Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thursday Must Read: Transportation Commission to Leave Oakland; Circumcision Ban Appears to Be Dead

By Ellen Cushing
Thu, Jul 28, 2011 at 6:58 AM

Stories you shouldn't miss!!!

1. It's official: the Metropolitan Transportation Commission will be leaving Oakland, reports Cecily Burt at the Trib. The agency, which has long been mulling a move to San Francisco, officially voted 12-2 yesterday to leave its current space on 8th Street and buy a new building at 390 Main Street in San Francisco. The MTC — along with the Association of Bay Area Governments, with which it was sharing a headquarters, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District — have been looking for a new space for awhile now, and the Air Quality District has already approved relocating to the new buidling in San Francisco. The ABAG voted a couple weeks ago in closed session to not go along with the move, but yesterday's MTC vote means it and the Air Quality District will be moving ahead — with or without the ABAG. It's unclear whether ABAG will change its position or just stay where it is in Oakland, but either way, the MTC's decision is a blow for Oakland, which stands to lose a major employer, as well as to Mayor Quan, who'd been actively fighting to keep the MTC in the city.

2. From the LA Times: Governor Brown criticized the UC and CSU systems for recruiting high-profile (and highly paid) chancellors and presidents yesterday. California's public college and universities have long looked out of state to find new leadership, but in the face of massive budget cuts — and just after San Diego State hired Elliot Hirshman, a $400,000-a-year president poached from Maryland — Brown implored the CSU and UC systems to look for cheaper in-house talent. "I believe on the campuses now there are many people who don't make near that salary" — meaning Hirshman's — that should have been groomed for leadership," Browntown told the LA Times.

3. California leads the nation in the number of overall foreclosures, California Watch reports — and there's no meaningful end in sight. Between 2008 and this June, we've seen over half a million completed foreclosures up and down the state and, according again to California Watch, after a brief slowdown, "foreclosures are expected to pick up in the months ahead." Eeep.

4. Traffic near Lake Merritt will be diverted soon as the city moves forward with work on a new waterfront park, according to the Bay Citizen. Starting August 8, cars and bikes on the south shore of the lake, near the county building, will be directed onto a "new bridge and roadway" called Lake Merritt Boulevard so workers can start construction on what will be a 3.5 acre park with a footpath. The project — which will also result in some, uh, aromatic improvements to the lake— is being paid for by Measure DD funds and is expected to be finished in late 2012 (unless the Mayan apocalypse gets us first!)

5. The San Francisco circumcision ban has been removed — cut, you might say — from the ballot after a (tentative) ruling from SF Superior Court judge Loretta Giorgi argued that the ban would violate a state law that prohibits city governments from regulating health care professionals.

6. Today in alt-weekly inside baseball: The SF Bay Guardian has cut at least three positions — roughly a quarter of its editorial staff — according to the SF Weekly. Thus far, the only name anyone knows is that of Sarah Phelan, a longtime reporter who was dismissed on Tuesday night. This round of layoffs is particularly surprising given the Guardian was recently awarded a $21 million settlement in its long-simmering fight with the Weekly's parent company, Village Voice Media. That's a lot of money in the journalism universe, so some folks are speculating that the Guardian may be struggling to pay off debt incurred during the legal fight.

7. And finally, an update on yesterday's super-depressing story about the man who was shot while giving a homeless person food in Oakland: The Chron has released the victim's name — Paris Powell — and is now saying that contrary to previous reports, Powell's three-year-old stepdaughter was also shot in the arm, though she and Powell's pregnant wife, who was grazed by a bullet, have both been released from the hospital. The shooter apparently drove by and wordlessly fired five shots; no motive is known and no arrests have been made. Powell remains on life support. Update, 11:08 a.m.: Powell has died.

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