Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Must Read: Kids Freeze in Oakland Schools; Quan Leans on Opponents’ Supporters

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Dec 3, 2010 at 9:59 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Oakland public schoolchildren have been sitting in cold, deplorable conditions in dozens of schools this week because of budget cutbacks, the Trib reports. The school district turned off heating systems over the Thanksgiving holiday week, and then many of the old heaters wouldn’t come back on when school resumed on Monday. The district hasn’t been able to fix the heaters quickly because it laid off repair workers during budget cuts. Children, as a result, have been forced to do schoolwork in temperatures as low as 40 degrees.

2. Oakland Mayor-elect Jean Quan has appointed some of her opponents’ supporters to be on her transition team, the Trib and Chron report. Quan selected Don Perata backer Michael Ghielmetti, president of the development company, Signature Properties. She also picked former top city official Claudia Cappio, a supporter of Rebecca Kaplan. And she chose Ted Vedock, who worked for Joe Tuman’s campaign. "I'm hoping to have a city that's more unified," she said. "I'm interested to hear what their priorities might be. I'm willing to listen." Leading Quan’s transition team is former Oakland City Manager Henry Gardener.

3. East Bay Democrats are feeling buyer’s remorse after Congressman Jerry McNerney sided with Republicans yesterday and voted against middle-class tax cuts, the Trib reports. The Democrat McNerney, who depended heavily on Democratic volunteers to defeat his GOP rival David Harmer, decided to join with Republicans who are refusing to approve tax cuts for the middle class unless they also include cuts for the richest 2 percent of Americans. McNerney says he’s hoping for a compromise with the GOP, but Republicans have said repeatedly that they won’t vote for tax cuts unless they include the wealthiest Americans.

4. Oakland police Chief Anthony Batts was in Washington this week to lobby for a $6 million grant to put 24 cops in four Oakland public middle schools, the Trib reports. Batts and school district Superintendent Tony Smith are hoping to create a pilot program. Maybe the cops can fix the broken heaters, too.

5. California moved forward with its plans for a bullet-train system, approving the construction of track in the Central Valley in an effort to not lose $3 billion in federal stimulus funds, the Chron reports. Critics immediately decried the plan as the “train to nowhere.” But high-speed rail supporters say construction needs to start somewhere.

6. PG&E can continue to install its controversial SmartMeters without subjecting them to health-effects testing, the California Public Utilities Commission ruled yesterday, the Chron reports. The PUC ignored a recommendation from one of its own divisions to test the SmartMeters as a way to allay fears that they emit harmful electromagnetic radiation.

7. Police are praising two heroes for helping capture a man who was sexually assaulting a two-year-old girl in a Union City dollar store, the Argus reports. The child had gotten away from her grandmother and aunt and was snatched up by the sex offender, before they discovered him sexually assaulting the girl. The women then chased the man out of the store and he was punched and wrestled to the ground by Sammy Johnson, 55, of Fremont and 24-year-old DeMario Hawkins, who was outside the store soliciting donations. "They were absolutely instrumental in the capture of the suspect from yesterday," police Capt. Brian Foley told the Argus. "Without their help, the suspect would not be in custody."

8. And retail sales jumped 5.8 percent in November compared to last year, the biggest gain since 2006, AP reports, raising hopes that this will be a good holiday shopping season.

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