Thursday, November 29, 2012

Vote on Oakland Graffiti Crackdown Postponed

by J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 2:24 PM

Members of the Oakland City Council Public Works Committee held off approval of a proposed new crackdown-on-graffiti ordinance this week, sending it back to the City Attorney’s Office for what staff is calling “minor tweaks.”

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Measure B1 Backers to Pay for Partial Recount

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 2:04 PM

The backers of Measure B1, the countywide tax measure that would have raised $7.8 billion for transportation and smart-growth projects, have decided to pay for a partial recount of ballots cast in the November 6 election. Measure B1 fell just 721 votes short of passing, garnering 66.53 percent of the vote, 0.14 percent shy of the 66.67 percent it needed to win. If the partial recount produces more votes for Measure B1, then supporters plan to pay for a full recount of all the 600,000 ballots cast in the election countywide.

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Oakland City Council to Rule on Lake Merritt Dog Park Proposal on Tuesday

by Nate Seltenrich
Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 1:54 PM

Oakland’s controversial Lake Merritt Dog Park proposal comes to a head … again … on the evening of Tuesday, December 4, and it's gonna be a throwdown. That's in the words of Maria Alderete, owner of Luka’s Taproom & Lounge and about as close to an independent voice as you’ll find in one of Oakland’s longest-running park sagas, now in its fourteenth year.

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UPDATED: BREAKING NEWS: US Secretary Salazar Decides that Drakes Bay Oyster Company Should Close

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 10:21 AM

US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar decided today that a controversial oyster farm at Point Reyes National Seashore should close tomorrow so that Drakes Estero can become the first federally protected marine wilderness on the West Coast. “I’ve taken this matter very seriously. We’ve undertaken a robust public process to review the matter from all sides, and I have personally visited the park to meet with the company and members of the community,” Salazar said in a statement. “After careful consideration of the applicable law and policy, I have directed the National Park Service to allow the permit for the Drakes Bay Oyster Company to expire at the end of its current term and to return the Drakes Estero to the state of wilderness that Congress designated for it in 1976. I believe it is the right decision for Point Reyes National Seashore and for future generations who will enjoy this treasured landscape.”

Drakes Bay Oyster Company's lease at Point Reyes will expire on November 30. Salazar directed the National Park Service "to work with the oyster company to remove its personal property from the lands and waters within 90 days."

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Plastic Dog Toys May Be Toxic

by Lindsey Konkel
Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 9:13 AM

Dogs that chew on plastic training devices and toys may be exposed to hormone-altering chemicals, according to research at Texas Tech University. The researchers found that bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates — ingredients of hard plastics and vinyl — readily leach from bumper toys, which are used to train retrieving dogs.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Climate Takes a Hit

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 8:01 AM

Sometimes we feel like a broken record here at the Express. During the past several years, we’ve written extensively about climate change and the most effective ways to combat it. As such, readers know that cars and trucks are among the primary causes of global warming, and that one of the most important things that we can do in the Easy Bay is to spur urban growth and limit suburban sprawl so that people will have shorter commutes — or better yet, will walk, bike, or take mass transit to work. However, the narrow defeat of two key ballot measures — B1 and T — in this month’s election will make it much more difficult to achieve those goals.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Port Workers to Strike Tonight

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Nov 19, 2012 at 12:35 PM

Starting tonight and following months of fruitless labor negotiations, workers employed by the Port of Oakland will strike for 24 hours with a picket at Terminal 1 of the Oakland International Airport. On Tuesday, they plan to picket the Port's maritime terminals. Because other unions crucial to the Port's operations such as the ILWU longshore workers will not cross picket lines, it's likely the strike will disrupt operations at both the airport and marine terminals, effectively shutting down the movement of millions of dollars' worth of goods.

The strike comes after sixteen months of failed talks between the Port and the major unions that represent its employees. SEIU 1021, which represents 223 of the Port's 474 full-time employees has been without a contract since June 30, 2011. The same is true for the Western Council of Engineers and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1245, which represent 38 and 36 workers, respectively. The fourth union, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 21, which represents 154 workers, has been without a contract since June 30 of this year.

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Late Election Results: the New Normal

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Nov 19, 2012 at 7:07 AM

Last Friday morning, the Secretary of State’s Office reported that there were still at least 1.7 million uncounted ballots in California — ten days after the election. The Alameda County Registrar of Voters Office, which was much more efficient at counting ballots than most other election offices around the state, didn’t post its final vote tallies until last Thursday night. As a result, several close contests in the county, including Measures B1 and T, were not decided until nine days after the election.

Welcome to the new normal.

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Friday, November 16, 2012


by Robert Gammon
Fri, Nov 16, 2012 at 9:21 AM

Updated 9:20 a.m., 11/16: The Alameda County Registrar of Voters reported to the state last night that it finished counting its late-absentee and provisional ballots. The final results show that Measure B1, the countywide tax for transportation, lost by the narrowest of margins, finishing with 66.53 percent of the vote, just short of the 66.67 percent it needed. It lost by 721 votes out of 527,403 cast in that contest.

Measure T, West Berkeley development, also lost, finishing 512 votes short.

In all, 602,479 ballots were cast in Alameda County, a turnout of 74.3 percent. Of that total, more than 200,000 were late-absentee and provisional ballots.

Although there is still more counting to do in Contra Costa County, we're calling all of the remaining close races that we'd been tracking since Election Night.

If an East Bay contest is not on the below list, then we had already considered that race to be decided. Check our previous posts to find the winners of those races.

Here's our list of winners in the final contests that we were watching:

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Dan Kalb and Rob Bonta Win; Berkeley Measure S Loses

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Nov 12, 2012 at 10:43 AM

We're finally calling several election contests after the Alameda County Registrar of Voters tabulated more than 70,000 late-arriving ballots over the weekend and the new updates failed to change the races significantly. In all, the registrar has counted more than 150,000 ballots since Election Night, bringing the total ballots cast in the county to 551,140 as of late Sunday.

Registrar Dave MacDonald told the Express on Saturday that his office planned to begin counting the 40,000 provisional ballots today. However, we think those votes are unlikely to change the outcomes of the contests we're now calling. Any race that's still closer than 2 percentage points remains too close to call.

As a result, we're calling Dan Kalb as the winner of the Oakland City Council District 1 race. In ranked-choice balloting, Kalb has maintained a substantial lead over Amy Lemley since last Tuesday. Currently, he's ahead 51.91 percent to 48.09 percent.

In Berkeley, Measure S, the sit/lie ordinance, has lost. Measure S has been losing since Election Night, and currently is behind 48.38 percent to 51.66 percent. However, we think Measure T, West Berkeley development, is still too close to call. It's losing 49.52 percent to 50.48 percent, a margin of 440 votes.

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