Monday, May 19, 2014

East Bay Oil Refinery Protest Draws About 100 Demonstrators

by Jean Tepperman
Mon, May 19, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Accompanied by a four-kayak flotilla and a fifth-generation Martinez resident on horseback, about one hundred environmental activists marched seven miles from Martinez to Benicia on Saturday to protest the local toxic pollution and global climate impact of Bay Area oil refineries. The march was spearheaded by a Bay Area group affiliated with Idle No More, an organization of Canadian First Nations people fighting development of the tar sands oil fields in Alberta and other environmentally destructive projects on their traditional lands.

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Monday Must Reads: Violent Crime Plummets in Oakland; State Budget Analyst Says Brown Is Underestimating Revenue Surge

by Robert Gammon
Mon, May 19, 2014 at 9:50 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Violent crime has plummeted in Oakland this year, dropping significantly in every major category, including homicides and robberies, the Chron reports. Homicides are down 18 percent, and robberies have declined 38 percent. Shootings, meanwhile, are down 35 percent, and burglaries have dropped 11 percent. Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent credits the crime drops to the department’s Ceasefire violence prevention program, which targets street gangs, and to an increased emphasis on crime investigations. Decreasing crime also comes as good news for Mayor Jean Quan and her reelection campaign.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

New Private Bus Service Offers Late Night Rides From San Francisco's Mission District to Uptown Oakland

by Sam Levin
Thu, May 15, 2014 at 12:45 PM

Starting next week, San Francisco and Oakland residents who want to stay out past the last BART train on Friday and Saturday nights will have a new way to get across the bay. A startup called Night School is officially launching its service on Friday, May 23 — offering off-duty school buses from midnight to 4 a.m. that will shuttle passengers between the Mission District in San Francisco and Uptown Oakland.

Here's how it works: Riders will pay monthly memberships for unlimited access to the weekend buses, which will stop at Valencia and 18th Street in San Francisco and Telegraph Avenue and 17th Street in Oakland. A mobile app shows members when the next bus is arriving with real-time tracking.

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Thursday Must Reads: California Targets Dark Money; Bay Area Home Prices Reach Pre-Recession Levels

by Robert Gammon
Thu, May 15, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that targets so-called dark money political campaigns — shadowy nonprofits that engage in political activity and keep their donors secret. In recent years, dark money groups, especially those funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, have wielded an outsized-influence over US politics. Under the new law, all dark money nonprofits that spend at least $50,000 in a year on politics must publicly reveal their top ten donors, along with any contributor who donates more than $10,000, the LA Times$ reports. The new law takes effect July 1.

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LGBT Groups Fundraising to Create Transgender Women's Shelter in Oakland

by Sam Levin
Thu, May 15, 2014 at 9:49 AM

Even in the progressive Bay Area, transgender people face rampant violence and discrimination, an issue we covered in-depth in last year's feature "Transphobia." Across the country, transgender women of color are particularly vulnerable — victimized at disproportionately high rates and subject to regular housing discrimination and harassment. With these hardships in mind, LGBT advocates in the Bay Area are now raising funds to establish an Oakland-based shelter that will specifically serve transgender women.

A new Bay Area advocacy group called Transitions House is partnering with the San Francisco LGBT Center to raise money for the Queens Cottage Shelter, which will "offer shelter, food, connections to local resources and a safe haven to transgender women in the area," organizers said in an announcement yesterday.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wednesday Must Reads: Governor Brown Unveils Centrist Budget; Obamacare Sign-Up Surge Increases Costs to the State

by Robert Gammon
Wed, May 14, 2014 at 9:46 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Governor Jerry Brown unveiled a decidedly centrist budget proposal yesterday, resisting calls from liberal Democrats to increase spending for social service safety net programs and instead saying that paying down teacher pension debt and creating a rainy day fund reserve were higher priorities. The Chron reports that Republicans immediately praised the governor’s plan, especially the proposal to pay off teacher pension costs. Liberal Democrats, however, criticized the budget proposal, saying it doesn’t go nearly far enough to help low-income residents in need.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Bishop O'Dowd Program Director Refuses to Sign Oakland Diocese's New 'Morals' Code

by Sam Levin
Tue, May 13, 2014 at 12:44 PM

In recent weeks, the Diocese of Oakland has increasingly come under fire for requiring teachers in East Bay Catholic schools to agree to a new "morals" code in their contracts — a controversial revision that covers expected behavior in their personal lives. For background, check out the story we published last week on the backlash against the new clause. One of the central concerns from critics is that schools will lose out on good teachers who simply refuse to sign a morality code that could be used to discriminate against certain employees. Those fears, it turns out, are not unwarranted: I spoke today with Kathleen Purcell, director of the career partnerships program at Bishop O'Dowd High School, who has declined to agree to the new language — and thus won't be returning next year to the Oakland private school.

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Tuesday Must Reads: Economic Recovery Skips Low- and Middle-Income Workers; Melting Antarctic Ice Sheet Can’t Be Stopped

by Robert Gammon
Tue, May 13, 2014 at 9:46 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The economic recovery is largely bypassing low- and middle-income workers, whose wages remain well below what they were before the Great Recession, the Sacramento Business Journal$ reports, citing a new study from the California Budget Project (via Rough & Tumble): “The median hourly wage for a low-income worker in 2013 was $10.90, more than 5 percent below the inflation-adjusted, pre-recession level. The median wage for middle-income people, $19.10 an hour, is also just over 5 percent lower than the pre-recession level.” Wages for higher-income earners, by contrast, have returned to pre-crash levels.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

The East Bay's New Power Couple: Richmond’s Gay Police Chief Gets Married

by John Geluardi
Mon, May 12, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus and Terrance Cheung, the chief of staff in Supervisor John Gioia’s office, were married in a ceremony that took place among blooming flowers in the terraced amphitheater at the Berkeley Rose Garden over the weekend. After the small ceremony, the newlyweds held a reception for about 250 people at the Richmond waterfront restaurant Salute’s.

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Monday Must Reads: Quan Leads Oakland Mayoral Poll; Hot Weather, Fire Season Arrive Early

by Robert Gammon
Mon, May 12, 2014 at 9:50 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Mayor Jean Quan has a lead in the Oakland mayor’s race and is ahead of Councilmember Libby Schaaf, 53 to 47 percent in ranked choice voting, the Trib$ reports, citing a new poll from the Oakland Jobs and Housing Coalition. In terms of first-place votes, Quan leads with 20 percent, followed by Schaaf with15 percent; San Francisco State professor Joe Tuman at 8 percent; Port Commissioner Bryan Parker at 7 percent; civil rights attorney Dan Siegel at 5 percent; and City Auditor Courtney Ruby at 4 percent. The poll did not include Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, who led previous polls but has not yet decided whether she will enter the race. The poll also showed that nearly three-quarters of city residents back a plan to raise the minimum wage to $12.25 an hour.

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