Thursday, August 31, 2017

BART police chief tells PRNC his department needs more officers

   POINT RICHMOND - Bay Area Rapid Transit Police Chief Carlos Rojas - hired this spring after working as chief of police in Santa Ana for the past five years - told members of the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council Wednesday night the major challenge facing BART law enforcement is a lack of officers.
BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas
    "Ideally, I would like someone at every station," Rojas said.
    The chief gave a short presentation about the manifold challenges faced by BART police as well as plans to hire more officers.
    "This jurisdiction is very challenging. We police a microcosm of every city in each station and parking area."

    Rojas' department is currently responsible for 107 miles of rail, stations and parking lots.
    Earlier this spring Rojas announced a program to add 39 officers within 18 months. That program included a $10,000 hiring bonus.  He said he needs a "shortened timeline" to get qualified officers hired and working on the force.
BART Watch app
    The chief also addressed the ongoing problem of fare evasion, drawing a few laughs from the audience when he described police sometimes having to get between overzealous station agents and people jumping over the turnstiles.

    Several audience members described occasionally feeling unsafe when traversing BART parking lots and/or stations.
    Rojas said that anyone with a smartphone should download the app called BART Watch which allows users to send a message directly to BART Police about any suspicious or dangerous activity.
   He said the app has already assisted BART police in apprehension of suspects.
   The BART Police Chief can be contacted 510-464-7022. Or by email at: BART Police Chief.

(by Michael J. Fitzgerald)


PRNC hears report on Richmond-San Rafael bridge

    The PRNC also heard a report from the MTA and BATA about opening a third eastbound lane in December on the Richmond-San Rafael bridge. For the full story, click HERE.

Third eastbound lane on Richmond-San Rafael bridge likely to open in December

    POINT RICHMOND - A third eastbound lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge - part of an ongoing construction project of the Bay Area Toll Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority - will likely be in operation in December, BATA's Chris Lillie told the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council Wednesday night.
    In a brief, 15-minute presentation, Lillie explained that the third lane is designed to alleviate congestion during peak hours but will not be open around the clock.
   "There are no precise hours yet for when all three lanes will be open," he said.
   But BATA and Caltrans will be monitoring to ensure maximum use to keep traffic flowing. Signals on the bridge will indicate when the third lane is open or closed.
   On the upper, westbound deck of the bridge, BATA is working on construction of a third lane, but one that will be for bicycles and pedestrians, not vehicles. It is part of a larger bicycle/trail project.
   Several members of the audience questioned why BATA isn't opening the third traffic lane westbound right now to handle the increasingly heavy morning motor vehicle traffic.
   Lille said a major reason is need for changes in highway infrastructure on the Marin County side of the bridge. For the present, adding a third motor-vehicle lane to the westbound deck of the bridge is not part of the four-year pilot project, he said.
   The bicycle pedestrian lane will be cordoned off with a moveable barrier. Caltrans may also use it for maintenance and possibly for emergency vehicles to respond to westbound accidents on the bridge.
(by Michael J. Fitzgerald)

PRNC hears report on BART safety

    The PRNC also heard a report Wednesday night from BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas about BART policing. See the story here : BART safety

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Free online course about climate change

   ITHACA, NY - Cornell University will be offering a free online course about climate change beginning Sept. 11 and ending Oct. 1.

      University officials say participants should plan on about 3-4 hours of coursework per week.

Hurricane Harvey flooding
    Course materials will be delivered via video lectures and assigned readings. The learning management software Canvas will be used for all videos, readings, assignments and discussions. 

    There will also be a closed Facebook group for an optional discussion area.

  The course was designed for educators, volunteers, state and local governments and anyone else interested in an introduction to climate change science - and how to communicate effectively on the topic.

   For more information and a link to register, click here: CLIMATE CHANGE COURSE.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

PRNC to hear updates on BART safety and Richmond-San Rafael bridge improvements

   POINT RICHMOND - The Point Richmond Neighborhood Council will hear updates on Bay Area Rapid Transit safety and progress on improvements to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge when it meets Wednesday, August 30.

     The meeting - which is open to the public - begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Point Richmond Community Center on Washington Street.

     The briefing on BART safety will be presented by BART Chief of Police Carlos Rojas. He is scheduled to speak just before 8 p.m.

    The update on the bridge will begin at about 7:45 and will be given to the council by Chris Lillie, of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Bannon, Coulter and Yiannopoulos speaking at UC Berkeley in September?

   BERKELEY - Former White House strategist Steve Bannon, conservative columnist Ann Coulter and provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos might be coming to the UC Berkeley campus in September, the East Bay Times reported this morning.

    The three would be coming at the invite of a student organization called Berkeley Patriot and would be speaking as part of a free speech gathering Sept. 24-27.

    Earlier planned speeches by Coulter and Yiannopoulos were canceled after protests were lodged.

For the full East Bay Times story, click here: Bannon, Coulter, Yiannolpoulos.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Authors' readings to benefit the SPLC

   POINT RICHMOND - A series of readings by writers featured in Speak and Speak Again (a resistance anthology published by Pact Press) will be doing free readings in the Bay Area in the wake of the Charlottesville attacks and the double-digit rise in hate crimes in California.

     The readings are a fund raiser for the Southern Poverty Law Center. All book sales proceeds will be donated to the SPLC.

     The Point Richmond event will be at Kaleidoscope Coffee Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. Other events will be at Book Passage (Tuesday, Sept. 5, 7 p.m.) and A Great Good Place for Books in Oakland (Thursday, Sept. 14 at 7 p.m.).

   The writers who will be presenting include:

Laurie Ann Doyle, author of World Gone Missing and writing instructor at UC Berkeley:
Stephen D. Gutierrez, American Book Award winner and teacher at Cal State East Bay
Lily Iona MacKenzie teaches writing at the University of San Francisco’s Fromm Institute of Lifelong Learning and is author of All This (a poetry collection), and two novels (Fling! and Curva Peligrosa). https://
Cheryl A. Ossola, poet, dance writer, teacher, and editor; debut novel forthcoming from Regal House Publishing.
Rob Watersjournalist and travel writer who writes about health, science, world culture and criminal justice:

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Temple Beth Hillel school starts Aug. 20

   HILLTOP - Temple Beth Hillel will begin its religious studies school Sunday, August 20.
     The school offers an exploration of Jewish history, culture, holidays, customs and Hebrew from toddlers (2 1/2) through Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation and beyond, according to Marilyn Hertzberg.
     The classes begin at 9:30 a.m. with a special free class for toddlers (2 1/2 through four years old) beginning at 10 a.m.

     Parents and children are welcome to visit the school, meet the teachers and students, participate in classroom activities and learn more about the religious school's educational programs.

     For enrollment, more information, or to plan a school visit here are the contacts: 
    Temple Beth Hillel is located at 801 Park Central (I-80 Hilltop Exit), Richmond 94803.