Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Must Read: Another Oakland Parcel Tax, Gunman Terrorizes Children's Hospital, and One Year in Iranian Prison for East Bay Hikers

By Stephen Buel
Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 9:46 AM

Another parcel tax. The Oakland School Board voted 6 to 1 Thursday night to ask Oakland voters to approve a $195-a-year parcel tax designed to raise $20 million for Oakland teacher salaries, the Bay Area's lowest, the Oakland Tribune reported. On top of the $360-a-year parcel tax being sought by the Oakland city council to help rehire 80 laid-off police officers, it promises to be a costly election season for Oakland voters. Trustee Gary Yee was quoted by the newspaper as saying "we have cut everything we could possibly cut," but a recent analysis by this newspaper suggests otherwise. Oakland has way too many schools for its current student population, which has declined significantly in the past decade. But school closures are politically unpopular and the board's current leadership shows no signs of being willing to buck the opposition that would certainly arise to such a move.

An armed man charged into the emergency room at Oakland Children's Hospital & Research Center Friday morning, holding a gun to a worker before being subdued by police, the Tribune reported. The man was described as "disturbed and disoriented."

The trio of East Bay hikers imprisoned for crossing over the border of Iraq into Iran just passed their first anniversary in an Iranian prison, the Oakland Tribune noted. UC Berkeley graduates Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer, and Josh Fattal continue to languish in a prison in Tehran with no discernible progress toward their eventual release. Shourd and Bauer recently announced that they are engaged to be married. The Iranian government alleges that the three are US intelligence agents, which the US government and the hikers' families have denied.

A coalition of third-party advocates filed a suit challenging California's new law abolishing party primaries, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The suit challenged the law's two provisions prohibiting candidates from listing their party preference on the ballot and discarding write-in votes in runoffs.

The Port of Oakland will have one fewer terminal operator as of September 1, the Trib reported. International Transportation Service has announced that it is vacating two berths at the Port of Oakland, and Ports America is taking them over. The swap is expected to produce some job loss, but it is not yet known to what extent.

Chip Johnson wrote yet another column about Oakland without evidence of any actual reporting. What does he do all day?

Hollywood released another dumb film.

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