Friday, May 9, 2014

Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, LGBT Groups Protest Oakland Diocese's New 'Morals' Code for Teachers

by Sam Levin
Fri, May 9, 2014 at 11:49 AM

In recent months, Catholic school employees throughout the East Bay have increasingly expressed concerns about a new clause in the Oakland Diocese's 2014-15 teacher contract that dictates expectations for their behavior in their personal lives. As I noted in our print story this week on the new "morals" code, I've heard from numerous individuals worried about this policy change since Bishop Michael Barber first unveiled the rewritten contract in March. It appears, however, that the backlash is not limited to a small group of critics within the diocese: Today, Assemblymember Nancy Skinner is staging a protest and press conference, featuring eight speakers condemning the contract language.

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Thursday Must Reads: AC Transit Loses $15.3 Million Legal Case; Californians Back Oil Extraction Tax Proposal

by Robert Gammon
Thu, May 8, 2014 at 9:58 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. An Alameda County jury has ordered AC Transit to pay $15.3 million to a woman who suffered serious back injuries when a bus sped over a speed bump in 2011, the Trib$ reports. The verdict, the largest ever personal injury judgment against AC Transit, followed testimony that included a video showing the victim, Maria Francisco, 20, getting thrown into the air, her back slamming against the roof of the bus, and then the bus driver verbally berating Francisco and accusing her of faking her injuries. AC Transit officials also refused to admit liability. Francisco has subsequently had three surgeries on her back and her medical bills have topped $1 million.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Oakland Animal Services Releases Report on Staff Vacancies, Euthanasia Rates

by Sam Levin
Wed, May 7, 2014 at 11:09 AM

Last week, several Oakland City Council members proposed a substantial overhaul of Oakland Animal Services (OAS), the chronically understaffed city-run shelter. The proposal, following mounting criticisms that the shelter does not have adequate resources to care for the animals it takes in, is to move OAS from its current management within the Oakland Police Department and instead establish civilian staff oversight.

A week later, city officials have offered something of a response with a memo from the police department providing details on "recent efforts to enhance rescue efforts, hire additional staff to fill vacancies and improve overall Shelter operations," city spokesperson Karen Boyd wrote in an email alert yesterday. The report does not address potential restructuring, but does provide a snapshot of the shelter's vacant positions as well as new data on euthanasia rates.

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Wednesday Must Reads: Scientists Say Climate Change Has Arrived; Baby Shorebirds Shredded to Death in Downtown Oakland

by Robert Gammon
Wed, May 7, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A large scientific panel has concluded that human-induced climate change from the burning of fossil fuels has arrived with a vengeance, as dry regions of the country are experiencing intense water shortages while wetter areas are being slammed more frequently by monster storms, The New York Times$ reports. “If greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane continue to escalate at a rapid pace, they said, the warming could conceivably exceed 10 degrees [Fahrenheit] by the end of this century. ‘Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,’ the scientists declared in a major new report.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tuesday Must Reads: Berkeley Councilman Targets Tall Buildings; State Senate to Reconsider Kill Switch Legislation

by Robert Gammon
Tue, May 6, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Berkeley Councilmember Jesse Arreguin is backing a proposed ballot measure that would require tall buildings planned for the city’s downtown area to meet strict environmental standards, Berkeleyside reports. Any buildings more than 75-feet tall would be required to meet LEED platinum standards. In addition, tall buildings also would have to include at least 30 percent affordable units. Opponents of the measure say it would effectively block new development planned for downtown Berkeley. The proposal also appears to conflict with a measure adopted by Berkeley voters in 2010 that sought to increase density in the city’s downtown area.

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Monday Must Reads: Young Sea Lions Starving in Record Numbers; State Hires Rookies to Inspect Refineries

by Robert Gammon
Mon, May 5, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A record number of young sea lions are starving and turning up dehydrated along the California Coast, and researchers are trying to figure out why the emaciated pups are beaching themselves as well, the Chron reports. A suspected cause is toxic algae blooms that have plagued the Monterey Bay area. The toxins in the algae move up the food chain and can “cause memory loss, tremors, convulsions, and death.”

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Friday Must Reads: Judge Orders Berkeley to Use Disputed Student Council District; Oakland Schools Get New Superintendent

by Robert Gammon
Fri, May 2, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. An Alameda County Superior Court judge ordered Berkeley to use in this year’s elections new council district boundaries that include a disputed district, in which a large majority of the residents are UC Berkeley students. As a result, Berkeley might have its first Cal student on the city council since Nancy Skinner (now an Assemblymember) won election in the 1980s. Some opponents of the new district contended that it was designed by the council majority to remove Councilmember Kriss Worthington from office. But Judge Evelio Grillo ruled that the city could not return to old council districts drawn up in 2002, because they are now unconstitutional, the Trib$ reports.

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thursday Must Reads: Greenhouse Gases Reach Highest Levels in More than 800,000 Years; Berkeley to Consider Taxing Airbnb

by Robert Gammon
Thu, May 1, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, has reached record levels in the earth’s atmosphere, averaging more than 400 parts per million for the first time last month, the Chron reports. CO2 is produced from burning fossil fuels, including oil, coal, and natural gas, and triggers climate change. Climate scientists have long been concerned about CO2 crossing the 400 parts per million threshold. Scientific data going back 800,000 years has never recorded atmospheric levels that high.

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