Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Must Read

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 7:04 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland City Council put off voting on a package of November tax measures until Monday night. And after five-hour-plus council meeting last night, it’s unclear how the council will vote. Some councilmembers expressed reluctant support for a $50 million annual parcel tax that would avoid more police cuts, while others said they would oppose such a tax until the cops’ union abandons its demand for no layoffs in exchange for contributing to pensions. The council also appears divided on how much tax to impose on medical cannabis dispensaries and the new large pot farms. The one thing the council did appear to agree on is a ballot proposal to “fix” Measure Y so the city could start collecting the $20 million annual parcel tax again without having to maintain a minimum number of cops. The measure also would allow the city to redeploy officers to community policing positions.

2. Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts, meanwhile, announced that he is seeking help from numerous federal law enforcement agencies to fight crime in the city, the Trib reports. Batts is asking for assistance from the US Attorney’s Office, along with the FBI, the DEA, the ATF, and ICE.

3. AC Transit bus drivers continued their sickout for the fourth day on Thursday to protest a new cost-cutting contract imposed by management on Sunday, the Trib reports. About 20 percent of drivers have missed work each day this week, thereby slowing down bus service and inconveniencing passengers.

4. BART’s controversial plan for a $500 million tramway to Oakland airport is back on track after an 8-1 vote by the agency’s board of directors yesterday, the Chron reports. The board decided to raid the agency’s reserves and borrow millions to finance the airport connector. The funds will replace the $70 million withheld earlier this year by federal officials after they discovered that BART had violated the civil rights of East Bay minority residents.

5. San Jose residents would vote in November on a new Oakland A's ballpark in their city under a proposal by Mayor Chuck Reed, the Mercury News reports. Reed apparently made the proposal after Major League Baseball indicated that it would not greenlight the A’s planned move to San Jose without voter approval.

6. And profits at Safeway stores have plummeted more than 40 percent because of the East Bay supermarket chain’s decision to slash grocery prices across the board, the CoCo Times reports.

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