California leaders are talking about a major overhaul of how state budgets are passed. It makes sense to get rid of the two-thirds majority vote for state budgets and raising taxes. But let's get serious. It's high time we overturned Prop. 13, one of the worst laws in the history of the state. Let's end the more than three-decade long experiment that has been a disaster for public schools, cities, and counties.
Are the Oakland A's headed to San Jose? That possibility was explored today in the San Jose Mercury News in the wake of the team's decision to kill its Fremont ballpark plans. Sports economist Roger Noll, one of the nation's foremost experts on stadiums, told the paper that "San Jose is probably their (the A's) last shot in the Bay Area." Noll certainly knows what he's talking about, but I just don't see the San Francisco Giants giving up their territorial rights to the South Bay.
p>The Oakland City Council made the right choice yesterday, tabling a wrongheaded ballot measure plan that sought to raise property taxes during a recession. A council committee, however, pushed forward with a plan to raise hotel-room taxes by 3 percent. Although the hotel tax is less objectionable than the property tax measure, we still think the council needs to further slash its bureacracy, starting with overinflated employee salaries. The council also smartly moved forward with a plan to roll back Measure OO.
Only the A's. Let everyone else open Spring Training today with an airing out of their ace from a long winter's rest, it would figure that the Team-that-goes-it's-own-way, would begin their first action by putting their number 5 starters to work. How can you not love a team that puts its worst foot forward?
San Francisco Chronicle officials announced this afternoon that they need to make huge cuts to their operations, or they will have to sell the paper or close permanently. The paper lost $50 million last year and is on track to lose even more this year. The once profitable operation has been hammered by the loss of classified advertising to Craigslist and the unprofitability of online journalism.
High Fives to San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano for having the guts to introduce legislation, legalizing pot in California. Smartest move a state politician has made in years. It could generate more than a $1 billion in annual tax revenues. Plus it could save us from continually wasting huge amounts of money each year, investigating pot crimes and locking people up. Plus, any serious argument that marijuana use will spiral out of control if legalized has been over for years. Even moderate Sac Bee columnist Dan Walters is for it.
Spring training starts tomorrow and we're fired up already...starters going three innings... ballplayers wearing jerseys number 83...tie games... But the stuff we're force fed about rebirth, fathers playing catch with sons pales to the much better reality of February baseball. It's about earnest effort and frequently falling short. It's about the best website celebrating that fact; so if you don't have a half hour to kill, you may want to avoid clicking onto the link below. Introducing the Cardboard Gods.
Drought conditions, despite the recent rains, are so bad that we'll need "some epic, Noah-type storms" to make a difference. That's a quote in today's Chron from the US Bureau of Reclamation. Our uneducated estimate yesterday of five or six more big storms was way off. EBMUD, which serves Berkeley, Oakland, and Alameda, tells reporter Kelly Zito that it needs 40 more inches of rain by April 1 in its Sierra watershed to come out of the drought.
Raising taxes during a recession makes almost no sense at all -- especially when the burden will fall disproportionately on middle and lower-middle income families. Can you imagine the reaction if the Obama Administration proposed raising taxes on the middle class right now. It would be a firestorm, from both the right and the left. Yet that's not stopping the Oakland City Council, which today is considering new ballot measures that would raise taxes during one of the worst economic times since the Great Depression.
If the thought of Hugh Jackman as host scared you away, Slumdog Millionaire swept the Oscars on Sunday (and Jackman put on a fine show). The low-budget film took home eight Academy Awards, including best picture and best director - thus proving that 2008 was an extraordinarily weak year for movies, with the exception of Milk, which should have won easily. At least, Sean Penn's deft portrayal of Harvey Milk got its due.