Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mills Officially Opens to Transgender Students

by Sarah Burke
Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 12:20 PM

Mills Hall.
  • Mills Hall.
Mills, an Oakland women's college, has recently decided to officially define its acceptance policy toward transgender and gender fluid applicants. According to what Brian O'Rourke, the school's vice president of enrollment and admissions, told the San Francisco Chronicle, Mills accepts three to five students every year who don't identify with their birth-assigned gender. There are a number of women's colleges across the nation that have also been accepting transgender and gender fluid students for some time now, especially on the East Coast, but none have explicitly outlined the practice in their policy before. Mills has now done just that, with a unanimous vote from the trustees enrollment committee in May.

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Tuesday Must Reads: Brown Signs Kill Switch Law; Moderate Democrats Block Plastic Bag Ban

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 10:22 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

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1. Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation yesterday requiring smartphone manufacturers to install kill switches on their devices that make them inoperable when stolen, the Mercury News$ reports. The new law, which was backed by Oakland city leaders and law enforcement officials, is designed to stem the cellphone robbery epidemic nationwide. The new law takes effect in July 2015, and mandates that kill switches are a default function on all smartphones sold in California.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Must Reads: Brick Buildings Fared Badly in Napa Quake; 75% of Oakland Residents Back Minimum Wage Hike

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Aug 25, 2014 at 9:51 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Brick buildings — even ones that had been retrofitted — fared poorly in the Napa earthquake as many unreinforced masonry structures suffered significant damage in the 6.0 shaker, the LA Times$ reports. One thirteen-year-old was critically injured in the quake by a collapsing chimney. The quake emanated from a little-known fault about 6.7 miles beneath the surface and was felt as far away as Fresno, the Chron reports.
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thursday Must Reads: Hundreds in Oakland Protest Police Brutality; Judge Appoints Investigator to Probe Oakland Police Misconduct

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 9:43 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Hundreds of protesters gathered in downtown Oakland last night to demonstrate against police brutality, the Chron and Trib$ report. The demonstrators decried the officer-involved shooting last week in Ferguson, Missouri and fatal shootings by police in the Bay Area.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday Must Reads: Popularity of Obamacare Surges; Giant Solar Farm Is Incinerating Thousands of Birds

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 9:49 AM

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Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The popularity of Obamacare is surging in California with 56 percent of residents now reporting that they support and are satisfied with the Affordable Care Act, the Chron reports, citing a new Field Poll. In addition, 60 percent of Californians reported that they were happy with how the state rolled out the program. About 3.4 million state residents signed up for coverage under Obamacare.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Waste Management Sues Oakland Over Garbage Contract Fight

by Sam Levin
Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 1:18 PM

Waste Management worker in San Leandro. - STEPHEN LOEWINSOHN/FILE PHOTO
  • STEPHEN LOEWINSOHN/FILE PHOTO
  • Waste Management worker in San Leandro.
The dirty fight for Oakland's trash just got a lot messier. Waste Management, the Texas-based corporation that currently collects the city's trash, filed a lawsuit this morning against the City of Oakland, weeks after the City Council awarded the entire $1 billion waste contract to a different company, California Waste Solutions (CWS). The council unanimously voted against the recommendation of city staffers when it chose CWS, a company that has never had a residential garbage contract before and was, based on the city's analysis, ill-prepared to do the job starting July 1, 2015. 

And according to the lawsuit filed today, CWS was not only the inferior choice, it also illegally won the bid as a result of the city violating numerous provisions of its own request-for-proposals (RFP) process. 

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Monday Must Reads: Big Soda Sues Berkeley Over Proposed Tax; PG&E’s Coziness With Regulators Deepens

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Major beverage makers are financing a lawsuit against the City of Berkeley over its proposed soda tax measure on the November ballot, the Trib$ reports. The lawsuit contends that Berkeley’s proposed one-cent-per-one-ounce tax on sugary beverages is “false, misleading, and illegally biased.” Backers of the measure are accusing Big Soda of bullying tactics.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

State Lawmakers Consider LGBTQ-Friendly Birth Certificates

by Ari Nussbaum
Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 10:34 AM

Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez is sponsoring AB 1951.
  • Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez is sponsoring AB 1951.
A bill in Sacramento could force the California Department of Public Health to modify birth certificates in California to be more LGBTQ-friendly. The legislation, AB 1951, would require all birth certificates to provide parents with a gender-neutral option rather than just the traditional mother and father ones.

Currently, California birth certificates have two options for parents — one labeled as “Name of Mother” and one “Name of Father.” This restrictive wording has forced same-sex couples to inaccurately define their status — for example, a lesbian couple may have to choose one partner to sign as the child’s father. If passed, AB 1951 would change birth certificates to simply label both lines as “Name of Parent”; following the parent’s name would be three boxes from which they could choose labeled “mother,” “father,” or the gender-neutral option “parent.”

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California Health Department Opposes Bill to Help Formerly Incarcerated People Access Jobs

by Sam Levin
Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 9:47 AM

click image Senator Holly Mitchell. - VIA SENATE.CA.GOV
  • via senate.ca.gov
  • Senator Holly Mitchell.
People with criminal records often face a steep uphill battle when trying to find employment after incarceration — a challenge which can trap them in poverty as they struggle to rehabilitate their lives. Securing stable, living-wage jobs can be particularly difficult for this population, which is why civil rights advocates are promoting legislation that would eliminate a key employment barrier in the healthcare industry. Senate Bill 1384, which passed the state Senate in June and will soon face a vote at the Assembly, would change the law so that people hoping to become certified nursing assistants (CNAs) would no longer face automatic license denials due to past convictions. 

It's a reform that would level the playing field and open up CNA job opportunities to otherwise qualified candidates. Why, then, is the California Department of Public Health opposing the measure? 

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Thursday Must Reads: Oakland Council Finalizes New Garbage Deal; State Lawmakers Put $7.5 Billion Water Bond on Ballot

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 9:33 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland City Council finalized a deal on the city’s garbage contract, awarding the lucrative pact to California Waste Solutions (CWS), an Oakland-based company that has never collected garbage or green waste before, the Chron and Trib$ report. Under the deal, CWS will take over all garbage, green waste, and recycling in the city from Waste Management starting next year, and collections rates for residents will increase by 23 percent. Waste Management had made a last-minute offer with lower rates, but the council rejected it. CWS must build a temporary waste processing facility, while it constructs a permanent one to open in about five years.

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