Category Archives: news

Oakland Public Safety Committee Stalls Public Safety Oversight Commission

24 June 2014

The people of Oakland showed up in force today to support the changing of the city charter to require the city to staff a commission, called the Public Safety Oversight Commission, to hold historically violent and irresponsible Oakland police accountable for their illegal and otherwise violent and inappropriate actions. This hearing was held by the Public Safety Commission, whose members are Noel Gallo, chairman of the committee and sponsor of the item, Dan Kalb, Libby Schaaf, and Lynette Gibson McElhaney.

Speakers in favor of this change spoke to everything from the lack of police service to the inappropriate and violent responses by OPD, which have gone on for decades with impunity. Often, even in the case of murder by officer Miguel Masso of young Alan Blueford, officers, instead of being investigated and charged with the crimes they’ve committed, officers are put on ‘paid administrative leave’ aka vacation. The public is kept in the dark as to any action taken against officers by OPD internal affairs or the Citizens Police Review Board, which shares all information given to them by complainants, making it a dangerous action to file complaints at all.

Alan Blueford’s mother, Jeralyn Blueford, spoke, in tears, to remind us that Miguel Masso had a history of police violence and misconduct before ever being hired by the city to be in power to murder her son. ‘We shall not tolerate this and officers will be held to a higher standard…’

One speaker mentioned the value of civilianizing public safety functions when possible, allowing sworn officers to spend their time out in the streets serving the people.

Mayoral candidate Dan Siegel spoke about the millions and millions of dollars lost to lawsuits from OPD conduct. He advised the council to confer with OPOA, the police union, regarding the issue. He said the voters have a right to decide this, but OPOA can be involved in the process. He urged, as did most other speakers, the placing of this issue on the ballot.

One woman insisted upon calling protestors ‘rioters’ … having seemingly missed the miles of video evidence that it was OPD who were rioting during the height of Occupy Oakland actions. She also urged council to place this on the ballot, and acknowledged councilmember Noel Gallo for showing great leadership in this effort.

Isaac Taggart, with PUEBLO, pushed the council to vote to put this measure on the ballot. ‘You cannot afford to vote no or abstain … we will remind you at the polls.’ He spoke about the large number of unemployed black men in the city, and drew the connection of poverty being a major cause of crime.

Oakland Police officer Frank Marrow, a 26 year public servant with a law degree, spoke about accountability needing to happen from the top of the organization. He mentioned the consent decree. He acknowledged that ‘they’re running a game’ … suggesting that attorneys are making millions of dollars off the consent decree and other attempts to reign in violent police. He said ‘I’m too radical because I believe in telling you the truth of the OPOA, and too blue for Burris.’ He wants to see ‘a police department that is constitutional.’

When councilmember Pat Kernighan stood up to speak, Gallo recognized the attendance as constituting a full council. She attempted, with earned interruptions, to suggest that what she sees as recent improvements in the efforts by OPD to comply with the consent decree makes this charter change unnecessary. She suggested, also, that the CPRB could somehow magically change the culture of the police department. She spoke in opposition to placing the measure on the ballot.

Attorney Yolanda Huang reminded us all that the foundation of appropriate prosecution of criminal action is banked in complete, true, and honest reporting by police. This is something on which we should all be able to depend, and which is not the way OPD officers do their reporting.

Akiba Bradford, a researcher in the criminal justice/juvenile justice system said, ‘The numbers don’t add up … in order for there to be a change in culture there also has to be a change in oversight.’

Sange Basha’s only question isn’t ‘why would you put this on the ballot, but why wouldn’t you?’ She spoke to the economics of spending the money to hold police accountable. She says the measure is ‘revenue neutral,’ mentioning the $70 million lost to lawsuits and settlements in the recent decade.

Jasmin Coleman is a seventeen year old youth, involved with PUEBLO. She spoke to the teachings of her elders, explaining that we are taught that we will be held accountable for our actions, but police are not. She said she is afraid of police, and that people have to protect ourselves, because police aren’t doing it.

J. Jones with PUEBLO and Oakland Youth Policy Builders mentioned hearing what he called ‘crazy stories’ about police brutality. ‘There’s no reason to wait. Put it on the ballot now, give people of Oakland a chance to decide for ourselves.’

Rashida Grinage, also from PUEBLO, spoke about the politics of the issue. ‘what you have before you in the way of a ballot measure is defined … no controversy … because it is also the work of several months of many many people in the community … from the point of view of process, we don’t have any red lines … we have agreement … we don’t have an disagreement from you … ‘ She suggested the council/committee members aren’t disagreeing possibly because they’re not considering this a real possibility. She said, ‘we’ve done the work in the community, and we are all of one mind … ‘ She went on to say, ‘we want to work with you, not against you … ‘ and delivered words of appreciation for Noel Gallo for being willing to take on what she called a ‘thorny’ issue. ‘This is time for this community to realize accountability, and we hope that you will not stand in the way of that.’

Oakland Police Chief Whendt said he agrees with Jeralyn Blueford that police should be held to a higher standard. While he claimed to be dedicated to holding officers and the department accountable, and feels that he’s making progress since coming on board as chief, he doesn’t claim to know that it’s ‘enough.’

Patrick Caceras, manager and policy analyst for the CPRP, who refused to give an opinion previous to this meeting, said that the CPRB is going through changes. While never actually stating an opinion about the proposal, he meandered around it only to compare the concept of the Public Safety Oversight Commission to the current CPRB, with, of course, increased powers. Being the person most able to acknowledge the failure of the CPRB, as it is defined, to actually do anything about police violence, he managed to state no opinion.

While acknowledging that this is an effort to actually change the city charter, Libby Schaaf asked the city attorney to explain if there was a way to create this commission without a ballot measure. In fact, as an attorney, one would think she would understand that a change such as this would require a charter amendment. This is partly the answer given by the city attorney, qualified with a statement that the office would need to do more work to completely answer the query.

Three of these committee members were elected to office in the most recent past election. Only Libby Schaaf has tenure on council.

Dan Kalb admitted to not having read the entire proposal. He said he looked into the Los Angeles version of this type of commission. He suggested that combining the current CPRB and CPAB into such a commission ‘could work.’ While stating that he is open to this concept, he never really stated support for putting this measure on the ballot. ‘I don’t know if now, when we’re under the NSA, the public should be asked.’ He clarified that he’s not against the idea, but wanting to change the language of the proposal, after community members spent months drafting this proposal, that he did not bother to read it.

‘This subject is always a tough one for me. It’s difficult when we wade into these waters’ were some of the first words out of Lynette Gibson McElhaney. She talked of growing up in gangland, made a weepy attempt to acknowledge the pain expressed by the people, then stated she wasn’t certain this was the ‘appropriate remedy.’ She also, like Kalb, acknowledged not reading the entire proposal. ‘We often think we’re gonna fix something with something, but we don’t think it all the way through’ were the words she used to suggest that this proposal is less than optimum. She claimed to have worked hard to reform the CPRB, which is notorious for having no teeth to actually stop police brutality and misconduct, and basically undermined the work of the many folks who worked so hard to develop and deliver this proposal.

Noel Gallo repeatedly mentioned ‘by the people, for the people,’ referring often to the fact that we, the people, are paying for the services of everyone from members of OUSD, to the city attorney. He thanked the people for working so hard on this effort. ‘Out of your effort and out of your push to have a better Oakland … the reality is on the neighborhood, and all the polling says … there’s lack of confidence, not only in the police department, but in my neighborhood.’ He basically went off on the CPRB for never providing the required bi-annual reports to the committee and council, and reminded us all that the proposal for a public safety commission looks very much like what the CPRB was supposed to have been doing for many years.

Gallo thanked everyone for informing him about everything from community policing to CPRB regulations and the power of the public safety committee to oversee the CPRB.

When chairman Gallo asked for a motion to approve the recommendation to send this proposal to council for consideration, Libby Schaaf immediately spoke against doing so. She suggesting putting this off ‘until the fall.’ As a reminder, this is a proposal for council to include this on the next ballot. Schaaf’s effort is to stall to make that impossible. McElhaney followed suit, wondering whether there was any ordinance which could do what this proposal is trying to do. Kalb said ‘this is not an attempt to bury the motion’ while joining forces with Schaaf and Mcelhaney to stuff the effort into the trash heap. He spoke only negatively.

Item stays in committee.

Alameda County Supervisors to Forcefully Drug People

22 February 2014

The agenda for 25 February of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors contains an item which, if passed, will implement California AB 1421, aka ‘Laura’s Law.’  This law, if implemented, would criminalize people with mental illness, empowering local government to require those who experience mental illness to ingest dangerous chemicals as ‘treatment’ for their condition.  While most of the agenda item refers to a voluntary pilot program, one sentence in the proposal acknowledges that the implementation of this law empowers a county to use police to enforce a policy of ‘compliance’ with the law, under threat of incarceration :

The AB 1421 Pilot court processes will require a $50,000 increase in County General Funds, as involuntary services cannot be funded by MHSA or realignment.

The very mention of ‘compliance’ indicates criminalization of those with symptoms of mental illness.  This is an obvious deepening of the police state.

AB 1421 is already law, but was written to be implemented county by county, as each jurisdiction develops a plan (including local funding) to use the power the law delivers to doctors, social workers, and police to conspire to incarcerate any mental health patient, or person with perceived mental illness, who refuses to ingest dangerous chemicals.  The power to ‘diagnose’ and label a person as having mental health issues already lies in the hands of doctors who reap great economic benefit, in the form of kickbacks and gifts from pharmaceutical companies, for applying such labels and prescribing these drugs.  A county (including sheriff agency) employs it’s own doctors, who become empowered, by the implementation of this law, to prescribe psychiatric drugs to people with whom they otherwise have no doctor/patient relationship.

It doesn’t help that so many people are self-prescribing psychotropic drugs, via willing doctors, based on misleading television advertising.

Pharmaceutical companies have notoriously failed to publicize findings from initial drug studies which indicate the dangers of the drugs they sell for profit.  Every chemical ‘treatment’ for mental health conditions has been proven, often long after hundreds of thousands of people have been negatively affected, to cause other health problems.  These include but are not limited to : causing the increase and exacerbation of symptoms of those already diagnosed with mental illness.  Some drugs used to treat mental illness have been found to actually cause mental illness.

Drugs used in the treatment of mental illness come with dire warnings that the drug may cause suicidal or homicidal ideology.  Additional warnings acknowledge that the drugs, while already dangerous to ingest, offer specific, increased, dangers of mental maladjustment when a patient, whether forced, by choice, or due to lack of funds to continue to fill prescriptions, abruptly stops taking a drug.

Many of the recent mass shootings in the news have been reported as being committed by persons under the influence of, or in withdrawal from, these drugs. In the article linked above, the CCHR documents, among other facts, the incidence of mass shootings and other school related acts of violence :

Fact: At least least 31 school shootings and/or school-related acts of violence have been committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs resulting in 162 wounded and 72 killed (in other school shootings, information about their drug use was never made public—neither confirming or refuting if they were under the influence of prescribed drugs).

Another CCHR article point outs other violent acts which have been linked to the use of prescribed psychotropic drugs :

School-related acts of violence aren’t the only cases commonly found to be under the influence of psychiatric drugs. There are 16 other recent acts of senseless violence committed by individuals taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs resulting in 61 dead and 32 wounded

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) is a non-profit, non-political, non-religious mental health watchdog. Its mission is ‘to eradicate abuses committed under the guise of mental health and enact patient and consumer protections.’  They have reported extensively on these issues of the dangers of psychiatric medications, including providing a search engine to enable one to discover the effects of specific drugs or drug categories.  On their site is an article published in July 2009 by former pharmaceutical representative K.L. Carlson.  Carlson, author of the compelling expose, Diary of a Legal Drug Dealer – One Drug Rep. Dares to Tell You the Truth, explains the dangers of the use of psychiatric drugs, which can be prescribed by any medical doctor :

These drugs are literally mind-altering.  They can cause people to terminate loving, supportive relationships with family and friends, the very relationships that are extremely important to helping people recover from depression.  The drugs can cause hallucinations, paranoia, and mania.

Dr. Joseph Mercola addresses some of these issues in an article which includes a video interview with medical journalist and Pulitzer Prize nominee Robert Whitaker. As reported by former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine Marcia Angell, Whitaker has this to say regarding the use of psychiatric drugs :

Prior to treatment, patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, depression, and other psychiatric disorders do not suffer from any known “chemical imbalance.” However, once a person is put on a psychiatric medication, which, in one manner or another, throws a wrench into the usual mechanics of a neuronal pathway, his or her brain begins to function …  abnormally.

To add to this problem, almost every county jail has a policy of not only refusing to allow a newly or recently incarcerated person to continue with their chosen drug treatment, but of filing additional charges against people for being in possession of their own, prescribed, medications.

Any policy of forced drugging is anti-American.

Call to Enid, OK Restaurant Validates Discriminatory Environment

8 February 2014

A call to check the validity of an article claiming that Enid, OK restaurant owner is discriminating by refusing service to customers who are disabled or on welfare was a resounding success.  The owner promised to send a check for $10,000 to the caller, if only the caller would give a name and address.

The owner took alot of time describing how he had every right to refuse service to anyone receiving food stamps, because, as he put it, he had ‘already paid them’ with his tax dollars.  When given the opportunity to understand that many on assistance had paid into the system via their own taxes for decades, he didn’t seem concerned.

The number to the restaurant is included, in case readers want to make their own calls : 580 233 7655

Into the Minds of LEOs : Legally Shooting Police

7 February 2014

A report has surfaced about the failure of a grand jury to indict a Texas man who shot and killed a police officer in self-defense, as police arrived unannounced and proceeded to execute a warrant for marijuana.  Without police showing the warrant or even properly announcing themselves, Hank Magee thought he was being burglarized.  In self-defense, he grabbed a gun and fired at the intruders, killing one officer.

From the article :

Julie Renken, the district attorney for Burleson County, said in a statement Thursday she thought the sheriff’s office acted correctly during events that “occurred in a matter of seconds amongst chaos.”

“I believe the evidence also shows that an announcement was made,” Renken said. “However, there is not enough evidence that Mr. Magee knew that day that Peace Officers were entering his home.”

Julie Renken contradicts herself.  According to her, ‘in a matter of seconds among chaos … peace officers …’  managed to properly identify themselves and make certain the people in the home did not believe they were about to be robbed or murdered.  Her use of the phrase ‘acted correctly’ is a value judgement not based in reality.  She states ‘an announcement was made’ while also stating that the whole incident occurred ‘in a matter of seconds.’  She acknowledges that there is not evidence that Hank McGee understood that it was police officers coming into his house, even if ‘an announcement was made’ by police.  ‘A matter of seconds’ is not enough time for occupants of a home to process such an announcement.  She fails to acknowledge that it was police who created the chaos which ensued.

By definition, police breaking into a home within seconds of arriving does not allow adequate time for the occupants to become fully aware that it is police entering.  This is especially true when police choose to serve these warrants in the dead of night, while occupants are asleep.  Even if police leave enough time for occupants to recognize them as police, they are still required, in almost every circumstance, to show proof that police have the right to enter.  There are many cases in which police enter property without a warrant.  Making an announcement of their presence, in such a situation, would still not protect police from being shot by an occupant in self-defense.  Police have a responsibility, in almost all cases, to present occupants with proof of a warrant before attempting to enter.  It is the task of judges to refrain from granting ‘no-knock warrants’ for low level drug or other offenses, and especially when the search is for a naturally occurring plant. Any harm to police who enter without showing a warrant, even if they have one, is considered by law to be self-defense on the part of the occupant.

A question the people need to ask and answer is whether police will be held accountable to assure that those whose homes they enter are aware and acknowledging that it is police entering, or whether police can claim they screamed ‘POLICE !!!’ while breaking through someone’s door (often without a warrant, though in this case they seemingly had one), and thereby be safe from harm from an occupant defending themselves against obviously armed intruders.  If people allow this to be the status quo, any armed intruder can keep themselves safe and insure a successful robbery by simply yelling ‘POLICE!!!’ as they break into the residence.

Police are not safe when entering a home without properly identifying themselves and giving adequate time for the occupants to respond and acknowledge that they understand it is police at the door.  Given that people have the right to self-defense, any officer entering a person’s home without showing a warrant and getting acknowledgement from the occupants that they understand it is police entering will have to live with or die as the consequence of threatening the safety of occupants.

The real story now, though, is the thread of comments under the article.  Here are a series of screenshots, with comments showing in reverse order as they do on the site.  While some law enforcement personnel do understand the right to self-defense, others deem the shooter at fault for the death of a comrade, even though the raid was conducted in an unsafe and illegal manner, giving the occupant every reason to defend himself and his family.

The PoliceOne site attempts to restrict engagement to those who work in law enforcement.

p1 no murder charge -5

p1 no murder charge -4

p1 no murder charge -2p1 no murder charge -3

p1 no murder charge -1

p1 no murder charge 0

p1 no murder charge 1p1 no murder charge 2p1 no murder charge 3p1 no murder charge 4p1 no murder charge 5p1 no murder charge 6


While there is plenty of banter confirming that many, if not most leos would prefer to bypass the courts and deliver their version of justice to the shooter in a case like this, there are several comments here which reveal that there still are thoughtful, law abiding leos who recognize abuses of law by police, and support peoples’ right to self-defense.  This comment by jcolter :

KAZ917, had a standard warrant service been the method, Sgt. Sowders would in all likelyhood still be with us.

and this one by 911Respo :

My LEOs will never conduct no-knock raids because they infringe upon the rights of the people and they put my LEO’s lives at risk. Unfortunately I think we’re going to have to have more brothers killed before the idiot Chiefs realize this. This guy should have been no-billed.

show some depth of understanding of constitutional law by two self-proclaimed leos.  Of course we also see evidence, in this thread, of the inability of the PoliceOne site to restrict commentary to those in law enforcement.  It seems likely that some of these comments were posted by non-leo activists who are working against outrageous uses of force by police.

Readers might consider the value of having access to the inner workings of the minds of law enforcement officers, many of whom believe there is no legitimate reason a person would have the right to protect themselves from a police officer.  The PoliceOne site is one place to peer into that collective mind of the largest gang in the country.


Two BART Maintenance Workers Killed by Train

19 October 2013

In the midst of the second union strike since July, two BART maintenance workers were killed by a train today after an operator was informed the tracks were clear. One non-union employee and a contractor were inspecting track, when the remote controlled train struck them. BART has chosen to continue some operations during this second strike by union employees, but it is not yet clear whether these workers and the train operator were less experienced than the union operators and maintenance workers.

The names of the deceased are not yet published. Here is the audio transmission from producermatthew on soundcloud :



‘Colleagues identified them as BART employee Christopher Sheppard, of Hayward, and Larry Daniels, a contractor from Oakland. CBS in San Francisco said Sheppard was a senior track manager who was looking forward to retiring in a couple of years.’

Bradley Manning’s Letter to President Obama

The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized that (in) our efforts to meet the risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown out any logically based dissension, it is usually the American soldier that is given the order to carry out some ill-conceived mission.

Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy – the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, and the Japanese-American internment camps – to mention a few. I am confident that many of the actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.

As the late Howard Zinn once said, “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

I understand that my actions violated the law; I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intent to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.

If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have a country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.

SWAT Raid on Peaceful Organic Farmers


City of Arlington SWAT Raid on Peaceful Organic Farmers is a Big Budget Bust

Click here for updates and progress in this matter

At around seven thirty last Friday morning, inhabitants of The Garden of Eden, a small Intentional Community based on Sustainability, were awakened by a SWAT raid conducted by the City of Arlington for suspicion of being a full fledged marijuana growth and trafficking operation. Ultimately only a single arrest was made based on unrelated outstanding traffic violations, a handful of citations were given for city code violations, and zero drug related violations were found.

The entire operation lasted about 10 hours and involved many dozens of city officials, SWAT team, police officers and code compliance employees, and numerous official vehicles including dozens of police cars and several specialized vehicular equipment that was involved in the “abatement” operation. Witnesses say that there were helicopters and unmanned flying drones circling the property in the days prior to the raid that are presumed to have been a part of the intelligence gathering.

The combined expenses for the raid itself and the collection of information leading up to the fruitless raid are estimated in the tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

All 8 adults present in the house were initially handcuffed at the gunpoint of heavily armed SWAT officers, including the mother of a 22 month old and a two week old baby who was separated from her children during the raid. The police enforced activity on the day of the raid included mowing the grass, the forcible destruction of both wild and cultivated plants like blackberries, lamb’s quarters and okra, and the removal of other varied materials from around the premises such as pallets, tires and cardboard that the Community members say they had collected for use in sustainability projects. No marijuana or other drugs were found on site and the inhabitants of the premises were all unarmed.

After several hours and many requests from the community members, the City Police Officers finally produced two warrants. The first was a Search Warrant for a suspected marijuana growth and distribution operation purportedly being concealed on the premises. There was also an Inspection & Abatement Warrant for code compliance violations such as tall grass and storage in the yard, an issue that the City of Arlington and The Garden of Eden have been disputing since February of this year.   The marijuana warrant was issued based on an unsubstantiated claim by an Arlington City Police Officer of possession of marijuana by one of the community members for which there is no police record. Garden of Eden community members also say they have a series of documents showing that their dispute with the City of Arlington over the code compliance violations had already been addressed and settled.

Landowner Shellie Smith states that she has been requesting a peaceful and honorable resolution since the onset of the dispute in February, requesting the aid of the City Manager Trey Yelverton, Sheriff Dee Anderson and Mayor Robert Cluck, but has received no response in the matter. Ms. Smith says “the City codes are in violation of our natural and Constitutional rights to live freely while causing damage to no one, and since there is no damaged party, there has been no crime committed on our part. Rather, the City of Arlington has trespassed and committed robbery against us, amongst other crimes, and will be held accountable in a court of law in due time. We have been targeted by the system because we are showing people how to live without it. We are growing more than just tomatoes here, we are growing the consciousness that will allow people to live freely and sustainably, and the system doesn’t want that to be known.”


For updates on the unfolding of these matters click here 

# # #

The Garden of Eden is a small intentional community in southwest Arlington dedicated to Freedom, Sustainability and Responsibility. Since 2009 they have been providing food, shelter and sustainability education classes and workshops to the public for free. Their 3.5 acre land contains chickens, bees, composting stations, a large vegetable garden and many wildcrafted trees and plants that are used for foods, medicines, and household and beauty products. Their vision is to be a fully self-sustaining center for education on sustainable living. To learn more about the Garden of Eden, or be in support, visit or contact them at
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Contact: Quinn Eaker

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Phone: 817- 992-4615

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Ethics in Oakland

25 July 2013

A special meeting gathered this evening to consider a motion to censure Member Desley Brooks for supposedly having violated the ethics code. During the meeting and perusal of the evidence, it seems that not only is there no evidence of any intent on her part to do so (which is part of the definition of a violation), but that this is more of a witch hunt by Council President Kernighan than anything else.

City Council Code of Ethics
From Resolution No. 78307 C.M.S.
FURTHER RESOLVED:That the City Council hereby adopts the following Code of Conduct for each member of the City Council:


Each member of the City Council has a duty to:

1. Respect and adhere to the American ideals of government, the rule of law, the principles of public administration and high ethical conduct in the performance of public duties.

2. Represent and work for the common good of the City and not for any private interest.

3. Refrain from accepting gifts or favors or promises of future benefits which might compromise or tend to impair independence of judgment or action.

4. Provide fair and equal treatment for all persons and matters coming before the Council.

5. Learn and study the background and purposes of important items of business before voting.

6. Faithfully perform all duties of office.

7. Refrain from disclosing any information received confidentially concerning the business of the City, or received during any closed session of the Council held pursuant to state law.

8. Decline any employment incompatible with public duty.

9. Refrain from abusive conduct, personal charges or verbal attacks upon the character, motives, ethics or morals of other members of the Council, staff or public, or other personal comments not germane to the issues before the Council.

10. Listen courteously and attentively to all public discussions at Council meetings and avoid interrupting other speakers, including other Council members, except as may be permitted by established Rules of Order

11. Faithfully attend all sessions of the Council unless unable to do so because of disability or some other compelling reason.

12. Maintain the highest standard of public conduct by refusing to condone breaches of public trust or improper attempts to influence legislation, and by being willing to censure any member who willfully violates the rules of conduct contained in this Code of Ethics.


During the discussion, Larry Reid suggested that every council member has violated the ethics code, and put a motion on the floor to censure all but the three new council members. Just after that, Member McElhaney introduced a written motion ‘CONDEMNING A HISTORY AND CULTURE OF ABUSE OF AUTHORITY BY CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS.’

All during the discussion, referrals were made to the point that there is no policy in place for censure, and without it, council could not actually proceed. A representative from the city attorney office stated that there is not proper notice of McElhaney’s motion, and Reid suggested that more than one person should work on developing this idea of hers.

Brooks returned repeatedly to the lack of information provided by Kernighan to constituents. It seems there was a concerted effort to only provide ‘evidence’ that fit Kernighan’s imagined story line.

Meanwhile, the attorney stated that even Kernighan’s motion to censure wasn’t properly noticed in the first place, so cannot be considered.

With that information, Member Dan Kalb somehow extrapolated, “I’d like to pass SOMEthing tonight.” It’s amazing that Kalb did not understand that, without proper notice, nothing that he’s suggesting can be passed.

Member Schaff actually suggested that, while the attorney is there to advise council, council does not have to take that advise. She advocated for moving forward with the censure vote, even though the agenda item was not properly noticed to the public.

Eventually, Member Brooks made a substitute motion to deny the censure of herself, but create a committee to create a policy for censure, since such a policy does not exist. She indicated a wish to include the idea by Member Reid to have the council admonish itself for past transgressions.

During public comment, one speaker suggested Kernighan and Schaff start a tea party, comparing their “hatin’ on desley” to the “tea party hatin’ on obama.”

Most speakers either called Kernighan and other members out for their own ethics violations, or lauded Desley Brooks for accomplishing so much for the kids and people of Oakland.

Carol Williams Curtis, a lifetime Oakland resident, who has lived forty years at same address, used her minutes to point out that Brooks not only created something for the kids, but has cleaned up blight, closed down problematic places, and generally been a servant to the people.

One after another, people spoke to call out members of council for everything from past ethics violations to outright ‘jim crow’ racism. Many pointed out that this whole meeting should not have occurred, and that it was only due to personal politics that the meeting was called. Jack Bryson went so far as to call Desley Brooks one of the best Oakland Councilmembers ever.

Renee Sykes from Local 21 made a statement from the union that “council interference with staff is pervasive.”

In the end, the council voted against the motion to censure Desley Brooks, and voted to move forward with addressing the need for a policy for managing ethics violations.

BART and City of Oakland Workers STRIKE (no video for quicker loading)

4 July 2013

As Bay Area Rapid Transit workers continue pushing for fair contracts today by extending the walkout which began on Monday, 1 July, many are still unaware of the issues at hand. Corporate press has been willing to portray workers as selfish and unwilling to negotiate, but union representatives, leadership and those directly working in the negotiations, have a different story to tell. They were more than willing to inform the public how BART management and the City of Oakland has been dishonest, not only in their dealings with Labor, but in their reporting to the citizens of Oakland.

Oakland heated up far beyond the scorching outdoor temperatures Monday, with BART and Oakland City Workers shutting down the city by going on strike. All in all, it was a peaceful day of protest, largely due to support by the Oakland Police Department for the striking workers.

A series of video clips shows how the day went. Quite a few have been transcribed for those who don’t like watching long videos. These statements made by union representatives is crucial to understanding the reason for the walkout.

Away from downtown, stations were quiet. A handful of folks picketed the work yard and at Lake Merritt BART Station, to the glee of honking drivers passing by. A couple of strike captains were willing to speak to the camera.

As we’ve seen in recent years, when OPD does not support the message, they’re happy to deliver whatever violence they can muster to get protestors out of the streets. No such thing occurred on Monday. In fact, officers pulled traffic duty to keep union workers safe as they clogged the corner of 14th and Broadway for a pre-rally noise session.

Meanwhile, Oscar Grant Plaza was set up for the gathering, including this tent set up by radio folks for interviews. The original article with video includes part of an interview with one of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 21, the union which represents some of the workers of the City of Oakland. The IFPTE has a membership of 80,000 in the U.S. and Canada, and has been in existence since 1918.

Next, a firefighter from the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, in town to support the strike, explained that his own union maybe be out on strike on Thursday and Friday this week.  AFSCME  ‘is the nation’s largest and fastest growing public services employees union with more than 1.6 million working and retired members.’

Renee Sykes, vice-president of Local Chapter 21 of the IFPTE did a great job of explaining what’s been happening with negotiations for a contract for workers, as their contract expired Sunday night. Again, that video is in the epic video version of this article!

Then it was time to use the little stage which had been set up for speakers. First up was Father John, who invoked the ancestors to bless the striking workers.

Next, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb offered solidarity to Striking Oakland Workers.

Union Representatives came from all over the country to support bay area workers. The Service Employees International Union an organization of 2.1 million members. Gary Jimenez is East Bay Regional Vice President of SEIU Local 1021. He introduced Roxanne Sanchez, who is Local 1021 President, who in turn introduced Eliseo Medina, SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer. Medina addressed the big picture :::

We don’t need any more walmart jobs in the Bay Area… And sometimes, you also have to stand up to fight for your community, to make sure that we maintain the services the public needs. We need more, not less, library services. We need to insure timely and safe trash pickup. We need graffiti abatement and jobs for our youth. And we need a safe and dependable public transit system. But all of this, all of this begins with workers being treated fairly, and not as the first place to cut. Because we know that the soul of BART and Oakland does not live at City Hall or at the BART headquarters. It lives with the workers who deliver the services every single day, rain or shine. BART and Oakland only works because you do. And that is what this strike is all about : a fight for the future for your families and community. And let me tell ya, that is a fight worth fighting.

But brothers and sisters, you are part of a struggle that’s going on throughout this country : in Michigan, in Texas and Wisconsin, and even in Puerto Rico. A struggle to protect the middle class and the American dream. Workers are standing up and fighting back. They’re saying it’s time for the greedy bankers, the developers, and the corporations to be held accountable, so that they pay their fair share of maintaining vital public services. We don’t want any more bailouts. No more special deals. No more high interest rates on municipal bonds, and no more trafficking, with the mortgage crisis that they created. Enough is enough!

Brothers and sisters, they created the crisis. They need to fix it, and they need to fix it now! Brothers and sisters, this is a tough struggle, but we know that you are tougher. We know that you are up for the fight, and that you will win, because you are right, and because you will not take no for an answer.

We are here today to tell BART and the City of Oakland that you are not alone. You have the full support of the 2.1 million members of SEIU. Your fight is our fight. Your struggle is our struggle. We are one family, and when you take one of us on, you take all of us on!

We are here to help whenever, in whatever way you need, and in the end, we will win. As Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us, ‘The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice, and we shall overcome.’ Cesar Chavez taught us, ‘There is nothing a united, determined people cannot accomplish. Si se puede!’

Yes we can and yes we will!

Medina is a tough act to follow, but Bob Schoonover of SEIU Local 721 did fine with his rousing short speech. ‘The economy is all your fault, right? NO IT’S NOT!’

Laphonza Butler is President of SEIU ULTCW … United Long Term Care Worker’s Union, and also president of SEIU California State Council. the ULTCW represents 180,000 in-home care providers and nursing home workers throughout California, making it the largest union of long term care givers in California and the second largest SEIU local in the nation. Butler was at the mic next to keep things fired up :::

We stand with LABOR at the City of Oakland and at BART today! … On behalf of the 700,000 SEIU members of the state of California … I’m here to let all of you know that the state council at every single SEIU Local in California is making phone calls, is knocking on doors, is doing everything it takes to make sure that these agreements get settled, get settled fairly, and that we are winning, not just for ourselves, but that we’re winning for our communities. So on behalf of all 700,000 members of SEIU in California, we stand united with you today, we stand united with you tomorrow, and we’ll be there until the very end.

Pete Castelli is Executive Director and SEIU 1021’s Lead Negotiator for the Oakland contract. He gives us some historical context by telling the story of the group of mainly women clerks who picketed in 1946 in Oakland to get recognition for their union. Other unions supported them then, as is happening now.  In 1946, solidarity worked! Castelli had this to say :::

What that’s about is standing up. We’ve seen the banks get their money back. We’ve seen Wall Street makin’ their money back, and we’re being sold out. That’s what this story’s about. That’s what the story at BART’s about, City of Oakland, every union that’s in negotiations. As the economy goes up, they wanna restructure our lives, restructure our jobs and make us consultants, and talk in terms that we’re a liability, when we own this community, we live in this community, we spend money in this community, we are the community.

SEIU Local Chapter 1021 President Dwight McElroy talked about corruption, and dishonest efforts by the city to fool the public :::

The media’s asked me about the negotiations, but this strike is not about only our negotiations. When you have elected leadership, and employed leadership hired by the elected leadership, that you should be able to expect dignity, transparency, and honesty from, and it’s not forthcoming, we, the community and the people, must force those values forward! When you have an administration that is so hell bent on busting the union that they will hide $57 million in a budget – from the community – every dollar that flows to and through the City of Oakland belongs to the citizens. And once it became apparent to us, because of our provisions at the bargaining table, and because we were able to hire experts to evaluate the chicanery, the shell game, and the deceptive budgeting policies that have been coming forth so that the public would be misled into thinking ‘it is the police or services.’ That is not the truth, and it is our obligation to insure that the public dollar be spent in a manner that serves the entirety of the City of Oakland.

We are fortunate to either reside or work in one of the greatest cities in America. And I will not, neither will my co-workers, neither will the partners at the bargaining team – we will not allow some imports from places, some being San Jose, to come in here and misuse, abuse, or in any other way … 100% services to the citizens of the City of Oakland. As far as I’m concerned, it’s either unability [sic] to do the work, or dishonesty. You make your own choice, I’ve made mine.

The word transparency means a clear view, with no object between the viewer and what you’re lookin’ at. That’s the dictionary. Is that what the budget looks like? (nooo, says the crowd) Is that on purpose or on accident?

At the end of the day, I’ll leave you with this. We, as a body : the labor, the union, the communities, and the unrepresented : the people nobody’s talkin’ about : the individuals who are hired at the City of Oakland who have no work rights, who have no health care, who have no benefits – somebody’s got to start speaking up and say ‘you cannot continue to mistreat these individuals.’

Today is the beginning of making some individuals who thought they had the power, and who thought they had the authority, change their modus operandi.

I got a secret to share : I got prayed on at church and the bottom line is this : we know the victory is ours, we just not sure exactly when it’s gonna come. But we’re gonna stand fast, stand together, and the victory will be Oakland’s!

One last thing. Our bargaining team, our negotiator, and our lead seniority person is willing and ready to meet. And, in a meaningful way, not the circus bargaining that’s been going on since march, we are prepared and ready to sit down at any point in time and have a discussion with the city leadership about a fair and honest contract – one that benefits the total city of Oakland.

Let’s not forget. Our, the smallest, the most minute … the least senior person in the City of Oakland, that’s the one we wanna protect, because if we protect that one, everyone else is covered.

Renee Sykes then took the mic on behalf of IFPTE Local 21 : Oakland City workers. Sykes introduced and thanked people who are supporting this strike, including members of other unions.

Then the politicians stepped up. First, Councilmember Desley Brooks, who called out City Administrator for playing with the books. Santana has previously been caught being dishonest, by trying to bury findings of the Frasier Report about the violent actions of Oakland Police against Occupy Oakland. :::

There is no reason that the City of Oakland can’t bargain in good faith. I feel like, sometimes, I’m working for one of those big banks on Wall Street. Y’know the ones who keep makin’ money on your back. And then they forget how they made the money, and they wanna keep it all. We have unanticipated revenues, and yet we told our workers that we couldn’t give them a raise. We have money that the mayor has tucked away, and yet we told our employees that they have to pay for their health care. We are doing better than we’ve done in a long time, and we know that one of the reasons that we are where we are today is because our employees, our civilian employees, gave back $122 million. And so for those people in the community who wonder why today our employees who struggle just to get by need us to turn around and give back, tell ’em there’s 122 million reasons why.

There’s a song that says ‘let them hear you.’ Let them hear you. Let Deanna Santana and the mayor hear you.

I hope, I hope that you’re gonna continue to press, stay together, stay strong, stay focused – you will prevail, thank you.

New councilmember Noel Gallo also joined in to push for respect for employees and a safe, clean city.

Elizabeth Alexander is SEIU vice-president of politics. She called on community groups : Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) ‘is a multi-racial, democratic, non-profit community organization building power in low to moderate income neighborhoods to stand and fight for social, economic, and racial justice’; walmart union folks Our Walmart; Causa Justa :: Just Cause (CJJC), ‘a multi-racial, grassroots organization building community leadership to achieve justice for low-income San Francisco and Oakland residents’; among others : to show themselves, having come in support. She rattles off : Dan Siegel and Walter Riley (who have both been working to get justice for Alan Blueford, who was murdered by Oakland Police Officer Miguel Masso), Adam & Jeralyn Blueford from Justice for Alan Blueford Coalition, HipHop Congress, EBASE, Occupy Labor Solidarity, Harvey Milk Democratic Club, San Francisco Latino Democratic Club, Dream Act Dreamers, among others.

Dominic Ware spoke well for Our Walmart. He reminded people about their recent two-week strike in which two women were fired.

Alia Phelps spoke from ACCE. She addressed the issues of the strike affecting low-income people, but said low-income people experience transportation problems all the time, not only during this strike. She points out the many millions lost by BART and AC Transit to the banks.

Civil Rights Attorney and Activist Dan Siegel joked about it being hotter inside city hall than outside (temperature in the eighties) … talked about services : library, roads, programs for elders & seniors, decent wages, benefits, and no more furloughs for city employees. He warned ‘this is not gonna end today.’ He finished up with a valid claim that we have enough police with 650 officers … that we don’t need more, we need them to be deployed appropriately … ‘out from behind their desks.’

Siegel was followed by an Oakland resident activist who talked about having been a long time on this trail to end poverty :::

Thank you for standing up and giving the labor movement of Oakland and the country a backbone again. … Let me just say, as a soldier that’s been on this trail a long time about the business of eliminating poverty, we understand that the true place to get the money is from Wall Street and the banks. When have you seen a banker crying broke? When have you seen a foreclosure on them? The foreclosures are on our community. So only when we get about this business, not simply a protest, but a fight for a different vision. We’re about the business of transforming, so that our communities, our generations of children, so that our schools and libraries, so that our we, the people, might thrive, and not merely survive …

If ya listen to some of the radio shows, they say, ‘look, I haven’t got a raise, a break, I haven’t got extra time, why should they get it?’ What’s so important about this strike : this is about rejecting the proposals of divide and conquer and standing up and stating : the one percent needs to be pushed to the side, so we, the ninety nine percent, can handle our business for the future forward …

We don’t have to live like this. We ain’t gotta have people pushing carts and living like dogs. Only to the degree that we allow it, will it stay that way. So thank you for helping to wake people up. Now it’s our job to link up the struggles and build this movement so we might get the justice we need. Economic justice and security now, thank you.

Robbie Clark from Causa Justa thanks workers for daring to strike :::

We’re standing in solidarity because we know that the type of Oakland that working class power needs to build is the type of Oakland that’s gonna prioritize the needs of all Oakland residents. And so we’re united. That means Oakland’s workers, Oakland’s tenants, Oakland’s homeowners, the public workers, everybody who is in Oakland, living in Oakland like I have for my entire life. We have to make sure that our needs of our communities are put first, before the needs of big corporations.

We thank you for your courage, for taking this important step toward making sure that the rights of all people are respected. This is a historic moment. It’s time that we take back the power that we have in Oakland, and build an Oakland for the people the way that it’s supposed to be.

From an article in Businesswire :

“BART workers want just two things in these negotiations,” said Antonette Bryant, president of ATU 1555, which represents BART operators and station agents. “We want to negotiate a fair pay package after going five years with no increases, and we want the district to institute some basic changes that will improve system safety for riders and BART workers.”
ATU stands for Amalgamate Transit Union, and ‘is comprised of over 190,000 members, including: metropolitan, interstate, and school bus drivers; paratransit, light rail, subway, streetcar, and ferry boat operators; mechanics and other maintenance workers; clerks, baggage handlers, municipal employees, and others. ATU can be found in 44 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, and nine Canadian provinces.’

Here’s what she had to say on Monday at Oscar Grant Plaza :::

Brothers and sisters, good afternoon. C’mon now, GOOD AFTERNOON! That’s what I’m talking about. …

We stand in solidarity with the City of Oakland workers, we stand in solidarity with the IFPTE, we stand in solidarity with every working family member that is on strike…

I’ve heard it resonate throughout the day, about every company that’s trying to tell their employees, ‘you’ve gotta give back, give back, give back; there gotta be cuts, cuts, cuts.’ We are on strike today for respect, for safety, for fair labor practices and for our families. We know you are as well.

I want each and every one of you to reach in your pocket and see if you have four quarters and pull ’em out. This is not rhetorical. Do you have four quarters? Pull ’em out. Yesterday that’s what BART offered our employees : a dollar a year. One dollar. Do not be fooled by the press that is saying eight percent. It is one dollar.

In that eight percent they forgot to indicate they wanted us to give back to pension, which is 92% funded, they wanted us to give back on healthcare. We have a proud, strong union family at BART, and we are proud to stand with you out here on this struggle.

We do difficult jobs, like many of you. We have the honor of working with the public, and the systems that have been cut back, where services are reduced. So patrons are angry and assaults are up. Like many of you, we have equipment that causes us to be injured. And our company does not want to treat our injured workers fairly. We have put through information that will get us back to work. They are rejecting. Instead they’re offering us a dollar. They’re paying out of state consultants $400,000 … [sound problems]

They paid an out of state consultant four hundred thousand dollars for part time work to come in and try and tear up our contract. [more sound problems . then finally someone brings bullhorns!]

I’m so impressed to have heard brother McElroy, who said this, ‘It will take a strike to get the truth, then that’s what we will do.’

The dollar they’re offering us is a dollar a year : not an hour, not a day, not a week, not a month, but one dollar a year. If it takes a strike or two to get their attention, then that’s what we will do. I ask you to share this message with your friends and family, because it’s being distorted by BART.

An injury to one is an injury to all. Let them know that their commute is our workplace, and we wanna do it right and we wanna provide a safe working environment and a safe riding environment.

We stand with you today. ATU!

Next up were Des Patten and John Arantes, professional and general SEIU chapter presidents.

The formal rally was concluded with a song.

But that wasn’t the end of the action on Monday. Workers returned to the picket lines, covering the doors of city buildings to assure that nobody entered without at least being informed what it means to cross a picket line.

The city had promised no parking enforcement during the IFPTE’s one day action, but people had reported receiving parking tickets. While keeping vigil, picketers witnessed a meter maid returning from a day of ticketing cars!

A few of screenshots, in case Oakland City workers want to know who crossed the line :::

scab 1

scab getting nervous

scab getting nervous

scab calling for help

scab calling for help

scab 4

On Tuesday, the Oakland Tribune reported that the City will be forgiving parking tickets which were issued during the strike.

much thanks to aredridel for editorial support!