Thursday, December 31, 2009

Deadline for West Oakland Truckers Tomorrow

by Chris Thompson
Thu, Dec 31, 2009 at 11:44 AM

When the California Air Resources Board ordered that diesel trucks install filters to reduce emissions in 2007, it gave truckers three years to find up to $21,000 and upgrade their trucks. In addition, the board set up a $22 million fund to help truckers with the expense. But starting tomorrow, that deadline expires, and some 1,200 independent truckers will be banned from hauling freight to and from the Port of Oakland. According to the Oakland Tribune, a number of these truckers have sued to overturn the ban, alleging that the grant program was confusing and may have hurt their chances to retrofit their trucks. The plaintiffs are also asking the court to let their unfiltered trucks operate while the case is being resolved.

Cal Grad Is Changing Hawaii's History - With Chocolate

by Anneli Rufus
Thu, Dec 31, 2009 at 11:29 AM

On eighteen acres hugging Oahu's north shore — a region better known for its incomparable surf — a UC Berkeley graduate is doing his part to rescue Hawaiian agriculture.

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More Flak from Proposed Berkeley Science Ban

by Chris Thompson
Thu, Dec 31, 2009 at 11:10 AM

Berkeley's reputation as a nest of goofy PC nonsense is being revived around the country, thanks to the unbelievably stupid proposal to end science labs at the high school and redirect the funds toward remedial education. Now, the tabloid conservative press has gotten of the story, and it's red meat to their readers. Here's Gregory Kane of the Examiner chain: "What do you expect in Berkeley, people?" Here's Town Hall's LaShawn Barber on Berkeley's achievement gap: "A logical response might be to beef up science programs in government schools, but logic is hard to come by in skin-deep-only-diversity-obsessed bureaucracies." And of course, it's hit the talk radio circuit. We tend to think that Berkeley's reputation as a den of hippies is hopelessly out of date; the city's defined more by liberal white-collar professionals these days, and few things grate on us more than lazy writers reaching for an obsolete stereotype in lieu of looking at the city as it really is. But then Berkeley goes and does something like this. And presto, we're back to hearing jokes about Jerry Garcia and flower power. We're officially annoyed now.

State Cool With Oakland Airport Bird Slaughter

by Chris Thompson
Thu, Dec 31, 2009 at 11:01 AM

On December 23, visitors to the Oyster Bay regional shoreline were dismayed to discover roughly 60 dead or maimed birds washing in the tide. State Fish and Game officials began an investigation and quickly discovered the culprit: employees at the Oakland airport. The birds were attracted to the water, but posed a potential threat to airplanes coming and going from the field. Airport officials tried to scare them off with blasts of noise, but the birds stayed put. So they went with Plan B: shoot them. Today, state officials ruled that airport officials did not break any laws when the brought out the guns.

Guardian to Weekly: Give Us Our Money

by Chris Thompson
Thu, Dec 31, 2009 at 9:35 AM

When the Bay Guardian won a $16 million judgment against its rival SF Weekly in 2008, everyone knew that collecting the money would be a fight in and of itself. Earlier this month, the Guardian seized two vans belonging to the SF Weekly and auctioned them off as part of its collection campaign. Now, a court has allowed the papery plaintiff to intercept the rent that the SF Weekly collects from a subtenant at its San Francisco offices. While the East Bay Express was once owned by the company that owns the SF Weekly (and many of us are close friends with SF Weekly staffers), this paper is not a party in the lawsuit.

Nukes Near Fresno

by Chris Thompson
Thu, Dec 31, 2009 at 9:21 AM

Wow! According to the Oakland Tribune, a French company has signed a letter of intent to build at least one nuclear power plant near Fresno, at a site to be determined. The company was lured in by a group of local business owners, who go by the name, "the Fresno Nuclear Energy Group." There's one minor hurdle, in that it's actually illegal to build one in California without a federal plan to dispose of the spent fuel. But the project's backers insist that the law is archaic and will be discarded, freeing them to generate up to 3,200 megawatts of power. We've long advocated the revival of the nuclear energy industry as a means of reducing global warming; great to see someone take up the challenge.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ex-Berkeley Top Cop is BART's Latest Flak Catcher

by Chris Thompson
Wed, Dec 30, 2009 at 9:26 AM

Dash Butler, the Berkeley police chief who retired in 2002, will serve as interim BART oberfuhrer while the embattled transportation system looks for someone more permanent. He replaces Gary Gee, who never recovered from the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant by BART cop Johannes Mehserle on New Year's Eve last year. But BART officials may want to pay attention to whatever contract they signed when they hired Butler. As this paper reported in the antediluvian age, Butler was careful to postpone his Berkeley retirement date for one year, at which point the City Council stupidly agreed to a new deal that gave him an additional $46,588 in annual retirement benefits. Butler was a pretty good chief, but he was clearly better at gaming the pension system. Caveat emptor, is all.

Cops Already Out Looking for Drunks

by Chris Thompson
Wed, Dec 30, 2009 at 8:41 AM

Every holiday season, Alameda County law enforcement officials roll out the drunk driving squad, beefing up patrols hunting for those who have imbibed and decided to toot on down the road. This year started as early as December 18, as the cops geared up to catch the plastered pedal-pushers. How many have they snagged so far? According to Trib, almost 500. And props to Newark, which is racking up more than its share. The Trib, um, attributes this to a particularly eager local drunk squad, but we know better. Shame on you Newark, for your armies of inebriated motorists! Think of the children!

Jerry Brown Will Fight for Body Armor Ban

by Chris Thompson
Wed, Dec 30, 2009 at 7:35 AM

Jerry Brown, the former mayor of Oakland who seems to have this new gig called Attorney General or something, has declared that his office will ask the state Supreme Court to review and possibly overturn an appellate court decision ending the ban on violent felons possessing body armor. A lower court ruled that the ban, which was enacted by the state legislature in 1998, was unconstitutionally vague in its definition of what constituted body armor. The court's decision came in the case of Ethan Saleem, who was on parole after doing time for manslaughter and was found wearing a ten-pound bulletproof vest. Police groups have hailed Brown's move, which will be formally filed in January.

Report: Home Prices Up in Bay Area

by Chris Thompson
Wed, Dec 30, 2009 at 7:26 AM

According to the Chron, the real estate report known as the Case-Shiller/S&P Home Price Index actually claims that Bay Area homes rose in value. The San Francisco Bay Area, which includes Alameda and Contra Costa counties, saw home prices rise 1.2 percent from September to October. This makes the Bay Area one of seven metropolitan areas with a modest gain in home prices, out of 20 surveyed. Now, home values are still 2.6 percent lower than they were in October of 2008. But consider this: they're 46 percent higher that they were in 2000.

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