Monday, June 30, 2014

Tenant Fears About Rent Increases in Oakland Materialize

by Jean Tepperman
Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 11:46 AM

Tenant organizations in Oakland have been worried that some landlords would rush to do upgrades on their buildings and jack up rents by August 1. On that date, new citywide rules take effect, limiting the ability of landlords to pass on the costs of capital upgrades to their tenants. And tenant fears that landlords would try to beat that deadline appear to have been justified — at least at one building in downtown.

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Monday Must Reads: Supreme Court Denies Oyster Farm Appeal; Oakland Housing Prices Continue to Soar

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 9:24 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The US Supreme Court today refused to hear an appeal filed by Drakes Bay Oyster Company, thereby upholding lower court rulings that ordered the controversial oyster farm at Point Reyes National Seashore to close, the Chron and AP report. The high court’s decision also affirms one made in 2012 by then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who decided to let the oyster farm’s lease expire to make way for the first federally protected marine wilderness on the West Coast. Today’s decision means the oyster farm has no more legal appeals of Salazar’s ruling.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Oakland Minimum Wage Increase Proposal Qualifies for 2014 Ballot

by Sam Levin
Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 11:03 AM

A coalition of activists and community groups is one step closer to raising the minimum wage in Oakland and setting new standards for paid sick days. Lift Up Oakland, the group leading the initiative, announced this morning that the Alameda County Registrar of Voters has verified the signatures on its ballot measure proposal to raise the minimum wage to $12.25 an hour. That means voters will have an opportunity to weigh in on the proposal in November. 

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Friday Must Reads: AC Transit Kills Bus Transfers; Kernighan Pushes to Tighten Campaign Finance Rules

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 9:36 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. AC Transit is eliminating 25-cent bus transfers effective Tuesday and is replacing them with a $5 day pass that allows unlimited trips, the CoCo Times$ reports. AC Transit also is reducing regular bus fares from $2.10 per trip to $2.00 if riders pay with a Clipper card. The changes are expected to speed up bus service, because they eliminate the need for passengers to purchase tickets each time they ride. But some passenger groups are upset, because the $5 pass likely will increase costs for some riders.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Toxic Pesticides Discovered in "Bee-Friendly" Garden Plants Sold at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart

by Sam Levin
Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Bees in the United States are dying at alarmingly high rates each year, and the devastation extends beyond the operations of commercial beekeepers. The declining health of bees is also raising concerns about potential consequences for our food system given that honeybees in particular are responsible for pollinating roughly one-third of all food that we eat. While there has been significant debate about the causes of this crisis, a growing body of research suggests that toxic pesticides widely used in agriculture have played a key role in bee losses — a topic which I explored in my recent cover story, "What's Poisoning the Bees."

A new study authored by a number of Berkeley-based experts, however, suggests that the poisonous pesticides aren't just a problem in agriculture. The toxic chemicals, they reported, are widely found in plants sold at major garden centers around the country — even ones marketed as "bee-friendly."

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Thursday Must Reads: A’s Jump Gun on Lease Deal; Minimum Wage Hike Dies in State Legislature

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 9:11 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Oakland A’s co-owner Lew Wolff announced yesterday that the team had agreed to a ten-year lease extension at the Coliseum, but city and county officials said the deal was not yet complete and that both sides were still negotiating, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. Wolff also told Major League Baseball about having a deal, even though it’s not finalized. Wolff also indicated that the team is interested in pursuing a new ballpark on the Coliseum site.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wednesday Must Reads: Audits Slams UC Berkeley for Shoddy Sexual Assault Investigations; Study Says Justice System Unfair to Latinos

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 9:39 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A new state audit sharply criticizes UC Berkeley and three other California universities — UCLA, Chico State, and San Diego State — for failing to adequately investigate sexual violence cases on campus, the Chron reports. Earlier this year, students sued UC Berkeley, alleging that campus officials discouraged them from reporting sexual assaults and mishandled the investigations. And last month, the federal government announced that it was investigating UC Berkeley and dozens of other campuses for violations of federal laws related to sexual violence.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Marriage Equality Activists Push for Social Security Benefits

by Ari Nussbaum
Tue, Jun 24, 2014 at 2:50 PM

In the past month, an online petition — on the campaign platform CREDO Mobilize — that urges Congress to extend Social Security benefits to same-sex couples has garnered more than 109,000 signatures. The petition is just one of many campaigns by advocacy groups backing the Social Security and Marriage Equality Act (SAME).

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New Opposition Emerges Against Smartphone Kill Switches

by Charlie Guese
Tue, Jun 24, 2014 at 1:24 PM


As smartphone kill switch legislation moves toward passage in Sacramento, new opposition is emerging against the bill — and it’s not from cellphone manufacturers and carriers. Instead, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a San Francisco-based advocacy group that is generally aligned with progressive causes, has decided to come out against SB 962 on the grounds that it might allow the government to turn off people’s cellphones in certain instances.

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Tuesday Must Reads: State Water Bond Deal Blocked in Senate; NTSB Cites Pilot Error In Deadly Asiana Crash

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Jun 24, 2014 at 9:16 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A proposal to place a $10.5 billion water bond on the November ballot failed to garner enough votes in the state Senate because Republicans want a greater share of the measure’s revenues to be spent on new dams and expanded reservoirs, the SacBee$ reports. Bond measure proposals require a two-thirds vote from the legislature, meaning that the water bond must have some GOP support. The current proposal would replace another $11.1 million bond measure that is already slated for the ballot, but is unlikely to be approved by state voters.

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