Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thursday Must Reads: Brown Orders New Greenhouse Gas Reductions; Berkeley Eyeing Developer Fee for Affordable Housing

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Apr 30, 2015 at 10:05 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

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1. Governor Jerry Brown issued a new executive order that seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, the SacBee$ reports. Brown’s announcement received widespread praise, but some environmental groups noted that the governor’s order is likely unachievable unless he agrees to ban fracking for fossil fuels in California.

2. In an effort to raise funds for affordable housing, the Berkeley City Council is moving forward with a plan to charge developers $10,000 a unit if they want to increase the size of their projects, Berkeleyside reports. The city also is looking at requiring project labor agreements that would mandate local hiring and prevailing wages on dense housing construction.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why Governor Brown Broke His Prop 1 Promise: Big Money Interests Dumped $21.8 Million into the Prop 1 Campaign

by Dan Bacher
Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 11:18 AM

Jerry Brown.
  • Jerry Brown.
The recent admission by the Brown administration that it could use money from Proposition 1, the water bond, to pay for "habitat mitigation" linked to the construction and operation of the massive delta tunnels is no surprise, especially when you consider the Big Money interests that dumped $21,820,691 into the campaign.

The contributors are a who’s who of Big Money interests in California, including corporate agribusiness groups, billionaires, timber barons, Big Oil, the tobacco industry, and the California Chamber of Commerce. There is no doubt that these wealthy corporate interests are expecting a big return for their "investment" in California’s play-to-pay politic system, including the construction of the twin tunnels and new dams.

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Wednesday Must Reads: Video Shows BART Cop Slamming Woman to the Ground; Powerful Opposition Emerges Against Warriors’ SF Plans

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 10:11 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Videos from police body cameras show a BART cop slamming an intoxicated woman to the ground at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin — completely contradicting the cops’ version of what happened, the Chron reports. The videos, which were recorded by body cameras worn by Oakland police officers who were on hand at the time, were released by defense attorneys for Megan Sheehan, 28, of Pleasanton, who suffered broken bones to her face and broken teeth. Sheehan had been arrested for allegedly being drunk and belligerent in Oakland, and BART cop Nolan Pianta had claimed that she tried to punch him, but the videos contradict that allegation.

MANICA ARCHITECTURE
  • Manica Architecture
2. Big-bucks donors of UC San Francisco Medical Center are attempting to block the Golden State Warriors’ plans to build a new arena and office towers in the city, the Chron$ reports. The donors say the Warriors’ plans don’t include enough parking, and would hurt UCSF Mission Bay. The team’s owners purchased the land last year and plan to move the Warriors to San Francisco.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tuesday Must Reads: Supreme Court Appears Divided Over Gay Marriage; EBMUD To Buy More Water as Supplies Dwindle

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Apr 28, 2015 at 10:54 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

Anthony Kennedy.
  • Anthony Kennedy.
1. The US Supreme Court appeared to be deeply divided over whether to legalize gay marriage nationwide during oral arguments this morning, The New York Times$ reports. The four liberal justices — Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor — seemed ready to overturn the remaining state bans on gay nuptials. Justice Anthony Kennedy appears to be the swing vote, and at times seemed to agree both with arguments for and against gay marriage.

2. East Bay MUD is poised to spend $25 million on additional water supplies from Northern California irrigation districts located in the Sacramento Valley, the CoCo Times$ reports. Rice farmers in those districts are fallowing their fields during the drought and so have extra water to sell. East Bay MUD’s water supplies are dwindling as the state enters its fourth year of drought.

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Monday Must Reads: State Tax Revenues Continue to Soar; Some SoCal Cities Still Threatening Fines for Brown Lawns

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Apr 27, 2015 at 9:52 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. State tax revenues are continuing to soar in California and could be as much $4 billion higher than Governor Jerry Brown projected by June, the SacBee$ reports, citing a report from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO). The LAO also reported that by last week, tax revenues for April were already above projections. Liberals are expected to push for more social safety net spending in next year’s budget as a result of the extra revenue.

Cheryl Brown.
  • Cheryl Brown.
2. Despite the record drought, some California cities, including Glendale, Upland, and San Bernardino, are still threatening homeowners with fines for letting their lawns turn brown, according to Assemblymember Cheryl R. Brown (D-Rialto), the LA Times$ reports. Brown is pushing forward with legislation that would prohibit such fines.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Activists Push for Free Bus Passes for Low-Income Kids

by Jean Tepperman
Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 5:10 PM

COURTESY OF THE GAMIEL FOUNDATION.
  • Courtesy of the Gamiel Foundation.
A coalition of Oakland community organizations won a big victory in their decade-long battle for free bus passes for youth, when Alameda County voters last November approved Measure BB, which includes funds for an “Affordable Student Transit Pass Program.” But they didn’t stop there. 

Without missing a beat, Genesis, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), and the Urban Peace Movement immediately started pushing to make sure the program meets the needs of low-income youth. After meeting with Alameda County Transportation Commission staffers over the winter, these groups brought their recommendations to the April 23 meeting of the transportation commission.

County staffers began the meeting by presenting their plan to hire a consultant who will design at least four alternative models to start testing in a pilot program beginning fall 2016. The goal, said county engineer Arun Goel, is to make it easier for middle- and high-school kids to get to school and increase student ridership of public transportation. The consultant will study the needs and resources and tackle questions, such as who will get the passes, whether they will be discounted or free, and how to distribute them.

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Oakland Taxicab Family Hit with $37,500 Fine for Defrauding Oakland

by Darwin BondGraham
Fri, Apr 24, 2015 at 4:41 PM

click image Dhar Mann in an image recently uploaded to his Instagram.
  • Dhar Mann in an image recently uploaded to his Instagram.
Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker announced today the settlement of a civil lawsuit against members of a prominent and wealthy Oakland family that defrauded the city and its former redevelopment agency of at least $75,000. The City Attorney's lawsuit alleged that members of the Singh family received at least six development grants from the city to fix up properties they owned, but instead of rehabbing the buildings, they over-billed the city and submitted false claims for work that was never done.

The Singh family owns Friendly Cab, one of the largest East Bay taxi companies, as well as an extensive portfolio of real estate in Oakland. The main target of the lawsuit was Dhar Mann, a member of the Singh family. Mann was previously found guilty in a criminal trial and sentenced to five years probation for fraud.

See also: Dhar Mann, Owner of Oakland's WeGrow, the "Wal-Mart of Weed", Faces Thirteen Felony Charges.

See also: Oakland's Loudest Ganjapreneur Dhar Mann Gets Five Years Probation for Fraud

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Is Jerry Brown Breaking His Prop 1 Campaign Promise?

by Dan Bacher
Thu, Apr 23, 2015 at 1:26 PM

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During the fall election, Governor Jerry Brown and advocates of Proposition 1, the state water bond, constantly claimed that the measure was "tunnels neutral." In numerous photo opps, Brown and Prop 1 backers promised the people of California that water bond funds would not be used for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), a proposal that would create two massive underground tunnels underneath the delta. 

But the conservation group Restore the Delta is now charging that the governor is breaking his promise after Richard Stapler, the spokesman for the BDCP, admitted to Peter Fimrite of the San Francisco Chronicle that the Brown administration could use money from Proposition 1 to pay for "habitat mitigation" linked to the construction and operation of the tunnels.

Restore the Delta Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla said, "It is outrageous that the governor would break the promise he made to the people of California that their taxes would not be used to mitigate damage from the tunnels. Now he is signaling that bond monies will support mega-growers like Stewart Resnick, who plans to expand almond production by 50 percent over the next five years."

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Thursday Must Reads: Coliseum City Developer Pushes for $200 Million Public Subsidy; Mandatory Vaccine Bill Moves Forward

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Apr 23, 2015 at 9:51 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

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1. Floyd Kephart, the private developer of the proposed Coliseum City project, is pushing for the City of Oakland and Alameda County to invest $100 million to $200 million in infrastructure improvements related to the development, the SF Business Times$ reports. The infrastructure upgrades would turn Coliseum City into a mass transit hub for BART, AC Transit, Amtrak, and the new Oakland Airport connector. Mayor Libby Schaaf has expressed an interest in spending some public funds on infrastructure related to the project, but it remains to be seen whether she will back Kephart’s proposal.

2. A state Senate committee green-lighted a bill that would end the personal belief exemption for vaccines in California, despite loud protests by members of the anti-vaxx movement, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. State Senator Loni Hancock of Berkeley changed her position on the bill after it was amended to allow anti-vaxxers to home-school their children together. Under the legislation, which was prompted by the recent measles outbreak, kids would be barred from attending public or private schools unless they’ve been vaccinated or have obtained a medical waiver.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Well-Connected Billionaire Expands Almond Acreage as Cities Forced to Slash Water Use

by Dan Bacher
Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 1:13 PM

Stewart Resnick.
  • Stewart Resnick.
A coalition of environmentalists blasted Beverly Hills billionaire Stewart Resnick and other corporate agribusiness interests this week for continuing to plant thousands of acres of new almond trees during the drought while Governor Jerry Brown is mandating that urban families slash water usage by 25 percent. 

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta, said Resnick, the owner of Paramount Farms in Kern County, uses as much water for his almonds as the amount of water 38 million Californians are now required to conserve.

“While farmers make their own decisions on what to plant, the public is paying the price for poor decisions made by greedy mega-growers, who plant permanent crops where there is no water,” Barrigan-Parrilla told reporters in a news conference about the “tunnels only” version of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) that Governor Jerry Brown is now pushing. “That is not sustainable and the tunnels would subsidize unsustainable agriculture.”

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