Politics

Monday, May 19, 2014

Monday Must Reads: Violent Crime Plummets in Oakland; State Budget Analyst Says Brown Is Underestimating Revenue Surge

by Robert Gammon
Mon, May 19, 2014 at 9:50 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Violent crime has plummeted in Oakland this year, dropping significantly in every major category, including homicides and robberies, the Chron reports. Homicides are down 18 percent, and robberies have declined 38 percent. Shootings, meanwhile, are down 35 percent, and burglaries have dropped 11 percent. Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent credits the crime drops to the department’s Ceasefire violence prevention program, which targets street gangs, and to an increased emphasis on crime investigations. Decreasing crime also comes as good news for Mayor Jean Quan and her reelection campaign.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thursday Must Reads: California Targets Dark Money; Bay Area Home Prices Reach Pre-Recession Levels

by Robert Gammon
Thu, May 15, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that targets so-called dark money political campaigns — shadowy nonprofits that engage in political activity and keep their donors secret. In recent years, dark money groups, especially those funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, have wielded an outsized-influence over US politics. Under the new law, all dark money nonprofits that spend at least $50,000 in a year on politics must publicly reveal their top ten donors, along with any contributor who donates more than $10,000, the LA Times$ reports. The new law takes effect July 1.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wednesday Must Reads: Governor Brown Unveils Centrist Budget; Obamacare Sign-Up Surge Increases Costs to the State

by Robert Gammon
Wed, May 14, 2014 at 9:46 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Governor Jerry Brown unveiled a decidedly centrist budget proposal yesterday, resisting calls from liberal Democrats to increase spending for social service safety net programs and instead saying that paying down teacher pension debt and creating a rainy day fund reserve were higher priorities. The Chron reports that Republicans immediately praised the governor’s plan, especially the proposal to pay off teacher pension costs. Liberal Democrats, however, criticized the budget proposal, saying it doesn’t go nearly far enough to help low-income residents in need.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

The East Bay's New Power Couple: Richmond’s Gay Police Chief Gets Married

by John Geluardi
Mon, May 12, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus and Terrance Cheung, the chief of staff in Supervisor John Gioia’s office, were married in a ceremony that took place among blooming flowers in the terraced amphitheater at the Berkeley Rose Garden over the weekend. After the small ceremony, the newlyweds held a reception for about 250 people at the Richmond waterfront restaurant Salute’s.

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Monday Must Reads: Quan Leads Oakland Mayoral Poll; Hot Weather, Fire Season Arrive Early

by Robert Gammon
Mon, May 12, 2014 at 9:50 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Mayor Jean Quan has a lead in the Oakland mayor’s race and is ahead of Councilmember Libby Schaaf, 53 to 47 percent in ranked choice voting, the Trib$ reports, citing a new poll from the Oakland Jobs and Housing Coalition. In terms of first-place votes, Quan leads with 20 percent, followed by Schaaf with15 percent; San Francisco State professor Joe Tuman at 8 percent; Port Commissioner Bryan Parker at 7 percent; civil rights attorney Dan Siegel at 5 percent; and City Auditor Courtney Ruby at 4 percent. The poll did not include Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, who led previous polls but has not yet decided whether she will enter the race. The poll also showed that nearly three-quarters of city residents back a plan to raise the minimum wage to $12.25 an hour.

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, LGBT Groups Protest Oakland Diocese's New 'Morals' Code for Teachers

by Sam Levin
Fri, May 9, 2014 at 11:49 AM

In recent months, Catholic school employees throughout the East Bay have increasingly expressed concerns about a new clause in the Oakland Diocese's 2014-15 teacher contract that dictates expectations for their behavior in their personal lives. As I noted in our print story this week on the new "morals" code, I've heard from numerous individuals worried about this policy change since Bishop Michael Barber first unveiled the rewritten contract in March. It appears, however, that the backlash is not limited to a small group of critics within the diocese: Today, Assemblymember Nancy Skinner is staging a protest and press conference, featuring eight speakers condemning the contract language.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Oakland Animal Services Releases Report on Staff Vacancies, Euthanasia Rates

by Sam Levin
Wed, May 7, 2014 at 11:09 AM

Last week, several Oakland City Council members proposed a substantial overhaul of Oakland Animal Services (OAS), the chronically understaffed city-run shelter. The proposal, following mounting criticisms that the shelter does not have adequate resources to care for the animals it takes in, is to move OAS from its current management within the Oakland Police Department and instead establish civilian staff oversight.

A week later, city officials have offered something of a response with a memo from the police department providing details on "recent efforts to enhance rescue efforts, hire additional staff to fill vacancies and improve overall Shelter operations," city spokesperson Karen Boyd wrote in an email alert yesterday. The report does not address potential restructuring, but does provide a snapshot of the shelter's vacant positions as well as new data on euthanasia rates.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tuesday Must Reads: Berkeley Councilman Targets Tall Buildings; State Senate to Reconsider Kill Switch Legislation

by Robert Gammon
Tue, May 6, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Berkeley Councilmember Jesse Arreguin is backing a proposed ballot measure that would require tall buildings planned for the city’s downtown area to meet strict environmental standards, Berkeleyside reports. Any buildings more than 75-feet tall would be required to meet LEED platinum standards. In addition, tall buildings also would have to include at least 30 percent affordable units. Opponents of the measure say it would effectively block new development planned for downtown Berkeley. The proposal also appears to conflict with a measure adopted by Berkeley voters in 2010 that sought to increase density in the city’s downtown area.

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Monday Must Reads: Young Sea Lions Starving in Record Numbers; State Hires Rookies to Inspect Refineries

by Robert Gammon
Mon, May 5, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A record number of young sea lions are starving and turning up dehydrated along the California Coast, and researchers are trying to figure out why the emaciated pups are beaching themselves as well, the Chron reports. A suspected cause is toxic algae blooms that have plagued the Monterey Bay area. The toxins in the algae move up the food chain and can “cause memory loss, tremors, convulsions, and death.”

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Friday Must Reads: Judge Orders Berkeley to Use Disputed Student Council District; Oakland Schools Get New Superintendent

by Robert Gammon
Fri, May 2, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. An Alameda County Superior Court judge ordered Berkeley to use in this year’s elections new council district boundaries that include a disputed district, in which a large majority of the residents are UC Berkeley students. As a result, Berkeley might have its first Cal student on the city council since Nancy Skinner (now an Assemblymember) won election in the 1980s. Some opponents of the new district contended that it was designed by the council majority to remove Councilmember Kriss Worthington from office. But Judge Evelio Grillo ruled that the city could not return to old council districts drawn up in 2002, because they are now unconstitutional, the Trib$ reports.

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