Thursday, October 22, 2020

Oakland Police Respond to Stand-off/ Hostage Situation

by Bay City News
Thu, Oct 22, 2020 at 3:09 PM

An armed double homicide suspect has released his hostage from an Oakland commercial building Thursday afternoon, police said. As of 1:51 p.m., police said the hostage had been released unharmed while the gunman remains inside the building in the 1600 block of High Street.

Police are still working to get the suspect surrender peacefully.

A six-block radius has been blocked off to keep the public safe.

Police have not said what double homicide the suspect is wanted for.

Thursday's Briefing: BART is facing major budget cuts starting next year; Indoor dining returns on Friday

Hostage standoff in East Oakland

by Steven Tavares
Thu, Oct 22, 2020 at 4:00 AM

BART is facing a major budget shortfall during the fourth quarter of the current fiscal year. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • BART is facing a major budget shortfall during the fourth quarter of the current fiscal year.

News you don't want to miss for Oct. 22:

1. BART may have to cut costs and pare its workforce as the pandemic continues to ravage the transit agency, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Federal dollars have greatly helped BART's finances as ridership plummeted during the shelter in place. A large shortfall, however, is on the horizon. $$

2. Indoor dining in Alameda County will return this Friday, but with limited capacity, SFGate reports. Restaurants will be allowed to open with 25 percent capacity, as will movie theaters, and gyms, among other types of businesses.

3. "An armed suspect held a person hostage at a store in East Oakland for several hours before letting him go unharmed, police said Thursday. The gunman remained barricaded in an ongoing police standoff," KPIX reports. The suspect is wanted in connection with a double homicide.

4. Uber drivers are alleging in a lawsuit that the ride-hailing company is violating state law by inundating their app with messaging in support of Proposition 22, the statewide initiative funded by Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash, The Verge reports.

5. A policy prohibiting homeless encampments near residential areas, schools, parks, and businesses was unanimous approved by the Oakland City Council on Tuesday night, KRON reports.

6. Oakland city officials also ended the police department's participation in the FBI's Joint Terror Task Force late Tuesday night, the East Bay Citizen reports. The move was made out of fears the federal government has targeted minority groups, such as Muslims.

7. Two Oakland Athletics were nominated for Gold Gloves, the trophy given for defensive excellence, Sports Illustrated reports. First basemen Matt Olson and Centerfielder Ramon Laureano are finalists in their respective positions, but third basemen Matt Chapman, a former Gold Glover, was left off the list.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Alameda County supervisors move to clean house, fire health system trustees

by Keith Burbank
Wed, Oct 21, 2020 at 1:32 PM

Alameda County supervisors on Tuesday voted to fire all but two of the volunteer board of trustees of the Alameda Health System if they don’t resign.

If the trustees do not resign by Nov. 6, they will be removed by Nov. 30. Four of the five supervisors supported the motion while Supervisor Keith Carson abstained.

Supervisor Wilma Chan, who has advocated for the change along with board President Richard Valle, said among other problems there is broken trust between workers and administrators and a lack of transparency around the budget. Additionally, the trustees have not been holding the health system’s managers accountable.

“We want to reset the board,” Chan said.

The decision to fire the trustees is an interim step as supervisors work to revise the governance of the health system. Current trustees may reapply for a seat on a new established board. They must reapply by Nov. 6 by sending a resume to Valle.

“You have all, individually and collectively, demonstrated yourselves to be committed and hardworking stewards of our County’s public hospital system, as well as passionate advocates of its mission,” Valle and Chan wrote in a letter to the trustees.

“Unfortunately, over the last two years, the AHS Administration has eroded trust and damaged the system’s relationships with its employees and partners, including labor representatives, Medical Staff, and the County,” the letter said.

It added that this resulted in a workers’ strike that lasted five days, costing the health system $10 million in unbudgeted costs.

“This was hugely disappointing to us because we believe the strike was avoidable and unnecessary," the two supervisors wrote.

The trustees have heard from health system employees that its managers have not tried to listen, engage and collaborate about the challenges the system faces, according to Chan and Valle.

So, the supervisors believe the system needs trustees who will listen to the system’s stakeholders and partners, work with them and “hold their Administration strictly accountable for financial and operational performance and make tough decisions.”

Chan and Valle said it is their responsibility to make sure that trustees are “ready and able to repair the critical relationships needed to keep the System viable.”

The mission of the health system is to provide care for the county’s indigent population.  As far as governance reform, the supervisors are examining different models.

“It’s the model that's caused the problem,” Supervisor Nate Miley said.

By changing the model, supervisors hope to improve the accountability of the health system’s CEO, Delvecchio Finley, and its executive leadership, have hospital leaders work collaboratively with employees and partners, and ensure the administration is transparent about problems facing the system.

Supervisors plan to meet in early December or January with stakeholders and reveal a plan for changing the model by the end of March.

The two trustees who will remain on the health system’s board are a medical staff member and a representative from Alameda Hospital.

Dozens of people spoke during public comment, with hospital managers in favor of maintaining the status quo and front-line workers fed up with the current situation. Contractors also spoke in favor of the health system’s leadership.

But that was not enough to sway the board, which has heard from front-line workers for months—if not years—about the problems a change may alleviate.

A call to Alameda Health System spokesman Terry Lightfoot was not immediately returned for comment.

© Copyright 2020 East Bay Express and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Tuesday's Briefing: Oakland WWII pilot's remains are identified; Two arrests in Bay Fair BART sexual assault

La Nina forecasts a dry winter

by Steven Tavares
Tue, Oct 20, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Oakland resident Earl W. Smith Jr's fighter plane was shot down during World War II. His remains were found 77 years later.
  • Oakland resident Earl W. Smith Jr's fighter plane was shot down during World War II. His remains were found 77 years later.

News you don't want to miss for Oct. 20:

1. The remains of Oakland resident Earl W. Smith, Jr., an Air Force second lieutenant whose fighter plane was shot down in the South Pacific during World War II, were identified this week, SFGate reports. Smith's remains were found in 2018.

2. Two suspects accused of forcing an 18-year-old woman into a car near the Bay Fair BART station in San Leandro were arrested for sexual assault, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

3. Sen. Dianne Feinstein's days on the influential Senate Judiciary Committee appear numbered after Sen. Chuck Schumer registered what amounts to a vote of no confidence, Politico reports. The furor follows Feinstein's praise for the Republican's handling of the recent U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

4. A dry winter could be on the horizon for the state and Bay Area, the Mercury News reports. The weather phenomenon known as La Nina appears to be cooling the Pacific Ocean. More often than not La Nina has delivered below average rainfall.

5. Counties in the state's orange tier, like Alameda and Contra Costa, can allow stadiums to reopen with limited capacity, KPIX reports. Santa Clara County, however, will not allow fans at 49ers and Earthquakes games. It's unclear what Alameda County's stance will be. U.C. Berkeley's Memorial Stadium is the only location scheduled to stage large sporting events through the end of the year.

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Monday, October 19, 2020

Monday's Briefing: Newsom says state will evaluate any potential federal vaccine; Schaaf responds to rise in violent crime

Berkeley removes 35 tons from homeless encampment

by Steven Tavares
Mon, Oct 19, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Gov. Gavin Newsom - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom

News you don't want to miss for Oct. 19:

1. A California review board made up of 11 doctors and scientists will review any coronavirus vaccine approved by the federal government, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced, the Associated Press reports. The added precaution, though, could delay vaccination in the state.

2. Newsom also said Californians should not expect mass vaccinations to occur this year, despite President Trump's rosy rhetoric, KTVU reports. However, he wasn't specific about when they might occur next year.

3. In a public appearance on Sunday, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said the rise in violent crime follows stress and anxiety from the pandemic, KPIX reports. Schaaf also indicated some strategic changes to helping limit shootings is coming.

4. PG&E stumbled badly last year when it introduced power shutoffs in order to lower the possibility of wildfires. It's no wonder then, "among the hundreds of people who handled the blackouts from PG&E’s emergency operations center, only a handful had any training in the disaster response playbook that California has used for a generation, The Associated Press found."

5. Extremely low interest rates continue to fuel a buying spree for Bay Area single-family homes, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The median home price is now $1.06 million, despite the pandemic. $$

6. Thirty-five tons of debris was removed from a Berkeley homeless encampment on Monday, Berkeleyside reports. The encampment is located near Interstate 80 and University Avenue.

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Friday, October 16, 2020

Friday's Briefing: Red flag warning for East Bay hills extended to Saturday morning; Alameda County, teachers have testing plan for reopening schools

Former Coliseum JPA executive director pleads no contest to misdemeanor charge

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Oct 16, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Oakland hills. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Oakland hills.

News you don't want to miss for Oct. 16:

1. PG&E restored power to many customers in the East Bay hills on Thursday night following scheduled power shutoffs, KTVU reports. A red flag warning, however, was extended for the East Bay hills in Alameda County through 8 a.m. on Saturday morning.

2. A proposal to prohibit homeless encampments near residential homes, businesses, schools, and parks is coming before the Oakland City Council on Tuesday evening, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

3. A weekend-long study on the spread of the coronavirus in Oakland's Fruitvale District showed Latinos and indigenous peoples had higher than average rates of positive antibody tests, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

4. The road for reopening public schools in Alameda County now includes a plan for testing teachers and staff, KQED reports. Testing will be on-site, with results within 48 hours. The testing protocols follow an agreement with teachers unions.

5. The Trump administration initially denied federal disaster relief for last September's Northern California wildfires, but after Gov. Gavin Newsom made a phone to the president on Friday, the federal aid was approved, NBC News reports.

6. California's unemployment rate dropped a bit in September to 11 percent, the Los Angeles Times reports. The jobless rate was 11.2 percent in August. $$

7. Scott McKibben, the former executive director of the Oakland Coliseum Joint Powers Authority, accepted a plea deal after being accused of asking for a $50,000 fee from RingCentral to negotiate naming rights for the stadium, KPIX reports.

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Thursday, October 15, 2020

Thursday's Briefing: Power shutoffs begin in the East Bay hills; Alameda County restaurants can partially reopen for indoor dining

Alameda County judge is admonished by state commission

by Steven Tavares
Thu, Oct 15, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Alameda County restaurants, including Berkeley, which has its own health department, will be able to open for indoor dining on Oct. 26, but with limited capacity. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Alameda County restaurants, including Berkeley, which has its own health department, will be able to open for indoor dining on Oct. 26, but with limited capacity.

News you don't want to miss for Sept. 15:

1. Around 53,000 residents in the East Bay hills are without power until Friday as hot weather and convection oven-like winds on Thursday triggered scheduled PG&E power shutoffs, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

2. Restaurants in Alameda County can reopen with 25 percent capacity or no more than 100 people, starting on Oct. 26, Berkeleyside reports. Alameda County moved to the less restrictive orange tier following a positive stretch of low covid-19 infection rates.

3. Oakland and Portland sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday, KTVU reports. The lawsuit claims the federal agencies violated the Constitution by sending federal law enforcement officers to quell protests last summer in Portland.

4. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch was reprimanded by the state Commission on Judicial Performance for his poor treatment of litigants in his courtroom and for giving the appearance of taking sides in two separate cases, the East Bay Citizen reports.

5. President Trump and Joe Biden will participate in dueling town halls tonight while Sen. Kamala Harris is taking a break from campaigning until Sunday after her communication director and a member of her flight crew tested positive for covid-19, CNN reports.

6. "The California Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered a second look at Scott Peterson’s conviction for killing his pregnant wife and unborn son, less than two months after it overturned his death penalty," the Associated Press reports. The 2004 murder case, in which Laci Peterson and child was found in the Berkeley marina, riveted the world.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Wednesday's Briefing: Amid wildfire warnings, EBRPD closes 10 parks; Triple shooting in East Oakland

Bay Area tenants fear not being able to pay rent

by Steven Tavares
Wed, Oct 14, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Lake Chabot Regional Park in Castro Valley. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Lake Chabot Regional Park in Castro Valley.

News you don't want to miss for Oct. 14:

1. With a Red Flag warning set to come into effect tonight, East Bay Regional Park District officials closed 10 parks, KTVU reports. They includes parks in the Oakland hills, Berkeley, Richmond, and Castro Valley. The closures will extend through Friday.

2. Three were shot in East Oakland early Wednesday morning, among them, two are dead, KRON reports. The shootings occurred on the 1900 block of 84th Avenue.

3. Some health experts predict a vaccine could be ready for distribution in January, with health care workers possibly being first in line, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

4. New polling shows the pandemic continues to create great anxiety among renters, the East Bay Times reports. One in five Bay Area residents said they do not have confidence they would be able to pay their rent or mortgage last month. $$

5. The case against the $1 bridge toll measure approved by Bay Area voters in 2018 is still alive after being put on hold by the California Supreme Court, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The question before the court is whether the threshold for passage should have been a two-thirds majority and not a simply majority. $$

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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

East Bay could see PG&E power shutoffs this week due to severe fire weather

by Express staff and contributors
Tue, Oct 13, 2020 at 3:44 PM

The power shutoffs that made the fall of 2019 miserable for so many could make a return this week, as severe fire weather could prompt PG&E to pre-emptively cut power to homes and businesses in Alameda County.

Power shutoffs could occur starting at 8pm Wednesday in the Oakland Hills east of Piedmont, in southeast Fremont near Calaveras Road and northern Livermore by Vasco Road, according to county officials.

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning from 5am Wednesday to 11am Friday due to high winds and dry conditions, with the East Bay Hills facing the greatest threat in elevations above 1,000 feat.

“These winds will combine with critically low humidity resulting in critical fire weather conditions,” officials said. “In these conditions, any ongoing fires or new fires will have the potential to rapidly spread.”

Tuesday's Briefing: Alameda County moves up to orange tier; Elementary schools can begin to reopen today

U.S. Supreme Court halts Census count

by Steven Tavares
Tue, Oct 13, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Just 20 private schools have filed reopening plans with Alameda County health officials. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Just 20 private schools have filed reopening plans with Alameda County health officials.

News you don't want to miss for Oct. 13:

1. Alameda County moved up to the less restrictive orange tier on Tuesday, KPIX reports. The new designation allows health officials the option to loosen restrictions on additional indoor activities. Alameda County's has flattened the curve over the past month following a surge that peaked in mid-August.

2. Elementary school classroom can reopen starting today, pending approval, KRON reports. Twenty schools have filed reopening plans with the county. All are private schools.

3. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors appears poised to allow home cooks to sell their creations to the public, the East Bay Times reports. The new regulations are already legal, but small-time cooks have been eagerly waiting on the county to formally approve them. $$

4. Bay Area restaurants will have to wait another year to receive prestigious Michelin stars, Eater reports. Due to shelter in place orders in the state, most restaurants have been closed or operating with limited capacity since March.

5. The Sierra Club and other environmentalist groups filed a lawsuit in Contra Costa County Superior Court to block the approval of 1,450 housing units at Point Molate in Richmond, the East Bay Times reports. The lawsuit argues the city failed to provide an adequate environment impact report for the project. $$

6. "The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted a request from the Trump administration to halt the census count while an appeal plays out over a lower court's order that it continue," CNN reports.

7. Billy Beane, the noted A's general manager who mastered the art of identifying and leveraging overlooked talent, known as "Moneyball," is leaving the team for new opportunities in European soccer, Sports Illustrated reports. Under Beane's direction, the A's never came close to winning a title.

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