California is facing a new financial crisis, as the projected budget deficit for next year has now ballooned to $20.7 billion, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office. The news comes just four months after the governor and legislative leaders slashed $24 billion from this year's budget. And according to the Chron, Governor Schwarzenegger is against raising tax increases to help solve the new crisis, which is being caused primarily by declining revenues because of the recession.
The California Energy Commission has ordered the television industry to drastically reduce the amount of electricity that new TVs consume, the Chron reports. The new rules require that flat-panel TVs, which suck up huge amounts of electricity, become one-third more energy efficient by 2011, and 50 percent more efficient by 2013. Television manufacturers claim the new rules could result in higher TV prices and job losses.
Despite loud complaints from residents of the bucolic Berkeley hills, the city council unanimously agreed to relax noise limits for downtown nightclubs, the Chron reports. The council is determined to help the city's burgeoning downtown scene come to life, especially with the planned opening of a major new venue at the old UC Theatre. The council also thankfully ignored the many complaints by the Panoramic Hills Association, who claimed that all the noise from the downtown clubs would interfere with their sleep.
The Oakland Raiders have agreed to remain at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum through the 2013 season, according to the Bay Area News Group. The team's lease had been set to expire at the end of next season. Under the extension, the Raiders would pay Oakland and Alameda County $5 million, along with their annual $525,000 rent. The extension also includes an opt-out clause that would allow the team to leave Alameda County before 2013 - as long it pays the $5 million.
Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums admitted last night that he failed to report a trip to South Africa as a gift on his statement of economic interests, even though it was paid for by the South African government. The mayor told the Trib that when he originally filled out his disclosure forms, he mistakenly thought he didn't have to report the travel as a gift because it was paid by another government.
Early childhood education advocates are gearing up to oppose ex-state Senator Don Perata's $1 tobacco tax because it would siphon much-needed funds from kids' programs, the Trib reports. A previous statewide tax initiative sponsored by Hollywood director Rob Reiner had earmarked funds for the kids' programs, but Perata's new hefty tax will likely depress cigarette sales, thereby resulting in less tax revenue for early childhood education.
The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum board has joined the City of Oakland's effort to bring World Cup soccer to the East Bay, the Trib reports. The city wants to host soccer matches at the Coliseum if the United States should host the wildly popular worldwide tournament in 2018 or 20022. Oakland is one of 27 cities under consideration by the USA soccer committee, which is expected to narrow the list to eighteen cities by year's end. The international soccer federation will select the host nations for both 2018 and 2022 in December 2010.
Up to 1,000 independent truckers at the Port of Oakland will be out of work by January 1 because of the port's new ban on older, dirty diesel trucks. The truckers had hoped to receive public funding to buy new trucks or retrofit their existing ones, but the Bay Area Air Quality Management District ran out of money, the Trib reports.
County prosecutors have charged child-killer Curtis Martin III with murdering a 17-month-old boy and then his mother to keep her quiet. According to the Chron and the Trib, Martin was arraigned on multiple murder charges with special circumstances yesterday that could result in the death penalty.
California's public colleges and universities used to be the envy of the nation. For a half-century, they provided an excellent education at an affordable price. But not any longer. The California State University system is raising student fees through the roof, and this week, the UC Board of Regents plans to increase them by a whopping 32 percent. It also plans to break its own long-standing promise of making sure that graduate programs are priced competitively with other public universities.