Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Court: Chevron Richmond Expansion Is Illegal

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Apr 27, 2010 at 12:25 PM

For more than two years, Chevron maintained that East Bay environmentalists had filed a frivolous lawsuit against the oil company’s planned Richmond refinery expansion. Chevron even blamed environmentalists for allegedly costing the region much-needed jobs and hinted that it might shut down the Richmond facility if it didn’t get its way. But yesterday, the California First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco said the environmentalists had been right all along. Chevron's expansion plans, the court said, violated California environmental law.

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Tuesday Must Read

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Apr 27, 2010 at 11:08 AM

Stories that you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland Tribune and the Contra Costa Times are now editions of the San Jose Mercury News, the Merc reports. The papers will keep their individual names, but will be combined as a package of the Mercury News for advertising purposes. MediaNews, the owner of the papers, hopes that combining them will result in more ad sales at higher rates. The move also makes the Mercury News the sixth largest Sunday paper in the country with a circulation of 549,024. And it’s now the eighth largest weekday newspaper with a daily circulation of 516,701. According to the Merc, combined circulation of the papers decreased 5.4 percent on weekdays and 3.1 percent on Sundays compared to last year.

2. The San Francisco Chronicle, meanwhile, experienced another huge drop in circulation because of the paper’s decision to dramatically increase subscription prices in 2009. Although the paper now has fewer subscribers, it actually earns more money because of the higher rates. The move also changes the paper’s business model so that it now depends more on subscriber revenue and less on advertising than before. The Chron’s daily circulation dropped 22.7 percent from 312,118 to 241,330. The Wall Street Journal was the only major paper to show a circulation increase, rising 0.5 percent.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Films from the Express' 24-Hour Digital Film Festival

by Kathleen Richards
Mon, Apr 26, 2010 at 12:52 PM

Last week, the Express held its annual 24-Hour Film Festival. Seven teams were challenged to make a film of up to five and a half minutes in 24 hours. Each team was given a basic scenario, nine props in which to choose six, and a line of dialogue selected at random that could be spoken or visually displayed.

Screenings and judging of the films took place on Earth Day, April 22, at Chabot Space & Science Center. Judges included Peter Sahaidachny, Ex'pression College of Digital Arts; Eric Havel, Chabot Space & Science Center; and Stephen Buel, East Bay Express.

Thanks to all who participated. Here are the results:

First Place: Team 4: Yak, Golly the Rainmaker
2nd Place (Tie): Team 6: The Visible Theater, EBX-2087
Team 1: Dirt Factory, Our Future Is Today

About the festival:

And the film festival's winner!

Team 4: Yak, "Golly the Rainmaker."
Film by Yoram Savion, Ben Tarquin, Kash Gains, Javier Ochoa, Denise Wallice, and Daniel Fragiadakis.

More films after the jump:

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Monday Must Read

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Apr 26, 2010 at 10:41 AM

Stories from today and over the weekend that you shouldn’t miss:

1. Jerry Brown’s attempts to pounce on Meg Whitman’s ties to Goldman Sachs may backfire, because he has some ties of his own. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Brown mayoral administration renegotiated an “interest-rate swap” with Goldman Sachs that is now costing the cash-strapped City of Oakland $5 million a year. Goldman Sachs has come to epitomize Wall Street greed, particularly following the Securities and Exchange Commission’s decision to sue the firm for fraud.

2. The Berkeley school board approved a compromise plan that cuts fewer science teacher positions than previously proposed and uses the money to help struggling students. The compromise plan slashes three teacher positions and saves college prep science labs that had been on the chopping block, the Berkeley Voice reports.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Must Read

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Apr 23, 2010 at 11:02 AM

Today’s stories that you shouldn’t miss:

1. Oakland schools will remain open during the one-day teacher’s strike on April 29, the Chron reports. The school district plans to staff classrooms with substitutes. The teachers’ union is holding a one-day walkout to protest the school board’s decision to unilaterally implement a contract that includes no raises. The cash-strapped district is facing another $37 million in budget cuts because of the economy and has no money available to meet the union’s demands for a 15 percent raise over three years. The Trib’s editorial page also praised the school board today for its stance against the teachers’ union, noting that raises could return the district to insolvency.

2. County prosecutors decided not to file hate crime charges against the two young black men who brutally attacked and killed a 59-year-old Asian father last Friday. The Chron reports that prosecutors said that there’s no evidence that the two assailants attacked Tiansheng Yu and his son because of their ethnicity. Prosecutors said the attackers, Lavonte Drummer and Dominic Davis, were motivated by rage and likely would have assaulted anyone who they came in contact with.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Victims’ Lawyers Call USA Swimming’s Plan to Fight Sex Abuse “Flawed” and “Vague”

by Kathleen Richards
Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 3:46 PM

Responding to a report yesterday that USA Swimming has unveiled a seven-point plan to address sex abuse by its swim coaches, three lawyers representing three alleged victims of abuse say that they’re concerned the plan is “flawed because it does not meet sexual misconduct prevention criteria....” They also called the plan “vague,” said it was thrown together “for public relations purposes,” and “does not truly address the issue and does not prevent or minimize the risk of sexual misconduct and sexual abuse directed toward young female swimmers by USA Swimming swim coaches.”

According to the statement released by USA Swimming yesterday, their plan includes: disseminating guidelines addressing acceptable coach behavior, enhancing the system for reporting abuse, reviewing the organization’s code of conduct and comparing it to other youth organizations, reviewing USA Swimming’s background screening program, increasing communication with member clubs, and educating parents and coaches about the issue, among others. As we reported earlier, USA Swimming’s background check policy was only instituted in 2006, long after coaches like Andrew King had been abusing swimmers for years. King was a longtime swim coach in the Bay Area who was sentenced to forty years in prison in January for child molestation charges dating back to 1978. USA Swimming’s policy wouldn’t have flagged King anyway, since he had never been convicted or charged with a crime until recently, although there were criminal investigations into his misconduct. Officials with USA Swimming have said that some 36 coaches have been suspended in a ten-year period for sexually abusing their swimmers.

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Brown Retakes Lead Over Whitman

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 11:36 AM

State Attorney General Jerry Brown has retaken his lead over GOP candidate Meg Whitman in the newest Rasmussen Poll. The former Oakland mayor leads the ex-eBay CEO 44 percent to 38 percent. The poll results are significant because Rasmussen is generally considered to be a right-leaning poll. Whitman’s plunge could be the result of recent reports of her extensive ties to Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street giant sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission for fraud.

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Thursday Must Read

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 10:09 AM

Today’s stories that you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland school board voted unanimously last night to unilaterally implement a teachers’ contract that includes no raises, the Trib reports. The board noted that the cash-strapped school district is facing a $37 million deficit next year and the teachers’ demands for a raise could push the district back into insolvency. The teachers’ union likely will strike over the issue on April 29.

2. State Attorney General Jerry Brown has promised to post his last ten years of tax returns on his website by May 5, the Mercury News reports. But so far, ultra-wealthy Republican gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner have refused to follow suit.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Free Lunch if You're Innocent

by Anneli Rufus
Wed, Apr 21, 2010 at 3:01 PM

If you're declared innocent in Walnut Creek Superior Court anytime next month — hey, it could happen — bring your court summons and proof-of-innocence documents to Walnut Creek's East Bay Buttercup Grill & Bar to receive a free lunch.

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Oakland Keeps Campaign Donation Limits

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Apr 21, 2010 at 11:46 AM

A proposal to raise Oakland’s campaign contribution limits from $700 to $1,000 was defeated last night when it failed to earn enough votes. The proposal, which also would have raised the donation limits for PACs from $1,300 to $1,600, needed five votes to pass, but it only garnered three. Voting for the measure was council President Jane Brunner and council members Ignacio De La Fuente and Larry Reid. Council members Rebecca Kaplan, Pat Kernighan, Nancy Nadel, and Jean Quan all voted no. Councilwoman Desley Brooks was absent.

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