Friday, July 31, 2009

Slap Hitter: Introducing (again) the Triple A's

Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 6:27 PM

The big league trading deadline passed, and with it our One Year Plan. Free agents to be Matt Holliday and Orlando Cabrera are gone, having not provided the inspirational veteran leadership or prime-time star power that was drawn up in December, so like last year, the Athletics are holding tryouts while the rest of the American League competes for some pennant thing.

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Where Once Was the Parkway Is Now an Outdoor Screen

by Nate Seltenrich
Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 5:26 PM

The Parkway hasn't gone anywhere, but it's sure as heck not showing movies. This leaves an opening in the Park St. film scene. Recognizing as much, tonight at 7:30 p.m., the Oakland Merchants' Leadership Forum will host an outdoor screening of Space Jam (the 1996 animated film starring Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny) directly across the street from the shuttered theater. The film will be preceded by live music and native dance. All you gotta provide is a blanket or lawn chair. It ain't the Parkway, but it'll have to do -- and the event should provide colorful proof of continued demand for a reopened Parkway.

Best Selling Berkeley Author Takes Sides on Downtown Signature Drive

Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 10:50 AM

Ayelet Waldman, Berkeley's own New York Times best selling author, reportedly took time out from her summer vacation to weigh in on the denser downtown controversy. Opponents of the City Council approved plan to raise height limits in Downtown Berkeley have 20 days left in their 30 day signature drive to force city officials to reconsider, or put the plan to a vote of the people.

The email forwarded by Waldman originated from Livable Berkeley's Erin Rhoades, an outspoken proponent of building the maximum amount of new housing possible in the city center. It's nothing new that Rhoades is calling on people to avoid signing onto the referendum drive.

But Waldman's intro to the email (that she received from a trusted architect) is notable in that she calls the current downtown a "monstrous blot on our city" and a "sinkhole desperate for some decent urban planning." Concluding with "I love our town, but I am so goddamn sick of the myopic vision of some of its more vocal (and colorfully-dressed) citizens."

No word yet on where Berkeley's other best selling scribes stand on the issue. To date neither Michael Lewis (Money Ball, Liar's Poker) nor Waldman's own husband, Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon, have issued statements to the press.

Eric Klein

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Bakery CEO Hugged Killers After Bailey's Murder

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 6:01 AM

Yusuf Bey IV, the former CEO of the now defunct Your Black Muslim Bakery, hugged the men who killed journalist Chauncey Bailey after they assassinated the Oakland Post editor on his orders, telling the men "I love y'all," according to the Chron, citing grand jury transcripts. Bey IV then took Devaughndre Broussard, the shooter, and Antoine Mackey, the getaway driver, out to IHOP to celebrate.

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State Deficit Will Be $15 Billion

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 5:45 AM

A major credit rating firm says California's budget deficit will grow to $15 billion because of accounting gimmicks used by state political leaders to balance the budget. According to the Chron, Moody's also criticized the state's plan to raid $1 billion from local coffers, warning that it would harm the credit ratings of city and county governments. A top Moody's official said the state's budget leaves California "poorly positioned for budgetary balance in future years."

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Progress in BART Talks

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 5:30 AM

BART management and union officials staved off a possible transit strike early today when they agreed to keep negotiating. BART management had set a deadline of midnight last night, but agreed to delay it because of progress at the bargaining table, the Chron reported. BART management wants the public employee unions to agree to $100 million in cuts to help balance the agency's budget. BART officials had said that if the unions did not agree, then they would unilaterally implement working conditions — a move that likely would prompt the unions to strike, thereby effectively shutting down the transit system.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

OPD Must Cut Another $4.3 Million

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Jul 30, 2009 at 6:00 AM

The Oakland Police Department must still slash $4.3 million from its budget, despite the cops' unions' decision to accept an $8.5 million cut in compensation, according to the Trib. Acting Police Chief Howard Jordan told the newspaper that he has a plan for how to make the cuts, but refused to disclose it publicly. The cuts more than likely will not involve layoffs, but could include mandatory unpaid days off — often referred to as furlough days — for police officers. The cuts are needed to help balance the city's budget.

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BART Strike This Weekend?

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Jul 30, 2009 at 5:50 AM

BART officials may impose work conditions tomorrow on unionized employees, in a move that could trigger a debilitating transit strike. According to the Chron, BART management has given unions until the end of today to reach an agreement that would slash $100 million from employee compensation. BART managers want to cut overtime and require workers to shoulder more of their health-care costs. But if unions refuse, then management says it plans to impose those conditions unilaterally. If that happens, then the unions may go on strike, effectively shutting down the transit system. BART workers have been unwilling to make significant concessions during the current recession unlike other unionized employees throughout the region.

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State Parks to Have Corporate Sponsors?

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Jul 30, 2009 at 5:40 AM

California state parks officials and nonprofit groups are considering corporate sponsorships of state parks in the wake of the governor's decision to slash another $6.2 million from the state parks' budget, according to the Los Angeles Times. The governor's last-minute cuts could result in the closure of up to 100 state parks — unless officials can find another revenue source to keep them open. "For example, if Budweiser came forward with money for Malibu Beach State Park, we wouldn't change the name to Budweiser Beach," state parks spokesman Roy Stearns told the Times. "But why not put up a banner saying, 'This park is kept open by Budweiser' for as long as they continue helping us?"

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Potential Parkway Operator Reopens Vintage Theater in Pennsylvania

by Nate Seltenrich
Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 3:38 PM

A group of Midwest investors known collectively as Motion Picture Heritage Corporation -- who are currently in talks with the City of Oakland to resurrect the shuttered Parkway Theater -- proved their mettle last month by helping to reopen a vintage theater in Dormont, Pennsylvania, just outside Pittsburgh. According to an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the renovated Hollywood Theater, originally constructed in 1933, opened in 2007 only to close again in 2008. That's when the Franklin, Indiana-based Motion Picture Heritage stepped in. A deal was struck whereby MPH would sublet the theater and develop a broad array of programming including a midnight horror series and Friday night concerts. According to the June 25 story, the Hollywood is set to reopen on Aug. 1. Hopefully this means MPH, which also recently renovated and reopened an old drive-in in Shelbyville, Indiana, can work its magic on the Parkway.

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