Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New Bay Bridge Fix to be "Very Similar" to the One that Failed

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 10:15 AM

The San Francisco Bay Bridge could be closed for days after a repair made to the span over Labor Day Weekend failed. Pieces of the repair snapped off and fell on cars last evening, forcing authorities to shut down the bridge. To fix the problem, CalTrans is proposing a "very similar" repair, according to the Chron. But that's hardly reassuring, considering that after the repairs were made last month, officials declared that "everything went perfect." BART will be running extra trains while crews scramble to fix the bridge again.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

EBMUD Lessens Chance of Mokelumne River Dam

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Oct 27, 2009 at 4:58 PM

A deeply divided East Bay MUD Board of Directors voted 4-3 today to plan for 15 percent water rationing in the future, a move that lessens the need for a controversial new dam on the Mokelumne River. "It strengthens the argument that we don't need to construct" the dam, said board member Andy Katz, a staunch opponent of the dam proposal who represents Berkeley and North Oakland.

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Is Cal's Football Program Really Losing Money?

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Oct 27, 2009 at 2:21 PM

Some UC Berkeley faculty are upset that the university spends millions each year to subsidize its athletic department at a time of academic cutbacks and rising student fees, according to the Chron. Some point to Cal football coach Jeff Tedford's $2.3 million annual salary as an example of an over-the-top expenditure. But their anger may be misdirected, because it's not at all clear whether Cal's football program requires an operating subsidy from the university, takes money away from professor salaries, or forces students to pay higher fees.

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Chronicle: Circulation Down, Revenues Up

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Oct 27, 2009 at 12:25 PM

The San Francisco Chronicle appears to be on good financial footing for the first time in years, despite reporting a huge drop in circulation in 2009 - a 25.8 percent decline for six months that ended in September, the worst among major U.S. newspapers. Company executives said they expected the circulation decline because they chose to raise home delivery subscription prices earlier this year - by about 75 percent. In fact, the paper is actually doing better financially now with fewer subscribers.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

New Police Chief Appears Open to Legal Sideshows

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Oct 26, 2009 at 10:11 AM

Oakland Police cracked down on sideshows over the weekend, after three young people were killed in a sideshow the previous week. The crackdown also came after Mayor Ron Dellums rekindled an idea to organize legal sideshows in a specific area - off of city streets. According to the Chron, new Police Chief Anthony Batts also appears open to the proposal, saying that it might be worth exploring the idea of "changing the venue to get them to go somewhere else, then they can do it where it is organized, where it's in a safe venue to do one of those things."

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True Jobless Rate Hits 21.9 Percent

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Oct 26, 2009 at 9:50 AM

California's underemployment rate reached 21.9 percent last month, the highest since the state began tracking the numbers of people who are working part time or have stopped seeking employment. The underemployment rate is increasingly recognized by economists as the true measure of joblessness and a better economic indicator than the traditional unemployment rate. According to the Chron, the state's underemployment rate includes 1.4 million part-time workers and 865,000 people who have given up hope of finding jobs, along with the 1.4 million people who are trying to find employment.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Flywheels on the Runway

by Phil Marshall
Fri, Oct 23, 2009 at 4:07 PM

It's an unavoidable issue. The peak hours of production for renewable energies aren't always aligned with the peak hours of demand. In August, Southern California Edison confirmed that they would apply for a $25 million dollar grant to construct a giant lithium-ion battery to store energy during off-peak hours. Still, the thought of a giant lithium battery humming along in the SoCal desert may rub some clean energy purists the wrong way.

The flywheel might offer an alternative. It consists of a rotor suspended by either magnetic are mechanical bearings that is accelerated at tens-of-thousands of revolutions per minute. The kinetic energy is maintained and used as a source for subsequent energy needs. The Monterey County Herald reported yesterday that Frederick Schuchardt of San Raphael based Bridgeway GenenTech and UC Berkeley researchers Seth Sanders and Hari Dharan are bidding for a $7.8 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to develop a prototype of the system.

BART Hires Alleged Torturer/Deadbeat

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Oct 23, 2009 at 10:47 AM

In a major WTF, in a week full of WTFs, the Trib reports that BART has hired Nedir Bey, a former top official for the disgraced Your Black Muslim Bakery who allegedly tortured a man and then never repaid a $1.1 million loan from the City of Oakland. The BART board of directors gave Bey's company, Solar Eclipse, half of a $1.5 million contract for lighting improvements at Twelfth Street Station in Oakland and the North Berkeley Station after Bey complained that he had been wrongly disqualified from bidding on the contract. Bey's supporters also accused BART of racism because it has a history of not hiring minority contractors.

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D.A. Effectively Calls Raiders' Assistant a Liar

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Oct 23, 2009 at 10:18 AM

Napa County prosecutor Gary Lieberstein is refusing to file charges against Raiders' head coach Tom Cable, despite the claim by team assistant Randy Hanson that Cable broke his jaw and repeatedly screamed, "I'll fucking kill you." According to the Chron, Lieberstein said Hanson kept changing his story about what happened. In addition, the prosecutor strongly implied that the other Raiders' coaches who were in the room at the time of the incident did not back up Hanson's version of events. However, Lieberstein's explanation of what likely transpired also appears to be not credible.

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Anthony Bourdain Disses Alice Waters

by Anneli Rufus
Fri, Oct 23, 2009 at 10:09 AM

Trendy chef Anthony Bourdain dissed trendy chef Alice Waters -- and trendy chef David Chang defended her during a recent talk that Chang and Bourdain gave at the NYC Wine & Food Festival.

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