Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Wednesday's Briefing: KPFA's building is heading to auction for non-payment of taxes; School may be named after Michelle Obama

BART's woes continue

by Steven Tavares
Wed, Feb 12, 2020 at 4:00 AM

KPFA's building on 1929 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way is up for auction next month.
  • KPFA's building on 1929 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way is up for auction next month.


News you don't want to miss for Feb. 12:

1. The home of KPFA, the progressive radio station in Berkeley, is up for auction next month because of non-payment of property taxes, Berkeleyside reports. A tax bill of $486,751 is owed to Alameda County for the building on Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.

2. The West Contra Costa Unified School District will decide tonight whether to rename an El Cerrito elementary school after Michelle Obama, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The school board is eyeing to rename Wilson Elementary after the former first lady. $$

3. BART's ridership on weekends and at night has dropped by 10 million over the last four years. Rachel Swan in the San Francisco Chronicle reports BART board directors will discuss the recent survey that also found riders are eschewing BART at these times because of its limited weekend schedule and inaccessibility to many locations. $$

4. Another aspect of BART's woes: Two-time Academy Award winner and East Bay native Mahershala Ali talked to SFGate about the last time he rode BART. BART Police stopped him because he fit the description of a pimp, Ali said.

5. Gov. Gavin Newsom's proposed budget falls short when it comes to making a dent in the state's homelessness crisis, according to the state's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office, the Associated Press reports. Newsom's budget includes $750 million for homelessness.

6. The California Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Berkeley tobacco shop and a dispute it had with New York credit card processing company, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The issue before the court is whether a property owner can legally sign away their right to a jury trial. $$

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Tuesday's Briefing: Tenants at Oakland apartment building go on rent strike; More flaring at Richmond refinery

PG&E wants rate hike to pay for fire prevention improvements

by Steven Tavares
Tue, Feb 11, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Chevron Richmond oil refinery. - MAYA SUGARMAN
  • Maya Sugarman
  • Chevron Richmond oil refinery.


News you don’t want to miss for Feb. 11:

1. Half of the renters at a 14-unit apartment in Oakland have gone on strike. Due to rising rents, the seven tenants have not paid their rents for four months, NBC Bay Area reports. It's yet another flare up of activism precipitated by the city's housing crisis.

2. Speaking of flaring. While air quality officials investigate the cause of flarings on Monday morning at the Chevron Richmond oil refinery, more flarings occurred on Tuesday, the East Bay Times reports. $$

3. Alameda County deputy sheriff Alan Strickland is suing Toronto Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri, the team’s ownership group, and the NBA, after an incident following Game 6 of the NBA Finals last year at Oracle Arena, SFGate reports. Strickland alleges the courtside scuffle between him and Ujiri caused a permanent disability.

4. PG&E officials are seeking a $1.4 billion rate hike from its customers to help pay for fire prevention and new insurance costs following Northern California wildfires the utility caused in recent years, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

5. As primary voters go to the polls in New Hampshire today, a new tracking poll shows Sen. Bernie Sanders' lead in the California presidential primary is growing, and at the behest of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Capitol Weekly reports. Sanders topped the poll with 29 percent, followed by Warren at 16 percent. Pete Buttigieg received 14 percent, and Michael Bloomberg at 13 percent.

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Monday, February 10, 2020

Monday's Briefing: Schaaf recommends interim city administrator; Delivers state of the city address

Emeryville's Pixar wins Oscar

by Steven Tavares
Mon, Feb 10, 2020 at 3:23 PM

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf delivered her state of the city last Friday evening. - D. ROSS CAMERON
  • D. Ross Cameron
  • Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf delivered her state of the city last Friday evening.


News you don't want to miss for Feb. 10:

1. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is recommending the City Council hire former Lafayette city manager Steven Falk to become its interim city administrator, Bay City News reports. Oakland City Administrator Sabrina Landreth announced she was leaving her post last December. Her last day is Mar. 11.

2. Schaaf's state of the city last Friday at the Oakland Museum touted successes involving her plan for homelessness and ending the housing crisis, KRON reports.

3. Chevron initiated a flaring at its oil refinery in Richmond Monday morning, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The flarings, which occur when excess toxic gas builds up, prompted some evacuations near the refinery. $$

4. That the wind in the East Bay was howling on Sunday is not hyperbole. It actually sounded like a pack of howling wolves outside. SFGate breaks down the damage done by yesterday's high winds.

5. What's good for the goose is good for the gander? Months after the pro-downtown ballpark Oakland Chamber of Commerce released a poll showing support for a waterfront stadium at Howard Terminal, the San Francisco Chronicle reports a poll by an East Oakland group said residents want the new ballpark at the existing Coliseum property. $$

6. At this point, it's fair to ask whether Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer is trolling Oakland. At last Friday's debate in New Hampshire name-dropped Rep. Barbara Lee for the third time, Esquire reports. Add that to Steyer mentioning Assemblymember Rob Bonta at another debate last December.

7. "Parasite" won the Oscar for best picture on Sunday night. But closer to home, Emeryville's Pixar won the best animated feature Oscar for "Toy Story 4," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

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Friday, February 7, 2020

Friday's Briefing: Acquitted Ghost Ship defendant speaks; Hayward approves minimum wage boost

Warriors trade D'Lo to Minnesota

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Feb 7, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland where 36 people perished in a fire in December 2016. - DAMU DAILEY
  • Damu Dailey
  • Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland where 36 people perished in a fire in December 2016.


News you don't want to miss for Feb. 7-9:

1. The San Francisco Chronicle snagged an interview with Max Harris, the Ghost Ship defendant who was acquitted last year of 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter. Spoiler alert: the high cost of housing in the Bay Area forced him to move to Portland. $$

2. Hayward became the seventh city in Alameda County to accelerate its minimum wage to $15 an hour, the East Bay Citizen reports. Workers in Hayward will receive a $2 bump in pay, starting on July 1.

3. Lafayette Councilmember Cameron Burks still wants an ethic investigation of state Sen. Nancy Skinner and a letter she sent last December to the city, the East Bay Times reports. Burks took umbrage about the letter suggesting the city violated the law involving a large housing project in Lafayette. The council last month decided not to follow Burks call for an investigation. $$

4. The first scores from California's new science test show that 28 percent of eighth-graders met or surpassed the minimum standards for the test, EdSource reports. African American and Latino students fared even worse.

5. East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell is now an author. He's releasing a book that offers an inside look into the Trump impeachment proceedings, The Hill reports. "Endgame: Inside the Impeachment of Donald J. Trump" is set to be released on April 7.

6. A truck at the Port of Oakland caught fire Thursday morning, ABC7 reports. The truck was reportedly carrying walnuts. There were no injuries.

7. The Warriors traded star guard De'Angelo Russell to the Minnesota Timberwolves for promising forward Andrew Wiggins, and draft picks, ESPN reports. The move also gives the Warriors some financial flexibility for signing additional help next season.

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Thursday, February 6, 2020

Thursday's Briefing: Nia Wilson jury views video of stabbing; Bay Area protests Trump's acquittal

Disney CEO apologizes to Berkeley school

by Steven Tavares
Thu, Feb 6, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Rallies in opposition to President Trump's acquittal on Wednesday popped up all over the Bay Area. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Rallies in opposition to President Trump's acquittal on Wednesday popped up all over the Bay Area.


News you don’t want to miss for Feb. 6:

1. After a brief moment of histrionics by the defendant, the jury in the murder of Nia Wilson was shown surveillance footage of the alleged killer, James Lee Cowell, stabbing the victim at the MacArthur BART station, the East Bay Times reports.

2. The groundbreaking for the 28-story Telegraph Tower in Oakland is near, Curbed SF reports. The 875,000 square feet of office space hopes to entice tech companies to Downtown Oakland.

3. “A female student at Berkeley High School has sued the Berkeley Unified School District over how administrators handled her attempted rape on campus last year, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in Alameda County Superior Court,” Berkeleyside reports.

4. Sen. Mitt Romney became the latest Republican darling of the left after he voted to remove President Trump from office on Wednesday. However, the Senate voted to acquit Trump on both articles of impeachment, CNN reports. Protesters participated in protests all over the Bay Area, KPIX reports.

5. Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta believes he knows the person who should replace Trump in the White House. Bonta endorsed Tom Steyer for president on Wednesday because of the billionaire’s opposition to the fossil fuel industry, the East Bay Citizen reports.

6. Disney issued a mea culpa to the Berkeley PTA group it attempted to charge $250 for a screening of "The Lion King," Berkeleyside reports. Disney CEO Robert Iger apologized to the elementary school and pledged to make a personal donation to its PTA.

7. The Warriors traded two of the assets the struggling team had unearthed this season for three second round draft picks, Yahoo! Sports reports. Forwards Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson were sent to the Philadelphia 76ers. Will the Warriors also trade star point guard De’Angelo Russell? The NBA’s trade deadline is later today.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Wednesday's Briefing: Nia Wilson murder trial begins; Oakland seeks to make fossil fuel industry pay for climate change

Newsom wants to end state health test for students

by Steven Tavares
Wed, Feb 5, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Nia Wilson was murdered in 2018 at the MacArthur BART station.
  • Nia Wilson was murdered in 2018 at the MacArthur BART station.


News you don't want to miss for Feb. 5:

1. The murder trial for John Lee Cowell, who is alleged to have killed Nia Wilson in 2018 at the MacArthur BART station, began on Wednesday. KTVU reports. But during the first day of the trial, Cowell was escorted out the courtroom following an outburst.

2. A Catholic priest who was removed from St. Joseph's Basilica in Alameda for inappropriate conduct with a female church employee was removed from living in a Pleasant Hill church rectory as another investigation begins, the East Bay Times reports. $$

3. A U.S. District Court will hear arguments from several California counties and cities, including Oakland, over a lawsuit that seeks to penalize the fossil fuels industry for contributing to the current climate emergency, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Wednesday's hearing deals with the question of whether the lawsuit should be heard in federal or state court. $$

4. Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to suspend for three years a statewide test used to gauge the physical health of students, the Associated Press reports. The plan comes as the percentage of fifth-graders receiving healthy scores has dropped over the last five years. The test, however, also leads to bullying, Newsom said.

5. The results of the Iowa Caucus are still incomplete. Don't forget vote-by-mail ballots in California will begin arriving this week. KQED reports that Election Night results on Mar. 3 will likely come in slowly. For one reason, it's a big state. Locally, the Alameda County Registrar of Voters has also been notoriously slow in producing vote counts.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Tuesday's Briefing: Statewide rent control initiative returns in November; Berkeley official wants cars banned from Telegraph

Bay Area legislator proposes 'Seamless Transit Act'

by Steven Tavares
Tue, Feb 4, 2020 at 3:16 PM

Various rent control ordinances have been enacted in the East Bay, including here in Alameda. - STEVEN TAVARES
  • Steven Tavares
  • Various rent control ordinances have been enacted in the East Bay, including here in Alameda.


News you don’t want to miss for Feb. 4:

1. A new statewide rent control initiative is coming to the November ballot, the Associated Press reports. Voters turned away a similar initiative in 2018. But this version exempts restrictions on rents for single-family homes and new buildings.

2. State legislation proposed Monday would attempt to integrate the Bay Area’s disparate public transportation options, KPIX reports. The “Seamless Transit Act” would allow transit riders to use the same app, same map, and use of Clipper cards for payment.

3. Berkeley Councilmember Rigel Robinson thinks cars should be banned from driving on Telegraph Avenue, the East Bay Times reports. Last month, San Francisco banished cars from parts of Market Street, SFGate reported. $$

4. The much-anticipated Iowa Caucus came and went Monday night without any indication whatsoever about who won. Joe Garofoli in the San Francisco Chronicle reports the ensuing confusion over its results may further amplify the importance of the upcoming Mar. 3 California presidential primary. $$

5. A faculty task force recommended the University of California system should keep the SAT and ACT test for admissions even after concerns by activists that the tests put lower income students at a disadvantage, the SFGate reports. $$

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Monday, February 3, 2020

Monday's Briefing: Disney charges Berkeley PTA for 'Lion King' screening; Coronavirus gets closer to East Bay

49ers let Super Bowl slip away

by Steven Tavares
Mon, Feb 3, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Simba from the Lion King, not Disney's director of licensing.
  • Simba from the Lion King, not Disney's director of licensing.


News you don't want to miss for Feb. 3:

1. "Hakuna Matata" does not pertain to capitalism. Disney is charging a Berkeley PTA group to pay them a $250 fee for screening "The Lion King" at a recent fundraiser, Berkeleyside reports.

2. There are 11 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S., and Northern California has four of them, the Mercury News reports. None, though, in Alameda County. $$

3. State Sen. Scott Wiener's push for new housing flamed out last week. This week the Bay Area state senator is poised to introduce legislation that will make PG&E a publicly-owned utility, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

4. Prisoners at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin were hoping to celebrate a breakout performance from the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. But sheriff's deputies confiscated large volumes of jailhouse liquor known as pruno, the Los Angeles Times reports. $$

5. Meanwhile, the 49ers succumbed to the Chiefs' knack for big-time playoff comebacks, and lost Super Bowl LIV in Miami, 31-20, the Associated Press reports. President Trump later congratulated the champions from the state of Kansas, Politico reports. The Chiefs play in Missouri.

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Friday, January 31, 2020

Friday's Briefing: Bas proposes legislation to help renters buy their homes; Peralta colleges placed on probation

49ers hope to bring a title to Santa Clara

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Jan 31, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Oakland Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas - STEVEN TAVARES
  • Steven Tavares
  • Oakland Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas


News you don’t want to miss for Jan. 31-Feb. 2:

1. Oakland Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas said during a Rules Committee meeting on Thursday that she is in the process of formulating an ordinance that would allow tenants the right to purchase their homes in the event the landlord intends to sell, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The move comes after the Moms 4 Housing controversy in Oakland when four homeless women took residence in a vacant home without the owner's permission. $$

2. The four schools that make up the Peralta Community College District will be placed on probation by the state's accrediting commission, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Last summer, the state warned the district, which is made up of Laney College, College of Alameda, Merritt College, and Berkeley City College, is at risk of insolvency. $$

3. A juror in the Ghost Ship trial of Derick Almena that resulted in a mistrial last year, told the East Bay Times, she believed he was innocent. Almena's trial is to begin next month. $$

4. State Sen. Scott Wiener, the author of SB50, brought the controversial bill to build housing density at transportation hubs, called another vote on Thursday, and again, fell short by three votes. Meanwhile, state senate Democrats vowed to push forward with additional housing legislation, the Associated Press reports.

5. A major recycling bill that would have removed long-standing exemptions for wine and spirits bottles failed in the State Senate, the East Bay Citizen reports. The bill was backed by East Bay state Sen. Bob Wieckowski.

6. The once might Warriors have fallen to the bottom of the NBA standings. So it’s not surprising there will be no Warriors in the Al-Star Game. But Warriors rookie Eric Paschall was named to the All-Star weekend’s Rising Stars game, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

7. The high-powered offense of the Kansas City Chiefs meets the hardcore defense of the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV on Sunday. Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle wonders if this is the greatest Super Bowl matchup ever?

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Thursday, January 30, 2020

Thursday Briefing: SB50 fails again; Cal drops Boalt name from law school

Bay Area income equality is widest in the state

by Steven Tavares
Thu, Jan 30, 2020 at 4:00 AM

A carpenter removing Boalt Hall signage from the U.C. Berkeley law school on Thursday morning. - UC BERKELEY/ROXANNE MAKASDJIAN
  • UC Berkeley/Roxanne Makasdjian
  • A carpenter removing Boalt Hall signage from the U.C. Berkeley law school on Thursday morning.


News you don’t want to miss for Jan. 30:

1. SB 50 was laid to rest Wednesday after the State Senate failed to pass the controversial legislation that would have made it easier to build more housing density around transportation centers, Curbed reports. The bill fell three votes short of passage to the Assembly.

2. Gov. Gavin Newsom said PG&E "no longer exists," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. “There’s going to be a new company or the state of California will take it over," he added. Whether or not PG&E currently exists, your monthly bill will still be in the mail next month. $$

3. “It’s official: The gap between the Bay Area’s haves and have-nots is wider than anywhere else in the state,” Calmatters reports. The top ten percent of Bay Area residents earn $384,000 a year, according to a report by the Public Policy Institute of California. Meanwhile, the bottom ten percent make just $32,000 a year.

4. Union strong: Despite efforts by conservatives to further erode the strength of labor unions in the U.S., their ranks increased last year in California, the Mercury News reports. After hitting bottoming out at 2.5 million members two years ago, the unions added 99,000 new members in 2019, the highest increase in seven years. $$

5. U.C. Berkeley officially removed John Boalt's name from its law school building, the East Bay Times reports. Boalt, an Oakland attorney in the late 19th Century, was a strong supporter of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. $$

6. Basic life skills like, uh, feeding yourself, have somehow avoided young college students so much that U.C. Berkeley offers an eight-week class in “adulting,” KTVU reports.

7. The Contra Costa County library system was hit with an ransomware attack earlier this month that shut down access to Wi-Fi, online library catalogs, and email. The East Bay Times reports library services could at full-speed by the end of this week. $$

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