Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wednesday Must Read: Bay Area Dems Decry Obama Tax Deal; Oakland Dropout Rate at 40 Percent

By Robert Gammon
Wed, Dec 8, 2010 at 7:19 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Liberal Bay Area Democrats in Congress are sharply criticizing Barack Obama’s tax compromise with Republicans, accusing the president of selling out one of his core principles, the Chron reports. “It's shocking,” said Peninsula Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who said Obama will not have her vote. “It epitomizes the worst in back-room politics. It was negotiated with Republicans. It was not a compromise. It was capitulation.” While running for president, Obama repeatedly vowed to end the Bush tax breaks for the rich, but yesterday he said he had to break his promise because Republicans were holding the nation hostage. The GOP had refused to vote for middle-class tax cuts unless they included cuts for millionaires and billionaires, too. However, if enough Democrats oppose the Obama deal, it won’t have enough votes to get through Congress.

2. Good news and bad news for Oakland public schools. First the bad: the high school dropout rate is at 40 percent, the Trib reports, citing a new study. Although the overall accuracy of the study is up for debate, local school district officials think the Oakland numbers are likely correct. However, the Trib also reports that one Oakland public high school that has struggled in the past — Oakland Tech — has become the “it” school and is attracting large numbers of student applicants.

3. Toxic chemicals everywhere. The Chron reports that bisphenol-A, a hormone-disrupting chemical linked to cancer, diabetes, early puberty, and neurological problems, is now being found on paper money. Manufacturers are increasingly using BPA to make paper, raising questions about whether it’s being absorbed through people’s hands. In addition, California Watch reports that researchers have discovered toxic flame retardants in butter.

4. Three East Bay office complexes have been repossessed by banks in recent weeks as the commercial real estate sector continues to struggle with defaults and foreclosures, the Trib reports. Bank of America repossessed an Oakland office building at 1111 Jackson Street and one in Berkeley at 2015 Shattuck Avenue.

5. In an embarrassing move, the Peralta Community College board of trustees decided to redo its months-long search for a new chancellor after employees complained that they had been excluded from the process, the CoCo Times reports. The move means that the district has rejected three finalists it selected for the position and will start over. Interim chancellor Wise Allen will remain in the position until the new search is completed. The district has been without a permanent chancellor since the board ousted Elihu Harris in June, following conflict-of-interest and pay scandals.

6. And Alameda City Councilwoman Lena Tam has billed the city for $44,000 in legal fees that she wracked up when the city and the county District Attorney were investigating her for possible criminal wrongdoing, the Chron reports. Ultimately, the DA decided that there was not enough evidence to charge Tam with any crimes, and she was reelected to the council last month. However, her council colleagues are expected to reject her claim.


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