Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tuesday Must Read: Labor to Fight Quan Recall; Council Pushes for Tougher Response to Occupy Oakland

By Robert Gammon
Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 6:59 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Alameda County labor leaders vowed yesterday to help Oakland Mayor Jean Quan fight the recall campaign, the Trib and Bay City News reports. Josie Camacho, executive director of the Alameda County Labor Council, which represents 120 unions with 120,000 members, called the recall “a waste of time and a waste of resources.” Camacho and other labor leaders said Quan does not deserve to be recalled from office and that union members will be working with mayor’s supporters to fend off the recall.

2. The Oakland City Attorney’s Office, meanwhile, said that it’s legal to have two recall campaigns operating at the same time, although only the first recall petition to gather the required 19,000 signatures will be honored, the Trib reports. The second recall effort, which is being pushed by a splinter group of the original recall campaign, said it expects to be certified to collect signatures by January 1.

3. Many supporters of Occupy Oakland want Quan recalled as well because of her decision to twice order police raids on the City Hall encampment, but members of the Oakland City Council continue to argue that Quan hasn’t been tough enough against the Occupy protests. The Chron reports that the council is pushing forward with a plan tonight that would order the city administrator and the police department to use greater force to quell Occupy demonstrations. The councilmembers, who have repeatedly criticized Quan for not cracking down harder on Occupy, are particularly angry about the December 12 blockade of the Port of Oakland.

4. The East Bay cop who played a central role in the Dirty DUI scandal accepted cocaine and a gun in exchange for arresting husbands who had been coaxed to drink by women working for a private investigator, according to a criminal indictment, the Chron reports. The indictment states that Stephen Tanabe, an ex-Contra Costa County deputy sheriff, received the coke and gun from private investigator Christopher Butler, who had been hired by women involved in divorce, child custody, or family disputes. Butler would then pay beautiful women to entrap the husbands and get them to drink at bars and Tanabe would arrest them for DUI.

5. A consumer group alleges that Mercury Insurance is attempting to illegally raise auto insurance rates to pay for its failed 2010 ballot measure campaign, the SacBee reports. The group, Consumer Watchdog, notes that Mercury Insurance spent $16 million on Prop 17, a measure that would have allowed it to charge higher rates to low-income motorists, and has already spent $8 million on a similar proposition for 2012. At the same time, the insurance company is asking state regulators to approve a 6 percent rate increase that would cost drivers an extra $89 million. It’s unlawful for insurance companies to pass on the costs of political campaigns to their customers.

6. As controversy surrounding PG&E’s SmartMeters grows, the utility has announced that it will allow customers to keep their old, analog meters — for a price, the Mercury News and Chron report. Previously, PG&E had offered to allow customers to receive a digital meter that doesn’t transmit electromagnetic signals if they didn't want a SmartMeter. But SmartMeter opponents contend that these replacement meters still pose health risks. People who want to keep their old analog meters, however, will have to pay an upfront fee and a monthly penalty.

7. And in a dramatic turnaround from last year’s epic winter, this holiday season in the Sierra may have almost no snow for skiing and snowboarding, the Mercury News reports.

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