Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Must Read: More on the MTC Deal; Solar Jobs Are Booming in California

By Ellen Cushing
Mon, Oct 17, 2011 at 7:17 AM

Good morning, East Bay. Here are the stories you shouldn't miss:

1. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission's widely-criticized deal to buy new office space in San Francisco — at a $33 million markup and with public money, mind you — went down in just 24 hours, according to Matier and Ross this morning. MTC's board voted last week to go ahead with a plan to move into the former post office building at 390 Main Street for an estimated $137 million — a move which many argue is an irresponsible use of public funds. The cost of buying and renovating the building — which a group of investors bought in 2009 for $60 million but which is being sold to the MTC for $93 million, and which will require an estimated $75 million in upgrades — plus the deal's quick turnaround has some people suspicious: "I'm fairly confident that the audit will find out that there is something more going on here than meets the eye, which is why I think they did it so fast," state Senator (and Transportation and Housing Committee chair) Mark DeSaulnier told M&R.

2. California is swiftly becoming a solar-jobs capital, according to the 2011 National Solar Jobs Census, as summarized by the LA Times today. The study, commissioned by industry advocate The Solar Foundation, found that about a quarter — 25,575 of 100,237 — of the nation's solar-industry jobs are located in California, making us the leading state for solar jobs. And at the same time, national solar-industry employment has increased about 6.8 percent in the past twelve months, even as the overall employment rate has only grown about 1 percent. (The study was done for the month of August, so presumably it includes the 1,100 or so Solyndra employees who were laid off when the company filed for bankruptcy on August 31.)

3. A new study finds that California's education spending has reached new lows, according to California Watch. The study, by the California Budget Project, reveals that the state now ranks 46th in the country for K-12 spending, with nearly $3,000 less per student than the national average.

4. Voting officially begins today in Oakland's mail-only special election. Ballots must be received by the registrar of voters no later than 8 p.m. November 15, so don't worry, slackers: you still have two weeks to register. Do it here.

5. Apple sold a staggering four million iPhone 4Ses in the first three days after the phone's release, according to the Merc. That's more than double the number of iPhone 4s sold in the same span of time last summer (though that was before the Verizon iPhone).

6. And finally, the Raiders beat the Browns 24-17 in their first home game since the death of Al Davis.

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