Many of you may have already noticed new content that has begun to appear on our blogs. In addition to our staff-produced blogs, we’re now featuring content from four additional sources: KALW radio news; ProPublica; Environmental Health News; and The Daily Climate. This new content will greatly enhance our daily news offerings, while providing readers with smart, in-depth reporting on issues that go beyond the East Bay and Northern California.
Over the past few weeks, Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan has come under fire for publicly objecting to the federal crackdown on medical cannabis and the attempt by US Attorney Melinda Haag to close Harborside Health Center. San Francisco Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson and Oakland Tribune columnist Tammerlin Drummond both argued that Kaplan’s objection to the crackdown was wrongheaded and that she should have focused instead on the spike in violent crime in Oakland. But the criticisms of Kaplan are not only misguided, they’re ridiculous.
There was a time when the division between mainstream dailies and alt weekly papers seemed as sacrosanct as the separation of church and state. So thought Tim Redmond, editor and publisher of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, which bucked that old notion in May when it merged with The San Francisco Examiner. Now that the two papers are comfortably sharing office space — but not editorial content — in San Francisco's financial district, Redmond admits the transition went even more smoothly than he'd anticipated.
And more importantly, it would prohibit your boss — or your university, or any public agency — from requesting your username and password on any social media network. Today the Assembly Judiciary Committee unanimously passed SB 1349, a bill by San Francisco Senator Leland Yee that would forbid California universities from demanding access to students' accounts. A similar bill by San Jose Assemblywoman Norma Campos, which Yee co-authored, will go before the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee tomorrow. Both legislators say they've seen a rash of privacy invasions lately, as schools and businesses attempt to control the networking habits of their students and employees. Whether the law will be effective at curbing ill-considered posts, or aggregators of such posts, remains to be seen. But privacy advocates say it's a step in the right direction.
Oakland’s receipt of a warning letter from state Controller John Chiang on the use of redevelopment funds last year has been making headlines over the past week. Chronicle columnists Matier and Ross have repeatedly made a big deal out of the letter, contending that Chiang is demanding that Oakland pay the state more than $30 million for redevelopment expenditures involving the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center and the proposed Coliseum City project. However, the letter from Chiang, obtained by the Express, makes no mention of either the Kaiser or Coliseum City, nor does it demand that Oakland pay the state any money. Instead, Chiang’s missive is merely a form letter that he sent to cities and counties throughout California. In fact, the letter is not even specifically addressed to Oakland.
The San Francisco Bay Guardian announced today that it expects to be officially purchased by the owners of the San Francisco Examiner next month. "Both parties are optimistic that a final contract will be signed shortly, most likely in May," the Guardian said on its website.
According to the Bay Guardian, Todd Vogt, president and publisher of the Examiner, said he was proud to be able to help a community institution continue with its mission. “Bruce [Brugmann] and Jean [Dibble] have created a legendary publication, and we are happy to be able to give it a new home and the chance to continue its mission," Vogt said. He added that the two papers will remain separate and distinct in most ways, although “the potential synergies will be beneficial to readers and advertisers.”
News that the owners of the San Francisco Examiner are on the verge of buying the San Francisco Bay Guardian was met with surprise and shock last night. But that’s probably because many people are under the mistaken impression that the Examiner is still owned by conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz. And so the idea that a right-wing mogul would purchase the ultra-left Guardian seemed bewildering, if not some kind of reactionary media conspiracy.
However, Anschutz sold the Examiner to a group of investors last year, and the new owners have already steered the paper toward the political left. They installed longtime former East Bay Express editor Stephen Buel as editor-in-chief of the Examiner, and the paper’s editorial pages are now positioned to the left of the Chronicle — although the Ex is still not as liberal as the Guardian.
Nearly a year to the day after receiving an award from the League of Women Voters for "making democracy work," local news blog A Better Oakland has apparently ceased to exist. Citizen journalist Echa Schneider, who made a name for herself by indefatigably reporting on local news, business, redevelopment, and politics under the handle VSmoothe, quietly stopped blogging in the fall — her last entry, dated November 7, 2011, was written by a guest commentator. The site stayed up for several months after that, allowing readers to continue using the comment boards. Now anyone who clicks on the url will get an error page.
Six weeks ago, we wrote that calls for Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer to resign were premature. We contended that Lockyer needed time to get well, to recover from her substance-abuse problems. But over the past few weeks, a series of eye-popping news reports by Bay Area News Group reporters Josh Richman and Julia Prodis Sulek have made it clear that Lockyer’s problems are extremely serious and that she needs to resign from office and focus all her energy on taking care of herself. It could take a long time.
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.