Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Tuesday Briefing: Trump Taxes, Cannabis Capital, and Scraper Bikes for Everyone

by Express Staff
Tue, Feb 12, 2019 at 8:51 AM

Our president
  • Our president

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Feb. 12, 2019

Millions of Americans are discovering that they owe taxes this year, due to the way that President Trump’s tax cuts were implemented by the Internal Revenue Service, Kathleen Pender of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $

Oakland’s Harborside cannabis dispensary has pulled off a reverse takeover of a Canadian cannabis company that will allow it to assume the Toronto company’s listing on the Canadian Securities Exchange, which is fast becoming a new source of capital for American cannabis enterprises. San Francisco Chronicle. $

The ride-sharing giant Lyft is donating $700,000 to two Bay Area nonprofit groups, Transform and Scraper Bikes (!!!), to help residents of East Oakland gain access to free rides and bike-sharing. San Francisco Chronicle. $



The company that owns the East Bay Times and San Jose Mercury News has been able to keep its profits high by selling off the real estate that the newspapers own. Washington Post. $

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. plans to revamp its board of directors in the wake of its recent bankruptcy filing. Sacramento Bee. $

Hundreds of thousands of Californians who have paid to renew their for driver’s license — some as long ago as last September — haven’t yet received the new ID due to further ineptitude at the beleaguered state vehicle agency. Sacramento Bee. $

Gavin Newsom will have some harsh words for President Donald Trump in his planned State of the State speech later today. Associated Press.

Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray is forsaking baseball for a chance to play quarterback in the NFL, which he described as his first love. The announcement apparently blindsided executives with the Oakland A’s, who had used their first draft pick on Murray and were still hoping that he would report for practice later this month. Meanwhile, the A’s resigned pitcher Brett Anderson, and former A’s catcher Stephen Vogt is going to the San Francisco Giants, his favorite childhood team. San Francisco Chronicle. $

Monday, February 11, 2019

Monday’s Briefing: Trump Tax Cuts Hurting California?; Even-More-Fantastic Negrito

by Express Staff
Mon, Feb 11, 2019 at 9:25 AM

Fantastic Negrito - FILE PHOTO BY RICHARD LOMIBAO
  • File photo by Richard Lomibao
  • Fantastic Negrito

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Feb. 9-11, 2019:

1. Bay Area artists cleaned up at the 2019 Grammys Sunday night. Twenty-one-year-old Vallejo R&B sensation Gabriella “Gabi” Wilson — known by her stage name H.E.R. — won Best R&B album and performance. Oakland’s Xavier Dphrepaulezz — better known as Fantastic Negrito — won his second Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album. And Oakland’s legendary High on Fire took home the Victrola for Best Metal Performance for its album Electric Messiah. Composer Mason Bates, sound engineer Shawn Murphy, and, of course, the Kronos Quartet, also took home prizes. KQED

2. Tax receipts are down significantly in recent months in the Golden State and other high-tax regions of the country. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo blames the 2017 Trump tax cuts, which put a $10,000 limit on the federal deduction that individual tax filers are allowed on their state and local taxes. But California officials are not yet ready to assign blame for the downturn. East Bay Times. $

3. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he will withdraw most California National Guard units from the state's border with Mexico, where they were deployed last year by former Gov. Jerry Brown following a request from Pres. Donald Trump. Newsom said the troops will be redeployed to fight “real threats” such as drug trafficking and wildfire preparedness. San Francisco Chronicle. $

4. Meanwhile, as more and more Democrats rush to declare their candidacy for their party’s 2020 presidential nomination, columnist and former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown — an astute Chronicler of the political winds — declared that he has yet to see a Democratic candidate who can beat Trump. And speaking of Newsom, the Chronicle’s Phil Matier noted that he is using some of his $15 million political warchest to run Facebook ads in states like Ohio. A spokesman said Newsom is NOT running for president this time around. $

5. Property owners who attempt to make improvements to supplemental housing units on their property often find themselves mired in a costly regulatory quagmire. The net effect of this situation is that thousands of “in-law units” are often not properly maintained, because property owners fear that they won’t be able to comply with local housing regulations. East Bay Times. $

6. BART is about to embark upon a major earthquake safety upgrade of the Transbay Tube. Chronicle. $

7. Pacific storms now have names, so be on the look out for ”Nadia.” Weather.com says you can expect to meet the “atmospheric river” by the middle of the week.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Thursday’s Briefing: Oakland Schools May Lay Off 150; Housing Crisis Causes Displacement to Exurbs

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Feb 7, 2019 at 10:30 AM

Kyla Johnson-Trammell. - FILE PHOTO BY PAT MAZZERA
  • File photo by Pat Mazzera
  • Kyla Johnson-Trammell.

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Feb. 7, 2019:

1. The Oakland Unified School District may lay off up to 150 employees in order to close a $22 million budget gap, reports Ashley McBride of the San Francisco Chronicle$. Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell plans to slash nearly $12 million from the district central office, which could result in layoffs of about 90 workers. In addition, “close to 60 layoffs could happen across school sites for support staff, such as security officers and staff members who work with student behavior and discipline.”

2. The Bay Area’s extreme housing shortage and unaffordable prices have disproportionately displaced people of color, pushing them to the region’s outer exurbs in search of cheaper housing, reports Kimberly Veklerov of the San Francisco Chronicle$, citing a new UC Berkeley study. “Historically black neighborhoods — in places like the Bayview, East Oakland and East Palo Alto — lost scores of low-income black families. Often, they moved to outlying cities of the region: Antioch, Fairfield, Vallejo and so forth.”

3. The family of Joshua Pawlik, a 31-year-old homeless man who was shot to death by Oakland police as he awoke from a slumber last March, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Oakland and OPD, reports Angela Ruggiero of the East Bay Times$. “It’s despicable that an unconscious man is awakened by the police with loud shouts and bullhorns and before he could gather himself, is shot and killed,” said the family’s attorney John Burris.

4. Embattled utility PG&E is proposing to shut off power to large numbers of people in Northern California during windstorms, as part of its plan to reduce the chances that one of its electrical lines will spark another horrific blaze, the San Francisco Chronicle$ reports. “PG&E said it will now consider de-energizing any of its power lines running through high-risk fire areas, a marked departure from the more limited shut-off program the utility rolled out last year.”

5. And California’s massive wildfires last year played a major role in making 2018 the fourth costliest year on record for disasters, reports Kurtis Alexander of the San Francisco Chronicle$, citing a new report from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Last year, catastrophes inflicted at least $91 billion in damage.

$ = news stories that may require payment to read.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Black History Month: Oakland Physician Stood Up for Housing Rights

Dr. DeWitt Augustus Buckingham was among the first to defy racial housing covenants.

by Lincoln Cushing
Wed, Feb 6, 2019 at 12:00 PM

Dr. DeWitt Augustus Buckingham
  • Dr. DeWitt Augustus Buckingham
DeWitt Augustus Buckingham was an Army captain in the Medical Corps during World War II, a physician in Oakland after the war — and prohibited from buying a home in 1946.

The reason? He was Black.

The fact that Buckingham had found a professional home as one of the first African Americans on staff at one of Oakland few integrated facilities wasn’t news, but his three-year struggle to break the housing color barrier was a landmark step in our nation’s movement toward racial equality.

Dr. Buckingham had moved from private practice in Meridian, Miss. to California in July 1945. He and his wife Mamie couldn’t find a home to their liking in the neighborhood known then as Berkeley’s “negro section.” So they bought one at 22 Bridge Road in a neighborhood near the historic Claremont Club and Spa.

But there was one snag — since 1928, the Claremont Improvement Club neighborhood association had a restrictive clause on the property reading “no part of said lands shall ever be used or occupied by persons of other than pure Caucasian blood.”

Club attorneys claimed the covenant served to protect homes and investments of area residents. “It is a question of economics, not racial evaluation,” they said.

Despite the restriction, Dr. Buckingham purchased the house from Oakland optometrist Benjamin Brudney for a reported $19,000. The Buckinghams moved into the premises during the night and resisted legal efforts to oust them.

The Club sued the Buckinghams — and Brudney — in early 1946. The defense was led by Bertam Edises, described in news accounts as “a University of California student-pacifist, national disarmament advocate, and National Labor Relations Board attorney.” Edises had mounted several previous suits against covenants. His argument? Using UC Berkeley anthropologists, including instructor Paul Radin, to prove that there is no such thing as a pure Caucasian, and therefore the covenants could neither be violated nor enforced. Edises threatened to file counter suits to force all plaintiffs to come into court and prove their race.

But Alameda County Superior Judge James G. Quinn didn’t buy it, and ruled against Dr. Buckingham. The same held for the appeal in October 1947, under Superior Court Judge Leon E. Gray. Dr. Buckingham spoke out:

Not only is [this decision] a blow to me and my family, but to all minority groups in the State of California, the nation and a disgrace to the democratic citizens of Berkeley, the keystone of education, refinement and culture and home of the great University where these things are supposed to exist… As a captain in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army, I fought for democracy and I shall continue the fight.

Despite the injunction, Mrs. Buckingham said she and her husband continued to live peacefully in their home for three years and stated “the neighbors have been very nice to us.”

The struggle was one of many that cascaded upwards to the U.S. Supreme Court, where on May 3, 1948 the St. Louis case of Shelley vs. Kraemer determined that “restrictive real estate agreements which bar Negroes from all-white neighborhoods cannot be enforced by State or Federal courts.”

On Dec. 6, 1948, the California State District Court of Appeal reversed Judge Gray’s decision.

Tribune headline “Negro Wins Right to Live in Claremont” Dec. 7, 1948
  • Tribune headline “Negro Wins Right to Live in Claremont” Dec. 7, 1948
Upon hearing the news, Dr. Buckingham and his wife issued a statement, saying, “The recent unanimous decision…has proclaimed… the hopes and desires of all Americans who have fought, lived and died for democracy expressed in our Constitution.”

Despite Dr. Buckingham’s victory, housing discrimination persisted in the San Francisco Bay Area. Other African-American physicians, including Dr. Eugene Hickman and Dr. Ellamae Simmons, wrote of their difficulties in buying a home because of race in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Dr. Buckingham returned to private practice around 1949 and passed away in 1968, but his legacy lives on.

Wednesday’s Briefing: BART and Amtrak to Examine New Bay Crossing; Newsom Orders Charter School Impact Review

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Feb 6, 2019 at 10:13 AM

bart_train_at_fruitvale_station_2_cropped.jpg
Stories you shouldn’t miss for Feb. 6, 2019:

1. BART and Amtrak have agreed to team up to examine plans for a second rail crossing of the bay — either a new transbay tube or a train bridge, reports Phil Matier of the San Francisco Chronicle$. The proposal would also connect San Francisco to Sacramento via Amtrak’s Capital Corridor line. The new crossing would also handle high-speed rail.

2. Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the state’s first-ever review of charter schools’ financial impact on traditional public schools, EdSource reports. State Superintendent Tony Thurmond will select a panel to study the issue and report back to the governor by July 1. Charter school critics have often charged that the schools harm traditional schools by siphoning scarce resources.

3. The Alameda City Council approved plans for a waterfront hotel on Bay Farm Island, rejecting an appeal by neighbors of the project, reports Dean Boerner of the San Francisco Business Times$. The 172-room hotel will be operated by Marriott Residence Inn.

4. California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra vowed to sue the Trump administration if the president follows through on his threat to declare a national emergency on immigration in order to build his controversial border wall, the LA Times$ reports. Becerra made his comments during his official State of the Union rebuttal in Spanish.

5. State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, introduced legislation that would allow college athletes in California to be paid for the first time via corporate sponsorships, reports Marcus Thompson of The Athletic. Skinner’s bill, The Fair Pay to Play Act, also would bar universities and colleges from punishing athletes who get paid for use of their name, likeness, and image.

6. For the next 3.5 years, starting on Monday, BART will begin operating one hour later each day — at 5 a.m. instead of 4 a.m. — as the agency conducts seismic work on the transbay tube, reports Michael Rosen of SFGate. “This change impacts roughly 2,900 regular riders, BART estimates. Many will be covered by BART's Early Bird Express program, an alternate bus service plan covering much of the East Bay and San Francisco suburbs.”

7. Former President Barack Obama, Warriors superstar Stephen Curry, and singer John Legend will headline a three-day event this month in Oakland, reports Katie Dowd of SFGate. “The Obama Foundation announced Tuesday the trio will all be speakers at the first national convention for the former president’s My Brother's Keeper Alliance” at Oakland’s Scottish Rite Temple.

8. And San Francisco ice cream company Humphry Slocombe plans to take over the old location occupied by the shuttered Ici Ice Cream in Berkeley’s Elmwood district, reports Sarah Han of Berkeleyside.

$ = news stories that may require payment to read.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Tuesday’s Briefing: SF Mayor Says Raiders Not Welcome; Oakland Teachers Authorize Strike

Plus, the state attorney general refuses to release law enforcement misconduct records.

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Feb 5, 2019 at 10:06 AM

london_breed.jpg
Stories you shouldn’t miss for Feb. 5, 2019:

1. San Francisco Mayor London Breed said today that she does not want the Oakland Raiders to play in San Francisco next year at Oracle Park, KTVU reports. “As far as I’m concerned, the Oakland Raiders should play in Oakland,” Breed said. The Raiders are reportedly close to inking a deal with the San Francisco Giants to play in their ballpark next season. The team doesn’t want to play in Oakland because franchise owner Mark Davis is angry that the city has sued the Raiders over its planned move to Las Vegas in 2020.

2. Oakland public school teachers voted overwhelmingly — 95 percent — to authorize union leadership to call a strike, reports Kimberly Veklerov of the San Francisco Chronicle$. Teachers are demanding a 12-percent raise over three years, along with smaller class sizes, while the school district has countered with a 5-percent raise proposal. The school district is also attempting to close a $30 million budget gap and has plans to shutter more schools in the city to save on costs.

3. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has decided to defy a new state law mandating the release of certain police misconduct records, saying his office plans to wait until two lower courts rule on whether the law, known as SB 1421, applies retroactively, reports Ted Goldberg of KTVU. The move by Becerra was highly unusual — because his office is in charge of defending the new transparency law, which was signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in September and authored by state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley. Police unions have sued to block the law from applying to records created before Jan. 1.

4. ICYMI: The Oakland City Council has been sued over its recent decision to certify Measure AA as having won in the November election, despite not garnering a two-thirds majority, reports Ali Tadayon of the East Bay Times$. The council decided to certify the tax measure, which generates funds for early childhood education, based on a San Francisco legal opinion that such citizen-sponsored initiatives only require a simple majority to pass.

5. And snow blanketed numerous Bay Area locations overnight, including the Altamont Pass and Mount Diablo in the East Bay.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Friday’s Briefing: Berkeley Reverses Course on Police Misconduct Records; Two Oakland Councilmembers Join City Union Protest

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Feb 1, 2019 at 10:21 AM

berkeley_city_hall_old_.jpg
Stories you shouldn’t miss for Feb. 1, 2019:

1. The Berkeley City Council ordered city staff to reverse course and to publicly release police misconduct records that are older than Jan. 1, reports Emilie Raguso of Berkeleyside. The council’s vote came after the ACLU and Berkeleyside sued the city for allegedly violating a new state law that unsealed police misconduct records for the first time in four decades. Berkeley city staffers had agreed with police unions that have been attempting to gut the new law, claiming that it should only apply to new misconduct records.

2. Two new Oakland councilmembers, Nikki Fortunato Bas and Sheng Thao, joined in a city employee union protest at City Hall, demanding higher wages for government workers and for the city to fill vacant positions, reports Kimberly Veklerov of the San Francisco Chronicle. Bas and Thao’s attendance at the protest gave a clear indication that they intend to be more labor-friendly than their council predecessors.

3. The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for all of the Bay Area tonight, as a cold, powerful storm moves toward the Northern California coast, reports Amy Graff of SFGate.com. The storm is expected to bring strong winds of up to 60 mph in the hills and up to 4 inches of rain in some places.

4. Oakland’s old Kaiser Convention Center, which has been closed for 13 years, may finally reopen in 2020 under a new plan proposed by Orton Development, reports Ali Tadayon of the East Bay Times$. Orton’s plan, which includes restoring the arena foyer and turning it “into offices for local arts and nonprofit organizations,” is scheduled to go before the Oakland Planning Commission in early March.

5. California’s fire season is now extending into December because of a climate change, reports Kurtis Alexander of the San Francisco Chronicle$, citing a new study by researchers at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

6. And the new $2.2 billion Transbay Terminal in San Francisco, which was only open for six weeks, will remain closed until at least June as engineers devise a plan to shore up two cracked steel support beams, reports Michael Cabanatuan of the San Francisco Chronicle$.

$ = news stories that may require payment to read.

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