Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Wednesday's Briefing: Early turnout in Alameda County is high; Safeway pays claim for price gouging on hand sanitizers

Oscar Grant family met with Alameda County DA

by Steven Tavares
Wed, Oct 28, 2020 at 4:00 AM

Registration in Alameda County has increased to 966,000. - ACVOTE
  • ACVOTE
  • Registration in Alameda County has increased to 966,000.


News you don't want to miss for Oct. 28:

1. With six days before the ballots are counted, turnout in Alameda County is already at 42 percent, KTVU reports. In addition, registration is now up to 966,000. Last month, the county registrar estimated the number could top 1 million.

2. Safeway agreed to settle allegation that it price gouged customers on the sale of some hand sanitizers at the start of the pandemic., ABC7 reports. Safeway will pay $81,000 in civil penalties and $62,000 in restitution. The claims were made by Alameda and Contra Costa County district attorney's offices.

3. Oakland officials want the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to open the Fairgrounds in Pleasanton for a large-scale winter homeless shelter, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The idea was met coolly by the county. $$

4. The family of Oscar Grant expressed optimism after meeting with Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley on Wednesday about the reopening of the case into his 2009 death by BART police officers, KPIX reports.

5. Similar to last fall, the Dungeness crab season in the Bay Area may be delayed for Thanksgiving, the San Francisco Chronicle. The potential for harming some species of whales and sea turtles is leading the push to keep the crab boat fleet ashore. $$

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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Tuesday's Briefing: San Leandro police officer charged with embezzlement; Two-alarm fire burns two homes in Oakland hills

Cal men's basketball player tests positive for covid-19

by Steven Tavares
Tue, Oct 27, 2020 at 4:00 AM

It's been a difficult year for the San Leandro Police Department following a high-profile shooting, a night of widespread looting, and now charges of embezzlement by one of its sergeants.
  • It's been a difficult year for the San Leandro Police Department following a high-profile shooting, a night of widespread looting, and now charges of embezzlement by one of its sergeants.


News you don't want to miss for Oct. 27:

1. A San Leandro police officer was charged with embezzling the department's funds, the East Bay Times reports. Sgt. Robert Sanchez, a 19-year veteran, was involved with the SLPD's payroll department. $$

2. An overloaded generator likely started a fire in the Oakland hills on Tuesday morning that burned two homes, KPIX reports. The generator was being used during scheduled power shutoffs.

3. An Oakland resident has created protest art of President Trump's orange-tinge visage at Lake Merritt, SFGate reports. The sculpture is meant to be rolled.

4. While Cal football is scheduled to return on Nov. 7, the men's basketball team is shutting down practices for two weeks after a player tested positive for the coronavirus, Sports Illustrated reports.

5. A Livermore man, also a Michigan graduate, was sentenced to one-year in jail for threatening to harm Ohio State football players, and its head coach, SFGate reports.

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Monday, October 26, 2020

Monday's Briefing: Winds gusts of 58 mph in Oakland; Downed power lines and trees in the East Bay

Oakland homicides continue to mount

by Steven Tavares
Mon, Oct 26, 2020 at 4:00 AM

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons


News you don't want to miss for Oct. 26:

1. Wind gusts last night were recorded as high as 58 mph at the Oakland International Airport and over 100 mph in the Sierras, SFGate reports.

2. In Alameda County, aside from downed power lines and toppled trees, and a small brush fire in Castro Valley, the East Bay was mostly unscathed by the windy conditions, ABC7 reports.

3. Teachers unions from different parts of Alameda County are demanding on-site covid-19 testing, contact tracing, greater ventilation of classrooms and an online dashboard tracking outbreaks of the coronavirus, KTVU reports.

4. San Leandro police officers critically wounded a man suspected of brandishing a gun at them, KPIX reports. The shooting followed a traffic stop about two hours earlier on Saturday night. The officer-involved shooting comes after a 33-year-old Black man was fatally shot by a San Leandro police officer last April.

5. In Oakland, homicides have increased by 38 percent over last year including 51 unsolved murders, KRON reports. The uptick in homicides might be fueled by the pandemic, which began in March. For example, overall, crime was down during the first quarter of this year.

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Friday, October 23, 2020

Friday's Briefing: Alameda County agrees to pay $5m in Santa Rita jail wrongful death case; High winds forecast for Sunday

Lake Merritt officer tower is leased to PG&E

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Oct 23, 2020 at 4:00 AM

The payout approved by Alameda County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday is the largest in the county since 2015.
  • The payout approved by Alameda County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday is the largest in the county since 2015.


News you don't want to miss for Oct. 23:

1. The Alameda County Board of Supervisor agreed to pay $5 million to the family of Christian Madrigal, 20-year-old Fremont man who hanged himself in Santa Rita jail, KTVU reports. Madrigal had been chained to a door by sheriff's deputies.

2. Winds of up to 35 mph could be coming to the Bay Area beginning on Sunday night that could rival those that triggered tragic wildfires in 2017 and 2019, SFGate reports.

3. A three-alarm brush fire that began at a homeless encampment on 35th Avenue in Oakland near Interstate 580 was contained on Thursday evening, KPIX reports.

4. TMG Partners' purchase of the 28-story office tower in downtown Oakland is complete, the East Bay Times reports. The office tower has already been leased to PG&E to become its headquarters. $$

5. "The Oakland Unified School District is apologizing for using a "historically racist term for people of Asian descent," which somehow found its way into a survey question about demographics," KTVU reports. The school district did not specify what term was used in the survey.

6. Gerald, the temperamental turkey, who terrorizing Grand Lake residents and visitors, was captured by Wildlife Emergency Services, ABC7 reports. Gerald will not be heading to the Thanksgiving table, but to a new home in Orinda.

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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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