Monday, July 16, 2012

Ignacio De La Fuente and Jane Brunner’s Ballot Measures Fizzle

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Jul 16, 2012 at 10:22 AM

A proposal by Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente to overturn ranked-choice voting appears to have died before it even reached the city council. De La Fuente, with the help of council President Larry Reid, had tried to put his proposal on the council’s July 17 agenda without going through the usual committee process. But the Oakland Tribune reported over the weekend that De La Fuente’s proposed measure for the November ballot was stricken from the agenda because he could not get the support of either Mayor Jean Quan or City Administrator Deanna Santana, as required by city regulations. Quan is a strong supporter of ranked choice voting, also known as instant-runoff voting, or IRV.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

New Evidence of Flame Retardant's Role In Autism

by Jennifer Wolstenholme
Fri, Jul 13, 2012 at 7:12 AM

For the first time, scientists have reported that the environment and genetics can work together to create autism-like symptoms in mice exposed in the womb to a flame retardant. According to a new study published in Human Molecular Genetics, female mice — born to mothers that are genetically more susceptible to develop autistic behaviors — were less social and had impaired memories and learning skills after their mothers were exposed to a brominated compound known as a PBDE.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Jean Quan Needs to Learn the Words "I Don't Know"

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Jul 12, 2012 at 2:35 PM

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has received a considerable amount of bad press since taking office, and a substantial part of it has been self-inflicted. The most recent example is the San Francisco Chronicle story last week that revealed that Quan had made an inaccurate statement to the Alameda County Civil Grand Jury, concerning Oakland’s badly backlogged police crime lab. Quan told grand jurors that the FBI was helping clear the backlog when it was not. And her incorrect statement reflects what has become a troublesome pattern for the mayor — asserting something publicly when she clearly doesn’t know for sure whether what she is saying is true.

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Wildfires in the West Are Only Going to Get Worse

by Tom Yulsman
Thu, Jul 12, 2012 at 7:24 AM

As the West has warmed and dried over the past thirty years, headlines describing fire season have grown ever more apocalyptic: "epic" dryness, "monster" fires, new records for damage and devastation. This year is no exception. The Waldo Canyon Fire, the most destructive fire in Colorado history, killed two people and incinerated hundreds of homes in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and every indication points to another big, early start to the wildfire season.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Guardian-Examiner Merger Creates a Brave, New, Apparently Happier World

by Rachel Swan
Tue, Jul 10, 2012 at 4:37 PM

There was a time when the division between mainstream dailies and alt weekly papers seemed as sacrosanct as the separation of church and state. So thought Tim Redmond, editor and publisher of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, which bucked that old notion in May when it merged with The San Francisco Examiner. Now that the two papers are comfortably sharing office space — but not editorial content — in San Francisco's financial district, Redmond admits the transition went even more smoothly than he'd anticipated.

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Ignacio De La Fuente Pushes Anti-Ranked-Choice-Voting Measure

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Jul 10, 2012 at 11:59 AM

Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente has long opposed ranked-choice voting. And on Tuesday, July 17, he will ask the city council to place a measure on the November ballot that would overturn the voting system. De La Fuente has contended for years that ranked-choice voting, also known as instant-runoff voting, or IRV, is a flawed process for selecting political leaders. But he has more to gain from a ballot measure than just overturning a voting system he opposes. It could also benefit him politically, and allow him to win elections that he might otherwise lose.

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Monday, July 2, 2012

The Top Five Things Oakland Could Be Spending Money on Instead of OPD's Legal Costs

by Ellen Cushing
Mon, Jul 2, 2012 at 12:21 PM

In this week's paper, intrepid reporters Darwin BondGraham and Ali Winston bring us a story about just how much money the City of Oakland spends sorting out OPD's legal costs. It's a fascinating piece and you should totally read the whole thing, but basically — spoiler alert! — it turns out that last year, the city (i.e., taxpayers) threw down a cool $13.1 mil for settlements, lawyers' fees, and various other costs related to people suing the OPD for damages (and, N.B., that that number's set to increase in the wake of several high-profile brutality cases). We all know that's a lot of money, but it's the kind of a lot of money that exists on a plane somewhere above what's comprehensible for normal, non-billionaire humans. So, in the interest of context, I found five things that would cost Oakland less than getting sued all the time:

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