Stories you shouldn’t miss:
1. Oakland Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente will not face drunken driving charges because prosecutors couldn’t prove he was legally drunk at the time of his arrest last month, the Trib and Chron report. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office said that De La Fuente’s blood-alcohol level rose between the time of his arrest to when he was booked at an Oakland jail, and so they couldn’t tell whether he was actually above the legal limit when pulled over by a CHP officer on Interstate 580. De La Fuente took a breathalyzer test at the scene, but such tests are unreliable.
2. UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau announced the layoff of about 150 campus managers yesterday as part of the campus’ “Operational Excellence” plan to become more efficient, the CoCo Times reports. About one-quarter of the laid-off managers made in excess of $100,000 a year. The layoffs are in addition to the 500 job cuts at the university in the past two years. The campus is expected to make many more layoffs if the state Legislature approves Governor Brown’s plan to slash $500 million from the UC system’s budget.
3. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan appointed one of the most influential union leaders in Alameda County — Sharon Cornu — to be her top aide for intergovernmental affairs, the Trib reports. Cornu led the Alameda County Labor Council has been influential in Oakland politics for many years.
4. A new study of pregnant women found alarming amounts of toxic chemicals in their bodies, the Chron reports. The study confirmed that toxics, some of which have been banned for years, have accumulated in our bodies and remain there for a long time. It also raises concerns that pregnant women are transferring the toxics to their unborn children. From the Chron: “Of the 163 chemicals studied, 43 of them were found in virtually all 268 pregnant women in the study. They included polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, a prohibited chemical linked to cancer and other health problems; organochlorine pesticides; polybrominated diphenyl ethers, banned compounds used as flame retardants; and phthalates, which are shown to cause hormone disruption.”
5. Democratic state Assembly Speaker John Perez has found a stop-gap measure that will maintain child-care subsidies for 55,000 low-income families until Governor Jerry Brown’s budget plan wins approval, the Chron reports. Governor Schwarzenegger had proposed eliminating the subsidies, but Brown’s proposal reinstates them.
6. Some Contra Costa cities are preparing to sue the county because they don’t want to help finance an $18 million property tax refund granted to Chevron, the CoCo Times reports. The cities contend that the City of Richmond should have to pay the lion’s share of the refund. Chevron was awarded the refund after it complained that its Richmond refinery property was over-valued by the county assessor.
7. And the property owner of the Oaks Theater in North Berkeley is hoping to find a new operator for the classic movie house that closed just before Christmas, the Trib reports. The theater was most recently run by a company that had planned to bring in Bollywood films, but failed to make a go of it.