Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Must Read: Holiday Shopping off to Good Start; La Nina’s Crazy Cold Weather

By Robert Gammon
Mon, Nov 29, 2010 at 7:09 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Holiday shopping got off to a strong start over the weekend, with retail stores reporting an increase in customers and online retailers saying that sales spiked on Black Friday. The Associated Press reports that retail stores saw 2.2 percent more customers over the weekend than in 2009, raising hopes that this could be a good holiday shopping season. And online retailers said their sales jumped 16 percent on Friday compared to the day after Thanksgiving last year. Throughout the weekend, online sales rose by 14 percent over a year ago.

2. La Nina is likely the cause of the unusually cold weather in the Bay Area over the past week, the Chron reports. On Saturday morning, Oakland recorded a record low of 35 degrees. But despite the cold snap, the recent rain, and the heavy snow in the Sierra, it’s unclear whether the cooling of Pacific Ocean currents will result in a wet Northern California winter. La Nina, however, more than likely will cause drought conditions in the southern half of the state.

3. The new toll lane on Interstate 680 in the East Bay is getting mixed reviews, the Chron reports (subscription required). Transportation officials say the Sunol Grade toll lane is working as expected, but drivers say it’s made traffic worse. The toll lane allows single-occupancy vehicles to pay 30 cents to $5, depending on traffic conditions, to drive in the carpool lane.

4. Jerry Brown’s inauguration is expected to be a low-key affair, the Chron reports (subscription required). Brown’s inaugural parties during his first go-round as governor in the 1970s tended to be mellow, and the Chron notes that the Brown transition team has yet to pick a party spot or a date.

5. Kamala Harris is expected to give a victory speech tomorrow after winning the state attorney general’s race over Steve Cooley, the Chron reports. Cooley finally conceded last week after it became clear that he could not overcome Harris’ small lead. Harris becomes the first woman, African-American, and Indian-American to be California attorney general. Her victory also means that Republicans were shut out of all statewide elected offices in the 2010 election — bucking a nationwide trend.

6. Speaking of winning Democrats, East Bay Congressman Jerry McNerney won reelection over Republican David Harmer in an ultra-close race. McNerney’s victory also means that Republicans failed to pick up a single Congressional seat in California this year.

7. The complete rebuke of Republicans in California proved that the Tea Party movement that swept the country this year failed to gain traction in the state. The Republican Party has simply become too conservative for California. And political observers say that the GOP’s fervent anti-illegal immigration stance is toxic in a state with so many Latino voters, the CoCo Times reports.

8. Outgoing San Leandro mayor Tony Santos is refusing to concede defeat even though he decided not to challenge the results of the election, the Daily Review reports. Santos complains that ranked-choice voting was unfair, even though he was once a strong supporter of the new voting system. Santos got more first-place votes than challenger Stephen Cassidy did, but Cassidy won the election because he received more second-places. Cassidy will become San Leandro’s new mayor in January.

9. And Oakland Mayor-elect Jean Quan told the Tribune that she and her husband were so busy campaigning over the past year that they overlooked the parking tickets that had accumulated on the Toyota Prius she drives. Oakland police booted the car last week, but then Quan quickly got the boot removed by paying off more than $1,000 in parking tickets.

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