Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Seven Oakland Companies Make Top 100 List of Fastest-Growing City Businesses in US

by Sam Levin
Wed, Oct 22, 2014 at 1:32 PM

click image Oaklandish shot glasses. - BRAD WENNER - FILE PHOTO
  • BRAD WENNER - File photo
  • Oaklandish shot glasses.
Seven Oakland companies made the cut in a new ranking of the top 100 fastest-growing city businesses in the United States. The list, released by Fortune and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, a nonprofit research organization, includes the top 10 companies in 10 different industries as well as an overall ranking of the 100 selected businesses. The ranking is based on revenue growth between 2009 and 2013, and the winners come from 53 cities and 23 states.

Oakland had three winners in the food and beverage category, two in retail, one in professional services, and one in manufacturing (which also won second place in the overall list). From Fortune, below are the seven Oakland businesses featured on the list. 

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The Express Wins Three Awards for Journalism Excellence

by Express staff
Wed, Oct 22, 2014 at 10:38 AM

The Express has won two first place awards for journalism excellence and shared in one other in this year’s Society of Professional Journalism contest for Northern California news organizations. The Express also won the most awards of any newsweekly in Northern California.

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Express staff writer Sam Levin won a first place award in the Arts and Culture reporting category for his January 8 cover story, “When Corporations Want Profits, They Don’t Ask for Permission.” Levin’s piece focused on how large retail chains have been stealing the work of artists, and then forcing them to remain silent about it through legal settlement agreements.

Former Express co-editor Kathleen Richards won a first place award in the Feature Storytelling category for her June 25 cover story, “Hunting with a Rat.” The contests judges said Richards wrote “engagingly about her confrontation with guns, bikers, and wild boars, exploring the dilemma of a meat eater who abhors killing.”

And Express contributor Joaquin Palomino won in the Outstanding Emerging Journalist category for his cover stories, “California’s Thirsty Almonds” (2/5/14) and “The Water Tunnel Boondoggle” (5/13/14. Palomino was also honored for his report, “Archaeology’s Poisonous Past,” in High Country News.

Levin and Richards won in the small circulation division.

Wednesday Must Reads: Oakland Council Okays New Investor for Coliseum City; Oakland Also Approves $577,000 in Aid for Immigrant Kids

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Oct 22, 2014 at 9:07 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

Coliseum City.
  • Coliseum City.
1. The Oakland City Council voted 6-1 to extend a pact with the development team of Coliseum City after the team introduced it’s new deep-pocketed investor — Floyd Kephart, whose company advises hedge funds, the Trib$ reports. The Coliseum City project would include a new stadium for the Oakland Raiders, and perhaps a new facility for the A’s. However, A’s co-owner Lew Wolff quickly criticized the council’s move, saying the Coliseum City plan doesn’t work for the A’s. Wolff has expressed interest in being the developer of the project. The lone vote against the pact came from Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, who is running for mayor against Jean Quan and has developed a close relationship with Wolff. Quan, meanwhile, is touting the new investor.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday Must Reads: New Investor Emerges in Coliseum City Project; Mailer from Schaaf and Tuman Donors Attacks Kaplan and Quan

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 9:01 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A new investor has emerged to finance the $1.5 billion Coliseum City project, and would take over for the current investment team headed by Colony Capital, the Trib$ reports. The city of Oakland is expected to make an announcement about the new investor — if the city council agrees to extend an exclusive negotiating agreement on the project. The Trib reports that some councilmembers and Oakland Raiders’ officials have already met with the new financial backer, but Oakland A’s co-owner Lew Wolff has not.

Rebecca Kaplan.
  • Rebecca Kaplan.
2. Oakland mailboxes were flooded late last week by a hit-piece mailer that attacked Mayor Jean Quan and Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan and was funded by donors of mayoral candidates Libby Schaaf and Joe Tuman. The mailer, funded by an outside group calling itself Citizens for Oakland, also promoted Schaaf, Tuman, and candidate Bryan Parker (although it misspelled Parker’s first name). Schaaf and Tuman have denied involvement with the mailer.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Save Knowland Park Releases Poll Showing Strong Voter Opposition to Oakland Zoo Expansion

by Sam Levin
Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 10:27 AM

BERT JOHNSON / FILE PHOTO
  • Bert Johnson / File photo
As the Oakland Zoo approaches the finish line in its controversial expansion into Knowland Park, the coalition opposing the project has released the results of a poll it commissioned showing that a supermajority of city voters oppose the plan — in its current form. Critics of the project — a coalition of environmental groups, park advocates, and neighbors — have long argued that the zoo's proposed 56-acre expansion into the city-owned, undeveloped park in the East Oakland hills would destroy valuable habitat and block the public from accessing rare open space in the city.

The East Bay Zoological Society, the private nonprofit that runs the publicly owned zoo, has argued that its plan has gone through extensive environmental review over many years and that the public benefits of its "California Trail" expansion project far outweigh any of the concerns raised by environmentalists. The exhibit, the zoo has said, would spread a message of conservation. 

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Thursday Must Reads: Bay Area Rents Reach Record Highs; Coliseum Authority to Hire Executive With History of Fraud

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 9:02 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Bay Area rent prices have soared to record-high levels, with the average rent reaching $2,234 a month in September — an 11.5 percent jump over the same month last year, the Mercury News$ reports. Rents in Oakland have skyrocketed to an average of $2,498 a month, a 17.6 percent increase over 2013. Analysts attribute the soaring rents to a lack of housing in the region. The high prices are also pushing residents into the outer reaches of the Bay Area, leading to longer commutes and clogged freeways.

Guy Houston.
  • Guy Houston.
2. The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority, the public panel that oversees the Coliseum complex, is planning to hire Republican former Assemblyman Guy Houston as its new executive director despite the fact that Houston had been plagued by allegations of fraud and elder abuse in the past, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. Some authority members were apparently unaware that Houston settled a legal case in the Aughts involving alleged fraud when they voted last week to move forward with hiring him. The authority is scheduled to make its final decision on Houston on Friday.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New Poll Shows That Quan Voters Also Like Kaplan

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Oct 15, 2014 at 1:37 PM

A new poll released today shows that Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan still has a sizable lead in the Oakland mayor’s race, outpacing Councilmember Libby Schaaf, 59 percent to 41 percent in a ranked-choice voting scenario, with Mayor Jean Quan running third, two percentage points behind. The poll is good news for both Kaplan and Schaaf, the latter of whom is now running ahead of the mayor for the first time this fall. 

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But a closer look at the poll shows that Schaaf is facing a challenge, because it looks like Quan supporters at this point would rather have Kaplan be mayor than Schaaf. In fact, it looks as if Schaaf will need to convince Quan supporters to rank her above Kaplan on their ballots in order to win in November. An earlier poll showed the same problem for Quan: Schaaf supporters tend to prefer Kaplan to the mayor.

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Wednesday Must Reads: Oakland Tenant Protection Law Advances; Housing Prices Continue to Soar

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Oct 15, 2014 at 9:41 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A proposed law that would protect Oakland tenants from being evicted by landlords who want to raise rents advanced through a city council committee last night, the Trib$ reports. The measure, authored by Councilmember Dan Kalb, also is designed to protect tenants from harassment. The council’s Community and Economic Development Committee voted 2-1 to approve the measure, with Councilmembers Libby Schaaf and Lynette Gibson McElhaney voting in favor, and Councilmember Pat Kernighan opposed. The committee, however, watered down the measure slightly before approving it, removing a provision that would allow the city to levy fines against landlords who violate the law. The measure now goes to the full council for approval.

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2. Many potential homebuyers are being priced out of the Bay Area’s red-hot housing market, as home prices continued to soar last month, the Mercury News$ reports. The median home price in Alameda County reached $621,000 in September, up 8.5 percent from the previous year. Analysts attributed the price hikes to a lack of available homes on the market.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Children's Hospital Oakland Settles Contract Dispute With Resident Physicians

by Sam Levin
Tue, Oct 14, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Ana Liang, third-year resident physician. - BERT JOHNSON / FILE PHOTO
  • Bert Johnson / file photo
  • Ana Liang, third-year resident physician.
After more than eighteen months of contentious negotiations, Children's Hospital Oakland and the Committee of Interns and Residents, the union that represents 91 resident physicians, have settled on a new contract, both sides announced this afternoon. As I covered in print last week, the ongoing dispute centered on the resident physicians' push for a cost-of-living salary bonus as well as their demand that the hospital finance a so-called "patient care fund" — which would allow the doctors to purchase new equipment and medications.

Resident physicians in Oakland contended that a modest pay increase was essential given skyrocketing rents in the surrounding neighborhoods of North Oakland and Berkeley. They further argued that patient care funds like the one they were requesting exist in the budgets of numerous other Bay Area hospitals — including its affiliate children's hospital at UC San Francisco. 

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Tuesday Must Reads: Seismologists Warn of East Bay Quake; Oakland Mayoral Candidates Stump for Measure Z

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Oct 14, 2014 at 8:54 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Seismologists are warning that four highly stressed faults could rupture somewhere in the East Bay or in the North and South bay areas, with earthquakes of 6.8 magnitude or stronger, the Chron reports. Scientists say the faults are creeping along the earth’s surface, causing stress underground. The four faults are: the Hayward Fault, which runs from Richmond to Fremont; the Calaveras Fault, which runs from Danville to the South Bay; the Green Valley Fault, which runs from Solano County to eastern Contra Costa County; and the Rodgers Creek Fault in Sonoma County.

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2. Five of the leading candidates for mayor of Oakland campaigned yesterday for the passage of Measure Z, a November ballot proposal that would effectively continue Measure Y, a parcel tax that raises about $20 million a year for police, fire, and crime prevention programs, the Trib$ reports. All seven of the major candidates in the race have endorsed Measure Z.

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