Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday Must Reads: Oakland A’s Boosters Push Waterfront Ballpark Proposal; East Bay Bird Count Strangely Low

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A coalition of Oakland business leaders and A’s boosters have put together a $500 million plan to build a new ballpark for the team at Howard Terminal along the city’s waterfront, the Chron reports. Leading the effort, which has the backing of Mayor Jean Quan, are Clorox Chairman and CEO Don Knauss and T. Gary Rogers of Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream. The Save the A’s coalition also includes former city Planning Commissioner Doug Boxer and Michael Ghielmetti of Signature Development Group, which is building a massive housing development not far from the proposed ballpark. The stadium would be just west of Jack London Square.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

After Homeless Deaths, UC Berkeley and San Jose State Students Launch Sleeping Bag Drive

by Sam Levin
Fri, Dec 13, 2013 at 4:44 PM

Over the past two weeks, seven homeless people have died in the Bay Area, all most likely a result of the cold weather. The deaths prompted students from UC Berkeley and San Jose State to join together and raise funds for hundreds of sleeping bags, which they will deliver next week before Christmas.

"Who knows how many have died that haven't been reported?" said Taliah Mirmalek, a UC Berkeley student who is helping to coordinate the drive. "It's very upsetting news. The sadness led to wanting to take action. ... This is everybody recognizing that every community has homeless community members."

The students have well surpassed their original fundraising goals. Details on how to donate below.

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Massive Housing Development Put on Fast Track in Oakland

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Dec 13, 2013 at 11:47 AM

The head of a wealthy Chinese investment group that is pouring more than $1 billion into a massive housing project on Oakland’s waterfront said he’s putting the development on a fast-track to take advantage of the city’s red-hot housing market. Speaking through an interpreter during an interview with reporters in Mayor Jean Quan’s office this week, Weixun Shan, chairman of Zarsion Holdings Group of China, said he wants to complete the 3,000-unit housing development near Jack London Square within three to four years. Originally, the development, known as Brooklyn Basin, was to be built over a six-to-eight year period.

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Friday Must Reads: Oakland City Administrator Deanna Santana Applies for Job in Dallas; Sex Workers Win Rape Victim Compensation

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Dec 13, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Oakland City Administrator Deanna Santana has applied to be the city manager of Dallas and is one of five finalists for the job, the Dallas Morning News reports. The Oakland Tribune reports that Mayor Jean Quan is expected to appoint Assistant City Administrator Fred Blackwell to take over for Santana if she gets the Dallas position. In her two-plus years in Oakland, Santana has become a polarizing figure and has repeatedly angered progressives and labor organizations. Blackwell has been spearheading the city’s attempts to keep its sports teams.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Oakland Council Approves Circus Safety Rules But Doesn’t Ban Bullhooks for Now

by Steven Tavares
Thu, Dec 12, 2013 at 3:19 PM

The use of bullhooks by circuses traveling through Oakland will continue, but according to some opponents of the fire poker-like implement used to control elephants, the end may be near. On Tuesday night, the city council unanimously approved an ordinance authored by Councilmember Libby Schaaf that places stronger regulations on the safety of spectators at circus performances in Oakland and rules ensuring the greater care of the animals. Until Tuesday night’s decision, the city lacked a specific ordinance regarding either issue. The new ordinance is similar to regulations passed in San Jose, Sacramento, and Los Angeles.

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Thursday Must Reads: FDA Attempts to Limit Factory Farm Antibiotics; Asiana Crash Probe Focuses on Pilot Error

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Dec 12, 2013 at 10:13 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The FDA has finally decided to try to curb the use of antibiotics in factory farms nationwide in an attempt to stem the growth of antibiotic-resistant super bugs that kill 23,000 Americans each year, the Chron reports. Big Agribusinesses have long used antibiotics to prevent livestock that stand shoulder-to-shoulder in their own excrement from getting sick. But studies have shown that this practice creates super bugs that when transferred to humans cannot be treated. Some environmentalists, however, are criticizing the FDA’s plan as being too weak because it’s a voluntary program.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

California Sex Worker Groups Seek Access to Compensation for Rape Victims

by Sam Levin
Wed, Dec 11, 2013 at 10:59 AM

In California, victims of rape and other violent crime are entitled to compensation for costs covering medical treatment, mental health services, income loss, and more. For sex workers, however, it's a different story.

Tomorrow morning, sex worker advocacy organizations will gather at the Capitol in Sacramento for a rally in advance of a California State Victims Compensation Board vote on a controversial policy that denies financial compensation to rape victims who are sex workers. The groups are hoping that the board will scrap the rule altogether, so that all victims, regardless of their involvement in sex work, can access the financial support the state provides.

"This is hurting real people who have real communities and families and friends," said Maxine Doogan, an organizer with the Erotic Service Providers Union. "When people are rejected by the state, it's like saying, you are not good enough. You deserve it."

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Wednesday Must Reads: Oakland Pot Guru Defrauded City; Oakland to Pay Kayvan Sabeghi $645,000

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Dec 11, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Dharminder "Dhar" Mann, the CEO of WeGrow, a marijuana growing store in Oakland, and a self-styled “ganjapreneur” who once graced the cover of Mother Jones magazine, pleaded no contest to five felony charges of defrauding the city, the Trib reports. Mann, who is also the son of a politically connected family that owns a monopoly on the city’s taxicab industry, is scheduled to be sentenced next month for improperly pocketing redevelopment funds. The city council had green-lighted a medical pot dispensary linked to Mann, but then withdrew the approval after his criminality came to light.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday Must Reads: Majority of Californians Back Pot Legalization; Oakland Police Having Difficulty Hiring Cops

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Dec 10, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A strong majority of California residents — 55 percent — now supports the legalization of marijuana, the Bay Area News Group reports, citing a new Field Poll. In addition, 56 percent of respondents said they would vote for a ballot measure that has been proposed for the November 2014 election. The so-called California Cannabis Hemp Initiative would decriminalize pot and require the state to tax and regulate it. The poll results have some pot legalization backers re-examining whether it makes sense for a ballot measure next year or to wait until 2016.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Berkeley Council Adopts First-Ever Student District

by Sarah Burke
Mon, Dec 9, 2013 at 10:27 AM

The Berkeley City Council voted to implement a redistricting map that will make Berkeley the first municipality in the country to form a council district designed solely to represent the interests of college students. But some councilmembers and community members feel that the new district lines do not fairly represent the student body, and a coalition of community organizers plans to petition for a referendum of the ordinance.

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