Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Endorsement phase for tossup East Bay State Senate race is in full gear

Former Assemblymember Nancy Skinner's campaign
for SD9 has support of a quarter of the State Senate.
STATE SENATE | DISTRICT 9 | Less than nine months from a likely brutal June primary among three former state legislators in the East Bay’s Ninth District, the race still has Democrats choosing sides in the form of a rash of endorsement announcements over the past few months.

During this phase of the campaign former East Bay Assemblymember Sandre Swanson has captured most of the headlines with big endorsements from Rep. Barbara Lee, Assemblymembers Rob Bonta and Tony Thurmond, along with the current holder of the seat, the termed out State Sen. Loni Hancock.

Former Berkeley Assemblymember Nancy Skinner on Wednesday made her first foray into the race to capture campaign endorsements when she announced support from more than a quarter of the sitting members in the State Senate. However, of the 12 state senators backing Skinner, just one—Fremont State Sen. Bob Wieckowski—is from the East Bay. In addition, San Mateo State Sen. Jerry Hill, is the only other supporter on the list from the Bay Area.

The rest of Skinner’s support in the upper house is spread out across the seat and includes: State Sens. Jim Beall, Marty Block, Isadore hall, Bob Hertzberg, Ben Hueso, Hannah Beth Jackson, Connie Leyva, Carol Liu, Fran Pavely and Lois Wolk.

Skinner's bulk list of endorsements followed an announcement Monday from Swanson's campaign that he has received the backing of Teamsters Joint Council 7, which includes 110,000 union members in Northern California.

Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, another former assemblymember in the race, has not announced any notable support for her campaign, but registered encouraging mid-year campaign fundraising totals. Although, nowhere near the campaign largess reported last July by Skinner, who has amassed more than $925,000, primarily following a transfer from her former Assembly account. In contrast, Swanson's cash reserves, according to the most recent finance report, trailed both Skinner and Chan. Swanson reported just over $80,000 in early cash reserves.

San Pablo Vice Mayor Rich Kinney, the lone Republican in the race so far, is also a candidate along with public education advocate Katherine Welch.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Alameda County Supervisors postpone vote on cellphone surveillance upgrade

Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty
said the controversial Stingray discussion
will come back to the board on Oct. 13.
PHOTO/Shane Bond
ALCO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS | The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office’s proposed $113,000 upgrade for a surveillance device used to track cell phone calls and data, commonly known as a Stingray, was postponed for two weeks, Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty said Tuesday.

The agenda item would give approval to the sheriff’s office for the upgrade using  a previously allocated $6.2 million federal Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) grant. The Board of Supervisors next meets Oct. 13.

Nevertheless, some residents urged the board to deny funding for the Stingray retrofit and an additional agenda item adding another $81,000 to the UASI grant.

The Stingray upgrade is needed since AT&T cell phones will soon no longer support the 2G infrastructure the surveillance device uses to mimic a cell tower. Law enforcement is then able to intercept calls and data through the Stingray during investigations. Privacy groups strongly oppose the use of Stingrays.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California said the Board of Supervisor’s process for approving the Stingray upgrade is rushed. “The request for this intrusive device should not be approved without greater public input and a thorough cost-benefit analysis,” said Linda Lye of the ACLU of Northern California.

Oakland activist Susan Harmon told the board, “This is the moment for you to take control over the sheriff," she said, while urging the board to use its budgetary power over the sheriff and oppose the Stingray upgrade. “Accountability for the sheriff is the most important job you have and you don’t do it,” added Harmon.

Meanwhile, the board unanimously voted to approve the additional federal grant funding Tuesday. Haggerty, who is also board president, however, allowed the vote to occur in consent despite several public speakers awaiting a chance to address the item. Haggerty later apologized for the mistake.

Numerous groups also requested a chance to meet with supervisors before the Stingray discussion returns to the board next month.

Another activist, Devonte Jackson, possibly giving the board a preview of the discussion coming in two weeks said, “Local law enforcement does not need war weapons or surveillance technology in our communities.” Jackson is also a member of the Black Lives Matter movement. “A lot of the rationale the sheriff is using is that this is going to prevent terrorism and, again, it’s ridiculous to believe that there is terrorist activities going on.”

East Bay legislators with 14 total bills recently signed by the governor

Not all bills are equal, but some of State Sen.
Loni Hancock's have more primacy than others
among her East Bay legislative colleagues.
LEGISLATURE | Five members of the East Bay legislative caucus celebrated the signing by Gov. Jerry Brown of 14 of their respective bills over the past week. On Monday alone Brown signed six.

AB 773 Changes expiration of two-year psychology licenses in the state from the date of the person's birth date to the date when the license was issued.

AB 1401 Requires Office of the Adjutant General to provide veterans of the National Guard, State Military Reserve and Naval Militia with brochures, applications and contact information for student financial aid.

AB 1197 Allows for court deposition reporters to disclose contractual relationships, if any, with party involved in the deposition to protect impartiality. Also prevents price gouging when attorney's request deposition copies.

AB 599 Allows cytotechnologists, those who examine specimens for cancer, to use other technologies to perform the function. Previously, said Bonilla's office, cytotechnologists are limited to using microscopes and many are moving out of state. Some companies, says Bonilla, are sending samples out of state for analysis.

AB 486 Requires hospital packaging pharmacies use machine-readable barcodes to allow crosschecking of correct dosage and administration of drugs with those dispensed to patient.

AB 625 When a school district requests an emergency apportionment through the state superintendent it must accept the terms, including having the state controller perform annual audits of the district's finances. This bill allows the school district, state superintendent and controller discuss these terms beforehand.

AB 1028 Allows former judges and justices who are retired from the state Supreme Court because of disabilities to administer oaths and affirmation. Judge must be certified by Commission on Judicial Performance and submit medical confirmation.

SB 644  Allow Department of Human Resources to allow applicants with developmental disabilities the opportunity to complete a written exam, readiness examination or internship as a alternative for applying for a job in the state civil services.

SB 421 Regarding turnarounds at oil refineries, periods when the plant is closed down for maintenance and repairs: Information in this report sometimes includes oil company "trade secrets," which oil companies attempt to defend in court. This bill remove requirement for courts to award attorney's fees to prevailing party during such conflicts.

SB 196 Authorizes a county adult protective services agency to file a protective order to restrain any person abusing an elder or dependent adult. Under existing law, only certain persons can seek the order on behalf of the elder or dependent adult.

SB 188 Allows municipal utility district to make permanent the ability to file liens on real property for unpaid water and sewer utilities. The provision in the law sunsets on Jan. 1, 2016.

SB 725 Few bills affected more specific people more quickly than this bill signed in late August. It exempts some 2015 high school students who have met all other graduating requirements from the state exit exam.

SB 225 Changes the definition of biohazard bag used for disposing medical waste.

SB 474 Eliminates prohibition during state auctions of real property the act of persons purposely increasing bids solely to drive up the auctioneer's price. Instead, this bill prohibits the auctioneer from stating a bid greater than previously offered by the last highest bidder.

Monday, September 28, 2015

City Hall Insider: agenda notes from around the East Bay, Sept. 29-30

Surveillance upgrade; OK for chopper landing

STINGRAY UPGRADE The Alameda County Sheriff's Office is asking the Board of Supervisors to approve an allocation of $113,419 for an upgrade to its controversial Electronic Surveillance Telephone Tracking Technology, more commonly refer to as Stringray. The device, manufactured by Harris Corporation, mimics a cellphone tower and tricks users' mobile phone data and calls to it. Police have often denied its use in municipalities and privacy advocates have long registered protest. Law enforcement counters the device aids in fighting terrorism, among other things. Funding for the Stingray upgrade comes from a 2014 regional Urban Area Securities Initiative federal grant worth $6.3 million. Within the grant is $180,000 allocated for the Stingray retrofit.

TRACKING REENTRY The matter of reducing recidivism in Alameda County also includes keeping an accurate count of whether those formerly incarcerated are getting the help they need. The creation of a web portal is coming for the Alameda County Probation Department to track reentry client including managing services, referral and providers, said a staff report, in addition to measuring the department's outcomes and performance. The department does not currently have this capability, said the report. The contract for creating the portal with Tribridge Holdings, LLC is for $499,450. County supervisors will also decide whether to spend $56,100 on diversity and conflict resolution training for the Probation Department. The contract runs through June 30, 2016.

CHOPPER LANDING Supervisor Nate Miley is running for re-election next June. Keep this in mind. According to an agenda item Tuesday, Miley is asking for board approval to land a helicopter on county-owned land in unincorporated Alameda County. The item is absolutely Trumpian and reminiscent of presidential candidate Donald Trump's arrival a the Iowa State Fair this summer via helicopter. By the way, the chopper is part of the Ashland/Cherryland FamFest on Oct. 10.

COMMITTEES/Sept 29, 6 p.m.
Changes to garbage contract; housing crisis discussion

FOOD SCRAPS Under the city's new garbage contract, commercial compost rates are "upside down," meaning its far more cheaper for restaurants to throw food scraps away than place them for pickup in a compost bin. Tuesday night's council meeting is dedicated to garbage and proposes a new agreement with Waste Management be approved that lowers the maximum commercial organics materials rates to 30 percent below rates for regular commercial pickup through June 2016 and 25 percent thereafter. A lengthy list of other changes to the contract are included. The issue had caught the council off guard after it was approved late last year, they said. Restaurants later balked leading to the changes up for debate Tuesday evening.

A second item, the other half of Oakland's controversial garbage contract last year, California Waste Solutions says it is losing $800,000 annually for recycling services because of erroneous information provided by the city and later factored into its proposal. The information, it turned out, came from Waste Management, which was previously the exclusive holder of Oakland garbage contract. An amendment to the ordinance will allow California Waste Solutions to recoup their losses by raising per household recycling rates in Oakland by an average of 0.96 cents, says a staff report, staring July 1, 2016.

COMMITTEE SCHEDULE A lackluster slate of City Council Committee hearings does not include the always notable Public Safety Committee, which is canceled.    

OAKLAND/Sept. 30, 6 p.m

HOUSING PROBLEMS A week after Uber's triumphant move to Downtown Oakland and its potential for hastening gentrification dominated the news, the City Council will address the issue of displacement of Oakland residents and the steps than might be taken to alleviate the continually growing housing crisis in the city. "The displacement crisis is tearing families and communities apart," Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan wrote in a memo last week to her council colleagues. "In many cases people are being kicked out of their homes in ways that are illegal. Oakland has laws on the books that protect tenants from unjust evictions, but many residents do not know about these laws and they are not adequately enforced."

HOUSING SOLUTIONS A Housing Equity Roadmap report approved by a City Council Committee last June makes its way to the full council Wednesday night. The report says the city should address the issue of displacement and lack of new affordable housing by pledging goals for building 7,000 new affordable housing units in Oakland over the next 7 years. In addition, it suggests the city improve the living conditions of 5,000 existing units, while maintaining its affordable rent and homeownership stock over the long-term, said the report. A quarterly report of the city's progress is also recommended.

LISTEN! East Bay Citizen Show with special guest Dr. Luis Reynoso

Hayward School Trustee Dr. Luis Reynoso
EPISODE 9 | There were fireworks earlier this month at a Hayward School Board of Trustees meeting when Superintendent of Schools Stan "Data" Dobbs verbally abused and allegedly make contact with one or more elected school board members. It's just another setback for one of the most chronically underperforming school s districts in Alameda County.

Outspoken Hayward School Trustee Dr. Luis Reynoso is here to discuss the incident and the past and future of the moribund school district. Later in th news, Reynoso stuck around to chat about last week's dedication of the Bill Lockyer Bay Trail in Hayward and the time the former state senate pro tem and state treasurer gave him a tip about not shaking hands with a sweaty palm.

The East Bay Citizen Show is the region's only weekly podcast dedicated solely to East Bay politics. Download and subscribe to the East Bay Citizen Show on iTunes, Stitcher or listen on EBCitizen.com. New episodes every Monday! Follow @EBCShow on Twitter

Friday, September 25, 2015

Hayward school board acknowledges altercation with superintendent;makes no move on his fate

HAYWARD SCHOOLS | Four members of the Hayward school board publicly acknowledged at special meeting Thursday night that Superintendent Stan “Data” Dobbs allegedly berated and cursed the board in a closed session meeting on September 16 and then made physical contact with at least one of the boardmembers. The board, however, following a two-hour closed session meeting Thursday night, made no decision on Dobbs’ future with the school district.

Two members of the board, Luis Reynoso and William McGee, filed incident reports with the Hayward Police Department following the confrontation. Reynoso said he plans to press charges against Dobbs, while McGee Is awaiting findings from an investigation by the school district before making a decision.

According to Reynoso and McGee’s account given to police, which was backed up by their board colleague’s comments Thursday, Dobbs, who was hired as superintendent in 2013, began cursing the entire board during the September 16 closed door meeting. When McGee asked Dobbs to calm down, Dobbs approached him and stood over McGee. Dobbs again began yelling profanities at McGee. Among the comments made by Dobbs was: “I have to deal with motherfucking punks like you all day,” according to both Reynoso and McGee.

Later, Reynoso, too, asked Dobbs to relax, according to Reynoso’s statement to police. “Mr. Dobbs turned his fury turned towards me. I too was seated and he came at me in a threatening and aggressive manner which made me fear for my personal safety. He was screaming shouting expletives and behaving in a[n] aggressive physical manner. I continued to tell Mr. Dobbs to calm down at the same time ordering him to stay away from me. However, he continued to approach until his chest was shoved against my shoulder and face. I made every effort to get up from my seated position but I could not because he was blocking me from rising from my chair and moving to a safe place in a room.”
McGee, who has been mostly silent over the incident other than acknowledging it took place, said Thursday night, “When we look at our school district we hope that we can cultivate a culture of no bullying and no workplace violence, so one of the reasons why this board met tonight was because there was that experience in closed session.”

Although no resolution to the matter came Thursday night, Reynoso, McGee, and two other school boardmembers Lisa Brunner and Annette Walker acknowledged last week’s incident during a board comment period. School boardmember John Taylor did not comment on the incident but later suggested to Reynoso that he understood Reynoso’s reticence about being in the same room with Dobbs.

Brunner said she was upset and embarrassed by the event last week and lamented news of the incident is overshadowing the start of the new school year. “It was very unprofessional what happened September 16 and it should not have happened,” Brunner said. “It was wrong.” 

No consensus from Hayward leaders for combatting homelessness

Hayward Councilmember Greg Jones said the city
needs an emergency homeless shelter.
HAYWARD CITY COUNCIL | Homelessness in Hayward continues to be a vexing problem for its city council. While the problem exists in the city and primarily in its struggling downtown area, the council struggled to reach a consensus this week for solutions or even initial steps for its city staff to pursue.

“We’re all over the place here,” said Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday. She acknowledged the range of suggestions from the council Tuesday evening included funding one staff member with a host of duties to serve the homeless to a broader and more collaborative strategy. “What have we accomplished tonight? I’m not sure,” Halliday said.

However, some council members found agreement for the need to fund an emergency homeless shelter. “We need to somehow find a place for these folks,” said Councilmember Greg Jones. The city needs to prioritize funding for a shelter now on their own or find partners, he added. But, most acknowledged the city’s general fund is still reeling from the last recession and allocations for items such as homeless shelters will be difficult to find. In most part, social services typically fall in the realm of the county, but some in Hayward have questioned whether the city’s $250,000 in annual funding for the homeless-related programs is enough or an efficient use of money.

Tuesday’s work session was necessitated, said Hayward City Manager Fran David, because the council lacks of clear path on the issue. “We are not about ending homelessness. It will never happen in my lifetime," said David. "I am convinced of that.” She added the city can only strive to limit it from occurring in the future. A Hayward Taskforce on Homelessness and Hunger will begin a survey on the number of homeless in the city, said David, using a broader definition similar to the federal government. The survey is in collaboration with Cal State East Bay. In Alameda County, it is estimated more than 4,000 people are homeless, according to a staff report.

Meanwhile, few council members referenced one of the most dramatic factors leading to homelessness, that being unemployment and chronic underemployment. Halliday suggested the city institute a jobs program or volunteer work program in exchange for meal vouchers. She also reluctantly broached the idea of reconstituting shipping containers for small homes. An idea previously mentioned by Councilmember Francisco Zermeno.

The homeless and underprivileged need basic amenities and the opportunity to learn new skills, Zermeno said Tuesday evening. He offered as a small solution to reconfigure buses into showers and bathrooms for the homeless and partner with the city’s array of colleges to create food banks.

In addition, Zermeno said the city could takeover one of the abandoned homes owned by CalTrans on B Street and staff it with a single worker providing a host of services for the city's homeless. However, in a curious statement reminiscent of Zermeno’s idea in 2013 to feed the homeless with fruit trees on city streets, he said among the services the staffer might simply be sympathy. “Do they need somebody to hug them?” Zermeno said.

“What you described sounded great,” countered Councilmember Al Mendall, “but there’s no human being on the plant that can do all that. That’s 20-30 people by my count, working full-time.” He added, “There’s no money for that.”

While acknowledging the depth of the homelessness problem in Hayward, Mendall said, “Social Services are not a core function for municipalities.” Instead, Hayward should be a partner. “It’s not realistic or sustainable to think that the city will take lead and carry it and be the one that makes things happen.”

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Two Hayward school trustees filed police reports after superintendent's angry tirade

Hayward Superintendent Stan "Data" Dobbs was 
accused by two school members of berating and 
cursing the board during a closed session meeting.
HAYWARD SCHOOLS | Two members of the Hayward School Board of Trustees filed police incident reports against its Superintendent Stan “Data” Dobbs following an aggressive, expletive-laden tirade against the entire board last week during a closed session meeting.

Hayward School Trustees Luis Reynoso and William McGee each filed incident reports with the Hayward Police Department shortly after the incident Sept. 16, they said.

Reynoso, though, said he is seeking to press charges against Dobbs for threateningly shoving his chest against Reynoso’s face and shoulder during the confrontation. McGee is awaiting the conclusion of an investigation into the matter before making a similar decision, he said.

Hayward School Trustee Luis Reynoso
The incident occurred before last week’s regularly scheduled board meeting at Hayward City Hall, they said, when Dobbs became animated over a single topic heard in closed session. The issue being discussed could not be disclosed because of the confidential nature of the meeting, said Reynoso. Dobbs then began berating and cursing each school board member, said Reynoso, before McGee told him to calm down.

Reynoso said he told police Dobbs jumped from his seat and hovered over McGee while screaming expletives, including the phrase, "I have been dealing with motherf--king punks like you all day…”

Reynoso attempted to intercede in the confrontation by instructed Dobbs to relax, he said. “In response to my call for calm Mr. Dobbs turned his fury turned towards me. I too was seated and he came at me in a threatening and aggressive manner which made me fear for my personal safety," Reynoso told police.

Hayward School Trustee William McGee
"He was screaming shouting expletives and behaving in a aggressive physical manner. I continued to tell Mr. Dobbs to calm down at the same time ordering him to stay away from me. However, he continued to approach until his chest was shoved against my shoulder and face. I made every effort to get up from my seated position but I could not because he was blocking me from rising from my chair and moving to a safe place in a room.”

Dobbs did not attend the regular meeting that followed Sept. 16, but Reynoso admitted felling anxious and unable to fully concentrate over the possibility Dobbs would rejoin the meeting that night.

Reynoso and McGee said they have not made contact or spoken with Dobbs since the incident last week. A call to Dobbs’ office Wednesday was not returned. In addition, school board member Annette Walker did not respond to an email for comment over the alleged incident.

A special meeting is set for Thursday, 6:30 p.m. at the Hayward Unified School District offices. In closed session, the board will discuss the "Discipline/Dismissal/Release" of a public employee, according to the agenda.

Dobbs was hired as Hayward superintendent of schools in 2013 following a stint at the San Diego Unified School District. However, Dobbs previously served as assistant superintendent for business services for HUSD. Dobbs earns $242,123 a year with a contract that runs through 2017.

While at the helm of Hayward’s struggling school district, Dobbs has pushed a string of publicity-conscious strategies to boost the morale of its students and the public, known as “Made in Hayward.” In addition to focusing on school achievement, Dobbs has also initiated anti-bullying measures in Hayward. Reynoso, in an interview, skewered the latter. “How can this anti-bullying program work when the board itself is getting bullied?”

Reynoso said he wants the school board to place police officers at meetings following the incident with Dobbs. He later noted Dobbs is the school board’s sole employee. “We are his boss and yet we are the ones that allow this type of behavior towards us,” said Reynoso. “If it happens to the board what is happening to the employees?”

Reynoso, added, he fears the alleged incident last week will have repercussion on how the board interacts with Dobbs in the near-future. “How can any school board member now communicate freely with the superintendent?" said Reynoso. "The fear of such violent outbursts by the superintendent will prevent the school board member from freely performing their functions as an elected official.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Uber’s Head of People and Places can’t pronounce names of Oakland officials

Renee Atwood, Uber's global head of people and places
OAKLAND | Uber is coming to Oakland. The ride-hailing company will move into the vacant Sears Building on Nineteenth Street and Broadway in 2017, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf announced Wednesday. Or, is her named pronounced “Schoff”?

Schaaf trumpeted news of one of the most talked about tech companies moving to Oakland’s burgeoning Uptown District. Placating concerns Uber’s arrival could hasten gentrification in Oakland, Schaaf said during a news conference, the company will help the city achieve equity among its residents and fight displacement. In addition, no tax breaks were offered by the city to Uber, said Schaaf.

However, Uber’s nesting on a stretch of Broadway known for political protests will likely make it a target because of the company’s insistence its fleet of drivers are not recognized as employees, but contract workers. The latter classification allows Uber to not pay certain benefits to its workers.

Uber, meanwhile, apparently needs some time to get to know its new neighbors in Oakland.

In a quite ironic moment during Wednesday’s press gathering, Uber’s Global Head of People and Places Renee Atwood had great difficulty pronouncing the names of, well, people. People who aided Uber's arrival in Oakland.

Atwood thanked “Mayor Libby Schoff” and had great difficulty with Oakland Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney’s surname. She later paused before deciding the proper pronunciation of Assemlymember Rob Bonta’s District Director Jim Oddie is ODD-die. For clarification, Oddie's name sounds like Odie, the canine companion of cartoon cat Garfield.

Atwood, however, nailed the name of Oakland Congressmember Barbara Lee.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

San Leandro council seeks five-year pension strategy

San Leandro Mayor Pauline Cutters says setting 
aside $5 million over 5 years for pensions is doable.
SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | Last year, San Leandro's tab for unfunded liabilities over the next 30 years was $158 million. The City Council Monday night moved forward a strategy directing more of its growing revenues over the next five years to lower that debt.

"It's such a big number sitting out there," San Leandro Mayor Pauline Cutter said of the city's unfunded liabilities. An estimate of the city's pension debts for 2015 will be released later this year, said a city staff report.

The plan tentatively approved by the council aims to set aside $5 million over the next 5 years for reducing its pension liabilities. Known as the Prioritization Unfunded Liabilities Liquidation (PULL) Plan, it would also lower the city's 20 percent emergency reserve to 16.7 percent and redirect the difference toward paying down pension liabilities. The higher percentage is somewhat higher than other local cities. In addition, the 16.7 percent threshold is often recommended and the limit needed for the city to maintain its credit rating, said Finance Director David Baum.

The plan also seeks to apply half of any budget surpluses in coming years to the debt along with half of the proceeds from the sale of any city-owned properties. For instance, City Manager Chris Zapata said the city's share from selling the closed CVS property on the corner of Davis and East 14th Streets could be worth $500,000.

"Five million in five years is something that is doable and it's important--with these various ways of getting there," said Cutter. "It's kind of like that number that floats around in the sky, but as long as we're actively, aggressively doing something to it and making sure we make our payments, I think we're going to see we're making some traction."

The idea behind the PULL Plan, said Baum, followed an announcement from the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) for a $1.15 million surcharge on city public safety plans. San Leandro has far fewer active participants in the plan relative to those currently receiving pension benefits, said Baum, which led to San Leandro being the hardest hit by the surcharge in the entire state.

The city appealed to CalPERS and was later offered a reduced payment schedule for the first three years, said Baum. It also allowed the city to pay off its debt in 21 years instead of 30, he added, and save the city $24 million. But, San Leandro declined the package because of much higher payments beginning in year four. "It really didn't make sense for us to take that risk," said Baum. Instead, a strategy was sought to pay down debt in early years when the city is flush in revenue. Like today.

The City Council reacted favorably to the pension strategy during Monday's night meeting. Up until four years ago--in the midst of the Great Recession--the city was not paying its Annual Required Contribution (ARC) to unfunded liabilities. Starting last year, it pledged to fund the full ARC through 2016.

With interest rates at all-time lows and CalPERS rates somewhat volatile, Councilmember Benny Lee added, "It highlights the importance of us trying to pay down it earlier because we cannot predict future in terms of the rates."

Oakland sues Wells Fargo for damages from discriminatory lending practices

Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker
PHOTO/Shane Bond
OAKLAND | The city of Oakland has filed a federal lawsuit against financial institution Wells Fargo alleging its lending practices were predatory and discriminatory. The lawsuit filed by Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker Tuesday alleges Well Fargo targeted African American and Hispanic borrowers in Oakland for high risk loans even when they qualified for better rates and terms.

“Wells Fargo’s discriminatory conduct devastated individuals and communities, increasing poverty and wiping out or drastically reducing wealth for minority communities while bankers prospered,” said Parker.

“Wells Fargo and other banks knew when they issued predatory loans that many of them would result in foreclosure. None of the responsible bankers have been held personally accountable in any meaningful manner, and the leaders of these institutions earned millions of dollars generated in part by issuing toxic loans to minorities. We will not tolerate this activity and we are working with other municipalities to stop this unconscionable behavior.”

The lawsuit seeks a federal court to order Wells Fargo to stop offering predatory loans to potential borrowers and compensate the city for damages caused to residents in past years that included a severe recession. Parker added, resident’s financial loss is also Oakland’s through millions in tax revenues to the city, including lowered property taxes.

Monday, September 21, 2015

LISTEN! East Bay Citizen Show with special guest Brian Copeland

Brian Copeland
EPISODE 8 | No other writer and comedian is more synonymous with the East Bay than San Leandro-raised Brian Copeland. He sits down with the East Bay Citizen Show this week to talk about San Leandro and its amazing turnaround from a White-Only enclave a generation ago to one of the most diverse cities in America.

He also discussed the subject of his one-man play "The Scion" that focused on the brutal slaying of two USDA inspectors at San Leandro's Santos Linguica Factory. Evidence of UFOs is touched upon along with the shocking and precipitous downfall of Bill Cosby.

Earlier this year, Copeland took heat for initially standing by Cosby as women first began speaking out alleging sexual assault over the past decades. His support for the beloved comedian is not what it used to be, he says.

Also, a quick news brief from the following week on the region's only weekly podcast dedicated solely to East Bay politics. Download and subscribe to the East Bay Citizen Show on iTunes, Stitcher or listen on EBCitizen.com. New episodes every Monday! Follow @EBCShow on Twitter

Friday, September 18, 2015

City Hall Insider: agenda notes from around the East Bay, Sept. 21-22

OAKLAND/Sept 21, 4 p.m.
Major hearing on coal transport in West Oakland

COAL TRAIN This may be one of the most important Oakland City Council meetings of the year and policy-wise very interesting. Start with the Oakland Army Base restoration which was built in large part with a $252 million state transportation grant. Recall, there was some fear the city would lose the grant by not completing its obligations before a date mandated by the state. But, the deal was sealed and Oakland Global, otherwise known as influential developer Phil Tagami’s baby, moved forward. Later, the issue of coal and petroleum coke transport to third-world countries increasing global warming rose to the forefront all over the country last year, precipitated by a spate of oil tanker rail explosions on the East Coast. The Port of Oakland tackled the issue in 2014 over Howard Terminal by turning away a prospective tenant over their goal of transporting coal through West Oakland. In June 2014, the Oakland City Council unanimously passed a general resolution against coal transport in Oakland based on health and safety fears. Meanwhile, in the background, Tagami was pushing for coal shipments through Oakland Global’s Bulk Break Terminal, currently under construction. An email between Tagami and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf described his desire to allow coal through the former Army Base. Coal and pet coke would allow the Bulk Break Terminal to be profitable, Tagami reiterated to Schaaf, who responded, the residents of Oakland were clearly against such shipments through the city. The type of coal proposed for transport is bitumen, says a staff report.

Now, here’s the issue: that Monday’s special meeting seeks to flesh out the health and safety aspects of the coal transport proposal may be elemental to the city’s push against the plan. That’s because the former Oakland Army Base agreement may allow Tagami to bring whatever he wants through Oakland, but a clause regarding risk to health and safety of residents could be raised by the City Council to turn away coal in Oakland. According to the city staff report, regulations on coal and pet coke could be applied by the city "based on substantial evidence and after a public hearing that a failure to [adopt the ordinance] would place existing or future occupants or users of the Project, adjacent neighbors, or any portion thereof, or all of them, in a condition substantially dangerous to their health or safety." Without a doubt, the public comments threshold will be met Monday evening. The issue of historical high asthma rates in West Oakland due to truck and other shipping exhaust is well known and the community has spoken vociferously against it in the past and will again Monday evening. ENTIRE AGENDA HERE

SAN LEANDRO/Sept. 21, 7 p.m.
Five-year plan for unfunded liabilities

LONG-TERM PENSION STRATEGY San Leandro's unfunded liabilities were $158 million in 2014. Its city staff says its will report the figure for 2015 later this year, but it's likely to continue to rise. Like every other city in the Bay Area, San Leandro's finances took a sharp hit during the last recession. In recent months, San Leandro Mayor Pauline Cutter and the City Council have advocated using the city's growing revenues toward paying down its unfunded pension liabilities. A proposal Monday night would target $5 million over the next 5 years toward that goal. The Prioritization Unfunded Liabilities Liquidation (PULL) Plan calls for the city to continue paying 100 percent toward its Annual Required Contribution (ARC, direct half of all annual General Fund carryover and land sales toward the account that would become a separate trust. It also asks the council to consider lowering the 20 percent emergency contingency fund to 16.7 percent with the difference used for paying down unfunded liability debt. In the past, the current council has worked to lowered unfunded liabilities by refinancing $24 million of the debt to a lower interest rate of 7.5 percent, paid the full ARC starting last year through 2016, and direct city staff to continue to contribute up to 9 percent of their salary to the debt, said the staff report. ENTIRE AGENDA HERE

RENT REVIEW BOARD Until lately, in most city's that have rent review boards, the government body is usually one of the most sleepy areas of local government. But with exorbitant rent increases and evictions becoming more prevalent around the East Bay, the spotlight is increasingly on these boards that routinely have very little real power to overturn rent increases. On Tuesday, San Leandro's Rent Review Board will discuss amendments to its city ordinance. Among the changes: landlords must submit a response to the Community Development Director within 10 days of receiving the tenant's rent review hearing request; a request by the renter for review does not postpone the effective date of the rent increase; following the second and final continuance hearings, if the board does not find a resolution to the dispute, the rent review board can direct the matter to the City Manager's office for resolution. The city manager, however, has no authority to require an end to the dispute. ENTIRE AGENDA HERE

HAYWARD/Sept. 22, 7 p.m.
Help for the homeless; fallen officer honored

HOMELESSNESS A work session Tuesday evening takes Hayward back to the issue of homelessness not only in the city, but the entire county. It's the first of many discussions for the Hayward City Council, says a staff report. "The issue of homelessness is intrinsically regional in scope, especially in a heavily urbanized region like the Bay Area. As a result, despite this significant ongoing outlay of local municipal resources, any unilateral efforts carried out by only one jurisdiction will have limited impact," the report says. Over 4,000 people in Alameda County are believed to be homeless at any one time. Hayward's efforts recently include allocating an average of $250,000 a year to combat homelessness and hunger in the city, says the report. Tuesday's works session will detail several city and county programs being used to help people get back on their feet. Yet, despite the efforts and money, Hayward's actions two years ago to ban free food-sharing services in Downtown Hayward looked to some as more an effort to clean up the atrophied downtown than help the poor. Councilmember Francisco Zermeno, at one point, suggested those who are hungry could pick figs from city trees near Southland Mall. He also pushed a plan to plant fruit trees on city streets. The city's staff disagreed and said fallen fruit on sidewalks was a safety liability.

SCOTT LUNGER The family of fallen Hayward police Sgt. Scott Lunger will receive a Certificate in Memoriam from the City Council Tuesday evening for his service. Lunger was shot and killed July 22 during a traffic stop near Myrtle and Lyon Streets in Hayward. Lunger was a 15-year veteran of the force. Later, Hayward Police Chief Diane Urban will present the council will quarterly progress report on the department including data on gangs in Hayward, intersection collisions and recruitment efforts. ENTIRE AGENDA HERE

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Wieckowski to honor disgraced former San Jose mayor for leadership award

Former San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales
STATE SENATE | 10TH DISTRICT | Nearly a decade ago, former San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales, was indicted for a union garbage contract scheme that through secret side deals, ultimately cost taxpayers $11 million.

Gonzales was first accused of the improper deals in a grand jury report and later censured for misconduct by the San Jose City Council. He also repeatedly rejected calls for his resignation. Later, a judge threw out the charges and cast the scandal as politics, at worst.

But, the stain remains on Gonzales' tumultuous tenure in San Jose. But, apparently, not for some.

State Sen. Bob Wieckowski plans to honor Gonzales and four others Friday for the Third Annual Latino Heritage Leadership Award in San Jose. Wieckowski's Tenth District represents parts of San Jose all the way to Castro Valley in the East Bay.

In addition to Gonzales, former Newark Councilmember Ana Apodaca will honored along three others in journalism, education and business.

Jeff Barbosa, a spokesperson for Wieckowski, said Gonzales was chosen based on 35 years of public service experience. Gonzales is currently the CEO of the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley, he added, "The foundation is involved in a number of education initiatives with the Latino communities in Silicon Valley, as well as training Latinos to fill leadership roles on non-profit boards, which is an important issue among Latinos in Santa Clara County."

Gonzales' time as mayor in San Jose, to many, was hardly any model in leadership. As mayor, then 49, he acknowledged an improper relationship with a 25-year-old staffer in his office. At the time, Gonzales was seen as a rising star and had addressed the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.

The floodgate of Democratic defections from Mike Honda may be opening

State Senate Pro Tem Kevin DeLeon endorsed 
Ro Khanna over Rep. Mike Honda.
CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | Is this the first major crack in Rep. Mike Honda’s re-election effort?

State Senate Pro Tem Kevin DeLeon said Thursday he is backing Ro Khanna over Honda. DeLeon becomes the highest party official to jilt the incumbent Democratic congressman for Khanna, also a Democrat.

Honda is currently under a House ethics probe for allegedly overlapping his office’s official government duties with his re-election campaigns in 2012 and 2014. Undoubtedly, the issue is already a major issue and no resolution on the investigation is yet known.

Last year, Honda faced the biggest challenge to his seat against Khanna. Honda defeated the upstart by under four percentage points, or just over 5,000 votes in the majority Asian and South Asian American district. Last May, Khanna announced his campaign for a rematch in 2016.

While DeLeon’s sphere of power rests in Sacramento and his Los Angeles state senate district, his high profile within the state party suggests to other officials and the public that Honda’s ethics allegations are severe enough to warrant a change in the Seventeenth District.

More importantly, the endorsement may signal to those contemplating a switch in their support from the incumbent Honda to Khanna is without many political ramifications to them.

What remains now is whether the floodgates are opened by this and possibly other high-profile defections from Honda to Khanna. State Sen. Bob Wieckowski's Tenth District overlaps much of the congressional district. Could he follow his boss to Khanna's column?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Libby Schaaf shakes her vote-getter at Oakland Pride

OAKLAND | Mayor Libby Schaaf knows her strengths. And one of them is the line-dancing phenomenon known as Cupid's Shuffle.

Last summer, when Schaaf's campaign for mayor found its groove, so to speak, one of the first indication of her more easy-breezy persona was revealed in a Facebook video featuring the mayor-to-be dancing at a community event in Oakland.

Her campaign would soon be an unstoppable force and cruise to a surprisingly easy victory last November. The first nine months of Schaaf's administration have been trying but successful.

Now we dance! Here's Schaaf having fun at last weekend's Oakland Pride festival.

...Oakland's Mayor Libby Schaaf...who knew....
Posted by Jesse Brooks on Monday, September 14, 2015

For the Stark boy, it's Election Day

Fish Stark, son of former Rep. Pete Stark, is
getting into the family business.
PETE STARK | Fish Stark is a chip off the old block. The college-age son of former East Bay Congressman Pete Stark is facing his first election Wednesday. At stake is a seat on the 30-person New Haven, Conn. Board of Alders.

Stark, a junior at Yale, is challenging two-term Democratic incumbent Sara Eidelson in the Ward 1 seat representing district the college is located.

During the campaign, Stark has pledged to change the relationship between the college and the city.

The strategy to upend the status quo might comes from his father, who famously defeated a long-serving congressman in the East Bay over 40 years ago. Pete Stark's tenure in Congress ended when Eric Swalwell used a similar narrative during the infamous race in 2012.

Fish Stark spoke to the Yale Daily News Wednesday about his prospect in today's primary. The college newspaper endorsed Stark over the incumbent earlier this week.
UPDATE-3:00pm Yale Daily News reports exit polls show Eidelson leading Stark.

UPDATE: 10:00pm The young Stark begins his budding political career with a stinging defeat. Yale Daily News reports Eidelson defeated Stark 65-35 percent in a low-turnout primary election.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Alameda mayor's nominee to city commission was caught trespassing in city building; used employee's computer

ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | A pending mayoral appointee to an Alameda city commission was caught multiple times last February trespassing after business hours at the Public Works Department’s office at City Hall West. In addition, it is alleged she also accessed a city employee’s personal email and tax records, said a police report.

Carol Gottstein, 59, admitted in a police report to using the city computers for personal use and entering the office through a door left ajar, she told police. In addition, Gottstein said she had a key procured from a member of city board that uses the facility for meetings, she said.

Mayor Trish Spencer recently nominated Gottstein to the Commission on Disability Issues. The city’s Public Works Department staffs the commission Gottstein is being nominated to serve. Her appointment is on Tuesday night’s agenda for approval by the City Council. Gottstein has been a vocal supporter of Spencer, who was elected last November, and a critic of some public work projects on the island.

The mayor’s power under the City Charter to nominate and remove members of city boards and commissions has recently been challenged by some council members. An agenda item referred by Councilmember Jim Oddie tonight asks city staff to study the practice.

According to the police report, a city employee asked to press charges against Gottstein for identity theft. The employee said their computer was accessed by Gottstein, said the report, with a passcode possibly found in a cabinet located in the office. Gottstein told police she entered the city employee's office and bumped into the computer. The screen then lit up and she accessed the computer without a passcode, she told police. The city employee who alleges their computer was illegally accessed had been away from work for six days prior because of an illness, said the police report.

Gottstein admitted to police that she did not have permission to use the city computers and was aware she should not have been inside the building after hours.

While on the computer terminal, Gottstein allegedly viewed the employee’s tax records and personal email. But, Gottstein told police, the employee’s email was already open and did not view its contents and she only used the terminal for her own personal use because computers at the Mastick Center and Free Library were unavailable.

The first instance of Gottstein seen inside the city office after business hours was last President’s Day, Feb. 16, said the police report, when a witness saw Gottstein inside the City Hall West offices. She was confronted by a city employee who later summoned the police.

Five days later, Feb. 21, Gottstein was again found inside City Hall West offices, said the police report. An Alameda police officer was instructed by the City Manager’s office to issue a formal warning for trespassing and escorted off the property.

UPDATE: The Alameda City Council Tuesday evening chose against appointing Gottstein to the Commission on Disability Issues, but approved the other nominees on the agenda.

Consultant with local ties named Ted Cruz's presidential campaign state director

PRESIDENT | In the end, Bay Area Republican political consultant Jason Scalese not only got his client's Democratic challenger to properly pronounce his opponent's name in last year's Tenth State Senate District race, but also guided a political novice out of obscurity to the November General Election. Republican Peter Kuo later lost out to Bob Wieckowski, but both their statures were raised by the surprising showing.

Now, Scalese is helping Texas Sen. Ted Cruz get the attention of California conservatives. Cruz's presidential campaign tapped Scalese Tuesday as its state director. "I believe that the Senator is a once in a generation leader who will protect religious liberty, defend our country and our constitution, and make us proud to call him our President," said Scalese, who vows to make California "Cruz Country."

Scalese is the managing partner of  Fusion Strategies, a Republican consulting firm based in Burlingame. He held similar positions for the presidential campaigns of Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Fred Thompson.

In the East Bay, Scalese led Kuo through a contentious June primary in 2014 that featured multiple hit pieces and mean-spirited attacks between Wieckowski and former Assemblymember Mary Hayashi. The battle between two Democrats allowed Kuo to advance to November, but the use of State Senate Amendment-5, a proposal exploited by conservatives to charge Democrats with bringing back affirmative action in state college admissions was deftly used in this race.

Scalese under Kuo, focused the issue on the district's large Asian American voter pool and bred resentment against SCA-5 and, more importantly, strong fundraising numbers for Kuo, an insurance broker who never before ran for public office. The strategy did not move Kuo to the top in November, but gave some Democrats pause for its ability to potential convert Asian American voters into Republicans down the line.

Monday, September 14, 2015

City Hall Insider: agenda notes from around the East Bay, Sept. 15

Sept. 15, starts 9:30 a.m.
Cameras, radios, nobody watching truants

THERMAL IMAGE CAMERA POLICY Earlier this year the use of a thermal imaging camera attached to a Oakland PD helicopter was stymied because of a lack of a policy. The Public Safety Committee will receive a report Tuesday night, 6 p.m., establishing oversight of the unit known as a Forward Looking Infrared Thermal Imaging Camera System (FLIR). Privacy advocates worried about the use of the invasive camera for protests may be leery of the proposed policy. Under "special events" defined in the city municipal code, the FLIR could be deployed during protests, especially those at night, but only to gauge the size of the crowd and monitor its path through the city, not to identify certain protesters.

REGIONAL RADIO SYSTEM Oakland is slated to get three voting seats on the East Bay Regional Communications System Authority's (EBRCSA) Joint Powers Authority. In the past, Oakland had chosen to go alone with its own emergency public safety radio system. In recent years, Oakland's costly system led to a push by some council members to scrap the system and join the rest of the East Bay. Once approved by the Oakland City Council last year, operatability issues due to the transition arose, but have been since been remedied, says the staff report. In the meantime, though, how strong a voice Oakland officials would have on the EBRCSA JPA was still under negotiations. According to a staff report from the Oakland City Council Finance and Management Committee, the city will receive three seats, one each, from the Alameda County City Manager's Association, Alameda County Fire Chiefs' Association and Alameda County Mayor's Conference.

TRUANCY REPORT At one time, a quarter of all Oakland students were truant. A report to be offered during a joint committee meeting, 4 p.m., consisting of members of the Oakland City Council and school board, finds the problem is still pervasive. The report details the Oakland Unified School District has nowhere for truants found by the Oakland PD to be placed. OPD does not make truancy sweeps nor does it have a strategy for chronic absenteeism enforcement, says the report. In addition, it also does not collect data on truancy or coordinate any efforts with the county.

HAYWARD/Sept. 15, 7 p.m.
New library construction RFP to be awarded

NEW LIBRARY CONSTRUCTION Hayward's 21st Century Library and Community Learning Center is a $65 million project intended to boost the downtown corridor. On Tuesday, the City Council will discuss accepting a $49.2 million bid from Southern California company T.B. Penick and Sons. The low bid, however, faced a complaint from the next lowest bidder. Alten Construction, also of Southern California, alleging the rival bid did not list all litigation and claims against it. The Hayward City Attorney's office, however, was satisfied with the T.B. Penick and Sons' response to the protest, which it labeled "reasonable" and "no evidence that T.B. Penick & Sons sought to deliberately mislead the City such that they would be deemed untrustworthy, lacking in integrity and therefore not responsible," says the staff report. In addition to the library, the bid includes restoring the Heritage Plaza Arboretum at the site. A vast majority of funding for the project, $54 million, comes from Hayward's Measure C half-cent sales tax increase and $10 million from natural gas provider Calpine. Construction will begin in October, says the staff report, and the entire project is scheduled for completion in early 2018.

CHICKEN NUGGETS Hayward wants to tighten up its regulations on chickens and other fowl in residential areas. Tuesday's work session will be followed by the item coming before the Planning Commission two days later on Sept. 17. City staff says ambiguity in the current regulations over what is small and large livestock might "be in excess of what is needed to ensure compatibility with nearby residences, and are certainly in excess of current industry standards," says a staff report. The current process for permitting chickens, for instance, may be burdensome, as is the public noticing for chickens within 300 feet of a parcel. Through Aug. 31, the city has received 61 complaints regarding chickens. A majority says the staff report, were related to noise or odor issues.

BOARD/COMMISSION APPOINTMENTS Like many other cities, Hayward's Planning Commission is often the minor leagues for future City Council members. Every member of the current council once toiled on the influential government commission. On Tuesday, two new members will be appointed. Julius Willis, Jr., who previously served on the Community Services Commission, will replace Rodney Loche, while Daniel Goldstein will take over for Mary Lavelle. Loche ran for the City Council in 2014 and is rumored again for 2016. Dianne McDermott, meanwhile will be reappointed to another four-year term. All three will serve through the Fall 2019. ENTIRE AGENDA HERE

ALCO BOARD OF SUPES/Sept. 15, 9:45 a.m.
ShotSpotter coming to three county rooftops in Oakland

SANTA RITA JAIL RENOVATION The Alameda County Sheriff's Office is asking the Board of Supervisors for approval to apply for up to $80 million in state funding to improve Dublin's Santa Rita Jail. The county's share of $500 million in state lease-revenue bonds for jail construction and improvements could be used for a 30,000 square foot, two-story addition to the jail to house mentally ill inmates, says a staff report.

SHOTSPOTTER Three county-owned buildings in Oakland will be outfitted with ShotSpotter technology under a proposed five-year contract. The device, already used by the Oakland Police Department, is able to pinpoint where and when gun shots are fired in the city. The locations are rooftops at 500 6th Street; 1401 Lakeside Drive and 1111 Jackson Street, according to the staff report. The five-year lease will bring in nominal revenue of $1,800 in the first year.

ASSET FORFEITURE The Alameda County Sheriff's Department has a balance of $1.4 million in federal asset forfeiture proceeds, according to a staff report. In addition, the Alameda County Attorney General's office has more than $371,000 in similar assets. The use of forfeiture proceeds must be used only for law enforcement purposes. The annual certifications on Tuesday's agenda shows funding ending June 30. ENTIRE AGENDA HERE

ALAMEDA/Sept. 15, 7 p.m.
Free waterway; hot-button council referrals

FREE TIDAL CANAL The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to convey a 1.8 mile long, 400 foot wide slice of the waterway between Alameda and Oakland to each city at no cost. The waterway known as the Oakland Inner Harbor Tidal Canal would be divvied up straight down the middle. But, in life nothing is truly free. If approved, says the staff report, the city would have to pay upfront costs of an estimated $350,000 in transaction fees later to be reimbursed to the city when parcels are sold in residential and commercial deals later. However, the city would be responsible for maintenance of their share of the waterway. City staff believes dredging costs will still remain with the U.S. Army Corps.

TRANSIT PLAN Councilmember Tony Daysog's referral for the city to create a Citywide Transit and Transportation Demand Management Plan heads to the Request for Proposal stage Tuesday night. The study would take a look at growing traffic demands in Alameda and ways to limit the congestion."The overarching goals of the Citywide Transit and TDM Plans," says the report, "are to take a holistic and integrative Citywide approach: (1) to minimizing the total net of new single-occupant vehicle trips at the island crossings and; (2) to enhancing multimodal intra-city mobility. Special attention will be paid to the peak travel periods - morning northbound, which is leaving Alameda, and afternoon southbound, which is returning to Alameda."

MORE COUNCIL REFERRALS Daysog has been busy. On Tuesday night (likely late based on this council's recent propensity for lengthy meetings), the council will discuss raising the Transit Occupancy Tax from 10 percent to as high as 11.5 percent. In another proposal, Daysog wants the city to grab its share of occupancy taxes from units in Alameda using AirBnb. A hot button issue from two weeks ago, the mayor's power to appoint board and commission members, is raised again with Councilmember Jim Oddie's desire for city staff to review the process. The Alameda City Charter, though, gives the mayor clear authority to make the appointments. However, in the past, approval of the choices by the council have been perfunctory. Not this time with new Mayor Trish Spencer. ENTIRE AGENDA HERE

LISTEN! East Bay Citizen Show with special guest Alameda Councilmember Tony Daysog

Alameda Councilmember Tony Daysog
EPISODE 7 | One of the East Bay's most experienced city councilmembers sits down in Alameda to chat on this week's East Bay Citizen Show.

Alameda Councilmember Tony Daysog showed up after a workout to discuss the city's growing problem of exorbitant rent increases and 30 and 60 days eviction notices.

A leader in the city's Filipino-American community, Daysog delves into Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer's "RiceGate" flub, his re-election campaign in 2016 and some thoughts on the island city's next city manager.

Also, a quick news brief from the following week on the region's only weekly podcast dedicated solely to East Bay politics. Download and subscribe to the East Bay Citizen Show on iTunes, Stitcher or listen on EBCitizen.com. New episodes every Monday! Follow @EBCShow on Twitter

Alameda's body camera policy may fall short on transparency

Alameda Police Chief Paul Rolleri
ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | When an Alameda police officer was accused three years ago of using excessive force that resulted in multiple arm fractures to a mentally ill man, footage from a body camera purchased by the officer eventually helped to disprove allegations that the officer beat the man while he was handcuffed.

At the time, the Alameda Police Department did not deploy body cameras. Yet like many other Bay Area cities, Alameda recently entered the world of police body camera operation. The proposed policy governing the practice is vague on some details, however, and falls short of the standards recommended by experts on this emerging legal landscape.

In June, the Alameda City Council unanimously approved a five-year, $424,000 contract to purchase 80 Axon police cameras from Taser International, a leading manufacturer in the growing surveillance industry. The high-definition cameras themselves are relatively cheap, but the cost of digital video storage remains high.

Police departments typically posit that body cameras represent the dual potential of showing what alleged suspects are doing while documenting whether police are following their own rules and policies. But civil rights activists note that police control over when the tape rolls could impart a different context to the actual incident. There also is disagreement over who should be allowed to control and view the footage.

“Before rolling out any surveillance technology, including body cameras, Alameda needs to have an open and robust public process,” said Nicole A. Ozer, technology and civil liberties policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. “The public expects to know why technology like this is being considered, how it is going to be used, and be assured that robust safeguards are in place to guard against misuse before any decisions are made to move forward with body cameras.”

In a widely cited white paper published in March by her organization, the Northern California ACLU urged against police body camera policies that allow officers to “edit on the fly,” essentially choosing when or if the camera’s play button is pushed during a police action. The best scenario, the ACLU concluded, would be to require cameras to roll for the duration of an officer’s shift.

The organization’s report called on police departments to require their officers to turn on body cameras for each stop, along with strict penalties for those who fail to do so.

But Alameda’s policy gives officers much more latitude than that...