Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wednesday Must Read: Quan’s Parcel Tax Voted Down; ABC Security Loses City Contract

By Robert Gammon
Wed, Apr 6, 2011 at 7:05 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Three Oakland city councilmembers blocked Mayor Jean Quan’s plan last night to put a parcel tax measure before voters in a special mail-in-ballot election in July, the Chron and Trib report. Quan’s proposal was considered an urgency measure, because the city did not provide ten days advance notice of last night’s vote. As a result, Quan’s plan needed approval from at least six of the eight councilmembers, but Ignacio De La Fuente, Libby Schaaf, and Desley Brooks voted against it. The $80 a year parcel tax would have raised about $11 million for the city annually, and would have helped close Oakland’s $46 million budget deficit. Quan has asked Council President Larry Reid to reschedule a vote on the measure so that the ten-days-advance-notice requirement can be met.

2. The Oakland council also stymied an effort to renew a $2 million contract with the city’s main private security contractor, ABC Security, in the wake of allegations that the company violated city campaign finance laws, the Chron and Trib report. De La Fuente and Councilwoman Jane Brunner had argued that ABC’s contract should be renewed, even though the company was rated only sixth best among those who bid for the deal. ABC’s owner Ana Chretien is a long-time close friend of De La Fuente and is one of the largest campaign contributors in city politics. In addition, last month City Auditor Courtney Ruby said that ABC appears to have violated the city’s prohibition of making campaign donations when a contract is up for bid. However, the council voted 5-3 last night to award the contract to Cypress Security, which was rated highest among the firms that bid.

3. A federal government shutdown, which appears likely to occur this Friday, could have severe financial impacts on state and local governments if it lasts for a long time, the New York Times reports. President Obama and Congressional Democrats strongly criticized Republicans yesterday for changing the terms of a deal needed to avoid a shutdown. Tea Party Republicans, in fact, appear bent on shutting down the federal government because of their distaste of federal spending and may try to keep it shut down for a long as they can.

4. Japan’s nuclear crisis could go on for months, as authorities struggle to deal with numerous problems at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant, the New York Times reports, citing a confidential assessment from US nuclear officials.

5. An earthquake early-warning system in Japan likely saved numerous lives during the 9.0 quake on March 11, and California should install a similar one, experts said yesterday, according to the Chron and CoCo Times. Such a system would cost about $80 million and would take six years to implement.

6. The judge in the Barry Bonds perjury trial threw out a recently discovered audio tape, saying it was irrelevant to the case, California Watch reports. The prosecution tape purportedly was of a conversation concerning steroids between a longtime friend of Bonds, Steve Hoskins, and the ex-baseball star’s surgeon, Dr. Arthur Ting. Ting had testified that he never talked about Bonds and steroids with Hoskins, while Hoskins said they had.

7. And San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow, who was brutally beaten by Los Angeles Dodgers’ fans late last week, remains in a coma and appears to have brain damage, the Chron reports. The reward for finding the Dodgers’ fans who beat Snow, a paramedic from Santa Cruz, is now $100,000.

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