A new poll out of San Jose appears to show strong support for the Oakland A’s planned moved to the South Bay. But on closer reading, the wording of the poll suggests that it was designed to produce the results it got. According to the Mercury News, the poll shows that 62 percent of San Jose residents would favor giving the Oakland A’s public property for a new stadium as long as taxes aren’t raised. But the poll apparently didn’t inform respondents that San Jose will have to give the A’s more than just free land in the deal, thereby making the poll’s results highly questionable and punching a large hole in any claim that it proves that San Jose residents would vote in favor of the A’s moving to their city.
Cal State Stanislaus is exploiting a loophole in state law to keep secret the amount of money it’s paying Sarah Palin to deliver the keynote address at its 50th Anniversary in June. The ex-governor of Alaska typically charges more than $100,000 for speaking engagements. And public institutions normally have to disclose how they spend public funds. But a loophole in the law is allowing the public university in Turlock, just south of Modesto, to keep its deal with Palin under wraps. The Chron and the CoCo Times report that Palin’s contract for the speaking engagement requires that her fee not be disclosed.
The City of Berkeley is considering charging property owners for curbside recycling in an effort to close a large budget deficit, the Chron reports. As the paper previously noted, Berkeley trash collection revenues have declined in recent years in part because residents are recycling more. The city has traditionally charged homeowners by the size of their garbage cans, and because more residents have switched to smaller cans, Berkeley is taking in fewer collection fees. Nonetheless, a new recycling fee could backfire.
The City of Oakland is considering a much-needed parcel tax that would both help pay for police and fire services and lower a projected $43 million budget deficit next year, the Trib and Chron report. The tax, if the council puts it on the November ballot, would generate about $18 million annually for the city. The money would not be used to hire new police officers and firefighters. Instead, instead it would pay for existing services and help solve an ongoing debt problem caused by declining revenues due to the recession.
Facing a $30 million budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, the Oakland City Council will likely make some tough choices next week during its midcycle budget review process. One of the most severe is a proposed 50 percent reduction to the city’s Cultural Funding Program.
The Cultural Funding Program provides about $1 million in grants annually to arts organizations and artists, funding individual art projects, organizations’ operations, and arts education in the schools. Some of the city’s biggest arts and cultural institutions receive grants through the program, which is funded by the general fund.
And if the proposed 50 percent cuts are approved, it will undoubtedly put a strain on an already-strained arts community. “I don’t know what they’re thinking,” said Margo Dunlap, chair and co-founder of the Oakland Cultural Trust, an association of Oakland art organizations and artists, and executive director of Pro Arts, which receives funding through the program. “This is a time for trimming the budget, not for eliminating infrastructure. A 50-percent cut is one stroke from eliminating the entire program.”
Even though medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, state law still allows employers to fire their workers if they use it, the Sacramento Bee reports. According to a Supreme Court ruling, employers can also fire their workers if they use medical pot on their own time or at home — and even if cannabis improves their ability to work because it alleviates pain or nausea.
Mayor Ron Dellums has yet to receive credit for it, but serious crime has been plummeting in Oakland for more than a year now. According to the Chron, March will mark the fifteenth straight month of declines. The Trib reports that serious crime is down across the board. This year, homicides are down 26 percent, aggravated assaults have dropped 31 percent, rapes have plummeted 45 percent, robberies are down 27 percent, and thefts have decreased by 38 percent.
Nominees have just been announced for the 29th Annual Northern California Book Awards, and works by East Bay authors figure prominently among them ... of course.
California agricultural officials have decided to abandon plans to restart their controversial aerial spraying program for the light brown apple moth, the Marin Independent Journal reports. But while environmentalists are embracing the news, they’re still concerned about the state Agriculture Department’s plans to use pesticide “ground spray” and cover trees and shrubs with pesticide-laced “twist ties” on both public and private property in areas where the moth has been found.