’t think changing the board is going to change the problem,” says Councilmember Susan Wengraf, who called the removal of two trustees a “crash-and-burn approach.”

Abigail Franklin, a fellow library trustee, also stood up to speak at the meeting. “This is a sad situation,” said Franklin, who served as BOLT’s president in 2015, when “Deep Weed” took place.

Council voted to appoint Judy Hunt and Diane Davenport to the two vacant seats. Davenport, a retired Berkeley Librarian of 25 years, had ample support from library staff and advocates.

Hunt’s appointment, however, is more contentious. In the past, library advocates say that the position of trustee is used as a consolation prize, or resumé booster, for those appointed. Now-ousted BOLT president Holcomb also endorsed Hunt, who also ran for commissioner of the Rent Stabilization Board in November and lost.

“Something has to start the healing,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who drafted and introduced the action item to the Council. “I hope and pray that this will start that healing.”

Hayward Police Chief: There Is No Video of Fatal Police Shooting of 16-Year-Old Elena Mondragon

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Apr 12, 2017 at 7:58 AM

Hayward Police Chief Mark Koller.
  • Hayward Police Chief Mark Koller.
Hayward Police Chief Mark Koller disclosed at last night's city council meeting that there is no video footage of the fatal police shooting of Elena "Ebbie" Mondragon. Mondragon, a 16-year-old pregnant teenager, was killed by two Fremont police detectives near CSU East Bay last month.

The lack of video in the case frustrates the family who believe the shooting was an unjustified use of force by the police.

Mondragon's family says the Fremont detectives weren't wearing police uniforms and were driving an unmarked car when they tried to stop a vehicle that Mondragon was a passenger in. Police say the vehicle was wanted as part of an investigation into a string of violent armed robberies and that the driver tried to back into the detectives who then opened fire, killing Mondragon in the process.

According to the Fremont Police Department's use of force policy, officers should not shoot into moving vehicles:

"Shots fired at or from a moving vehicle are rarely effective. Officers should move out of the path of an approaching vehicle or any of its occupants. An officer should only discharge a firearm at a moving vehicle or its occupants when the officer reasonably believes there are no other reasonable means available to avert the threat of the vehicle, or if deadly force other than the vehicle is directed at the officer or others."

Koller also said that at least one of the Fremont detectives was wearing a body camera and attempted to turn it on during the incident, but was unable to. The police car had no dash camera to record the incident. Furthermore, Koller said the apartment complex didn't have security cameras capable of recording the incident.

An image of Elena Mondragon was projected from a cell phone during the council meeting.
  • An image of Elena Mondragon was projected from a cell phone during the council meeting.
His comments were in response to questions raised by Mondragon family about what really happened that afternoon.

"We're not here to blame anybody," Miguel Minjares, the uncle of Elena Mondragon, told the Hayward City Councilmembers last night. "We just want accountability and the truth."

Minjares said officials should release evidence in the case, including any videos, witness statements, autopsy and medical reports, and the identities of the officers who killed Mondragon.

Evelina Minjares, Elena's grandmother, said the killing has affected her daughter and grandchildren. "It seems like as the days go by things are being covered up," she told city officials last night.

Elena Mondragon's cousin, also named Evelina, told the councilmembers that she feels the shooting was preventable. "To know that these cops, they were following them. They seen Ebbie. They seen her get in the car. They seen that she was a child. She was sixteen. It's obvious that she was a child."

Koller said his department "will remain transparent," but added that there are still witnesses to be interviewed and evidence that needs to be processed, and until multiple law enforcement investigations are complete, his department won't make records public. He also said the Alameda County District Attorney's Office is officially leading the investigation of the shooting. "The police are not investigating the police," he said.

Hayward City Manager Kelly McAdoo said, however, that as the city obtains information if will "share it with the family and the community."

The Hayward Police Department and Fremont Police Department both denied a Public Records Act request made by the Express seeking records related to the fatal shooting.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Women-Led Mosque to Open in Berkeley

by Suhauna Hussain
Tue, Apr 11, 2017 at 7:48 PM

Rabi'a Keeble, founder of Berkeley's new women-led mosque, which opens Friday. - PHOTO COURTESY OF RABI'A KEEBLE.
  • Photo Courtesy of Rabi'a Keeble.
  • Rabi'a Keeble, founder of Berkeley's new women-led mosque, which opens Friday.
Rabi’a Keeble has long been frustrated by the way Muslim women are often sidelined in mosques. So, this Friday, she’s opening a mosque in Berkeley run entirely by women.

The Qal'bu Maryam Women's Mosque aims to provide an inclusive prayer space, open to anyone, but with women-led prayer services. Its mission is similar to that of the Women's Mosque of America that opened two years ago in Los Angeles — the first women-only mosque in the country.

Women are frequently required to enter back doors of mosques, or are tucked away in separate buildings, balconies, or basements. “From the board to the Imam, everything is male, and everything is filtered through that experience,” Keeble explained.

Sarah Bellal, president of UC Berkeley’s Muslim Student Association, noted that not all women are keen to break tradition, however. Keeble said this is one of the main challenges she’s faced while encouraging people to join Qal’bu Maryam.

Berkeley’s MSA holds its own Friday prayers on campus without gender divides, though it continues in a tradition of male-led prayers.

Qal’bu Maryam’s Friday prayers will be hosted at the Starr King School of the Ministry, a multi-religious seminary where Keeble received her graduate degree.

Oakland A's Finally Remove Tarps On Third Deck At Coliseum

by Nick Miller
Tue, Apr 11, 2017 at 11:00 AM

The Oakland Athletics president Dave Kaval announced via a Facebook video that the team would be taking down the much-loathed tarps that cover the third-deck seats at the Coliseum:

Now, fans can enjoy these ultimate Oakland nose-bleed views for $15 each —proceeds from which will benefit Oakland Promise, the preferred youth-college-scholarship foundation of the mayor.

(The Express mistakenly reported earlier today that the tarps would also be removed from the much-loathed "Mt. Davis," the nosebleed seats above the outfield plaza and bleacher seating.)

A's fans and city officials have no love lost for the third deck, otherwise known as "Mt. Davis," after legendary Raiders owner Al Davis. Oakland and Alameda County still owe nearly $100 million in debt-obligation payments for the towering Coliseum addition, constructed after the Raiders moved back from Los Angeles in the mid-Nineties. And yet the seats have been out of commission and covered in tarps for years, even during A's postseason games.

The removal of the tarps covering Mt. Davis is more of a gesture than out of necessity; the average Coliseum attendance last year was just over 18,000, according to — but the actual turnout was probably much lower.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Berkeley Farmers Market Canceled Due To Safety Fears Over Pro-Trump, Alt-Right Rally

Speakers too extreme for other alt-right gatherings to appear this weekend.

by Gabrielle Canon
Mon, Apr 10, 2017 at 7:04 PM

Every Saturday, the Civic Center Park in downtown Berkeley is home to the Ecology Center’s farmers market, where families, students, and organically inclined food shoppers mingle with growers and vendors. But this weekend, on April 15, the market is canceled — because of an Alt-Right rally.

Instead of white-tents and free fruit samples, visitors may instead find themselves caught in the crossfire between two opposing protests that — if anything like the violent Milo Yiannopoulos clash earlier this year in Berkeley — could end in violence.

A so-called “Patriots Day” rally is attracting far-right Trump supporters and white-nationalist activists from across California, who claim they are traveling to Berkeley to demonstrate in the name of free speech.

The unpermitted event is scheduled to feature a cadre of contentious speakers, including Pizzagate-believer and contributor Brittany Pettibone, Twitter personality “Baked Alaska” (whose racist and anti-Semitic tweets got him uninvited from the “DeploraBall,” an alt-right inauguration 
On February 1, protesters at UC Berkeley demonstrate and attack the campus building where Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak. - SUHAUNA HUSSAIN
  • Suhauna Hussain
  • On February 1, protesters at UC Berkeley demonstrate and attack the campus building where Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak.
celebration), and Lauren Southern, a Canadian college student and female men’s rights activist, who broke into internet fame for shouting at rape victims.

In videos posted on the event page, organizers from the Liberty Revival Alliance emphasize that they are planning a peaceful rally, even though it comes on the heels of a pro-Trump demonstration in Berkeley this past March, which ended in bloodshed and arrests.

As a nod to the backlash from that event, and the widespread protests that broke out when former Breitbart editor Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak in Berkeley the month before, organizers stated that they are prepared to defend themselves.

The Oath Keepers (an organization classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s "Extremist Files" as a radical anti-government group made up of thousands of law-enforcement officials and military veterans) and 2 Million Bikers (who have posted online they will “Protect the 1st Amendment from Thuggery [sic]”) have signed on for security and support.

In response, Berkeley's Antifa coalition is calling on its own supporters to occupy the park. “We need MASS ACTION to DEFEAT THEM AS A COMMUNITY [sic]” organizers posted on their dedicated event page. “These fascists are coming to our backyard in an attempt to scare us off the streets and they hope to build on this success. What we do, or do not do, on the 15th will have ramifications across the country." Attendees have been instructed to bring their crew, a mask, and food to share.

Several hundred people have RSVP'd to both events and many more are expected throughout the afternoon.

Citing security concerns over the likely clash between the two groups, The Ecology Center canceled Saturday's farmers market, leaving approximately forty vendors without a spot to sell their wares.

In a prepared statement released to the Express today, Ecology Center executive director Martin Bourque expressed his disappointment and explained why he felt it essential to close down for the day:
“We are deeply saddened that political confrontations have escalated this far. In a peace-loving City with such a long non-violent tradition, it is terrible that the only responsible course of action is to close market this Saturday. We have to be very cautious, as there are usually hundreds of shoppers, including children and elders, at our markets.

We’ve been working closely with the City of Berkeley. They’ve committed to additional support for the market, but the situation is unpredictable, and things may happen that are out of their control. We appreciate the police department’s restraint and what a challenge it is to protect both free speech and public safety today.

The Ecology Center Farmer’s Markets are a safe, welcoming and healthy environment for the community. While this is a real financial blow to many farmers, we can not put a price on safety.”
He encouraged patrons to come out for the famers markets held on Tuesdays in South Berkeley, and Thursdays in North Berkeley, and said they will be back again in downtown the following Saturday.

Town Business: Strengthening Code Enforcement

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Apr 10, 2017 at 7:22 AM

Strengthening Code Enforcement: Many Oakland tenants are afraid to report unsafe housing conditions because they fear their landlord or the city might evict them. And because the city's current code inspection program is complaint-driven, this means that a lot of serious violations are hidden. In lots of cases, problems fester, and landlords aren't ordered to fix their buildings. This leads to kids getting lead poisoning and asthma, or people getting sick from mold and rodents. And it causes fire hazards to go unabated.

A possible solution to this problem is a proactive rental housing inspection program that would subject most the city's rental housing stock to inspection on a rotating basis, regardless of whether anyone files a complaint. That way, virtually all housing in the city would get inspected every few years. Combined with strong anti-displacement protections, such a program could result in improved housing and health.

At least that's what various official reports have stated over the years. But Oakland officials have been slow to implement this kind of more aggressive inspection program.

A little history:

The Building Services Improvement Advisory Task Force, a citizen's panel set up in the wake of the scathing 2011 Grand Jury investigation of Oakland's Building Services Division, recommended starting a proactive rental inspection program. But no action was taken.

It then ended up as one of the recommendations published in the "Housing Equity Roadmap" of 2015. But nothing happened.

It was recommended again last year in Mayor Schaaf's "Oakland at Home" report. Still, not much traction.

Then, last July, Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney proposed that the city administrator draft a detailed plan for how a proactive rental inspection program would work. McElhaney wanted the full city council to then vote on the program by January, with implementation by July 2017.

But Councilmembers Larry Reid, Anne Campbell Washington, and Rebecca Kaplan had the item continued in committee, where it virtually died. They didn't think McElhaney's version was ready for prime time, and they didn't bring back any proposal of their own.

Now, an informational report about possibly creating a proactive rental housing inspection program is coming back before the council at Tuesday's community and economic development committee meeting.

Maybe they'll pass something this time?

Department of Violence Prevention: Councilmembers Reid and McElhaney want to create a department to guide all of Oakland's violence prevention efforts. The two claim that the city's existing violence prevention efforts are spread between the department of human services and OPD and that there's no single person who's in charge who reports directly to the mayor.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

City Emails: Many Dublin Residents Think Undocumented Immigrants Are 'Felons' Who Will Turn Their Town Into a 'Cesspool'

One Dublin resident threatened that the far-right, armed, anti-government militia Oathkeepers would secretly attend a council meeting.

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, Apr 4, 2017 at 5:23 PM

Many residents of the exclusive East Bay suburb Dublin equate immigration, especially of undocumented people, with crime, ghettos, and gangs. And they fear that if their city sends signals that undocumented peoples' rights will be respected, their property values will plummet, schools will become crowded, and their community will turn into a "cesspool."

As one Dubliner put it: "Not it my backyard!"

That's according to emails and Nextdoor messages recently obtained by the Express through the Public Records Act. The emails provide a candid account of why Dublin rejected a discussion of a sanctuary policy for their city last month.

Although there is no single definition as to what a sanctuary city is, it's generally recognized as a jurisdiction where the local police and other government officials don't inquire about a person's immigration status, and don't work with the federal government to deport people. The idea is to to make undocumented members of the community feel comfortable contacting the police, sending their kids to school, or seeking care at a hospital.

Nothing stops local and federal law enforcement from arresting and jailing people for committing crimes in a sanctuary jurisdiction. And nothing prevents federal agents from arresting someone in a sanctuary jurisdiction on immigration charges.

But according to emails and messages traded before the Dublin City Council discussion last month, many of the city's residents think sanctuary means something far more nefarious.

Here's a few messages posted to a Dublin Nextdoor group before last month's council meeting:

"Not in my backyard! And what is your solution to the crime that these criminals will be bringing? Maybe you should harbor them!!!!!"

"I cannot imagine the beautiful city of Dublin soon having hoods to accomodate the extreme low income families, depreciating property value and increased crimes."

"When I see southern Californian cities like LA, and other cities filled with illegal immigrants, the crime rate/ghettos that have plagued them horrified me, and is one of the main reasons I would never want to live there. Dublin is a small community, safe and mostly wealthy. That is one of the main reasons people decide to live here, and they love it. I cannot even imagine how negatively this will be impacted after it becomes an oasis of illegal immigrants."

“Why should we give rights to illegals and jeopardize our family's well being."

"No way do you want to lose money for your city, and do you want to have multiple murders like Chicago?"

"Welfare, crime, the simple truth is our resources are finite. Imagine SF double the current population by 2060. The life boat is full."

"Is the city going out of its way to broadcast an outward message that could attract a large influx of illegal immigrants? My primary concern is whether the city's infrastructure – particularly the schools – is prepared for that. The good schools and safety appealed strongly to me when I moved here, and I assumed many other young professionals settled here for similar reasons."

"It sends a signal, just opposite of that intended, that Dublin will protect felons and those who commit felonies from being arrested and deported [...] It becomes an advertisement that criminals are welcome and safe in Dublin."

In an email to Dublin Councilmember Abe Gupta, a Dublin residents who identified himself as a "legal immigrant" wrote that the city's overcrowded schools and bad traffic can't afford an influx of new residents in the form undocumented immigrants.

"We cannot afford getting more people especially those illegal immigrates who have already broke the immigration laws to come to settle in our neighborhoods and make our situation even worse," they wrote.

Gupta replied, "I completely agree."

Many anti-sanctuary commenters claimed that undocumented immigrants don't pay taxes and are a burden on government because they require welfare and send their kids to local schools. But in fact, undocumented immigrants do pay taxes.

Also, the most recent and authoritative scientific research on the question of whether immigration is linked to an increase in crime shows that it isn't.

Still, a handful of Dublin residents saw a conspiracy behind the sanctuary proposal involving a ploy by the Democratic Party to flood their city and the nation with undocumented immigrants in exchange for their votes. Here's what one Dublin resident wrote on Nextdoor:
"The democrats have been routed in the last national election. They control only California and New York. Their answer? Flood the country with uneducated and low skilled people in exchange for their votes, and make the American Taxpayer foot the bill. Take political contributions from MS-13 gangs and other drug cartels. And if a few innocent Americans have to die in the process, like Kate Steinle, then that's just too bad."
Not all Dubliners voiced these kinds of conspiracy-minded, and anti-immigration opinions.

Some asked the council to consider adopting the sanctuary policy, and they debated their neighbors on Nextdoor in the days leading up to the council meeting.

That, however, prompted another Dublin resident to threaten that members of the far-right, armed, anti-government militia group Oathkeepers would secretly attend the meeting.

According to city emails, the police were notified about the threat. It's unclear what happened.

But ultimately the council shelved any further discussion on the idea of becoming a sanctuary city.

As one Dublin resident put it in an email to all the councilmembers: "Really, Sanctuary City? My residential for Sale Sign will be ready for posting if Dublin becomes a Sanctuary city for illegal law breaking."

Berkeley to Appoint New Police Chief, but Critics Say Department Lagging on Reforms

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, Apr 4, 2017 at 12:57 PM

Interim Chief Andrew Greenwood. - CITY OF BERKELEY
  • City of Berkeley
  • Interim Chief Andrew Greenwood.
Berkeley City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley is poised to appoint Andrew Greenwood as the city's new, permanent police chief at tonight's council meeting. Greenwood has served as the department's interim police chief for the past six months, after Michael Meehan abruptly, and mysteriously resigned from the job in September.

The appointment requires a vote by the city council.

Some longtime observers of the Berkeley police aren't happy with Greenwood's selection, however.

In a letter sent last week, attorneys Jim Chanin and Rachel Lederman called on the city council to make Greenwood go on the record about several controversial topics before they appoint him.

And they questioned why a broader search for a new chief apparently wasn't conducted.

The attorneys want Greenwood to respond to the following:
  • The city's civilian police review commission hasn't been granted access to internal affairs interviews and board review hearings for years, even though the law allows them to monitor these proceedings. They say the City Manager is the person blocking access.

  • The Berkeley police use of force reporting requirements are lax, allowing Berkeley cops to not report when they punch a person, if the person doesn't complain. Other Bay Area police agencies have far more stringent reporting requirements.

  • Berkeley has lower standards for less lethal weapon use than San Francisco and Oakland, and Berkeley cops have been able to gas and strike protesters without having to write police reports. This happened during the Black Lives Matter protests in Berkeley in December 2014.

  • Berkeley has made little progress addressing apparent racial profiling by its police officers, despite having data going back several years that shows a disproportionate number of stops and searches of Black people, in particular. Compared to Oakland, Berkeley is lagging far behind in using this data.

  • The city has been slow to adopt body cameras to reduce the use of force by its officers, increase accountability, and aid investigations.
Berkeley City Manager Williams-Ridley didn't directly respond to the attorneys' letter, but she did issue a statement on Monday.

"The interim appointment of Andy Greenwood as police chief has provided all of us with 6 months of insight as to how he would perform as Berkeley’s chief of police. He has actively sought to engage with a wide breadth of community members, including community groups, business owners, and others. He has made a priority of having a deeper understanding and engagement with the Police Review Commission. His leadership in the department itself has reflected a broad commitment to all levels of the organization, leading to increased morale and effectiveness."
Williams-Ridley did not say whether the job was openly advertised.

Greenwood, a lifelong Berkeley resident who attended the city's public schools, will earn a salary of $230,000.

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