BART Leaders Gut Police Plan

Agency officials secretly weakened a police oversight plan to gain approval. Plus, two UC Berkeley employees help crack bizarre kidnapping case.

After a BART cop killed Oscar Grant, it became clear that the
agency’s police department needed better oversight. Public outrage over
the killing prompted the BART board of directors to devise a plan that
included a citizens’ review panel that would investigate police
misconduct. Some critics said the oversight plan was not tough enough,
but the proposal appeared to be a positive step and the BART board
approved it last month. But then two weeks ago, some members of the
board secretly gutted the plan in an attempt to gain approval from the
Legislature.

Under the watered-down plan, the BART board would no longer have
power over police discipline. Instead, authority would be left to the
BART police chief and the agency’s general manager. So if the citizens’
review panel recommended that a police officer be suspended or fired
for misconduct, the chief or the general manager could ignore that
advice and the elected board would have no recourse other than to fire
the officials. In other words, the new oversight proposal contains no
meaningful reform.

Assemblyman Sandre Swanson of Alameda, who is carrying the plan in
the Legislature, said BART leadership decided to weaken it because of
opposition by a statewide police officers’ group. Swanson said BART
leaders realized they could never get legislators to approve the plan
before their year-end recess if it faced significant opposition from
the Peace Officers Research Association of California. Such opposition
would require legislative hearings, thereby postponing a vote until
next year. So agency leaders decided to water down the plan because
they are determined to have some version of it in place before the
one-year anniversary of Oscar Grant’s death.

The closed-door decision raises questions about public transparency
and whether the new plan has the support of the entire board. Agency
spokesman Linton Johnson said the full board was informed of the
changes last week, but had no plans to hold hearings or vote on it. He
said the agency views the revised plan as a stopgap measure and hopes
the Legislature will approve the original proposal sometime next year.
The revised measure could appease some but, in reality, is not much
better than the current system, which so far has only held one person
responsible in the death of an innocent, unarmed man.

UC Berkeley Helps Nab Rapist

It’s no secret that Christian proselytizers have descended on Sproul
Plaza in increasing numbers in recent years. Philip Craig Garrido of
Antioch apparently wanted in on the action. But that led to two UC
Berkeley employees helping to nab the fiend, who allegedly kidnapped
eleven-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard, raped her, fathered her two
children, and forced her and her kids to live in squalid conditions for
eighteen years. UC Berkeley special events manager Lisa Campbell said
that she first realized something was strange about Garrido when he
showed up with his two “robot”-like daughters and said he wanted to
discuss holding an event called “God’s Desire,” according to the
Contra Costa Times. UC Berkeley police officer Allyson Jacobs
also thought Garrido strange, so she checked him out and quickly
discovered he was a registered sex offender. She then called his parole
officer, who later got Garrido to admit to kidnapping Dugard in
1991.

Housing Up and Way Down

A national housing index reported the first quarterly rise in the
housing market in three years, according to the San Francisco
Chronicle
. The S&P/Case Schiller index grew 2.9 percent for the
three months ending June 30 — the first increase since 2006. In
the Bay Area, it showed a 3.8 percent rise. But some economists
credited the uptick to the government’s $8,000 tax credit for
first-time home buyers. The credit is scheduled to expire November 30,
and if Congress does not extend it, then housing prices could tank
again.

At the same time, the Chronicle reported that the Bay Area is
swamped with very cheap properties, especially in Oakland, Richmond,
Pittsburg, Antioch, and Vallejo. Condos listing for as low as $20,000
to $30,000 are becoming more common, as are single-family homes at less
than $60,000. Some real estate professionals say banks are increasingly
pricing homes aggressively to unload them. However, many of the
properties need a lot rehabbing.

Three-Dot Roundup

Toyota announced the closing of the NUMMI auto plant in Fremont next
March. The plant was Alameda’s County largest private employer with
4,700 workers, but its closure could result in the loss of up to 50,000
area jobs because so many other businesses depend on it. … BART
drivers and station agents officially agreed to a new contract after
threatening to strike and getting no public sympathy. … Berkeley’s
new downtown plan appears headed for the ballot. … Oakland police
arrested the foster parents of little Hasanni Campbell on suspicion of
killing the five-year-old Fremont boy and then making up a story about
him going missing in Rockridge. … Another innocent bystander was
killed after Oakland police followed an “erratic” driver on a
high-speed chase through a residential neighborhood. Prosecutors
charged the driver with murder. Marquita Bosley of Pittsburg was the
third innocent person killed in a high-speed police pursuit in the East
Bay this year. … US Attorney General Eric Holder announced that his
office would investigate CIA interrogators but not top officials who
authorized torture, such as UC Berkeley professor John Yoo. … And Fox
News host Glenn Beck, who lost dozens of sponsors after calling Barack
Obama a “racist,” used a 2005 Express article to attack Van
Jones, an Oakland activist who became an advisor to the president.

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