The story of the Oakland A's outsmarting the baseball world will have to live on in print, because it doesn't look like it has a life in celluloid after all. Yesterday, it was announced that the Michael Lewis book isn't about to become a Brad Pitt movie. This means that we won't get to see Art Howe, thespian either.
While city budgets are tanking around the state because of the steep recession, sales tax revenues in Berkeley actually rose this year, according to the Chron. City Manager Phil Kamlarz credited the increase to the success of the city's shopping districts, which are full of small, diverse stores that tend to soften the impact of both economic downturns and upturns. By contrast, cities that depend on a few big-box retailers tend to experience booms and busts, mirroring the fortunes of those businesses.
Some good news from Oakland. The Oakland Green Jobs Corps graduated 42 of the 45 students who enrolled in the program, providing students with skills to become solar installers, energy auditors, and carpenters in the growing green economy, according to the Chron. The City of Oakland helps fund the program, and it was the brainchild, in part, of Van Jones, who is now President Obama's adviser for green jobs.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has dropped out of the 2010 governor's race, paving the way for a head-to-head showdown between state Attorney General Jerry Brown and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom for the Democratic Party nomination. Villaraigosa announced his decision today on CNN. It followed the release of a Los Angeles Times poll that gave him a lukewarm approval rating. Villaraigosa only got a 55 percent positive rating from Los Angeles-area voters amid that city's economic struggles. In addition, Villaraigosa was only leading Brown 38 percent to 32 percent in the governor's race. The Los Angeles mayor would have needed a much bigger lead than that in his home city to overcome Brown in the rest of the state.
The demand by state Democrats for higher taxes may be a charade aimed at pleasing liberal constituencies, according to the Trib. The paper quotes an anonymous Dem, who indicated that Democratic leaders proposed the tax increases to please progressives but will ultimately give up on the idea when the governor and Republicans refuse to approve them. If true, then that finally explains why Democrats have put forward a tax increase plan that has no chance of passing.
BART unions appear to be headed for a strike, which would cripple the Bay Area's commute. According to the Chron, BART unions want more time to negotiate new contracts, but the agency's management is determined to implement cuts by July 1 and has asked Governor Schwarzenegger to not intervene. BART management wants to slash about $100 million from it labor costs, but the unions have resisted, noting that BART brass has routinely wasted money. The unions are right, of course, but BART employees also are overpaid, as is management.
Students have been cheating on tests and term papers for years. But now, they're increasingly doing it in class with cell phones and PDAs, according to the Chron. In fact, more than a third of the nation's teens say they use cell phones to improve their test scores or grades, according to a new poll. In addition, about of a quarter of students polled said that looking at stored notes on a cell phone is not cheating. That not only speaks volumes about teens today, but it says a lot about the corrupting effects of new media. It also makes one wonder why any school still allows students to bring portable electronic devices to class.
A federal judge ruled that cities have no right to stop the US military from recruiting teen-agers, according to the Chron. The decision by U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong invalidated laws passed by the Humboldt County cities of Arcata and Eureka last November. Brown ruled that federal law allowing the recruiting of teens trumps any attempts by cities, counties, or states to stop it. The case was being watched closely by other cities, who have considered adopting similar measures. Eureka and Arcata may appeal, but their chances of prevailing at this point seem remote. In fact, their only real avenue may be to convince Congress and the Obama administration to outlaw military recruiting of teens nationally.
The median home price in the Bay Area rose in May for the second straight month, raising hopes that the housing crisis may be ending. According to the Chron, the Bay Area median home price was $337,000 last month, up 9.6 percent from April. But some market experts warn that the increase in prices may actually be due to a large number of more expensive homes being sold, which would skew the median. In addition, the more expensive homes are selling at discount prices, which could indicate that the housing market remains depressed. Also, there are still lots of foreclosed properties that banks are holding off the market out of fear that if they put them up for sale, it will decrease housing prices even more.