Tuesday, January 26, 2010

BART Faces More Layoffs, Fare Hikes, and Service Cuts

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 10:54 AM

In an effort to close a $25 million budget gap, BART directors will have to layoff employees or raise fares and slash service again, the Chron reports. At its meeting on Thursday, the BART board will consider a 25-cent surcharge on trips through the Transbay Tube, a 2 percent general fare hike, and a daily parking fee based on market rates. The agency also will consider eliminating direct service from Richmond and Fremont to San Francisco. The changes could save BART $23.5 million. But there is one way that BART could avoid many of the fare increases and service cuts — kill the controversial Oakland airport connector.

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PG&E to Shut off Power to More People

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 10:18 AM

Having your power shut off because you fall behind on your bills can be a debilitating event, especially in winter. But Pacific Gas & Electric Company plans to ramp up the number of people who will have to go without heat and electricity in the next few years with the help of the utility’s controversial new smart meters. The Chron reports that the utility says the smart meters will allow it to turn off power to at least 85 percent of its customers who fall behind on their payments. In 2008, before PG&E began installing the meters, the utility shut off power to just 37 percent of eligible customers.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Backseat Driver Ken Ott Assaulted

Subject of this week's Culture Spy attacked by an unruly customer.

by Rachel Swan
Mon, Jan 25, 2010 at 5:38 PM

Local pedicab driver Ken Ott was rushed to Highland's trauma center early Sunday morning, after a brush with a drunk customer on Auto Row. Ott said the incident happened some time between midnight and 12:20 a.m., on the corner of Broadway and Webster Streets. He blacked out during the attack and awoke with a front tooth bashed in, along with cuts, abrasions, bruises, scabs, and swollen lips. "This wasn't the only incident that night," Ott wrote in an e mail the following day. "I talk to club/bar staff and violent eruptions seem to keep happening. Fights. Theft. More fights."

Ott, whose pedicab business is the subject of this week's Culture Spy, has styled himself as a city booster of sorts, with a mission to turn Oakland into a more dense, compact downtown. For the past several months he has driven a three-seater bicycle around downtown Oakland, offering free rides to clubgoers. Ott says he plans to continue his operation, albeit at a reduced level. "I'll see how I can change the service to preclude these types events," he wrote. "I wouldn't want to stop doing this work."

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Slap Hitter: Cal Rules the Roost

by Kibby Kleiman
Mon, Jan 25, 2010 at 1:47 PM

This isn't one of those tricky, gotcha kind of headlines—but for all the publicity that Cal men's basketball has received (none), you would have every right to be suspicious that this was going to be a gimmick. But, it's for real. The Golden Bears are in fact, in first place in the Pac-10. Granted the Pac-10 is terrible; no teams ranked in the top thirty, and that the difference between first and last place in the league is the difference between slim and none, but with 40% of league play completed, the Cal men are the best of their peers, and that's got to be worth a strange but true header.

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Cal Selling Seat Licenses for Stadium Retrofit

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Jan 25, 2010 at 11:21 AM

UC Berkeley is selling personal seat licenses to Cal football fans to finance the $320 million retrofit of Memorial Coliseum. The CoCo Times reports that the university hopes that the licenses, which give fans lifetime rights for choice seats and are selling for $2,700 and up, will pay off the bonds it’s floating to pay for the retrofit. The coliseum straddles the Hayward Fault and requires a major rehab to be made safe.

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Why Gays and Lesbians Have So Far to Go

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Jan 25, 2010 at 10:33 AM

Gays and lesbians have made a lot of progress in the past decade in their long struggle for equality, but if the opinions of two Bay Area newspapers are any indication, then they still have a long way to go. Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, the hometown paper of one of the largest gay and lesbian communities in the world, preached “tolerance” for those who spend large sums of money to strip gays and lesbians of a basic human right.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Berkeley’s Pot Club Mistake

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jan 22, 2010 at 3:32 PM

When the Berkeley City Council voted in 2004 to block medical marijuana dispensaries from being within 1,000 feet of public schools, it seemed like a sensible move. After all, few people would argue that kids should spend most of their day next to a pot club, even if the facility does provide legitimate, important services. But the council apparently neglected to include private schools, preschools, and day care centers in its ordinance. So, now, six years later, a medical marijuana club is planning to move to a site in West Berkeley close to both a private elementary school and a day-care facility, and the schools, along with local businesses, may end up going to court to stop it.

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Slap Hitter: A's Prospect finds Higher Calling

by Kibby Kleiman
Fri, Jan 22, 2010 at 3:25 PM

What tops an A?

God, for one. Oakland A's prospect Grant Desme chose a different path than his Single A stats suggested as he made the announcement today, that he is leaving baseball for the priesthood. Please no jokes about trading Desme to the Padres.

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Pro-Life Protesters Warm Up in Oakland Today

by Jonathan Riley
Fri, Jan 22, 2010 at 1:23 PM

A small group of pro-life protesters assembled today in front of Family Planning Specialists Medical Group, an Oakland abortion clinic. In response, members of several groups including the ANSWER Coalition, World Can’t Wait, Bay Area Coalition for Our Reproductive Rights, and Bay Area Radical Women staged a counter-protest across the street on the 200 block of Webster. Police officers were on the scene, calmly talking amongst themselves as a man in a cowboy hat continuously shouted that the pro-choice protesters were “pot-smoking, government butt-kissers!”


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Chip Johnson Defends Bigotry

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jan 22, 2010 at 10:59 AM

Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson argues today that gay rights activists have crossed the line in their attempt to oust Prop. 8 backer Lorenzo Hoopes from the Paramount Theatre board of directors. Johnson says that although he disagrees with Hoopes’ opposition to gay marriage, the campaign against him has been “mean-spirited.” But Johnson’s argument is nothing more than defending bigotry.

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