Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tuesday Must Reads: Oakland Council Okays New Garbage Pact; Alameda County Hospital System in Bad Financial Shape

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Sep 23, 2014 at 9:03 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland City Council voted 6-0-1 last night to approve a compromise deal involving the city’s garbage collection contract, the Chron and Trib$ report. The new pact calls for Waste Management to collect all garbage and green waste in the city, with California Waste Solutions (CWS) handling all recycling. The council had voted last month to award the entire contract to CWS, but Waste Management then sued the city and launched a referendum drive to overturn the council’s decision. As part of the compromise deal, Waste Management is dropping the lawsuit and referendum, and has agreed to pay the city’s legal bills.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday Must Reads: Climate March Draws More Than 300,000 People; Massive King Fire Causes Poor Air Quality

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Sep 22, 2014 at 8:50 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A huge demonstration on climate change in New York City drew more than 300,000 people on Sunday, The New York Times$ reports. The People’s Climate March coincided with similar demonstrations around the globe. The Manhattan event also featured climate change leaders like former Vice President Al Gore.

Plume from the King Fire. - USFS
  • USFS
  • Plume from the King Fire.
2. The massive King Fire near Placerville is causing unhealthy breathing conditions in the Sierra and forced the shutdown of the Lake Tahoe triathlon, the Chron reports. The arson-caused fire has destroyed ten homes and 22 other structures, and by this morning had spread to nearly 88,000 acres.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Notes from the Campaign Trail: The Best and Worst of the Oakland Mayoral Campaigns

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Sep 19, 2014 at 2:26 PM

In an interview last week, Oakland mayoral candidate Bryan Parker reacted to polling that placed Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan as the frontrunner in the race by saying that “there’s a lot of football yet to be played” before the election is won. After months of hard work on the campaign trail, said Parker, these are the dog days of the campaign, and in a tight race, the final result may hinge on which candidate wants it the most. 

He made a good point, and there are already signs that some candidates are experiencing a second wind of enthusiasm, while others look as if they need a recharge. Here are some of my impressions of the campaigns being run by the top candidates in the race.

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Friday Must Reads: UC Regents Okay Big Raises for Top Execs; Massive Fire Closes Major Freeway

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Sep 19, 2014 at 9:13 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Despite years of huge tuition hikes because of a lack of public funds, the University of California Board of Regents awarded 20 percent pay raises to the chancellors of three universities — UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Merced, the Chron reports. The top executives at those campuses now all make in excess of $380,000 a year in salary. Union officials were stunned by the move. "At a time when resources are needed to prevent tuition hikes and perform much needed safety maintenance, huge raises for UC's highest paid executives sends the wrong message about UC's priorities to the public we are here to serve," said Todd Stenhouse, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, the union for custodians, food and health care workers and other lower paid employees.

  • US Forest Service
  • King Fire.
2. The massive King Fire, which is now burning more than 76,000 acres, forced the closure of state Highway 50 as the blaze moved toward Lake Tahoe, the LA Times$ reports. Authorities say an arsonist started the fire and that they have a suspect in custody. The blaze has forced about 2,800 residents to evacuate their homes.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

New Poll Shows Kaplan With 15-Point Lead Over Quan, Schaaf Is a Close Third

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Sep 18, 2014 at 11:08 AM

A new poll released today shows that Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan leads Mayor Jean Quan by fifteen percentage points — 57.5 percent to 42.5 percent — in a ranked choice voting scenario. The poll also shows Councilmember Libby Schaaf in a close third place. Before being eliminated in the final round of ranked choice tabulations, Schaaf trails Quan by just two percentage points, 31 percent to 29 percent. About 39 percent of voters said they were still undecided — so their responses were not tabulated.

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Updated: Compromise Deal Reached on Oakland Garbage Contract

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Sep 18, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said this morning that a tentative deal has been reached to settle the dispute over the city’s garbage contract. Under the terms of the proposed deal, Waste Management would continue to collect garbage and green waste for the entire city while California Waste Solutions (CWS) would handle all the recycling, the mayor said. Waste Management also has agreed to drop its legal challenges and its voter-referendum drive to overturn the city council’s decision to award the entire contract to CWS. 

“We’re going to have the greenest contract in the country,” said Quan, who was in on the negotiations and had been pushing for weeks for the terms included in the tentative pact. “And it will be much cheaper than originally proposed.”

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Thursday Must Reads: Disgraced State Regulator Could Become a Judge; UC to Keep Ties to Big Oil, Coal, and Natural Gas

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Sep 18, 2014 at 9:19 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A top official with the California Public Utilities Commission who was ousted this week for providing special favors to PG&E could become a judge with the agency that regulates utilities, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. On Monday, the CPUC said Carol Brown, the chief of staff to CPUC Chair Michael Peevey, had resigned from her post after the disclosure that she had helped PG&E obtain a favorable judge to oversee a key a billion-dollar legal case. But Brown didn’t actually leave the CPUC — she only left Peevey’s office, and under civil service rules can now revert back to her old job: being a CPUC judge.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Richmond Residents Denounce Homophobic Slurs Directed at Councilmember

by John Geluardi
Wed, Sep 17, 2014 at 11:47 AM

Roughly fifty people, including state Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, showed up at last night’s Richmond City Council meeting to show support for Councilmember Jovanka Beckles who has suffered through years of homophobic attacks by a handful of bullies who are closely associated Councilmember Corky Booze.

Last night was the Richmond council’s first meeting since July 30. During the summer break, there were numerous news reports about the homophobic slurs hurled repeatedly at Beckles. The bigotry drew strong criticism from around the Bay Area and outraged many Richmond residents.

Assemblymember Skinner told the council during open forum that she is particularly proud to represent Richmond in part because of the city’s history of tolerance. She cited Richmond’s support of gay marriage as an example. “Remember, Richmond overwhelming supported the No on 8 campaign in 2008,” she said. “Richmond is not a hate city, it’s one of the most tolerant and most loving cities, let’s keep it that way.”

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Wednesday Must Reads: Governor Signs Historic Groundwater Rules; Oakland Schools to Pay $550,000 to Cop

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Sep 17, 2014 at 9:30 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. California, for the first time in its history, will regulate the use of groundwater in the state under a historic package of legislation signed by Governor Jerry Brown, the LA Times$ reports. Traditionally, residents and farms have been allowed to pump as much water from the ground as they can — an unregulated system that has led to dramatic over pumping and depleted groundwater reserves, particularly during the drought. California was one of the last states in the nation to regulate groundwater use.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tuesday Must Reads: PUC and PG&E Officials Ousted for Wrongdoing; Governor Signs Bicycle Safety Law

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Sep 16, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

Michael Peevey
  • Michael Peevey
1. The scandal involving PG&E and the state officials who are supposed to regulate the industry deepened with the firing of top executives and the revelation that the California Public Utilities Commission helped Pacific Gas & Electric Co. select a favorable judge in a case related to the 2010 San Bruno disaster, the Chron reports. Emails showed that PG&E officials pressed PUC commissioners Michael Peevey and Mike Florio, and Peevey’s chief of staff, to make sure that the PUC appointed a judge who would be favorable to PG&E in a case that will determine how much customers will have to pay to upgrade PG&E gas pipelines. Peevey ousted his chief of staff as a result of the emails and three top PG&E executives were canned.

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