Oakland Vice Mayor Ignacio De La Fuente plans to vote for the rollback of parking meter hours to 6 p.m., according to the Chron. De La Fuente's decision will thereby provide enough votes to get the measure passed. De La Fuente was absent from last week's council meeting when his colleagues could only come up with four votes, leaving the measure one vote shy of passing. In addition, Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan also appears to be ready to vote for the rollback, telling the Chron that the city should maybe also rollback the parking-ticket fine increase "as a good will measure." Last week, Kaplan abstained on the meter-hours rollback. The council's decision in June to extend meter hours, raising parking rates, and increase ticket prices prompted a strong backlash from Oakland retailers and consumers.
California GOP leaders think they have a shot at winning a statewide election next year. According to the Chron, Republicans are particularly excited about the prospects of wealthy candidates Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner, who are running for governor, and Carly Fiorina, who is preparing a campaign for the US Senate. The state GOP optimism follows predictions by the pundit class who see large Republican gains in next year's national election. The pundits point to Obama's allegedly shrinking poll numbers and the supposed opposition to health-care reform. But are the pundits and Republicans right? Are California and the country about to embrace the party of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Tea Baggers, and gun-toting racists? It's possible, but is it likely?
The California Air Resources took the historic step of levying new state fees on companies that produce large amounts of greenhouse gases. According to the Chron, the effective carbon tax will raise about $63 million next year for monitoring and regulating greenhouse-gas emissions. The fees likely will be passed onto consumers, thereby raising utility bills. As a result, the new tax will mean that California for the first time will begin putting a cost on the potentially devastating effects of burning natural gas and coal, and thus will encourage consumers to use less energy. But while $63 million is a good start, it's still a long way from being an accurate assessment on the effects of burning fossil fuels.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has decided to gut state parks rather than shutter them, apparently realizing that the closure of more than 100 parks threatened to destroy his legacy. According to the Chron, the governor slashed $14.2 million from the state parks budget by closing some campgrounds and facilities on weekdays, eliminating unfilled positions, and cutting maintenance, including bathroom cleaning. In other words, the parks are about to get whole lot dirtier, even though they already had $1.2 billion in deferred maintenance costs. Plus, the cuts mean there may not be enough people to operate the parks. "He's functionally closing parks but trying not to face the heat of closing parks," explained state Democratic Assemblyman Jared Huffman of San Rafael.
Hey sports fans, did you know that the Ladies Professional Golf Association is hosting a tournament today in Danville? Did you know that many of the top women golfers in the world are right here, that one of the co-leaders is sporting a San Francisco Giants cap while playing? You've got to figure that the Voice of the West, the San Francisco Chronicle, would send a writer out to cover the event. But why use a staff writer (or intern) when you have Associated Press coverage that would have you believe the tournament is taking place in Danbury, Connecticut. Shameful.
At a Commonwealth Club Meeting in San Francisco, the New York Times reports that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger strictly enforces the five-minute shower rule at his house.
In October 2008 Google reached a settlement proposal with a group of authors and publishers who sued the internet giant for freely distributing up to 3 short passages from over ten million different books from various libraries. Now, a New York Judge postponed an October 7 hearing, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Judge cited that the plaintiffs would probably make substantial amendments to the settlement proposed by Google, and changes could not possibly be made to the 300 page document in the short amount of time until October 7.
Google's settlement offered to charge fees for the download and use of copyrighted books which would be paid to the owner of the works, but Google was also happy to include a provision keeping fees charged for publications without clear owners, rather than continuing to provide those for free. Antitrust issues have also been brought up in the delay of the settlement hearing. A blog started by members of UC Berkeley's School of Information, and Boalt Law School called the Google Books Case the number one most important pending cyberlaw case today, with Warrantless Wiretapping Cases coming in second, and to my surprise, File Sharing cases coming in a distant sixth. Sorry amature Cyberlaw geeks, the subtle Napster or Kazaa reference is officially démodé.
Reuters, the San Francisco Chronicle, CBS, ABC and other major media outlets descended on the 38th-Annual NORML convention this afternoon for a press conference by leading Oakland drug law reformer Richard Lee. Rich Lee's Tax and Regulate Cannabis 2010 ballot initiative begins gathering more than a half a million signatures today to qualify for the November 2010 ballot. TaxCann2010 will legalize personal possession of small amount of cannabis and create a regulatory framework for commercial sales, similar to alcohol.
UC Berkeley's journalism school is teaming up with a wealthy San Francisco financier and KQED radio to create a non-profit news website, according to the New York Times. But the venture also threatens traditional news media in the Bay Area, because it will rely on 120 journalism students at Cal who will work for free. The massive free-labor workforce will give the new venture a huge advantage over established Bay Area media organizations that depend on paid, veteran journalists to gather and put together news stories.
A new United Nations environmental report says that climate change is worsening at a much faster pace than previously thought and predicts that global temperatures will jump by at least 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, according to the Washington Post. In addition, the startling prediction, which if accurate, would mean a six-foot rise in sea levels by 2100, is also a best-case scenario. The report's authors based their estimate on the United States and Europe meeting their goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 73 percent and 80 percent, respectively, by 2050 - benchmarks that while laudable, will require tremendous political effort to achieve.