With just a few days to go before the June 3 vote, all the candidates for public office are getting antsy. Ignacio De la Fuente called opponent Mario Juarez a "god-damned opportunist," and Juarez waved De la Fuente's incarcerated son in front of the voters. Election season: it brings out the best in all of us!
No one has been more charming than the California Tribal Business Alliance, also known as the state's Indian gambling interests. As state Assemblywoman Loni Hancock slugs it out with Wilma Chan over who is going to replace Don Perata, the Tribal Business Alliance thought they'd get in on the act. So they formed a group called Education Leaders for High Standards and circulated a flier hammering Hancock on her education record. Of course, Indian gambling interests don't really care about education. They care about the San Pablo Lytton Casino, which was supposed to get five thousand slot machines before Hancock raised a giant fuss. Now they're gunning after her as payback, and hiding behind the children of California to do it. Like we said, charming.
How Will Oakland Pay for Its Cops and Schools?
We've often looked askance at Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, but last week he finally did something tough: talk about taxes. With a rising chorus demanding more cops, and a petition circulating that would mandate a police force of more than one thousand officers, Dellums said what everyone has been quietly avoiding: We have to find a way to pay for all those cops you want. While addressing latest graduating class from the Oakland police academy, Dellums mentioned that we should consider a ballot measure to raise property taxes in order to finance cop salaries. The Trib reported quite a bit of reluctance among Oakland voters to part with their money, which is par for the course for a city that always says it wants more cops, but has rarely agreed to actually pay for them.
Meanwhile, Oakland's school district is facing an unsettling and worsening financial crisis, as gentrification changes the fundamental dynamics of the city. As childless tech professionals replace the city's traditional blue-collar stock, fewer and fewer children are showing up for school; the student population has declined by 27 percent in the last eight years. Since the district's state money is prorated on a per-student basis, that means that the Oakland school district is losing millions and millions in cash. Last week, Chief Financial Officer Leon Glaster reported that the problem has gotten so bad that Oakland may have to close up to seventeen more schools.
Feds Nab a Fortune in Counterfeit Goods at Port
Hey, maybe we could pay for all our cops by selling counterfeit purses! Last week, federal customs agents cracked open a shipping container at the Oakland Port, and discovered $22 million in fake Guccis, Pradas, Bulgaris, you name it. Of course, that $22 million figure refers to the price such purses would demand in actual stores, whereas hawking them at purse parties or from the trunk of a car, as the smugglers undoubtedly intended, would fetch considerably less. But we're sitting on a gold mine here, people!
Oakland Bus Driver Best in Nation
Or maybe we could market the skills of one Jesse Dela Cruz, the AC Transit bus driver who just took top honors in the national transit operator competition down in Austin, Texas! Dela Cruz won the "roadeo" by navigating an obstacle course in less than seven minutes. In addition to weaving the big bus around the course, Dela Cruz courteously called out each stop and was meticulous enough to check for gas cans hidden under the seats. (God, we hate it when that happens.) The East Bay can now boast the greatest bus driver in America. Let's find a way to make this pay off!
Citing a rising tide of animal rights protests, the University of California announced it would no longer divulge the details of animal research conducted in its laboratories. ... After promising to stop trying to recall Republican state Senator Jeff Denham, Don Perata quietly transferred $110,000 into the recall Denham campaign, prompting fears that the effort was still underway; a Perata spokesman claimed the transfer was just to retire some old debt. ... As the bodies pile up in Burma following that country's terrible cyclone disaster, Congress has decided to reexamine law giving Chevron tax breaks on profits it gleans from a Burmese natural gas plant. Chevron representatives claimed that rescinding the tax breaks would force them to sell their share of the plant, and taxes from the sale would only give the Burmese junta more money. ... After months of dismal numbers, the housing market finally showed signs of life, as the number of homes sold in the Bay Area rose an astonishing 33 percent. Nonetheless, experts predicted that the housing market still has a long way to go before it comes close to recovering.
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