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Feature Archives

The Freedom Sleepers held a protest in front of the Palomar Inn in downtown Santa Cruz on December 8, where the city council was eating a celebratory dinner in honor of the appointment of the new mayor, Cynthia Matthews. A small group of protesters also entered the Inn's banquet room during the council’s meal with a sign reading “A Ban on Sleep is a Ban on Life.”
In an example of collaboration with privacy advocates, on November 17, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors passed a comprehensive privacy policy regulating the county's use of cell phone interceptor equipment (often referred to in the press by “Stingray” or “Hailstorm”) before approving the purchase of an equipment upgrade. The policy requires a warrant before any deployment of the device and periodic audits of use.
On November 14, residents of the Midtown Park Apartments in San Francisco's Western Addition and their supporters gathered for a fundraiser and BBQ. In 2013, the City terminated the lease with the tenants and awarded it to Mercy Housing. Tenants are now facing enormous rent increases and Mercy Housing has put forth plans to eventually demolish the buildings. In response, Midtown tenants went on Rent Strike five months ago and are calling out for public support.
In the city of Alameda, rent increases and evictions remain unregulated. Landlords are pushing rents up sky high and/or evicting people out of homes they've been able to afford for decades. On November 4, an estimated 200 Alamedan renters went to their city council to demand an end to unfair rent hikes and displacement. City Official Bob Haun shoved a 68-year-old Alameda Rental Coalition leader and police tackled another protester to the ground where he lay bleeding while police restrained him. After a hearing that lasted past 1am, the council voted for a temporary 65-day limit of 8% on rent increases and ban on no cause evictions.
Governor Jerry Brown this October signed two bills that will require more frequent oil pipeline inspections and improve oil spill response, but the questionable "marine protected areas" created under the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative still fail to protect the ocean from pollution, fracking, oil drilling, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts other than sustainable fishing and Tribal gathering.
As advocates of Senate Bill 350 were celebrating the signing of the amended renewable energy bill by Governor Jerry Brown, a major appointment to a regulatory post in the Brown administration went largely unnoticed. In a classic example of how Big Oil has captured the regulatory apparatus in California, Governor Jerry Brown announced the appointment of Bill Bartling who has worked as an oil industry executive and consultant, as district deputy in the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources at the embattled California Department of Conservation.
A "Stingray" is a device that simulates a cellphone tower and intercepts all phone traffic in its range. A new California law set to go into effect this January requires most state and local agencies to conduct a public hearing and to create a privacy policy before acquiring a Stingray or equivalent device. But on Tuesday, October 13, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider whether to approve a request by the Alameda County District Attorney to accept money from the state to acquire an upgraded Stingray known as a "Hailstorm." If approved, and if the purchase is consummated before the new year, the new Stingray law would not apply.
UPDATE: The decision on approving the grant money for a Stingray upgrade was postponed to an indefinite date, probably December.