Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Must Read: Oakland to Close Five Schools; Racial Dispute Rocks UC Berkeley

By Robert Gammon
Mon, Sep 26, 2011 at 10:14 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Oakland schools Superintendent Tony Smith is proposing to close five elementary schools and consolidate several small schools at the city’s high school campuses in a cost-cutting move, the Chron and Trib report. Smith has been arguing for the past couple years that Oakland can no longer afford to have so many schools because of declining enrollment over the past decade. The district has lost about one-third of its students since 2000, but still has the same number of schools. Oakland, as a result, now has the fewest students per school of any large district in the state.

  • Smith
Smith is proposing to close Lakeview, Lazear, Marshall, Maxwell Park, and Santa Fe elementary schools at the end of the school year. The school board will make a final decision in late October.

2. A “bake sale” with racist overtones planned by college Republicans at Cal is sparking campus unrest. The Chron reports that the Republican students plan to sell pastries on campus, calling them “White/Caucasian” going for $2, "Asian/American American" for $1.50, "Latino/Hispanic" for $1, "Black/African American" for 75 cents, and "Native American" for a quarter. A 25-cent discount is offered for women. The college Republicans say the bake sale is in protest of pending legislation in Sacramento that would allow UC and CSU to consider ethnicity and gender in admissions. But liberal students say the bake sale is racist, and the Cal Academic Senate unanimoulsy condemned the idea.

3. A replacement nurse accidentally killed a 66-year-old cancer patient at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland over the weekend after Sutter Health locked out regular nurses and refused to let them back on the job, the Trib and Chron report. The lockout occurred after nurses held a one-day strike on Thursday in solidarity of health-care workers at Kaiser. Sutter Health officials said that regular nurses cannot come back to work until Tuesday, because they said they gave the replacement workers five-day contracts. Regular nurses contend that the cancer patient would still be alive were it not for the lockout.

4. A Metropolitan Transportation Commission panel is recommending that the agency ignore a state audit and move forward with its plan to move from Oakland to San Francisco and buy an old, massive warehouse, the Trib reports. Oakland officials and state Senator Mark DeSaulnier have questioned whether MTC plans are legal because the agency is effectively using public funds for real estate speculation, and the state auditor is investigating the matter. But the MTC panel said that if the agency waits until the audit is completed it might not be able to buy the old warehouse.

5. The City of Oakland has already spent about $1.4 million fighting wrongful termination lawsuits filed by former City Administrator Deborah Edgerly and her top deputy Cheryl Thompson, who were both canned by ex-Mayor Ron Dellums, the Chron reports. Last week, the city council agreed to settle Thompson’s case for about $500,000.

6. House Republicans are threatening to shut-down the federal government again if Democrats refuse their demand to slash subsidies for fuel-efficient cars and renewable energy in exchange for additional disaster-relief aid. Senate Democrats note that Congress has never before required that disaster-relief aid be offset by cuts elsewhere in the federal budget.

7. And Governor Brown signed a settlement deal with that will require the online giant to finally begin collecting sales tax from its customers starting next year. The deal also means that Amazon has dropped its ballot-measure drive that sought to overturn the state’s new online sales tax law.

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