Thursday, May 29, 2014

Bishop Michael Barber May Revise Controversial Morals Code for Teachers — in 2015

by Sam Levin
Thu, May 29, 2014 at 11:23 AM

After weeks of intense criticism and media coverage surrounding the Diocese of Oakland's new "morals" code in its teacher contracts, Bishop Michael Barber now says he may revise the controversial language. But if he does, it won't be until next year, for the 2015-16 contracts. As we reported earlier this month, Barber has faced intense backlash for requiring teachers to sign a new clause saying they agree to "model and promote" Catholic faith and morals in their personal lives. Some teachers have refused to sign, arguing that officials could use this contractual language to fire employees for a wide range of troubling reasons — including for being LGBT or non-Catholic. Officials from the diocese have responded that the bishop has no intention of targeting certain employees or behaviors — and spokesperson Mike Brown told me today the language could change for 2015-16, but that nothing has been finalized.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fracking Ban Legislation Headed for California Senate Floor Vote This Week

by Ari Nussbaum
Tue, May 27, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Late last week, the state Senate Appropriations committee approved a statewide moratorium on fracking, sending Senate Bill 1132 to the senate floor for a vote this week. The bill cleared the committee in a 4-2 vote just days after the estimate of extractable oil in the Monterey Shale was reduced by 96 percent from 13.7 billion barrels to 600 million.

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Tuesday Must Reads: Oakland Tax Revenues $30 Million Higher Than Expected; Lawmakers Shelve Plan to Insure Undocumented Immigrants

by Robert Gammon
Tue, May 27, 2014 at 9:59 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Fueled by the real estate boom, the City of Oakland’s tax revenues are about $30 million higher than expected, the Trib$ reports. Mayor Jean Quan is proposing to use the extra funds to pay for two more police academies in the next year in an effort to boost the size of the city’s police force to more than 700 officers. Quan also is proposing to pay for sewer projects, a jobs resource center, and technology improvements — and she wants to increase the city's rainy-day reserve.

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan Is Getting Married

by Steven Tavares
Fri, May 23, 2014 at 4:25 PM

Save the date, Oakland. Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan is getting married, she announced this week. Last November, according to Kaplan’s office, the at-large council member “got down on one knee,” placed a tanzanite ring on her girlfriend’s finger and proposed.

Kaplan and her fiancée, Pamela Rosin, both 43, are set to be married in a private ceremony on July 26. The couple met two years ago and now share a home in North Oakland.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Californians Overwhelmingly Support a Ban on Fracking

by Ari Nussbaum
Thu, May 22, 2014 at 3:14 PM

A new poll shows that a super-majority of California residents — 68 percent — say they support a ban on fracking in the state. Hydraulic fracturing is a controversial oil- and natural gas-extraction method that involves shooting massive amounts of water and toxic chemicals into the earth. It’s been linked to groundwater and air pollution and to causing earthquakes. The new survey was published earlier this week by public policy opinion research firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, or FM3. Of the 807 California voters who were polled over the phone at random, 68 percent suppored a moratorium on fracking, with 45 percent of respondents stating that they “strongly” supported it.

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Thursday Must Reads: Ex-Cop Who Killed Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect Still on Oakland’s Payroll; Tea Party Gubernatorial Candidate Still Leads Among Republicans

by Robert Gammon
Thu, May 22, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The FBI agent who shot and killed a Boston Marathon bombing suspect in 2013 is a former Oakland cop who is still collecting a disability pension from the City of Oakland, the Boston Globe reports. Oakland city officials say they are investigating why FBI agent Aaron McFarlane is still receiving $52,000 a year from the city when he had retired from OPD on disability. After retiring, MacFarlane then passed the FBI’s stringent physical tests before the agency hired him. Then last year, MacFarlane fatally shot Ibragim Todashev, a friend of bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, during an interrogation in which Todashev allegedly confessed to helping Tsarnaev pull off the bombing. In Oakland, MacFarlane had been repeatedly disciplined for police misconduct and was accused by a prosecutor of lying under oath.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Alameda County Sheriff Ends Detention Holds of Undocumented Immigrants

by Ali Winston
Wed, May 21, 2014 at 4:19 PM

Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern issued a department-wide memorandum today barring his deputies from enforcing immigration detainer requests from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Ahern's memorandum, which is in effect as of today, is a landmark in local law enforcement and brings Alameda County in line with San Francisco and Santa Clara counties, where local authorities are also choosing not to enforce immigration detainers. However, Sheriff Ahern's order is the most sweeping refusal to abide by federal immigration detainers in the Bay Area.

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Wednesday Must Reads: LAO Says Brown Is Overestimating Costs, Too; Feds Say Most of California’s Shale Oil Reserves Area Not Recoverable Via Fracking

by Robert Gammon
Wed, May 21, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office said Governor Jerry Brown’s administration is underestimating the costs of the Medi-Cal expansion under Obamacare by about $300 million, the LA Times$ reports. Late last week, the LAO also concluded that the governor is seriously underestimating tax revenues — by about $2.5 billion. The LAO came to a similar conclusion last year — and was proven right, while the governor’s projections turned out to be wrong. The LAO’s forecasts mean that the state has about $2.8 billion more funds available in its budget next year than the governor projects.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Report: When It Comes to Mortgage Loan Servicing, Banks Are Still Failing to Comply With the Law

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, May 20, 2014 at 10:56 AM

A new report by the California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC) and the legal advocacy group Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA) shows that the nation's largest banks and mortgage servicing companies continue to violate standards and laws mandated by the National Mortgage Settlement, the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, and new federal mortgage servicing rules. The result is that many homeowners who qualify for loan modifications continue to be wrongfully foreclosed on, further damaging California's communities by displacing families, evaporating their savings, and depressing local tax revenues. The report, based on a survey of 66 HUD certified housing counselors who assist homeowners seeking loan modifications, asked whether new loan servicing rules are putting an end to illegal and sloppy practices that have led to an untold number of foreclosures.

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Tuesday Must Reads: Jack London Condo Towers Plan Goes to Planning Commission; Brown’s Rhetoric on Climate Change Heckled

by Robert Gammon
Tue, May 20, 2014 at 9:27 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A proposal to build to two condo towers — one 26 stories tall, the other, 17 — in Oakland’s Jack London Square is scheduled to go before the city’s Planning Commission this week, the Trib$ reports. The plan, which would add 665 housing units to the area, appears to have widespread support in City Hall, but some local residents say the towers would be too tall and would block the waterfront. Under the proposal, Ellis Partners, a private developer that controls Jack London Square, would construct a 17-story tower at the corner of Broadway and Embarcadero, and a 26-story building near Harrison and Alice streets.

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