Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thursday Must Reads: Chinese Firm Jumpstarts $1.5 Billion Oakland Project; Federal Judge Scolds Oakland Officials

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Apr 11, 2013 at 7:01 AM

News stories that East Bay progressives and environmentalists shouldn’t miss:

1. A Chinese real estate and development firm has agreed to finance the huge Oak-to-Ninth project on Oakland’s waterfront, a once-stalled development that has been estimated to be worth $1.5 billion, the Trib and Chron$ report. The firm, Zarsion Holdings Group, is teaming up with East Bay developer Signature Properties after Mayor Jean Quan introduced the two sides. Quan is longtime friends with Bruce Quan (no relation), an executive with the Beijing-based firm. The massive project, now known as Brooklyn Basin was originally approved by the Oakland City Council in 2006, and is to include 3,100 homes and 200,000 square feet of retail, along with thirty acres of parkland.

Thelton Henderson
  • Thelton Henderson
2. Federal Judge Thelton Henderson scolded Oakland city officials yesterday, telling them to stop trying to “constrict” the powers of Thomas Frazier, the new court-appointed overseer of the Oakland Police Department, the Trib reports. City officials have been trying to limit Frazier’s authority over OPD. Henderson ordered the city to hire Frazier because OPD has repeatedly failed to enact court-ordered reforms.

3. California’s political watchdog agency has thrown its weight behind a bill that would force nonprofits to reveal their donors when they spend heavily on political campaigns, the LA Times$ reports. The legislation being backed by the Fair Political Practices Commission came in response to a shadowy, right-wing Arizona nonprofit that spent millions last year attempting to restrict the power of unions in the state.

4. The Boy Scouts would be stripped of their nonprofit status because of their anti-gay policies under a bill that passed a legislative committee in Sacramento yesterday, the Chron$ reports.

5. Thousands of demonstrators rallied nationwide yesterday, including a protest in downtown Oakland, demanding that Congress pass comprehensive immigration reform, the Trib reports.

6. Bay Area liberal Democrats in Congress strongly criticized President Obama’s proposal to cut future social security benefits, the Chron$ reports. Obama made the proposal in an effort to reach a bipartisan budget deal with Republicans.

7. State Senate President Darrell Steinberg, a Sacramento-area Democrat, has ruled out the possibility of overhauling Prop 13 this year, the SacBee$ reports. Many progressives had hoped that Democratic super-majorities in both houses of the legislature would result in efforts to reform the anti-tax measure.

8. Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley routinely hires ex-cops to investigate officer-involved shootings, including the killing of teenager Alan Blueford in Oakland last year — a practice that civil libertarians say represents a conflict of interest, the Bay Citizen reports. O’Malley’s investigations typically exonerate police officers as well.

9. And the US Postal Service announced yesterday that it’s shelving its plan to end Saturday service later this year, the Washington Post reports. The controversial plan was opposed strongly by rural Democrats and Republicans.

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