Ghost Ship jury deadlocks on Derick Almena verdict; acquits Max Harris

The jury considering allegations against two men connected with the 2016 Ghost Ship fire reached a verdict on Thursday afternoon, acquitting Max Harris, a former tenant and creative director of the Ghost Ship, of 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter. But after the jury deadlocked, Judge Trina Thompson declared a mistrial regarding identical charges against Derick Almena, the Ghost Ship’s primary leaseholder, who now faces a possible second trial.  The fire broke out on December 2, 2016, at a party at the…

Kaiser employees in Oakland prepare to strike

Oakland’s largest employer was confronted with protesters on Labor Day, as healthcare workers rallied urging Kaiser Permanente to address staffing shortages and improve wages and patient care. Photo Courtesy of SEIU-UHW.

Oakland tries a new way to prioritize city improvement projects: by considering equity

Rows of people sway together during a lunchtime Tai Chi session at Lincoln Square Recreation Center. Not a space is left in the full-size gym. “In and out,” the instructor chants, reminding the practitioners to breathe as they try to avoid colliding with each other and the walls.  “It’s like this every day,” says Gilbert Gong, the center’s longtime director, referring to the size of Friday’s crowd as he surveys the attendees. In the corner of the gym, he stops…

School budget woes strain the bonds between Oakland foster youth and their case managers

There are just under 400 foster youth attending Oakland schools, and for many, one person at their school is dedicated to them: their case manager. This counselor provides support and offers one-on-one guidance—academically and for other issues that may arise outside of school. The Oakland Unified School District has four case managers for foster youth, but their jobs were threatened in March, when the school board passed budget cuts eliminating their positions. After a sustained effort by students to push…

Oakland Unified School District plans to eliminate 100 classified workers’ positions

Melvin Phillips has worked in Oakland schools for the last 27 years. He is currently the lead school security officer at Fremont High School and he is one of hundreds of classified employees in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). Classified workers include instructional specialists like classroom support staff and tutors, administrative workers, custodians, security officers, and other school staff. During the Oakland teachers’ strike last month, classified workers joined the teachers on the picket lines in a sympathy strike….