Friday, March 30, 2012

AC Transit Made Right Choice to Finally Buy Local

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Mar 30, 2012 at 10:13 AM

For more than a decade, AC Transit made a mockery of federal Buy American rules. The cash-strapped transit agency routinely wrapped itself in financial knots, funneling US taxpayer funds through various accounts in order to be able to buy expensive foreign-made buses. AC Transit officials repeatedly claimed that the Belgian-made Van Hools were superior to American buses, even though the agency's own records showed that the Van Hools were accident-prone and dangerous for riders with mobility problems. AC Transit officials also downplayed the numerous posh trips they took to Belgium and their side excursions to Paris and London, arguing that $1 million in public funds they spent on the getaways merely represented the costs of doing business.

Gillig bus
  • Gillig bus
But then earlier this month, AC Transit, which now has a new general manager who appears to be more interested in making pragmatic choices rather than jetting off to Europe, officially ended its costly relationship with Van Hool. The agency's board of directors, at the urging of new General Manager David Armijo, voted 6-1 to buy forty buses from an East Bay bus-maker - Gillig of Hayward. It was the first time that AC Transit had bought an American-made bus, let alone one made locally, in more than a dozen years. And it was about time.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ignacio De La Fuente and Don Perata Engage in More Questionable Dealings

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Even in private life, ex-state Senator Don Perata spurs questions about potentially corrupt dealings. The San Francisco Chronicle recently noted that Oakland Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente had been on Perata's payroll and now Perata is lobbying on behalf of a company that's trying to win a lucrative public contract that De La Fuente plans to vote on. In addition, Bay Area News Group reporter Josh Richman recently noted that a campaign committee that Perata controls continues to pay cash to several of his longtime cronies - supposedly for working on Prop 29, a statewide measure on the June ballot.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Next Phase in Marshawn Lynch's Career: Cowboy Movie

by Rachel Swan
Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 4:46 PM

True freshman at Cal with 8 rushing touchdowns. Twelfth overall pick for the 2007 NFL draft. Starting running back for the Buffalo Bills. Ghost rider. Traded to the Seattle Seahawks. Added to the NFC Pro Bow Roster. What else could possibly be in store for Oakland-born football player Marshawn Lynch?

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Bay-Watch in Effect: CIR/Bay Citizen Merger Is Official

by Rachel Swan
Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 2:24 PM

Don't call it a merger, call it an acquisition. So wrote Dan Fost, in an article announcing the two nonprofit companies' decision to consolidate their newsrooms today. Bay Citizen and CIR began merger talks in February, shortly after the death of billionaire philanthropist and media financier Warren Hellman, who founded Bay Citizen in 2010 to supplement and/or replace the embattled San Francisco Chronicle. The loss of Hellman, coupled with the departure of interim editor-in-chief Steve Fainaru and founding chief executive Lisa Frazier, put the Bay Citizen in dire straits - dire enough for the board to court CIR chairman Phil Bronstein, who will now be executive chair of both companies. Today the boards of directors at both publications voted to approve the merge. Barring any objection from Attorney General Kamala Harris (who can veto any merger of two non-profit corporations), it's a done deal.

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Oakland Indie Awards Seeking Nominations

Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 12:08 PM

The 6th Annual Oakland Indie Awards, hosted by One PacificCoat Bank Foundation and the East Bay Express, is now accepting nominations. Visit by April 14 to nominate your favorite business or artist. Categories include: Oakland Soul, Ripple Effect, Innovative Newbie, Greenie, Socially-Responsible Rockstar and Pillar.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Express Staffer Nate Seltenrich Wins Award

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Express staffer Nate Seltenrich has won a second-place award for excellence in feature writing from the North American Agricultural Journalists association for his cover story "How Safe Is Your Soil" (8/3/2011). This was a national award; Seltenrich competed against journalists from newspapers and magazines of all sizes from around the country.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Rick Santorum Appearing at the Jelly Belly Factory Next Week (!?!?)

by Ellen Cushing
Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 4:59 PM

Okay, this is both too good to be true and too ridiculous not to be: Esteemed presidential candidate/unrepentant bigot/NSFW Google Rick Santorum will be coming to California next Thursday, March 29 for a fundraiser and rally at a hotel or banquet room like a normal person the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield. Better yet, the fancy-looking press release I just got about the occasion makes absolutely no attempt to explain the choice of location, meaning we're left to guess. Is it a subtle homage to Ronald Reagan? A transparent attempt to combine campaign business and factory-tour pleasure? A result of being rejected by every other venue in the Bay Area? Who the hell knows. But this may be an excellent moment to get your bellyflops on.


Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker Takes a Tough Stance on City Council Interference

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 11:27 AM

Barbara Parker is proving to be a no-nonsense city attorney — much like City Administrator Deanna Santana. Yesterday, Parker issued a tough new memo to city employees, reminding them that Oakland’s City Council members have no legal right to interfere with their work. The memo comes on the heels of a probe by Santana that uncovered evidence that Councilwoman Desley Brooks had interfered with city employees when she engineered a no-bid contract to build a swanky new teen center in her district.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

March Madness: Public Officials Behaving Badly Edition

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 8:00 AM

It’s hard to remember a time when so many public officials in the Bay Area were caught in embarrassing situations or accused of misdeeds at the same time. Indeed, demands for resignations, whether coming from the press or the public, seem to have reached an unprecedented level.

But not every transgression is equal, of course (although many of them are depressing). So in an effort to sort out which public official has behaved the worst, the Express staff decided it was time to do some head-to-head comparisons. And to make it a bit more interesting, we decided to do it in the style of March Madness:

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Monday, March 19, 2012

The Semi-Secret Recall of Jean Quan

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Mar 19, 2012 at 10:31 AM

One of the campaigns attempting to recall Oakland Mayor Jean Quan from office is raising thousands of dollars to pay for professional signature gatherers. But the group, the Committee to Recall Mayor Quan Now, is refusing to disclose the identities of its donors or exactly how much it has raised. And under lax state reporting rules, the group doesn’t have to — at least not for six more weeks, by which time the group expects to have collected thousands of signatures. The same weak disclosure laws, meanwhile, also are allowing a group that formed to support Quan and fight the recall to keep its contributors secret until at least April 30 as well.

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