Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Baffling 2010 Census Boycott

by Phil Marshall
Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 12:06 PM

For the first time, the decennial census will be distributed in the two languages to 13.5 million households in predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhoods…Latino advocates hope the forms will lead to a more accurate count by winning over the trust of immigrants who are often wary of government and may be even more fearful after the recent surge in immigration raids and deportations — Associated Press. The bilingual forms could have big implications for California which has one of the largest Spanish speaking populations in the United States . The US Census Bureau estimates that one-in-five California residents over the age of five spoke English less than "very well," and that one-in-five speak Spanish at home.

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Berkeley Joins the United Nations

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 11:29 AM

The Republic of Berkeley became the first city in the nation, and possibly the world, to agree to abide by international human rights treaties and report directly to the United Nations. According to the Chron, the city council unanimously approved the unprecedented move last night. Now the question is - can Berkeley actually live up to the treaties, considering that UC Berkeley continues to allow John Yoo, the architect of the nation's torture regime, to teach law school?

Is Jerry Brown Worried About Bill Clinton?

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 11:10 AM

State Attorney General Jerry Brown can begin raising big bucks now that he has launched an exploratory run for governor. According to the Contra Costa Times, the former Oakland mayor can now accept contributions of up to $25,900 as a candidate for governor -- a huge increase over the $6,500 maximum he faced as attorney general. Some political observers think Brown may have made the move because former President Bill Clinton endorsed San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom recently, thereby possibly providing a boost to Newsom's fund-raising abilities. But a Brown aide said he also needed to combat the deep-pocketed Republican hopefuls in the race. Both Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner are expected to have huge war chests for next year's election.

Alleged Whistleblower Isn't Fired

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 10:50 AM

The Peralta Community College District board of directors decided not to fire an employee whom Chancellor Elihu Harris apparently believed leaked damning information about him to the press. According to the Contra Costa Times, the board chose instead to suspend Jennifer Lenahan for two weeks without pay and ordered her transferred to a different department. Lenahan was an assistant to Peralta's financial chief Tom Smith, and had been accused of leaking information about Harris to the Times. In July, the Times and its sister paper, the Oakland Tribune, published a series of stories that exposed questionable decisions by Harris, including steering a lucrative contract to his longtime business partner. After the stories came out, Harris and other administrators tried to fire Lenahan, but the board last night refused to go along with her termination.

Vice Mayor Says He Used Campaign Cash to Pay Mortgage

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 10:29 AM

Emeryville Vice Mayor Ken Bukowski, who is facing a $15,500 fine for violating state campaign finance laws, said he raided his campaign account to pay his mortgage, according to the Chron and the Trib. But while Bukowski admitted that he broke state law, he said he believes the fine from the state Fair Political Practices Commission is too "steep." "I will repay the money," he said of the $2,300 he took from his campaign account to pay his mortgage, "but I have financial difficulties right now."

BART Slammed in New Report

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 10:22 AM

A new report on the BART Police Department strongly criticizes the agency for ineffective oversight and discipline of officers. According to the Chron, the 303-page report by the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives also recommends that BART cops should get out of their cars and start riding trains. The report also critiques the agency's "positive discipline" policy, which sounds like it's more befitting of kindergartners than cops. Under the policy, problem BART officers are given oral and written "reminders," instead of actual discipline.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Elihu Harris Goes Wild

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Sep 29, 2009 at 10:57 AM

Peralta Community College District Chancellor Elihu Harris is trying to fire a woman whom he believes fed damning information about him to the Contra Costa Times. According to the Times, the Peralta board of trustees will decide tonight in a closed-door meeting whether to go along with the termination of Jennifer Lenahan, an assistant to the district's financial chief Tom Smith. The Times and its sister paper, the Oakland Tribune, published a series of eye-popping stories in July, exposing several questionable moves by Harris over the past few years, including steering a lucrative no-bid contract to his longtime business partner.

Jerry Leads Republicans, but Gavin Doesn't

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Sep 29, 2009 at 10:41 AM

State Attorney General Jerry Brown has a comfortable lead over each of the three leading Republican candidates for governor, according to a new Rasmussen poll. However, the other top Democratic candidate in the race, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, trails all three GOP hopefuls by at least four percentage points, according to the poll. Newsom's problem is that he has the highest unfavorable ratings of the five leading candidates, possibly because of his aggressive stance on same-sex marriage.

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East Bay Politician Gets Fined

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Sep 29, 2009 at 10:01 AM

The state Fair Political Practices Commission has fined Emeryville Vice Mayor Ken Bukowski $15,500 for violating California campaign finance rules. According to the Trib, the FPPC concluded that Bukowski used campaign funds for personal use. In 2008, he wrote checks totaling $2,300 to himself from his campaign account, and another $1,340 were made out to "cash." It is illegal for a politician to use campaign donations to enrich himself.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Hotel Shattuck Plaza Reopens, for Real

by Anneli Rufus
Mon, Sep 28, 2009 at 12:49 PM

Those searchlights you might have seen sweeping back and forth across the East Bay skies on Saturday night started in front of Berkeley's Hotel Shattuck Plaza, where a grand-reopening gala featured stilt-walkers and glittery cupcakes and enormous prawns.

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