Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thursday Must Read: Brown Blocks Sale of State Buildings; Is There a Redevelopment Compromise in the Works?

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Feb 10, 2011 at 6:59 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Governor Jerry Brown has scuttled a controversial plan to sell eleven state-owned buildings, including one in Oakland, the Chron reports. The proposed sale would have netted the state about $1.2 billion this year, but Brown said the plan would have wasted money over the long-term because California would have to spend $6 billion over the next 35 years to lease back the buildings for use. Former Governor Schwarzenegger originally proposed the building sale.

2. The head of the California Redevelopment Association told lawmakers yesterday that his group is open to compromise on the governor’s plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies, the Ventura County Star reports. John Shirey, testifying at a state Senate hearing, said his group would be open to sharing redevelopment funds with schools. Brown wants to kill redevelopment agencies and transfer the tax money they collect to K-12 education and other services. But at least one state senator said a compromise might not be possible because of Prop 22, a statewide measure approved by voters in November that prohibits the state from redirecting property taxes that go to redevelopment.

3. In yet another example of the cozy relationship between PG&E and state regulators, the Chron reports that the California Public Utilities Commission delayed the release of a critical audit of the utility’s pipeline safety procedures until after the San Bruno disaster. The CPUC also won’t explain why.

4. There’s rarely good news about California schools, but today the Chron reports that the state ranks sixth nationwide in terms of high school students passing at least one Advanced Placement test before graduation. Only five states beat California's pass rate of 22.3 percent: Maryland, New York, Virginia, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The national average was 16.9 percent.

5. The historic USS Potomac, a fixture on Oakland’s waterfront for the past fifteen years, may have to close because it has not been able to fill a funding gap created by Port of Oakland budget cuts, the Trib reports. Last week, the nearby Jack London Square Aquatic Center announced that it might have to close because of funding cuts from the city.

6. The number of Bay Area homes entering foreclosure surged in January, rising 38 percent over a year ago, the CoCo Times reports. The huge jump bucked a nationwide trend, which saw foreclosure notices drop 27 percent last month compared to January 2010.

7. And iPhone users will finally have an alternative to AT&T when Verizon begins selling the popular smartphone today, the Chron reports. We should also finally learn whether dropped calls were caused by AT&T’s network or problems with the iPhone itself.

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